Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Sugar Dames - Enough For You

Hear The Track Here

My last track for review this month is a personal pick and not for the obvious reasons. Regular readers - on clicking the link above - will probably sigh and mumble something about me being 'at it' again. I admit that I like things of beauty (Ed: yes, he does mean women this time) and I ventured on to the Sugar Dames site because I saw their image on Soundclick's front page. The music, I freely admit, was a mere spectator to my baser desires. Anyway, if the image hadn't have got me, the tag 'Melodic, Sultry, Soothing, Rock, Sexy' would have done and at this point, I think I rest my case...

and my dirty old man raincoat.

As well as a striking image, it took me all of say ten seconds to realise that all this was just eye candy, LISTEN to the track. I am an absolute sucker for sultry female vocals, they are my favourite kind to work with in my own musical sphere, and they are my favourite to listen to - especially when trying to wind down. The Sugar Dames feature two, ideally suited to work together. I have to admit to a preference to the main vocal which sends shivers down my spine, a world class vocalist, displayed to perfection on the two tracks presently resident on their Soundclick page. Of course, I'd be wrapping up the review at this point if that was all there was to this excellent Alternative artist.

The Sugar Dames just happen to be crack songwriters too, and in a very modern, intense way that perfectly complements their style. As the vocalist in this track sings 'am I enough for you?', yes, yes and yes. All joking aside, Enough For You is an absolutely diamond song, delivered in such a way you just know it could be a massive hit in the (obviously blind and deaf) Real World. In this case beauty and musical brains make for a very potent combination, especially (so it now appears) to reviewers of the male gender (that's me.) Don't let the looks fool you, these ladies are deadly serious.

Killer Alternative. MUST HAVE. (Please can we have some more, mistresses??)

Svenni Bjorgvins - Into The Wind

Hear The Track Here

(shameful mode ON)No matter how prodigious a reviewer I am I can only manage to highlight a very small percentage of Soundclick's artists. I mean, this site is fnerkin HOOOGE. Filled to the rafters with 'listen to this, listen to this'. I say this because having seen Svenni Bjorgvins (Iceland, seeing as you asked) name a million times I have only JUST got round to reviewing him and indeed the first time I have ever heard him. See why I'm in shameful mode now? Well, it gets worse... See, you know how I like to creep around the really successful artists and I MISSED this guy. He's been around (on SC) since 2004 and obviously been very busy. Let's correct this massive oversight right now. (shameful mode OFF)

Doesn't the sight of me grovelling disgust you? I know. Shameless.

As you would expect from such longevity and enviable play/chart figures, the key word here is professional. Actually, two words - highly professional. I am a big fan of the blend of country and pop started by Bob Dylan - to which this track is an obvious musical reference. Especially the Dylan of Nashville and Travelling Wilburys. Like all music, this will be a personal taste but it does have one huge asset in its favour. It has a song strong enough to get over most people's predjudice given half a chance at its core. Give a listen to the chorus and if it hasn't grabbed you by then welllll....

you are just a philistine :P

The lyrics were written by April Ragland, put to music (quickly apparently) by Svenni and whipped into the studio to bring it all before our undeserving ears. Right glad I am that they did that because Into The Wind is exactly the kind of track I love; full of space, light, good vibes and a great chorus to go with it. The backline behind the vocals is very full (bass, guitars,drums, gorgeous organ) and spread right across the spectrum giving this track its all-enveloping feel. Whichever way I put it, you are not going to hear anything like this kind of quality that often so grab it now while you may.

First rate track. A well deserved MUST HAVE.

SDzeta - Professor Spaceton and the Mysterious Planet

Hear The Track Here

I have to admit that my spirits plummeted when I visited this artists site to download this track and spotted more than a couple of Mario kinda/sorta track. Now I'm as much into fat Italian plumbers (Ed: readers should be aware that he is talking about the Nintendo game character not real plumbers - whatever the nationality) as the next guy and I also admit that I do enjoy the music of the various Mario games (please note my emphasis) in the game. Listening to game music in a non-game environment is akin to listening to dance music while sitting on your fat ass, complete non-starter. Anyhow, Prof Spaceton etc also carries the following cryptic comment 'G.A.M.E 2'

Who said 'uh oh'?

SDZeta is a new name to me and - from what I can gather - not only new to Soundclick but to making music in general. Hey we all got to start somewhere and at least he chose his software well. See, us Fruity users stick together. It's obvious that I would cut a certain amount of leeway because of that but even so if a track isn't up to it, why say different. It's to SDZeta's credit that I find myself not having to cut him any slack at all because this track is very good, even on a production/mix level.

OK, there is a certain amount of sameness about the sounds and rhythms but the way the arrangement works would keep most peoples minds of how flat it sounded. Having said that, the mix is surprisingly clear and balanced and given the genre - Electronic Ambient - it certainly helps to sustain the track. Essentially this is 'an atmospheric space song in 2 parts' as the man says and you either goning to be into this or not on that basis. On the part of this musician I'd say well done, this is a well organised, well thought out track that should gain you many listeners.

Highly Recommended Electronic Ambient. (Yep, I said that!)

Zebrabook - It's Only Rock and Roll

Hear The Track Here

Most people know that I'm as friendly as a three day old puppy and will speak to anybody, about anything. It means that you get to know lots of different folks which, as you can imagine, can get a bit hairy. People are strange, innit? Five or six years ago I was doing my thing on another site and while there happened to encounter the World's Scariest Man, who then proceeded to collude with other Scary Men to launch upon the world something infinitely, infinitely double scary. The band went by the name of the Dead Company and - while they were active - they gathered a devoted (or else probably) fanbase who remember them to this day - including li'l ol' me.

Hey, I miss the chill up the spine. what can I say?

