- Rapid River Magazine
“With 25 years of keeping on keeping on under his belt, if Malone sounds like a college coffee house folk rocker letting loose, bet on it being organic. With feel good jangly guitars leading the way, this cat has been around the block a few times but he still enjoys the sights and sounds---as well as the exercise. Making them the way they don't any more, this is a dandy, diverse set that you can tell comes right from the heart throughout. Check it out. “
Chris Spector, Midwest Record
“Town and Country from J.D. Malone and The Experts makes use of several different musical influences in order to bring the release to life. Throughout the seven tracks that make up the EP, the listener will find plenty of variety and that variety is what makes the release so strong.”
Matheson Kamin, Rock n Roll Report
JD Malone has been making music for over a quarter of a century, and he continues to write songs his own way and at his own pace. He writes of things in his world, and also societal topics of the day. He’s come up with a tremendous set of looks at his universe which comprise his latest album, “Town and Country.”
Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society
This [Philly] band formed in 2009 and has just released its first album. Avalon follows in the line of sounds by American rock bands such as Creedence and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (the only two nonoriginals on the two-disc CD/DVD set are by those bands), while also incorporating the kind of twang and harmonizing you might hear from the Everly Brothers or Foster & Lloyd. But it never sounds derivative. Front man J.D. Malone, formerly of Steamroller Picnic and a fixture on the Philly music scene, writes songs that grab you right away and then resonate deeply. The four Experts behind the singer-guitarist enhance the freshness and vitality with tight ensemble playing that also projects a live immediacy. In other words, a pretty impressive debut.
- Nick Cristiano
Iowa Press Citizen - Jim Musser
"JD Malone and the aptly-named Experts form a loose-limbed yet muscular pub-rock crew, deftly manhandling country-rockers, heartland stompers, Southern boogies and closing-time weepers.
Add Malone's startlingly multi-faceted voice (its incarnations include a gritty Boss/Mellencamp rasp, an agreeable twang, acrobatic falsetto swoops, and spot-on dial-ups of Michael Stipe, Jimmy LaFave and the BoDeans' Sammy Llanas) and you've got the makings of all-night roadhouse heroes.
Blistering workouts of Fogerty's "Fortunate Son" and Petty's "I Should Have Known It" attest to their cover capability, but this generous 18-track, 79+ minute showcase offers 14 examples of Malone's enviable songwriting skills.
Opening with the Springsteen-esque "Silver From," the album bristles with attention-grabbers--"Still Love You" and "Leave Us Alone" and "Avalon" tap that BoDeans gothic vibe, "She Likes" sizzles like early Allmans, "Sweet Evil Things" and "Emerald Lake" evoke LaFave Dust Bowl-ers, "Ballad of Mr. Barbo" is center-cut R.E.M., "Do What You Can Do" is prime-time Jayhawks, and the gorgeous sing-along "Just Like New" is positively unshakable. Great Stuff!"
Direct Current Music (DirectCurrentMusic.com)
JD Malone & The Experts - Drawing on the classic alt-country, blue-collar bar stool hymns and no-frills roadhouse rock from the likes of John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen (Tunnel of Love era), John Mellencamp and Tom Petty, this Philly-based band serves up a hearty, meat-and-potatoes musical stew // Release: Avalon (July 14, ItsAboutMusic) // Sounds like: sturdy rock riffs mingle with a dusty twang while the rhythm section rumbles like a well-tuned hemi on a flat, open stretch...the Vermont-raised Malone sounds more like he spent countless nights at some sweaty Georgia juke joint...Grammy-winning engineer Phil Nicolo and producer Dean Sciarra capture the gritty, shot-and-a-smoke basics while letting the Experts add both subtle shadings and a potent kick // What we like: "Sweet Evil Things" is a haunting ballad with Malone's vocals revealing regret and anguish while guitarist Avery Coffee adds bluesy flourishes..."Leave Us Alone" has a bold Mellencamp streak, mandolin and lap steel merging with a chorus of hook-filled harmonies...
