Friday, June 30, 2006

Mahmood Fahim - Nischup Protifolon (Quiet Reflection)

Hear The Track Here

Last track out the bag this month is yet another track that came in AFTER the list had closed. Take careful note that this is absolutely the last month I pick up any strays... So, like the other couple of tracks that did this, the reason I let this slip through has to do with geography. Over the past year, year and a half I have heard some dazzling music from the Indian subcontinent; acts as diverse as Prash, Omnisine, Sunil Thakkar and others. All of them specialising in some form of western rock with the slightest nod to their own culture. What's more they are suprisingly good at it and both Prash and Omnisine have done extremely well out of it.

Mahmood Fahim is from Dhaka, Bangladesh and there is only one track on his page (this one) along with a cryptic comment that this is his 'solo side project' Oh yeah? One wonders what his main project is then... Musically Mahmood follows the same kind of path pursued by the names I mentioned above - western rock, although in this case with a decidely MOR feel to it. Whether that feel is coming just from the material or is attributable to the factory sounds being used on this track. I have to assume that Mahmood is a guitarist seeing as his influences happen to be Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore et al, and the track is undoubtedly a vehicle for some deft axework.

To my ears there's much more of a Roy Buchanan resemblence than any of the artists he cites as influences. If you know anything about this late, great American guitarist you may even understand that I have just paid Mahmood a very high compliment, and he justly deserves it. Although this kind of music is definitely not my cup of tea there is no doubt that this is a serious, sophisticated musician whose playing style is fluid, deft and to the point. Of course it will appeal to other guitarists more than anybody else but if you like a MOR tinged guitar ballad, this will do the trick.

RC (NJ) - 2 - Changes Feat Tupac

Hear The Track Here

As you can see, we are stepping into dangerous territory here. I know that Tupac is no longer with us but presumably someone, somewhere still owns the rights to his material. I know that the hip hop world has a tendency to eat itself (ie cannabalising other tracks for inspiration/beats) but surely even using this small a chunk of commercial music is copyright infringment. As if that weren't bad enough, the main verse uses (I think anyway) a Bruce Hornsby piano lick as musical accompaniment. Admittedly it's been a bit chewed up but it's still a highly recognisable riff that anyone would spot within one play.

RC, you may want to withdraw this track from SC, because I feel for sure it contravene's this sites rules...

Anyway, while it's here I did have a listen (or six) to it and drew some pretty firm conclusions. 1. RC is very new to this game, 2. he is young (16) and 3. He has nothing in the way of equipment except his voice. Nothing wrong with that I say, in fact there are musicians I have met on this site that have similar situations but manage to come up with something that could feasibly call their own. It is true, however, that he has a decent flow but - as is common with the genre - no lyrics are on display and the state of the vocal recording don't really assist in figuring out wtf is going down.

Where the track REALLY falls down is what I can only describe as the chorus when RC uses the Tupac fragment and (I believe) some other vocal sounds and the clash of these two styles is truly horrendous. The kind of sound that makes you cringe. I'll put this basic error down to the artists age, but it doesn't do him (or his friends) any favours, someone should have told the guy long before this that this plain doesn't work. No doubt, I'll be getting it in the neck for speaking what I consider to be the truth - that also seems to be the case for most of the hip hop crowd - but who knows, maybe RC will recognise that I am not out to diss him, merely saying EXACTLY what I think about what he is doing.

Your rap is cool dude, but everything else needs a severe shaking...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

One Kid's Lunch - Fly Me

Hear The Track Here

I cracked up when I heard One Kids Lunch and their There's More (May 2006) and it gave me hope for the future of humankind - and it isn't often you can make that claim. The first thing I had to grapple with when facing OKL is that they are a Christian rock band and this is definitely one artist who belies the genre. To be sure, their outlook is undeniably Christian but their take on it is so far removed from the usual happy clappy that they do deserve to be much better known. I loved the power pop sound of There's More and it's wonderfully witty way of getting their message across and consequently waited all month for this track to come round in the hopes of raising my spirits after another long month of wall-to-wall PMS (that's Peep My S***, not the female complaint)...

So, Fly Me....

Well whatever expectations I had harboured from this band, Fly Me certainly exceeded them by a country mile, with one notable exception. 2:19?? Come on guys, who are you kidding? A track like this needs to go on for several days - at the very least. In others words, ye of the puzzled expression, this is a wonderful track that will lift you up enormously. Especially if you like something that sounds like the Beatles. No. Really. I am not one to go throwing that weighty burden on anyone's shoulders, but you tell me. Go have a listen to this track and tell me, sounds like, tastes like and what's a couple of minutes out of your day? Believe me, you will much, much better for the experience.

So after a couple of plays I'm already sold on this rocky track and then - in common with There's More - you start to notice the lyrics. Lines like 'I paint with such a colorful palette,then it whacks me like a big mallet' and ' dream I'm on exhibit as a chicken at the county fair, dream I'm walking down the street in nothing but my underwear...' thunder through your brain tickling funny spots you didn't even know you had. It was obvious for me from their first track that there is much much more to One Kids Lunch than a good bandname and a unique take on a much abused genre. Little did I realise they can churn out a KILLER pop tune too...

Highly Recommended. Get a lift, fly OKL.

The Redshirt - It's Been A Long Time

Hear The Track Here

I first came across this MP3 Unsigned artist when I reviewed his Warmed Up (February 2006) which I liked but thought that somehow it missed the mark. It SHOULD have been a killer track because it had everything going for it, but to my ears there was something essential missing. At the end of that review I wrote 'it's fairly obvious that if this is an example of what The Redshirt does, then it's only a question of coming across the right track' So the burning question going through the ozone right now is, could this be the one we are expecting? This, mind you, from a guy who doesn't really have a lot of love for dance a la electronica, it's never been a favourite genre of mine. Still, when it's done well (Push The Button by the Chemicals is a classic example of when it works well) it's something really special.

There's a HUGE amount of comments on this track, mainly extremely positive, and from some MP3 Unsigned names I have a lot of respect for. The one thing that will become obvious immediately is that the key word here is dance; 4 to the floor, giant peaks and valleys and a very, very insidious rhythm. Some impressive production going on here too, pre and post. Redshirt has picked a perfect set of sounds to work with and in the process given me the very track I was expecting from him. It is most important to remember here that I don't have much time for yer average dance track but this... Way beyond any genre labelling. Sure, it sounds like dance, you can move to it like dance (and indeed it is being used in a ballet/Modern event) but it's oh so much more than that.

The thing is bulging with musical muscle...

What do I particularly like about it? Mmmmm, where to start.... Right at the beginning of the track, the instrumentation sucks you straight in - whether you like it or not. Around 1:25 it segues beautifully into a wonderful acoustic section that I slobbered over for many plays. Perfect sound. Then theres the set-back-in-the-mix vocal lines from Redshirt and Stayce Camparo repeating the same line endlessly (hey sounds strange, but its one of those you have to hear it things). The note perfect syncopation of the high synth towards the end of the track is special too, except I could have done it with it being a smidge louder, all backed by a lolopping take-yer-fekkin-head off bass sequence that cannot be denied. So, after quite exhaustive listening, I finally came to the conclusion that this track is a monster. A huge, lumbering beast that sweeps all before it, right in every detail and a thing of beauty. It's also one of the rare times - I must admit - that I actually agreed with most of the comments posted about the track.

MUST HAVE dance track. Aural steriods.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Jimmy Kent - My Life Imperial

Hear The Track Here

I've liked most of Jimmy Kent's output over the year since I first met him, and have even recommended a track or two. Mainly because Jimmy is a decent songwriter just a little hampered with the production side of it - as most of us are. So no matter what comments I make about this guy, it's pretty much down to a taste/style thing at the end of the day. It's obvious that the man as potential; as a songwriter, as a singer with a decent style and range and as a musician who can play several instruments. It comes as a big surprise then that I had such an adverse reaction to this track.

Yeah, uh oh will cover it...

The real surprising thing is that every track I have heard from this guy before has been of a certain standard and this track is, I feel, well below that. To be sure I DO like the concept and the lyrics and I think this would make a good song provided that a) the arrangement is tightened up considerably and b) the whole mix is wooly and muddy with the vocal way too far back in that mix for the amount of attention these particular lyrics need to work properly. See, the lyrical content is a bit of a play on words in the manner of one William Shakespeare and was written after Jimmy had taken a literature exam. Bit important then not only to be able to make out the words but to imbue them with meaning too.

