Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Hardy Boys - Crazy People

Hear The Track Here

'Yeah, yeah....reaady?' the voice in your head says as you enter this track. Sure, you say, before your arm is almost wrenched out of its socket as you are dragged pell mell into the bittersweet heart of this track - and THAT is just the beginning. The Hardy Boys are not an outfit I have ever come across before, and you can take that to the bank because I sure-as-hell would have remembered them. It's apt that the first track I should ever hear from them has such a testament-to-the-truth ring about it. Crazy people make crazy music and this is crazy music daddy-o... A two peice Electronica:house group from the US consisting of Mason the Bass Dynamo and Robozcis, which are obviously their real names...


'We're a disco house band' they opine on their SC webpage, and believe me I am not going to dispute that at all. From the get go, Crazy People is a mood altering drug, the slamming you every which way variety that is surprisingly Euro sounding. It's not surprising that The Hardy Boys favourite place is Berlin (as it also says on their webpage) because the overall tenor of the track is a hearking back to the kind of sound peice pioneered during the period depicted in Cabaret, but bought kicking and squealing into the future with some hefty disco beats and a decidely wobbly (but very effective) juggernaut arrangement. On the music side of this alone I would have given it a favourable rating and I don't even LIKE dance music that much. Not that you should run away with the impression that Crazy People is yer standard floor fillah, there is nothing standard about this track other than that infuriating disco beat...

Robozcis is the highlight of the track through, and the real glue that holds it all together is his masterful vocal. OK OK, I have to clarify that statement. I KNOW for a fact that you are going to fall about laughing the first time you hear this. I did. Is this guy for real?? Then you play it more and more and you begin to realise that this is pretty good stuff, because of its all too apparent oddness. Crazy People is one of those tracks you are either going to 'get' or not, and if you don't get it no biggie. If you do get it, and I do, then you know that I have lucked into yet another fortuitous find because as odd as Robozcis is, his vocal work demands your attention. Take a listen to the distinctly American Indian sounds he employs, or that Germanic 'uberwhizzkid' feel that permeates the more dancy sections. Big bouncy and bad bad bad.

Crazy People is for crazy people and I highly recommend it.

(thinks) No wait!! That doesn't look right. Finger!! DO NOT press that Send butto.....

Silvertrain - Ever Near

Hear The Track Here

(reviewer squints blearily at his watch - however it may also just be a freckle - said reviewer being a bit the worse for wear) See what the time is?? End of the month already and no damn train yet..... Typical isn't it? No wonder the country is going to the dogs. Wasn't like that in my day. When they said there was going to be a train, there WOULD be a train. Of course, it slightly defeated the object of the exercise when it was discovered it was a train going to places where no sane person would go. Christchurch, for example, may well be such a case. However, I've never been there so I can't say for sure if all it's residents are a bit tonto or not, but I do know one of its residents who decidedly is....

Aaah, here's the train now.

I refer, of course, to Silvertrain, otherwise known as Hampshire's finest. Finest what is yet another of those fascinating debates we'll skip this time. Ever Near is another of those John but not Ritchie tracks that have peppered my existence of the past couple of years, some good and (come on, be truthful) some a bit (waggles his hands), know what I mean? To be sure, the quality of the material is good enough and anyway Silvertrain were always a shoo in so far as song writing went. Even so, it's a bit like the race between the hare and the tortoise, John shooting off tunes like chinese firecrackers and Ritchie appearing once in a blue moon to dib his bit.... However, John's work has taken a decidedly welcome direction since he started to realise he can make his own music and - as rough and ready as it is - it shows just how determined he is to get over the 'studio' logjam.

Ever Near though is, to my ears anyway, a bit of a practice track in that respect, and introduces a more keyboard based style than anything we've heard from this source before. The intro certainly promises much, even as I was noticing the overall sound level was a bit too trebley for my tastes, and as the song develops it will be obvious that this is definitely John's track. From the lazy, drum punctuated backing track, to the sweet (almost boy band) vocal, Ever Near shows that - despite its flaws - Silvertrain CAN produce something worthwhile outside of a very expensive environment. To be sure, it would help if you had a musical empathy with what I have described to really get enjoyment out of this track, but I think John can sit back with a certain amount of pride at this track. To my ears, a BIG step on the way to where he is going.

Soft, fluffy Silvertrain.

-LMS-Miami - Crow Flyin

Hear The Track Here

-LMS- (MIAMI), in case you were wondering (as if eh), stands for Last Man Standing, a Hileah, FLA resident and (gulp) rapper. I KNOW I have that gulping problem whenever I face one of these tracks, especially on Soundclick. It one of the areas you can spend ages in and still not hear anything that would knock you on your ass, just a long line of hiphop-will-eat-itself wannabes who sound just like anything you might hear in the RW hip hop media - except without the production, songwriting, marketing, publishing and general know how that goes along with such slavery.

At this point you may suspect that I am about to chomp someones ass but it isn't so because while Crow Flyin has its down side, it also has a pretty decent upside - provided you like the jazzier/easy listening ranges of hip hop. The down sides occur in the overall production level in terms of both volume and instrument sounds. I know it's not so, but it sounds noisy, you know what I mean? There's also much in the way of repetition; it's a basic structure repeated and serving to carry the vocals, but no more than that. Not sure about this but I suspect that this is a loop based track and it shows in the way the music sits in your ears.

The plus sides are, thankfully, the vocals themselves, the rap and the accompanying 'growth line' female lead vocal line (even though it does cut off abruptly). The one thing I do require for this genre to be effective on me is a rap with authority, a rap that speaks beyond a narrow clatch of homies and LMS delivers that. Crow Flyin is a track about living and dying, a run around LMS world is an edgy, dark vision of a loser future, not your usual rapper fayre, that's for sure. As it happens, it's also what saves this track from the same old, same old. It's a track whose rap is surprisingly effective, lyrically clear and pointed and not something you want to be listening to if you are having a bad day. With the right production (this certainly isn't it) and the right song (this is soooo nearly it), LMS could be dealing with some very serious stuff. Class rap and great lyrical flow, shame the track didn't come up to the same standard.

Recommended for the rap at least.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Matan - The Gate

Hear The Track Here

Another new Soundclick name up this time. Matan is a 19 year old Alternative artist who comes from Isreal who composes his songs on keyboards and then - I suppose - throws them onto the PC for the rest of us to listen to. The reason I seem to be belabouring the 'home made' point here is because that much will be obvious as soon as you fire this track up. Pretty much the entire track is keyboards and vocals and not much else, other than the odd finger cymbal here and there and a odd sounding kick that - to my ears anyway - doesn't really add anything to the proceedings at all. As if that were not enough, the vocal is sung with a definite accent and I know that will get up some peoples noses.

So, pile of rubbish then eh, ol' Gilmore??

Not quite. To be sure, it IS lacking in lots of things but it does have a certain something, especially in particular sections of the vocal, and certain of the melody touches. However, it does pale somewhat when you consider the high audio standard we have all become used to. It does mean that tracks like this WILL get passed by because of the reasons I have already stated and - to my mind - that would mean passing on something that (remember he is only 19) can only get better. I think he can inject drama and vision into his work, as The Gate shows, there are sections of it that make the hairs stand up, if you know what I mean.

Again, most people seem to think that the term 'alternative' is always a kind of kiddie rock (a la Coldplay etc) whereas alternative really should mean alternative, shouldn't it? Just because he works in a less than commercial field, the song construction and internal impetus of this track should ensure that those who can hear DO hear. I find it is getting harder and harder for musicians (on Soundclick or anywhere else) to just lay down a track 'as it comes'; there should (of course) be some production work attempted at the very least and Matan manages (just) to accomplish that. For a further track I would want to hear a more complete peice of work but hey, it's early days yet...

Interesting, if not exactly gripping.

Brent Toland - Sing Your Song

Hear The Track Here

It's funny but ever since I first came across Chicago, IL based artist Brent Toland I've never really thought of him being a folkie. To be sure I've only just noticed that he is pigeonholed in the Acoustic: Folk genre but I always thought his material was more rock than folk. Not Sing Your Song though, there is no doubt whatsoever about it's provinance; long haired, bearded and wearing cokebottle bottom glasses and yes sir that's muh daddy... Looking back through his tracks though, I do recall him sounding like Neil Young at one point and that for sure is rock (in a way...)

Nonetheless, out of all the tracks I have reviewed so far (five, I think) none of them has proved to be anything other than a good song, delivered well. Although his musical accompaniment is always sparse to the point of missing entirely, whatever he uses to make the song comes across extremely well. That also has a lot to do with the way this artist constructs his tracks. Sing Your Song then is decidedly folky, from the rhythmic strum of the guitar to the tortured tone of the vocal where - I swear - the guy is going to start bawling his eyes out any minute. I once wrote what I always liked about this artists material is that he doesn't do very much but by God he does do it well. A song, in other words. A tune with a point, lyrics that make sense and a delivery so authentic it'll give you HoboVision.

More Pete Seeger than Bob Dylan in this case I tell ya, there's an early folk feel to this track (ie think early 1950's) that is so spot on I was spitting out road dust as I wrote the review. It's fair to say that some people will hear this track and not like it because you would - by extension - be into the performance and values of what constitutes 'real' folk, and that - I'm afraid to say - means a small audience. There again, it'll be a very satisfied audience indeed when it has this little number tucked up in their collective hearts. By far one of the most affecting Brent Toland tunes I have ever heard, notably in that re-creation of a former age, but also because it is a tremendously evocative performance.


