SoHo Suite Album by Anders Holst Review

June 4, 2011 · Posted in Entertainment · 1 Comment 

I talk about cigars and other stuff I like. My brother knows a lot about music. That is why nearly every word that follows is his. Here is my brother Josh’s review of the Jazz Album SoHo Suite by Anders Holst. I hope you enjoy.

Anders Holst, a Swedish native based in New York City, is one of the newer sensations to hit the genres of Adult Contemporary and Jazz. He released his first EP called “Five” (2005), and his debut album in 2009, called “Romantika.” These two efforts formed the basis for The American Smooth Jazz Awards nominating him for International Male Vocalist. Fellow nominees included Seal and Michael Bublé. His successes are putting him near the top. He has received many accolades, including a statement from Quincy Jones, who said, “His (Anders’) honest and original love songs can give romantic music a brand new chance. Do your heart a favor and check him out.”

On top of this success, Anders is releasing his second studio album, called “SoHo Suite”, a nod to the neighborhood he currently resides. “How Many Times Do You Fall In Love” starts the album on a bright note about finding a true love, and is a wonderful way to start the album. You don’t have to wait long to hear one of the highlights of the album in “I Will Pray.” This song touches on the faith showcased throughout his past releases, and is a touching song about his desire to save someone he loves. It is also the most contemporary sounding, without any real shadow of Jazz.

While Anders has been categorized as a Jazz singer songwriter, he transcends any particular genre and creates his own style drenched in romance and love. “I Keep Forgettin’” is the sole cover song on SoHo Suite. By Michael McDonald and recorded after his stint with The Doobie Brothers, the original is a 1980’s classic characterized by rhythm. What Anders’ version lacks in rhythm, he makes up with a smooth melody that captures the soulfulness and vocal styling of McDonald. His cover of McDonald’s hit, and Billy Joel’s “All About Soul” on his debut album “Romantika” do more to represent his influences than the rest of the songs on his albums. Both McDonald and Joel had their greatest successes in the 1970s, but Anders has focused on their latter day hits, showing his affinity for the 1980s and 90s.

Anders continues to write lyrics that focus on mature love, and it is best expressed on “What Your Love Has Done To Me.” Perhaps the best song on the album, it is full of love and romance. He has managed to take old-fashioned lyrics and make them feel contemporary.

While none of the songs quite reach the level of “Love Me Like A River”, from his EP “Five”, “SoHo Suite” features a solid list of songs that will grow on you after each repeated play.

SoHo Suite Tracklist

  1. How Many Times Do You Fall In Love?
  2. Love Surrender
  3. I Will Pray
  4. Time is Not Waiting
  5. Almost Forgotten
  6. To Forgive Is Divine
  7. I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You Are Near)
  8. What Your Love Has Done To Me
  9. Sometimes The Light
  10. As Far As My Eye Can See

If you are interested in purchasing this album you can check it out here. I’m going to listen to the album today and I’ll probably say a word or two in tomorrow’s A Few Good Links post.

AFGL: Towers, Thrones and Heavenly Views

May 15, 2011 · Posted in AFGL, Entertainment · Comment 

In this edition of A Few Good Links we will cover a couple of epic book series that have been and will be made into television series and/or movies and some awesome pictures.

  • Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series is his magnum opus. It follows the last Gunslinger around in his search for the Dark Tower, which is basically the answer to everything. Without giving away the biggest spoiler about the series I do have something to say. I hope that the coming movie/television series about the Dark Tower Series has a different ending than the books. Actually, I think that this deserves a much more in depth explanation and I’ll be giving one later this week. However, if you are one of those people who loves an epic tale then this is a good place to start.
  • I have not read George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice Series but I am watching the television series that is based off the books: Game of Thrones. Like King’s series, Martin’s series is about a mythical world that is facing very troubling times. There is evil afoot and competing claims to the crown. I’m seriously thinking about purchasing the first four books from this series; any of you who have read it think that it is worth the while?
  • The last thing I want to share with you this Sunday is a link to 100 pictures that were taken from planes. They are gorgeous pictures of different places all over the globe. A few of these things I have seen, most I haven’t. Take a gander if you get the time. Here’s one of the more striking images, which comes from Cargill Salt Ponds in San Francisco Bay.

Cargill Salt Pounds in San Francisco Bay

AFGL: A Launch, Punch Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary Reviews & Two New TV Shows

April 17, 2011 · Posted in AFGL, Entertainment · Comment 

In this edition of A Few Good Links we will cover a couple of things about cigars and a couple of new shows.

  • Smoke Inn has unveiled its most recent 15th Anniversary cigar: the Padron 1964 Anniversary SI-15. I’ve reviewed both the natural and maduro wrapped versions of this cigar. Both are great cigars and they are also very exclusive.
  • The Punch Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary has been released and there are some reviews in from A Cigar Smoker’s Journal, Tom’s Cigar Reviews and from Cigar Rants. My review of this cigar will be out shortly.
  • The Borgias is shaping up to be a great show. It chronicles the life of the Borgia family during the renaissance. If you know nothing of them this should help: the dad is the Pope, one son is a Cardinal, another son is a military leader (a bad one), the daughter is going to be married off for political reasons and the family has a personal assassin named Micheletto. There will be twists and very twisted turns during the course of this series. My first encounter with the Borgia family came a couple of years ago when I read Mario Puzo’s The Family, which is a novel about the Borgia family. Mario Puzo, who wrote The Godfather, along with his co-writer were able to make interesting and informative fiction about one of history’s most unique families.
  • Game of Thrones promises to be another great series. The first episode is going to air tonight and I will definitely be watching what I think should be a dark and dreary bloodbath of conniving individuals all vying for power. Many of the actors in this HBO series hail from roles in fantasy movies including the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hopefully it turns out to be as good a show as I am hoping.