From Radio Free Americana
"On their new album, Avalon, JD Malone and his band, aptly named “The Experts”, are not out to invent something, but they sure go a long way towards perfecting it, as only experts do. Stylistically, the band’s music is the sort that you might hear at a backwoods VFW Hall on a Saturday night, drawing on the radio-friendly catalogues of classic American roots-rockers like CCR. Except JD Malone & The Experts are no lame-ass cover band butchering Proud Mary.
They are a rock-solid band with a dynamic leader, singer and songwriter in JD Malone (imagine, say, Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band if they played country music), and their songs, as instantly recognizable as they may seem, are all Malone originals (with the exception of excellent covers of Fogerty’s Fortunate Son on the CD and Tom Petty’s I Should Have Known It on the bonus live in-studio DVD). While JD Malone is clearly in charge, much of Avalon’s appeal comes from the remarkable chemistry of the band, including Malone (vocals, acoustic guitar), Avery Coffee (electric guitars, bg vocals), Tom Hampton (pedal and lap steel, 12-string, acoustic, resonator & electric guitars, bg vocals), Jim Miades (bass), Tommy Geddes (drums), and the extraordinary guest vocals of Jayda Hampton (especially on the beautifully wrenching Black Yodel).
They sound like they’ve been preparing for this moment all their lives, listening to the Everly Brothers, CCR, BoDeans, Allman Brothers, Tom Petty, et al, and crafting songs and a sound that their heroes would be proud of. The band is both tight (well-rehearsed but not rigid) and loose (spontaneous-sounding, not sloppy), placing equal emphasis on vocal and instrumental prowess with a good dose of twang. (Contemporary like-minded acts might include Old 97’s, Blue Rodeo, Band of Heathens, and Girls Guns & Glory.) And, they seem to be having fun doing what they are doing (probably the only thing they really share with that VFW Hall cover band), which comes out loud and clear in the music and is nicely chronicled in the live in-studio DVD included in this package.
The songs are easily accessible, catchy and hook-filled to immediately win listeners, while offering emotional depth that keeps listeners interested. On an album complete with highlights, the first three tracks (Silver From, Still Love You, and Leave Us Alone) and the sixth track, Just Like New, are highly infectious stand-outs perfect for the upcoming Summer season, as you’ll want to cruise down the road with the windows down singing at the top of your lungs as if you were discovering (yep) Proud Mary for the first time on your car radio."
Warren Catlett ("Cat")
Radio Free Americana
From Toronto Music Examiner David Voight - 4 STARS
Available at record stores LAST Tuesday, we will take a listen to a debut that reminds us of a young Steve Earle, Tom Petty and John Mellencamp; let’s give JD Malone & The Experts: Avalon a spin.
JD Malone & The Experts remind me of that band you stumble across one Saturday night at your local bar that get the crowd jumping by mining a rich catalog of Americana roots, rock n roll with one notable difference; these guys are actually good. Front man Malone is very much a Springsteen/Kid Rock hybrid playing country music with a little bit of soul and an appropriate dash of attitude. On “Just Like New” he is equally at place at a dive bar in New Jersey or playing The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. With the title track “Avalon” Malone’s strength as a storyteller comes through as the impassioned old soul in his voice is coming through taking us on a journey asking Avalon, “You can save me from myself and all my sorrow”
While Malone’s strong vocals are the clear leader of this bands sound, the musicianship is stellar as part of the aptly named “The Experts” appeal is their obvious musical chemistry. Despite being their first album as a band, it sounds like these players have been together for a very long time.
From SeaOfTranquility.com - 5 STARS
"Tired of albums that are produced to the nth degree, leaving a collection of songs that have had all the fun sucked out of them? Well let me introduce you to the debut full length release Avalon, from JD Malone & The Experts, where the vibe is simply a joy to behold. Steeped in the music of the likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, or Creedence Clearwater Revival, JD and his aptly named Experts serve up prime time rock in a manner that is genuine, heartfelt, at times raucous and at others melancholy, but in the end always utterly captivating."
by Mark S. Tucker for AcousticMusic.com
There are perfect crosses between rock and country, and then there are vainly scrambling attempts that fall short and make you wonder if maybe going back to bubblegum mightn't be the best idea. Well, don't worry about the latter here, 'cause JD and da boyz know their roots too well to ever mistake what's wanted or what's real. Malone especially is a cat who understands just how adventurous country musics could once get way back when—catch the wild singing in Still Love You, and you'll hear the distinct echo of grinning ranch hands out to raise a little good-natured hell while looking to spark up the skirts at the bar…or back home—and has looked to hallmarks like John Fogerty (covering Fortunate Son here) and Tom Petty (I Should Have Known It) for inspiration.
