Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Even So... - Joseph Lewis Lucas

Hear The Track Here

I first encountered Baltimore's Even So through my review blog when I reviewed Nervy (March 2007). I can't say I share in the joy of being a Indie/alternative fan, at least in the American sense of artists like Moby (or mopy which is much more fitting) or REM but the one thing I am is an absolute sucker for a good song - whatever its dressed in. Nervy and Even So provided that with an aural adrenaline rush and - as I stated at the time of reviewing - 'a first play turn on' or ' a musical punch in the face' A lot of that hyper-hyperbole probably had a lot to do with my liking of the proto-punk elements Even So also brought to the increasingly raucous party. Certainly an excellent introduction to the band and more than welcome if the genre warms the cockles of your heart (Ed: wtf does that mean now? Must I employ a dictionary too?).

A live, working band, Sam Hoffberger, Ira Gamerman and Tyler Wolfe (aka Even So), have created a decent stir for themselves over the intervening months from that track to this. That is because Even So know that the way it works online or off it, you have to 'work the room' - which in this case happens to be an enormously gigantic room filled with fousands of nutters and lunatics. Still, enough about my family, hie to the music... Because I almost had an emotional kitten reviewing Nervy (I like to see lyrics while listening), Even So kindly sent along the full set this time so there's a plus mark straightaway....

Can't say as Joseph Lewis Lucas did the same for me, probably because it did fit in the more American strand of altrock more than the UK flavour that imbued Nervy. Doesn't mean that it doesn't rock though, Even So definitely deliver the goods again and I would expect no less from a band so obviously on the road to major success - if the musical world has any ears left to hear with. It will certainly be enough to get even more fans both to their gigs and the various web places they hang out. If I were a native of Maryland - the band's home state - a night out with this band would be a pilgrimage worth making. It's not the instant whack that Nervy gave you, but give it time and JLL will work its own brand of magic. Oh and btw, the vocals are inspired.

Excellent alt rock. Highly Recommended.

Cameron Pierce - What I Need You To Know

Hear The Track Here

Considering that he is only just 23, in the throes of his musical college days, he may seem surprisingly mature; especially if he is an unknown name to you. Canada, a fine country, is known on Soundclick as the land of two Cam's and this is one of them. Cameron Pierce and Latmat (his earlier alter ego) have provided SC regulars with many fine tracks down the years for we should be eternally grateful. However, being the shallow greedy bastards we are, there always room for more, more, more! It's been a good tear for Mr Pierce though, scoring some notable changes to his sound along the way. See, who says book learning doesn't pay off?

What do you mean you can't read?

Cameron delivered an absolute killer track in Sincere Design (July 2007), a moody track that is probably the best thing I have ever heard from this artist - and believe me that's saying something with his output and quality. So if I'm slobbering a little, just try not to look. Now, lessss see.... What I Need You To Know is 'A song that started and finished as my first Songwriting Assignment at College' and is - stylistically at least - a partial return to where Cameron first started from - that being an acoustic, laid back soft rock - or in this case even rock ballad. Considering that I can't stand the softer side of anything, ther is always room in my world for another song from this quarter.

Ever since I first met him fekkin yonks ago, the song has always been the thing, and that shows no sign of abating. What I Need You To Know is a very lean, stripped down track that give the vocals massive headroom to expand into; yet another new trick Cameron seems to have mastered well - at least judging by this example. There has always been a polish to his tracks so this track won't come as any massive surprise to fans; especially those who prefer his softer side. Nothing wrong with that and there's nothing wrong with this track either other than a slight antipathy from me about the genre. Most people will hear a modern, fresh sound that is instantly captivating, particularly the country feel to certain sections. It's the vocal and lyrics that carry the whole thing though and they are a treasure, as any respecting Cameron Pierce would expect.

Beautiful song, beautifully crafted. MUST HAVE.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Drew Warburton - The Final March

Hear The Track Here

Bouncing back this year from nowhere, and surprising the beejeebers out of me in the process - musically speaking, of course - is Drew Warburton. I first came across this artist when he had just started this little jaunt we're all on and, I'm afraid, I wasn't all that kind to his first efforts. There again, if it don't scare you it'll make you stronger right? So it has proved to be in this case because Drew has had a terrific year this year from me; from his Lose (February 2007) to Run (September 2007), the latter being a classic rock track with superbly handled vocals that had me raving and spitting out highly recommended to all and sundry. Aha, but in this world, you are only as good as your last track. Build 'em up and knock 'em down, that's the way of it in the media isn't it? (Ed: no, that's people who earn squadzillions from what they do ie they don't sit there in their jammies, earning fekk all and getting wired on endless coffee, while swearing copiously at a square screen.) Eh? Ya mean I bin duped????

Soooo, where was I? Oh yeah...alarm bells...

They first started jangling when Drew commented 'So this is very risky from me, who does very little with electronic music, handing a piece of electronic music to you' to which I have to say, you don't know the half of it mate. Red rags, bulls.... He comments further 'A track written for meditation on the crucifixion, however would also work as film music' OK! OK! Before we have any bunching of panties, let me state my own case here. As if the words 'film music' weren't scored in fire on my brain, then certainly the thought of visualising a crucifixion - let alone THE crucifixion - while listening to this was a signpost to the place called Too Much Information. After knowing all this, it's a wonder I even put player to file...but you know me, ol' intrepid (yeah stupid too) - I just gotta listen...

That was when I noticed the final shocker and it's name was Seven Minutes.

What that seven minutes consists of though, isn't a joking matter because Drew puts his chops to work to create a wonderfully realised peice (the cellos especially) that would certainly do sterling service for a film with such an epic tragedy at it's heart. Great shame that I can't stand the genre but hey, once a philistine always a philistine. Or is that a pharisee?? (Religeous Ed: Stop This Right Now!) The Final March, as you can imagine is as sombre a peice as befits the subject and - to my mind anyway - a little long winded about the process. This is actually a track that could have been shortened considerably and made the same impact. Stil, whadda I no? Anyhow, should you be a film music buff (at least I think that's what they call 'em) then this will probably have you reaching for the remote and popcorn.. In the meantime I'm going to wait for some more of this artist rock treats...

Overlong instrumental but it is film music. Recommended.

Kevin Mooney - Not Yet Begun

Hear The Track Here

The fifth and final track from MP3 Unsigned this month, Kevin Mooney supplies us with a - yep, you guessed it - a trance track. Considering this is one of my least favourite genres, it is quite surprising that I have liked the four I have already heard from that site. Let us hope, however, that the next time I do this, I can get a bit more diversity into the mix. So, Kevin Mooney? Who he? According to his MP3 Unsigned page he is a UK based songwriter who would like his material to be covered by professional artists and bands - and who wouldn't? Welp, these days it's just as easy, and often less painful, to be an artist in your own right but hey, each to their own. I'm sure there is some element of this strategy in Kevin's long term plans.

Or not, just in case he's a lazy basket like yours truly...

Considering that he is a 'UK songwriter' the first thing I noticed about Not Yet Begun is how German it sounds. Take, for example, the intro; a piece of classic German electronic fukry - the sort of thing you might have heard Kraftwerk do in the early days of the genre. Once the tune powers in though, it's fairly obvious that a lot of the samples - particularly the vocals - are definitely of Greman origin. Namely samples from some kind of Magix product. Now before you get the notion that I am going to go off on one because I hate 'factory' samples, you'd be dead wrong. Just that if you are going to use such samples (and I've used my share in the past) at least tailor them to your own work and style. After all, most of them sound pretty cheesy anyway, you have to doctor them to breathe some life into them.

Having said all that (Ed: phew eh?), I have to say that aside from this (makes quote sign) alleged German sound I've been wittering on about, Not Yet Begun is an excellent working of those self-same samples. If this were one of my early tracks, I'd be happy with it. However, upping your game is the name of the game around here and my advice would be to investing some time in production and mixing skills to go with it. A peice of music like this should sound infinitely bigger than this track does right now, but hey that's a minor quibble too. I admit that I was awfully swayed by this peice once I'd viewed the Essence video version of this track. Viewed countless times too I might shamefully admit because Essence is wonderful eye candy; I'd do the robot dance with her anyday. But that's another story. You'll find the video on the page link above.

Recommended Trance and DO catch that video!

