Category: Album Reviews

Album Review: The Sound of Ghosts Deliver Their Best Album To Date With ‘Delivery & Departure’


The Sound of Ghosts

Since their arrival to the scene in 2014, L.A.-based Americana roots collective, The Sound of Ghosts has been wowing audiences with their tight, multi-instrumental attack, well-crafted songwriting and undeniable feel-good charm.

The Sound of Ghosts recent success includes a successful tour of the Pacific Northwest as well as opening for such artists as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Sisterhood and Oingo Boingo. The band also delivered an engagingly intimate performance at The Roswell Film Festival and their music has been featured in nationwide commercials for major brands.

The Sound of Ghosts is: James Orbison (vocals, bass), Anna Orbison (vocals, ukulele), Ernesto Rivas (lead guitar), Phoebe Silva (fiddle) and Jon Sarna (drums).

There is a deep sense of musical maturity and credibility with The Sound of Ghosts latest album, Delivery & Departure, which continues their unique approach of blending the best elements Americana, folk, rock and jazz have to offer into one richly-textured, sonic landscape.

Perhaps no better example of the totality of this quintet’s ability exists than in the album’s lead single, “Train to Nowhere”. An inspired introspection that eloquently showcases the band’s complete musical stew.

Led by charismatic vocalist Anna Orbison’s hauntingly beautiful melodies, the song takes the listener on a multi-layered journey of harmonic goodness. Whether it’s the infectiousness of Phoebe Silva’s fiddle, the sudden changes in tempo or the insanely cool trumpet solo, this is a track that screams for repeated listens.

The contagious “Fall Apart” also exemplifies Orbison’s expressively warm range with a toe-tapping rhythm held together by James Orbison’s dominating upright bass line.

“Guillermo’s Lament” clocks in at more than six minutes but is worth every one of them. What seems almost like spoken word, the track is pure poetry. Complete with empathetic melodies highlighted by Ernesto Rivas’ clean, guitar attack.

“I’m Gonna Be Free” is another thought provoking track that discusses the idea of independence and is driven home by drummer Jon Sarna’s in the pocket grooves and the band’s vicious harmonies.

There’s a cool hint of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats in the track, “Dancing Shoes”. A song that’s equally influenced by the band’s love of 1950’s Doo-Wop.

With Delivery & Departure, The Sound of Ghosts have not only given us one of the year’s finest independent albums, but also a friendly reminder that the best is yet to come.

Scott MacIntyre Talks Christmas Album, New Music

MacIntyreShortly after his eighth place finish on American Idol in 2009 singer/songwriter Scott MacIntyre released an EP of Christmas music called “Christmas Angel.” Since that time, fans have been clamoring for a more full-length version of holiday themed material and MacIntyre’s new album, “Christmas In Paris” delivers the goods. His fresh take on traditional songs of the season combined with two original compositions (including the title track) is sure to become a part of holiday tradition.

2013 has been a big year for MacIntyre. In addition to the new Christmas album, he continues to speak around the country about his book “By Faith Not By Sight”, which tells his personal story about overcoming adversity. He’s also performed shows with the likes of The Band Perry, Jonas Brothers and Alice Cooper. MacIntyre even relocated from Arizona to Franklin, TN to be closer to the creative community and is in production for his next studio album with an anticipated Spring 2014 release.

I spoke to him about his music as well as his involvement with Donate Life America; an alliance of organizations and state teams across the U.S. committed to increasing organ, eye and tissue donation. Another subject that is near and dear to his heart.

What made you decide to do a Christmas album?

Shortly after I left Idol back in 2009, I did a Christmas EP that included my original song, “Christmas Angel”. Since then, my fans have been asking for one, so this is my first full-length Christmas album.

How did you determine which songs to include?

There are so many great Christmas songs, but in choosing material for the album I didn’t want to do anything that was too “surfacy”. I wanted to stay true to the melodies, but also wanted to dig into the atmosphere and sound scape of each song and create some really interesting textures.

Tell me a little about the title track, “Christmas In Paris”.

I wrote it with two amazing songwriters, Ryan Hydro and Aaron Steenhoven. Ryan was the one who came up with the title and as soon as I heard it, I knew it was going to be something that we could really dig into. Sure enough, once we started writing, we could all tell that it was going to be magical.

What can fans expect from your new album due next year?