Jon Bushaway was the aforementioned World's Scariest Dude and lo - Zebrabook is his latest incarnation. The other thing, besides panic, that I remember about that time was the prodigious length of some of the Dead Company's tracks. It would appear that time has taught Jon nothing whatsoever about the qualities of brevity because It's Only Rock And Roll is an astounding twelve minutes long. The sort of track that should come with an in-built intermission, which indeed it may do but I was too busy with other things to notice.

It seemed like seconds before I had remembered (and started to reuse) yet another facet of being around this dude's music. So if I seem to be looking over my shoulder a lot, try and ignore it I'm sure it will go away. Despite being, on the face of it, just this side of experimental chaos there is a distinct musical brain operating the pedals as I learned long ago. To be sure, Zebrabook is a somewhat lighter entity but just as wtf! wtf! wtf! WAS THAT!!! as ever. It's Only Rock and Roll (which it most definitely isn't btw) isn't a track to be taken lightly but if you are a fan of well thought out, evocative soundscapes that Zebrabook is calling you. Just don't forget your anti-impending doom pills.

Twelve minutes of subliminal masterly mayhem. Highly Recommended experimental soundscape.

The Antennaheadz - I Never Found A Reason Until Today

Hear The Track Here

From being the l'enfant terrible of experimental (and I really mean that folks) sounds as Station For Imitation, through the sax toting work in TMFSD and latterly, the lo-fi alternative approach of the latest series of The Antennaheadz releases, Thomas J (who is ALL of them) likes to keep himself busy and us guessing. Which is no bad thing when looked at that way. However, starting this new style off with a blinding Loveless Blues (October 2007 Must Have doncha know) has spewed out a few very interesting variations on that theme, some really knockout and some not so, but all of them are class examples of what this artist is up to these days.

All you have to do is like it - or not.

I Never Found A Reason Until Today is 'recorded in one take with an acoustic guitar' according to the man. Now if you had told me when I was struggling through such Station For Imitation gems as Television Will Eat Your Head and Frown there, Smile here that I would be listening to the same guy knocking out a few chords on a guitar and (kinda/sorta) singing some words and loving every minute of it, I'd have called you a few choice names and sent my boys around to chew at your ankles. Not possible, Guv'nor might well have been my response.

My, how things have changed.

The 'thing' that's changed most, of course is Thomas himself and while I admit that the man might well still be the acquired taste he always had been, that taste is now becoming impeccable. So, I described the track above and I think - on balance - I was probably being kind. The chord strums are essentially markers for the lyrics and about as basic as it gets. The review would have ended at 'From being the l'enfant terrible of exp' has this been any other artist; what kept me listening was the vocal and the lyrics. So, it's yer basic song demo, and it shows that Thomas can write a song and keep it under control. Hey, in the world I've come from with this guy, this is a huge distance. It happens to be a cool little song too.

Recommended for Dansette fans because that was when the song last mattered.

Refrag - Cant Opener/Deligion

Hear The Track Here

Life on the internet is very fluid and fast moving, as most of us find out very quickly. In this ridiculously information filled age, it really easy to lose sight of someone who once you were talking to 2-3-4 times a day. This is especially true of musicians in general and musicians on Soundclick in particular. Because of the endless hassles Soundclick was having a couple of years ago, this site lost some very valued musicians (Sylvan and Bonamici immediately spring to mind) and none more so - IMHO - than my old mate Desbo aka Ridd aka Refrag. I run into him on the odd Saturday night over on Songplanet but keeping up with his musical output has become increasingly hard. However, I saw this track enter the Songplanet charts a week or so ago so I thought YEAH!!!

Alrighty then...

The reason I value a musician like Refrag is because he is insane. Musically speaking that is, hes quite a nice chap in real life. Like another long absent friend Burp, Refrag set Soundclick alight a few years ago with some stunning peices of musical anarchy (all wrapped up in a neat choon), most of it is still here so go listen. Like all of Refrag's output Cant Opener is some seriously weird ****, ducking and diving to the manner born, although - being a diehard fan - I did find it a little lightweight in sound for this usually inspired musician.

Still, any Refrag in a storm, know what I mean?

Musically, the track has more in common with jazz and free jazz than almost anything else but that is way too small a pigeonhole for what Refrag actually sounds like. Take a structure such this, mix in some silly/treated voices, the odd boing to keep it all cooking and - above all - rhythms that suck your mind. The ending is exactly the kind of aural trick I expected from him and I look forward to that every time I've played it. It's the silly things that matter innit? While I was rushing about trying to pin this track down, I did notice a new(ish) track on Soundclick callled Deligeon which has remarkable similarities to it and is much, more the Refrag I know and love and is possibly a later version. It certainly sounds like it. Get your butt Refragged, you'll never look at life the same again.

MUST HAVE musical lunacy, listen/download both for it to make sense.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Stephen Bellm - Raga Primavera

Hear The Track Here

I've long known that Chris Bishop (aka Project Overseer and sole prop of POP) and I were fellow travellers, musically and spiritually and - for him - thats a bloody good job too. One of my cast iron rules of reviewing is that I don't do streams. Listening to something online is a completely different experience to living with a track on a regular basis, and this month's Chris Bishop pick is a track I am forced to listen to online. MMmmOk, I thought, I swing by once or twice and see whether it catches my fancy. As if. See, I know Chris wouldn't do this to me unless he thought the track was that good.


In a comment about the song Chris writes 'this is an `audiophile` recording' and I couldn't agree more, but that does it cold technical justice. For nerds such as me and him (Ed: he and I?) that is food and drink indeed, but the extra ingredient has to be that the track lives and breathes. Raga Primavera is the kind of track that comes along every once in a while that will - quite truly - blow your socks off. Aurally, spacially and especially right between the ears. It's five minutes, twenty of sheer aural bliss.