Narykcin - What

Hear The Track Here

Another new Soundclick name to me this month, Narykcin hail from the same town as my in-laws, Lancaster PA, but that - as usual - won't cut much ice. Don't let the Instrumentals: Hip Hop genre fool you though because underneath the terse title lies something that may very well interest you. To be honest, I was watching this move up the review list without much enthusiasm because of that genre label - after all it IS a genre filled to the brim with disappointments - and not because I am antagonistic about the genre because I'm not. In fact I'm a bit of a hip hop hound because the one thing it does is experiment with rhythms and meter - as well as being well cutting edge when it wants to be - and that right there is all the main food groups I need.

As if to prove my point, Narykcin states on What's song comments 'I doubt if you've ever heard anything like it' and I doubt it too. No matter what you may be expecting to hear, What will bash that thought right into next week as it's essential weirdness registers on your brain. Hip hop maybe, but not as we know it Jim. Not unless you are talking about 17th Century hip hop anyway. Essentially a piano peice, What bounds through your ears like a sleek cheetah, it's tinkly tones dripping into your senses like healing balm and - I have to admit - makes a very pleasant listen for it's quite short (2:11) length. Personally, if this could have gone on another minute or so it would have made me happy but what I got did more than enough for me to be thankful I heard it.

It is a sure bet that you won't have heard a blending of styles like this, but it isn't without its pitfalls. There is a high level of noise on the track (from where I am not sure) and the piano tone itself tends to be a bit shrill, strident, and the whole track suffers somewhat from flatness both in the mix and in the sounds of the individual instruments. That does detract quite badly from what is otherwise a highly commendable track with it's own sense of itself. The ending is also so abrupt that it leaves a noticable note behind as a poor sad orphan. My sense is that this track was made (even recorded) on a most basic system with little or no production work and that if a remix were possible, this track would definitely raise some big time eyebrows. My recommendation is purely on the music alone, because the production quality is this tracks biggest failing.

Recommended (for the musical idea)

Alderman - Do Not Fear

Hear The Track Here

In February 2004, I wrote a review that stated the rules of this particular game. You hear 20 newbie tracks, 10 are easily dismissible as being too raw, too undisiplined to really make any dents, another 5 are interesting and of note but not particularly memorable, 4 will be of very good quality and ONE will definitely do the business. THIS is that elusive one Little did I know it at the time but this was my introduction to one of my best friends on this scene and a musician I have watched from pretty much a standing start. That review (it was the original Glimpse Of Wonderland, not the Liane version) showed me a track that had all the hallmarks I have come to associate with this artist; good production, attention to detail and an abiding love for a pretty tune.

So here we are two years down the line, and Leif Liljeqvist (aka Alderman) has become a Soundclick fixture, collaborator with Jim (of Jim-n-Lisa) in Pond Surfers and as many other musical pies as he can stuff his thumbs into. To be fair, I haven't always liked everything that he has done but he has pleased me more times than disappointed and that's not bad going. The first thing you may notice about Do Not Fear is that it's called Demolition? wtf that is all about is anyone's guess but it's always good to remember that Alderman is Swedish and that says a lot :D The other thing you may notice is how disjointed and jumpy it is, a vertiable hodge podge of various elements that initially - to me anyway - didn't seem to make much sense.

The reason I went back to the beginning of my relationship with Lief when I started this review was because this track reminds me very strongly of where he came from. There are a million samples I recognise in this odd little track, and a feel that reminds me so strongly of the music I listened to from 2002 to 2004. If you asked me to be completely honest, I'd have to say that although I liked the elements (especially the fat lady singing) there was an unfinished quality about the track as a whole. Moreover, to my ears, there didn't seem to be any overriding theme that would tie such a disparate collection of sounds to hang together. As Leif states on the song comment 'it was hard to choose a genre for this one' and I agree completely. See, it's a bit too many styles, if you know what I mean. Not, to my mind, one of this artists better outings but there are more than enough of those around to make up for this one.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Siiren Siiren Siiren - Out Of My Brain

Hear The Track Here

I had to squidge my eyes up like that too when I first noticed this artists name. Definitely got the wtf-gotta-give-that-a-second-glance number down, which - I suppose - is the whole point of the exercise. A new artist to me Siiren Mikell (as we'll call him for convenience) hails from Atlanta GA and is a R&B/Soul artist who gives you (bold claim this...) 'music at its best'. Music at its best is - to me anyway - is something that reaches a certain production standard backed up by a top class performance that just can't be heard anywhere else, and as I said, that's a real hard target to hit even if you've been doing this forever. Still, I'm nitpicking again, alls I'm trying to say is that making claims like this kinda demands that you back it up properly. So is Siiren foolhardy or so suure (sorry, I warned you about the squinty thing) of what he's doing that it is what he says it is.

Well, guess what? It is - and then some...

About the only thing that would stop you listening to and liking this track is an aversion to any of the two genres I mentioned, spiced up with the slightest dash of hip hop. Me, I love this stuff in all its different stripes because the one thread that keeps all these genres happening is it's basic humanity - warts, boils and everything. Where it often falls over, at least to me with the Soundclick variety, is the lack of production that constantly bedevils a lot of the genres tracks and - as a consequence - gives it the bad name it currently labours under. Out Of My Brain surmounts ALL of those obstacles with a work of stunning vocal talent, encased in a labour of love that will ease all your daily torments. From the softer (yes and less profane) end of the genre, it's the kind of track you could very well be hearing on MTV or any other commercial outlet and wouldn't think it out of place.

That's down to the top notch production on this little beauty because although the track itself is pretty sparse, what is there fills the spaces nicely. Siiren allows his voice free rein with oodles and oodles of layered vocals giving your ears a different angle with almost every note. It says on my copy that this is an 'unfinished snippet' and if that's the case the finished version should have enough power to light up Atlanta and the whole state of Georgia into the bargain. To be sure, it needs to be edited a tad, get rid of the kinda lame ending, and get some other production tricks in there and this track is a doozy. As it is, I'd say this was as good as finished and I don't care what you say, the vocal performance on this is bbbbrrrrrrrr, you know what I mean? Beautifully crafted, beautifully performed. What do you care what genre it is?

Now all you need is a URL to download/listen to it from because I can't find it on his page. Cooooeee Siiren...maybe you have one for the good folks huh?

Highly Recommended

Omnisine - Incense Boy

Hear The Track Here

Omnisine. Mmmmmm Not, as you might imagine, a newcomer to Soundclick, more like a new name for an old face. You might know him better as CJ Freq X, but this is his new monnicker so you'd better get used to it. Personally I think it fits him quiet well because he is one of the very few electronica artists around who is omni everything. A lot of his work is informed, after all, by his origins. Omnisine is Chitrang Jagdish (CJ Freq X geddit??), from Mumbai who made a big impression on me with Psycho Rampage (October 2005) but made an even bigger impression with subsequent tracks and has since become a valued artist to this reviewer, and I suspect a great many of his peers too.

So, let's see whats under this shiny new getup of his...

Now being the kind of musician I am, how could something described as 'an arabic house track with psychedelic overtones' not have lasting appeal for me. All my main food groups all tied up in a neat little package, hell yeah! Incense Boy is a bit of a work in progress but you wouldn't believe that for a minute when you strap this animal to your ears, because you'll be too busy gawping at the whizzing past scenery, the deft little touches and a beat guzzling drum track ensures maximum friction to the aural pleasure zones (oh yeah baby do it do it!!) Ahem. I apologize for the descent into the gutter, I had a temporary sticky situation developing and we can't have none of that. Oh no.

You can, however, get tons and tons of Incense Boy with no ill effects whatsoever and a shedload of benefits into the bargain. You'd have a ridiculous smile plastered all over your face and the neck nods of the spastically challenged, but BOY would it feel good. What about that eh? Managed to breach two infractions of the politically correct school in the same number of paragraphs. You don't see that every day. Although you'll need to like your electronica, I think even a casual listener would get off on the lively up yourself feel of this excellent slice of electronica. Oh, it's produced to a dazzling gloss too, and that surely should get an extra special mention.

Top Rate Electronica.

HELLbus/Azoora - January One

Hear The Track Here

If the name Azoora looks familiar to you, let me throw another couple of names into the works: Bipolar and John Purcell. All of these names apply (in various ways) to the work of one John Purcell who is both a member of Bipolar AND Azoora as well as being a solo artist in his own right. Confused now? Good, that's about normal then. Over the few months I've had contact with this artist I have come to like very much the music he makes - regardless of which grouping he's using to promote it. The same applies to HELLbus who (in the two times I have reviewed them) have received a Must Have rating from me both times. To then get a collab between these two fine artists promises much...

Ah, but does it actually deliver?

The one thing you never need to worry about with either of these artists is production quality, both practice it at a high level. That will become evident with the first few bars of harmonium/Rhodes that introduce this surprisingly gentle semi-ballad, on the sound score alone this would be a worthy listen for anyone, regardless of your own personal taste in music. After all, a good choon is a good choon innit? January One is that, and given a couple of tweaks, it would be a monster - and it's got some pretty sharp teeth as it is. Slap bang up to the minute arrangement and style that will put you in mind of any number of commercial UK guitar led bands, and lyrical content that definitely fits the current navel gazing fashion. To me - but for fecks sake don't quote me on this - it seems to be about someone looking so hard for life, it passed them by. As I say, best not to quote me on this.

Nonetheless it IS a cracking track and almost exactly what you would expect from musicians of this calibre, a well thought out, serious slice of music that is initally welcoming but much deeper than it first appears. Which is a staple of any great musical peice if ya ask me. For my money though, as much as I like the sounds, the arrangement and the feel, I still felt that the vocals were so good, they needed that special attention that only a great vocal production can supply. As warm and welcoming as the vocal tone was, the mix doesn't help to bring out the drama in the vocals. A drama that is undeniably there. For me, a lot more depth to the vocals and maybe touches of echo overhang and this could eat worlds. Either that or I'm talking bollocks again which is about right.

Excellent, elegant and any number of other E words. Highly Recommended.

