CD Reviews – June 2020

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CALLIE TOMBLIN – WHO I AM (no label) York-based singer and songwriter Callie Tomblin introduced her folk-rooted brand of music with her acoustic-driven 2017 self-titled debut CD. For her second album, Who I Am, Callie fleshes out her sound with a cast of musicians, and expands her musical turf into avenues of rock, pop, soul, country and more. Callie steps her game up on the album’s 10 songs, displaying a feistier and more soulful edge. And her songwriting chops have progressed as well, as she sings about personal and relationship themes. Launched with a punchy drum rhythm, the album-opening number “Lost It” sets up as a country-rock romp, as Callie expresses surprise in a relationship setting. She displays a slight Amy Winehouse edge on the soulful and sassy “Leave Me As I Was,” as well as on the organ-powered “After You” later on the disc. The gentler-toned title track “Who I Am” is more introspective in tone, as Callie proclaims she is happy in her own skin. Also gentle is the piano-guided “Give It Time” with its encouraging theme of patience. Callie shows a harder rock edge on the driving “You and I,” and she closes the disc with some social commentary on the blues-driven “When Did?” as she questions the harsh divisions in society and how people can act out vicious personalities behind computer screens. Callie sings with passion, purpose, and even some spit and vinegar through the course of the album, and she sounds totally invested in her song material. Her hired hands – guitarist, backing singer, and the album’s producer, engineer and mixer Bobby Gentilo; along with keyboardist Benjie Porecki, bassist Alex Degnan, sax player Logan Kurtek, drummer Jason Hoffheins and percussionist Eduardo Oviedo – give strong performances that pack punch behind Callie’s voice, and nicely give fullness to the song material. The album sounds clear and full, and flows smoothly from start to end. Callie Tomblin further defines who she is musically on Who I Am, in the process serving notice that her music, talents and songwriting skills warrant further attention. (The CD can be obtained through online platforms and through Callie’s website,

RAILROAD CITY MURDER MACHINES – RAILROAD CITY MURDER MACHINES (Golden Records) Formed in 2013 by four seasoned veterans of Altoona’s vibrant punk rock and hardcore scene, the Railroad City Murder Machines have forged their own distinctive style of amped-up, punk-driven rock and roll, introduced on their self-titled first full-length CD. Three of the musical Mort brothers – Tim on vocals and guitar, Danny on bass and backing vocals, and Bill on drums – team with former Suicide Switch frontman Cheeze on vocals and guitar to deliver an invigorating, high-octane, hard-rocking sound over the disc’s eight tracks (plus bonus track, a punk-fueled reworking of Phil Collins’ hit “In the Air Tonight”). Guitars roar, drums and bass pulsate beefy rhythms, and Tim and Cheeze howl out “the principles of sex, thugs and rock and roll.” The group charges out the gate with the hard-driving parting ways anthem “Old Ghosts” with its infectious melody and gang chorus vocals. The rowdy “Backsleeve” strikes a reminiscent tone, as Cheeze celebrates memories of hanging with friends on the streets on Friday nights. The group ponders the fate of a Stephen King character on “Ray Brower’s Body,” and taps a vintage rock’n’roll vibe on “Dearly Departed.” Tim sings of survival on the uptempo anthem “These Streets,” before Cheeze laments violence on the streets on the tough and powerful “Butcher,” seasoned with guest (and Danny Mort’s son) Troy Mort’s timely and savvy rap vocal. Each of these songs is catchy, and the Railroad City Murder Machines play these numbers with gusto and swagger. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Rik Golden at his Golden Records studio, this set sounds sharp and full, with the band’s vigor and enthusiasm shining through. The Railroad City Murder Machines deliver a potent package on this self-titled debut, an album well worth playing loud through a car stereo on any rowdy Friday night. (The album can be accessed and obtained digitally through various online platforms, and physical CD’s can be obtained at Railroad City Tattoo in Altoona.)

KEVIN ROY CORRELL – KEVIN ROY CORRELL (no label) A Philadelphia area native now calling Sunbury his home base, Kevin Roy Correll dishes out boisterous blues, blues rock and soul on his self-titled debut album. Kevin establishes himself as a volatile blues howler over the album’s 10 tracks; his explosive polecat howls and soulful belting recalling the traditions of James Brown, Humble Pie-era Steve Marriott, Joe Cocker, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and even Screaming Lord Sutch. Kevin shows a versatile range of styles here; he unleashes swaggering blues rock as he displays his feral howls on the disc-opening “Victory,” and taps a more vintage rock’n’roll flavor on the piano-accented “She’s My Baby,” which gearshifts into a slow and soulful homestretch. Greasy-sounding organ helps power the hearty blues of “Kick in the Ass,” while Kevin’s intense howls reflect ecstasy on the lowdown blues of “Little Tramp.” Hints of the Rolling Stones inform “Pepper’s Kitty” and the melody-geared “What You’re Looking For.” Kevin shows his softer side twice on the album, on the string-edged “Those Words” and the melodic and country-toned “Rosalinda.” The album finishes rowdy with the raunchy blues rock of “Fast Jack” and the rollicking rock-and-roller “Bad Day.” Kevin pours it all out on the vocal end, pushing the skies with his high-flying screams and howls, but also knowing when to tone it down during the album’s softer moments. His collaboration with StudioPros gives each song the appropriate arrangement to bring out the desired backdrop and intensity for Kevin to vocally strut his stuff. The overall mix and sound comes off full and edgy, allowing the rowdiness of Kevin’s musical personality to shine front and center. Kevin Roy Correll lets it all out on this self-titled debut album, proudly introducing the listening world to his gusto and enthusiasm. (The CD can be obtained through Kevin’s website,

ROBIN AND BOB – LEAVE ON (no label) From Washington County, singer Robin Matthews and guitarist/singer Bob Giacometti began performing together as Robin and Bob in early 2017, forging their own distinctive blend of blues, rock, folk and vintage country. They introduce their eclectic, wide-ranging sound through the eight tracks of their debut album, Leave On. Robin’s broad and full-ranged voice soars and rings out front and center throughout the album, with Bob on guitars and bass, Josh Gerba and several guests filling and fleshing out the song arrangements behind her. The album starts playfully with the folksy blues of “Placed All My Bets,” as Robin throws caution out the window as she plunges into love. Rod Cregut’s keys and Dale Mangold’s sax flourishes lend a lounge blues mood to “Pussycat Blues,” while Robin and Bob churn out a bouncy rockabilly flavor on the lighthearted love ode “I’ll Be,” featuring Andy Gregg on upright bass. With Allen Wells on tenor banjo and Chris Volpe on trumpet, the title track “Leave On” displays a ragtime roots vibe, and guest violinist Bob Banerjee helps color the soulful “Love Me Three Times.” With Josh Gerba adding some extra guitar textures, Robin and Bob show a harder rock and soul flavor on the observational “Some Will.” Pedal steel player Bob Crafton helps the duo tap a classic tear-in-beer country ballad flavor on “One Classy Broad,” and they finish the disc with the gentle folk and bluegrass tones of “Leavin’ Shoes.” All eight songs provide catchy melodies and tasty performances; Robin sinks heart and personality into her voice, and Bob and the rest of the instrumental corps support her voice with fresh-sounding and creative arrangements. Engineered, mixed and produced by Josh Gerba at Pink Flamingo Studios in Monongahela, Leave On sounds basic and smooth, allowing the essence of the songs and performances to shine through in their purest form. This is a strong debut album; Leave On nicely captures Robin and Bob’s musical world, and offers a good-feeling, tasty listening experience. (The CD can be obtained online through Amazon.)