Blacklist Union / Back to Momo
When listening to Back to Momo by Blacklist Union, it can sometimes be hard to tell if they are taking themselves seriously or not. They unabashedly attempt to bring back that old-school, grimy and raw rock edge that the scene is so sorely lacking, but it often comes across as so over the top that it borderlines on insincere. Would this music seem more honest if it had been released 30 years ago? Quite possibly, yes, but it’s now 2015, and the same approach won’t always work.

Hailing from L.A., Blacklist Union has obviously immersed themselves in the Sunset Strip legacy and is trying to channel that bad-boy vibe. Many of the songs deliver some heavy punches, as well as plenty of guitar solos. “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall” is a charging, off-the-tracks steamroller, with a guitar solo to match, while “It’s All About You” has a classic-rock flavored breakdown.

The members of Blacklist Union have chops, but some of the theatrics and silliness overshadows their otherwise earnest musicianship. For example, the song “Wined, Dined, and 69’d” may sound like a good idea after a few drinks, but when singer/songwriter Tony West sings, “I got the cash if you got the time/wine, dined, and 69’d,” you can almost hear all the ’80s leather-tinged veterans moan in disapproval, as they see any want for a comeback of their own dashed.

Back to Momo is filled with spirit and energy. But despite being well-versed in the school of flamboyant rock, Blacklist Union doesn’t add any of their own pages to the gospel as much as they skim over similar ones we’d rather forget.

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By Jason Savio

STREAMINGWarrenBurnettWarren Burnett / These Moments
Ease back in your favorite comfy chair, pour a glass of wine or coddle some hot cocoa between your hands – yes, it’s that time of year again, folks – and give Warren Burnett’s These Moments a listen.

Before the snow falls, this is perfect porch music, and it’s an ideal time for familiarizing yourself with this artist. He’s a sway-and-relax kind of melody man that begs for you to interpret his strings. His forte is all acoustic, all instrumental, and it’s a simple way to relax and let the day’s worries wash away, no matter your choice of beverage. Burnett’s been playing venues in and around the Worcester area for more than a decade and a half now, and with five albums under his belt, he’s got a litany of easy-listening instrumentals to mellow your mood.

The songs are reflective, and the strings melodic, sometimes melancholy – perhaps overwhelmingly so at times – but when you’re listening to acoustic grooves with titles like “Mystical Moon,” “Dreaming,” “Flickering Light” and “My Love” back-to-back, that’s bound to happen. You’ll hear traces of Dave Matthews in the guitar riffs, and the mood isn’t always somber, but it is sobering. But, prepare yourself, you may get emotional; since the album is sans lyrics, the power of interpretation takes over, and it’s all up to you and your state of mind in the moment. That’s the real power of music that moves you, even if you didn’t realize it would.

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By Mike Wood

streaming chris cornellChris Cornell / Higher Truth
It’s hard to believe that Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell set off with a guitar strapped to his back and took the solo journey more than a decade ago. This venture has proven to be a success, with four studio albums to his credit. The latest, Higher Truth, is an emotion-filled album that seems to go back to deep acoustic roots reminiscent of folksy ballads and classic style.

All of the songs on this album are catchy and easy to listen to. It’s definitely a “driving down the open road with the radio at max decibels” kind of feeling. “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart,” which kicks off the album, has a catchy melody and allows Cornell to tap into his vocal range. My favorite on the album, “Dead Wishes,” captures the skill that Cornell has over the strings, exercising superior control but giving us a simple and beautiful song with lyrics that really hit home. “Before We Disappear” brings in backing vocal and electric and toggles between deep, warm sounds and eloquent pauses, bringing emphasis to what he is trying to convey.

The title song, “Higher Truth,” is the perfect example of a Cornell ballad, mixing guitar and piano, rhythm and a great hook. “Only These Words” is, in my opinion, the most beautiful song on the album. It’s not a super slow song, but the lyrics are clearly written for his daughter and reads like a story that all parents understand.

All in all, a very solid album that is very much about love and seeking answers to life’s mysteries. It truly showcases Cornell’s capabilities as an artist and leaves you hoping that he will write another album and continue his trek along his unescorted musical road.

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by Jennifer Russo