There's a rough, unfinished quality about this track that will most definitely lose it listeners which to my mind is a shame because the bones of what is here is worthwhile. At the very least, a more painstaking mix might help to make this the song it should be, and maybe a little bit less of the endlessly noodling guitar while we are at it. Even though it's only three minutes and change there is a lot going on through the track and that activity also doesn't help the song to register with yer average listener but I do feel it would be helped with a little more emphasis on the mix. Maybe not, but them's my opinions. As I say, a little disappointing really because this artist has done much better than this technically previously although he certainly raises the song writing bar on this track.

Mark Holley - Blink Of An Eye

Hear The Track Here

There seems to be a preponderance of Mark's on MP3 Unsigned and here's a track featuring two of them. Mark Alexander should be a name some of you will recognise because I've reviewed at least a couple of his tracks already and he's quite visible on the site. Mark Holley, on the other hand, is a new name to me. A 'keyboardist/guitarist/writer' from Oooooklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma so we should presume that all 'keyboardist/guitarist/writer' roles are his and Mark Alexander supplies the vocals (and the bass too, as it happens). It's also a multi-country collab (Mark A is in the UK, Mark H is - as I mentioned before in excruciating detail -in that state I cannot name but can sing passibly well...)

Mmmmm. Let's crack on....

I am also going to presume that the final mix and a lot of the post production was down to Mark H and I gotta say he's gone a very decent job. Everything is where it should be, both sound spectrum and stereo picture and there are some lovely sounds going on. Mark Alexander is putting in a class performance too, sounding very confident on this very likeable track. It's a pop rock blend that could be performed by any of the commercial artists both guys cite as influences. Considering such influences as David Bowie, Elton John, Billy Joel (ahhh there's the main influence) and others, them coming up with a track like this is a complete no brainer. Inevitable, even.

Why are you looking at me so suspiciously??

You know there is an undertone to my conversation, don't you? Well, you'd be right. The hardest thing about this is that I DO like the track. I like the way it's put together, I like the way it's played and performed and I like the way it takes a respectful bow to its predecessors, and overall I like it's adherence to the standard achieved in the genre they are in. My problem is that as much as I would expect it to be exciting, it just isn't. To be sure, it's a great example of how to make a classic track with all the requisities but somehow it just misses the target for me. In the meantime, what we do hear is plenty enough for our Great Leader: General Public and I'm just a damn perfectionist ESPECIALLY when it comes to impact, drama and meaning.

For non-knobheads this is going to be a great listen, and one I recommend if you like the genre.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Soul Dust - Infectious Greed

Hear The Track Here

In the early 1970's I spent a few years living cheek by jowl with two bands that have since become legend. As a long time Ladbroke Grove resident, I lived in close proximity to the groups of people who slowly became - in no particular order - Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies. Both bands provided me with all the musical staples I needed - although in very different ways; Hawkwind shattered your eardrums while expanding your mind and the Pink Fairies shattered mind and eardrums. It's true, of course, that the base for both these bands was rock - pure and simple. Since that time I have always had a soft spot for the rougher end of the rock scale - and that explain my particular penchant for Soul Dust. IMHO, the Canadian version of what those two bands were about; rock, pure simple and totally unadorned.

Like caressing your ears with a nail file... Aaahhhh, that's better....

The reason I am blabbering on about this is because - to me - the music just sounds a million times better when it soaked in the [i]ethos[/i] of rock. Freewheeling, free spirited and f*** you if you don't like it. As I've said a million times before, to really get to know Soul Dust it would be best if you liked your music raw. Or, in Soul Dust's case, 'just show it the oven OK?'. A prime asset (one of several) of Soul Dust is the songwriting and lyrical abilities of Andre Bourget whose work echoes all the very best of the genre - including in this case political commentary. See? Talk about touching all the bases... Although the song is essentially aimed at corporations and the profit motive, the underlying message about greed in all it's forms is one I can get particularly close to.

There is no doubt in my mind that Soul Dust would be an absolutely kickass live band, everything about their tracks shouts that and Infectious Greed would be one hell of a live track. Aaah, to be in the moshpit to this one... Because they are so much a real band, it seems only fair to single them out for a change. Hilton Hartwell along with Ron Twemlow (bass and drums respectively) provide the tracks backbone with considerable power and confidence, Mik Shaflik (he who I have written reams about his classic rock voice) is in top form and Andre... Andre is fekking WAAAAAIILLLLLINGGGG. Rock in the time honoured fashion, delivered by some extremely serious musicians. Canada should consider itself lucky it's sons have such good taste.

MUST HAVE (even for non rock fans - it's a cracking song)

Maxfield - Stucklike

Hear The Track Here

Been a while getting to this review, what with one thing and another, but better late than never eh? I think I was supposed to have reviewed this ages ago but... Maxfield are a four peice rock band from London comprising of singer/songwriter Valerie Maxfield, Julian Chown, Marky Mark (not THE Marky Mark, surely?) and Clive Jenner. Judging by the comments on the webpage, they are a live band so maybe I should get my aging, saggy butt out of the house for the first time in a century and take in a 'gig'. But wait, shouldn't we first take a look at a sample?

MmmmmmmmOK....yer tis...

The first thing you'll notice about this track is that it's finished to a high gloss. The production and mix on this track are absolutely spot on, showing a very high degree of professionalism. Those same sentiments can be equally as convincingly applied to the music, lyrics and vocals so all in all, if you were looking for something 'commercial' this would fill that spot perfectly. Y'all know me by now and know that my harshest judgements are about poor production standards, so obviously Maxfield know a thing or two about how to do it. I should fekkin coco. If I didn't love Stucklike for all those qualities, then I for damn sure would have loved it because it's a cracking song with an oh so slightly wacky air that can leave you breathless.

As if all of that were not enough, the crowning glory is the voice of Valerie Maxfield, smoky, commanding and with its own sense of rhythm (as a classic example, get a listen to the little ragga section somewhere in the middle of the track). It's probably just a little too off-the-wall for real commercial potential but the fault for that lies in the public taste rather than anything the band are doing wrong. In fact, it's that out-of-kilter feel that sticks in your mind as much as the track itself. I'm always on the lookout for artists who twist things around to look at them another way and Maxfield have just become a very welcome addition to my hard drive.

Original. Different. Wonderful.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Silvertrain - Turn Away

Hear The Track Here

Exterior: People crowd around a fallen figure, paramedics work furiously to bring him back to his senses. He slowly recovers, gabbling furiously in strange tongues. Seeing as there is never a policeman around unless you are naughty, the crowd exercises great restraint as a commotion starts in the rear. Three people push their way to the front of the mob and assault the stricken man, adorning his body with microphones. They signal over the shoulders to someone unseen. (Foley: A switch is pushed)

Waaddafek?? Sfhshs, fjfhdd. Ooooeer, I feel right strange. Sorry about not being around at the beginning of this review but I'd had a shock, you see. Kind took me mind away, as it were. The reason I was a bit flushed was because, finally, after what seems like A-fekkin-ges, here's a Silvertrain track sung by Ritchie!! Aahhh, not so smug now are we? That falling down trick worked for you too, I see. What about that eh? He finally managed to get out of bed. Tell ya what, I'd better stop joking and get to the music or he'll send the boys round.

Turn Away is worth the wait too, although it isn't without it's faults. Essentially a demo of a track they are about to record properly (I think), it's best not to expect a stellar sound. There's a structure of course, but nothing in the way of augmentation save the guitar figure that holds everything together. It's a good job it's a handy guitar figure, one that can sustain the song, but it does need something to play off it. Vocally, Ritchie sounds great, although some of the recording is a bit harsh it doesn't really blunt any impact the song and delivery may have. In common with the bulk of Silvertrain tracks I have reviewed over the last year or so, this is the bare bones of a very good track and will - I hope - be improved immensely in a studio environment. As it stands, its a terrific song, combined with a perfectly credible guitar accompaniment and it even sounds pretty good too.

Recommended (for the song)

Rainy D - Why Don't You Listen?

