Susan Saunders Interviewed at Write A Revolution

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Author and Illustrator Susan Saunders was recently interviewed at Write A Revolution. She discusses the ups and downs of indie publishing, as well as her start in children’s book writing. Read the entire INTERVIEW HERE.

Pick up a signed copy of Beach Boogie & the Clam Jams at Waunders.com

Smashing Pumpkins “Monuments to an Elegy” Album Review

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Smashing Pumpkins
Monuments to an Elegy (Album Review)

By Rob Watts

If you’re into The Smashing Pumpkins, then there’s no better time to be a fan, as a plethora of exciting projects have been flying out of Billy Corgan’s camp as of late. Whether it’s the deluxe edition re-issue campaign of previous classic albums (see Adore re-issue), Corgan’s eyebrow raising one-off releases such as AEGEA and Siddhartha or simply a good old fashion studio album of new Pumpkins material.

On the band’s tenth studio album, Monuments to an Elegy, Corgan and company tread new ground once again proving that chances are not afraid to be taken. Much like their previous near-masterpiece Oceania, Corgan is determined to move forth, leaving the likes of Siamese Dream and Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness as far in the past as possible. With Billy Corgan leading the charge as the last remaining original Pumpkin, he handles guitar, keyboards and bass, filling the slot of the recently dismissed bassist Nicole Fiorentino. The ever-so-loyal lead guitarist Jeff Schroeder remains, but the big news coming out of Pumpkinland was that Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee would be handling skins on all nine tracks, filling the vacant slot left behind by Mike Byrne.

Maybe not quite as moving as Oceania, Monuments to an Elegy has many high-points, mainly the simple fact, that with most Pumpkins albums as of recent, Corgan has the uncanny knack to write songs that make you say “huh…really? You actually recorded that?” But after a few listens, it all makes sense. Such tracks like “Being Beige”, “Anaise” and “Drum + Fife” fall in that category.

Now and then, the drums sound a bit intrusive, yet, Lee’s drumming sounds more controlled and less erratic, as is expected on many Crüe songs. Production-wise, it’s also not as slick as Oceania, but more muddy in places. This, however, is not a criticism. Your personal preference will be the judge. Of course this album, for reasons only known to Corgan, was recorded at breakneck speed, so a few songs sound more like polished up demos as opposed to fully realized songs, such as “One and All (We Are)” and “Tiberius.”

With all that said, I give highly favorable props to the new effort. As mentioned before, The Pumpkins have never been afraid to take chances, and songs such as “Anaise”, “Monuments” and “Dorian” are a testament to that fact.

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Ten Classic Rock ALBUMS That Every Music Lover Should Hear.

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10 Classic Rock Albums That Every Music Lover Should Hear
By Rob Watts
@BostonAuthor

And no, Led Zeppelin is nowhere on this list. Eric Clapton wasn’t even considered and AC/DCs Back in Black need not be discussed. If you hear the same songs by the same artists over and over on a daily basis via radio, television, streaming or wherever, a best of list with those artists aren’t going to convince you that you should like them any more than you already do.

This list is a collection of ten ALBUMS that I LOVE, and feel that you might enjoy as well if given a full listen. Of course, I’m talking about full albums in their entirety, not hit singles. Some, of course, you probably are more familiar with. But some, may be a mystery waiting to be discovered. Check them out and give them a shot. Buy them, download them, Spotify them, whatever you like. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts after. Enjoy.

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1- Forever Changes (Love)
Signed by Electra Records at the insistence of Jim Morrison of The Doors, , but sadly, LOVE has pretty much flown under the mainstream radar since their formation in the mid 60s. But this Los Angeles garage band had a secret ingredient in the form of vocalist/songwriter Arthur Lee. Their first two albums LOVE and DeCapo were met with modest success, but it was their third album, Forever Changes, that would put them on the map. Rightly so, as Forever Changes features Arthur Lee at his absolute best. Stellar songwriting and orchestration, this album is a beautiful front-to-back listening experience. Standout tracks: andmoreagain, You Set The Scene, and Maybe the People Will Be The Times or Between Clark and Hilldale.

