Sunday, December 30, 2007
Hear The Track HereNow we are down to the very last three tracks of 2007, it's nice that one of the three is an old, established review favourite. See, despite all my bah humbug tendencies I do like to spend the New Year time with friends and if there is hope for me, there is hope for everyone. Regular readers will already know that Omnisine is an electronic musician from India who has provided this reviewer with many good tracks - and some great ones - in the time we have known each other. No matter what, I am not going to comment on the who the vocalist on this, other than to say Varsha has the sort of voice I would personally kill to work with.
Funnily enough, Omnisine hasn't really made his chops with music from his own country - or at least until recently. There have been a couple of forays into that territory but most of his output thus far has been in western style rock and its variants. Not that I am complaining though because it's been those tracks that have stuck with me. First off, IM(very)HO Omnisine is a talented musician and producer so its a sure bet that his work will sound good, but occassionally it can get to be phenomenal. And yes, that is a good deal of bias I am showing but - as ever - I have the track to back up such a statement.
From the opening notes (a gorgeously treated keyboard pluck) to the ending fade out (which goes on forever...) Mora Piya Ft. Varsha is a work of world music art. Omnisine has outdone himself in all aspects with this track. I am used to a very high standard from this artist but this track blew me right on my critical butt. It's kind of hard to be critical when my jaw is scraping the floor. The space and light Omnisine has built into the production and arrangement is a huge factor in releasing the power of the track, everything has its place and time and fulfills it perfectly. Some great production tricks on display too, especially the use of echo and reverb which suits Varsha's sinuous, nuanced vocal style giving it a resonance that just has to be heard to be believed.
Absolutely knock out. World music of the finest kind. MUST HAVE
Hear The Track HereThese days I get tracks from everywhere. Gone are the days when I could take a lesuirely stroll through Soundclick and pick up enough tracks to give me earache for a month. The Endorphins come to me through this blog and are - to my surprise actually - from Bolton in the UK and knowing the area and its musical history, they sound exactly as I thought they would. Now that I see where they are from. I sat down to write this review assuming up until that point that this band was American and they had somehow manged to capture a very English sound, then I checked out their slice of The Murdoch Empire and lo - Lancashire lads all.
So am I, and we stick together.
Having said that, to really get the fruits of this track you will have to like your music fairly lo-fi and energetic in that typically English way. Bolton isn't far from Manchester so it's only right that there is a certain amount of that Mancunian swagger in this music too, The band are guitarist/vocalists Ashleak and Craig, bassist Dave and Deano on drums and - as Ashleak informed me - Splash is a demo. Glad he told me that because that would have been the first word out of my mouth in this review. Nonetheless, those who know me, know that I have no problems with iffy sound so long as the underlying material is worthy of a listen.
In that respect, Splash is, although I'm hard pressed to tell you where to get a copy of it. What? What is it? Well, It's a kind of cross between punk and todays so called alternative music and considering it is a demo it definitely packs the right punch. For my moeny I would have liked the vocal a little higher in the mix but hey, that's small change. The Endorphins kick up a rock based world that will please many of people and hopefully gain them some more listeners, they certainly have the musical and lyrical muscle if Splash is anything to go by... One to watch out for methinks....
Excellent English alternative. Recommended for a quick jolt.
Hear The Track HereThird time around for Miami hip hop rapper Buzrk and I've had lots to say in the past about how this artists tracks sound and flow. Funnily enough 2007 has been a landmark year for this reviewer and hip hop on Soundclick; I've found some artists this year who are way above the usual depressing standard. There again, when looking at this kind of music, it is important to take into account most musicians making hip hop don't have the wherewithal to experiment enough to start getting it right - talent or no talent.
Personally I think Buzrk does have talent, although it's very rough and helped in no sense by the way the finished track comes out sounding. Almost every track on Buzrk's page is made by collaborators of some kind - some you would recognise, some not. In this case the beat is produced by Mister KA and Sean Divine, well known and respected beatmakers whose work is usually of a high standard. If you listen carefully to whats happening underneath Buzrk's rap, you may be able to hear some of that. it's also something I have brought up about Buzrk's work before. Not much point in having purchased a slick beat if you can't really hear it or feel its effect.
From the moment that Buzrk talks over the introduction of the track, you know that - however good the rap - that glaring error will dog the track itself. There is an edginess in the vocal sound as well as in the flow, making the words kinda mush together at times as if in a rush. Not a good thing when the point is the words. Whatever else happens, Buzrk is going to have to come to the realisation that he is up against some serious, serious competition for whatever ears are out there in search of this kind of music, he is going to have to up his game considerably. For sure, he's got the right attitude and style but it needs a lot more polish yet.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Hear The Track Here
It never ceases to amaze me how the internet works, if you hang around long enough you see a LOT of different things and at this stage I've put in years of study and nothing much surprises me. One of the most endearing/infuriating traits of internet life is the way people casually drift along on the current for a while and drift off never to be seen again. or people like Paul Rowland, for example who pop up from time to time. It's been a long while since I last heard from him. I reviewed Serpentine Soliloquy (March 2006), a dark, alternative edged rock thing that shouldn't be surprising considering that Paul was well into Goth rock at the time. As I finished the review, I wrote 'I'd like to hear more from this artist'...
So......here we are many, many months later. See. Works every time. ;)
As you can see by the appellation to his bandname, he's gone all stringy now. Picture of a Moment features harp, cello and violin and is exactly what you would expect from the genre. So good is it that (at the time of writing) it was riding high in both the Classical: Contemporary and Classical charts. So how come, I ask myself, is it that three (makes a quote sign) users rated this track a perfect one? What is wrong with this picture?? With it's echoes of Central European styles mixed with some wild gypsy blood, if I was looking for good classical music this would be what I would want.
See, the thing about doing classical music is that you really have to know what you are doing to be able to pull it off properly. I've messed around with classical music a lot (or at least snatches of it anyway) and I know how hard it is to get that particular sound. A cello is an especially difficult instrument to capture but Paul manages to evade that problem entirely, in fact the whole production reeks of hard work and attention to detail. It was written for a wedding and I'm certain it went down a treat.
Highly Recommended Classical trio.
Hear The Track HereI tend to approach this time in the yearly calender with a certain amount of reinforcement of my tolerance levels. I have found that if I don't take this simple precaution I am likely to be seen snarling and shouting 'bah humbug' at every opportunity. It's not that I don't like Christmas, it's just the santimonious claptrap mixed with a heady brew of consumerist gluttony that makes me want to vomit copiously. I tend to take my spirituality in the same manner I take everything else, with a healthy dose of jocularity.
Which brings me smartly to...
One Kids Lunch are a duo who have kept this reviewer amused many times since I first made their acquaintance with There's More (May 2006). Mind you, they are a suspiciously slow lot too. I haven't heard anything new from these guys in a good long while, and even Crossover Hit has been on Soundclick a good while. It's also the most 'Christian' slanted of their tracks that I've heard too; although - as usual - with that slightly disturbing but wonderfully comic way One Kid's Lunch have with both their music and the songs they write.
I can't say I really liked this track though, as much as I have some other OKL tracks. Even though it seems to have been inspired by a lunatic melding of Frank Zappa and 10cc, it still has a dated sound that didn't strike the right note with me. For sure though, the idea, the arrangement and the lyrics themselves make up immensely, and I couldn't help admiring the sheer bravado of these guys. The lyrics are basically a guy talking himself through the process of making a hit record and you really have to read them while listening to the track to really get the full flavour. Although it would be best to spit it out at the end....