Christopher Martin Hansen/Mike Kholgraf - Dance Of The Spanish Maiden

Hear The Track Here

Although I try my hardest to be objective and be seen NOT to 'play favourites', sometimes I jes' can't he'p it. As much as it counts to bring that objectivity to bear, I am also a human being with preferences and (yaaay happy me) friends. This collaboration bring those two things to bear; musical feasts of an acoustic nature (guitars and stuff) and a couple of my good friends. Christopher Martin Hansen got a special going over from me when I highlighted his work with a special Overview (August 2005) because I thought that anyone who played as beautifully as this guy needed as much publicity as I could give him. Not that it did him much good, ya understand, because the kind of interest my reviews drag up is the same kind of stuff you run away screaming from.

The other bloke in this suprisingly Spanish sounding peice (mmmm I wonder why?) is none other than the avuncular host of Saturday Night Rocks, a regular weekend haunt for your vile reviewer to spew insults to all and sundry. Long before he started his DJ thing Mike and I had musical encounters and I still have fond memories of some of them, although not others. That's usually down to style though because, like Chris, Mike is no slouch at the ol' geetar and that's fine by me no matter what the genre. Listening to this again and again (and again and again) I am struck by how TIGHT the two parts are, and although I recognise Chris's master touch, I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out who is doing what, to whom and where.

That doesn't stop me enjoying this light, very authentic sounding, acoustic lead line extravaganza, although I did think it started to wear on a bit after a while. Personally, I would shave a minute or so off this track but I have spent the day in an 'off with their heads' mood so that thought may be discounted. As I stated in my overveiw of Christopher Martin Hansen and endless reviews of Mike the K, you would need a preference for the lighter (and more classically inspired) genres to really get to the heart of the matter, think Leo Kottke, Julian Bream and John Renbourn to name just three artists who have inspired me.

Inspirational, yeah, that's the word. Recommended (especially for the finger blur)

Nuff X - When Its Over

Hear The Track Here

I've known this artist for around a year now and watched him become a very visible member of Soundclick's expanding electronica community. Although I'm not known for my tolerance of straightforward Electronica: Breakbeats, I do like certain kinds of electronica. This antipathy usually has more to do with the kind of drum loops that are employed to make breakbeats, than anything on the part of the musician. I can often find elements within tracks that I do like so that - even if I didn't like the tracks genre or structure - I still have something to gawp at.

Reviewing and watching paint dry are but kissing cousins..

Nuff X and I haven't always seen eye to eye on what constitutes good, but give it up for the guy who keeps trying eh? Although he states on the song comments that this track 'contains elements of Lift by HELLbus (a Must Have, March 2006) I have yet to fully make them out, although When Its Over has the same knowing swagger that Lift is imbued with. What spoils my enjoyment of this track is the thing that dogs me about this genre. Why o fekkin why, do they think that snares should sound like biscuit tins? A snare should snap your head off, and all this one does is buzz in my ears with more irritation than a lowing herd of mozzies. That's a mosquito btw for those who can't seem to understand a word I say.

Funnily enough although I find this whole thing a bit rough technically, I did end up liking the track more than I thought I would. As odd as the vocal is, and how disjointed the various sounds, it definitely has something about it that makes listening a pleasure rather than a chore. The vocal is difficult to make out, being buried in the mix and then under seven feet of various effects but it does give the edge to an already on the brink track. The music fairly careers from note to note as if it were badly in need of brakes and its that almost-out-of-control feeling that sticks and starts becoming the central theme of this odd - but nonetheless - entertaining slice of electronica.

Kill all biscuit tin snares I say. Grrrr.

Jaymz Lee Shaw - Older

Hear The Track Here

Jaymz Lee Shaw (or Smalllife depending on where you are standing I guess) is a new name to me from MP3 Unsigned singing about my favourite occupation - getting older. Mind you, his major preoccupation is blaming all and sundry for the fact that he has to vocalise on this track on alien abductions, so I think he probably has the 'this is madness' edge there. He carries that mopy 'why me?' tone into the track with him and - despite the usual teenage whyme? whine - makes a surprisingly good thing of the whole deal. I admit that it took me more than a couple of plays to snuggle up to this baby but it won out in the end, although not unscathed.

The intro on this track seems a lot longer than the one minute, twenty that it actually is, definitely a case of chop chop here I think. Older is essentially an acoustic rock tune, sweetened by the addition of beautiful violin line and a sparse bass line, overlaid with the aforementioned vocals. To be truthful I have heard vocals a lot, lot worse than this so do yourself a favour Jaymz, just practice a bit more and it'll get a lot better. Not that anyone listening to this track would think that you'd need practice, they would think that it was a decent even track with a slightly odd vocal that kinda stops as if it were out of breath...

The thing that won me over, after the overlong intro and the slightly repetitive chord progression, is that this is a song, and should be judged by that criteria. As a song, it's surprisingly effective reminding me, at least, of the early vocal work of Pink Floyd (in their quieter, 'the sky is falling on our heads' moments). Despite all his protestations to the contrary Jaymz IS a singer - at least by my sliderule. Anyone who can pull off a tune effectively and emotionally (even if it is all a bit 'poor me') and have it connect with the listener IS a singer. Cut a minute off the top and tail of this quite long track and bring it in around the three minute mark and this would count as a very decent track indeed - and certainly for the genre it lives in.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Waxko - The Scream Of The Night vers 1 & 2

Hear The Track Here

Here's a sad fact of internet (including Soundclick) life - nobody gives a flying fekk. I know for a fact that Jorge Conde (aka Waxko) has been on Soundclick for over three months because this is the third month I have reviewed him AND he missed a month. His first track, Heroes Of The Daily Grind (December 2005) is a positive delight, an epic slice of music that has more muscle than The Governator. I wasn't as taken by Deeper (February 2006) but only because it wasn't as immediate and gripping as Heroes. In sheer musical muscle and power of production and performance it was every bit as good as its predecessor. So why is it then, that this most excellent artist has only ONE comment in that time, and no radio stations picking up on him at all.

Let me tell ya straight: WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE!!

I love a good Rhodes sound, and The Scream Of The Night (version 1) features a particularly fruity example and it's fair to say that it won me over from note one. Either that or the vibes whizzing about my ears like bats in a belfry, such production tricks being a staple of this artist in the three tracks I have of his. Version 1 is the softer, gentler side of Waxko and as such I liked it technically but felt a little divorced from it emotionally. I shouldn't have felt that way because if the lyrics were going on above this music track I think this would be a monster. One of the main reasons I came to this conclusion was because of the lyrics, some of which I quote here and I very rarely do that. If you’ve got something to say don’t do it in darkness. Go into the light, let the sun illuminate your words, Shout them to the shining brilliance. Sear the blue with your tongue. So the lightning of your cry doesn’t die alone in the night.

Lovely jubbly :D A big VOCALIST NEEDED sign here methinks.

Version 2 is a v-e-ry different proposition, a very poppy Spanish guitar flavoured that rocks along nicely propelled by some some very tasty drum moves. Of course, its obvious that these instrumentals are made with a vocalist in mind because of the way they are structured but again it shows - to me anyway - just how good Waxko is about writing music that pushes your emotional buttons before a note is sung Please note my italics. While it's true that there are many musicians around of Waxko's calibre - and of course his tracks do miss the vocals - but his music speaks to you regardless with the right vocalist he will do wonders. In the meantime if tracks like The Scream Of The Night (either version) are what we get, then I am one happy bunny because - musically - this is mighty fine. (coughs politely) VOCALIST NEEDED!!!

Recommended (Version 1), Highly Recommended (Version 2).

and please people, give this guy a listen and say hello while you are at it. Support your local artist. You know it makes sense.

Zallanayver - Pamper Me

Hear The Track Here

No idea what ZallaNayver means so don't go asking. What it means to us is - apparently - 'two grown men that should know better' making music under this name? What kind of music? Full of questions tonight, aren't we? Electronica: Mellow seeing as how you asking and I bet you wish you had never started this conversation now eh? Mind you, as we've discovered in the past, there's mellow and then there's mellow (ie dead). There again anyone who cites Frank Zappa and Peter Hammill as influences gotta have a bit more going for them than making music to have a nice little kip by. Kip means sleep btw for all those confused 'mericans who don't know how to spikka da Inglish like wot I do.

Pamper Me (now that's something I could do with, peel me a grape Beulah!) is - again apparently - the band's most popular track on myspace, which may or may not excite you. James Boyle and Andrew Biscoe are the protagonists here and - after several plays - I must admit to being thrown initially by that extremely mellow introduction, not to mention the mind boggling length of almost 8 minutes in length. Surely, I sighed miserably, you can't expect me to listen to almost eight minutes of go to sleep music and NOT fall have a likkle doze. Luckily for me, and ZallaNayver, the tracks secret ingredient kicks in around 1:20 and saves everyone from a good old nut crunching session.

The glue that holds all this together is an altogether wonderful female vocal line, and I do wish the band had put the lyrics online with the track because I sure would have liked that. Nonetheless, the track made a good enough impression on me, so I'll forgive them this once :D Truth is Pamper Me is a sharp, intelligent take on relationships and the price we all pay to keep them going, set in some excellent acoustic rock cum mellow electronica that sits up and begs for attention to be paid to it. I'd suggest you do pay some attention to it as well because Pamper Me will not hit you right off, but give it a play or two more and it'll have you hooked before you can blink. An excellent, highly professional introduction to a new artist I will definitely be looking more at in the months to come.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Shorthand Phonetics/November Skyline - The Sweethereafter

Hear The Track Here

Having just downloaded Shorthand Phonetics new FanFiction album (all the favourites and then some) I'm about to overdose this month on Soundclick's favourite Indonesian band, this time in partnership with Canadian alternative rock band November Skyline. Can't tell you much about the Canadian end of this partnership but I can tell you loads about Shorthand Phonetics. A couple of years ago I reviewed this bloody awful track from this band and disliked it enormously, even while ruefully admitting that it had a certain presence to it. It was called Whistleblower and it was an apt introduction to a band that was to develop into one of my favourite SC artists. Like them or loathe them, you've got to admit that SP pump out more energy psi than most artists around, especially when they are doing their All Too Platonic/Green Apple Garden type thing...