The songs for the album will represent another arrival point for me. It’s been an incredible journey having the privilege of working with more amazing songwriters like Cindy Morgan, Steve Dean, Richie Fike and Kyle Lee. Every song on the new album relates to my story and I hope to everyone’s own story as well in some way. It’s going to be a very meaningful album. 

Let’s discuss your musical background.

I actually started messing around on the piano when I was almost two. I think because of my blindness and not being able to experience the world visually like other people do, I was drawn more to the world of sound. I was just fascinated by hearing the pure tone. Up until I was 15 everything that I played was classical, but I remember my Dad would drive me to school and on the way we’d listen to the pop music station on the radio. It was one of the first times that I was exposed to bands like Creed, Train, Vertical Horizon and Tool. I started picking up on patterns in the music and realized that what they were doing was pretty much the same as classical music. It was just represented differently. It was different from a symphony in that you didn’t have to guess it’s interpretation to understand the story. The words and melody were right there. From that point, I started to think that if I could tell stories with my gift, it could be something that everyone could relate to. It would be a powerful way to connect with people and I knew right then that it was the direction that I wanted to go.


Tell me about how you came to be involved with Donate Life America.

When I was 19, I found out that I had Stage 4 kidney failure. It was a scary time and I went through a lot of adversity trying to figure out what my future was going to be like. I eventually became so sick that I was unable to play piano in my own home. Music is like living and breathing to me, so it was pretty devastating. I was on dialysis three times a week for hours on end having a machine do what my kidneys couldn’t. Then in 2007, the wife of my former piano teacher from college donated her kidney and saved my life. Less than a year later, I auditioned for American Idol. I never really talked about any of it until my book came out last year, but I wanted to share that part of my story with people.

When I met the president of Donate Life (David Fleming), I was instantly drawn to the organization and what they do. It’s something that I can really stand behind because I would not be here today if it wasn’t for that life saving gift. It’s so easy to become an organ donor. It only takes a few minutes to designate yourself as one and what better gift is there than to be able to give the gift of life to the thousands of people who are waiting for life saving transplants.

 For more information on Donate Life America – Click Here!

And be sure to check out Scott MacIntyre’s Official Site and Facebook

Starship’s Mickey Thomas Talks “Loveless Fascination” and Remembers Guitarist Mark Abrahamian

LovelessFascinationAlthough it’s been more than 20 years since Starship’s last album of all-new material [1989’s Love Among the Cannibals], the band’s latest release, Loveless Fascination, was certainly worth the wait.

Not only has vocalist Mickey Thomas been able to maintain his unique sound and range over the decades, but he’s added more of a thickness and growl to his vocals, allowing him to scream better than ever.

Produced by Jeff Pilson [Foreigner, T&N, Dokken], Loveless Fascination stays true to the band’s signature classic-rock sound, providing a much harder edge while taking Starship into the 21st century. I recently spoke with Thomas about working with Pilson on Loveless Fascination and a lot more.


GUITAR WORLD: It’s been nearly 25 years since your last studio album, Love Among the Cannibals, was released. Why the long wait?

I’ve started several projects during that time period, but for various reasons they never came to fruition. In order to make a really great record, you need to have a great team, and that means great songs, production, management and label. All of those elements never seemed to come together at the same time for us, but when this album came along everything just fell into place. I teamed up with Jeff Pilson, who’s not only a great producer, but also a great musician and songwriter. We instantly had this great chemistry and I realized this was the kind of Starship album we needed to make.

You can read the rest of my Guitar World interview with Mickey Thomas
by Clicking Here!

Little River Band Talks Amazing New Album, “Cuts Like A Diamond”

CutsLikeADiamondLittle River Band is showing no signs of slowing down. The band continues to perform up to ninety shows a year, bringing along its arsenal of radio hits that include “Take It Easy On Me”, “Cool Change” and “Reminiscing”. To date, Little River Band has scored 13 Top 30 Hits and has sold more than 30 million records.

“Cuts Like A Diamond” is the first disc of new original Little River Band material since 2003’s Test Of Time. For this project, the band went for a more west coast 80’s sound, while still embracing the harmony guitars, big vocals and contemporary feel they’re known for. The result is a well-produced album that’s easily on par with the rest of its classic catalog.

I spoke with bassist Wayne Nelson and guitarist Richard Herring about the new album and more.

What type of sound were you trying to go for with “Cuts Like A Diamond”?

Nelson:  The record label (Frontiers) approached us with a sound they had in mind. They wanted an 80’s AOR Little River Band album. There’s a wide range of material that the band has already done, and Rich gets a lot of credit for creating the landscape of this record. He’s a great producer and was in charge of the guitar parts and overdubs.