Hear The Track Here

Now here is something you don't see every day, the lady known as Rainy D stepping out on her own. For those who have no idea wtf I'm talking about, listen on... Rainy is also part of Serenity who have to be one of MP3 Unsigned best known artists. As if that pedigree is not enough, Why Don't You Listen? has a music track courtesy of Virus who - if you are regular reader - I have written much about his musical and production skills. Then, Rainy goes all family on us and ropes in Kirsti, a 16 year old as a vocalist on this poptastic pop tune. Well, it all sounds pretty yummy, doesn't it? Or, if none of these names mean anything at all to you, wtf have you been hiding? ;)

There's no doubt that The Viral One knows what he's about, and this track shows what he does extremely well. There's a clearness to his productions that still leaves enough room to pack a pretty hefty punch, although I must admit seeing those skills put to pop use gives a different slant on it. Why Don't You Listen? is a tightly structured, string laden confection that perfectly suits the infectious pop vocal style. As much as I hate sweet string pads, I have to admit this is a track they actually work in. Either that or I've caught a nasty virus...

I like Rainy's voice, as I mentioned in reviews, and the difference between Kirsti and her is noticeable. Nothing to panic about because Kirsti hold her end up well but when the chorus chimes in and Rainy makes her entrance, the track gains an immediate lift. She has a clear delivery that even works double tracked (as it is) and that's not a bad trick. Not as exciting as I first imagined it to be Why Don't You Listen is nonetheless a very decent pop track indeed. There's a summery feel to it that should find some listens from Serenity fans, and certainly pull in a casual listener. My one regret is that nowhere on the track are both Kirsti and Rainy singing at the same time. That would have been nice. Still, maybe that's something to look forward to eh?

Class pop tune.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Black-Hole (UK) - One Twist In The Tapestry

Hear The Track Here

Just when I thought it was safe to venture back into the mainstream of music, along comes my old nemesis prog rock to haunt me forever. Joking (barely) aside, it isn't a genre I have great affection for but it seems to be gaining in popularity online and has even produced - to my ears anyway - a couple of real masters at the game in Sylvan and Bonamici. More to the point, I seem to have a least one or two progressive rock tracks up for review every month, each by an artist new to me. Methinks something stirs in the undergrowth. When I start seeing guys going around with mullet heads I'll be sure to notice that we are in a full blown prog rock revival.

All well and good, provided they do away with the greatcoats this time...

Good progressive rock is extremely difficult to pull off and it's to this artist's credit that he, more or less, aquits himself well. That uncertainty you may have detected in my voice is probably a result of my own bias. One Twist carries all of the genre's hallmarks; myriad chord changes, grandiose themes and epic length. When I first caught sight of this tracks lumbering bulk (it weighs in at a extremely obese ten minutes) I almost had a screaming fit, knowing full well that I had let myself in for this and that such is the price of a first come, first served open review list. Nonetheless, whatever I think of the genre itself (other than trying to explain myself of course) I try and keep an open mind on two things: technique and production. To my mind these are also prime components of the genre.

On that score (no pun intended) Black Hole UK succeed because if you like the genre you will find DAYS of listening pleasure with this sprawling, convoluted peice. There is no doubting that this artist DOES know how to get the the meat of the matter, the music itself is always interesting, it's changeability almost seamless once you really start paying attention. How much that has to do with the collab with the Atropos Project on this track, I have no idea but as far as the actual sound goes, I personally would have spent a lot more time getting it to sound as good as it plays. To my mind there is a certain rigidity in the mix that keeps the music from really hitting home. Nonetheless, as I say, fans of the genre will just love this no matter what I say. Good for them, I say.

Pretty good prog rock (and I NEVER thought I'd write that).

Ditheramb - Premis

Hear The Track Here

MP3 Unsigned is a site that hosts many fine artists, covering just about every genre known to man. I have spent almost two years reviewing those artists by now and I think I have a pretty good grip on who does what. Out of all those musicians though, there aren't that many that make music that is - in any meaningful way - different. Sure the site has it's share of musical oddballs, as does any self respecting unsigned/indie site, but the real movers and shakers seem to be more on the surface of this site than most of the others I frequent. Besides, how 'different' can you make a genre like - say - heavy metal? Well, I tell you what, go over to their MP3 Unsigned page and pick a track - any track - and tell me that this band don't do the business on a genre that most of us thought set in stone years ago.

I've been a big fan of this Australian band ever since I heard their unique take on a genre that I loved once, then grew to hate. Heavy metal music is as much a part of my life as rock music in general, and as such became a genre I worked in in the real world. My hate for the genre came when (IMveryHO) it was taken over and shredded by thrash and all of its many minions. Ditheramb, bless 'em, gave me a refreshing new look at this genre, and for that they have gathered (count 'em) two Highly Recommended's and one Must Have (Euphoria, February 2006) and must rate as one of my favourite MP3 Unsigned artists. OK, it is fair to point out that I have a bias here - being well versed in the genre - and that I am bound to like what Ditheramb do because not only do they refresh the parts that other bands miss by a mile, but they do it with such style. Take a listen to Euphoria and see what I mean.

Premis, on the other hand, is a short 'intro' peice, unlike their other mega monsters. It being pretty much an acoustic guitar peice albeit in the usual tasteful way. Almost the first thing you'll notice is how clear and crisp everything seems, and how that one instrument takes up the whole of the stereo spectrum. That, my friends, is paying attention to packaging as well as performance. As far as performance goes, I'd say this was perfect, the highlight being a most effective lead line right before the end that just lifts everything that extra mile. Short but sweet. I'll settle for this but I wanna hear something a lot, lot meatier in return guys :D

Short, sharp and (very) effective.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Policy Overkill - The Stomp Dance

Hear The Track Here

Oh dear. Just when you thought it was safe, Policy Overkill write 'Kraftwerk and Wumpscut run through a meat grinder. Or something. Whatever it is, it's weird'. Given that description you may think that Policy Overkill are somewhat experimental but that doesn't appear to be the case, Electronica: Dance is the genre this one man band is placed in. So, how dangerous could that be to one's mental health? I can't say I am a big fan of dance or even electronica but I do like something that transports me away from my mundane daily tasks (like reviewing for example).

So the question is, will this do that trick?

'This sort of thing has happened before' is what you are thinking as that same vocal snippet and a solid 4/4 kick introduce this track. So far, so normal. However, give this track a bit more than a cursory play and you may find that you can appreciate it's somewhat quirky nature, if not it's danceability. To my ears, it isn't something I would automatically designate as dance although it does hold a lot of that genre's characteristics such as the aforementioned kick pattern and yer almost obligatory breakbeats. There's almost a DnB feel to some of the more rhythmic sections which I found quite cool, but that's because I do like things to be that little bit different.

Initially I wasn't sure where the Kraftwerk influence came in, and I think that misconception didn't help me get a grip of the track. Nonetheless, the more I played the track, the more I noticed the kinds of things I associated with the German ubermeisters. The extremely retro sound of the synths, the stilted vocal phrases and an edge-of-chaos feel that is pure Kraftwerk. The reason I mention this is because Kraftwerk are a big fave of mine so I would be interested in anyone who mentions them as an influence. It's a big boast but Policy Overkill - with a bit of work on the part of the listener - come up with the goods in a way I found really refreshing. What it will do is inspire me to listen to some more of this musicians catalog to see what else is cooking in here. If anything I have said is ringing a bell, maybe you should do the same.


Fragmented Vision - No Fragments

Hear The Track Here

Fragmented Vision is a new MP3 Unsigned name to me, and judging by some of the comments on his webpage, pretty much new to making music too. He started (it's another one man band) making music in 2005 and is currently using Reason and Cubase to make his electronic ambient. Not exactly a cherished genre of mine but - given that it's performed and structured well - is something that I can dip in and out of without too much strain. Fragmented Vision is a 21 year old from Kent in England but that's probably more information than you need right now...

After all, you are only here for the music, right?

At just over four minutes believe me this tune is not going to tax anybody's time overly much and - surprisingly enough - it's quite an enjoyable listen. Not sure how much of this is actually made by FV or whether any of it is musical loops, but if none of it is loops, this is a good job indeed. I have to admit right up front that I wasn't overly keen on the style and arrangement but I also admit that this is purely a personal thing, and that if you like electronic chill out, then this is track that will go down with you very well. It's unhurried, surprisingly unfussy arrangement and metre gently pulls you through the track which - to my mind anyway - is exactly what chill out is supposed to do.