Musically this is right up my street. An acutely realised blend of Indian and Western rhythms and instruments. Put it like this, this is the kind of track I wish I could make. If that doesn't tell you how much this track impressed me, let me go off on (yet another) tangent. I am very much into the sax, as shown by my championing of such leading lights as Jim Miller, and I love to hear it used intelligently in today's music. Welp, now young Jimbo better look to his laurels because I see Stephen Bellm coming from left field.

Awesome World Music. MUST HAVE (or listen anyway)

Rude Corps - Bedridden

Hear The Track Here

Ever since the Beatles first hit the scene back in the early 1960's pop has had a love affair with the Northern English voice. Doesn't seem to matter either which side of the north you are talking about either. There are just as many great voices out of Newcastle as their are out of Manchester or Liverpool. I get started with this because one of the many facets of Rude Corps has been, of late anyway, featured the vocal tones of either Sir or Neil O'Brien (aka Rude Corps himself), both of which have that flat, nasal delivery which is so effective in certain kinds of music.

Britpop is a particular brand of music and if anything fits that description it has to Bedridden, and it marks yet another difference in sound for this artist and one I can definitely get into. Obviously anybody's first point of reference is going to be Blur, which this track most closely resembles in sound and structure. The sound and mix really helps to establish the song quickly, pulling the listener in as all good pop tracks should. It's a surprisingly soft, gentle track that - lets face it - comes right out of the blue. The last sort of track I would expect from this particular artist.

It has its hard edge though because if you dig a little deeper and eyeball the lyrics you'll see that the subject matter is anything but soft and gentle. Now that IS typical of Rude Corps. Can always be relied upon to come up with lyrics that get only too close to their subject matter. Music that is intelligent, relaxing and aurally as clear as a bell, what more could any sane man ask for? Bedridden has such a great feel, a kind of vague hopelessness that seeps through the music like settling sediment. It was that quality that finally convinced me that this is probably the best thing I have heard from this artist yet.

Highly Recommended Britpop.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Buzrk - The Place For Me

Hear The Track Here

Over the space of a few months and as many tracks, I have become very familiar with Buzrk, a hip hop artist whose work I haven't always been favourable towards unfortunately. Mind you, I've also watched him getting around the problems I pointed and getting a damn sight tighter into the bargain. Of course you can still tell that this is a rap recorded over a backing track in some lo-fi fashion, but Buzrk has become a lot clearer lyrically of late and - for a rapper - that can never be a bad thing.

With another cracking Anno Domini produced track, it's also clear to see he wants to work with the best. It does show, acutely, the difference between the two so it is best to remember that he's still working this out. For me it is a bit of return to his earlier form after the high of Emissary (March 2008) which showed that he definitely had something. Again, the difference between the music and the rap is fairly glaring but maybe that's just my ears because it ultimately comes out sounding OK. Moreso of course after a few plays.

There is no disputing that Buzrk puts a lot of effort and energy into both his words and his performance but that does pay a cost in audio quality because that same energy causes lots of volume problems. Nothing that Buzrk doesn't handle properly and, given his track record, this isn't a track so greatly marred as some of his earlier works. As I say, a few plays smooth out the initial lumps, especially if you are familiar with this artist. In the meantime, I'll still look for the next Emmisary.

Yep Mr Ockard :P

The Peach Tree - Foals - Electric Bloom (Vampires Lament Mix)

Hear The Track Here

Yet another artist this month who has submitted a remix of someone elses track. Mind you after overdosing on Big Wheel Remixes, I'm probably ready for another one. This time it's Austrailian artist The Peach Tree who I have reviewed a couple of times now and found to be an interesting electronica musician and you don't get to put those words together very often. As always when reviewing music of this kind (ie remixes) I always like to refer back to the original to find out what exactly has been added/taken away. The original in this case being a Last FM band called the Foals who sound somewhat like the Cure. I might play it once or twice but it isn't something I'd normally want to listen to. Foals offered this track for remix and it looks like a lot of people did exactly that.

So how does The Peach Tree stack up?

He kept the jangly guitar sound that studs the original and the vocals (which he seems to have cured of their Cure sound) and added his own bass and drums and other assorted oddities tucked away here and there. The track has also been lengthened enormously coming in at a porky seven minutes and change; it's long, long long. It definitely could have lost a couple of minutes easily and still retained enough of what is good about the track rather than something acting as filler.

The main problem with this track, at least for me, is that often the bass and drums didn't fit with what was happening vocally. The original is quite slick and polished and that drive is missing here, replaced by a much slower, electronic feel which isn't bad in itself as the intro shows (the final couple of minutes stand out too) but the changes between the actual parts of the song are ragged. Surprisingly enough though, it does grow on you, mainly down to the vocals admittedly because when they weren't happening not much else was either.

Britpop and electronica remix.

Dard Productions - Stand The Test Of Time

Hear The Track Here

At first I thought Dard productions was a new name to me (as indeed it is), but I've since discovered a couple of familiar names are part of it. Essentially Dard Productions consists of four musicians from Canada, the US and Europe; Denis Couture, Rick Roman, Andrew Foyston (better known as AndyF) and Deborah Ivri. I have, of course, reviewed loads of AndyF tracks and even encountered Deborah Ivri - working with Onager who I also reviewed this month - on Arrival At The Gates (January 2008). So two known quantities there, and a couple of unknowns but even the most cursory of listens to this track will show you that stylistically this is four people who know exactly what they are doing.

Having said that I have to preface my own comments with a little proviso. I don't actually like songs of this style (a mix of epic spacerock music and classical music) and I found the can I say this? A bit tame. This is very much a personal opinion because this track is as good as you are likely to hear anywhere, musically and technically and what it comes down to in the end is personal preference. Tell you what, it's only a short track give it a listen if the description has given you more than a headache...