Crossover hit on/from Pluto. Odd, irreverant and entertaining as only OKL can be. Recommended.
Hear The Track HereSo here I am, full of good tidings, even better imbibage and christmas pudding kicking back with The Legendary Fred Miller, a Soundclick artist I have come across a couple of times in the past. My first impression was that TLFM wasn't much more than a fairly standard folk musician, engendered by a track called A Light On The Darkness (September 2007). This skewed impression was rectified by the first collaborative effort with his son Timothy on keyboards and drums. The Corporate World was exactly what is needed, especially when Fred has a voice that is going to be an acquired taste, and don't take that the wrong way.
As you do.
There's Nothing New Under The Sun again features Timothy, this time on bongos and synth and they are joined by bassist Roger Alexander. There are many of the usual home musician sound problems, and some obvious fumbles vocally and instrumentally but anyone who has given Fred Miller's idiosyncratic bluesy folk rock a listen will recognise where this track is coming from. His blend of country and folk informs this track, much as it has done for previous work, and that just about saves the track.
While there is undoubtedly an audience for this kind of material, I fear it would be small but I know that Fred Miller just wants to tread his own path and there's nothing wrong with that at all. I personally like his style, even if I can't always get close to what he's doing musically, and even this track I found very lightweight for my tastes. Certainly if the roughness of sound and performance on this track could be corrected it might make it zing better. Sure, but then it wouldn't be a Fred Miller track, and that says something too. Not for everyone then, but there is a kind of homespun charm that Fred Miller captures which keeps me listening.
Charming Doors influenced rock track.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Hear The Track HereIn the mid 1980's I was gainfully employed at a recording studio in NYC's Brooklyn Heights and consequently got to hear some very, very smart hip hop and that experience definitely changed my views on what the music should sound like. In some ways I am much more critical of the technical aspects of the music than I am of (say) a rap, but that is because I know the real thing when I hear it. Corey Drumz is the real thing and there was no doubt in my mind about that from the getgo. This was backed up against another hip hop track in the review list and the difference is night and day - THIS is what hip hop should sound like. OK sure, Corey seems to have some production facility going for him, but unless you have the material as well toys can't help ya.
'You are about to witness something fresh' the track starts out, and - as the track develops - you can see what this means. Soundwise, Fresh Dress'd is solid, a very abrasive kick sound battering the track into shape that works so well. On other tracks I'd have something to say about it's volume but it kicks massive butt in this track so who gives a fekk. Speaking of naughty words, be advised that this is hip hop and carries its own Parental Advisory although - to be honest - I didn't find it that offensive. I also didn't find it as traumatic as The Retribution (January 2007) which still sits on my hard drive scaring me to death every once in a while.
Listen to it, if you don't believe me.
All of which should tell you that Corey Drumz is no slouch (or stranger) to this scene, and with that longevity comes the ability to make powerful, pointed tracks like Fresh Dress'd. For which we should be thankful, because there aren't that many people on the Soundclick hh scene that can do it like this guy, technically or otherwise. The raps are sharp, nailed to the rhythm and right on the money, conjuring up many of the ghosts of my own musical past. In other words, Corey Drumz is pretty much the classic sound of hip hop that I have loved for a great many years now, and Fresh Dress'd is an excellent example of what he does best.
Highly Recommended hip hop.
Hear The Track HereThird time around for me and US based hip hop rapper/producer. Considering he comes from Washington state, an area better known for its rock grunge, Wreckless Music does a fair job of it as I hope my reviews pointed out, but there are large areas that need to be addressed if he is to make any headway in an extremely active genre. 2007 has been a terrific year for me because I've probably reviewed more hip hop this year on Soundclick than ever before - and I've picked up some favourites along the way. So, I know what the competition is up to, and I assume that Wreckless Music does too....
Anyway, let's see.
Despite all appearances to the contrary there are some people who have influence on the indie scene and I think Wreckless Music should take comfort in the fact that Len Amsterdam and Mike Kohlgraf are playing this artist. If they see what I see, they will see someone struggling to overcome the limitations of what he is working with, as this track so aptly shows. I Miss My Boi (I think) is one of those tinkling, plinky hip hop tracks that - if you like the genre - you will have become all too familiar with. What WM does with the tinkly plinkys is certainly OK, if a little basic, but the whole thing sounds more than a tad worn and thin and doesn't really do the rap much justice.
It is in the rap (style at least) that Wreckless Music have something a little different to offer and I did mention this in the review I did of Gemini (September 2007). This is a two handed rap and despite a couple of obvious fluffs it hangs together extremely well and - for my money anyway - it raises this slightly above the crowd. Again, its a crying shame that it is only slightly but hey it's tough out there. Unless you got tight music, fluid beats and the same qualities in the rap breaking through into the larger Soundclick hip hop audience is going to be a long, drawn-out affair. Still, if ya got time...
Reasonable rap, so-so tune. I've said this before....
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Hear The Track Here333maxwell is the bandname of one Chas Holman who lives in either a) LA or b) Hawaii or c) Zimbabwe ??. Answers on a postcard (or banknote if you REALLY want to win) to the usual address please. Must admit I was well pleased to make his acquaintance when I reviewed The Leads and Lags of Elevator (November 2007), a nice little jazz flavoured peice it was too. Some slight problems but hey, we all got a few of them. All in all, it was certainly a decent introduction to this musician who - it seems - plays anything, so long as it has strings. That's not a bad skill to have in this neck of the woods. Couple of interesting musical references cited too. Mario Lanza (who I was beginning to think was a figment of my mis-spent youth) and anyone who cites the Teletubbies as influences can't be all that bad.
Kiss You is a definite step away from the easy, smoothness of Leads and Lags, although still on a definite jazz groove. More jazzy rock than Free Jazz IMHO but hey, what's in a name? Kiss You, at least for this reviewer, cements the view that - given the genre - 333maxwell has much to offer the - dare I say this? - discerning listener. There is a degree of sophistication evident in both the performance and production that shows that this artist has plenty of room to grow and expand into, and I KNOW there is a growing and appreciative audience for this kind of free-ranging jazz. Main lead functions in this case being carried by a nicely raw sounding sax and a beautifully understated lead guitar.
More to the point, Kiss You is actually a song, and a very good song at that. In arrangement and style it probably has more to do with Chicago than the european idea of jazz, but once again this is a stylistic quibble. The only question that counts is how good it is, and listening will scratch that particular itch. What you might hear, despite the shudder whenever the word jazz enters the conversation, is an extremely likeable track that goes about its business with a briskness that can only come with lots of experience. Remember, everything you hear is from the mind, fingers, body and soul of one musician. That says everything there is to be said.
Highly Recommended Rock(y) jazz.
Hear The Track HereSuperbron=pop artist from the Netherlands (that's Holland to those who are geographically challenged). At this stage of the game I have heard three of this artists tracks but could only really get behind one enough to give it a decent rating - at least by my standards. I don't have a problem necessarily with what Superbron does with the tools of his trade, more the lack of thought and foresight into the finished product (if that doesn't make me sound too much of a capiltalist). Sorry, but the truth of the matter is that the internet is EXACTLY the same as the real world in that respect. It doesn't matter that your music is downloadable for free, what matters is that most people choose not to download it, whatever the cost.