Netflix and Cigars

August 29, 2009 · Posted in Entertainment · Comment 

When I started smoking cigars I was content sitting out in the Southern Californian night as long as there was some bourbon to fill my cup. Cigars and bourbon are a great way to unwind after a long day but, after a while, it became a bore. Cigars and bourbon are wonderful but a man needs more than libations and smoke.

That is when I realized I have a treasure box filled with gems. Westerns, action flicks, science fiction and oh so much more all in my laptop just waiting for me.

Instead of whiling away the early mornings with Padron and Patel I now had something for those unused synapses. I watched movies that I knew I should have watched by now. Full Metal Jacket was great, Eyes Wide Shut was odd but it was a decent movie and that one with the modern version of vampires in that Alaskan town wasn’t worth the two hours. C’est la vie.

Then I took a tour through a post-apocalyptic America with Jeremiah and Kurdy. If you have not watched the science fiction TV series Jeremiah then you should do yourself a favor and watch it. Unfortunately, it only lasted two seasons because, I’m guessing, the budget on that show must have been astronomical and it aired during the earliest parts of this new millennium. If it aired now I’m sure it would have lasted as long as Battlestar Galactica. Even though it is a step down from Battlestar Galactica, which was a post-apocalyptic romp through space, it did have a lot of redeeming qualities.

Now I am puffing away to the stylings of J. J. Abrams’ Lost. I’m almost through the third season of Lost as of this writing and it is at least as wonderfully convoluted as I had been told. Who would have thought crashing a smattering of misfits on an island would be allegorical gold? Wait, wasn’t there a book….

Yes, there was a book but it wasn’t as rich as Lost. With a preponderance of exposition and a never ending back story that is as intricate as any Opus X, Lost is one of the most addictive shows I have ever watched. Even if it didn’t have all that intrigue I still would watch it because any show that creates a fake whiskey, McCutcheon, is worth watching.

So, thank you Netflix for giving me another reason to stay up late. Cigars, bourbon and Netflix are a great combination.

My Birthday at The Cellar

June 20, 2009 · Posted in Drinks, Entertainment, Featured, The Perfect Draw · 1 Comment 

It was a great night full of amazing food, out-of-this-world bourbon and surprisingly good cigars (I like Punch cigars but they just seemed significantly better Thursday night. I’m sure it had something to do with the setting.). Here is what I had at The Cellar:

    The Bourbon
    Evan Williams Single Barrel – The world’s only vintage-dated Single Barrel Bourbon and is one of the world’s most acclaimed whiskeys. The first American Whiskey ever to win The Spirit Journal’s Whiskey of the Year award.
    Elijah Craig 18 yr. old – The oldest Single Barrel Bourbon in the world at 18 years, Elijah Craig Single Barrel is a rare marvel of whiskey-making.
    Parker’s Heritage 27 yr. old – Simply one of the oldest bourbons on the market. This smooth spirit features silky and sweet nose with hints of caramel and vanilla. The taste is amazingly balanced and smooth…sweet without being too sweet…and dry without being too dry!
    The Cigars – Punch
    The original Punch cigar was created in 1840 by a Cuban cigar manufacturer named Manuel Lopez. In an effort to attract the British market, he named the cigar after Mr. Punch, the cantankerous half of the Punch and Judy puppet shows.
    Punch Champion Natural – bold, full-bodied taste with a wrapper that is Ecuadoran Sumatra. Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican (Piloto Cubano). Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf. 90 pts cigar insider.
    Punch Rare Corojo Magnum – these cigars are made with extra rich, dark Sumatra wrapper leaves that are grown in the mountains of Ecuador. Medium to full bodied. 92 pts cigar insider smooth, earthy, slightly sweet flavors of clay, charcoal, stewed meat, and raisins.
    Dinner – By Executive Chef David Kelser
    Seared Ahi Tuna served under a spicy Mango salsa and fresh micro greens
    Ratatouille veloute with Pesto croutons and crème fraiche
    Slow roasted Short Ribs over herbed Polenta and Shallot-Thyme Jus
    Chocolate-Espresso soup with Vanilla Ice cream, Fresh Berries and Pistachio crisp

I was lucky enough to have a man from Heaven Hill’s Distillery at my table – an entertaining fellow who I am extremely jealous of. Wouldn’t it be great to have a job selling such amazing libations as the ones we had? Of course it would!

My favorite cigar was the Punch Champion Natural. It’s a perfecto with a good amount of kick to it. My only regret is that I smoked it first because I am certain it would have mixed much better with the older bourbons. As far as regrets go this is but a pittance. The cigar definitely belongs in the 91-93 point range.

Everyone at the table was great. They were all extremely accomplished men and the stories and jokes they told were a lot of fun. Before I continue with my Saturday I need to thank my professor, John Jackson, for inviting me. That cigar dinner was a great way to cap off my birthday. Thanks JJ!

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