Reviews: The Declaration of IndependenTS
Review by Michael McKenna
Nor'easter Entertainment Magazine
Bruce Lev is a singer/songwriter & producer from Phoenix, AZ who has been heavily influenced by The Beatles, John Lennon, Neil Young, Billy Joel and many other classic rock-n-roll bands from the 60s and 70s. He has received several awards for songwriting. He released his debut CD in December of 2012 and was the winner of the 2014 Artists In Music Awards for "Best Adult Contemporary Artist". In 2014 Bruce's song "Catwoman" made the ballot for the 57th Grammy Awards for "Best Rock Song". In 2015 Bruce released his single, "Jessica" to widespread critical acclaim. Bruce has also recently been named the 2015 "Rock Artist of the Year" at The Josie Awards in Nashville.
With kudos like those, I look forward to listening and reviewing this latest release!
His latest effort “The Declaration of Independents” opens with “Bell Bottom Girl” a track that has country overtones and timely acoustics that enhance his powerful vocals. The lyrics hearken back to those retro memories of the 60's when bell-bottom jeans were the craze.
“Catwoman” grabs you from the door with this classic rock-flavored, guitar-driven track which reminds me of early Jimi Hendrix and his slammin riffs! BANGIN!
“20th Century Man” is a rockin' monster! I can hear some of the Scorpions guitars all over this one. This track is a KILLER CUT!
The acclaimed single "Jessica” featuring Juice (Julia Grayling) just makes me melt. Her powerful pipes dominate the entire track!
“Jewish Guy” which is a parody of “Jealous Guy” is spot on! Bruce puts so much of himself into this number. It's like he's telling the listener of what he himself has gone through in life.
“Live on Alabama Drive” fits right in with the ZZ Top, Southern Rock mold perfectly. This slammin' instrumental makes one want to get up and boogie at the Hoe Down!
“Bell Bottom Girl (No. 9)” features a Ravi Shankar sitar in the way it was used by the immortal John Lennon. This acoustic tune is a nice reprise to the other version. The vocal effects are totally out of the box cool!
The final track “What You Do For Me” features Grammy nominated singer Armand Hutton and opens with a laid-back piano intro that accentuates Armand's vocals nicely. It is on this tune that we can hear the deep feeling that Bruce projects through his powerful songwriting. TOUCHING!
Bruce's latest effort lets the listener hear many sides of this talented musician. From the rock side to the melodic ballad, he nails each one with a spot on performance.
This CD is a MUST LISTEN!
On the Nor'easter Storm Scale, I give this a FORCE 4! WELL DONE!
Tapping into rock n’ roll’s heart and soul, Bruce Lev’s “The Declaration of Independents” is pure fun. With a wide variety of styles the pieces are woven together impeccably. Vocals are sung straight from the heart, the arrangements flawless, and with the right amount of passion. From the rollicking swagger of “LIVE On Alabama Drive” to the experimental “Bell Bottom Girl (no. 9)” Bruce Lev displays a wide range indeed.
Romantic to its very core is the tender ballad of “Bell Bottom Girl” which opens the album on a high note. “Catwoman” opts for another approach, demanding full attention. Loud, deliciously so, the song moves forward with tremendous power. The rhythm is colossal, the guitar work blistering, and overall the dominating spirit of the track works wonders. High energy continues on “20th Century Man” where Bruce Lev shows off his impressive vocals, commanding attention. Offering an intricate multi-layered sound is the balanced work of “Jessica” with Juice Lucafo’s sweet voice leading the way. Easily the highlight of the album is the driving rhythm of “LIVE On Alabama Drive”. Going for a stranger more surreal sound is the trip work of “Bell Bottom Girl (no. 9)” whose studio effects recall the Beatles work. Ending the album off with a sense of community is the celebratory “What You Do To Me”.
By letting his songs simply soar Bruce Lev creates a unique finely crafted album with “The Declaration of Independents”.
Review by Arun Shenoy
Grammy Nominated Producer
A beautiful 8 track record by Bruce Lev that crosses over from American Roots to Rock and back.
I really enjoyed the way the album opens with "Bell Bottom Girl, but it was the second track "Catwoman" that kind of blew me away with its intensity, rock solid grooves, intensely powerful vocals, and superb guitar work. I love the pacing and very reminiscent of some of my favorite hard rock and glam rock music from the 80s.
Then the energy is carried forth to the next song "20th Century Man", some wicked lead guitar work happening on this track.
Then, the music on the album shifts beautifully between edgy and biting hard rock songs to more laid back and rhythmic piano based grooves on the more mellow "Jessica" and "Jewish Guy".
Not to be missed is the very experimental production on "Bell Bottom Girl (no. 9)" and the blues rock instrumental jam on "LIVE On Alabama Drive".
Finally the very beautiful rhythmic piano driven groove on "What You do to Me" closes the album.