I've played this and played it (in order I guess to justify my criticism) I finally concluded that it was the arrangement of the song - as opposed to the arrangement of the music - that was putting me off. See, Stand The Test Of Time contains some extremely strong lyrics, and Deborah is a good singer so why didn't it gel? Well, I think that the culprit is the structure of the song. Although it sounds like there should be peaks and valleys, the final thing comes across as very linear - almost like an exercise. Such criticism shouldn't keep you from making up your own mind, of course, because the music is certainly good enough and most people wouldn't notice a peak or valley if they tripped over one.

Recommended Orchestral rock.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

David Orrick - Portland Avenue

Hear The Track Here

or david Orrick to be absolutely precise. When I went to download this track my heart leapt into my mouth at the thought of yet another wrestle with my least favourite genre, soundtracks. Obviously David sussed that one out at the start and in fact picked Portland Avenue (an instrumental rock track) for review. Does this guy know me or what? So, david Orrick, who he? He is a musician from sunny, exotic Littlehampton (Ed: it's neither of those things) and the sharper readers will have already registered that we have met this musician before, in a different guise.

Jeebbers, I think I've overdosed on the Stan Lee meds today!!

If the words Burble and Pine don't remind you of the last drunken stupor and you remember March Of The Truffles (March 2007) as being also nothing to do with the aforementioned stupor, then we are cooking with gas. They are, of course, the same person. I definitely liked March Of Truffles, in every way Portland Avenue does't disappoint me either. There is no doubt that David knows what he's about from arrangement through to production, here is a musician who takes time and care to craft his tracks - and it shows.

So, apart from complete gorgeosity for the ears (Ed: is that even a word Gilmore?. I think he means it is aurally sublime), what else does Portland Avenue have to offer your willing earholes? Guitars. Lots and lots and lots of guitars, obviously you can't get enough of them either. A bit like pianos. So it definitely qualifies for it's rock instrumental status but is it any fekkin good? I should coco. It's bloody awesome, especially if you like a nice quiet shredding of an evening. It comes in at just under five minutes, but believe me you won't notice the time passing because there will be plenty for your ears to fasten themselves on.

Top rate guitar rock. Highly Recommended.

Big Wheel Remixes - Parasite by Jelly's Last Jam

Hear The Track Here

'Big Wheel remixes: what happens when other people let me loose on their stuff' says the man himself. As many of you are only too well aware, Big Wheel has become a Soundclick fixture but this is an offshoot and one that has paid off so far. Mind you, it's early days yet because I've only managed to review one BWR track so far and that was Follow by GingerHouse (January 2008) where we discovered - or rather rediscovered - an essential fact of musical life. You can never have enough pianos. It's also a track I highly recommended so if you haven't heard it yet, it's on the BWR page where Parasite by Jelly's Last Jam also resides.

I have been hundreds of remixes myself and can heartily recommend them for a) inspiration and b) new ways of doing things. The one rule never to forget is that your version should be as different as possible from the original. In other words, can you make it your own track? or at least sound like it. Jelly's Last Jam are a live band from Preston, here in the UK who gave Big Wheel permission to remix their Parasite track, you can find the original here and well good it is too. I am a big fan of this kind of band anyway and - if I hadn't already been listening to the BWR remix - I'd have said the round bugger didn't have a chance of doing anything that radical with it.

Good job I'd already been battering my ears for days then eh?

Should have known better of course because Big Wheel has never been a hit and miss affair, you might not like his style but you can't fault the quality. He brings some of his own nice toys to the party (another essential remix rule) and combined with his trademark DnB feel, he does indeed give a very different feel to the original. Either way, I feel no shame whatsoever in pointing you in either direction; the original OR the remix - they both have lots to offer a discerning listener. Me? I think I prefer Big Wheels bare bones approach.

Excellent remix of an Indie track. Highly Recommended on both tracks.

Retrograde Pop - It Was Only Yesterday

Hear The Track Here

Now, let's see if I cram these terrifying facts into your brains. Retrograde Pop is the risen ghost of many summers past. In fact, it is a snapshot of the activity of one 18 year old Cameron Bastedo. Wait a sec though, the Cam we know as Cam's Even Song (my Artist Of The Year 2006 btw) has got to be - what - 102 years old or something. Are these the same people? Well kinda/sorta. The output of Retrograde Pop is comprised as songs Cam wrote when he was at that delicate age, or at least the ones he can still remember. I reviewed In A Little While (September 2006) and absolutely loved it, but there again I admit to a mighty bias.

It Was Only Yesterday is pure Cam, vintage or otherwise, that relaxed countryfied delivery is nectar for my ears. See, I happen to really like the whole Dylan thing, as a lyricist/poet and as a radical and inspired musician and the one musical reference that can be used most often about Cam is that he sounds like the man. He's also got the songwriting touch you also associate with Dylan and The Beatles (the other main influence), his lyrics are usually meaningful and often very powerful - even though the music has it's own lightness of being. Far as I am concerned, that's a mark of how professional Cam is about all this and all the more reason to savour his entire output.

There is a country bob to this track that I found immediately likeable, but remember that I consider this artist one of Soundclick's finer exponents of great indie music. A mountain of bias for sure. However, most punters I know (Ed: I pray he means listeners) want a couple of things from their 'choons', a good chorus and a feel-good quality about the music and that just about describes this track to a T. However, because of that bias I mentioned, it takes a special Cam track to knock me on my butt and It Was Only Yesterday isn't that. Not that anyone would notice because it sure as **** blows holes out of the competition.

Highly Recommended Pop.

Yoyoman - Flight Simulator Forums

Hear The Track Here

My name is Steve Gilmore and I am a Frequent Flier. Not the kind where you amass a horde of Airmiles, but one where you get to fly ANYTHING with wings. I refer, of course, to the Flight Simulation scene which is enormously popular and has spawned a whole sub-industry of add-on suppliers and hardcore fans such as myself and - obviously - Yoyoman. I have encountered this Belgian musician before on websites and forums and even reviewed Turbofan Adrenaline (June 2005), a track which I found personally appealing but probably because I also spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds.