Superbron - Beneath A Burning Sun

Hear The Track Here

When I reviewed Superbron's Time Flies When You're Having Funk (July 2007) I wasn't very nice about it. Not because of anything wrong with the content but the way it was presented; always a big problem area. No matter how much you may like what the musicians are about, something really special is a combination of sound, performance and the structure of a good track/song/whatever; and that only comes with an all round performance - infinitely harder to achieve in an electronic medium regardless of how proficient you are musically. Getting that music to render to soundfiles that everyone can listen to is always the deciding factor. Shame too because I like to funk about a bit, but not like this...

Oh well, on to another one...

Beneath The Burning Sun from the outset is a much more promising track in every way, especially showing this artists penchant for strings, plucked or otherwise. Something kept nagging at me as I listened through the track a time or two, couldn't put my finger on it but it reminded me strongly of something in my long distant past. I've heard this style before. Took me a while to pin it down and I finally plumped in favour of Andreas Vollenweider but a lot spacier than that, especially in the use of echo notes. I like pretty much everything about this track and considering I was/am a big Vollenweider fan, I'd say that was a compliment to Superbron. To be sure, I have never been a fan of this style (with the noticable exception of Vollenweider) but on this count, this is a track I'll be listening to for a while.

It's an absolute given that it will not appeal outside of its Acoustic Guitar setting, except as a nice interlude between headbanging, but if you like the softer side of life, Beneath The Burning Sun will put a flush in your cheeks. The more I played it, the more the kinda/sorta factory sounds wore on me but I doubt that your average listener would even be giving it a passing thought. They would either think it was a very neat (clever even) instrumental that would be well worth a download or they would be gone before you could blink - having caught sight of the 'acoustic' tag, no doubt. That would be a shame because this is an excellent instrumental that does deserve a wider audience than the acoustic labelling may afford it. Still, considering the carnage I inflicted on him last time, Superbron has come through superbly.

Clever instrumental. Recommended.

Torch Junkies - Immobilized By Love

Hear The Track Here

Another new name to me, this time from Soundclick. No idea where they are from but it's fairly obvious they have a Rolling Stones fixation, not only is there a cover of Sister Morphine on their page but even Immobilized By Love was inspired by them. As the band states 'tried to do one like the Stones.....didn't work.' Not surprising really, after all nothing wrong with aiming high but then there's the fekkin ridiculous ;) Kudos for trying though because as an area to mine, it's got huge potential still - as the Stones themselves are constantly proving. As you know, I am that rock animal so you can imagine I just gobbled this right up.

(Burp) Mmm spicy.

There appears to be two guys playing on this; Jeremy and Ken, between them putting together everything you hear. There is no doubting that what you are hearing are some accomplished musicians rocking out, and I'm glad I was able to spot that because otherwise I would have thrown this out within the first listen. If I were a betting man, I would have to say that this sounds suspiciously like a 'straight off the board' mix and a bloody awful one at that. The kind of mix that TV always applies to rock to make it sound as rough as possible. There is constant sound tripping over sound throughout the track, which is also recorded with lots of treble making it verge right on the edge of painful. This is particularly so in the lead vocal which even so manage to get drowned out by the backing track.

Shambolic would be the word, and I guess the Stones count there too...

I imagine that Immobilied By Love would sound absolutely stunning with a more polished approach but hey we all have to work within our limits. If I were judging this one the music alone then I have no doubt that Torch Junkies are the real deal - it's a great shame their presented sound sucks a big one, big time. The band are classed as Garage Rock and I guess that would definitely apply, although it seems to me that the band are doing themselves a dreadful disservice by releasing something so rough and unformed. Tremendous potential, of that I am absolutely certain, but hopefully encased in a more solid mix than this pitiful creature. To be sure, I went and listened to all the tracks on their page and the problem is evident everywhere; these are some excellent musicians who are crying out for a producer who knows whats what. Or a computer nut who fiddles with sound, which is much the same thing these days.

Excellent track severly marred by a really bad sound.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

mr4rt3z - I Can See The Way

Hear The Track Here

When I first stuck a notice up on MP3 Unsigned that I'd take five tracks for review this month, I had no idea that the first three tracks would be of a genre that I usually loathe and despise; dance, electronica and all forms of. Despite that, all the tracks I have reviewed so far have been extremely listenable (as well as the other dancey rubbish) so I'm hoping for a hat trick with mr4rt3z. His name is obviously Marty and he's from Derry in Ireland and - judging by the page comments - came into music the way a lot of people have done. Played around with Ejay/Magic/other lego set then got serious about it and plumped for Fruity Studio (hey either that or Reason) for the long term. See, say what you like about 'instant music' packages like Ejay; they do turn a lot of people on to the possibilities of making music.

Never a bad thing. The more the merrier.

Although I've read some of his MP3 Unsigned posts over the years I think this is the first time I've met Marty in his main capacity. Soooo, what's with it?? I have to be honest, when I first started playing this track, me jaw must have hit the floor with enough velocity to shatter it forever. Not before, however, I had to endure being stuck in a studio with an audiophile on aceeeed who succeeds in making music gurn at you before commencing. Seriously, what this artists does on this track sounds weird/stupid/strange on first listening but once you get comfy with your arms around it, it starts to show all the right moves.

There is a 80's electropop feel about the main track, all production fuckry aside for a minute, that should endear plenty of listeners to latch onto this track. MP3 Unsigned, if you don't know that site, is an incredibly hard place to crack so the first thing I usually do while reviewing is check out some stats. Absolutely the one thing I NEVER do is read other peoples comments before I've written the review. It has been surprising the amount of difference between what I think and what others think in that format. I'm glad I didn't because otherwise I couldn't have written the review, I would have been too busy agreeing with everybody else who raved about this excellent track. OK OK, dance isn't usually my thang (especially not for my higher ratings) but when it's material of this quality and depth, the rating follows automatically.

Highly Recommended Dance, a whisker away from Must Have.

Close (India) - Always Winter

Hear The Track Here

Close (India) come from, surprisingly enough, India. This obviously comes about because there are probably gazillions of bands called Close and well, you have to come from somewhere, innit? For regular readers of these reviews (Hi Mom!) you will no boubt be aware of how my ears pricked up when I discovered where they came from. After all, the past three, four years has produced some absolute top quality Indian artists and there is always room for more in my books. Seems like all the really excellent musicians I have heard are centered around Bollywood Central (that's Mumbai to youse eddukated ones) as are Close (India). No doubt there is a lot of inspiration there but how does that transcend into unsigned/indie musicians? Welp try Omnisine, or Prash for starters. If they ain't world class then I obviously know nozzing....

Close (India) - gonna stop that now because we all know where they come from - are a duo; Abhishek who provides the music and Bhushan who supplies beats and percussion. Like a lot of Mumbai musicians they have some fairly hefty western music roots, despite their location, which can only come from an immersion in the subject. Unlike a lot of musicians, Close haven't turned their back on their own musical roots and - in the process - come up with something that really is a fascinating blend of East and West. The really wonderful part of the track, for me anyway, is the fact that the lead lines of this delicate arrangement are taken up by the violin. Now I love the sound of one violin played well, and I particularly love the sound that Indian violinists effortlessly achieve so I am a sucker for this from note one.

Above everything else, all genre talk aside, Always Winter is that elusive beast - a good instrumental. The combination of instruments and the inflections put on them make this rise above anything you can pin down and label. Now obviously I am not an innocent bystander in all this because I have a marked preference for artists of this calibre. I'm also a hard bitten sob when it comes to something being right or not. I wouldn't even like to judge who would like this or who wouldn't but there would be no denying the absolute beauty and sheer production nous that's required to put something this tasty together. Up until this point, I had never heard of Close but you can bet your last rupee that I'm going to watching what they get up to next. A splendid introduction to a new artist and you can't say fairer than that.

MUST HAVE (and I can't say fairer than that)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tricks For Agnes - Mistakes

Hear The Track Here

Mmmmmmm, I thunk, while mulling over the review list for the month, why does this name ring a bell with me? Usually it's because of two things: the track was so bad I shredded it or it was something a bit special; something I obviously should have remembered but I seem to have lost my mind which makes the whole remembering thing a bit awkward. So, I hunkered down at the review datadbase and lo, found that I'd reviewed he/she/them or it in Febuary 2006. Down Rosie Goes was the track and the review supplied little real info; TFA is a Belgian singer\songwriter who is plainly aiming at the Damien Rice/James Blunt end of the market. He did it surprising well too, getting a highly recommended from me and you KNOW I don't give those out for soppy rubbish. Not the most prolific of artists though, judging by the long gap between tracks.

Either that or they were avoiding me.