OK, so a lot of choice is down to personal feelings about this or that style of music, but it would be foolish in the extreme not to notice the sophistication and technical excellence of what is available - for free. What I am getting at is that upping the game IS the name of the game. You don't get popular on the internet unless you strive to be as good as you can be whether you get paid for it or not. Superbron has certainly got the musical expertise to do better and that is why I have been vague about his work in past reviews. Song Of The Last Whale, like previous tracks, comes under the heading of Film Soundtracks and you know I have problems with the genre. There again, I've also reviewed some stunning tracks in the genre and rated them accordingly - predjudice or not.
For sure this track is going to do better than others for me, but that's got a lot to do with the spare, just-hanging-together tempo this is paced at. I like stuff like that; the kind of instrumentation that unfurls rather than chops. Basically a guitar instrumental, Song Of The Last Whale does manage to capture some of the majesty (and underlying pathos) of the species and is actually a very listenable track with some IMHO. The delivery is still a little flat and understated - especially given some of the excellent sounds used; which is yet another point in its favour. All in all, I would imagine this will help Superbron somewhat but getting that production sound right would do a lot more. Nonetheless...
Very good guitar instrumental. Recommended.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Hear The Track HereDon't know about the rest of you guys but I breathe massive sighs of relief that Soundclick veterans like dcallen are still around. For those who have never made his acqaintance dcallen is an electronic musician for people who don't like electronic music, and I bear full witness to this incredible bit of jiggery-pokery having experienced it myself countless times in the four or five years I have known him. That's the one thing about these artists, their music often has legs beyond the wildest dreams of the bulk of wannabes. I also credit dcallen with being one of the very few electronica artists to finally convince me that electronica did have life outside of 4-2-thefloor, bleeps, clicks and whirs.
Dave (for it is he) makes music that lives and breathes, for all its electronica and there are very few artists indeed who can make that happen (consistently anyway). While I haven't kept all his tracks there are certainly enough of his old ones hanging around on my various drives to fill a big sized folder. Which is where When The Sky Falls is probably going to end up very shortly, because its well up to the usual high standard of work I have come to expect from this artist. From the outset, the music stamps its mark, its confidence almost overwhelming and I was expecting it. Gawd knows what the unwary listener would make of it.
Other than a very good thing, of course.
I've always admired the way dcallen works with melodies and When The Sky Falls are some of the best I've heard; the way the track builds is pure wizardry and the sounds - as always - are original and fresh. Its the way dcallen ties it all together though where the real magic occurs. Although it borders on the odd occasion into a kinda/sorta video game soundtrack, it's still sufficiently classy enough to keep even a dyed-in-the-wool cynic like me content. I'm a sucker for sequencers and their progeny (called sequences funnily enough) and When The Sky Falls sports some lovely examples. I'd recommend listening to them if for nothing else.
Top flight electronica. MUST HAVE for fans and Highly Recommended nonetheless.
Hear The Track HereFunnily enough, there were some survivors of The Original Summer Of Love. Mind boggling to know just how much age you can tot up eh? I am, of course, speaking from my infinitely superior-old-fart stance on the subject and because I feel I have a right. After all, I am one of those survivors but like many others, definitely disturbed. Mind you, not as disturbed as I was by the description of this track. I quote: Mungo Jerry meets Austin Powers. Neither of which, by the way, had anything whatsoever to do with TOSOL. Although I like Mr Powers, I can't stand - and never have been able to - Mungo Jerry. hated 'em then, hate them now. There is no better grudgemaker than an old fart and you can take that to the bank.
Stan (UK) (or just Stan to us...) is a band that comes with some sterling introductions including one from that star of stage and screen Maria Daines, who has done a collaborative track with them. Anything the Bawd lends her chocolate covered fingers to is OK by me, and Stan were most polite about saying hello. See, manners DO maketh the man. A bit of experience helps too, and it shows in this track which perfectly captures the music of the period. There again, it would be something to expect from musicians who list the Beatles, Kinks, Small Faces as influences.
Revelation [Summer 67] is, in fact, a direct descendant of the tracks that did adorn that insane period, ticking boxes from 10cc to Blur along the way. No doubting the style and professionalism either, both in production and performance. The only thing left is for it to hit your ears correctly which indeed it does. A lovely peice of work and no mistake. I suspect it will be a bit too lightweight for some tastes but even so they'd have to give the band kudos for getting that sound so right. Speaking personally, I liked this a lot but my own tastes tend towards the more serious end of pop so it isn't a Stan track I'm going to be keeping. I have no doubt that they have one hanging around that I will take home to Mum.
Highly Recommended pop.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Hear The Track HereEvery once in a while I see a track appear on the monthly review list and it somehow obbsesses me and this track is this months version. Although I could have sworn I have reviewed The Wimshursts Machine before, I can find no trace of it. There again it may well have been at one of those great Friday Night Live sessions that were happening over at the original POP - ie before it gained its 'space. Ha ha (Ed: Do get on with it Gilmore, no-one gets your saddo in-jokes). OK, I stand eviscerated and will continue... Despite the high falutin' English name the band is, in fact, a group of Italian musicians who are - no other words for it - unbelieveably good. World class for sure. One of the better finds on the Internet in anyones books. That was the prime reason I was looking forward to reviewing this track, its been a long time since I heard them last.
In a way also, The Wimshursts Machine, it typifies the calibre of artists attracted to the various offshoots of Chris Bishop (big cahuna of POP and POPspace). There is a very, very high bar set by the majority of the musicians I have met through the various POP incarnations and none express that better than this band. Just listening to the first few bars of Wind Sailer (not sure if that's a spelling error or not) will show you just how accomplished they are. Not a computer in sight, just a large bunch of guys playing their hearts out and that definitely makes all the difference in the world. Here is a track that, when listening, you can actually see the musicians playing the various parts.
For sure there is an undeniable Latin feel to the trap and - in places - a weird kind of jazz-rock infusion that wouldn't have been out of place in the early 1970's. So it goes without saying that even though you might recognise the quality of the musicians, you may not like what they do collectively. That's gonna be damn hard though because I thoroughly enjoyed this track, especially seeing as I don't particularly like this kind of music. As I say though, that's small change indeed when given a work of such strength. I'm not surprised that the Wimshursts are as popular as they are; there is no-one quite like them.
Excellent blend of styles. Most Highly Recommended
Hear The Track HereOK I can see by the way some of you are scuttling for cover that despite the terse bandname and the convoluted song title, you know full well what's coming next. Hey I understand the 'flee for your lives' tradition, I've been a proud member of it all my life. However, as one does, I've developed a fairly hardy shell towards certain artists who have exposed themselves to me, one of them being the bad boy described above. Regular readers will be only too well aware of this experimental artist because I've certainly reviewed plenty of his tracks. Mind you, he's also fiddled about with a couple of my tunes too..
As you can see, no one is safe.
Just to prove the farging point, here he is again up to his old tricks; cavorting with not one, two or three artists but - by my count - five or six. All on one track. The artists whose bits are fiddled are Acrid Switch, Paradise Decay, MD-1 Project, Digital Juggernaut, Redshirt Theory and gawd knows what else. If it was anyone else, I would have canned this one long ago but as I say, Tedd-Z has wormed his way into my affections (or is that affectations?) over the years and I often find him an interesting and intruiging listen. So long, of course, as I am wearing my anti-psychosis helmet; without that protection who knows what could happen?