So to speak.

Yoyoman wrote this track as the introduction music to his new Aviation site at so probably the one thing you shouldn't expect is yer 'normal' musical experience. One of the things that may very well take you a bit by surprise is the velvet voiced geezer welcoming you to the forums, well you need to look at the site to get the general idea. As a peice of music, Flight Simulator Forums is pretty much what you might expect given the nature of the beast. An almost military peice, in fact.

So, obviously it gonna help enormously if you do enjoy the thrills and spills of simulation (reviewer checks to see that he's spelled that correctly) and that you have a liking for more classical sounds. As it is, there isn't much to FSF and it's only a couple of minutes long. It's a sparse musical arrangement, threaded with pilot radio chatter and other airport and or plane sounds. Having said that, Yoyoman knows exactly what he is doing soundwise and the result is definitely listenable. It is certainly something I would play while zooming around the wide blue yonder but I wonder at life beyond that....

Recommended for all propellor heads (no, not that kind...)

Onager - Dagonet (A Radiant Mourning)

Hear The Track Here

It's been a while since I've anything new from Welsh artist Onager, so it was nice to see him sneaking this track onto my review list. An MP3 Unsigned artist, Onager writes electronica in general and soundtracks in particular, and he's usually well worth a listen. With Dagonet (A Radiant Mourning) he's obviously overdosed on film epics (he mentions the excellent 300 and King Arthur in the song comments) and this is his version of the soundtrack to one of those ripping yarns. Now, you know me and soundtracks, as a man once said 'we dannae get on'. Mind you, having seen and marvelled at the work (visual and audio) of the aforementioned 300, this track hit me just right.

The boy nailed it. No question.

So, if you are wuss who can't handle visions of raging hordes of bloodthirsty killers, best look away now. Essentially its a track about one persons sacrifice for the sake of his comrades and that's as fine a sentiment as you can get. Stands to reason then, that the music better be up to the task and Onager delivers an adrenaline rush you are not likely to forget and at almost three minutes long it's a no brainer just to have a quick listen while you are reading this. Just to get your heart pumping, as it were.

Onager has a deft touch in terms of arrangement and the selection of the instruments used, giving the track a lovely acoustic feeling, an openess that helps the impact of the track. Can't say I caught the film thing so much but by my standards this would make a cracking game soundtrack, especially one of those God games and don't even get me started on the Total War series! Anyhoo, Dagonet packs a lot into it's short length and even now, after a few days of hanging with this bad boy it's still keeping me amused - and I fekkin LOVE the tom work. Play loud and fight with the Glorious Few!

MUST HAVE soundtrack.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Can't Stop The Daggers - Faking It Well

Hear The Track Here

Can't Stop The Daggers appear to be living up to their name. In a few short months and a dribble of tracks, (I've reviewed three so far, this being the fourth) this band has established a fairly impressive prescence. It has to be said a lot of that attention has been transferred from Jon Partelow's solo HELLbus project, although the whole of Can't Stop The Daggers (Chris Chattom, Ben Dumbauld) definitely contribute just as much to this project. Essentially it boils down to my favourite word, consistency. The one thing that could be guaranteed from a HELLbus track is audio quality and you can say the same about CSTD.

Even though some of the tracks are little more than 'chalk outlines' of songs (I love that quote!), I'd say that was definitely in the ears of the beholder. Along with their audio control, their definition of unfinished and mine and yours are in two completely different universes. Take, for example, Faking It Well. Billed as a cross between gospel/reggae and '80's keyboard sounds, the track gets right in your face from the getgo. One of those tracks whose overall sound DEMAND that you listen, let alone the quality of the songwriting which - in this case - is about as good as it gets. Although they are probably musical magpies like the majority of musicians around these days, their music pays the proper respect to the genre they cover so nothing sounds out of place.
The band see further work on 'funky live percussion, live drums, and anything else' but I'd suggest you have a listen before you take that too much to heart. See, it's all about perspective. Yes, as a musician, I can see that this track does need some things added to it, but the elements that are present already are more than enough for yer average listener. What they'd find is a wonderfully realised, bang-up-to-date indie song that has so many echoes of musical times past, it's not even funny. Lyrically, too, this delivers like gangbusters, a real treat. As I said in my last review of this band, I predict big things this year - watch this space.

Top of the line Indie. Highly Recommended.(No doubt a Must Have when its finished though....)

Corey Drumz - Talk That Talk (Wat U Say)

Hear The Track Here

At this stage of the game, I think I'd have to 'fess up to a liking for what Corey Drumz (and his various sidekicks) do with their particular brand of hip hop. For my money, Corey has a good commercial ear and he knows how to pick up the kind of music tracks that support what he does, unlike some other rappers I know. Consequently, the regular backing tracks come from the likes of Shadowville, Flawless Beats and Epik The Dawn - who supply this track. See what I mean about picking the right kind of backing tracks?

In all honesty, I can't say that Talk That Talk had the same kind of impact on me as some of his previous tracks but hey, you can't set me on fire every time. Nonetheless, if you already have a taste for all things I.K.E (don't ask) then I'd say here is another track that will fit into your existing library like a glove. Be warned, however, that like a lot of Drumz tracks, Talk That Talk does carry a Parental Advisory. So if a little cussing is going to put you off your lunch, stay away from this.

Corey Drumz isn't an artist who I have found lacking in production nous and this track has much of the same sound as most of his work. I think my main problem comes about because I don't really like the musical backing track. A purely personal thing, ya understand, but hey, it made a difference in my enjoyment. As I say, if you like this artist then what I say will make no difference whatsoever because you will probably like this as much as any of his other tracks. I only make the point that he has made stronger tracks that this. Still streets apart from the bulk of the hip hop scene, but maybe because I favour the NYC sound anyway.