Don't for a moment, however, think the writer-singer-guitarist is looking to be either of those guys. He's more than full of his own ideas, and Avalon stands firmly on its virtues, well away from idolatry or imitation. The guitar-driven sound—4 of 'em! (bass included)—is as lush as an approaching thunderstorm when such is needed or spare as a dry balmy afternoon on other occasions, sometimes sweet and mellow, each track wrought as atmosphere and mood dictate. The country element is solid as hell but well removed from the tawdry and clichéd lyrical and sonic banalities of so much of the genre. Avalon, in fact, is almost dauntingly authentic, and refugees of the Gram Parsons School might even want to consider founding a new direction from it.
Tom Hampton and Avery Coffee are going to captivate every listener with their smoothly integrated interplay and sometimes heart-wrenching passages, as in Emerald Lake, where Malone sets the stage in a yipping yodelly lament of unbreakable love, halfway requited, halfway un-, a strange conflation but damned if he and the band don't make it work. Normally, the disc would end with my favorite cut, a 7+ minute killer, the haunting Emmit Meets a Demon, but this release is crammed full of Expert goodness and runs almost to the limit of CD capacity, a full 79 minutes, including two sets of bonus materials that really are bonuses, not BS dry-hump sell-jobs.
Then there's the companion DVD of seven in-studio songs recorded in rehearsal before a single note was laid down for the CD, all with the guys cuttin' up and cussin' 'n discussin', but I'll let you discover that for yourself…'ceptin' to say this: it's a good thing they didn't include Emmit, as I'd'a had a heart attack, blissed out and headin' for heaven, leaving this poor review behind, unwritten. Nobody woulda wanted that.
[As if all that weren't enough, if you buy this CD, you get to also choose a free download from the ItsAboutMusic.com's 300 selection catalog…and if ya end up not liking the disc, they'll take it back! Sweet Marie!]
"I LOVE this guy and his band... So unique and the music makes me wanna jump up and dance... Retro for sure but current as well. Utterly Captivating!"
‘Avalon,’ JD Malone & The Experts (ItsAboutMusic.com, HHHH1/2)
This July 12 CD/DVD comes from It’s All About Music, and there’s a sticker on the outside of the shrink wrap with a “Great Music Guarantee,” stating that consumers who don’t think the album is great can return it, along with further information about a free download from the website’s 300-plus recordings for those same purchasers. However, in my opinion, you won’t need to because this is a great album.
Malone’s “Experts” are Tom Hampton on various guitars plus dobro, mandolin and backing vocals; drummer Tommy Geddes; electric guitarist Avery Coffee; and bassist Miades. Jayda Hampton provides cool backing vocals on several songs. Highlights include the Steve Earle-ish “Silver From,” the haunting “Sweet Evil Things,” the celebratory “She Likes” and the lengthy “Emmit Meets a Demon,” but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Fans of artists such as The Jayhawks, Tom Petty and country-flavored Ryan Adams will dig this album.
AllMusic.com - by William Ruhlmann
Avalon is the debut full-length album by JD Malone & the Experts, but it doesn't sound like a first-time effort. Malone, a Vermont-born, Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter with a nasal tenor that lies somewhere between John Mellencamp and Steve Earle, is an accomplished stylist, and the Experts, his four-piece backup band (multi-instrumentalist Tom Hampton, electric guitarist Avery Coffee, bassist Jim Miades, and drummer Tommy Geddes), provide cohesive folk-rock arrangements with the occasional hint of country (particularly when Hampton breaks out his pedal steel), also suggesting the likes of Mellencamp and Earle.