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2-Spirit, Self-Titled (Spirit)

Sharing the same roots as the above mentioned LOVE, Spirit were a psychedelic pop rock band from Los Angeles, California. Their debut self-titled effort, released in January of 1968, features an abundance of experimentation but still maintains the catchiest of hooks. The instrumental TAURUS was so hauntingly catchy, in-fact, that it’s been alleged that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page lifted a good portion of its notes for his own “Stairway to Heaven.” Listen for yourself and be the judge. Standout tracks: Fresh-Garbage, Taurus, and Topanga Windows

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3-Flush The Fashion (Alice Cooper)

On his Twelfth studio album, released in 1980, Alice Cooper employed famed producer Roy Thomas Baker to oversee production of, what is arguably, one of Coopers finest offerings since Welcome To My Nightmare. Leaning more towards the new wave sound of the times, Cooper more or less threw aside his signature theatrical shock rocker anthems and went for the jugular with songs dealing with his own loss of identity and personal battles with ongoing alcoholism. It would be the last great album released by Cooper for some time, as he admittedly was in a self-induced drug and alcohol blackout during the recording of his next three albums Special Forces, Dada and Zipper Catches Skin. Standout Tracks: Clones (we’re all), Leather Boots and Aspirin Damage

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4- Meddle (Pink Floyd)

Of course we all know and love Darkside of the Moon, The Wall and Wish You Were Here, but the Floyd’s sixth album Meddle often goes unnoticed. Mainly an experimental endeavor due to the band’s lack of material and ideas, the bands sixth album released in 1971 contains only six tracks, yet each one takes you on a journey as only Pink Floyd can do. Opening with the blistering One of these Days and closing with the 23 minute opus Echoes, other long-forgotten gems still exist while bookended between those two classics. David Gilmore, primary vocalist on this album, sings over the mellow psychedelic A Pillow of Winds, while sharing the microphone with a howling dog (owned by Humble Pie’s Steve Marriott) on the track Seamus. Standout Tracks: A Pillow in the Winds, Echoes and Seamus

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5- Pacific Ocean Blue (Dennis Wilson)

As the first Beach Boy to release a solo album, Dennis Wilson proved himself to be more than just the good looking drummer in his family’s rock and roll band. As brother and Beach Boys musical mastermind Brian Wilson’s mental health had been deteriorating, younger brothers Carl and Dennis had taken a more hands-on call of duty with songwriting and production in order to keep The Beach Boys career afloat. In doing so, Dennis crafted his songwriting skills and by the time 1977 rolled around, had recorded an amazing batch of material he could call his own. With his more soulful vocal delivery and mature sounding lyrics, which shied away greatly from the surfing and drag racing themes, Pacific Ocean Blue received many great reviews and even outsold The Beach Boys’ contemporary releases during the time. Sadly, this would be Wilson’s only solo release, as he died as a result of a drowning accident in 1981. Standout Tracks: River Song, Moonshine and Pacific Ocean Blues.

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6- Candy-O (The Cars)

Just prior to their MTV phase and string of hit songs such as Magic, You Might Think and Drive, The Cars released on of their finest albums in the form of Candy-O in 1979, produced by the great Roy Thomas Baker (mentioned above in Flush The Fashion,) the melodic new wave sounds of Let’s Go, Double Life and the title track are grounds enough for multiple plays, but the one-two punch comes in the form of It’s All I Can Do and Dangerous Type. It’s hard to pick a favorite from The Cars’ catalogue, but Candy-O is in my mind, their greatest achievement. Standout Tracks: Candy-O, It’s All I Can Do and Dangerous Type.

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7- Agents of Fortune (Blue Oyster Cult)

The beauty of Blue Oyster Cult‘s fourth album, Agents of Fortune, is that they never repeat themselves once on this album. Yet, they still released an incredibly cohesive album. Each band member contributed to the songwriting and vocal duties, thus recording a patchwork of songs that seem to play well with one another. So, if you are expecting to hear Don’t Fear the Reaper ten different ways, forget it. But you’ll be thrilled to know that right from the opening track This Ain’t The Summer of Love to Debbie Denise, you’ll be blown away with rock anthem after anthem. Blue Oyster Cult did not show up to mess around with this album. Standout Tracks: True Confessions, Tattoo Vampire and Extra Terrestrial Intelligence

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8- Holland (The Beach Boys)

For the Beach Boys‘ nineteenth studio album, the band retreated to Baambrugge in the Netherlands during the winter of 1972 to record Holland, which turned out to be one of the band’s best efforts since Pet Sounds. The change in recording location served as an attempt at fresh inspiration and perhaps a chance to bring Brian Wilson out of his long self-induced drug depression. Although the elder Wilson’s contributions were meager, the group delivered a mature sounding collection of tunes which oftentimes make you question as to whether it’s a Beach Boys album or not. Standout Tracks: Sail on Sailer, California and Leaving This Town.

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9- Queen II (Queen)

On top of this being an incredible classic rock album, I basically selected it because it’s one of the few Queen albums that feature songs not overplayed (or just played in general) on an hourly basis on classic rock radio. Perhaps this one has fallen away from the consciousness of the casual Queen fan. Yet, everything about this album screams classic Queen and boasts everything we love about this band. From the vocal deliver of Freddy Mercury, Brian May’s signature guitar sound and Roy Thomas Baker’s (again???) solid production, this is an all-around win for the band. Standout Tracks: Father to Son, Ogre Battle and Some Day One Day.