There's some really neat sounds in here too, all wrapped up in a very clear, workmanlike production that belies the time that this guy has been making music. There's a maturity and depth about the sounds and arrangement that you wouldn't expect from someone so inexperienced and it bodes well for this artists future, and certainly makes me want to check out more material from this source. I particularly liked how close the kick drum and bass sounds were, which always gives a track a meatiness that it otherwise lacks. Those two sounds work in lockstep to pin down your ears so that you WANT to listen to it to see where it goes. Not a bad trick as it happens, and one I'm sure Fragmented Vision is likely to use again and again.

Recommended Electronic Ambient.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Omnisine - Twisted Minds

Hear The Track Here

Considering his age (18 or so), Omnisine is an electronica artist to be reckoned with, as members of that Soundclick scene have discovered. He's had a very good innings from me too, both as CJ Freq X and Omnisine, and all rightly deserved. I listen to a lot more electronica these days than is probably good for me and I knows wot I likes, and I like this Mumbai based artists style a lot. Not content to deliver some stunning licks and mighty melodic content goes the extra mile and twiddles and tweaks endless little tricks out of the sound and mix to keep the pot boiling...

Mmmmm tasty...

Chitrang Jagdish aka Omnisine is one of those musicians who seem instinctively to know which rhythms to employ to get the desired effect and Twisted Minds is a great example of this. From the effects driven intro, you get an idea of just how difficult it may be to ignore this track - as if you could. Once the piano line kicks in, it's all over, you'ze hooked. As a musician who is experimenting more and more with vocal cutups, drum echo tricks, and well placed scratches I can only nod my head in agreement with the selection and placing of these elements in the really likeable track. This artist has taught me to expect a bit more from him than yer average 'leccie, and in Twisted Minds he may well have raised the bar on himself.

I'm not sure whether it's because the elements he uses border on the kind of things I am into at the moment, or just because the guy is as good as I think he is, but this track has been knocking me dead ever since I first started hearing it. Definitely another keeper from this excellent artist and one I feel I can recommend even if the whole electronica thing makes you gag. There's no doubt that it will appeal more to people like me with a vested interest in this area but there is enough pure musical sense in this track that it should appeal to just about anybody willing to give it a listen. Certainly a welcome addition to this years crop of top tracks.

First rate electronica. Highly Recommended.

Mark Alexander - If You Were The One

Hear The Track Here

MP3 Unsigned artist Mark Alexander and I have a scorecard of one liked track, and one not so hot so let's see if we can even it up. Mark is basically a rock singer/songwriter (not that there is anything wrong with that) and it's a genre that does require you to stand out to be noticed. After all, there are a lot of these guys around, we're kinda spoilt for choice. Nonetheless, what I remember of Mark's work was that it was certainly pleasant to listen to, and that's never a bad thing for this reviewer. I suppose that's where I have a problem with this artist too. I don't want music to be pleasant to listen to, I want it to blow me on my ass.

Well, that'll be me. Still trying to live the impossible dream.

Considering that he ticks all the really BIG names in music over the past 30 years as influences, I can't fault the music he makes because it truly is an amalgam of just about anything you have heard. To my mind, that is the very best kind of pop music - ask The Beatles. Truth to tell, I think Mark DID ask the Fab Four, because that is the closest reference I can come to with this track. George Harrison tinged maybe, but definitely beatle-ish. It stands to reason that it's going to be fairly standard rock, laid back, with just the right amount of langour to make it believable.

It's to Mark's eternal credit that he pulls this off admirably, both in sound and feel. Again, though, I feel the material kind of lets it down but I'm not really a fan of this particular style so take that with a pinch of salt. If anything I've said above appeals to you then by all means go and have a listen to the track because it is very well performed and well balanced too. Mark has a voice that is custom built to fit, his Lennon-ish delivery bringing the right emphasis to the lyrics. I am, and was always, a big fan of the Beatles early catalog (the first four albums) and there is a Hard Days Night feel about this track I found very attractive, especially the guitar break.

Brings back all the right memories...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Waxko - Rock'nd Kanny

Hear The Track Here

As I've tried to explain a thousand, million times, the very last thing I intend to do when I sit down to write a review is to rubbish it. More to the point, if I HAVE to rubbish it, I like to think I provide adequate reasons for doing so. Not always possible of course, especially with something so personal as the tracks we make - and, of course, it's only an opinion anyway. The reason I blather on like this is because when I reviewed Waxko's Ocean (May 2006), the slaughter was so intense I'm still trying to get the blood off the walls. I think part of the reason for that reaction from me was because I had heard a couple of much, much better tracks prior to that and thought he was capable of better work.

Yeah, yeah, me Billy No Mates again...

One track in particular Heroes Of The Daily Grind (December 2005) the very first track I reviewed from him is still resident on my hard drive and I guess it's my liking for that track that colours my views about these later tracks. Looking back through those tracks along with the excellent melody construction, are certain things I could find fault with. They were to the fore in Ocean and play a small part in the proceedings that make up Rock'nd Kanny, although nothing like the level that marred that track. The more time I spent with it, the more I returned to what I liked about him first of all - his willingness to experiment with different sounds being the main ingredient.

Along with that degree of experimentation though, it is inevitable that you will get some distinctly dodgy sections. This track does contain a couple of those but it also covers some nice melds of differing shades of chill out that save it. Definitely something that won't appeal to many people outside of it's Electronica genre but if you like a bit of weird then this will do the trick. Funny thing is about those violins; you would SWEAR they were out of tune and then - turn a corner - whammo, perfect. A somewhat flawed effort but I think it has enough quirkiness to get it a few listens.

Monktrump - Lethargy

Hear The Track Here

No one's flabber was ghasted more than mine when I discovered that the last Monktrump track I reviewed - Long Time (May 2006) - was really, really good. Believe me, as Mike Atkins aka MT can testify, we have very rarely seen eye to eye and that doesn't have much to do with either his music or his style. Most of my gripes have been about the material, and that may well be a personal choice. It's obvious he knows his chops, and delivers them with conviction but sometimes you need a lot more than that going on. My worst fear was that the improvement on the last track was down to his collaborator and that I'd have to go back to berating him again.

A nice slice of Pub Rock anyone?

For people who don't know of this musical phenomenon, it was a 1970's reaction to all the hippy dippy, arty farty music being put out by major artists of the time; a return to the roots if ya like. It should also be considered as a direct forerunner of punk because a lot of major punk names came from this circuit (The Damned, The Clash, virtually ALL of Stiff Records output and many more. All these bands specialised in guitar based rock played with life and energy. Much of Monktrump's output has those same connections at least in terms of garage band sound and tried and tested musical structures.

Lethargy doesn't, thank God, take it's title to heart and in fact will amplify the comments I've made above, a good time-y rock tune that requires little in the way of brainpower. I guess that's my way of saying that you would probably have to like the style and genre to really get anything out of this track, but there is enough of an audience for the various rock breeds it should do well. For my part I find myself comforted that I can't really pick too much fault with the track or the way it is presented, and - given its simplicity - there's enough to keep you occupied for it's three and a half minutes. Play it more than once or twice and it may even grow on you, it certainly did with me.

Classic rock revisited.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Crockmister - Never Get It Right

Hear The Track Here

Crockmister AKA Craig Sofaly is an MP3 Unsigned artist and one half of Deggsy & Crockmister, IMO possibly the best duo around right now. Certainly the slickest, anyway. They came real close to getting artist of the year 2005 from me and did feature highly in my year end review. Not bad considering the amount of tracks that went to form this high opinion. Artists that really score with me have to be infinitely well rounded, accomplished at fleshing out a track beyond it's initial inspirational phase. Such tracks have grace, beauty and maybe even a longevity in this rushed age of ours. No matter, but to complicate the issue even further, I have to state that this is a Crockmister only track.

I first met Crockmister when I reviewed his Walking Between Two Worlds (October 2004) when his Deggsy collaboration wasn't even a glint in the eye. I said of that track, and the vocal performance, 'think about Cat Stevens (Ysuf Islam) singing in the style of Van Morrison in full flow' and this is the same thing two years on. A clearer sound, an infinitely crisp mix and all the vocal treacle you can stand. Sorry, I know this is going to sound mawkish but I genuinely love to hear this this guy sing. To be sure, his material isn't always to my taste but he has never delivered sub standard in his vocal work EVER. Can't say that about everyone and is a sure mark of Crockmister's payment of dues.

