Album Reviews

Keystone Rock Review publishes and promotes thorough, well-written reviews of albums and EPs professionally released by rock artists based in Pennsylvania, present and past.

November 20, 2022

Diamonds In the Coal by The Badlees

At a time when many in the rock world were in the process of re-imaging from the slick 80’s hair band to the grungy 90s alternative, a young Pennsylvania band called The Badlees was forging their own path with a sound called “roots rock” with their first full length album.

Review of Diamonds in the Coal at Classic Rock Review

December 13, 2021

Surrender by Clarence Spady

In 2021, bluesman Clarence Spady released his third studio album entitled Surrender, an album decades in the making. It is comprised of new original studio recordings along with some live recording from a 1999 performance.

Review of Surrender at Roots Rock Review

May 11, 2021

Perfect Smile by The Cellarbirds

In 2001, The Cellerbirds may have put out one of the finer recordings by a Pennsylvania artist during the first decade of the 21st century. Perfect Smile is excellent through and through. It’s one of those albums that just gets better with each listen.

Review of Perfect Smile at Modern Rock Review

January 24, 2021

The Optimist by Eric Bazilian

Although it was the dawn of his fourth decade of professionally performing, writing, recording, and producing, The Optimist was the debut solo effort by Eric Bazilian in 2000. This indy release is a pleasing assortment of well-crafted hard rock songs with a definite edge.

Review of The Optimist at Modern Rock Review

July 29, 2020

Voices by Hall and Oates

With the onset of the 1980s, Hall and Oates began migrating toward a more modern pop sound without totally abandoning their rock n’ soul roots. Released in the summer of 1980, Voices would become their creative and commercial breakthrough.

Review of Voices at Classic Rock Review

March 21, 2020

Back On the Streets by Donnie Iris

After a decade of fronting groups, Donnie Iris entered the 1980s by releasing his debut record, Back On the Streets. This collaboration with producer and co-writer Mark Avsec features a blend of traditional rock with new wave and power pop sensibilities.

Review of Back On the Streets at Classic Rock Review

October 22, 2019

You'll Be Alright by Null and Void

You’ll Be All Right is the debut record by the duo Null & Void. This 12 song album combines the lyrics of Jason Peverett with the music and melodies of Chris Nelson.

Review of You’ll Be All Right

July 9, 2019

Crystal Clear by Suzanne Lavine

After a long hiatus from the music business, Suzanne Lavine, a Pennsylvania based artist who formally fronted The Vines, has produced and released her 6-song debut EP, Crystal Clear.

Review of Crystal Clear at Modern Rock Review

June 5, 2019

Broken Strings by Ellie Rose

Broken Strings is the debut recording by Wilkes-Barre based singer/songwriter Ellie Rose. The six songs on this EP were all written with a very specific overarching theme in mind, each track represents one of the various stages of grief.

Review of Broken Strings at Modern Rock Review

April 25, 2019

Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells

On his sixth album, Tommy James was given their first opportunity to compose and produce independently. The result is Crimson and Clover, a 1969 collection of songs which seamlessly range from teen-oriented power pop to blue-eyed Soul to psychedelic experimentation.

Review of Crimson and Clover at Classic Rock Review

April 4, 2019

The Badlees 1999 albums

The Badlees long struggle to release their long-anticipated major label follow-up came to a head in 1999 when the group made a brash decision to put the music itself ahead of the label concerns and independently produce and release a wholly separate full-length album.

Double review of Amazing Grace & Up There Down Here

November 2, 2018

Abandoned Luncheonette by Hall and Oates

The critically acclaimed second album by Daryl Hall and John Oates at once captures the best on this duo early in their career and the promise of their distinct rock n’ soul style that made them famous later. Although a very minor hit initially, Abandoned Luncheonette grew in stature through the decades.

Review of Abandoned Luncheonette at Classic Rock Review

August 25, 2018

Jim Croce 1973 albums

In 1973 Jim Croce found the pinnacle of his career success with the release of two successful albums, Life and Times and I Got a Name. Tragically, Croce was killed in a plane crash in between the release of these two albums.

Review of Life and Times & I Got a Name at Classic Rock Review

March 14, 2018

Meeting My Shadow by Vanessa Collier

Vanessa Collier combines dynamic, passionate and entertaining performances with an authentic blending of R&B, soul, blues and Gospel on her 2017 sophomore LP, Meeting My Shadow, a work which offers a solid glimpse into her burgeoning talent.