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10-Kiln House (Fleetwood Mac)

Long before the Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham era. Long before the band took on their classic laid back Southern California pop rock sound. Long before they were “cool”, Fleetwood Mac had various line-up changes and sound direction. On their fourth album, just after founding member and guitarist Peter Green made his exit from the band, the remaining original members Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan recorded 1970s Kiln House. Slightly abandoning the blues-influenced rock that dominated their first three albums, Kiln House is far more experimental. With Spencer and Kirwan sharing songwriting and vocal duties, both musicians offer drastically different music styles, with Kirwan performing melodic soft rock balladry and Spencer having free-reign to play his 1950s Rockabilly music, reminiscent of Buddy Holly. With absolutely zero traces of the all-too-familiar Fleetwood Mac sound, this album is very much worth discovering if it hasn’t been already. It’s a great lubricant to the other Fleetwood Mac releases around that time period, of you are so inclined to venture into them. Standout Tracks: This is the Rock, Buddy’s Song and Hi Ho Silver.

Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday Book Sale!

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Looking to avoid the insanity of big retail this weekend? This weekend only, in honor of Small Business Saturday, we are running our biggest sale yet! From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, we are offering HUGE DISCOUNT PACKAGES on our books.

Three of our latest releases will be available to you at a big savings.

Beach Boogie & the Clam Jams (Children)

SNOWPOCALYPSE (Children)

Left-Hand Path (Young Adult+)

Give the gift of books this holiday season, or simply treat yourself.

You’ll be doing your part in supporting a small independent business this weekend :)

Visit the Ocean View Press Promo Page to purchase books.

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Pink Floyd: The Endless River (Album Review)

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Pink Floyd: The Endless River
Album Review (Deluxe Edition)
By Rob Watts

There’s been a lot of debate over Pink Floyd releasing unfinished snippets from their 1994 album The Division Bell as their swan song. Many have said it’s a disservice to loyal fans, others have claimed it’s a way of milking music buyers once more before the band finally sails into the sunset…or the endless river.

Nearly into their fiftieth year as a band (no matter which lineup era was your favorite), Pink Floyd have nothing left to prove. They have scaled all the heights that most bands could only hope to achieve. Every musician would love to claim to have recorded Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, The Wall, and perhaps even Animals and Meddle. The band members of Pink Floyd could have lived comfortably for the rest of their lives on the royalties from the release of the single Money alone. So I have to disagree when I hear people claiming that the Gilmore-led Pink Floyd are simply cashing in.

The Endless River is essentially a tribute to the late Rick Wright, Keyboardist for the band and founding member. Wright was a major key element to Pink Floyd’s sound and success. Often overlooked, Wright provided the band with all the amazing ethereal and sonic sounds throughout their career. One only needs to listen to Dark Side of the Moon to get the gist of his importance. Many pieces of Wright’s work were left behind after the completion of the band’s 1994 release The Division Bell. Basically, David Gilmore and Nick Mason gathered up the remaining pieces left behind and strung them together to create a final farewell, to both Wright and the fans.

If you’re a fan of the band’s instrumentation, then you’ll really enjoy The Endless River. The album is broken into four pieces (or sides.) The final track, Louder Than Words, is the only song with vocals (Gilmore.)

The Deluxe version of the album is beautifully housed in a box, including a Casebound book full of photos, Postcards and a Blu-ray Disc featuring the album tracks, bonus tracks and six video clips featuring various stages of recording, from The Division Bell to The Endless River.

A highly enjoyable listening experience and if you love Pink Floyd, there’s no reason you wouldn’t love this.

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All the CRABAPPLES have fallen from the tree!

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CRABAPPLES: The Crooked Roads through Cedar Grove Volume 2 is now sold out! The 2012 follow-up to 2011s Huldufolk was released as a special edition print Book & CD limited to 250 copies. Shhh….don’t tell anyone, but I’ll have the final copy of CRABAPPLES #250 on the road with me during my final book signings. First come, first serve. No reprints will be made. I also have it on good authority that a couple of copies may still remain at the Saugus, MA location of Newbury Comics. Good luck!

CRABAPPLES is still currently available on Kindle (Available here)

A reimagined version of CRABAPPLES will be included in the upcoming novel THE CROOKED ROADS THROUGH CEDAR GROVE due out mid 2015.

Don’t miss out! The latest novella LEFT-HAND PATH, also limited to 250 copies, is still available in Casebound Book & CD edition. This book is only available in print form, no eBook versions are expected to be released. Purchase your limited edition copy HERE!

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