As if the impeccable vocals weren't enough, Craig always allys that to a dynamite song writing talent (a man for the right words at the right time). At this point in time I am a confirmed fan of this mans music, whether in collaboration or on his own. He has a vocal knowingness that will fair take your breath away if you've never heard him before. If you are in that unfortunate position, I recommend you pick up on one of the best soul (real soul that is) voices around. I don't know Craig at all outside of this internet experience, but I kinda know who he is. Music pours out out his pores, infests his thoughts and generally makes his life a misery EXCEPT when making little masterpieces like this for the rest of us to gawp ruefully at. Never Get It Right is a perfect track, with a superlative vocal that will give you the shivers. In a world where justice ruled, this would be a number one everywhere.

MUST HAVE (for comfort and warmth)

Burp feat. Nini - Recent Colloquy

Hear The Track Here

Ever since I first came across this Munich based musician I have written reams and reams of praise about his talents. He has an enviable record with this reviewer of consistency and quality. In the space of three years and a great many tracks I can't think of that many times when guy hasn't consistently (nay persistently) pressed all the rght buttons. OK, it's a fair point that he is often 'experimental' and certainly pushes the envelope a few time but the way in which he does it is what keeps me fascinated. I reviewed his Poem For A Centipede last month and gave it a Must Have so that should tell you something going in... The blunt facts are that I have constantly championed this artist because he has so ably challenged me as a listener to open my ears a little wider, litttle widerrrr, there, aaaaaahhhhhhh.

Know what I mean? ;)

Joined in this case by the beautiful Nini a singer from Beijing, China, Recent Colloquy amply displays the ease that musicians from very different places can combine and make something that exists in a third place. If you have no idea what a colloquy is, I suggest you look it up, because you'll need your wits about you to get Burp's wider/wilder visions. The way Nini's voice works (or is treated, I'm not sure which) is definitely one of the many highspots of this track and it's a sure bet you will not have heard the like of this before. Well up to the usual Burp standard and maybe even a stretch above it. On that matter, I'm afraid only time will tell.

However, after being brainwashed by it over the space of six or so days, there is no doubt that this is one of Burp's further moments. Not necessarily for the music this time, an area he usually scores highest in. Nope, this time it's his productiona and arrangement skills that do the old button pressing trick, particularly with the vocals. It's given them a really ethereal touch that is just scrumptious darling!! One of the benefits of this, of course, is that I'll be trooping off to have a proper look at Nini's talents, but I'll also be hanging onto this track for dear life because it is gorgeous in every way. Works better than Asprin.

Highly Recommended.

Brent Toland - Dominate The Moon

Hear The Track Here

To see the term 'folk' anywhere has been known to send men screaming to their doom, with its attendant images of beards and sandals it has too many hippie connotations for most people not to shudder when they hear its name. When you place that extremely small (and totally untrue) predjudice against the debt modern music owes to the genre, it seems very, very unfair. Mind you, in my misspent youth I also made music that some considered folk, especially when folk was in it's 'oi don't f*** with me' phase. I have a healthy respect and love for the genre because it has given us some truly groundbreaking music, and because it's often delivered on a political platform. To be fair though, the bulk of Brent's work is remarkably free of speeches, so just this one time let's indulge the man...

It's easy to make inevitable comparisons to Bob Dylan but that is superficial, Brent is also a guitarist and singer and there the comparison ends. I've always liked his willingness to stick to his guns and keep to what he considers authentic, and btw I completely understand and appreciate that, and it has become the main reason why I like what he does. Obviously it will not appeal to everyone even when it's carrying a peach of a song like Sing Your Song (April 2006) where went even further back in folk time and compared his performance on that to the immortal Woodie Guthrie.

There's a lot of that rough hew, home spun simpleness about Brent's work and Dominate the Moon is no exception. You can almost SEE the travel dirt when you hear that careworn, and infinitely lonesome vocal. There doesn't appear to be any lyrics posted for this track which, being a song with a political point to make (more stick for Georgie W), seems a bit odd. Still, what counts is the stuff that sluices around your ear canals and - being a diehard fan of the (original) genre - and on both these scores Brent gets a thumbs up from me. Granted, I don't think this is one of Brent better moments but its a strong song that he delivers as only he can. What more could you ask.?

More, maybe?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Unlimited Pineapple Club - Spam and Eggs

Hear The Track Here

I came across this Soundlcick band last month when I reviewed their Danlog Babyhead (wha? dunno?) and found it surprisingly listenable despite it being - and I quote - 'quirky nerd metal'. This despite an overwhelmingly bloody awful recording and mix, instantly reminding me of me old mates Shorthand Phonetics, whose musical style somehow won through the din. Despite all appearances to the contrary I have a lot of sympathy for people forced to make music as cheaply and efficiently as possible, I've spent years getting demo ear for the priviledge. Nonetheless, something is either listenable or not and Spam and Eggs veers worryingly towards not.

The fault for this lies partly between the thin, reedy sound and secondly with the arrangement and style of the music TUPC make. So, let me make this real clear. I don't find anything wrong with the music, or at least not much. Being a kinda souped up thrash metal (are you fekking kidding me??), this track is obviously only going appeal to certain people. Moreover, when you get to take in the lyrical content, you find yourself in the midst of a nightmare featuring Dr Seuss on acid. As if that weren't enough, you get your ears razored off in the outro by guitars sharper than any oriental blade ever made.

And I loved it.

Mind you, I'm a cantankerous cuss when it comes to me listening pleasure, as you well know, so it would be best to approach this track with some caution. Moreover if what I have said above is presently giving you the heaves best not even to go there. This track SOUNDS like it was fun for the musicians to make and indeed, there is a cartoon-like quality about it that some will find appealing. While others will flee squealing... As it were. Had the sound been up to scratch, this would have been some meaty, convoluted brew and what we hear is a faint echo of that. I liked it but I sure would like it to sound a lot better. Nonethless, for people like me with a taste for the different it shows this band has great potential.

The Delivery System - Not Of That Faith

Hear The Track Here

I try real hard to stick to the list system because I believe it is the fairest way to do this whole reviewing malarky. Unfortunately, it does mean that a lot of my own personal favourite artists never get a look in, usually because they know that I am crazed with review requests and they feel others need the exposure more. Welp, I disagree, and whenever one of my own favourites releases a new track, I'll make room for them. I have known The Delivery System for fekking yonks, and have been a fan for as long. Why? Because there really is no-one around quite like Ffabbia (aka TDS) musically, personally or in any other way. Truly a one off. Mind you, that may be a good thing ;)

Too many Ffabbia's would be likely to break the warp and weft of time itself.

More to the point, TDS has some tenchant opinions views on life, the Universe and everything and is not afraid to show them. Sometimes that has been known to backfire, but hey you got to stand up fr what you believe in. So as much as we may differ from time to time about political/world events, I have never differed about this guys musical talent - again uniquely Ffabbia and no-one else. The list of TDS favourites is way too long to go into here, and Not Of That Faith is going fit right in with its siblings. One of the things I have always admired about this artists work is his way with the wordies, as anyone who has had the pleasure to read his outpourings will tell you. While I don't think this is one of his finer lyrical offerings, it still manages to score enough - helped enormously by the trademark TDS vocal treatment. Stetched out to a huge 7:30, Faith feels too me like two or even three songs squished together in the most remarkable manner. So much so that as much as I loved the first half of the the track, the second half didn't fare anything like as well.

There's also a playful, weird oddness about much of this artists work, and it's in that area where I have the biggest problem with this track. It seems to me that from the point of 'You've gone, but I remember' line there are some tuning problems happening that seriously detract from the impact of this final stanza. Knowing Gazza (aka TDS aka Ffabandalltherest) that may well be intentional - he has been known to be awkward. Just a bit like... Anyway, I came away from this track just a tad disappointed because I felt personally that the track could have done with that extra effort (especially with that last verse) in thinking about the overall impact. So, only one man's opinion and as we know they are like bums, everyone has one. Pure Delivery System for sure, but I'll go to his back catalog for the real McCoy. Nonetheless as an introduction to what The Delivery System does, this will definitely give you the flavour of this individualistic MP3 Unsigned artist.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sleiboi G - Lady Funk (Sinful Lust Mix)

Hear The Track Here

Sleiboi G and I have often found ourselves conversing in various Soundclick forums, principally because he seems like a normal geezer - and after legions of SC muppets - a decent conversationalist should be prized. This is the first time I have been invited to listen to any of his work, and I have to admit I did approach it with a certain amount of reservation. The problem with reviewing honestly is that some people just can't deal with it, can't seem to get it through their heads that this is just one guys opinion that in the scheme of things means fugall. Not that I think Sleiboi will really give a toss what I think, it's obvious he's doing what he wants to do.