Review of Meeting My Shdow at Roots Rock Review

November 7, 2017

Live by Bret Alexander & Nyke Van Wyk

Live HMAC and Mauch Chunk Opera House came about as sort of a happy accident by Bret Alexander & Nyke Van Wyk, as a few 2016 live performances were recorded for other purposes but the resulting works are reinterpreted songs with fresh, new musical arrangements that are performed differently from original versions.

Review of Live HMAC and Mauch Chunk Opera House

April 2, 2017

Galaxies by Aaron Fink

Galaxies, the third solo record by seasoned rock veteran Aaron Fink, is a 2017 release which features rich and entertaining tunes presented with much diverse rock n’ roll flavoring.

Review of Galaxies at Modern Rock Review

March 19, 2017

Hindsight by Patrick Joseph

As a composer, performer, multi-instrumentalist, an producer, Patrick Joseph defines the essence of an independent performer. His 2016 release, Hindsight features a mix of new music and re-interpretations of songs from his previous two LPs.

Review of Hindsight at Modern Rock Review

February 18, 2017

Secret Samadhi by Live

The third overall album by the York-based rock quartet Live, the 1997 release Secret Samadhi is named after a state of Hindu meditation and features a mix of mainstream rock and alternative Avant Garde. This original work draws influence from diverse musical influences from both contemporary and historical rock artists.

Review of Secret Samadhi at Classic Rock Review

November 24, 2016

Someday Maybe by The Clarks

Although this major label debut never got its full measure of promotion, The Clarks 1996 release Someday Maybe is nonetheless a strong musical statement. The album is a solid and steady effort by the Pennsylvania quartet, full of steady rock/pop tracks crafted in multiple sub-genres.

Review of Someday Maybe at Classic Rock Review

November 10, 2016

Where the Lore Began by Jeremiah Tall

Built on his one man live show, which includes guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica and a custom suitcase kick drum, the 2015 LP Where the Lore Began by Jeremiah Tall delivers strong and entertaining songs which make for a pleasant listen.

Review of Where the Lore Began at Roots Rock Review

October 27, 2016

Shift Seven III EP

The third release by the Central PA rock trio Shift Seven, the 6-song EP Shift Seven III adds some sonic dimensions to the band’s base gritty, boogie-rock sound. The songs here feature rich textures and arrangements and explore more rock sub-genres than previous efforts.

Review of Shift Seven III EP

September 14, 2016

Tactics 1-12 by Winston's Dog

A hard rock band from suburban Philadelphia, Winston’s Dog has been playing in one form or another since the late 1990s. On their latest album, Tactics 1-2, the group forges melodic, guitar-driven rock in a richly layered style of alternative with impressionistic lyrics.

Review of Tactics 1-12 at Modern Rock Review

July 19, 2016

No Rain Remain by Steve Wilkins

No Rain Remain, the debut EP by Steve Wilkins, contains songs of diverse themes that somehow gel together as a cohesive whole with an underlying statement speaking of the struggle between balancing a responsible life and satisfying a wellspring of creative impulses.

Review of No Rain Remain at Modern Rock Review

March 17, 2016

River Songs by The Badlees

The Badlees independently produced their mid-nineties masterpiece with the roots-rock inspired River Songs. With solid compositions that seamlessly glide from solid rock numbers to folk and Americana classics, this album shows the Pennsylvania-based quintet in top form.

Review of River Songs at Classic Rock Review

November 2, 2015

Jumping Out of Windows by Boulevard of the Allies

For their second album, Jumping Out of Windows, Pittsburgh based Boulevard of the Allies forges an eclectic mix of styles which range from modern and new wave rock to an array of diverse classic genres like folk, jazz, ska, R&B and funk.

Review of Jumping Out of Windows

April 7, 2015

Catchin Feels by Shawan and the Wonton

Led by the dynamic vocals of Shawan Rice, the five-song EP Catchin’ Feels blends R&B, folk, jazz, blues, and just the slightest bit rock n’ roll to forge an original musical experience by Shawan and the Wonton.

Review of Catchin’ Feels

September 24, 2014

Black Skies and Starlight by Dustin Douglas

Dustin Douglas recorded his debut album, Black Skies and Starlight over the past two years, while he was an active member of The Badlees. With a mix of big guitars, pop-laced hooks and an alternative rock attitude, Douglas blends a diverse array of influenced to make a formidable record.