They also appear to be a three peice these days; singer Bert, bassist Rody and Joez on drums and they make a very likeable noise especially if you like that whole pop rock, clean living style. The most surprising thing about Down Rosie goes was the musical assurance and production confidence that only comes from having done it a few million times; some would call it practice but to me its experience. The 'been there and done that' thing. As vacuous as some of the music is commercially, I have not found that to be case with unsigned internet musicians and that is a definite plus. At least for me because I have no tolerance for the whole 'o whine is me, bemoaning my fate' school of songwriting. After all, who gives a rats anyway? Except for young girls of course, and that might be the reason for the genre being there in the first place. Best not to dwell too much here, move right along...

Mistakes is anything but; it's an exceptionally polished track that should give them some exposure to a wider audience PROVIDED they get out there and promote it. It's the kind of thing a music junkie scours the internet for, a track that does for me exactly what I want. It's an easy, lets all sing along track, with some delicious oohs for those people to shy to sing the words. In other words, a consummate pop song. In other hands this idea may not have worked so well, it's to the trio's credit that they have made a refreshing, exhuberant and technically interesting track out of it. I noticed that Down Rosie Goes was not on the SC page and wonder why. Still, I've got this one stashed away safely at least and that will definitely do for now but I just hope it won't be too long between tracks again.

Highly Recommended pop rock.

Gavin Valentine - Sometimes I Want To Dance

Hear The Track Here

Gavin Valentine is yet another new name to me, this time through MP3 He's an electronica artist and he's supplying me with the second trance track in a row from that site, which does seem to have expanded it's seletcion of electronica artists enormously. A year or so ago, you couldn't move on their for singer/songwriters, now it's all boingy boingy - the joys of life huh? As you know, this is not my favourite genre and it has to be something a bit above the ordinary for me to really get anything out of it than the standard ho hum, that's ok. For it to really make a difference in such a crowded genre (it's that dance thing), you'd certainly have to have a lot going on for you - especially musically because its a fact that most so called dance music is listened to more OUTSIDE any dancefloor.

Like sitting on one's arse, takiing one's ease. :shock:

Having said that, Sometimes I Want To dance etc does in fact make you want to dance, and is given much more added value with the addition of the vocal, of which more later. If you've ever been exposed to the trance phenomenon, then much of the music that underpins this track will be achingly familiar, from the psst psst of the hi-hats to the endless filtered sequences. Nonetheless, it definitely serves its purpose, but I do have a couple of quibbles (the really hard edged squelch bass is a little too sharp at points, the track has fairly noticeable cutoffs from one section to another) but it's the combination of vocal and music that make this track happen. That's where I have to admit to a certain bias towards good female vocal performance (from Leap Of Faith) and this track harbours a little gem.

I had the pleasure of remixing the Polish singer Ilona a few times and Leap Of Faith (aka Deborah, apparently) reminds me strongly of that artist although there are subtle differences. Not sure how this came together but I guess Gavin and she threw some samples at each other and - I presume - Gavin then wrote what we hear. The combination, is very, very decent indeed and certainly presents a coherent - nay highly enjoyable - slice of music that you wouldn't normally listen to. It takes a fair amount of skill and patience to do that, so hats off to Gavin (and Deborah) on all counts because I find myself in the invidious position of giving out two recommend trance tracks in the space of a few days. What, enquiring minds will want know, will that do to my reputation as an old curmedgeon without time for these young upstarts.

Fekk that!! LETS DANCE!!

Highly Recommended Trance. (Ed: NURSE!! The screens!!!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The SolitaireOne - Will It Be When I'm Gone

Hear The Track Here

When I first reviewed this artists I Let My Baby Go (May 2007) I certainly got straight into their style (blues of the old school) but I wasn't quite as sure about parts of the vocal delivery; nonetheless as a introductory track it certainly wet the old whistle. Gimmie more, I snorted and shall happen. O yeah. I've always been a fan of the blues ever since stumbling across the likes of Billie Holiday, Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters and a great many others. It's gone in and out of style a good few times since I first came across it, and it definitely lives and breathes and has a real presence right here, on the internet.

Blues was always the ultimate niche market anyway, it's probably found its true medium at last, and its nice to see artists such as The SolitaireOne paying the ultimate respect to the genre by keeping it alive and fresh. Although I didn't quite agree with the first SolitaireOne track I heard, I had no such reservations about Will It Be When I'm Gone because - as far as it goes everything gels extremely well. Mining a musical area also dominated by names such as Tom Petty, Credence Clearwater, and Steely Dan (cited as influences by this artist) is not exactly what I would call the blues and definitely not an easy trick to pull off. To say that The SolitaireOne does on this track is to understate the case, this is a track that snaps you up from note one - especially if you like the genre.

There's an easy, let's all kick back and have a smoke feel about the track which pretty much captures the world this track comes from. I've had the opportunity to travel to a lot of the world, looking at bands in various locations and I've enjoyed none more than the bar bands I enountered in remore corners of the USA - usually rocking out with something like this. So, not exactly blues (at least by my standards) but blues rock certainly and of a high standard. If this artist isn't already a presence on THE site for music of this kind (Ed: the elitist bastard is referring to then it's time to get on there - their audience will love this stuff and I know for sure Mike-K has probably been saying much the same thing so this is probably totally rendundant so I'll shut up and let the musiuc do the talking for a change.

The big easy. Highly Recommended blues rock.

Certified Block Niggas - I Tried

Hear The Track Here

You may remember me reviewing Gemini (September 2007) by Wreckless Music, unless you have a VERY short memory and/or attention span. I wasn't exactly bowled over by the track but I did warm to the rap style enough to want to hear some more. Certified Block Niggas also appears to be a Wreckless Music outlet. Like a lot of hiphop/rap artists the material is constrained by recording difficulties and the music tends to be a bit formulaic, but hey at least its still getting it out there. So what's up with Certified Block Niggas? Well, a stab in the dark would be that this is the harder edge of this artist - hence the name change. The massed ranks of Parental Guidance on every track tended to give the game away too but that's by the by.

Certainly, there is no doubt, even from a quick listen that this will be for a fairly hardcore audience, and again I find myself frustrated that most raps aren't written down. Yeah sure, I usually get the general tilt of the peice but I'm sure I miss some of the finer points. Again with I Tried the better part of the track is the vocal but only - again - in that very formulaic mannner. You will have heard the like a few million times if you have any interest in the genre whatsoever. Sure, it's probably good enough to get your mates and family interested but you'd have to raise your game considerably if you wanted to wrassle with the big boys - online or off it.
I'm also certain that Wreckless Music (whatever the subname) probably isn't doing this from any bigging himelf up motive, but surely he also has an audience to play to? On that basis I'd have to shake my head sadly at the standard sounds used to give this track some structure as well as a mix which merely tends to drag the track more than it already is. It isn't bad, just not that interesting musically. I know that is often the case with rap but this is a little too thin sounding for that excuse to work. Obviously reviews are just opinions and I'm sure this artist will either take it on the chin and move on or not. That, I'm afraid, is the hard part about reviewing. Whatever, judged by the couple of examples I've heard so far, what's needed here is production and arrangement skills; the raps are cool and probably sound great recorded properly. Still, what the fekk do I know?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

dcallen - Closed For Repairs

Hear The Track Here

I was obviously not the only one applauding this artists return to Soundclick activity when I reviewed Is This A Problem (June 2007) and A Walk In The Dark (August 2007), giving them a Must Have and a highly recommended respectively. That largesse may have had a lot to do with me being pleased to hear something new from one of my long term Soundclick favourites; one of a rare bredd that finally converted me to certain kinds of electronica. Or, in other words, anything other than bleeps, beats and buzzes. dcallen, as older Soundclick members know, delivers the kind of electronica you can live with and even - dare I say it - love. He's always been a handy one for the melodic line that sticks in your brain and - as his last releases have shown, the intervening time has just sharpened his edge.

I'm playing the bejeebers out of Is This A Problem and it looks set to stay there for some time but I'm still one the track of one of Dave's 'special' ones. His past is littered with such tracks, as the roster of stations playing his material will amply testify; this is an artist who delivers, consistently. The man is in ultra-chill mood on Closed For Repairs, bringing in a keyboard drenched track that - surprisingly - tons of light and space within it. That was ever Dave Alllen's (not him, the other one) particular ace in the hole and he plays it beautifully. It would be right to say that although I like this side of dcallen's work, it still isn't something that I would play that much - unless I were seriously in the mood for it. Then it would do the job so well, I'd probably be crying into me teacup...

Aaaahhh, diddums....