Herring: We strove to satisfy the label’s request for an 80’s production, but preserved the signature sound of LRB like big vocals and guitar harmonies. That’s what people think about when they think of Little River Band; the big vocals and high harmonies. That’s the key, and the guitars play a supporting role in that.

What was the writing process like?

Nelson: All of the songs came to me first, and the ones that moved the meter I sent to the record company’s ears. The road map was already in place so I knew where to aim for, but there were certainly some things about the 80’s that I wanted to leave behind, like reverbs that never end and the bad keyboard sounds [laughs].

Let’s talk about a few tracks from the album: Lost and The Lonely

Nelson: You can stack that song up against “Lonesome Loser” or some of the others, but that’s a Little River Band chorus. The interesting story was the original arrangement of the song had the uplifting chorus, but the verses were kind of dark and followed a different path. I remember asking the writers to change the verses to match the inspiration of the chorus and they came back the very next day with what you hear on the album. The video for the song is also powerful, especially considering the times we live in now. Those guys are defending people who are lost and lonely and can’t standup for themselves, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Who Speaks For Me

Nelson: The record label was concerned about the song’s subject nature at first, but I insisted we do it. It’s been a passion mine for years to try and do something to shed light on domestic abuse. When I started writing, I immediately thought of the kid alone in the dark and scared to death. The story just unfolded from there. A lot of people have asked if the message in the song was from personal experience. I tell them that it didn’t happen to me, but it’s happened to plenty of others and it was something I felt needed to be said.

Wayne, let’s discuss ‘Time Exposure’, which was the album right after you joined Little River Band.

Nelson: So much of the success and impact of that record came from George Martin (producer). When I joined the band, they were about ready to come apart at the seams. Four different people each wanted to take the band in four very distinctly different directions. No one was really getting along, and the band was literally being held together by its success. We all knew we had to do a record and suddenly, here comes the producer for the Beatles. George literally smoothed out the waters and got us through those six weeks to get the record out. We wound up getting three top tens out of it: Night Owls, Man On Your Mind and Take It Easy On Me.

left to right: Wayne Nelson, Ryan Ricks, Chris Marion, Rich Herring, Greg Hind
Little River Band (l to r: Wayne Nelson, Ryan Ricks, Chris Marion, Rich Herring, Greg Hind)

Rich, what’s your current set up like?

Herring: I’m using two class-a amps in stereo. They’re called New Vintage and were built in Minnesota by a guy named Nick Patullo. We were on a fly date using rented gear and they had some of Nick’s amps there. I remember playing through it and couldn’t believe how great it sounded. I bought one and started using it in stereo with my Matchless C-30. Later, I called Nick to see if he had a head version of the same thing. He told me that he didn’t have one, but he could build it! The one that he built me one sounded exactly the way I wanted it to. He didn’t have a name for it, so he decided to call it the RH-36. So I now have my own amp [laughs].

Now that the album is finished, what satisfies you the most?

Herring: It’s put new life into the show. It’s also an honor for me personally to play the old hits and deliver them night after night. I like to tell people that I get to play “Cool Change” every night, and I never get tired of it.

For More on Little River Band

Official Website:


Flood The Engine: Firehouse Guitarist Bill Leverty Discusses New Project

FloodTheEngineFirehouse guitarist Bill Leverty’s latest project, Flood The Engine is classic, melodic hard rock at its finest. Together with Keith Horne (bass), Andre LaBelle (drums) and Jimmy Kunes (vocals), Leverty’s managed to channel elements from many of his favorite guitarists while also adding his own personal flair, giving the album a much broader appeal.

In addition to the killer vibe this combination of players brings to their own original compositions, the eight track opus also includes two tasty renditions of mid-70’s gold: “All The Girls Are Crazy” (Back Street Crawler) and “Love Is Alive” (Gary Wright).

I sat down with Leverty to talk Flood The Engine and more.

What started the Flood The Engine project?

Keith Horne called me up one day and asked if I’d be interested in putting together a recording project. I knew that he had recently moved back to the area and doing anything that Keith’s involved with is a huge honor. I asked him who he had lined up for a drummer and he said Andre (LaBelle); who I’ve known since the early 80’s. Andre and I had always wanted to work together, but were both in different bands.

How did you hook up with Jimmy Kunes?