One of the ways Tedd-Z has journeyed somewhat towards his audience is to give his electronic weirdness a decent, and often very propulsive, backline to drive the whole thing forward. Serpengorga XIII comes complete with wall shakin', earth moving qualities that will thrill and amaze your neighbours. At least those that survive such a barnstorming especially played extra, extra loud. This is probably one of the best Tedd-Z tracks in terms of that awesome bassline and the chunkiness of the rest of the rhythm, it makes the six minutes of the track zip by. A small word of warning though, this is a hard bastard. The kind of track with LOVE and HATE tattooed on it's fingers and a neck the size of the Blackwall Tunnel and a rottweiler dangling from each paw. Don't, fer fargs sake, look at it while you listen.
Tedd-Z. Hard. Highly Recommended electronic weirdness.
Hear The Track Here
PKR aka Prakhar Kumar is another musician from India (from further north this time) who I have come across once before. When I reviewed A Nu Birth (November 2007) I had relatively complimentary things to say about him as a musician but the style of the track didn't touch me very much. It was all a bit too earnestly soft World music or New Age/Soundtrack-y for my limited tastes. That's the thing with instrumentals, they either have to be standout of their own accord, or have something else going on that could attract attention. After all, this is a very, very crowded market and it takes something to get your voice heard.
c'ept for gobby types like me. (Ed: who you can't shut up anyway...)
One thing that can make an instrumental standout is to create an arrangement that works for the track and in that respect, PKR has come up trumps with this track. About two minutes or so into my very first play and I was already thinking 'what else can this guy come up with?' To be sure, the five and a bit minutes it lasts is packed to the rafters with interesting musical byways and it's going to be a track that you will want to hang on to and listen much more than with other tracks. It's undeniable that I am personally affected more by music from my own genre and Eternity is a solid peice of World music whichever way you slice and dice it.
I could pick quibbles about the track, sure, but overall I think Eternity is by far the stronger track of the two because there's much more to hold attention. One of the things that will hold your attention - should you be a fan of it of course - is the guitar work throughout. Nice tone, fluid playing, the sort of tune you relax into and float away, all held together with a more than adequate bassline. Although I can't say I loved the sound of the horns right at the end, I did enjoy the idea immensely. Certainly it worked musically but it just didn't sound right. Small change though because this is a very, very pretty instrumental with some great sounds and a knockout arrangement.
Excellent world music. Highly Recommended
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Hear The Track HereS'no good folks, Big Wheel's got that funky bit between his teeth and he just isn't going to let go. Although this is officially classed as Electronic House there is more than a smack of funky butt stepping all over it. As well as disco and all points downwind of there. See, Big Wheel is one of those artists (and don't you just love 'em?) who milks the subject for all its worth and that's never a bad thing. Personally I like a nice smacka da butt funk me baby too, and I must admit I have become partial to the round job's particular way with the genre. Hey, it works, don't knock it.
All Over is an absolutely accurate description too because its as many different dance shades as you want to put there. I'd be willing to bet cash money that if I say I hear house, disco, ibiza, funk and the slightest hint of jazz, you would hear some very different things, it's that kind of track. While I was writing this review, I wandered over to BW's Soundclick page and saw this in his news section: 2007 should be quite good then.... I should bloody coco mate, and then some. It's certainly been a year in which this artist has stretched himself into contortions hitherto unknown...
Da funk'll do that.
Almost all the tracks I have reviewed this year came from his new Rollin' album giving him a string of highly recommendeds and a couple of Must Have tracks so this is one album worthy of having in your collection. Especially if - like me - you've developed a liking for what he does. For sure, the guy has a knack of turning in some very professional tracks technically and musically and All Over is a shining example of that talent. Understand me here, I can't stand this kind of music AT ALL unless its done properly and All Over does it all over me. I am loving this track and can only agree with one other BW observation about his track 'with many pianos because pianos are awesome'
Yeah baby. Highly Recommended and a MUST HAVE for BW fans.
Hear The Track HereAs far as I can figure (because The Peach Tree is a complete unknown to me) it is one guy. Angus is Australian and, considering the rock that usually emanates from that region, is a wholly electronic musician in every respect, especially if you like a bit of phatness about your beeps, beats and what have you. Now I admit that I am biased somewhat against standard (ie dancey) electronica but hey I'm not averse to having a good time provided the beats are right and the bleeps not to many. There is a lot of electronica I have gotten a taste for but that generally doesn't cover the techno or trance sides which I tend to avoid like the plague.
Uh oh. Bring out yer dead.
As you may know from my own work (plug) I am one for a phat bassline and Psy Vampires sports a hefty one of its own and it was probably the first thing about this track I liked, and consequently kept me listening. As I say, I'm not really a fan of this music. Still, Psy Vampires has enough to interest even a philistine such as myself and that always helps because it shows that the artist is thinking about what he is doing as well as grooving along to it. My problem is that - over the years - I've been spoiled by hearing way too many crap electronica tracks; tehcnology has certainly improved since then.
It takes a certain amount of musical skill to do a dance track that is MORE than a dance track and this does get close to that. It's the little tricks The Peach Tree brings to the party that make the track more interesting to yer average listener, let alone someone as picky as me. As well as a solid backline, the production is loaded with little audio tricks that'll have you looking around suspiciously; lots of neat breakdowns and a splendidly understated outro. All in all, considering the genre, I didn't find this anywhere near as terrifying as most of my encounters with the genre.
Intelligent, powerful dance track. Highly Recommended if you like the genre.
Hear The Track HereSpeaking as a proud possessor of a good acoustic guitar, I well understand Dan E Peck's obvious love of his instrument. Ibanez Strut is the clue. Dan owns an (and I quote) 'Ibanez JS 100 with a Dimarzio Mo Joe Hummbucker pickup in the neck position, and a PAF Joe in the bridge position' which is obviously waaayy too much information but a good indicator of how much love, attention and respect the man has for a lump of wood and six strings. Takes all sorts ya see. Still, I am also one for getting lost in the arcana of guitar playin' n' pluckin' so I can't fault Dan's attention to technical detail. In case you have run away with the impression that is the end of the story, think again. Dan is a guitarist guitarist (if you know what I mean) and he also plays 'Gibson and Jay Turser Les Pauls, Gibson flying VEE, Epiphone Embassy 5 string bass, Tobias 4 string bass, and a Takamine accoustic.
Obviously this man is responsible for a lot of trees ;)
Currently number one track in the MP3 Unsigned User votes chart (ie you and me voting) and rightly so because despite all my festive jollity above, Dan E Peck is a guitarist to be nurtured. Ibanez Strut is Dan's rendition of Bachs "Jesu, Ode to Joy" and he's helped out in this case by MP3 Unsigned's Mark Holley on keyboards and Dave Stanbough on Drums. The drums bit really should intrigue you long before you hear the first note. After all, when was the last time you heard ol' Johann rocking out? Of course, he's been dead for hundreds of years and that will tend to hamper your movements. If you are one of those people who always adopts a bemused expression when someone starts talking about classical music, but then when the track starts playing you go 'Oh, I KNOW this one....'