Closed For Repairs is, no question about it, a bang-up job. A mix you could eat your dinner off, such beautiful sounds it makes you want to weep and an otherworldliness about the whole that is pure magic. OK, yes, I am a die hard fan and - regardless of genre - I will always find a place for dcallen's music in my life, who wouldn't? Welp, I guess you wouldn't if you thought the height of sophistication was beating up drunken people, or terrorising whole populations, or just thought everything was shit and we should all die. If, however, you live, breathe and think and have the merest shred of humanity in your veins, you will find beauty, emotion and meaning in this track - even though it is instrumental. Remember, some of the best (and most long lasting) music in the world is instrumental. Go on, indulge yourself. Grab a nice whatever-it-is that gets you off, pull up the most comfortable chair you have and slip this on your sound system.........then slip away... Said it before, i'll say it again: a class act.

Highly Recommended and a MUST HAVE for fans.

RedDress - Only Last Summer

Hear The Track Here

I'm a sucker for a damsel in distress. Don't know whether it's my dirty old man syndrome kicking in, or whether I was taught my manners from a mother who could have doubled as Hitler/Ghengis Khan or anyone similar - especially in her attitude to men and women. There again, maybe I'm just a nosy sob of a bitch who wants to know why no-one on MP3 Unsigned has taken notice of a red dress. It's red, it's a dress - are you all blind?? Still, sometimes it's better to keep you gob shut and just move along, nothing to see here; as I discovered when I came to download the lady's track only to see that she specialises in my least favourite genre of all - Trance. It's all very well going 'uh oh' and tutting under your breath but I wasn't to know was I?

It'll probably teach me not to go blundering...

Let me clarify something though, just because I personally don't get hot and sweaty at the thought of a wodge of trance, doesn't mean that I can't appreciate it - provided it offers some kind of hook to a casual listener. I must admit when it first started I had some twinges of anxiety because it sounded exactly as I pictured it would, not quite yer average Ibiza clone but close to it. However, I stuck to it, inserting the track in my daily playlist over a few days and was finally won over by the depth of detail, the clear mix and - damnit - it's sheer dancability. You can see that this would go down a storm in the right environment, preferably with a belly full of good hooch, a headful of waccy baccy, a beach and fahsands of similarly wigged out loonies dancing the night away.

Having spent a great deal of time in such environments when I was a lot younger than the decrepit old fart you see before you, I would have loved tol rave the night away with a track like this. So what, exactly, does it consist of? Well if you consider that RedDress lists DJ Tiesto, Fat Boy Slim and Chicane as influences you can bet that's the kind of music you are going to hear. Great for fans of the genre (and it is, if you like Trance, grab this!) but it's certainly powerful enough to make an impression even on a casual listener. I like the filtering (a geekhead I know) and the sequencing is spot on, the beautifully handled breakdowns; all in all signs of a class act. It might not be my kind of music, but RedDress is sure enough my kind of musician - one who takes pains to get it right.

Highly Recommended Trance (can't believe I said that)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nuff X - Attack (demo)

Hear The Track Here

Nuff X has come a long way in a short time, mainly due to his ability to always come up with something fresh in a genre (electronica) that is often very samey. However, before I get to the track itself, I was nosing around on his site and I happened to see that he had a remix of Omnisine's Slide on his page. Now if you have the attention span of a bedbug, you'll have already forgotten that I opened up this months reviews with this very track so I was obviously going to take in the remix too. I absolutely fell in love at first hear with the original and am still playing it on a regular basis which speaks volumes for its longevity. Nuff X stamps his style on the track well, although don't expect it to be the warm love fest the original excels in. After all, it's not the kind of thing Nuff X is about.

He's more into razoring your ears off.

There's a much harder, darker edge to Nuff version that is quite chilling. If you like the original, this is an interesting counterpoint. Anyway, on to the real meat and two veg, Attack which is, apparently, a demo. In fact to be more precise, it's a track awaiting a vocal and Nuff X readily admits that '(the) mix needs tweaking'. So whatever I might say about the sound is rendered null and void because no doubt it will change dramatically from this sort of over-stuffed, wall of sound approach that it currently lives with. So if we ignore the samey mix, the odd volume adjustment and the straight ahead feel of the track, what are we left with?

Attack is actually quite clever, mixing console sounds with electronica in that special way Nuff X has, gives this track an appeal that makes it a listenable instrumental but I'd have to agree that it does need a vocal to round it off. Nuff already has some of the lyrics online but without knowing the structure of the vocal it's kind of hard to really do anything with them. Taken on its own merits, this version of Attack is certainly listenable too, especially if you like your electronica to try that little bit harder to be different. That's always been one of the hallmarkls off Nuff X's work and its what carries the day with this track. I'd be very interested to hear what might be going on top of this and maybe I'll get a listen one day, in the meantime, this is plenty good enough when I need that ear razoring I was yakking about earlier.

Highly Recommended Electronica

Stella Polaris Project - Hello Anonymous

Hear The Track Here

Regular readers may have noticed that this month, for the first time in a long while, I have managed to snag some tracks from MP3 Unsigned. Digital Juggernaut was the first of these, Stellar Polaris the second. Stellar Polaris are an electronica due featuring Ricky Mancini (which should be a familiar name to long term readers) and Melinda Mohn. Not sure who does what but I guess it doesn't matter eh? Hello Anonymous is billed as Trip Hop Jazz and IDM which should give you a fair idea of what to expect. I had to go back into my past reviews to remember why Ricky and I couldn't see eye to eye with what he was doing, and that's OK; I said what I had to say, he said what he had to say and we left it that. Which is the way it should be, opinions are just opinions after all. What should it matter what I think? What should matter is what listeners and fans should think and on that score Ricky certainly has nothing to worry about.

S'probably a preference thing anyway.

I'm going to take a massively improbably stab in the dark and presume that Ricky is responsible for the music and production because Melinda is so obviously the vocalist, however she may well also contribute musically too. Ricky Mancini (aka MD1 Project) has established quite a following on MP3 Unsigned, and has always specialised in a fairly edgy electronic sound, overlaid by various noises - not yer usual bleeps and buzzes. Hello Anonymous is a very dense track in many ways, arrangement and mix in particular. Given that denseness, the main piano lines and the vocals sit on top so lightly, and are so well structured it'll give you massive goosebumps. It took me a while to acclimatise to the track, a lot of plays before I realised that I actually came out solidly in it's favour.

A lot of the kudos has to go to Melinda Mohn vocal sound and performance., although I'd have to say the whole piano piece comes a very, very close second. A year or so ago, I was remixing a lot of Acidplanet tracks, especially the vocal tracks and I would have wet myself had I come across a voice like Melinda's. It's dusky, warm tone helps alleviate some of the pressure the edginess/glitchiness the track underlying it carries, and she is one of those vocalists that really s-t-r-e-t-c-h the note. Take a listen, I guarantee that you'll be just as taken. Ricky has always kicked off on the wilder side of music, Melinda's vocals and that quite lovely piano are the perfect foils. This must have taken forever to make and perfect and it's startlingly original and fresh, although you may have to work a bit to really get into it. Still, wha'evah...wadda we think??


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Alchemystic - Into Infinity

Hear The Track Here

Way back in the mists of time, the internet was a much less populated space than the steamy metrolops most of us encounter every day. Yes, obviously the saddos of this world. Tut. During early 1989 and 1990 I started to latch onto a whole new music scene I had never before encountered; it was based around BBSs (extremely basic nodes) with top speeds of a massive 9.6k and was made by the most basic peice of software imaginable. Files were small, so you couldn't get too wild with it. Well, some people did get pretty jiggy with the genre (now known as MODs) and they influenced a whole shedload of future online musicians, including yours truly. One of the enduring heroes of mine from that period was the aptly named Dr Awesome because he was exactly that. His real name is Bjorn Lynne and since that time he has become an internet legend and much better known in the commercial world than those early days. The reason I get to fawn all over again is down to our mucker Alchemystic.

Blame him for the sycophancy.

"It's a moot statement", he rabbits on his webpage "but yes it does sound a lot like Bjorn Lynne". Well, I'll be the judge of that young chappie me lad because I knew the man when he made 8 bit mono jobbies... There's no doubt that Alchemystic is using much the same feel as Bjorn baby but the comparison is really in the style; what comes out the other end is pure Alchemystic, fru and fru. See, he has this way with melodies, a little knack he displays on this track in spades; it being literally a series of melodies. There again, that was also the central feature of Bjorn Lynne's work too; majestic, sprawling and funky as all get out.

