Mark Weinstein – El Cumbanchero

It’s the hummingbird on the cover of Mark Weinstein’s new CD, El Cumbanchero, that really has me obsessed. It’s a great picture of the tiny bird in flight by Dan F. McIntosh called “Cuban Emerald.”

According to the liner notes this music is a combination of charanga and jazz. Charanga is is Cuban dance music; obviously this makes the hummingbird appropriate. It was fun to seek the musical equivalent of the bird in the songs. And yes, it was Weinstein’s flute flitting around all he arrangements.

This CD just wasn’t as engaging his previous works. I have been listening to various Ltin jaz stations on Pandora and have found the Cuban music to be the most energetic, the most animated. But that wasn’t the case here. The arrangements, the compositions, thelaying is impeccable. It just lacked a certain verve that previous Weinstein CD’s had.

Careless – Coalition

Head banging rhythms, soaring guitar leads, lyrics that beg to be shouted in an arena. This is totally what carefree, air guitar inspiring hard rock is all about. The band Careless has nailed that essence. I hope it’s not just nostalgia that makes me love this band and their music. Meh, even if it is, I’m a fan.

Careless is: Walt Kosar, James Collins and Nolan Ayres.  They started playing in the 80’s and were fans of Rush and Iron Maiden.  They wrote a few songs together and then disbanded.  Kosar caught up with the guys in 2008 and they started jamming again, adding some new songs to their old material.  I don’t remember these guys at all but they definitely capture the sound of 80s hard rock.  They seem to enjoy what they’re doing. There’s no point to prove, no business, marketing, etc. It’s just the energy and joy of a garage band playing what they love, raw and pure.

The singer, Collins (who is also the drummer, ala Phil Collins) is hoarse and strained in the vein of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, or Tesla’s Jeff Keith.  Some of the influences or similarities I could detect in the guitar of Walt Kosar were Dokken, early Hall of the Mountain King-era Savatage, and a little Kirk Hammett now and then.  Lyrically there were reminders of Boston, Kansas, a little Survivor – only harder versions of them. This was apparent on “D.F.M”, which is a “Wayward Son” type of song. Then there was “As Time Passes …”, which seemed to be a Zeppelin inspired instrumental.

But it was “The Gods Themselves” that stood out to me. As soon as I heard it, I went from being interested to being a fan. I can’t get that chorus out of my head for days. The intro reminds me of Savatage’s “Strange Wings”. It’s got the lip-snarling, head banging soul that music lost in the 90s.  “Contend In Vein” is a hard hitter, too, featuring some aggressive vocals.  “5ive” is an instrumental and features a superb drum solo.  Metal needs more of that.

The only concern is that I hear so many other bands in here I’m not sure if I’ve discerned Careless’ own voice or sound. But, whatever, these guys can rock.  Therefore, I shall listen to Coalition until I stop.