This is one of those kind of tracks.
As a young man I had my brain warped forever - especially on the classical music front - when I heard Gun's version of Katachurian's Sabre Dance - which this track reminds me of. Power play is the name of the game and believe me it is NOT going to get much more powerful than this. As sterling a job as Mark and Dave do holding up their end, they kinda fade into the background once Dan gets his strut on. Although it's a wonder to me how the man can walk with such a huge pair of rock stones but hey, some people are just born special. OK, so don't take my word for this but if you've waited all your for that special track that will (literally) blow your fekkin ears off, wait no more. Here be monsters, fire and brimstone and all manner of rock goblins.
Rock of the very best kind. 11+ MUST HAVE and PLAY LOUD!!!!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Hear The Track HereJames Bacon (aka Nuff X) has been having an excellent year, gaining lots of highly recommendeds and even a couple of Must Haves from this reviewer, mainly because of his glitch-rock approach; a sound he has pioneered on Soundclick to his great advantage. Blessing Curse is a track from Nuff's upcoming Spiked Drinks & Poisoned Inks album and if you know anything of the musician you will be facing that news with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation. See, ol' Nuff is an artist who likes to take things right to the edge - and then push them off. So don't go listening to this track if you are of a nervous disposition or indeed, if you don't swearing in a track. This has a well deserved Parental Advisory/
Mind you, when you consider the lyrical subject matter, a certain amount of swearing is highly likely, nay fekkin inevitable. As Nuff X warbles (yep, he sings on this) 'You f****** scare me when you're like this' and I think I'd have to say the same back to him. Wtf were you on when you can up with this tortured beauty? For sure, there is a lot of anger in this track, from the raw, unfinished sounds to the proto-punk vocal style. To say that it was a bit spiky would be a massive understatement. Raw, bleeding all over the floor music.
It's a lot more conventional in style than a lot of Nuff's other creations, but once the vitriol gets going the track turns around and bites you in the ass. All of a sudden the musical ground underneath you turns to mush, you scrabble blindly for a handhold, your breath catches in your throat. That, my quaking chums, is fear in action. A LOT more experimental than Nuff X usually delivers, albeit in a fairly standard arrangement. A powerful, angry track that spits venom down your ears with devilish glee.
Nuff gets down. ;) Highly Recommended Electronica with added X.
Hear The Track HereThere are only three tracks on Close (India)'s Soundclick site, and I've now reviewed all of them in the space of as many months. Out of the preceeding two, Always Winter (October 2007) and Ghost Desert (November 2007) both have Must Have status in my household. Matter of fact, I'll go a tad further; along with fellow Indian musician Sumit, Close (India) are among my own favourite finds this year. Admittedly that is largely because of my own world music leanings but there's no smoke without fire. The main reason I like them though is because they are seriously good, seasoned musicians who know what they are doing.
Close (India) are two musicians, Abhishek and Bhushan, but they certainly sound like a lot more people, as a quick listen to any of their three tracks will amply show. It is by now globally evident that Bollywood is very much a force in Indian music and although Close come from Bollywood Central (Ed: Mumbai, actually) I can't say I've spotted any undue Bollywood influence. Not what the band are about. From where I sit with three of their tracks under my critical belt, I'd say they were busily subverting their own musical culture AND western music to their own ends. And what beautiful ends they are too. There really aren't that many artists around who truly deserve the title of unique but Close (India) are about as close as I can get to it.
If I thought that any of the other tracks were unique - and they were in their own way - then Mice Party takes it all one step further and is probably the most ethnic sounding of all their tracks. So it's a given that some of their phrasings will sound discordant to (some) western ears, but only in the same way (say) as some experimental music does. Mice Party could well be a shoo-in for the experimental genre as it happens, its certainly very adventurous. The star turn this time is taken up by the violin work of Abhinav Shankar. Although he appears on the other tracks, his work isn't as prominent as it is on this track. My only quibble is that at two minutes and change, I have to have it perennial loop to really enjoy it.
Startlingly different. World Music in the truest sense. Highly Recommended/MUST HAVE for fans.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Hear The Track Here(Ed: Sorry to appear before you so early in the proceedings. Gilmore is hiding under the sink, away from what he calls 'the suits'. I've tried explaining to him that Tim Turner & Co aren't libel lawyers but he appears to be too nervous to take me at my word.) OK. OK. Am I here?? Sorry folks, had a touch of stage fright. So, the & Co part of this outfit may hold some interest. Let's see now...:Tim Turner - music, acoustic guitar, vocals, co-producer, Jim Miller - horns, bass guitar, slide guitar, co-producer, William O'Connell - keyboards, Jeff Nelson - drums, Bobby Dodd - lyrics. Well I know Tim Turner some from exposure on Songplanet, I know more about Jim Miller than I wish I did but the rest of them, I know nozzing... Not that I need to because, believe me, the music says it all.
There again it would because I know that both Tim and Jim are capable and more than competent of stable delivery and a remarkable consistency of product, due in this case to being a shared production between two studios. MTM Studios laid the groundwork and Studio 9er (Jim Miller's own studio) added the final touches, as well as his own musical contribution. A heavy duty thing then all round, and it sounds like it too. Not heavy going mind, just seriously, seriously professional - the kind of material the real world SHOULD be crying out for.
Of course, I am showing a substantial amount of bias here because I have always liked what these artists have done in their own careers but yet again, here's another Jim Miller collaboration that just shows how much he lends to any occassion. O.mi.God. I've just had the most horrifying vision. He may very well be the worlds first internet session musician because he's cavorted with almost everyone in sight. Tim Turner's easy rock style and his sharp ear for an intriguing vocal delivery shows just how capable he is; as a songwriter, musician and vocalist. I've always liked the vocal style of Nad Sylvan and Tim has many of Nad's qualities. A sureness of phrasing and pitch, an ease in letting go when the need dictates. Terrific track.
MUST HAVE. Top class rock.
Hear The Track HereIt was at this time last year when I was busily going through the collection of tracks I had kept through 2006 and compiling my end of the year reviews; the renowned (Ed: in their own lunchtime of course) Stevies! There was no question last year - as there is this - as to who might be my Artist Of The Year 2006. I think most people saw it coming a mile off. After all, having notched up at least FIVE must haves and having seven tracks on my hard drive at the end of the year way above anyone else, how could I not? It doesn't, of course, JUST depend on the music, the recipient HAS to be an active member of Soundclick forums - and this year has seen a marked decline in ALL forum activity...
Aaah, did notice that, did you?
Anyway, Cam's Even Song appeared also be be a popular choice to be AOTY, and 2007 has seen the man (Cameron Bastedo in person) really s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g his personal envelope - always a good sign. One of the main reasons why Cam's Even Song is so popular is because his music its instant accessability in the time tested old school method, The one favoured by The Beatles, Bob Dylan and others, all of which Cam claims as influences. Certainly shows up in his music and I'd say it is fair to say that he is coming up with some astonishly varied ways of telling his tales.
No Limits should come as no surprise to us grizzled Cam vets, but it would come like a bucket of ice water to the unsuspecting listener. It has echos of the Travelling Wilburys, a musical experience I do - to this day - enjoy enormously, and I guess that's one of the main reasons I can relate so strongly to what this artist has to offer. Cam was complaining he had a cold in this, and I can see why but I don't think anyone outside of his nose would be able to tell the difference because I certainly couldn't. Cam is always a class act as a musician and stronger as a songwriter so this should come as no surprise...