Now ol' Alchemystic has played a blinder of late with a string of ever changing tracks from genres as diverse as reggae and da fonk, capping it with a Must Have in the form of A Cold Light In The East (September 2007) so he has every right to lay back a bit. Not that there is anything wrong with Into Infinity, it's a track Alchemystic fans will readily take to because it's the ground he first made his own; with that other reference mixed in. As an instrumental its definitely worth a listen, especially if you like clever, well produced instrumentals but at its heart its still and instrumental. Personally I loved the kind of sequencing Alchemystic gets up to here and on that score alone I'd be recommending this, as it is it's a very decent tune and well put together.

Highly Recommended Electronic rock?? (Ed: surely some mistake?)

IQ The Goon To End Them All - Old Man

Hear The Track Here

There is no genre on Soundclick more prolific than hip hop and/or rap. Take IQ The Goon To End Them All for example, his page has a grand total of 224 tracks so expect to be there for a few week listening through that lot; should instrumental beats mixed in with 'proper' rap tracks is your thing. It isn't often, unfortunately because I happen to like hip hop, that you get these artists on the Critics Corner forum - hopefully they have plenty of their peers ripping shreds in them ;) I've liked most of the hip hop I have been offered for review down the years particularly the grittier kind. See, I don't mind a bit of cussing so long as its fekking relevant, you understand?


I am so glad I finally got to hear this artist because Old Man is the same Old Man (well bits of it anyway) by Neil Young that I loved to bits when I was a lot, lot younger. IQ' s Old Man is in fact, a song to his father. Being a father myself I would be proud and honoured to have such a song presented to me by my sons. It says more than mere words ever could. Mind you, I am heavily biased because - as I say - I love the Neil Young original. Knowing that, you would think I would be super-critical if it was handled in the wrong way. Like a lot of older songs, it has personal meaning for me and you KNOW I'd carve somebody a whole new butthole if they desecrated a masterpeice.

IQ sez as if.......

Old Man is a production marvel - especially for the genre, and the seamless mashing of the two tracks is a joy to behold. Not sure of the lagality of all this but who cares when you have such a hot tune in your grasp. Trust me, if you liked the original too, you are going to love this. What about those who are not 102? What do they know and care about rocks golden age? What they would hear is a classic example of how to sound fresh, exciting and relevant. IQ raps like a pro, with a deep beautifully recorded voice that makes reading the lyric sheet redundant and not a swear word in sight. When I came to thinking about how to rate this, I tried real hard to put my predjudice aside and look at the track objectively but whichever way I looked it always came back to the same thing.

MUST HAVE blend of rock and hip hop. A gem.

Digital Juggernaut - Electro Robot

Hear The Track Here

Words are scary shit. Just looking at this artists name, and the title alone has sent me into a downward spiral - long before I hear so much as a note of music. The obvious conclusion to leap to is the same as always, I don't have a lot of empathy with straightforward electronica and even less for the Dance strain of the genre. At this point, Tim EP (for it is he) is probably crapping it thinking he's given his baby to the wrong person to review but I hope not. I try real hard to be as objective as possible while reviewing and, hopefully, it shows. I'm still human though and riven with doubts and predjudice and I can't say I approached this review with any great desire.
No surprise there then.

Luckily Digital Juggernaut makes enough of an effort to hook in people who may not be interested in the genre to at least give it a listen, and when they do, they would find an enjoyable, cleverly put together tracks that certainly presses all the right genre buttons. The backing track features a solid squelch bass that really pounds the track along, an instrument I got to like through repeated plays and at fairly high volumes. Come on, I mean if the thing rocks - and this does - you have to crank it, don't you? So musically I'd be giving this a fat thumbs up, as light as it is on actual content; what is there does the trick admirably.

Speaking of trick the highlight of the track, for me anyway, was in the main vocal. Made through some kind of sequencing software (probably Reason) and then applied in a cut up way that is totally synched to the groove of the track, it lifts the whole thing out of the ho-hum dance music field that usually bores the ears off me. Here, at least, is a track I could listen to more than a few times without wanting to strangle at birth. OK, so it isn't exactly the kind of thing I'd be searching out but I know plenty of people who like beats like this and would appreciate the cleverness the artist has used to create it. Certainly worth a listen by anybody's books.

Recommended Electronica Dance.

One Kid's Lunch - Fortune and Fame

Hear The Track Here

And there we were just thinking that, at last, things were getting back to normal. Take, for example, a band who would write a song about (and I quote) 'the knuckle of a pinky toe' Yep, it could only be a One Kids's Lunch track, nobody else would be that silly. There again, it's been that sense of the absurd, the ridiculous and the plain stupid in all our lives, that have endeared this Christian rock duo to a great many Soundclick earholes. Menawhile for those readers who zoned out at the word Christian, I absolutely garantee that this is a Christian message you have never heard before - or at least not in this fashion.

One Kid's Lunch is gourmet food for the soul.

I am a confirmed fan, after reviewing what seems like hundreds of OKL tracks but there again I like a touch of the silly - as you well know. The reason is because listening to music so lively and irreverent is just plain FUN. Any God, goddess or minor deity I put my faith and trust in better had a highly developed sense of humour, otherwise there's no way I am going into the whole bowing, praising, exhulting thing no matter what promises are made. That would be like coming up with a thing of so called faith that thought music was sinful, or worse still, heretical. Anyway, lets avoid that moral quagmire and stick on the choonz! Fortune and Fame is another older One Kid's Lunch work, this time dating back to 2005 (at least on Soundclick). All of which does beg the question: new material??? When???

Hold on, while I put all the toys back in me pram....

There is a tendency these days to favour instrumentals or elongated sections that only feature the scantiest vocals that then purport to be a 'song' Not in Gilmore world, matey. To me a song is something I learned at the feet of the masters of the 1960's scene. Songwriters who could write the catchiest melodies and lyrics on Earth AND make them relevant to every soul who heard them. That is a rare talent indeed, and one the One Kid's Lunch have in abundance. Not only is their carefree rock music fun, it's also often a right rivetting read. Fame and Fortune is one of those, a splendid song encased in a classically clever arrangement that will raise some eyebrows at the local Chapel. Whatever you do, don't let any of the obvious tags put you off listening to one of Soundclick's brighter lights, whatever your beliefs.

Highly Recommended pop rock ...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Apesoundscapes - Welcome Home

Hear The Track Here

Now before you start making that strange 'wtfwtfwtf' you always come out with at the sight of a new name, Apesoundscapes may be new to you but certainly not to me. OK, I'll be the first to admit that he doesn't seem to be the most prolific of artists, only having reviewed three or four tracks in the space of a year or so. His Out Of The Cold (March 2006) set the seal on what he does and got a Must Have from me. Not bad considering this was the second track I had ever heard from this artist. A year later and HazyDayz (April 2007) pretty much confirmed that here was an electronica artist who knew some better licks than most, and knew how to deliver them too. Not exactly a fast delivery yes, but hey it is often worth a bit of a wait.

Unlike most takeaways....

Welcome Home probably has more to do with Alternative than anything else; in tone and vocal delivery this could do sterling service in todays musical climate. For certain there is a definite Manchester influence at work here, and as a song Welcome Home wouldn't sound out of place in an Oasis gig. Don't get the wrong impression though, it won't be the inflated, turgid rubbish I associate with that band, Apesoundscapes is way too clever for that - and that may well prove to be his undoing too. I have grown accustomed to this artist and I know what to expect but I would think the unwary listener may be surprised - to say the least. See, Apesoundscapes can be relied upon to tread his own path, no matter what and there is nothing wrong with that.

There is an anthemic quality about Welcome Home that will serve it well, and that becomes more obvious with each play. Ultimately it's that feel that will win you over, especially if you like that kind of thing anyway. Like all of his tracks, it has its oddities; the jerkiness of transitions, the disjointed feel of certain sections; the oddly wandering beats. Those oddities will also work their way in, although you would have to have a strong sense of what is essentially experimental to really enjoy the experience. There is a cracking song at the heart of this, and a rock song to boot. For me, that is the deciding factor. All I wonder now is if Carl Best (aka Apresoundscapes) rises to the bait :D

Recommended. Great song.