Recommended NYC hip hop.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Largo - Heal In Time

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Third time around for US based Alternative Indie artist David Katsikas (aka Largo), this time with a song he wrote for his little boy when he was born. Being a proud pop myself, I'm bound to like that. Largo hasn't done too badly by me before either, he's had a couple of highly recommendeds from me and that's not bad going - at least by my rules. Which only I know of course. Megalomania, gotta love it. Largo has shown over that couple of tracks that he is a musician who takes this seriously, as the cover of Toy Soldier (March 2008) showed. So, one original, one cover....

Having said all that, I have to say that - under other circumstances - music like this would have me running for the hills. There is a particular strain of American rock music that is plagued by saccarine, sickly sweet almost rock ballads, sung in the most twee manner that instantly sets my teeth on edge. Heal In Time skates right on the very edge of the line between flight and fancy, and most of the kudos for that trick has to rest in the competence and good musical sense of Largo, because the production, arrangement and mix on this are just right. Remember, this is a genre I most definitely dislike with a vengence.

To its eternal credit, the song never wallows in the bathos, merely hints at the sickening depths that most artists of this genre plumb on a regular basis. He's careful with those little production details too, which helps the vocal treatment of this track enormously - especially when faced with an emotional philistine like me. To aid all this, there's a wonderful piano progression punctuating the vocal that I know will have a few thousand other musicians going 'how did he do that?'. There again, I've learnt that this artist always has a few of those moments tucked away. The real big kick in the pants came towards the end of the review process when I found myself humming along with this, that is when it struck me. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself otherwise, I had no choice. I will worry forever about how my reputation will survive this but....(gulp).....

MUST HAVE Indie ballad.

William - Lonely Street

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Although William is a new name to me, it's obvious from his POP page that he's no stranger to this thing we do. For example, his page features no less than 12 pages of material and that's a lot of songs. Looking further I noticed that he'd also done work with Michael Sky and Brett Service two of the more famous artists around, and I know for a fact that their bar is particularly high. It was then that I remembered I've actually reviewed William before as a member of the rock ensemble that gave us Bad Karma Gonna Get You (July 2005), which I reviewed as a dcallen track. Bloody marvelllous it was too. So, now that I know a bit more about this artist it's no surprise that it made such a good impression without knowing anything about the artist at all.

Slick rock is what comes out and it shows that - when you know what you are doing - there is plenty of life left in the ol' rock dog. It goes without saying that as soon as I heard the Hammond, I was caught, trapped. I love that sound and the kinda/sorta rock blues that makes up Lonely Street, uses it to perfection. All that wailing is nothing without a lead guitar in there as well, and that also stands up to the job exceptionally. What comes out at the end of this, is that this is a class track in a great many ways and obviously there is a lot of experience here.

With it's Clapton like sound, and its blues rock arrangement, it should find plenty of takers although it had a couple of problems that marred it for me. Some of the vocals sounded very odd (levelwise anyway) it was extremely noticeable and there is a certain amount of hesitancy in the lead vocal that is off-putting. This is especially noticeable at the very first chorus. Can't say as though most people will notice these things, they will either enjoy this blues rock track or not. I have to say I certainly did, although with the slight proviso I have made. Nonetheless, enough to make me want to hear something from this artist.

Slightly flawed Clapton flavoured blues rock. Recommended for feel and performance.

Pidgeman - I Don't Know (What You Want)

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MP3 Unsigned's Pidgeman had a bit of a rough time from me when I reviewed Wasting Time (March 2008) a track that I felt needed a lot of improvement - a fairly common thread of my reviews of this particular artist. Which is odd because Pidgeman plays rock of various tones, and he plays it well too. Where the wheels start falling off the wagon is when you add into it arrangement, pitch and timing. If it sounds like Pidgeman's work is sub-standard then that isn't true either. He sounds like a very capable musician, although I think even he would have to admit that he's pushing it a bit vocally once or twice. He has done tracks I've liked more in terms of the song, and that is what I was looking for this time...

I have to say that my initial impression of this track was very positive, probably more to do with the fact that this track is yer actual rock, in every way. It also shows, again on first listening, that I Don't Know is at its heart a very, very decent rock song too and - here's the real clincher - the vocals are pretty much spot on. Even after having lived with this track it hasn't paled as much as some his earlier tracks did. Now, I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark here, and say that I think the reason I like this (and why it is so tight) is because this is the material Pideman feel comfortable with - and it shows.

I'm a sucker for a good, crunchy guitar laden, big hair rock song and the more I listened the more this track came to impress me. Again, everything you hear is made by the man himself and hey, give him credit this is r-o-c-k-i-n-g as you will see if you grab a listen right now. If I have a quibble (and its such a slight one it hardly seems mentioning, is that I think the vocals could have been a hair louder and not have the suffer because of it. Anyway, chump change in the scheme because this is a track that will have me shouting the chorus at complete strangers in the street , and that's always a joyous thing to behold. So, all together now, 'I don't know, I don't know, I don't know what you want from me!!'

Excellent rock song. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Legendary Fred Miller - Sleep Depravation

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Hey whadda ya know, it's Miller Time. Make mine a double. I have a sneaking liking for what The Legendary Fred Miller does while sittin' on his porch. He has a distinctive take on what he does, and he is not afraid to stretch himself when necessary. That doesn't always work, of course, and definitely doesn't out there in the harsher musical world but sites like Soundclick will always give musicians like Fred Miller sufficient shelter from the storm. Like a great many of us, Fred has made music all his life and isn't likely to stop soon but - I've got to say this - you really have to acquire a taste for his style of music.