MUST HAVE. Vintage Cam's Even Song.
Hear The Track HereLike a great many internet based musicians, Florida's M J K has the kind of equipment that a great many of us would recognise instantly. Not because of the thousands of dollars brandnames this equipment sports, but because of it's simple reality. He uses, or so he boasts on his website, 'a 20 dollar Sony Mic, 5 year old pc,Sony Acid 6 and plenty of VSTi's!' and ain't that true of all of us. Of course it ain't what you got, it's what you do with it that counts, and that's where no amount of expensive anything is going to help. You can either do it or not. Sure, you learn to be a musician, and you can practise being a singer but being born with some talent definitely helps enormously. It was that talent that singled M J K out for me from the starting block.
I called (in my usual understated fashion) This Is Goodbye (November 2007) 'priceless' and I meant every letter of it. It's still getting very regular workouts in my house, as are several other of his works. The over-riding musical impression I got from that track was early Stevie Wonder (say around 1975 or so) and Lose You has an even stronger resemblence to something Mr Wonder would have written. Takes a brave soul to take on such hallowed ground though, and on that score M J K is going to succeed every time. As I have mentioned before, this guy has an amazing ear for vocal arrangements and hooks and Lose You is stuffed to the gills with them.
One of the massive boons to online musicians over the past few years has been the introduction and rapid spread of the VSTi (Virtual Studio Technology instruments) standard. Essentially putting the recording studio and all its gubbings into the hands of you and me. Lose You is a textbook example of the very best use of this technology. We all like vocoders don't we? Can't help but love something that does that. Unfortunately, most of us don't know when to stop, M J K knows exactly where to draw the line between ooooh gorgeous and arrrraagghh gorgon!!. Worth the download for the vocal treatments alone.
Masterclass material. Great song, great arrangement. Highly Recommended.
Hear The Track HereThe Deep is a new name to me, in this case a rock band from somewhere in America who I stumbled across over at Popspace and you know I'm always up for a bit o' that. However, as I always do in situations like this, I need to explain that I have different views on what constitutes rock and not much of that is American. I had an early exposure to bands such as Kansas, Styx and a million other wannabes and that's not healthy for a human being who likes red meat. Ted Nugent anyday, know wharr I mean? The reason I am ejaculating such testosterone into the air is because - the first time I heard it - I got a flashback to an awful concert in Germany with the aforementioned K band that soured me for a long time.
Oh, good. Nothing personal then.
There again, as any regular readers will already know, I am very quick about spotting artists who (cough) know what they are doing. Yeah, there's a thing. The Deep appear to be a two peice band but you certainly would think that for the first skim through of Beyond The Veil (Ed: Oooh, wonder what that's about?) they numbered at least fifty. Certainly not at the beginning mind, just once it get's rocking... The beginning is what got the hairs on the back of neck doing a wtf dance; stylistically and musically this could have come from prog-rock circa 1976. Even the production kicks in with a clear, uncluttered and very typical mix and sound.
Aaah, but would you like it?
Funnily enough, I'd say it would be an even bet. T'ain't the kind of rock that drives me, but it isn't the kind of rock that drives me away either; although its leaning towards prog-rock (intentional or otherwise) definitely causes me problems. I guess that also has to be my personal opinion too because you couldn't pick a fault with the way Beyond The Veil has been put together, musically or any other way. Big hair rock played for highbrows eh? That was always my impression but hey, I've often been wrong and I'll be the first to admit it.
Excellent slow Rock track. Recommended.
Hear The Track HereOr just plain ol' Youth as many of those who know him refer to him. I guess the UK came about because there are probably millions of the you't. Anyfekkinhow, THIS Youth is a musician from London who I've known forever (or at least it seems like that), and you may have (unsuspecting like) have actually seen him on a Channel Four program a few days ago. See, it's GOOD to know stars! Reason is, Youth devotes enormous acres of time finding and nuturing young musicians who have the same deft touch with soulful R&B as the man does himself. In the process he has given me some stonking tracks down the years, and he is always a jaw-dropping listen - especially if you like the genre anyway.
It's been a long, long while since I've heard anything from him though, so this came along at just the right time. Youth is joined on Guessing Games by Frank H Carter III of whom I know precisely nuffink. As sure as a touch as Youth has with R&B, I know for a fact he's also a jazz head of the first order and on this track he is dabbling in both his main food groups. Guessing Games is a superlative production, it goes without saying; that's always been one of the HUGE strengths of this artist. There's also a beautifully relaxed arrangement going on beneath the vocal fireworks that you probably won't notice straight away, because of those self-same vocals.
You'll be too busy picking your jaw up off the floor.
The highlight of this track - as good as it is technically and musically - has just got to be the liquid tones of Frank H Carter III, a vocalist from the old school who uses his voice as an instrument rather than a karaoke machine. The kind of singer who takes great pride in delivering the kind of vocal performance truly worthy of a real world situation. People often accuse me of being a little too over-enthusiastic about certain artists and track but come on.... Some of them just cry out for a little justice. This one shouts it from the rooftops. Everything is in the right place and it all sounds awesome; if this were X Factor this would be a shoo-in.
MUST HAVE. Unique blend of R&B and jazz. Killer.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Hear The Track HereWell, here it is December already so it must be Fear 2 Stop time. In case you have been offplanet for about four years, Fear 2 Stop is a multi-hued beast many Soundclickers have become familiar with, sometimes totally unwittingly and that can often come as a shock. As you can see by the oh-be-joyful sentiment expressed in the title, Fear 2 Stop are not ones to tread lightly on subjects you or I are adept at dodging. For the sake of overall sanity, ya understand. They started off 2007 in fine form, delivering Crawlspace, Givin' In and The Napkin Fairy all of which I thoroughly enjoyed but since then, nothing that really caught my ear.
I entered the Path Of Destruction with the usual aplomb...
The wariness that Fear 2 Stop often arouse in me is because I'm never sure which way they will go; the hit-miss combination that has dogged them since forever or the new, tougher version I like a lot more. See, the last couple of tracks have been a slight return to the inward-looking, musical devilry they exhibited in the early days. OK examples of what the band do but not anything that could reach out to a wider audience like the other tracks I have mentioned. Luckily Path Of Destruction is the best of both worlds; some of the essential oddness that characterises Fear 2 Stop with a muscular, driving backline.
Fear 2 Stop have made a feature of their work an unerring ability to go for the cheese and milk it for all it's worth and Path Of Destruction has a couple of classic examples. A stringy synth is the first culprit; the kind of sound you get in a game and turn off as quickly as possible. I can't say I am overly impressed by the whistling piano sound either but at least there are some interesting thinsg going on with. As I say, I prefer the more propulsive side of Fear 2 Stop and this fits the bill in more ways than one.
Hear The Track HereLike a great many electronic minded musician, I whiled away acres of time a few years ago playing around with programs like Rebirth and the like. I've always been a fan of the original instruments so it follows that I would be interested in a software version of it. Having spent the aforementioned acres of time seeing what Rebirth and it's endless clones were all about. My electronica phase, probably all the good, came to a rapid end. The chief reason (no pun intended) that comes about is because if there is one musical genre that really gnaws on my patience it's techno and the ilk. Obviously I am foaming at the mouth because I have just spent some time listening to Remergence's version of the music I must not mention.