Fluidity - Slip Away

Hear The Track Here

When you start to spend a sh*tload of time doing what I'm doing, one of its simple pleasures is to watch artists grow and develope, especially if you catch them at the very beginning and track them all the way through. Such was the case with me and New Zealand's Fluidity. I firdst met John Paul Carroll (aka Fluidity) when I reviewed First Time (January 2006) where it became obvious that Fluidity wasn't just a bandname; it was a damn attitude as well. Frolm that track to this, Fluidity has honed his sound and production tricks, and seriously tightened up his songwriting; so much so that (as far as I am aware) Did It Again snared his first ever Must Have from this reviewer. There again, why should he worry 'bout it, he has enough highly recommendeds for the nonce...

For the nonce eh? God, ain't English cute???

I've always thought Fluidity had more to with rock than any other genre but I guess it would fit the Alternative tag too, especially on a track like Slip Away. Having said that, the JPC goes and muddies the waters even further by getting some very classy prog rock licks in and an arrangement that has more bends than errr a bendy thing. I think I am still having the rosy afterglow of Did It Again because Slip Away took a dogs age to finally click with me. I know for a fact that everything that appears in a Fluidty track is absolutely supposed to be there, but there is something in this track that I find distinctly jarring and I can't seperate out what it is; arrangement or chords. Still, this is chump change because I'm probably the only nitpicker within light years who would even spot something like that - that's how sad I am.

What most people would get from Slip Away is the sense of an artist completely at home with what he is doing and - by the sounds of it - having a great time into the bargain. That spirit has informed everything he has done this year, and it is a pleasure to hear it. Having said that, I don't really feel that Slip Away has anything like the impact his last couple of tracks have had - at least with this reviewer. Not that there is anything wrong with the track, except that odd bit I've already mentioned, and there is lots that is absolutely right with it. Certainly if the words alternative and rock float your boats, then Fluidity should work its magic with you too. That's the problem with highspots innit? It always becomes such an obstacle to overcome them.

Recommended Alternative.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Denny Schneidemesser - Alpha Animal (BBA Suite)

Hear The Track Here

Being an old curmedgeon, I have been known to whine and moan about many things, especially certain kinds of music. The tales of my venom towards certain genres are legion, and nowhere more so than that poor misguided genre: Film Music and Scores. See, as I've said twenty million times, I'm one of those dull old farts who think that the music should be experienced with the visuals - as the film maker intended it. Having said that, I do actually like some of the work of John Williams and Danny Elfman is one of my all time favourite score writers so I am not totally unsympathetic towards the genre - just some of the lame attempts to master it. Several things have encouraged me to think that things are getting better on Soundclick; first with the awesome debut tracks of Sound Radius which should be heard by everybody on the planet, preferably in a cinema near you as a total package.

Denny Schneidemesser has a lot of the same qualities and a distinct talent for putting the right things in the right places. Of the three tracks I have reviewed so far, I was able to recommend them all in some form and for me, that is not bad going at all. Alpha Animal (BBA Suite) is a peice written for Kay Fedewa's Blackblood Alliance, a popular comic strip apparently being turned into a movie. If you take a look at the page in the link, you should get a fair idea of the kind of music this pecie would require and Denny supplies it with ease. Although to my ears it sounds a little light in the production department, musically it presses all the right buttons; especially given the tense (or should that be intense) action of the comic strip.

As always, Denny's musical palette is fairly orthodox, it's in the way he applies these different textures that make him stand out of the crowd. A lot of that I have always put down to the discipline instilled in most musicians of Germanic stock, but there is no denying that Denny is bringing some born-with-it talent along with him. Considering that this is computer generated, there is noticeable factory sound to it, the strings and brass are authentic, effective and stirring - even for a cold hearted sob like me. I can't put my hand up and say I loved this track because to be honest, I didn't. It's a bit too close to the situation I was describing at the beginning of this review, especially now I have seen the comic strip it is coming from. I'm certain this would have a desired effect when seen with an animated movie, because it makes strong enough statement as is but it isn't something I would choose to listen to that often.

Recommended Film Score.

Big Wheel - Beat Inertia

Hear The Track Here

Fast turning into an excellent reviewer on Soundclick (and not because he reviewed one of my new tracks so nrrrr), the wheeled wonder has made his mark on this site in a relatively short time, thanks to his own musical prowess. It may seem strange to say that, considering that El Grande Rueda has - by his own admission - only been doing this for just over a year. Welp, I've often been accused of flattering people in reviews and now I hope I can finally put that one to rest. I try to always review objectively whoever it is that's in the hot seat. Like any functioning sentient, I have my picks and foibles but I try hard not to let those things colour my judgement. When I say an artist has considerable chops then - as is my wont - I mean it whole heartedly and in complete truth. I don't mean to be flattering, merely accurate in my speech. (Ed: fekk me Gilmore, this is not a confessional, get on with it!)

OK, Big Wheel rites gud choooonz. Better? :P

Big Wheel is in fact a live musician; I have reviewed his band Tin Gods in the past and enjoyed the experience but its his solo work that has really caught my attention. From the strains of Far Away (July 2006) on down, his knack of arrangements and sounds has bulled its way to the forefront of the electronica field (at least on Soundclick) and rightly so. It isn't often that one (aaarrgghh, I can't believe I just said that!) encounters electronica with melody and interest built in and that is a central hallmark of all of Big Wheels output. As the man himself says (and I heartily concur) he makes 'original electronica for chillage, danceage, noddage and groovage.

Yes, rites gud chooonz too... (sigh)

The Wheel has been on a bit of a housey housey jag just lately, and he promises that this may be the last before he heads nack to his normal musical pastures, and that's fine by me. Sure I liked some house styles, and I personally like playing around with the style but if I had my drutherfs (wtf ARE druthers anyway?) I wouldn't choose to sit and listen to it. Having said that, BW's version of history is always worth checking out simply because this is a man who knows what he is doing. House piano in particular has always impressed me and there are some fine examples of that style through this track as are the obvious nods to how it was back in the day. All of which makes Beat Inertia extremely listenable even for an old philistine such as yours truly. I'm curious to know how these various tracks have stacked up in competition. Maybe we can expect some enlightenment??

Highly Recommended classic House.

1969 - The Last Day On Earth

Hear The Track Here

I would be willing to bet there aren't too many blue zeppelins in China, and the one I have found turns out to be one of the most enjoyable artists I have come across in a good while. Part of that has to come down to 1969's (aka Blue Zeppelin) oft stated love for the sounds of the 1960's, a period that continues to influence artists worldwide, 40 years after the event. Back when a song spoke to us as if it were out best friend (which it often was for a great many of us). For me, personally, having grown up during that fine musical period, anybody who professes an interest in the period is going to find a friend in me, as 1969 has found out. Out of the two tracks of his I've reviewed so far, he has recieved on Highly Recommended and a Must Have, and that ain't too shabby at all.

So, what's next...?

The Last Day On Earth has all the ingredients of the two previous tracks but - for my money - it doesn't have anything like the impact those tracks contained. There is a lightness about the track which, although intentional, tends to give it a kind of throwaway feel. Having said that, like all of 1969's tracks so far, it plays slavish adherence to the tone and sound of early 1970's rock - although in this case with a whimsical, almost folk-rock to it. That might also be the catalyst for my mixed feelings about the track because its the one area of rock I've never had a lot of time for - even when it was popular.

There's a flavour of early Pink Floyd in the vocal and presentation of the lyrics, which helps the time to pass and again I am amazed about how a Chinese musician can deliver such an authentic feel. If you like what I have described so far, then you may well get more out of this track I am seeming to; at least through the first two or three minutes. There's a couple of distinctly odd sections where things don't meld as well as they should and a particularly strange guitar section that probably should be re-thought. While I was over at 1969s site I also listened to a couple of Neil Young covers he's done and I think I prefer them. All this isn't to say that 1969 has turned in a bad peice, for those who like the period and the style will find much to like. It just didn't have the same impact on me his more rockier outings have had.

Recommended Classic rock nonetheless.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Potato Contraption - Sineisnt

Hear The Track Here

Don't be looking at me like that. I don't make this stuff up, you know. No, I have no idea what a Potato wotsit is but I do know what a Sineisnt. Now, if we could just attach the wheels to it, we'd be good to go and this review can get rolling; or whatever it is reviews do. No doubt Richard Dunlap (think his real name, You and Me, dadala, The Dunlaps and a thousand other personnas) will be along to explain all, or not. Richard is but one of the players in Potato Contraption, but the other is equally familiar if you hang out in the weirder parts of the electronica world. Johann Meier (aka Jopy) provides the other side of the musical coin.