It would be easy to figure that Avalon came half-a-dozen records into Malone's career, and, as it turns out, it actually does when you include (his previous solo work). No wonder he sounds so assured. But if the sound harks back to the heartland rock of the late '70s and ‘80s, it does so more in terms of form than substance. All of the artists with which he might be compared musically (and you can throw in Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen) write substantive, often socially conscious lyrics. Malone writes love songs, often with a sensibility that suggests a man trying to hold his relationship together across distances, as if, for example, he were an itinerant musician. He occasionally waxes poetic, but his inclusion of a cover of "Fortunate Son," a socially conscious song by another major influence, Creedence Clearwater Revival, points up the difference. Maybe that means that this is not great music, but it certainly is good, and it is likely to be enjoyed by music fans who have been starved for this kind of mainstream rock since its heyday.
From Liquid Hip by Kim Becker
Malone And The Experts Find Avalon
When you name your band the Experts, you need the chops to back it up. Philly-based J. D. Malone and the Experts do. Look to Avalon for evidence, their first full-length release.
Self-described as “gritty Americana and classic rock," there isn't a better description. They also fit within what's best described as alternative country. Or, maybe your favorite local bar band times 100, with influences that include John Mellencamp, Steve Earle, Tom Petty, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Avalon doesn't reinvent the wheel nor does it retread old ground.
Avalon can stand on its own as a solid album with strong songwriting, pounding rhythm section, and fantastic guitar work. No surprise, given Malone produced it with the help of Dean Sciarra (president of indie label ItsAboutMusic.com) and Grammy winner Phil Nicolo (Bob Dylan, Aerosmith, Santana).
Avalon is a well-produced organic album. The full band is made up some seasoned players. Along with Malone, the Experts include multi-instrumentalist Tom Hampton (guitar, mandolin, dobro, lap and pedal steel guitars), veteran Philly drummer Tom Geddes, bassist Jim Miades, and guitarist Avery Coffee. What that means is Malone might be a solid frontman, but this kind of team only comes around a few times every lifetime.
That's the beauty of Avalon too. It captures the warmth and grit of their live performances, even those that only include Malone, an acoustic guitar, and a little help from Hampton.
The result is an album that fools you into believing they've played together for years, even if their time together is limited to one album and a largely overlooked EP. Almost every song proves they achieved a shared goal set down by Malone.
“We wanted to take the energy and excitement the band had developed and try to grab that energy on this album,” said Malone.
Look first for the twangy Still Love You, the Allman Brothers-esqe She Likes, and solid covers of Petty’s I Should Have Known It along with John Fogerty’s Fortunate Son. But as mentioned earlier, its Malone's songwriting that shines.
His introspective lyrics on the title track Avalon and Ballad of Mr. Barbo hit home. The latter is about a dog accidentally shot by a hunter in Malone’s home state of Vermont. Malone's songwriting is solid enough that he doesn't need to be covering anybody else's work. In a few years, expect some younger bands to be covering his work.
Avalon by J.D. Malone and The Experts Rocks At With A 6.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
With the release of Avalon on the indie label ItsAboutMusic, Malone and company will likely find themselves in demand well beyond Philly. No tour information is currently posted, but they should be hitting the road in support of the release soon.
Avalon’s 13 tracks are available on iTunes or pick Avalon up on Amazon. If you like the tracks, Barnes & Noble carries the CD+DVD package. It includes the 13 tracks along with five bonus tracks that aren’t available for download.
The five bonus tracks are enough to justify the purchase: Just Like New and live versions of Silver From, I Think It Was Monday, She Likes, and I Should Have Known It. It also comes with a DVD documentary of the band recording Avalon. While most band documentaries are hit and miss, this one brings out their good-natured personalities.
"You'll fall in love with the Mellencamp-esque 'Silver From' with its 'Rumours' era Fleetwood Mac ending."
JD Malone & The Experts
When JD Malone and The Experts entered Philadelphia’s famous Studio 4 to record their first full-length album, Avalon, they knew exactly what they wanted. The Philadelphia-based roots rockers wanted to record a studio album that would capture the grit, excitement and warmth of their live performances. They also wanted an album that would sound well-produced but organic. And they got their wish. With its classic yet timeless sound, Avalon captures the energy and vitality that has made JD Malone & the Experts’ live appearances such a hot attraction on the roots rock circuit.