Coming to a track like this from my viewpoint, there is bound to be a bit of antipathy, but Remergence chooses a much lighter and coherent groove than you would expect; mainly based around a cut up female vocal that works extraordinarily well with such an out and out electronica blitz. I think it's that which saves Probably from an early visit from the Delete Button. That isn't to say that the musical side of this is somehow bad or wrong. It isn't, and I always look hard for spare ammo to lob at artists, as you all well know.
Where it does step out of the ordinary is in the use and inclusion of that female vocal I mentioned. It gives the track that essential spice it would have otherwise have missed. At that stage of the game, a techno track is a techno track, know what I mean? The vocal enters the picture initially as a series of notes before developing into a full blown yo mama vocal vocoded to within an inch of its life which - as it happens - is exactly what I wanted to hear from this genre. Not sure if this is a real vocalist or not (not samples for instance), but if it is, that is a voice well worth hearing.
Surprisingly commercial electronica. Recommended.
Hear The Track HereIt never ceases to amaze me the contortions some people go through to make up a bandname. I got the name right in the title but I'll be jiggered if I'm gonna do it all the way through this review. iOD!NE (OK, so I lied) is a new name to me from MP3 Unsigned and that's probably more my fault than his/hers theirs... Looks like a band too, although there is a distinct lack of information on their webpage other than that they are Canadian, but they make up for it with some good artwork so that's OK. Anyhoo, whereas other experimental artists write reams about their various influences, iOD!NE (Ed: stop already with the fancy stuff, we all know cut and paste!)lists but a mere one. Bay City Rollers. More mental than experimental if you catch my drift...
Meander is probably more rock than any kind of experimental that I've ever heard of, and some particularly fine rock at that. OK so it's all a bit prog-rock and there is a sickening sense of deja-vu while listening and although I've always had plenty of bile for the genre, I've often had time for some of the musicians who play in this field. After all, these are generally more fluid and polished musicians than most headbangers, and even the slightest drive by listen to Meander will show you exactly what I am talking about. While you are at it, bear in mind that I really, really, really don't like this genre - it always seems pompous and overblown to me.
Aaah, but in other hands....
Iodine (Ed: Yaaay he's cured!!) have lots of things going on for them enabling them to scale the mountain of my predjudice with consummate ease. See, they have a massive ace in the hole, an axeman the like of which you won't have heard much. Certainly this is some of the very best guitar work I have heard in my long, long sentence of reviewing unsigned artists. The song comments section is full of many of the same compliments as I have heaped on their puny shoulders, and many references to Steve Vai/Satriani. All of which should be slamming you upside the head with but one thought - grab this track. Right now. If you have ever been a fan of wonderful guitar players, meet the next generation because it's a meeting I've thoroughly enjoyed, and remember technically I'm a philistine... A seriously good guitar player, encased in the right production, what more could you want?
Rock God. MUST HAVE.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Hear The Track HereInteresting that this track came back to back in the review list with Souls In Chains, again giving me fresh contrasts on a familiar theme. LMS Miami is an artist who should be familiar to you if you take an interest in the genre. I've reviewed around three of his tracks now and haven't always been for the music but the guy can sure spit the verbals. Produced by Beta Control (Ed: who? what?) The End Of The World sounds like a nice cosy experience, so let's blithely trip to our dooms eh?
Hey, why is everyone running away? ;)
LMS is a rapper who as always aimed at the more accessible end of the rap world, and I do believe that this is the first time I have heard him absolutely nail it. Looking back over those past reviews, I see now what he was trying to do and, boy was it ever worth it. The End Of The World is nothing like as heavy as it sounds, it's almost acoustic sound keeps the interest perfectly. That surely would have been enough for any mortal but then LMS wallops a whole shedload of new tricks, including a much more pointed production and arrangement than I have heard from this artist. A perfect complement even.
At it's heart, The End Of The World is an extremely accessible, very pop sensible track that snatched my attention from the getgo. I've always liked the man's flow but again on this track his voice becomes an essential part of the propellant that drives it to the wall. As much as I liked the Soul In Chains track, I have to admit this was the more surprising track to me personally, and that's down to me knowing how much he has put into this. As good as he may feel about the way this track came out, I feel just as good. For him and for me and you. Wanna hear some class rap that understands what a 'hook' means? This here is it. So radio friendly it comes with a free ear massage.
Yo Miami, just keep rockin. MUST HAVE rap.
Hear The Track HereSoundclick is an enormous site. You can spend weeks in there and only just scratch the surface; and that's just the main R&B/Hip Hop categories not to mention the hundreds of other - obviously not so popular or commercial - genres that the site wallows under. So, that's my excuse for not hearing of Souls In Chains (great name btw). It's obvious they have been on the 'Click for a while because the message board and page/plays stats tell another story. Best thing about it is that they describe themselves as 'a dark and downbeat fusion of Hip Hop, Gothic Rock, and Screamo'. Now I don't know about you but IF they could actually pull something like that off, it would be well worth listening to. Wouldn't it?
AAAh, you have that wary, sceptical glint in your eye... Trust no-one.
One of the things I like most about rap is the wordplay. As you may have noticed I have a savage glee with my own language and I'm always happy to come across lyricists who do the same thing musically. Not only are Souls In Chains excellent rappers, they exhibit a surprising sophistication; especially lyrically. Full marks then because they are the very FIRST rappers I have ever reviewed on Soundclick who post their words along with the track. I sure wish other rappers would take note, because - as I say - words are one of the major joys of rap music. Its certainly the centrepoint of this track, although its very competent musically too which shouldn't be overlooked.
Sleep With Angels has been number one in both the Hardcore Rap and Hip Hop charts for a while and rightly so because it's a tour-de-force and streets ahead most of the stuff around. My only whine (there's always one) is that I think the vocals have been somewhat over-compressed; there's some noticeable volume changes and a shrillness to the vocal. Mind you, that may well be just the ringing in my ears. Lyrically, Sleep With Angels seems to be a track about topping yourself (Ed: he means commiting suicide) which - as you can imagine - is a tad harrowing should you be a pussy. Looked at another way, it's a telling glimpse into personal desperation. It mind sound grim, but it isn't. It's a tale told well; with conviction and authority. I don't ask for more than that.
Top Class Rap. Highly Recommended. And not a cuss word in sight.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Hear The Track HereFirst Popspace artist up for review this month is a new name to me. No idea what he does or where he is from but I guess that doesn't matter too much eh? We all speak the language of music. There are are elements of classicism in both his writing and his music which kinda led me to expect something...er....new age. Just goes to show that one should never let ones assumptions into the driving seat because you are libale to crash and burn as I did with this excellent track. The only vaguely new-ageist thing about is the lyrics which are based on a poem written in the 16th Century.
See, I told you this was a brainy one :P
The music, however, has some finely honed musculature to go with the grey matter and one of the most powerful pairs of lungs you are likely to hear this side of nirvana. I Don't Know What is in fact a hybrid; partly rock (of several stripes), partly soul (especially the vocals) and partly anything else that fits. Surprisingly enough, once the dust had settled after the initial excitement of the first few plays, it started getting better again.
There's a lot going on in there Jim lad.