All of the tracks on their Soundclick page are from the PcOnTrApTiOn CD (available at CD Baby) and when reviewing anything to do with RD, I make sure that my player sounds right before starting. Its as sure as eggs is eggs that once the track starts there will be all kinds of weird ear fukry going on - and hey watch out for the sublimal stuff too :D Seriously, if anyone sounds JUST llike a mad scientist in sound, then Richard Dunlap fits the bill everywhichway. Hand on heart I can't say I am as familiar with Jopy's work as I am with RD's, but this bears the production and arrangement thumbprint of Mr Dunlap for sure.

Mixed in with the massive array of static, disjointed sounds, enormous sweeps and whooshes, industrial noise and more stereo than is good for a human is - apparently - Jopy's contribution. As it states on the site, Jopys is 'responsible for almost all of the original sound files and 'raw material' used,; which for the uninitiated might appear to be the same stuff that is presently cleaning out their ear canals down to bedrock - at least if they were listening to the track. Tracks from this quarter should never be approached head on, you need to live with this to make sure you (kinda/sorta) understand what the artists are trying to do. Living with it though is not as easy as it sounds, but that was always the way. As it happens, I like what this artist(s) have come up with, but I'm damned sure I'll be in the minority on this one.

Highly original, highly unusal. Highly Recommended weirdass music.

Pilesar - Umbrella (Live)

Hear The Track Here

I am not sure which particular God of fate I have pissed off this month but come on!! Pilesar AND Richard Dunlap back-to-back?? What is this, some kind of endurance test? For those of an audially challenged nature presumably. I mean no one would be crazy enough to sit down and listen to two of Soundclick's weirdest whatevers out of choice would they? (ed: what? You mean like you?) So, first one up is the unstoppable force of nature known to all and sundry as Pilesar. Regular readers of these reviews will already be familiar with the exploits of this desperado, I've written about him more than just about any other looney (errrr, I mean artist). Still, as you are about to discover, he does it make it worth your while.

Pilesar, a world where experimental is a state of mind.

Out of the 133 tracks that reside on his page, you will find some of my favourite Pilesar moments; ie the live stuff. When I was a but a callow teenager (Ed: that'd be about 28,000BC then?) I had my mind tampered with in a musical manner by a band called (surprisingly enough) the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. In the age of guitar groups like the Beatles and The Stones (yep THAT long ago) they were the only band around that featured a tuba, saxaphone, sousaphone and trumpet although not always played together, or in time. Or tune. Or even on the same planet. They were, however, extremely good at what they did - create idiotically insane tracks that shouldn't have worked but did. That, my friends, is also the story of Pilesar's life; and on this track he even sounds like the BDDB! Forget fidelity of course, this is a live recording; and here's another telling point in Pilesar's favour.

It's easy enough to be experimental when you never leave your hovel, but try doing it live AND satisfying your audience. That's a tough, tough gig. This was recorded in Washington DC sometime or other and sounds suspiciously like it was recorded directly offf the mixing board, so don't expect much in the way of dynamics. It does show what's going on though, and this is a tight little band, everyone is working hard and it shows in the tracks momentum. There again this is a track that starts off sounding like the aforementioned BDDB and ends up sliced up with some of Frank Zappa's Hot Rats! As if that wasn't enough, it also features lyrics like wot I'd like 2 hav wrotten "I kinda sorta forgot my intentions, butcha didn't, so then I said: I mida shoulda broughta umbrella, but I didn't, so now i'm wet." No doubt about it, the man is an esspert mangler.

A slice of Pilesar history. Recommended weirdness.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Da Luck Ent - This Ain't Working Out

Hear The Track Here

Look, I don't care what the fekkin name says, what we are usually talking about here is a Young Kannon track, so let that be an end to it. Young who? you say. Young Kannon is a hip hop rap artist I have run across a few times Every time has been an intense (in almost every way) experience because - as you can judge from the amount of Parental Advisories on his page - this is an artist who pulls no punches - especially lyrically. He writes very vididly about life on the streets and its consequences to the people around it in such a way that it affects you viserally in ways that - to be honest - most commercially available bad boy shit doesn't do - at least in my honest opinion. Therefore it isn't what anyone would call easy listening.

Tarantino Rap, even.

Surprisingly enough though, This Aint Working Out doesn't boast the usual PA appendage, although it does contain with some cussing.. It's a different side of Kannon I've not heard before and he handles it surprisingly well considering the usual hard style he espouses; certainly convinced me. There again, I must admit to my eternal shame, that I was all agog at the way the track developed - a conversation between two people that is causing pain and anger to both of them. Beautifully realised it is too, with the help of Epic The Dawn and the delightful voice of Miss Ebony; it creates a track that crackles with the emotion goling down between these two people.

Been there, lived the life - and it shows.

I have to say, at this stage of the game, the more I hear of Young Kannon's work, the more it grows on me. It's difficult, of course, for me to whole heartedly champion his usual tale of horror style; way too real for most people. You can imagine what it must do to the usual Soundclick pussies :D This track, however, is in its way unashamedly commercial - the boy/girl dynamic works a treat here. It's in the way the story develops and the extremely easy way the two vocalists put across the emotional charge of the peice. While hip hop most assuredly isn't to everyone's taste, I have no doubt that a good song will always out. This Ain't Working Out is about as good as anything I've heard from this artist so far, and it's a track far more palatable to a wider audience than previous tracks. Despite some kinda obvious flaws...I really got to like this in a very short time and for me personally it's the kind of hip hop I'd prefer to hear. Hmmmm In fact.....yeah......gotta be...

MUST HAVE indie hip hop (read the review for the craven apology for such a crime)

Avalanche - The Road Less Travelled

Hear The Track Here

Gotta admit that when I first saw this title being put forward, I had a sense of doom, gloom, despondency and despair. I know that's actually four senses (as it were) but hey, I'm a drama queen, what can I tell you? Not because I thought The Road Less Travelled was going to be a bad track, with Avalanche that wouldn't be possible. A so so track maybe, but never anything less than highly professional. That professionalism comes from the band being together for thirty years this year. Nope, my conniption was about the title, a name I had ascribed to one of my own upcoming releases, and it led me to a few choice words wiv me ol' mate Serendipity. Not to mention a couple of hissy fits in the direction of Avalanche :D Still, ferk it, s'all good innit? Regardless of what my own particular panty twist is at the moment, just playing an Avalanche track well soon dispell a bout of grumpy gruff. The reason is twofold: Avalanche are the ultimate rock animal, red in tooth and claw. The second reason is the one I mentioned before, the total dedication to getting it right - every time.

First time, I bet, that an avalanche can be considered consistent eh?

It helps that the sort of rock you like is the kind that has spawned all the memorable American rock bands, because Classic Rock is what Avalanche delliver; the sort you can picture in action as the track plays. Having said all that, The Road Less Travelled takes a while getting to the real meat and potatoes (Ed: he means keeeerrraaannggg) but once you get there all is forgiven. It's the part of this Avalanche I like the best. For example, the track starts with a whole acoustic section; redolent of the American style of rock. But when the band put the pedal to the metal, in the chorus, they show the massive pair of rock stones that endear them to an old rock freak like me. I defy you, o gentle reader, not to give this a spin though, and find yourself going down the road singing it to yourself and if you get in a car and drive you are f****** for life.

The combination of drums, bass and twin guitarists is irresistable enough, I'd be glued from note one. Take that thought one step further and combine it with the skill and experience of this four man band and blend it all with some awesome songwriters such as Mike Foster and Mark Easton, there is no way this track could fail. At least within its genre, and certainly IMHO, as commercially viable as anything else you are likely to hear on the face of the Earth. If you are not aware, I expect more from artists I have respect for, and I am highly critical of anything out of place - and believe me I do look hard. I couldn't find anything whatsoever I didn't like about The Road Less Travelled in a professional manner; and it hits a couple of personal emotional buttons too. The song is about the band's thirty year history and is a track full of the truth known to more musicians than the miniscule amount of artists that manage the task of being 'stars. Well, in my world, stars are people who affect me directly and personally and no real world music comes close.

MUST HAVE Classic rock.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Shorthand Phonetics - Search For My Next Top Infatuation

Hear The Track Here

When you've been reviewing for a while on a constant basis, you absolutely have to develop a marked sense of humour - otherwise you'll go nuts. Some artists breeze through each track, seemingly spitting them out like bullets, everything neatly squared away, teeth brushed and shoes polished. Reviewing tracks like that is a doddle, even a 2 year old could master it. On the other hand, there are artists who make you suffer along with them; every inch of the way. I have encountered a great many of them and paid the price,. Although writing reviews about this kind of artist is painful, very unrewarding and an endless uphill struggle to put a positive spin on it, it too has its own rewards. There are artists I have lambasted for years and years only to find that - while I wasn't looking - they have either become very much better, or made their own style almost part of the mainstream here.