Which, btw, is to funk like you wouldn't believe...

Funnily enough, I had always associated him with the electronica crowd which just goes to show how delusional I am these days. My own love of funk comes from James Brown, Booker T, Sly and The Family Stone and others 60's artists then reinvigorated for good and all by the likes of Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins and the grandmaster George Clinton. Surprisingly enough, this is as authentic as anything I have mentioned above which should tell you that Sleiboi has probably been greatly influenced by these people too. From the very first notes, this drags you in and rocks your world and that was always the hallmark of the best funk tracks.

Moreover, if this is Sleiboi himself on the vocals, then it's an even bigger round of applause. Sounding like a cross between Marc Bolan (as does the main guitar line) and Jah Wobble, each line is delivered in a sub spoken manner that takes a while to get used to but works well with this kind of material. I never expected to get funked this month at all, and I am real glad it was this track that delivered it. It isn't IMO a genre that anyone does on a regular basis (at least not THIS kind of funk) so it's a very welcome track indeed. As an introduction to this artist, it's just right and would make most listeners want to hear some more.

Funk it up wiv the Sleiboi...

Cam's Even Song - Star Spangled Truth

Hear The Track Here

Cameron (Cam) Bastedo is a Soundclick veteran by anybodies standards. He's been on this site for almost as long as I have and I've been here forever... He makes great music, he's a songwriter par excellence, he is much respected by his peers, including myself, for his musical abilities as well as his cogent, incisive reviews that have been a staple of Critics Corner for years. He's also (as they say) one of the good guys. His music is a reflection of his life and thoughts, and - as a committed Christian -his relationship with his Maker. I find that admirable being a firm believer of the 'actions speak louder than words' school. Knowing all that, there is one thing that puzzles me. Why does he seem to get ignored every time he puts out something new? That's the crazy thing about SC forum life isn't it? We all struggle to get the slightest crumb of encouragement but my gosh, it's hard to come by. It, of course, makes people like Cam even more valuable because there are so few of them (yes I am talking about myself too) so do him/them a favour and thank them for their reviews when you get one, and be neighbourly enough to give him/them a listen too. THAT, my friends, is wot makes a community.

Anyway, enough bile, let's rock...

Cam is right up there in my estimation, each track he delivers is so markedly different from the one preceeding it and yet still be the very essence of the man. Star Spangled Truth (as you can imagine) pursues a bit of a topical bent - as is common with a lot of Cam's stuff - but whatever your politics the point underlying that is the music and Star Spangled Truth is very good indeed. Set in a fairly typical soft rock arrangement, with some lovely melodies, the track is either going to get you or not especially if your view of world events differs from Cam's. No matter what the sentiment, I personally think I haven't heard Cam sounding better vocally on anything I've heard previously.

At first I thought he reminded me of SC's own Rey Varela but after a few plays that wore off and all sorts of other influences hit me. Nonetheless another fine song from an artist that just keeps getting better and better. Like his The Truth On Christmas, the more I played the track the more I grew to like it, it's familiarity becoming a comfort when needed. That, surely, must be the aim of any serious musician, and it's a rare musician who pulls it off. Ultimately with Cam's work, it's the songs that stay with you more than anything else and Star Spangled Truth is right up there with the very best of them. The vocals, however, are the real highspot of the track, warm as toast, slick as butter and as refreshing as a good cup of tea. If you are already a fan of this musician this is vocal is really gonna knock you on your ass. I urge you, unless you already know who Cam is, to check out this individualistic, feelgood musician and this track would be a good place to start.

Highly Recommended (whatever your politics)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Fear 2 Stop - Jackin

Hear The Track Here

Don't know what it is with Fear 2 Stop just lately because - after a lifetime of whinging and moaning from yours truly - they have hit the right spot three times in a row. Seriously, Billy, Dana and Raymond (aka F2S) have had the most reviews of anyone on Soundclick and very few of them were complimentary. I musta kicked these guys butts into eight million different shapes by now and then - all of a sudden - bam, bam, bam... Instellar Bounce (March 2006), Drawn (April 2006) and Enter the Eclipse (2005 remix) (May 2006) have all been undeniably Fear 2 Stop tracks but with an essential difference.

These are accessible tracks, and very listener friendly...

I never thought I would ever write THAT about Fear 2 Stop's music. Not sure what is contributing to this upsurge in their musical reach but I'm all for it. Take Jackin for example. Anyone who heard F2S a couple of years ago would be absolutely floored to hear that this track was by the same group. Having said that, they have also managed to retain that edge of extreme weirdness that has so characterised their work so - at this stage - I'd have to say that F2S have definitely turned a corner. See Jackin is also a track with much to commend it and even though there is a noticeable hiss on the track, its nothing compared to some of the aural nightmares this artist has thrown at us over the years.

Weighing it at an easily assimilated two and a half minutes, the track is big; both in terms of sounds and arrangement. F2S say about this track that 'F2S go down to the 'hood and get down with the homies, as only we can' and I'd have to say that is a pretty good description. While it's certainly not hip hop in the strictest sense, it definitely has a scuzzy, big city feel about it; along with the usual wild s*** that is the Fear 2 Stop raison d'etre. I must say it is nice to sit here and finally be complimentary about Fear 2 Stop because they have worked long and hard at establishing what THEY want and now they seem to have it. Admittedly Jackin isn't going to be to everyone's taste but I like it and that is something that makes me feel good today.

Excellent experimental electronica with that special F2S touch.

Howsie - The Climb

Hear The Track Here

Howsie is a new MP3 Unsigned name for me, but not for members of that site's forums who know him for the chatterbox he is. By the looks of his collaborators, and the list of influences (Pat Metheny, Weather Report, Jeff Beck) Howsie is going to be well up my musical street. Certainly both Beck and Weather Report had a hefty contribution to raising my own musical sights. On another subject entirely, my wife's maiden name (Ed: Oh dear, where the fekk is he going with this...) happens to be Howse and and Howsie is the English way innit? So, he's a distant, distant relative and his track is wonderful so you should all download it right now and make him rich. Maybe he'll then adopt me and my brood. Ah, but wish it were that simple.

Besides that, he's got horns and that's gotta mean something not nice.

The Climb, on the other hand, is very, very nice in every way. I'm not much taken for the fad of making 'soundtracks' because they - to me - often sound just like soundtracks and therein lies the rub. By definition, soundtrack music should support the visual information being pumped into your eyeballs. In other words it's secondary experience, the visuals being the predominant feature. Therefore, the most important criteria I bring to this argument is: would this tune track stand up as the main feature and in this case the answer is a joyful (nay fekkin elated) yes. From the very first notes, this extraordinary production will suck you into what appears to be a brooding lurker of a track, then spins out the other side in a surge of pure musical adrenaline.

I consider what I do (ie making music, not this reviewing bollocks) to be an art, so I expect a certain level of professionalism from myself as well as in the music I review. Howsie is so far ahead in those stakes it's a no brainer. The technical side of this track is jaw dropping. Each sound loving tailored to fit in its little niche, and proper attention paid to ALL the sound spectrum (now there's a thing). In short, a masterclass in how to do it right. Musically, The Climb is exhilarating, joyous and pure ear nectar, I'd top rate this for the depth of sound even if the music wasn't up to the task but the arrangement and setting of this peice should be entered in the National Music Curriculum. I stand in awe.

Quality. Highly Recommended.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cameron Pierce - Something Like Heaven

Hear The Track Here

As someone who personally witnessed the so called 'Golden Age' of music, I still hear echoes of that time in much of the music I hear today. It is true that the 1960's (and the 70's too I guess) set the template for what is acceptable to a mass public. And one of the areas most affected by this has been the singer with vocal harmonies first practiced by the awesome (and underrated) Four Seasons with Frankie Valli and polished to perfection by the immaculate work of The Beach Boys. That strain of music was added to and expanded by the British sounds of the time; the Beatles, The Hollies etc. All these strains of music have obviously also been a factor in Cameron Pierce's life because there is no denying the debt he is repaying, and repaying beautifully I might add.

I think that by now, after hoovering up almost his entire output, my position on this artists work is well known. Something Like Heaven is a blast from his Latmat past, the first or second track he wrote and recorded that has since been reworked and buffed up several times since then. I'm not sure whether I ever reviewed the original track but it sure sounds familiar to me. Now whether that is because I am so used to this guys style by now, or whether I actually did review it and forgot. I think it's probably a bit of both, because if you already like what this Canadian artist does, then you'll know exactly what I mean.