Rough as a bears butt, yes, but nothing like as smelly ;)

Tell ya what, you gotta love the kind of world that allows a bunch of kids in Jakarta to interact with a similar outfit in Canada. Ain't progress grand? The one thing that pokes out at you from the getgo is that is sounds NOTHING like SP, although I think that is probably Ababil Ashari and Alfon Tanoto on vocals. Its a much softer, gentler outlook than the one generally taken by the aforementioned Rowdy Bunch, therefore I'd say it was a safe bet that November Skyline came up with the tunage. Musically, its very much acoustic rock (indie not withstanding) and I'm sure there will be a great many takers for this very likeable, light confection. Oh dear, that doesn't sound promising does it? Well, it IS a bit too light for my tastes but that doesn't stop me appreciating that many other people would think differently.

It's also another side of M Ashari that I long suspected, underneath that brash and extrovert facade, there's a serious musician struggling to get out. Maybe I'm kinda overdosed on 'merican versions of 'rock' right now but The Sweethereafter - as nice and pretty as it was - didn't do anything dramatic with me. Maybe that's because I can't get my mind past the SP stuff I so obviously like, or maybe it's because I just think the arrangement and styling of this track is a bit weak. Can't win 'em all I say, but that's just me and it shouldn't worry you too much if you like pretty, 'sensible' soft rock tunes. btw, I think the vocals could have done with being a bit higher in the mix and maybe a bit more effected??

Pick, pick, pick,pick....

Mark Alexander - As I Wait For You

Hear The Track Here

Second time around for MP3 Unsigned artist, Mark Alexander, who - when I reviewed his After The Rain last month - I definitely took a shine to. Although he has a distinct American taste in music, the way its put together kinda blurs the lines enough to enjoy as a good, well performed song. Put it like this, it got a Recommended from me, and I don't hand those out with the painkillers. It has to be said that you would have to like the whole singer/songwriter in rock thing if you really wanted to appreciate what this artist is all about, but there is enough interest in this genre to sustain him for the time being...

I can't put my hand on my heart and say that As I Wait For You made the intital impression on me that After The Rain did. Matter of fact, the first time I heard it I thought it was a bit overblown (especially in the lead guitar lines which seemed to overstep the track more times than it added to it. Uh oh! AM I in a bitchy mode, or wot?? Still, I can only say what I really think right? After I lived with it for a while, I got over the disappointment of not hearing something with the class of After The Rain, and actually started to get into it - in a very classic/retro rock kinda way.

Pretty much lead line driven, As I Wait For You SHOULD work, and work like gangbusters but something just misses the mark. I don't know whether that's down to the kinda ploddy beat, the arrangement or mix but something defintely isn't happening here. To be sure, it would make a good album filler, especially with all that 'guitar god' lead posturing but not something I feel would entice new listeners to explore further. Especially if you already had a jaundiced view of the whole contemporary acoustic genre. Funny thing is that I don't have that view and I DO like music of this type but even so as much as I liked the different elements that make up this song, it didn't touch me in any way as a wholly realised song. Professional sounding? Oooh yeeesss. No glaring errors? Oooohh yeeessss. So why doesn't it hit home then?

Answers on a used banknote please.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gem Watson/Watsonica - Talking Backwards

Hear The Track Here

There's an old quote from somewhere that goes 'all human life is there' and in this case I refer to Soundclick's forum life. Hang around on there long enough and you get to meet a HUGE amount of people, and some who I am not sure what form of life they are... :D Now normally I don't really get to hear anything outside of a very, very tight reviewing schedule (oh oh poor me) but knowing Watsonica through the forums I got suckered...... errrr I mean enticed to listen to one of his tracks... No wait, I remember now. Someone said his work sounded like (gets down on his knees) Jeff Beck. As fekkin IF, sez I and I march full of my usual pomposity to prove him a lyin' blaggard, downloaded the track and had a quick listen and decided right there and then to look at this a lot further. See, Mr Beck is like God to me. The man has such mastery of his instrument it's ridiculous and if I am in need of something REALLY mental to listen to, I reach for the Truth album...

Aaaahhh, Rod and Jeff in their prime...

Watsonica (or Gem Watson) is responsible for this track and I can't seem to find him anywhere on Soundclick other than on the Sound Aid page linked above, which has A Watsonica track but not this one. More to the point I thought I had downloaded a track called Selah and I seem to have something called Walking Backwards instead. Whatever I was on that night must have been heavy duty. I was struck by a fairly immediate Beck reference in the tone and style of both the music and the guitar playing. Like The Man, Watsonica uses the guitar to express mood by using (among other things) the whammy bar (tremelo arm to us brits) and drenched in effects lead lines that ripple through it like nervous tics.

I know that not everybody holds the same opinion as me on most guitar players but I know what I likes, ya know what I mean? Even if it does happen to come clothed in an almost new-age-y chill out track that I would'nt normally glance at if the star attraction hadn't caught me attention. What we end up getting, of course sure sounds like something else but only if you let it. What I get out of this track is that here is a tasteful, refined lead guitarist who is sophisticated enough to be able to pull off the trick of having people say he resembled so and so - whether in style or performance. Seems to me, that a really good guitarist is a really good guitarist no matter what he plays. The musical reference is apt, but I'm sure Watsonica has a lot more going on than a passing resemblence to a rock god.

Your mission? Track this man down and make him get a proper page!!! It'll be worth it.

Starting Over - You Don't Understand (Whats on My Mind)

Hear The Track Here

Way back in the mists of time (Ed: he means 2003) I heard a track called Are You Going To Be Around (December 2003) and I've still got it on my hard drive while I type this, so the obvious answer is that yes, it IS going to be around. Moreover it's been joined by a few of its mates too which should tell you something about my feeling about this artist. More rocky country with West Coast vocals than dandruff and headbanging but it all still fits neatly into my overall 'rock' worldview. Matter of fact, I have a most definite taste for the kind of music Dan Epps (for it is he) pumps out on a regular basis. Having said that, it's been a while since I heard anything from Dan or Starting Over (he is known by both names and releases under both).

Yes dear, do keep taking those pills, the end is not in sight just yet....

Firmly rooted in the fertile ground (still) of the late 1960's, Starting Over's music is very, very accessible and I'm sure there aren't many people who would disagree with that. In that first ever review I compared him to Neil Young but that impression no longer holds true, at least not when you consider the body of his work, it has more to do with the Jeff Lynne/Travelling Wilburys good time rock and roll. You Don't Understand (Whats on My Mind) brings with it an immediate whiff of 'elo elo', it being a far more rockier Starting Over performance than I have heard from him for a while. It's pretty much your usual workout, the kind of music you would associate with the above references.

Where it does gel, however, is when you take into account Dan's amazingly accurate vocal performance, and the backing vocals of course. To my mind, Dan and Starting Over are carrying on a grand tradition in music and one I can always find a lot of time for. His vocals on this track are a meld of Beatles/Elo which does - I admit - back up the rock track admirably, making for yet another excellent SA addition. Right now, after having lived with it for a while, I don't think it's as immediate as some of his other tracks but you never know, it may be sneaking up for the sucker punch as I type this... Nope. Not yet. Waiting. What a newcomer would find here would be a charming song, delivered in a timeless manner by a very competent musician who knows exactly what he wants to hear and generally gets it.

Recommended Retro that's bang up to date...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Soundboi - Dub Step/Soundboi Surrender

Hear The Track Here

This new name to me came onto the list this month and directed me to a track that wasn't on Soundclick. Now I see nothing wrong with that because I believe it shouldn't matter where the tracks come from, although it does cause a problem. Where can you, the loyal but tested reader, hear this track? That's why I have included two tracks in this review. One from the review list on another site and Soundboi Surrender which you will find on here. It's probably a good job too because to be honest if I only had Dub Step to go by, I might well be dissing the man right here. Dub Step isn't dub, unless you count the sub bass as being dub, which it ain't.

The first thing that struck me about Dub Step was that it almost doesn't register on my VU meters at all meaning it was mastered at an absurdly low rate. It means you'll either have to crank your system or tweak the ol' EQ to get any decent volume out of it and then be very, very careful because that sub bass I mentioned eats worlds. I guess the reason this track is mastered so low is to make headroom for that bass because when it drops in the world shakes. Once you get past this, Dub Step turns out to be a decent enough slice of hard DnB with enough technical tricks to keep even the most fanatical of techno heads satisfied, but those sub bass moments are all consuming and for sure this WILL blow some speakers if not handle properly. The peice works though, so if you can manage to tweak it enough AND like the style, this is well worth a listen - when Soundboi puts it on SC that is.

Soundboi Surrender sounds like a much more business-like proposition from the getgo. None of the fidelity problems of Dub Step, and I guess that must mean Dub Step is a demo of some kind. Soundboi Surrender treads much the same ground as Dub Step and is a skillful blending of hardcore DnB with some neat Dub/ragga overtones that screams dancehall. Put it like this, if you like your music really mixed up then you are going to rave over this. I love a bit of musical jiggery pokery and this track certainly does that from the bass sweeps and the ragga vocal snippets and the (very loud) bass runs. I do like good Drums and Bass and Soundboi definitely falls into this category whatever reservations I may have about the production style or lack of it. Fans of the genre will like it and I guess that's all Soundboi wants. I'd say it was well worth checking out if you like music that keeps you guessing...

Interesting DnB excursions.