Personally, I like his rocky side and there is enough of that in Sleep Deprivation* to do it for me. Moreover on this track Fred has captured the look and feel of a track that rightly belongs back in the original Summer Of Love. Given that he cites Grateful Dead, Moby Grape and Spirit as influences that shouldn't be so remarkable, and he has done an extremely good Doors style track in the past. Despite its rough hewn sound, you are either going to like this track or not and a quick play will confirm what it will be.

I think its the very homespun feel Fred Miller brings to his tracks that make me personally like them so much, even if I can't always find the impetus to foist them on to a wider audience. The fact is, musicians like Fred Miller will always occupy a tiny niche, and that's the way it should be. He is a very individualistic, idiosyncratic musician who does what he feels and the rest of us can go to a hot place if we don't like it. I like this track, and I haven't been able to say that about all TLFM tracks and I think it's partly that late 1960's feel and partly the way Fred's unusual vocal style interprets the lyrics.

Excellent folk rock. Recommended for feel.

*That's the correct spelling btw... :D

Audio Riot - Fobby Asian Girl

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If the hairs on the back of your neck are shivering with dread and you are not sure why, let me shed a little light on your terror. The thing giving you the heebies is the title of this track which, you may remember, I reviewed in August 2007. Well, not so much reviewed as chewed actually. At this moment in time, that review has the dubious honour of being one of the worst reviews I have ever given anybody in years of reviewing. There again, looked at from another point of view, that may very well be a good thing. However, most of the complaints I - and other reviewers - have levelled at this artist have been complaints ABOUT the music and that is definitely not a good thing. Still puzzled, welp this artist used to be known as Band Of Asians...

Aaaah, screaming and running, that's the usual response. That I recognise.

I jest, of course, but not by much. Patrick Lew is the main man behind both these projects assures me that this version of Fobby Asian Girl is 'slightly better with added Electronic musical instruments in the arrangement'. Well, it just couldn't be as bad as the original could it? At least this version has a live drummer on it (Kelsey M, who seems to know what she is about) but unfortunately it doesn't really help that much because it still sounds like everything is going through a cement mixer. No, one of those fekkin huge cement trucks that mix while they drive around AND it's out of control. But not in a good way, ya understand. That kind that can only end in...


Admittedly at two minutes and change this isn't going to be that difficult for most people to grasp, the real question is would they want to. Patrick's chosen field is grunge and he has all the attitude and gear for it, unfortunately it always so buried in the most awful mixes you are likely to hear. Put it like this, most normal people happening on this track would give it no more than 10 seconds before flipping on to the next. In that first 10 seconds, the bass clashes with the rhythm and nothing is quite in tune. If that doesn't do it, nothing will. There are many people who admire the white noise generated by bands such as Sonic Youth et al and - if we could actually hear it properly - that may well be the case here BUT... What happens on this track? Everything fights everything else, the music, the instruments, the arrangement..

Friday Fight Club. Not for wimps.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Mike-K - Finally

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Or yet another in the seemingly endless collaborations Mike Kohlgraf seems to find the time for. I'm just feeling sorry for myself really, because I can't even find the time to spit on your granny, let alone cavort with fellow musicians. Anyway, enough of my woes - it's Germy time!! Not that I am about to infect you with any noxious gunk, merely short for Germinator which is yet another side to Mike-K you have yet maybe to discover. Yes, the less said the better I think. Finally is the (and I quote the man himself) 'first project for "Convergence" - a new, musical duo... Richard Letaw and Mike Kohlgraf' Richard Letlaw in this case supplying the lead guitar. Mike K on everything else obviously unless he's assigned that to his minions now too...

He can be a touch imperious.

The one thing that could never be associated with Mike's work is noxious gunk unless you are of the opinion that fairly bland, middle of the road compositions fall into that category neatly. As it happens, that is normally my reaction to the whole soft rock/pop genre but there again, Mike always delivers his own case well, as Finally will show. He's always had a neat touch with arrangement and a very clean sound, but this track is about as good as it ever gets. Punchy drums, snappy bass, lush strings and sweeps, all rollicking along as tight as a ducks rear end. From a technical standpoint I think this is the best sound I have heard from this musician.

The real star and highlight is, of course, the lead guitar and this is where Mike has really excelled; this is a class rock instrumental of the old school. Richard Letlaw has some considerable chops at his disposal and proceeds to spray it in all directions in a way that often reminded me of Jeff Beck. OK, so I don't really get off on soft rock instumentals and I would be the first to admit it but there is a quality about this track that makes it stand out. I know I am biased in favour of this artist, but hey there is no denying the quality work going on from all concerned. First of many, I hope. As you may have noticed, there is no download option here, if you like it you are going to have to buy it and that is a very personal opinion. If I liked the music enough, I may have been willing to pay some moolah for it. I know Mike will only spend it on coffee anyway.

Excellent lead guitar instrumental. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

John Collins - The Rest Of Our Lives

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I know this artist primarily through his work with vocalist Lucie Dubue (as in John Collins and Lucie Dubue), a decidely middle of the road but none the less interesting change from the normal Soundclick sturm and drang. Running the gamut from classy touch songs to all out show tunes John and Lucie made a good team, opening up several relatively closed minds at the same time, mine included. Although I often disavow anything faintly sugary, I do like a track that has a sense of its own worth, and many of John and Lucies's tracks have exactly that. When I reviewed his first solo track Here (March 2008) I can't say I was that impressed, the song just wasn't happening for me and considering this is one of John's main areas, a disappointment.

But there's always tomorrow, right?

The Rest Of Our Lives has none of those problems and shows that my initial confidence isn't displaced. As I commented about Here, John's voice (and even the style and tenor of his music), is very reminiscent of early Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam) and I say that in a complimentary way. I personally liked that early style and I like the way John's performance brings that to life. In all ways, this track is a far, far superior product although - it has to be said - you should probably like the gentler end of the musical spectrum. The Rest Of Our Lives being a kind of soft rock pop confection.