Overall, good writing, performances, and engineering make "The Declaration of Independents" a very interesting recording!
Indie Band Guru
As a musician, we will all need a life full of experiences and adventures to inspire good songwriting. A great way to gain these experiences is having the guts to pick up and change your scenery once in a while. The musician who can ride the winds of change will forever have ideas to turn into songs. Our new friend Bruce Lev has remained independent and has used an exciting life to develop a great catalog of songs.
Originally from Kings Park, New York, Bruce Lev has remained a truly independent artist with no real desire to be part of the “industry elite”. Bruce spent his college years in DC honing his craft. His major influence from childhood was The Beatles, who taught him the beauty of writing a song. In a seemingly random decision, he moved to the mountains of Panama for 5 years and found himself teaching the children of Panama music and songs of, well you guessed it, the Beatles! Then almost as suddenly he picked up and returned to the US settling in Phoenix, Arizona.
These varied experiences built up a great set of ideas from which to build up a great songwriting catalog with his new buddies in the studios of Phoenix. These songs began to really get noticed and build up the reputation of Bruce Lev. In 2014 Bruce was named “Best Adult Contemporary Artist” in the Artists in Music Awards. Also in 2014 he released the song “Catwoman” which landed on the 57th Annual Grammy ballot for “Best Rock Song”. Then in 2015 Bruce released the song “Jessica” to widespread critical acclaim and landed on that year’s Grammy ballot in the “Best Arrangement, Instruments & Vocals” category.
Through all this Bruce Lev remains independent. He has mastered the use of the internet (or as he calls it ‘the People-net’) to share and promote his music to people all over the world, including Grammy voting members. We all know the big corporate industry is trying to fight the little indies but it is too far gone and there is no turning back.
The latest album by Bruce Lev is titled The Declaration of IndependenTS. The 10 track record is proof that a major label is not needed to create commercial ready music. The opening track “Bell Bottom Girl” is a throwback to an earlier time with a mellow vibe and steady groove pushing the song forward. The power of “20th Century Man” jumps out at you immediately with its raw punk rock feel and exquisite guitar skills. This one will get your heart beating as you hear the plight of the working man. An adult contemporary ballad is not out of Bruce Lev’s reach either as demonstrated on “Jessica”. Emotions will pop up as you listen to this one. A live track is thrown at us too with “LIVE on Alabama Drive”. The jam is a great example of how music can be such fun to both the listener and the performer. One of the bonus tracks on the album, only available through Bruce’s website is “A Lonely Heart”. It shows the influence of The Beatles yet adds a modern flair and some super melodic guitar that is very pretty and catchy.
From Arizona, Bruce Lev and his music video “Catwoman Returns!“. This song was the most TOP 1 listened song on Bongo Boy iSpin Radio on New Visions Radio Network in the month of June’16. Kudos to Bruce!!
Please, do not tell me that you do not love Dr. Lev! This man has a talent that is endless. His writing style is insane and absolutely the bomb! He never fails on anything he touches and the guy delivers! Seriously! You gotta love his sound! Audiosoave and the Red Hot Chili Peppers could take a tip from Bruce! He ROXX this track to no end! Love it, LOOOOVE IT!
I am humbly honored that Dr. Lev has asked me to review his CD. Let me start by saying this Bruce Lev flat-out can write a song, he can play guitar, he can pr...oduce. So I'm not going to talk about instrumentation, production quality, sound quality, or his lyrical Savvy that's obvious Bruce knows what he's doing.This is going to be a quick review about how it makes me feel, like I said I don't normally write reviews but since someone was brave enough to release Disco Duck... well I'm not afraid to say what I think! ( what are you going to do make Disco Duck part 2 )? First of all I love the concept "Declaration of Independents", and secondly oddly enough the era style costume really fits you. This Declaration of Independents makes me feel the freedom to( see what I did there ) relive rock and roll I grew up. I was born in 1955 and rock and roll was everywhere and ever evolving thank you Doctor Lev for a fresh sound on the Retro feel. Okay on to the tracks I'm not going to review each one but I'll give you my thoughts and feelings on a few. Let's start with track no. 4 "Jessica" Mmmm best song of 2015 let's move on. Track no. 8 "What You Do To Me" drove me to break out my few Cat Stevens albums. Track no.1 "Bell Bottom Girl" took me on a refreshing sixties type ride, by the time I got to Bell Bottom Girl no.9, I was on a different prescription. Great job Dr Lev when you prescribed track no.6 "Live on Alabama Drive" it got me refocused on the the rock and roll highway, I'll describe it as slow sweet sweep's and nice straight aways, great track to listen to doing the Sunrise Drive. Well there you have it Bruce overall I think you did a great job, I love everything you do so I'm a bit biased keep up the good work! I bet you think twice about who you ask to write a review. As I read over this I'm not sure of this is a review or a roast?!