Good Friday - The First Circle

Hear The Track Here

I love Robert Zimmerman(or Bob Dylan as he is better known) and have done ever since my world was changed by Blowing In The Wind so many years ago. I loved his playing and I especially loved his sure way with words; words that changed millions of peoples lives. Not a bad lifetime achievement by anybodys standards. The debt Good Friday owe to Bob Dylan is immediate and obvious, at least if this track is anything to go by. Best not, therefore, expect some rocking out and pin-me-to-the-wall riffs because you are likely to be disappointed. The First Circle is billed as Alternative: Indie and I don't know what this means but I do know a classic folk style when I here it - alternative or not.

So what does your time get you by listening to this? Well, you'd have to have as much an appreciation of Dylans work and style as I do, and know that all you are getting is a guy, a guitar and a SONG. It takes a HUGE set of stones to be able to pull this off successfully which usually depends on two things: great arrangement and lyrics and the same standard of performance. Surprisingly enough Good Friday (aka Jonah Pascal) manages to pull it off, and very well too. There a couple of things about the sound I could mention but that shouldn't detract from what we are looking for in material of this type; a good song, delivered with conviction and authority. After all, what can you expect technically when you are talking about an essentially live recording?

The First Circle IS delivered well and the lyrics pay off and - to be honest - I'm not sure whether that is down to my liking for material like this or the fact that I sandwiched it up against The Shed in my review schedule and that track inclined me to be a bit nicer about this unashamedly retro (classic even) folk song. Whatever it is, I do like this track and I think it will probably grow more on me because I'm definitely going to have it on my playlist for a while. So, it IS extremely folky and I'm sure there are loads of people who cannot abide whiny voiced, harmonica playing acoustic guitarists but I ain't one of them. If this is a nod to Dylans work that I have to say it's a very respectful nod indeed, if it isn't then I'll be very surprised. Coming from a musician who is 18 just boggles my mind; there's a maturity and depth of songwriting here that belies his tender age.

Recommended. (but only with the above provisos)

The Shed - The Parson, The Pauper and The PeepingToms

Hear The Track Here

No prizes for guessing where this artist gathers inspiration and does the music making, the only question I would want answering is what kind of shed we are talking about. Is it shed as in garden shed (peculiarity of the British Isles btw) or is it shed as in the football term shed? Enquiring minds want to know. I suspect it's garden shed because it would be a good place to get away from the family. OK, so this is where it gets complicated so try to keep up.... The Shed are a band of songwriters, musicians and general layabouts from the Emerald Isle (that's Ireland) although I don't think the term 'band' really applies here. Why? Because there are fekkin HORDES of them!! Deep breath, and here we go: Johnny B. -Lyrics Vocals Guitars Percussion Bass etc..., Mick Stupp - Lyrics Vocals Guitars Percussion Mandolin etc..., Rogue - Lyrics Vocals Guitars Percussion etc..., Yimbo - Lyrics Vocals Percussion Harmonica etc..., Martano - Lyrics Vocals Percussion etc..., Gustavo - Lyrics Vocals Guitars Percussion Bass etc..., Froggy - Lyrics Vocals Guitars Percussion Bass computer stuff etc..., LisaZ - Lyrics vocals Keyboards Percussion Flute etc.

That's an awful lot of vocals, lyrics and etcs innit?

I guess the next question has to be who exactly does what? and on which tracks? Let's save that one for another day and get well and truly walloped with a tsunami of pleasure, fun and some of the best lyrics this reviewer has heard in many a year. Whoever is responsible for the lyrics gets a gold star from me right away. Let me say two words: The Pogues Certainly the immediate frame of reference here has to be that most excellent purveyor of 'true' traditionally based music. I can only mean that as the highest compliment because I love what The Pogues do but where The Shed differ is in the supercharged amphetamine and Guinness buzz that shovels The P and The P and the PT into your ears as if their lives depended on it. Where all this leads, my friends, is to an absolute gem of a track that I instantly loved and moved it into the serious contender for Track Of The Year in this years Stevie's - and it's only April. Nice going I'd say and I've only had it glued to me ears for the past week.

Now, think about something here. This is me talking, Ol' Nit Pick himself and I am totally sold on this amazing track.

Here's the acid test. Go and take a listen to the track, whatever your musical preference then come back and swear to me that you didn't listen to anything past 0:05 and I'll call you the biggest porkie pie teller in the world. The Parson etc is immediate, visceral and the next best thing to partaking in the substance abuse I mentioned above. A shot of adrenalin that could wake up your dead and make 'em dance, there is no doubt that The Shed have something real special going for them. I also feel I've discovered an artist I am going to grow to love; musicians who put heart and soul into their music and boy does it pay off. You could get high off the fumes of this thing. When I come to scoring this on MP3 Unsigned I think it may well be my first ever perfect 10 - because it is. The one thing I require from the music I listen to is that it connects with me in some way, usually emotionally but sometimes technically, The Shed manage to do both those things. So some words for the band: IT IS PERFECT. Whatever 'advice' anyone may have to offer is meaningless and probably of a technical nature, take it from one who knows - this track is done. Mess around with it any more and you may disrupt the enormous charge it has.

You GOTTA get this. Absolute MUST HAVE.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

John and Lucie Collins - Open Up Your Heart

Hear The Track Here

Open Up Your Heart is my third encounter with John and Lucie Collins and - judging by my present state of mind - by far the best track I have heard from them so far. Their Voice In The Night (February 2006) put me in mind of the sublime Billie Holiday and was a very enjoyable listening experience whereas I Am Here (March 2006) exhibited all the signs of being a 'show tune' which is something I absolutely don't enoy although I could still appreciate the skill and quality these artists bring to their work. After all, there was nothing wrong with I Am Here, just me balking at my intense dislike of anything that reeks of modern day 'musicals', especially the staged variety made popular by Sir Andrew Lloyd 'aren't I so clever' Webber.

No such predjudice clouded my enjoyment of Open Up Your Heart because it is a very modern sounding, infectious pop song that presses all my pleasure buttons. As the song comment says 'listen, feel good and sing along'. There's no doubt that this track has that elusive sing along factor and is a fine example of the skill, dexterity and sophistication this duo always bring to their music whatever the genre. As I've said a million times I am a sucker for a good good song and this one is a doozy of the first order, beautifully scored and arranged in a wide open, warm mix that draws you straight into the centre of the action.

I'd try a stab in the dark here and say that this is John himself on the vocals and seeing as this is the first time I have heard him emote, I'd say his wife has competition. The kinda carribean style and tone of the track perfectly suits his chocolate flavoured vocal chords, the mix complimenting those tones and smothering them with warmth and friendliness. What won the track that final spurt was, for me, the backing vocal which at times adopted a gospel like quality that curled up my toes and made my neck hairs stand up. It is fair to say that John and Lucie have a decidedly middle of the road approach to their music but equally fair to say that it does throw up some interesting and very worthwhile moments and this is assuredly one of them. A top notch song with all the trimmings and then some although not without a couple of niggles (backing vocal too low as it begins, a bit of odd extraneous noise) but that's chump change. Grab it now because Open Up Your Heart may make your summer feeling come on that little bit faster.


Sunil Thakkar - Shades Of You

Hear The Track Here

Where people like me scour the east for sounds, ideas and rhythms, it's nice to see that fertilisation come back to the west in the form of eastern musicians scouring the west for inspiration and sounds. Sunil Thakkar is from Mumbai in India and along with his city neighbour Prash conveys a western rock sensibility that is spot on in every way. Not really copying, more like transcending the genre and making it their own. So, the burning question of the moment is what do they put in the water in Mumbai to produce such detailed, accomplished musicians? OK, Sunil is a great example of this. He says he was inspired by people such as John Lennon, Nick Drake, Neil Young and even the most casual listen will show you just how close he comes to that impossibly high standard.

Sunil apparently got the idea for the song (yep, vocals) while wandering about the streets of Amsterdam which - having seen it myself - has a splendid autumn (fall to the 'mericans) display that is eye candy personified. The soft, acoustic setting Shades Of You comes wrapped in certainly conveys the atmosphere as does the very 1960's production and arrangement giving the song a fresh, bubbly feel that I found charming and - if you like the whole pop rock thing - I think you would too. I mentioned Sunil's musical references purposely because Shades Of You could well have been sung by Nick Drake but in this case features guest artist Nimit Vaishnav on vocals and - it says here - keyboards.

I wonder if the piano tinkles are also courtesy of Mr Vaishnav? If so I must say that not only do you have an exceptional rock voice and style of delivery but you play a mean keyboard too. Those piano tinkles make this winsome, light tune. At almost five minutes, this is a long song to take in but it won't feel like 5 minutes while listening and therein lies another accomplishment, the ability to connect the listener to the content long enough to remember the experience. It was only after listening to this n dozen times that I found my own particular musical reference and it surprised the bejeebus out of me. There's a section in the track where it echoes Peter Sarsted's classic 1960's hit Where Do You Go To My Lovely in a delightfully teasing way that I guess only an old fart like me would pick up on. What you should pick on is a classic pop experience told with a more than convincing reverence of the style.

A great tune, say no more. Highly Recommended.

Encryption Complex - People Are Divided

Hear The Track Here

While I am most definitely not partial to the spacey, look at me I'm flying side of electronica, I am most definitely keen on the more rhythmic varieties: drums and bass in particular if done well. I first encountered Encryption Complex last month when I reviewed All For You and I have to admit that - on balance - it was a cool introduction to this duo (that's two people to the vowelly challenged). Obviously the hesitant tone in my voice right there means that it wasn't without its niggles. I found that as nice as the track was - and it is an enjoyable listen, it kinda missed the overall point and was, to my ears anyway, a bit sparse in the 'variety is the spice of life' department. There again, it was based on the music of DWD's* so I guess that would pretty much tell the story.