I also like Cameron's work because even though he still sounds 'home produced', its only noticable to nosy bastards like yours truly. Most people to be honest couldn't be arsed to even look for the join. All they are interested in is will it get me through the night. Well it will if you like anything I have described (in my own pathic, pewling way) above, and like the softer strains of rock. Even after having a good session with this track, I'm still in two minds about it. It's warm, catchy and infectious but there is something I feel that is missing. Maybe a certain sense of excitement? Something that shows a different side to this man? Or am I just being a picky dicky again...?


Jim-n-Lisa - Lovely Walkers

Hear The Track Here

Dickety Da, the first track I ever heard from Jim-n-Lisa, exactly two years ago was a good introduction to what this husband and wife team from Texas could be capable of. Who could have said at the thime though, that Jim-n-Lisa were going to become as popular as they have. Popularity richly deserved I say, as the string of Must Have's and my Artist Of The Year 2004 will testify. Although Dickety Da didn't float my boats, plenty of their tracks have done that and more since then, gaining them a couple of Tracks Of The Year too if I remember rightly. Yeah, yeah yeah, but that was then and this is now so what's different?

And, much more to the point, can they keep up the high??

Fear not, fretful fellows, you should know better than that by now. Because not only is Lovely Walkers a classic slice of Jim Miller's finest, it also features the other half of the act. You might refer to it as the classy half, although you may have to fight Jim for that remark. Lisa is a fine vocalist and it's a shame that we don't hear more of her. See, that's the thing about Jim, he's a musical juggernaut; an unstoppable Beast of the Beat. Oh, and btw the man is a demon at blowing into a golden pipe and making music of an otherworldly texture. Lovely Walkers features all that and Jim's considerable production nous to deliver an absolutely belting track in every way.

From the opening percussion hits, this track will grab your ears and lead you into it's heart. It's a dense, detailed landscape in the time honoured J-n-L fashion; the meaty chunkiness of the rhythm track a great counterpoint to Lisa winsome vocals. For my money great music has to do several things, and all of them perfectly or as near as dammit. It has to entertain and amuse yes, but it also has to evoke, emote AND be interesting to look at (as it were) and Lovely Walkers has all that. Reading the lyrics while listening to the track will give you an entirely different impression to just hearing the track fresh. Hearing the track after the nth time still throws up little curios (mostly from the intense sax lines) and also show that this has to rank as one of J-n-L's finest. Oozes class, I tell ya.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Black Zarak - Nobody Panic

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The key to understanding (if that is the right word to apply here) the musical outpourings of the entity known as Black Zarak is their mission statement - if again that is the right word to use here. 'We like to play everything live with little or no planning' they state baldly, and believe me they are not kidding around here. I ripped them a new critical butt when I reviewed (and shredded) their 'hit single' Delightmare (February 2006) which I found anything but. A loud, painful and very unfulfilling experience all round and one - I suspect - Thomas J (one half of BZ) pulled out especially for me. As he is well aware by now, my tolerance for the more experimental stuff is generally quite low.

The really weird thing is that I know for a fact that Thomas J makes this music because this is what HE wants to hear, so it automatically follows that it may not be the same for you. Some of his work I really like (The Men From San Deigo especially) but since I have reviewed four Black Zarak tracks by now and am still none the wiser, I just have to believe it's just not 'my thing'. Featuring live guitar and sax, Nobody Panic is a better Black Zarak track than the lasy one they presented to me and that's probably because I do have a marked leaning to jazz and this is jazz in the old fashioned sense.

Like all tracks of this type there is a serious amount of musical noddling going on. The guitar and sax in particular play off each other very well and I can well imagine hearing this played in some gloomy doomy student hang out, the audience's heads nodding as if they were all joined at the hip. Seriously though, there are some nice touches about Nobody Panic, along with the usual Black Zarak mayhem, although you may have to give it more than a few plays for that to fully expose itself. For my money this gets considerably better and much tighter after the two minute mark, and it become something I'd look forward to hearing again. I'm not sure I could say the same about the mad dash for the exits in the outro but at least it's different. Interesting for sure, but it definitely won't suit some people who think that both jazz and experimental are both abominations.

A step in the right direction, at least from my point of view.

Dromaius - Phobos

Hear The Track Here

Even though I have been a Soundclick resident now since 2002, I didn't actually start reviewing here until around April 2003. As soon as I'd started up reviewing here, Dromaius came up almost immediately, and made a very favourable impression on me. A major part of that attraction was because Dromaius made a much stronger, darker breed of electronica than I had been used to and - as you well know - I like my meat to be well bloody. Looking back now, I guess one of the reasons why I hadn't liked electronica up until that point was that I thought it kinda bland, highly formulaic and regimented.

Now, of course, the electronica we hear on Soundclick is the real deal, and about as inventive as any musical genre I am aware of, thanks to an endless troop of solid, reliable electronica musicians that - over the years - have completely changed my feelings about this genre. Phobos, Dromaius' new track, is a companion peice to Deimos which I reviewed back in January. It wasn't, I found, one of their better tracks but even their hohum peices have lots to offer. See, the thing that impressed me back in 2003 is still the thing that interests me about their work and I can sum it up in three words: detail, detail, detail...

It (the track) being an instrumental, it HAS to have more going for it than normal and - like Deimos - it doesn't fail on the interest level. More especially if you are a sound nut like yours truly who relishes something that sounds different. Phobos operates on a much jazzier level than Deimos though, and this is where it scores for me. It is essentially very linear, working the one groove as it were, using it as a frame to hang various sounds on. Admittedly their brand of electronica is not going to please everybody especially in this more experimental variety, but I found a lot to like in this odd, disjointed little track.

Electronica, but not as we know it Jim.....

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Alchemystic - Hallucinogenic

Hear The Track Here

When I reviewed my first Alchemystic track (Sands Of Time, May 2005) I said it was an interesting blend of styles and recommended it. Since then, as we all know, Alchemystic has come onto the Soundclick scene like gangbusters. IMHO the key to figuring out an artists popularity (ie NOT the charts) is to see how many Soundclick stations are playing that artist. If you see something that says 'this artist is so popular that...' only a certain amount of stations are listed. By my reckoning anything approaching 100 stations is doing pretty well, above 100 is very, very popular...

It's fair to say that I have known about Alch's prediliction for mixing genres but generally I seem to have reviewed his more extended instrumental works (think score or soundtrack) than anything specifically ONE thing. Looking through the list of 60+ tracks on his page, you will come across all sorts of stuff from Heavy Metal through to experimental and even (as Hallucinogenic shows) hip hop. Albeit hip hop with a decided Alchemystic slant to it. Long a fan of the 'kitchen sink' approach to music making, this guy has excelled himself with the collection of sounds he rustles up this time to tickle our ears including a meaningful and acceptable use of my pet hate, the video game sound...

To be truthful, I found Hallucinogenic quite refreshing especially seeing as I was already set up for another Alchemystic outing. As with any track by this artist you are not going to be able to find my fault with production or - for that matter - arrangement or style. He's been around long enough to know all about packaging and presentation. All that remains for the listener to do is to be impressed, or not. For me there is enough technical artistry in here to keep me happy with it, even if I am not entirely sure about the genre fit. I couldn't put my hand on my heart and swear that this was one of this artists better works, but it sure as **** is better than most you'll hear in the genre.

Clever, sophisticated and cool. Very cool.

Taurus Project - The Cry Of The Whales (We Hear You)

Hear The Track Here

I reviewed the very first Taurus Project track, The Haunting of Charlotte and Emily (September 2004) and loved it right from the start. Taurus Project is the brainchild of the infamous Clive G Beresford (he's much better known as Spyda anyway) and is a vehicle for Clive's more musical bent. Spyda is of course much better known for the intense dance stuff he has pumped out ever since I first met him on another site a long, long time ago. He's actually been quiet on all fronts of late so when I saw this track appear in my MP3 Unsigned signup thread, it came as a bit of a surprise.

A nice one, obviously...

One of the better things about being a long time veteran of the online music scene means that I get to know a lot of people, over a long period of time. Take this guy, for example. When I first met him he was making fairly formulaic dance tracks which although decent enough, didn't break any envelopes. Since then he has blossomed incredibly, a serious, intelligent musician who takes time and trouble to get everything just right. Don't be thinking then that this track is going to be a bland walk in the park, even it's 8:26 running time should give you some substantial pause for thought, you are going to have to devote some serious listening time to this track for it all to register.