When we were looking for singers, I suggested him. Jimmy has elements of all of the great classic rock singers all rolled into one. When his vocal cords rub together, it sounds so good. Once we had all of the pieces in place, Jimmy came down on a train from New York City and we wrote and recorded the album.

How was writing for this album different from writing with Firehouse?

It’s kind of similar in some ways and different in others. Generally, I’d come up with a guitar riff and then send it off to Jimmy; or Andre, Keith and I would assemble a song instrumentally together and send it to Jimmy. Sometimes we’d give him an idea of what we had in mind, but we always gave Jimmy the freedom to do what he wanted to with his voice and lyrics. We wanted to make sure that everybody could put their own individual style into the project and then we’d showcase it all as a group.

Let’s talk about some songs on the album: “Lay It All On Me”.

That was the first song we wrote for this record. I had sent Jimmy a demo of some music with just a basic beat and a guitar riff. He immediately got some lyrics and a melody together. He also had an idea of what to use chord wise. In addition to being a phenomenal singer, he’s also a very accomplished guitarist.

“All Your Trouble”.

That one started with a guitar riff as well. I remember we had worked out the music and then Jimmy [with his creative mind] came in and just started scribbling down lyrics. To watch him work is amazing. He just has a pad of paper and a pen and scribbles like there’s a typewriter going off inside of his head and he’s just trying to keep up with it [laughs].

“Open And Undone”.

That song started out with Andre’s drum beat. He and I sat in a room together for a few hours and put together the music for it. The song has a simplistic rhythm, but a very unique beat. It creates such a perfect mood.  I remember Jimmy listened to it for a while and then had another scribble session where he got very spontaneous. It was another one of those things where we gave him a skeleton of a song and he just went to town on it.

In addition to six originals, you also have two covers on the album. [“All The Girls Are Crazy” & “Love Is Alive”]. Was there a reason why you chose those particular songs?

Jimmy and I had recorded a version of All The Girls Are Crazy” together a few years ago. He and I have a common ground appreciation of Paul Kossoff, and that song in particular was one of our favorites. What Andre and Keith added to it was awesome.

Keith was the one who mentioned that he had always wanted to do a version of “Love Is Alive” and it was the perfect suggestion. I remember hearing that song when it first came out and thinking what a great tune it was. People who hear it today can still identify with it lyrically and the melody works so well with Jimmy’s voice and soulful delivery. It’s such a unique song and it also gives Keith a chance to shine as well.

What gear are you using for your live rig now a days?

I’m using a Fractal Audio Axe Fx II. I go from that direct into a monitor console and straight into the front house PA. It’s a two rack space unit that you plug into. It has over a hundred different amp and speaker cabinet combinations along with every rack effect you can imagine. So it can be used to sound like any amp you want. I’ve actually sold nine of my amps since I’ve gotten it. It’s the greatest thing that’s happened to the electric guitar since the pickup.

What satisfies you the most about Flood The Engine?

The goal of this project was to put together an album that we all felt good about.  For me, being able to get together with these guys was an honor, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of the process.

For More On Flood The Engine:

Official Website:

Flood The Engine Facebook:

Vocalist John Elefante Discusses New Solo Album, Video and Kansas

ElefanteCoverSince the mid 1980’s, John Elefante has been forging his own path as a multi-award winning vocalist, producer and member of the band Mastedon. Elefante and his brother, Dino also founded the popular Sound Kitchen studio which became a hot spot for artists like Buddy Guy and Bruce Springsteen.

But Elefante is perhaps best known for his tenure as lead vocalist for the band Kansas in the early 80’s, contributing (among other things) the guitar driven song “Fight Fire With Fire” while performing alongside guitarists Richard Williams and Kerry Livgren.

Fans of the Kansas sound will be delighted to discover that Elefante’s new solo album, “On My Way to the Sun” showcases Williams’ guitar work (along with Kansas violinist David Ragsdale) on the roller coaster track “This Is How The Story Goes.” The album also features the song, “This Time” which Elefante wrote about his adopted daughter who was nearly aborted. The video for the song has since gone viral on You Tube.

I spoke with Elefante about his latest album and video. We also discuss how he joined Kansas and his most memorable moment with the band.

Tell me a little about the making of On My Way To The Sun.

The record industry has changed so much over the past few years that for this project I decided to hook up with Kickstarter. The cool thing about it is, your fans don’t give you money apprehensively. They’re glad to be a part of the project and that really inspired me. It was a team effort and I really wanted to deliver the best record I could.