People Are Divided carries the same attention to sound detail that first impressed me about this MP3 Unsigned artist and - thankfully - this one is a little more angled towards my preferences in style too. Where All For You lacked focus, People Are Divided comes straight to the point and then proceeds to poke your ears with it. It's a surprisingly rhythmic track, although it tends to veer into sound madness at the drop of a hat; those effects being complemented with some very cools swish yer ears out production tricks that assist the track enormously to get itself across. It helps that the intro quickly builds a brooding atmospere, because once the track slams into your ears the sub bass sounds pick up that mood and make this track work for its bread and butter.

There have been some comments about the tracks levels, which have since been adjusted because I certainly couldn't see anything that could be much different about the version I have. There is a out-of-control element in this track that takes that brooding mood created by the bass end and gives it a knifes edge; the musical equivalent of chalk on blackboard and I bet it will tighten your spincter up a treat. That chaotic touch is - to me - the masterstroke of this track and what will make me come back to it more and more. There's also a corresponding tightness in the production too that allows the track to explore the mood, with some particularly nice touches with the stereo positioning. When I first that synth fart around 3:00 or so, I thought it was my doorbell. Whadda ya mean, nobody has a farting doorbell? Life, my friend, is full of surprises. Speaking of which, People Are Divided is surprisingly good, well put together, intelligent electronica that contains all the main food groups.

Recommended electronica indeed.

*Hi!! I am a footnote, hence my appearance. DWD's are dead white dudes in case ya wuz wonderin'

Fear 2 Stop - Drawn

Hear The Track Here

My bitching and moaning about Fear 2 Stop is legendary usually about their 'bizarre experimental electronica' - their words, not mine - and occasionally about the sounds they use. Since I first came across them with Science Friction (January 2004) they have both infuriated me and - again occasionally - completely surprised me. By now, Billy and Dana Castillo and Raymond Proseus, must have grown calluses in their eyeballs the amount of crap I've given them over this time. I'm sure they also understand the reasons I have dumped on them so often, and I guess that's just me being the usual picky Nicky, and them getting in the firing line. By far the overwhelming thing I am looking for in almost everything I listen to is impact, drama and music with a sense of itself.

Music with it's own, unique voice. Now there's a thing.

I'd be willing to bet that right now there are some held breath's and 'I can't look, tell me!' comments over at the F2S ganghut, so let's be quick about it. You got two versions of Drawn to play around with; the original (which I link above) and the 'alternate' mix version where - apparently - noise reduction was used to reduce hiss. WTF??? Fear 2 Stop worried about noise and hiss? Kerrec' me if I'm wrong but I thought that was their whole song and dance. Mind you, to muddy the waters even further there is an 8 bit version mix that is 'just for fun' too and THAT is definitely pure Fear 2 Stop. I joke, of course, and I'll get to the point right now. The reason I link the original track in this review is because - OK hold your eyeballs in, just in case - Drawn has (gulp) impact, drama and music with a special voice.

Deja vu all over again eh? ;D

I NEVER thought I'd get to write this about this band and I'm really pleased I've been disciplined properly about judging people. Despite the obvious hiss, which in this case I find really fits the track - there isn't really anything else I'd want to touch about this track. It's simple, fairly lo-fi and as catchy as avian flu (aah, poor birdies). Being a father myself, I am not going to go into the reasoning behind the track's existence, but essentially a grim affair. The music doesn't give quite the doomy feel you would associate with the event (the loss of an unborn child) but was made in 2004 when this occured. I don't think I heard the original at the time and this is obviously a remix, and what a remix. Fear 2 Stop have pitched this one just right and I have no hesitation whatsoever in urging you to have a listen - a very worthwhile track indeed. Especially if you like what Fear 2 Stop have been doing over the past 2 years, this will come as a very, very welcome addition to your 'this is all mad stuff' folder.

Excellent electronica, with that personal touch. Big thumbs up.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Burp - Poem For A Centipede

Hear The Track Here

As many of you know, I am the proud father of twin boys. Right now, just coming up to their seventh birthday our days are peppered with words and explanations of words. Rude words are, of course, the dish of the day, the ruder the better. Not as bad as Daddy of course, who is the proud owner of a well known potty mouth, just the normal run of the mill stuff that titillates seven year old minds. So we've been through the gamut of words that have poo in them, endless varieties of animal references (pighead, dogbreath and any combinations thereof) and now their freinds are busily teaching them the REALLY good stuff like fart, snot and - a perrenial favourite - burp. Danny has gone one further than Nathan though because he came home from school lately and showed me his latest trick; ie stuffing his hands rapidly into his mouth and belching to beats. As you can imagine, when they ask me what I am listening to right now, the laughter is endless. 'I'm listening to Burp' says I. Danny then proceeds to give me his version of Burp music while Nathan provides percussion armpits that sound suspiciously like farting noises, all the while regaling me with gleeful cries of 'Daddy's listening to Buuuurrrppps'

It goes without saying that they think they have cracked the secret of what makes Burp's music so interesting...

Dead wrong of course because Burp is a musician like no other, and electronica is the name of the game without a belch, fart or any other bodily sound in sight. God knows what the boys would have done if I had told them what the title of this track was called, so lets not even go there. Burp has long been a favourite SC artist of mine, despite his often vaguer than most outlook (take a look at some of his titles and references for examples) because he does electronica in a way I have heard from no other artist, online or off it. Coming from the country that pretty much invented electronica (Germany) you would expect something different but what you hear is sooooo different, it's positively cruel to make us listen to it. Not because it's so bad but because it fair makes most of us puke that someone could be this good and still live. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Burp is a true original and long may he remain so.

Poem To A Centipede is a wonderful introduction to the wonderful world of Burp if you haven't made this artists acquaintance already. Its blend of rhythm and bleeps is typical Burp fodder and - to my ears - is one of his better works; accessible, incredibly detailed from the getgo and a lot more fun than practising rude words with my boys. Even that gets a bit wearing after a while, whereas I have been playing this track almost constantly for about a week and I'm still digging nuggets out of it. The range of material Burp tackles is truly one of the wonders of the world, and Poem is one of the best tracks I have heard from this artist in a good while. Tell ya what, listen to the first twenty seconds and I guarantee that you will do two things: listen to the rest of it and then download it.

It is that good, Burp at his rhythmic finest. MUST HAVE.

Prash - Tera Nasha

Hear The Track Here

Exactly two years ago I wrote a review about a track called Delusions of Grandeur and - after all the usual cracks about starting off a career by leaping off a critical cliff - I wrote 'I'll be hearing a lot more from this quarter'. Little did I know it then but that was my introduction to Prashant Vadhyar (or Prash as most of us know him) and since that time this excellent Indian artist has firmly embedded himself on my hard drive, my ears and in my daily life. The list of excellent Prash tracks goes on and on, and even the slightest listen to Tera Nasha will show you exactly why I hold this particular artist in such high regard. Sure, he is a World Music member like myself, but Prash brings a lot more to the table than that much mis-used genre label.

Prash has featured as one of SC's bigger stars in my year end awards for both 2004 and 2005 and during these two years the man has gathered fans far and wide to his incredibly melodic music, regardless of the genre he works in. The list of people who hold him in high esteem is almost a roster of Soundclick's finest and for good reason. As it happens, Tera Nasha goes back to why I first liked him; a blend of East and West that is Prash to a T. Not sure exactly why I am reviewing Tera Nasha because it doesn't appear to be on his Soundclick page but judging by my reaction to it, I would suggest he gets it up there pronto OR gives you guys a good explanation as to why you can't hear this splendidly realised mix of Indian vocals and western rock music.

The lyrics and vocal may be Indian but the tone and feel of the peice definitely belongs to the rock school, albeit the gentler variety (think country rock as opposed to hard rock) and is a fairly conventional (by western standards that is) arrangement. Where the track scores for me is the vocals. Not sure who is actually supplying these but whoever it is, they are soulful, adept and meaningful. In the overall tone of the peice I have some problems but as is usual with this artists work it has more to do with the style than anything Prash may be doing wrong. To give the guy his due credit, he has never - to my knowledge - delivered anything that was less than perfect leaving you with one decision only: do you like it or not? As I say, I'm not sure I like the style it's couched in but there is no doubt in my mind that Tera Nasha is a killer track worthy of the stature I have accorded this artist. Get the track up on SC Prash and be quick about it because I know there will be a LOT of people who would want to hear this.

Brilliant blending of East and West. Most Highly Recommended and beautiful to boot.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Atropos Project - The Conflict (Remixed)

Hear The Track Here

There are certain words in the English language that are almost garanteed to make me feel ill, two of them are 'progressive' and 'rock', especially when they appear together. As you may have gathered, The Atropos Project ploughs that particular furrow and - at the risk of sounding increasingly redundant - this is not a musical area that makes me happy. Nonetheless, I got it, so I'll continue with it. The Atropos Project is a new name to me and is a one man studio band who has gathered some interesting reviews over the past few months from people such as John Paul Carroll (aka Fluidity) and Steve Smith both of whose taste I respect.

However, as always, I'll make up my own mind so let's get down to it...

Mind you my extreme reaction to progressive rock has been muted lately by listening to the wonders of Sylvan & Bonamici, Thielus Grenon and (last month) the excellent One For The Vine so maybe there is hope for me yet. The Conflict is more old skool prog rock than any of the artists I mention above and - to my ears anyway - that doesn't do it any favours, especially not when the majority of SC 'listeners' happen to be other musicians. There's a noodle-y quality about this track that worries me, you know that kind of lead playing that just goes on and on and on... Even further plays didn't really help to alleviate the depressing feeling this brought on. I mean the playing is excellent and without any serious misjudgements but the overriding impression was still an unqualified 'so what?'