For me, the name of the game when attempting peices of work like this is evokation. You have to be able to SEE this material and in that respect Clive has delivered a blinder. Jacques Costeau would have given anything to have shown these splendid mammals in such a choice setting. Who would have thought a Spyda could be this sensitive to other creatures? Although it isn't exactly to my taste (I don't really like soundtracky stuff) The Cry Of The Whales is a beautifully realised peice of music, showing that Taurus Project can still create music of power and resonance even after such a long haitus. More of this majestic stuff please Mr Beresford sir....

Very Classy Soundtrack.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Automek/2ndmouse - Artist Overview

Hear The Track Here

A bit of a strange review this because it's going to combine two different artists, all convincing played by one guy who appears to be from the Isle of Man. Hey, don't knock it til you've tried it. Automek is the new name for an old Soundclick electronica face 2ndmouse and seeing as they both have tracks on this list might as well combine efforts. So, Automek first methinks... Started because 2ndmouse's stuff was 'too light' and he wanted to make heavier, industrial sounds and a cute furry rodent cannot be destruction's mascot. It just ain't right, is it?

Personally I didn't find Blood Sweat & Tears that industrial, and over the course of a few plays, showed itself as being a very strong track in lots of ways. The arrangement, the sounds employed and the languid ease the rhythm all helped to establish the track as a serious contender - whatever your musical preference. In this case, you would need to like the whole electronica experience leavened with a love of cutup rejigged, recycled vocals. All the kind of stuff that floats my boats le me tell you. I was most impressed by Blood Sweat and Tears - it shows a definite grasp of what makes a track work in terms of sound and - more importantly - wondering wtf is going to be coming up next...

Judging by 2ndmouse's Selah, I can understand why he wanted a different name for this material. Out of the two I must admit I preferred the Automek stuff, but that's probably a personal choice. Selah was a bit more electronica than I like, even though I found myself grooving to its insidious little beat machine. It's also a lot more experimental in feel than most straightforward electronica having come by way of Billy Cobham recordings as inspirational material and it shows. In feel, 2ndmouse has this down and that - to me - is what makes this track a worthwhile listen. In both cases, this artist shows that he knows what he wants and - except for some little production niggles - he seems to get it. Worth checking out for a listen anyway and the link is a straightforward link to download Blood Sweat and Tears, which I highly recommend if you like electronica with a difference.

Squarerootz - Rockin', Shakin', Bouncin' feat. Dubbs Lane

Hear The Track Here

As nice as it is to review material from those musicians I already know, one of the best parts of reviewing is the checking out of new talent. The first few out of the Soundclick bag this month are all new names to me, including Squarerootz. Just three tracks on his page at the moment and the smell of fresh paint all over the place, all hinting that Squarerootz is a new addition to SC's burgeoning R&B/Soul crowd. Charlotte, NC native Squarerootz says that Rockin', Shakin etc is an 'upbeat club jam with a Grown-Man Feel' which sounds somewhat like adspeak so - as usual - we'll let the music do the talking instead.

There's a strand of American R&B that has been responsible for more musical horrors than most and Rockin' Shaking etc almost falls into that pit of despair, rescued only by a lively vocal performance. There's a softer, more saccarine kind of R&B that I can't stand, usually masquerading under the urban label that sounds more like lounge lizard music than anything with real soul. Luckily, lyrically this track doesn't descend to the cringe inducing kind but the music could have been less formulaic. It does have that 'heard it all before' feeling about it.

Ultimately I came away from this track thinking that outside of lovers of the genre it probably won't get that much attention. It isn't that the track is doing anything wrong, musically or otherwise. It might well even be a taste thing and this just isn't to my taste. However, try as I might to rationalise it, I also found it well - uninteresting really. A musical exercise that sounds fine, and does all the right moves but fails utterly to move me. As I say, it may well be a style thing, and I'm sure Squarerootz couldn't give a toss either way, but I'd prefer something with a little more meat on its bones than this track. Maybe it's just the material and maybe another track would give me a better perspective. Maybe we'll see next month :D

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Angiee - False Move

Hear The Track Here

I first came across Angiee at the beginning of 2004 and was quite impressed with the initial reaction she got from me, especially as Angiee makes her home genre hip hop and is a female rapper. As well as being taken by her manner of production style, and relatively assured vocal performance, what really bowled me over was the fact that she was only 14. OK, OK, before y'all turn away let me tell you that this was two years ago and now Angiee's almost 16 and that initial promise still holds - even though it still sounds somewhat odd. It's just a problem that I have with teenage rappers I have, their voices haven't developed enough yet to be really authorative but the possibilty is still there. I said that about Angiee when I reviewed her first track and I say it again, and this track delivers on other levels.

Angiee has always got some good music behind her and the music that adorns False Move is right up my street. Produced by someone called Jon Jyzzle, the musical track is slick, start-stop, cut up rhythms every which way and an almost 'twilight zone' feel in certain sections. For my money, the four and some minutes you spend with this really splendid slice of jagged edge hip hop, zips by as if it were a couple of seconds. Now maybe that's because I am a big fan of the cut up musical style this track bathes in, but there's also no doubting that someone put it together who really understands rhythms. Top marks on that, but not everything in the garden is wonderful. There's a sharpness in the track when first hearing it that you get used to by listening more, but that may put some people off.

That sharpness is, obviously, exacerbated once Angiee makes with her craft, not because she is doing anything wrong - she isn't. She spits out the lyrics appropriately, timely and with attention to the message she is sending. Nonetheless, it's is also a fact that she has a high register voice, and consequently an already toppy mix will only struggle with this. It's about the one real fault with this otherwise excellent track, and one thankfully that most people wouldn't even notice. What they would notice though is the arresting way the music gets your attention and keeps it; no mean feat with a genre like this. Surprisingly enough, Angiee herself only appears in a small portion of this track; most of the time being taken up by the music I have described and she delivers a high energy, tight stream of verbals that complement the music perfectly. Big ups all around I say. Quality hip hop.

Highly Recommended.

The Furry Crew - Ride With The Furry Crew

Hear The Track Here

First review up for June is in fact a track scheduled for May. To make matters even more confusing, it's by an artist who technically doesn't exist any more. V. Dogg is the artist in question and AFAIK, he is no longer making music. Nonetheless, the link is active and the track is downloadable, so let's get to it. I've come across the Dogg many times in the past and have liked some of his stuff and not others. I'm not even sure why exactly he is retiring (as it were) because I always thought the folks over at MP3 Unsigned had a soft spot for the boy. Part of the problem with V Doog in the past has been his material and it's genre. Even in the best of circumstances rap/hip hop is a genre that - to me - has to be done right or not at all. The Dogg has pressed the button a couple of times with this reviewer and that's more than I can say for the majority of tracks in the genre.

Only trouble was it was all a bit up and down, know what I mean?

Freaky Young Tenders (March 2006) was the last track I reviewed of his and I gave it a must have recommendation, so from there to being retired seems like a big jump. To be completely fair, the backing track came from me old mate Mezzer and his Worlds Apart wotsit so there isn't much chance of me not liking it. As a rapper, V Dogg has always caught me, despite what the music underneath is doing. No matter what I have had to say about the music, I have never really found much fault in what the Dogg does - except singing but we won't go there. Another MP3 Unsigned stalwart provides the music and beats that underpin this solid vocal performance, and a slamming track it is too even if it is a bit retro-stylee... Minus 13 is responsible for this and I highly recommend you also seek out his own material while you are at it.

Its the rap wot counts though, and again the Dogg puts in a very commendable performance in terms of flow and authority aided by his furry mates The Lonesome One, Hot Fox, Shizzle Nizzle, Joshua Koolkat, and DaBird. All also, like V Dogg himself, officially inactive. So why would you download a track with so much confusion sown in its midst? Because it's a damn fine, inventive track that packages V Dogg and friends in the best possible way. While it's true that again the Dogg has picked a particularly strong backing track (excellent work from Minus 13, giving it a De La Soul feel), if the rap didn't step up to the task, the music would have slaughtered it. It's a sign of how far Dogg has come over the past year because he has learned confidence, throw and setting better than anyone else I know. Now is not the time to retire. Now is the time to step up for round two.

Highly Recommended.