The track stands up well as a song this time too, with a very strong chorus showing the style I associate with his work with Lucy. My only complaint is a technical one really, but as a listener this track shows the John Collins I know and like and - provided you like the style - I think you will too. On the technical front, having worked with a great many songwriters - some self taught, some schooled in the art - I know which kind I prefer. There is a certain cleverness about putting a decent tune together that usually comes via inspiration, sometimes comes through making a useful mistake but never comes by flogging something that's already dead. Not sure whether this is inspirational, a useful mistake but it certainly isn't dead.

Highly Recommended light pop song.

Blu Ice - Final Hand

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Surprisingly enough MP3 Unsigned, after a couple of months solid back-to-back techno has come up with some of my favourite musical food, rock. It's turned into a good source of that material over the last few months and that's never a bad thing. Not that I don't like all the bleep-bleep, it's just in my heart I prefer musicians who play instruments. After some reading I discover that Blue Ice is a duo comprised of Rich (from Iodine) and James Oakwood who have both been reviewed lately, both favourably because - as I say - I have a bias towards rock. Probably forever.


Now either these guys guessed that I don't like prog-rock or any strain thereof and just want to see me light up, or they know that (maybe, just maybe) there is enough 'proper' rock to stop me from going off on one. Not a pretty sight. Generally, I find the whole ooh-look-at-me style of rock irritating and pretentious, and Final Hand never did find that tipping point, mainly because of the excellent performances and the overall cohesiveness of the track. The vocals and lyrics in particular should be singled out, as indeed they are in this mix, as being the real stars of the tracks although the individuals give them a good run for their money.

All isn't exactly kissy kissy though because where certain elements are very well represented (guitars, bass, vocals) the poor old drums melt into the background. Bear in mind here, my short attention span chums, that this is rock we are talking about. The place where the musicians have big hair and pouch poses, but the drums have the biggest bollocks of all. Not in this case unfortunately, and the track is much the poorer for it. Mind you, as I say, the other performances, while not being able to make up for the lack of powerhouse drums, are more than up to the task. Here is one almost prog-rock track that actually has the balance between vocal and instrumental almost right. Now if they could just resurrect Keith Moon or John Bonham they would be well away.

Recommended Rock (of the fiddly kind).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Charlie A - Bullet Boy

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Oi, I thought as I downloaded this track, how come this has a Parental Advisory attached to it? Not something normally associated with the mild mannered Charlie Armour (for it is he) is it now? I usually associate him with the kind of musical vision that inspires the best in a person, rather than all that ol' effing and blinding. The sort of stuff that usually gets a PA sticker attached to it. Luckily this was one of the first tracks up for review and I jumped into listening to it with, I must admit, a shamefaced glee at catching Charlie up to naughty naughty. It's always good to find out people's little foibles innit?

OK, too much information too. (Ed: that's two toos)

Now I've lived with this track for several days and even got to like it, especially in my mellower moments. Why are you looking at me in such a suspicious way? I do have mellow moments you know. (sniff) Anyway, when I am looking for work of a more classical lilt Charlie A has provided plenty of earhole fodder over the years and Bullet Boy is going to join the Ear Masage section of my playlist forthwith. Moreover, instead of the usual epic trek associated with (makes quote sign) soundtracks, this particular track zips in at a full - but satisfying - two minutes and small change.

As ever with Charlie A, it's the instruments he chooses to bring his music to life that draw the listener in, and usually keep them there. Bullet Boy has my own favourite combination of piano and cello to deliver the licks (so to speak) and not much else ( a couple of strings towards the end) and it's a surprisingly powerful peice of music. Of course, its a given that you should like moody, emotional instrumentals and Charlie A is a prime exponent of class material in this field. None of which, of course, explains the Parental Advisory which will undoubtedly be given to every single one of us now. No one will be free, Soundclick Crackdown!! Flee for your lives!!

but grab this first. Highly Recommended Piano/Cello instrumental.

Muted Silence - Soul Scar

Hear The Track Here

Muted Silence is, just in case you were wondering, two well known Soundclick electronica names; Nuff X and Omnisine, both of whom have had a great run of tracks in their own right over the last year or so. Which explains why this track is the first Muted Silence track for almost 2 years. According to the aforementioned diamond geezers, Soul Scar started off as a simple Trip Hop song but somehow managed to veer into every conceivable musical nook and cranny before turning up in this review two whole years down the line. A lot of my tracks take as long to make and visit as many places, and I am already convinced of the potential of Nuff and 'Sine (so much so that Omnisine was my Artist of The Year 2007) so it goes without saying that I was expecting a lot from this track.

Unfair, I know, but whadda ya do?

Nuff X (in case you were still unaware) is king of glitch and (latterly) a kinda electronic alternative, whereas Omnisine is about as well rounded a musician as you would care to meet. The first (and only) time I reviewed their work was Mind Plays Games (February 2006) and I rated it for the combination of talents. Soul Scar shows the expansion they have brought to their individual work paying off with this intense, complex blend of musical styles. A dark, almost industrial feel permeates this track and that, along with the edgy almost shrill vocal style guarantee that not everyone is going to like this.

Mind you, I personally like pushing the envelope and being - dare I say it? - original, and I recognise it when I see it. Which is what makes Soul Scar so enjoyable a listen, at least for this reviewer. I say this despite a teeth grinding edge to the track that starts at the intro and ratchets the tension not in mere ones and twos but in powers. The kind of thing that has you wanting to jump out of your skin before the end. All, of course, in a nice way, provided you like music with more than a little muscle. Intellectually as well as aurally. Kind of reminds me of the rougher side of Depeche Mode bought bang up to date. A definite keeper for me.

Highly Recommended dark electronica of the first order.