On the plus side, it's blindingly obvious that TAP is an excellently fluid, organised musician of considerable skill and that, I suppose, it what counts with music of this type. At just over four minutes it isn't as overblown as some of these peices tend to be and if the names Kansas, Styx and other well known US propagators of this genre strike you as being a 'good thing' then you may well just love this track to bits. Even for me, I did enjoy listening to this from a musicians point of view because ALL the playing was extremely fluid, excellently tailored and - dare I say this? - beautifully produced. To be sure, I will be looking at some further works from this artist even though I have spilled my venomous bile all over the genre yet again. It's not his fault he chose the one genre in the world that raises my hackles more than any other...

Excellent prog rock, just not really to my own taste.

Onager - Hide and Evade

Hear The Track Here

Whenever I am writing reviews I find it's always a good thing to go back through past reviews wherever I can. One, because I don't want to make a complete dick of myself (well, not all the time anyway) and two because I find I can get a better feel for what the artist is up to by taking a longer view of their work. So far, I have reviewed two other Onager tracks (which I must admit surprised me, I could have sworn there were more) and discovered that Dark Glass (July 2005) I liked and recommended and Seeds Of The End (February 2006) which I didn't particularly like but not on account of content, more of style and arrangement.

So, one down, one up so far then...

Like Dark Glass, Hide and Evade is from the darker end of the musical spectrum being a two part track (a 'hide' section and an 'evade' section apparently) and I have to say the dark feel really adds to the sense of atmosphere - at least for the first section. Mind you, that's also one of my prime complaints about this track too. It's not much of a change from one section to another and unless you REALLY listened to it, you'd be hard pressed to say it was two parts. One of the things that has consistently impressed me about this Welsh artists work is his production, and Hide and Evade scores highly on that front with very listenable sounds and a wide open - if slightly bare - arrangement.

On a more negative tip, I felt that there really should have been a lot more distinction between the two sections, especially in the rhythms which pretty much held the same course regardless of what section it happened to be in. One of the main problems with instrumentals is that usually its only us musicians that really like them, and I feel that this track will suffer from that. Although a listener may like what they hear, I don't think there is sufficient drama or structure in this track to grab them by the ears and make them press that all-important download button. Mind you, at a little over three and a half minutes it IS an easy listen but I would have expected a lot more meat on the bones than the thin fayre it holds right now. Onager wrote this as a kinda/sorta game soundtrack and on that level it may well work, but as a stand alone peice of music I wouldn't run out in the street raving about it. Judging by some of the comments posted on this song, it looks again like I am playing odd-man-out but it is a position I am getting well used to. Interesting yes, but not startling and certainly not of sufficent interest to someone who wouldn't normally listen to this kind of material.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Station For Imitation - Dark Corner

Hear The Track Here

Its a cast iron fact that as you get older you lose track of the things that stirred you in your youth. Me, I was shaken and stirred to within an inch of my life growing up through the 1960's (yep, THAT old) and the music that informed my early years still holds a resonance I find missing in a lot of todays music. The only place I find that resonance these days is right here on the internet. Let me clarify. There was a time when music connected with you and me - Mr, Miss, Mrs Joe Public. What's more it passed on lessons that a lot of us learned to put to work in our own lives so if the 1960's really was revolutionary, it was a revolution of the mind. As the artists of the time learnt more, they passed it back to us - their audience - in their music and lyrics.

Imagine that happening today? Not ferkin likely...

The only place where a musician has real immediate contact with his/her audience is right here, but that carries its own problem. As well as telling you how great you are, your average internet audience is just as likely to rip you a new butt and no one is more painfully aware of that than the now defunct Station For Imitation. All reviewers have had a hard time with this band AFAIK, even while we all seem to have a sneaking admiration for what they do. Not an easy listen by any means, and a very difficult thing to review too, especially if you don't necessarily see the point of it which was always one of my main problems with this artist. Being one of my earliest 'experimental' reviewees probably didn't help either because I've heard considerably wilder stuff since making SFI's acquaintance (around mid 2003) but listening to Dark Corner (released in 2005) I wonder how different things could have been.

See, I have reviewed shedloads of this artists material and in all that time NOT ONCE have they given me a track like this. Had they done that, then I might have adopted a whole different outlook. Why? Because Dark Corner is sublime, is why. Sure it's as rough as my grandma's left boot and as lo-fi as you can get but its as moody as my wife at 'that time' of month and thrilling in a way that I could never have imagined SFI to be. Why o why has it taken this long for this track to come to my attention? The thing that most defines it for me is because it's a song, although somewhat unconventional structurally and full of flubs and errors, has a power that reaches beyond all those things. Not sure who is doing the vocal honours here but its f*** you tone and lazy bastard delivery fit it like a glove. It reminds me slightly of the early Velvet Underground in sound and feel and I suppose that is one of the reasons I like it, but there's a definite power and fury to this track I have never heard from this quarter before.

Recommended. A flawed, extremely lo-fi, lo-rent sound but dammit, it has something...

Alchemystic - Into The Realm Mystical

Hear The Track Here

Gotta love this. Get what Alchemystic has to say about this track: 'a bloody cross-genre catastrophe' Having read a description like that I defy you NOT to hear the track. I mean, is that a great come on or what? Not that this artist has to resort to such low and cunning tricks because over the past few months this electronica artist has been coming on like gangbusters. So much so that anticipation of his upcoming album - due to be released shortly - is rising amongst his known fans including myself. As you know, I am not much of a one for long, drawnout instrumental epics but no-one does epics quite like Alchemystic and although there are artists involved in similar work to him, there is a specialness about Alchemystic that I find appealing.

T'wasn't always the case of course. As is typical of me, I didn't really notice what this guy was about until we were two or three tracks into the usual cycle. Maybe the Games Soundtrack genre listing was what first caused me problems but by the time Prelude rolled around (November 2005) I was hooked on this artists spectacular musical vision, as indeed are several hundred other folks who consistently visit this artists Soundclick pages. So what exactly does a 'bloody cross-genre catastrophe' sound like we ask ourselves? Sounding as if it were set in the Amazon rainforest, Into The Realm Mystical soon establishes that this an Alchemystic track; splendid instrumental choices, clever arrangements and detail, detail detail...

One of the things I've always like about this artist (despite not really getting on with the genre he works in) is his unerring ability to write melody and Into The Realm is no exception. Full to the brim with strong aural images, the track is a movie set to music; epic in scale with a definite nod towards lands and people of a far, far distant age. Having been totally immersed in Civilization IV for a couple of months, I feel that this track could have fitted into the game soundtrack as if it were made for it. That, to me, is the defining mark of this artist. This is music you can SEE belongs in a game and what a game it would be, if the music was anything to go by. I've given up thinking about how exactly to describe what this is, other than a tantalisingly good instrumental, and I have some time ahead of me yet to pick out the many features set within it. Not my favourite Alchemystic track but definitely worthy of his talent and for those people still to discover what true game music SHOULD sound like, get a listen to this.

Highly Recommended, if a bit soundtracky-y...

M S L - One Byte At A Time

Hear The Track Here

Although I've reviewed a few of this MP3 Unsigned's artists tracks by now, it's been a bit of an on and off affair largely because I am not a big fan of electronica and certainly not the dance-y kind. However, there are times when MSL step off the dance floor and then it does make a visit worthwhile. Last month I reviewed The Thread Of Life, an orchestral peice which hung together respectably well - especially since this was the first time MSL had attempted the genre. However, all was not blissful because (again) I felt the track suffered from a convincing final mix. See, I know the studio setup looks good on their artist page but it isn't the way they make music...

Long before these days of broadband and 96kHz sound and full featured studio programmes, making music on the computer was a tedious process. Moreover, it was also an extremely limited world where the mega files sizes we deal with today would have given the internet an electronic hernia. Most files released then couldn't top 100k and were often a lot, lot less. Chances are that the sounds you heard during 1990 - 1998 were no more than 8bit and full stereo may have been possible with some tweaking. The games industry funded and supported most of that early scene and a lot of the legendary games of the period had music in them from 'MODs' and 'trackers' Although a lot of those early tracks were sub-Mario clones, all bleeps and whirrs, some of them were extraordinary. Therefore I am not going to poop me pants when I see the legend '8 bit file' even when I understand the 'eeeewwwwww' reaction..

I'm wondering whether the title indeed refers to that early music making process because I know from personal, bitter experience that the music we made then was - literally - made byte by byte; entering codes that essentially set up the mix, arrangement and lead tweaks. If this is a nod to the direction of the whole MOD/SID scene then I have to say it is extremely well done (especially in the Mario-alike sections). Surprisingly enough, the more modern sound fits right in there too and as much as I didn't really look forward to hearing this, I found it worthwhile. Mind you, I would because it is part of my history and it's something I have an abiding interest in, but I doubt it would be of much interest to your normal banger boy or girl. Nonetheless, if you like video console games mixed with some decent rockier touches or even if you don't One Byte At A Time is a very listenable `track.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sonic Salad - Meadow Green (Version 2)

Hear The Track Here

For a large majority of Soundclick veterans/regulars/peoplewhoneedtogetalife, 2005 was a tough year. As well as major upsets on the site, we had a few personal ups and downs too. All in all everyone breathed a sigh of relief as the year ended. As did I, I must admit, but my own relief was tinged with a deep sadness that during that year SC (through IMHO a massive miscalculation) managed to lose two of its brighter talents both together and individually. I speak, of course, about the departure from SC to Artist Lauch and other sites of the justly famed Nad Sylvan and Ol' Bon Bonamici. Although they are probably better known these days for their incredible post-Genesis progressive collaboration Sylvan and Bonamici, I still rate their solo works as being some of the finest music I have heard anywhere let alone the festering moshpit we all know as the internet.