You have Dave Cleveland doing a brunt of the guitar work on this record. What’s it like working with him?

Dave Cleveland is one of the most underrated guitar players in the world. He’s carved out a niche in the Christian market and is the go to guitar player for any style of music. I can’t say enough about him. He’s the most imaginative guy I’ve ever worked with.

Tell me how you recruited Kansas members Rich Williams and Dave Ragsdale for the song “This is How The Story Goes”.

Originally, I had sent the song to Phil Ehart (drums) and asked him if he’d like to play on it. Phil loved the song, but couldn’t commit because of a scheduling conflict. That’s when I decided to send it to Rich. He loved the song and then sent it to Dave, who also wanted to be a part of it. You have to admit, for a song that sounds a lot like Kansas by nature it becomes even more validated when you have a few of the guys in the band playing on it [laughs]. I really wanted one roller-coaster ride of a song that takes you on a journey, and this one was it.

What was the inspiration behind the song, “This Time”?

I wrote that song from a very honest point of view. It’s based on the true story of how my daughter came into the world. She was almost aborted and thank God she wasn’t. I was literally writing two lines at a time and singing it when I wrote it. The song just flowed line by line.

Were you aware of the controversial nature of the song as you wrote it?

When I sat down to write, there was never any intention of me writing a pro-life or anti-abortion song. But in telling the story, I had to write about how she almost didn’t come into the world. When you put the visual to it from the video, all of that stuff suddenly comes into play. The first week we had over 100,000 views. Comments on it were both good and bad, but that’s to be expected. People are passionate on both sides. But I believe in the sanctity of life, and this is my side of the story.

Tell me how you got into Kansas.

I was out in California trying to score a record deal when I heard that the singer in Kansas had left the band. So I called up my attorney and asked him what he thought about trying to get my demo to those guys. He says “Done”. I said “What do you mean, ‘done’?” Apparently, the attorney for Kansas was literally right in the next office. So my attorney walked my demo over to their attorney [laughs]. Next thing you know, I’m hearing from their manager. Everything all came together.

Kansas was one of the biggest bands back then. What was it like going to the “big time”?

Everything was happening so fast that I didn’t really have much time to think about it. I was concentrating on getting songs on the new record and putting my best vocal performances forward. Then, we immediately started rehearsing for a tour.


Can you tell me the origin and meaning behind the song “Fight Fire With Fire”?

My parents had converted their garage into a studio and my brother and I used to spend hours and hours there. That’s where we wrote it. I think the whole song came together in about 45 minutes. The message behind it is “I’m not going to be a wimp about what I believe. I’m going to stand up and fight fire with fire”. It’s kind of the world we live in. Whenever the band plays it live now, they dedicate to the military, which is awesome. Everyone’s fighting for some kind of cause.

What’s your best memory of being in Kansas?

I remember we played this all day event in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was in a big stadium and there were probably around 50,000 people there. It was us and bands like Journey and REO Speedwagon. We were going on right as the sun was going down; the perfect time. I remember feeling like there was a competition going on, and I wanted to show everyone that Kansas was the best band there. Everything was perfect and the band was so on. I’ll never forget that day.

For more on John Elefante, check out his official website by clicking here!

Guitar World: Lita Ford Discusses Her New Live Album, Gear and More

LitaLiveFollowing the success of her true comeback album, 2012’s Living Like a Runaway, Lita Ford took to the stage at LA’s Canyon Club to record a live performance as a gift to her fans.

The result is The Bitch is Back…Live, the new album from the reigning queen of hard rock and heavy metal.

In addition to live material from her latest studio release, The Bitch is Back also digs deep into Ford’s catalog, showcasing songs from Out for Blood, Dancin’ on the Edge and 1988’s monster album, Lita.

Ford is hard at work on her biography [set for release in 2014] as well as becoming an advocate for Parental Alienation Awareness. I recently spoke with her about the live album, her current setup and an encounter she once had with Led Zeppelin.

GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to do this live album?

It was kind of spur of the moment. After we did the tour with Def Leppard and Poison [in 2012], I really wanted to give something back. So we jumped into this club in LA, mic’d up the room and recorded it. It’s really a gift to the fans. Everything came together like magic and I’m very happy with it.

Lita Ford (Photo: Kitty Rossander)
Lita Ford (Photo: Kitty Rossander)

Check out the rest of my Guitar World interview with Lita Ford by Clicking Here.