Review of Black Skies and Starlight at Modern Rock Review

May 5, 2014

Throwing Copper by Live

Live reached an early peak with their 1994 sophomore album Throwing Copper. With dynamic and dramatic songs laced by lyrical ambiguity and thought-provoking themes, the Pennsylvania group composed a cohesive and memorable record which captured the post-grunge sound of the middle nineties.

Review of Throwing Copper at Classic Rock Review

October 31, 2013

Seeds and Thorns by Up The Chain

Seeds and Chains is an engaging new album by Philadelphia area folk artist Up the Chain. Led by front man and creator Reed Kendall, the album employs some of the most talented musicians in the Philly area for this entertaining and rewarding musical journey.

Review of Seeds and Chains

October 15, 2013

Epiphones and Empty Rooms by The Badlees

With their latest release, Epiphones and Empty Rooms, The Badlees have fully embraced the “two states” of their group. In fact, they have taken this concept to the extreme with a double album made of two discs which are intentionally distinct from each other.

Review of Epiphones and Empty Rooms at Modern Rock Review

July 5, 2013

Rumble by Tommy Conwell and Young Rumblers

Aside from being an accomplished blues guitarist, Tommy Conwell was keenly tuned into his audience and gave them his all at every live show. Rumble was his first major label record with his band The Young Rumblers and it did a fair job of capturing a bit of the live energy.

Review of Rumble at Classic Rock Review

April 16, 2013

Out of Body by The Hooters

Out of Body was the fifth studio album by The Hooters, released in 1993, and would be the last before the band’s decade and a half hiatus from recording. As with all Hooters albums, the original material was mainly composed by the team of Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman.

Review of Out of Body at Classic Rock Review

October 13, 2012

One Way Home by The Hooters

After two years of extensive touring in support of their first major label success, Nervous Night, the Philadelphia based group The Hooters returned to the studio to record One Way Home. Unlike its predecessor, this album was heavily folk and Americana influenced.

Review of One Way Home at Classic Rock Review

May 14, 2012


Originally planned to be The Hooters sixth studio album, Largo became a much larger and more complex project which became a a quasi-concept album and involved top-notch talent from across the rock spectrum in both musical styles and musical eras.

Review of Largo

January 21, 2012

Idaho by Pete Bush & Hoi Polloi

Pittsburgh’s Pete Bush made the radical transformation from stand-up bass to front man when he formed Pete Bush & the Hoi Polloi, which released their debut Idaho in May 2012, adding some nice sonic additions to the base live sound of the trio.

Review of Idaho

September 28, 2011

Tanker A by HotWingJones

Hot Wing Jones has been described as a garage band for adults. While this may accurately describe this band’s public persona, it doesn’t aptly describe this band’s dedication to their musical pursuits as demonstrated in their latest album, Tanker A & Other Short Stories.

Review of Tanker A

March 3, 2011

Imaginary Lines 33

A deep and rich project of innovative and philosophical music, Imaginary Lines culminated with a triple-length, 33-song collection in 2009 called Imaginary Lines 33.

Review of Imaginary Lines 33 at Modern Rock Review

November 9, 2010

Love Is Rain by The Badlees

The Badlees returned from a seven year hiatus of recording as a group with Love Is Rain in 2009. With this unique album, the group embraced the two musical directions towards which they had evolved over recent years.

Review of Love Is Rain at Modern Rock Review

March 10, 2010

Loneliness Anonymous by Darcie Miner

Darcie Miner‘s evolutionary album, Loneliness Anonymous, fuses her folk rock talents with melodic pop sensibilities and pairs her excellent vocal skills and songwriting with top-notch production techniques.

Review of Loneliness Anonymous at Modern Rock Review


Other Album Reviews

12/07/11 Miracle On Rock Street Twelve Twenty-Four Article Published at Modern Rock Review
11/20/11 Come Alive EP Carmen Magro  
09/24/11 The Battle Begins Vessel  
08/16/11 The Invisible Man Chris Nelson  
02/02/11 Broken Machines Underground Saints  
12/27/10 This Is Cabinet, Set 1 Cabinet  
07/13/10 See That My Grave Is Kept Clean Ed Randazzo & Bret Alexander  
03/31/10 112 Beats Per Minute Craig & Alex Bannon  
02/07/10 Lucky 7’s Ron Fleeger & the Stranger  
01/24/10 Dollars for Diane Compilation Various Artists Article Published at Cygnus Wave
10/12/09 We the Broken Pan.a.ce.a  
05/24/09 Classics The Ann Kerstetter Band