There's some lovely musical moments; the guitars especially overall but in the quasi-Queen sections they burn down the house. Not anything like as fiery as the vocals courtesy of Ms Cynthia Lugo; the kind of voice you are not likely to experience that often. Lending that to an almost prog-rock arrangement should be sinful and probably is, but by God it feels so natural that you don't even question it. Can't say I'm over-excited about the mix but I tell you what you can hear everything that's going on and that's saying something. As I said it's a very full track.
Highly Recommended blend of Pop, soul and spiritual.
Hear The Track HereThe first artist this month from MP3 Unsigned is an old mate, Redshirt Theory whose IDM stylee has captured my ears a time or two over the last year or so - and I don't particularly like dance that much. Mind you, I do like almost everything so long as its done well and has plenty to say and on that score it's not surprising that Redshirt Theory should be such a big deal on that site. Funnily enough, I haven't seen them on any other site whatsoever so maybe if you want to check them out - and I heartily suggest you do - you'll have to drag your sorry ass to MP3 Unsigned to do it. One thing is for sure, if they were on other websites, they would do just as well.
They gave me a Must Have last year with Good Grace, a collaborative effort with Mark Holley who I've also reviewed extensively. Add to that a honourable mention as a rising star in my year end review 2006 and I'd say they've had a good year. 2007 has been well quiet though, and that's partly my fault. So let's make up for that right now. It's a given that I would like the dance side of this track, as I've already stated my preference for this artist but the inclusion of collaborators Tartan Rascals supplying crunchy guitars and excellent vocals made me wet my pants.
Luckily, I've always got spares.
Pretty much most of the intro will be familiar if you know this artists work, showing there is a reason why this style is known as intelligent dance music. Lets face it, almost anyone could put together a dance track but not many artists can make a dance track that keeps you amused/bemused/amazed for its entire length. Filling up almost six and a half minutes of dead air is a difficult task in itself, filling it up with interesting, variable and extremely enjoyable sounds is nigh on impossible but - curse them - Redshirt Theory and the Tartan Rascals manage so well they make you want to spit. Well done all. Remember those Frankie Goes To Hollywood mixes and remixes from the '80's? This is their bastard child all grown up and worldly wise.
Exceptional dance. MUST HAVE.
Hear The Track Here
Is this the one that gives you roughage??
Butterflies for Breakfast are actually about as palatable as it gets in a brisk, power pop kind of way and I started listening to the track before I started to find out what else they were about. I'm much given to Irish music and - given the overall sound - I would have sworn that this band were from the Emerald Isle. Especially given that the whole song was about a well known Irish myth. You could have roped and hogtied me and branded my ass with Kiss Me Quick and I would have been less surprised than when I discovered that the band were from Sugarland, Texas. They look like a five peice, and definitely kick up enough racket for five exhuberant, hormone charged youngsters...
Just the thing for what ails the RW music business.
It is, of course, the reason we see them here too because they may well be potentially good for whatever is left of the music business when the dust settles, but in the meantime they are still paying the dues, doing the do.... Very nicely doing it too, if Four Leaf Clover is any indication. If that is the case, I hope they have a lot more than the two tracks on their page in reserve because the Soundclick is a hungry beast. Four Leaf Clover makes up in performance and energy what it lacks in polish and pazazz and that may well be the best compliment I can pay this band.
At heart, Four Leaf Clover is a terrific song, delivered in classic manner with what seems like hundreds of sing-along lines and those moments you give youself a hernia trying to sing. Hooks we call them, where I come from, and God knows there is a distinct lack of them in the current indie scene. THIS is the kind of music I want to listen to, coming from a youth NOT spent navel gazing at the meaning of life, merely living it as best they can. Judged by this one example - as rough as it is - we are going to be hearing a lot more of Butterflies for Breakfast, and that's just from me.
Excellent (if a little rough edged) indie pop. Warm, accessible pop. Highly Recommended.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Hear The Track Here
Sumit, as you might have guessed, is a musician from India. He's also another new musician to me who I first met when I reviewed Changes (November 2007) and his first impression was remarkable. Changes grabbed a Must Have from me, and not many new artists manage to do that. New to Soundclick that is, because obviously judging by my hug-a-bunny excitement levels, the music would have to be of a very standard indeed. Now, here's the pay attention section; Changes is a dyed in the wool blues track of the first order and I'll fight any man (I dont bash ladies) who disagrees. (Ed: we won't insure you Gilmore, but we will hold your coat). S'right. De Blues. From India. The Ganges has a delta dunnit???
God, I'm argumentative tonight :D
In case you haven't guessed yet, Sumit is an axeman. Not a chopper of wood or people but strangler, distorter and perverter of strings. The kind who litter the streets of the western world ten a penny and now - apparently - also in India. Got to go some then to make any headway in a fairly crowded field. However, there are guitarists and guitarists, if you catch my drift. Sumit cites Jeff Beck, Jimi who art in heaven and Pat Metheny as influences and that is about as accurate a musical reference as I could come up with. Funnily enough, it's an amazingly good blend and managing to contain the almost prog rock feel to the minimum.
He obviously knows that brings me out in spots.
I don't think Whiff Of Home has the same impact on me as Changes did, but that shouldn't in any way detract from the high competence levels on display. Whoever is playing on this knows exactly what they are doing and how to get it done in the most efficient manner possible. Sounds like they are having a whale of a time doing it too and that's probably the most essential ingredient; the performance is of a very high order indeed. There again, that was the thing that first drew me to Changes too. That and the faultless production lavished on both tracks. A testimony as to why rock will never die.
Classy Jeff Beck influenced rock. Highly Recommended.
Hear The Track HereWe all of us have our crosses to bear but most musicians on the internet are struggling with the limitations of the kit they are working with. It as surprising as it is, that I still manage to find much talent on Soundlcick and elsewhere. Some are good enough for the real world, some are too good for the real world (if you know what I mean) but the bulk of them are on the road. I first met Mike Romig when I reviewed Whatever I Do (November 2007) and one track does not a career (such as it is) make. Although he is filed under Pop, Whatever I Do was smooth jazz that even I could recommend, and you know I have an aversion to things soft and squishy.
At the time of the review I mentioned that the only thing that really held the track back was the 'factory' sounds so often employed by the great unwashed army of the bedroom musician - of which I consider myself a due paying member. I've produced my share of this stuff but IM(very)HO unless you shape and hone the instrumental sound the damn thing just doesn't emote. In my world, that is a requirement of what makes a track eminently worthy of hanging onto. Given the variety we net listeners are bombarded with, you have to stand out to have a chance no matter how talented you are. The reason I've gone on about this (Ed: and on and on and on...) is because presentation IS the name of the game.
I liked what Mike did with his previous track and I like what he's done with Too Far. There's no doubting that Mike Romig is an experienced and adept musician (although not to my mind a pop one) because the track you will hear has lots to offer, with the exception of those sounds and one other thing. I really like what Mike has done vocally with Too Far, although it doesn't sound quite finished; either that or I detect a hint of uncertainty a couple of times. Whatever it (and the overall production) do tend to blunt the tracks obvious impact. It IS a good song, and not a bad arrangement but the sounds do not back up that moody menace. Take for example, that kick. Nice. Meaty, solid. The sort of thing you want to bash your head against of a Saturday night. Compared to that, the rest of the sounds seem tame and staid in comparison.
Or maybe its just me talking bollocks again.