Shorthand Phonetics is one of those artists.

Now I know Ababil Ashari (aka SP) has a sense of humour and I almost choked on my coffee when I saw what he had put up for review this month. A demo, Ababil?? Haven't I given you grief for what? three years?, for making tracks that have essentially labeled as demos from the getgo. Considering that the band founded their Soundclick reputation (and they do have one surprisingly enough) on being a 'garage band' whose track were some of the noisiest I have ever heard, calling them demos would have been a kindness. So, my question is this: Is this a demo of a demo??

Enquiring minds want to know.

What is apparent, right from the starting bell, is that this is undoubtedly Shorthand Phonetics, no one else quite sounds like this and in some ways that has been the secret of their success. That's despite endless bum notes, excitable, even screechy singing at times, and mixes that would strip your ears of wax from a thousand yards. Yep all that and more is on display in Search For My New Top Infatuation (and there is another Shorthand Phonetics hallmark). The thing that always saves this band from oblivion is Ababil's unerring energy, and that trademark sound: Clash-y guitars and vocals that could have come from the heyday of punk - at least in its more pop format espoused by The Buzzcocks and other Manchester luminaries. Like all of his tracks, Search is brimfull of good ideas. Maybe too many even. That has always been a slight problem with new people getting into this band, this songwriter packs so many ideas in it can sometimes sound choppy, but aaaaah it grows on you with each playing.

Rubbish or a truly unique musical voice? You decide. Recommended for it's style and fans will have it already.

Mike-K - Lonely Traveller

Hear The Track Here

During the early part of this decade when the late (but probably not lamented) finally closed its doors, there was a collective intake of breath from members of Soundclick at the time. Were we going to get swamped with thousands of wannabees, ruining what had - until then - been a decent music site for musicians. Can't work in a vacuum though, and although Soundclick did absorb a HUGE number of ex-MP3ers, they settled into the scene rapidly and generally shown that their coming to this site was a good thing. I know that Mike Kohlgraf (aka Mike-K) also voiced some anxiety about the supposed surge too, but look what has happened to him since. A great many of those MP3 musicians have since become both of our favourites and it has provided Mike with the best platform of all to espouse the delights of indie music - his own radio show. Internet radio mind, but who cares when you are having fun. As well established as he is as a voice on the scene, it shouldn't be forgotten that first and foremost he is a musician in his own right.

Granted, I haven't always seen musical eye to eye with him but that has more to do with my own predjudice than anything Mike is doing wrong. Mike does like his music on the smooth side (allthough that does NOT apply to his radio show), and bless him it's his music; he can choose. Having just reviewed his excellent Latin fllavoured Midnight (August 2007) I find myself ready for another one. Surprisingly, I did like that track despite its avowed middle of the road stance. The trick that has won me over consistently though has been when Mike has collaborated with Christopher Martin Hansen; a class act and no mistake. Its also an indication of how much respect this guy has garnered over the years he has been a Soundclick stalwart.

Lonely Traveller is a track from an upcoming Mike-K CD called Sonic Adventures and is a classic example of what Mike does; a cool, sophisticated tune that - had it been a woman - would wear her hair up at every occasion. Chic, I think the correct term is. Mike has consistently supplied a certain amount of production nous to his tracks from way back, but now his guitar playing has moved up to match it. So if you like that whole 'easy listening' thang then this will probably be calling to you already. Anyone who professess to have the likes of Jean Paul Jarre as an influence usually is a decidely middle of the road musician and on that score Mike-K is definitely ahead of the pack. Again I find myself giving the man a nod of respect while not wholeheartedly liking what he does. Aaahhh, but Mike is well aware of those trials...

Excellent guitar instrumental; elegant and smooth. Recommended.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Omnisine - Slide

Hear The Track Here

Now here's a guy we haven't seen for months and months, so a hearty welcome back for my favourite Indian electronica artists, Omnisine (once known on this site as Freq-X). He has been around for a couple of years and like his fellow Mumbai based artist, Prash (who also made an appearance here just lately) has a marked skill and dexterity with the music he makes; sophisticated but intense and always, always very listenable. Omnisine has had shedloads of Must Haves and what have you from me Slide also features another artist Omnisine has collaborated with in the past; a lyricist/vocalist who goes by the enigmatic name of Rohan J. Their first combined efforts on Dream (May 2006) absolutely blew me away, especially the vocals and Slide goes a long way past that already high standard. I said at the time that Rohan has a great voice but from the first play of this I was transfixed, musically and lyrically.

So how do I continue without slobbering all over the place? (Ed: A bib. He always carries one)

Mind you, there is an awful lot to slobber at. From the beautifully relaxed bass to the overtly jazzy feel of the peice, this shows exactly why Omnisine is held with enormous respect by a great many Soundclick regulars, especially those of the electronica persuasion. Officially, Slide is billed as Trip Hop but this is one of those tracks that just couldn't be pigeon-holed in something as insubstantial as a genre classification, it's way above most anything you ae likely to hear - whatever the genre. That's always been one of the hallmarks of Omnisine's work, so it's no great surprise to those who know his work. What will be a surprise is the lovingly intricate way he has crafted the arrangement to pick out and highlight the nuances in the vocal, an attribute I have noticed before but never IMHO used with such devastating effect. Considering that the track is only three and a half minutes long, there is so much packed in there it stretches to twice its length, and it get better and better with each playing.

The real star though, at least for me, is the very welcome return of Rohan J (also called Rohini on Dream, which you will also find on Omnisine's Soundclick page). Even if I didn't know he was Indian by birth, I would have sworn he was either British or American, at least judged by what this track sounds like; and that is what makes it the killer track it is. Slide has the potential tol be a massive smash hit IF the real world music business was listening, even the merest listen will confirm that within twenty seconds or so. The combination of Rohan's lyrics and vocals and Omnisine's undoubted musical and production prowess is absolutely wonderful and one I am definitely not going tol get sick of any time soon. And they say that the indie music scene has no stars. Harumph I say.

MUST HAVE, a technical soul warmer.

The Antennaheadz - Loveless Blues

Hear The Track Here

Thomas J was first on the doorstep this month, a pole position he performed last month too. Another month and he'll have three in a row and I guess that's some kind of record. Definitely not something to boast about wiv yer grandkids though, when you are in your dotage and they ask you what you did when you were young. Oh I was desperate enough to hang around ol' Gilmore's door for three months running. Not exactly a ringing endorsement is it? In case you have no idea who Thomas J OR The Antennaheadz (one and the same actually) are, then you certainly won't be familiar with the kind of mind bending music they make: music that has been known to tie their listeners in such contorted shapes they have been taken for aliens and asked if they could stand with Gran and the kids while a picture was taken. Best not to approach an Antennahead(z) unless you are wearing your Musical Tough Guy outfit.

Either that, or the cute white coat that does up at the back.

The Antennaheadz have been stretching their music wings a lot this year, exploring areas of music I would never have given them credit for a year or so ago. All good then yeah? Well, yes, but only if you recognise that when this artist says this track is so and so genre, it may indeed have elements of so and so genre within it, bt by far the larger portion will go towards this bands endearing penchant for musical meanderings, jokes and 'ooh what does this do?' noises by the bucketful. Funnily enough though, looking back over the past years reviews, Antennaheadz tracks have scored some substantial ratings from me and that is probably better than the bloody and terrifying beating I used to give them at the beginning (and still do when they wander up their own musical butts). Nonetheless, haven't had to do it for a while and Loveless Blues is definitely not going to get anything like that treatment because - well, dare I say this - it's really good.

Oh good grief, now they've all fainted dead away.

Wipe the look of surprise off your face, and do remember who we are talking about here. So yes, it is kinda/sorta da blooz but only in the most generic of terms. Nonetheless, it's a very likable track indeed, and a massive departure yet again for this surprisingly versatile musician despite his penchant for noise and dissonance. It has, as you would expect, bass, guitar and drums (a bit mechanical but they do the job) but the real surprise here is the voice of the man himself and the fact that Loveless Blues is the closest this artist has come to writing an actual song - and that is a by-God miracle. As such, it deserves a Must Have status just for it's rarity but it also deserves it because it's a cracking (if idiosyncratic) performance of a lively and jaunty song. Life, as they say, is full of surprises. Go on, surprise yourself.

MUST HAVE (yep, you read it right Thomas!) :D