Malone co-produced Avalon with Dean Sciarra, president of the Philadelphia-based indie label ItsAboutMusic.com, and Grammy winner Phil Nicolo who is among Philly’s most respected producers. Nicolo has worked with everyone from Santana and Bob Dylan to Aerosmith and Taj Mahal and he clearly understood what Malone’s band needed.
“The band sounds really good live,” Malone explains, “and we knew Phil would be able to make Avalon reflect our live sound. He has a reputation for recording bands and making them come alive in the studio."
Avalon, a two-disc set consisting of a generous 79-minute audio CD that includes 5 bonus tracks that are not available for download, and a 37-minute bonus DVD which documents the band in studio rehearsals, not only shows Malone to be an expressive, charismatic vocalist but a prolific, insightful songwriter whose heartfelt material really captures the essence of what roots rock is all about.
Malone brings a long list of influences to the table, including Tom Petty, Dylan, Springsteen, Steve Earle and Mellencamp. Malone loves classic country (the iconic Hank Williams, Sr. is one of his inspirations), and on “She Likes,” one also hears echoes of great Chicago blues. But ultimately, JD Malone doesn’t sound like anyone else. Except for the roaring remake of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1960s classic “Fortunate Son,” Malone wrote everything on Disc 1 himself. The bonus DVD, meanwhile, finds Malone and friends putting their spin on Tom Petty’s “I Should Have Known It."
Malone’s poignant “Emmit Meets a Demon” is about the tragic, racially motivated killing of Emmit Till, a 14-year-old African-American youth in Mississippi in 1954. But most of the songs on Avalon were inspired by events, people, places and friends in Malone’s own life. While “Ballad of Mr. Barbo” fondly remembers a dog who was accidentally shot by a hunter in Malone’s home state of Vermont, “Black Yodel” was inspired by Malone’s struggle with cynicism in the past and his desire to not give into thatcynicism. “She Likes” is an ode to Malone’s wife, and “Sweet Evil Things” underscores Malone’s realization that what is good to you isn’t necessarily good for you.
“‘Sweet Evil Things’ is about the things in life that you shouldn’t do, but you do them anyway,” Malone notes. “It could be something as simple as eating an ice cream sundae, drinking too much coffee or drinking too much beer. We’re all human beings, and we’re all trying to feel good; we want to feel good as much as possible, and sometimes, people make bad choices when they’re trying to feel good. Things that make us feel good can be bad for us if we overindulge. Most of these songs are a reflection of my own life, but hopefully, the listener can connect with them and relate them to their own lives and their own experiences.”
Malone has been savoring the pleasures of roots rock for many years, although he didn’t always do it in Philadelphia. Born and raised in Bennington, Vermont, Malone spent six years in the Navy after graduating from high school before moving to Philly. Malone became a fixture on the Philly scene and in 1993 formed the pop-rock band Steamroller Picnic which enjoyed an enthusiastic regional following, recorded an independently released album titled Grow in 2002. Malone and singer Gerry McWilliams then formed the duo Malone & McWilliams, and two albums followed: Malone & McWilliams’ Greatest Hits in 2005 and Los Angeles in 2006. Malone formed JD Malone & the Experts in 2009 uniting Malone with guitarists Tom Hampton and Avery Coffee, bassist Jim Miades and drummer Tommy Geddes.
Philadelphia has very high standards when it comes to music; everyone from Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes to John Coltrane to Todd Rundgren to Will Smith made their mark in Philly, whose musical audiences can be as demanding as the city’s sports fans. But winning over Philadelphia’s notoriously tough audiences was a challenge that JD and company were more than well-prepared for. Their live performances have earned them a reputation for going that extra mile on stage, and when the time came for them to record their first full-length album, they knew they had a lot to live up to.
“We wanted to take the energy and excitement the band had developed and try to grab that energy on this album,” Malone asserts. “Music is a strange, beautiful and powerful thing, and I’m really happy with the way Avalon came out.”