While they were here though, they made lots of friends besides me. So thanks Cam for being the friend that brought at least one of these guys back to my ears, because I miss them a great deal. Cam?? wtf??? OK, I suppose I ought to explain here that the aural greenery that festoons the bandname hides one Cam Bastedo in a different guise; that of instrumentalist. A great many people know Cam though his songs but I'm sure there aren't many who know that he is also an adept producer/arranger who takes on a lot of different styles through his SS work (Sonic Salad you understand, not the jackbooted kind). Meadow Green was originally written and released in 2004 and is a flute/piano peice that would fit nicely in your Mum's collection of 'ooh that's nice dear' tunes. Bonamici heard the original and Version 2 is really his take on the track.

Having heard the original, I completely understand why Cam felt moved to include Bonamici in the writing credits. Not only did Ol' Bon take the original idea completely he ran with it into the woods never to be seen again. This artists mastery (please note my italics) of his tools ensures that nothing that emanates from this source is ever likely to disappoint, and it's ever more likely to thrill and inspire you in a way you would never have thought possible. There's a depth and majesty that Bon brings to Meadow Green which turns it from a enjoyable (albeit on a Mom level) instrumental into an epic, world spanning peice with more nooks and crannies (that's detail in Gilmorespeak) than yer average spelunker* weekend. Even more surprising is the fact it all fits in the original tracks running time of two minutes and change, when all the time your ears are telling you this cannot be so. So much in so little?? I'm not sure whether my reaction to this track is more because I've missed Bon's deft touch or because the track is every bit as glorious as I think, but whatever it is, don't you miss this one.


*= spelunker - someone who climbs inside rock as opposed to one wot makes it.

Jim-n-Lisa - Jihad

Hear The Track Here

While it's nice that the last couple of months have been quite good on the new name front, I must admit that I felt the loss of some of SC's more well-known names. So it was a welcome relief to see that this month was going to be different and already I've had some pleasant encounters with some old friends. I shamefully admit that I had to arm-wrestle Jimbo-Bob-thingy into putting down his john hancock this month, but hey I'm a desperate man, what can I tell you? See, that is the hidden cost of the kind of reviewing schedule I keep to, there is just no time whatsover for any other kind of listening. So when someone pipes up 'hey new tune up!!' I generally HAVE to pass it by and hope that it comes up on the list somehow. As you can imagine I am plagued by locusts who whisper 'what do you think of this?' or 'here's one you might like' or 'peep my poop' or whatever the latest word fad is...

Fact is, I can't listen to a damn thing, so stop emailing I and I....otherwise I'll fatwa your ass...

Speaking of fatwas, old favourites Jim-n-Lisa return to the fray with a cheery little number about the spiritual bliss that comes from slicing and dicing your neighbours, family and friends. I snarfed the 320k version because if there is one thing I love it's the J-n-L production sound and this track is no exception; a sound vision as wide as the Texas skies that shelter these Soundclick veterans. One of the reasons I picked this outfit for my Artist Of The Year 2004 was their promise, and every track I have heard since then has confirmed that promise and more besides. At this stage of the game, Jim-n-Lisa are one of the better known bands around and most of the kudos for that has to be down to their often uncompromising style. Never one to take an easy musical path, J-n-L often go out of their way to surprise and confound even the most avid fan (ie me).

Jihad, for example, is nothing like I expected it to be. I expected a solid, red-hot angry rant about (and I quote) 'leaders (who) don't believe in the science that powers their weapons' but what we get is an exceptional blend of rock and jazzy structures that put me instantly in mind of the '60's band the Soft Machine. More by instrumental sound and song structure rather than vocally mind, because there ain't no-one who sounds quite like Robert Wyatt. Nonetheless, Jim has a fair set of pipes on him too and he shows off his tonsilar pecs off on this track with admirable skill. Speaking of pipes, Jim's also a well respected horn man, and again on this track he shows why - the tone is to die for. Jihad is not going to win any prizes in accessability because there's a lot more here to chew on than in any other ten tracks, but given time and patience you will find that this is the reason why J-n-L are so well known and respected.

Ooozes class. Highly Recommended.

Mandible - Watermelon Chair

Hear The Track Here

In the short time I have known about Mandible I have learned two things: NEVER listen to their music in the dark or without taking your meds and some people don't like what they do. I like what they do very much, even when the end result is as puzzling as Kamikaze Suduko, and as wacky as George Bush when he's supposed to be serious. I know I have a marked prediliction for the strange but I also like music that is challenging, different in some way. Rock is what Mandible do best, but it ain't like any kind of rock you might want to crawl under; it's influences stretch from classic rock structures into Kiss-alike numbers such as They (and I suggest you have a listen to this track if you don't believe me about the Kiss comment).

Watermelon Chair is a lot more like yer classic rock treatment, complete with original stereophonic mix just like it was back in the day. There's a Zappaesque quality about this track, while being recognisable as something wetly Mandiblised and spewed lovingly into your earholes. It's also a bit coitus interruptus because just when you are starting to get into the rhythm of the thing (if rhythm is a word that can be applied here), it shoots it's load and is lying back smoking a cigarette. Mind you, the 2:28 of its puny frame provides more than a couple of highspots especially if you like your rock to roll, kick your head in and mess with your brain with a fearfully manic song (again, if song is a term that could apply here). The lyrics (if etc...) are not complex and are quite straightforward (if etc....); they go 'what you are doing is not acceptable by the majority. why can't you get along with my brothers?' and I think it would be best if you recognise that their sing-along-ability is a bit lacking.

What isn't lacking, however, is energy. That and splendidly manic innovation and a feel for the genre's bedrock that is so on the money, it'll give you goosebumps. I prefer Mandible's more accessible material but there is no denying that this little (makes a shrugging motion)thing has a charm about it that I am finding hard not to respond to. With its sudden slides from classic rock, through jazzy undertones, heavy metal basslines and drums that have the consistency of tin cans (BIG fekkin tin cans mind...), the more I played this the more I liked it. I think I'm probably a mad keen Mandible fan at this stage, but I can see no reason why others who like to look at things from a different perspective wouldn't get into this just as strongly. When the lyrical section mentioned above comes in especially. After a few plays I have to say that was giving me the musical horn and no mistake. Dare to be different, dare to be masticated by the masters of not-rock-as-we-know-it-Jim...

Freaky deaky or wot? Highly Recommended and a Must Have if you are a fan already.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Monktrump - With You

Hear The Track Here

Yet another artist I haven't heard from for a while, Monktrump and I didn't have a very happy start. It was only after the fourth or fifth track from him that I started to see there might be more here than met the ear, and since then I have had a couple of pleasant surprises from him. Nothing startling mind, but definitely something worth checking out - especially if rock is something you have a preference for. My initial feelings about his work revolved around his arranging and production skills, and as I now read, that has been the bulk of the complaints I have levelled against him and as I say, he does seem to have surmounted those problems admirably.

I have to say that With You didn't really register with me that much on first plays, and I suspect the same might be true for you unless you already know and like this artist. There is a basic feel about this track that may well prove off-putting for a more casual listener consisting as it does with little more than bass, drums, guitar and voice. Such a combination has paid off a million times in the past I know but it does take a certain amount of nous to do it properly. Unfortunately, in my very miserable view, I don't think that With You is strong enough as a song to really pay off because I don't really have a lot of problems with the way it is put together.

I did like the lyrics on their own but somehow when they are allied to the music, it just doesn't come off as powerful as the words make it sound. On the plus side though, there are some very good sounds going on in this track especially the sharpness of the guitar which gives it the requisite 'jangle' I find melts even the hardest of hearts (ie mine). All in all, I think Monktrump can be well pleased at turning in a very workman-like effort but again it isn't something that finds much favour with me even after repeated plays. There again, as Monktrump knows only too well, I am notoriously difficult to please and I think I'm probably a lot more critical than a great many SC rockhounds so I don't think he has that much to worry about.

dcallen - Watching the Moment Slip Away

Hear The Track Here

I did a count of the number of times I have mentioned this artist over the past few years and got a total of over 40 separate times. THAT, believe it or not, is amazing and it came as much of a shock to me as it may do to you. That's because, over the years I have known him, dcallen has become a kind of standard I judge OTHER electronica by since he has long surpassed what I call the 'normal' electronica crowd. Although Soundclick has (and has always had) a large electronica community, there haven't been that many REAL notables come from it IMHO. In fact I could pretty much count them on two hands, and there is no doubt that Dave would be in that bunch somewhere.

It was noticable that I included dcallen as a SC Big Beast in my 2005 year end Stevies and that was in a year that was extremely quiet on the new release front. That was on the strength of his 'rock' collaboration Bad Karma Gonna Get You (July 2005) and if you hear nothing else from this artist I definitely suggest you don't give this track a miss. As good as it ever gets. Dave says he makes 'melodic electronic music for people who don't like electronic music' and I think I would have to agree with him. Alongside someone like Bonamici, these guys definitely stretch the definition of what constitutes electronica. Mind you, rather than listening to my endless platitudes about this fine artist get yourself over to his page and taste some of this for yourself and you'll see why he has such a following. Watching the Moment Slip Away is billed as Electronica: Ambient but - as usual - it's much more than that.

There's a definite wandering into Bonamici territory here because - to my ears - this is much more a soundtrack feel to this. Either that or it's the LSD just kicking in :D The thing that I've always liked about Dave's work is his attention to sound detail, each instrument lovingly tweaked to bring out it's best flavours and Watching The Moment has this in shedfulls. I have to be honest and state that this laid back, lets-all-have-a-nice-sleep routine isn't usually something I go for but -as usual - Dave makes it more than worthwhile. As I say, it's been a while since I have heard from this artist (he has been extremely busy with other things) but I do hope this means a return to the release schedule of the past. As we all know, you can never get enough of this kind of quality.

Class act, and no mistake.