Monday, November 30, 2009

Michael Vincent Fusco - Hi Girls

Hear The Track Here

You are hearing a different keyboard sound from me today because I felt I had to dress up somewhat for this review. When Michael says Hi Girls is him 'practicing my mixing and mastering methods', stands to reason I can't be too harsh on him right? Hence the kid gloves I'm wearing so now you know, maybe the sniggering will come to an end. Third time around for Michael Vincent Fusco who seems to be in remarkably good health considering that out of the three tracks I have already reviewed, two of them could definitely classed as games soundtracks.

And you know what that means...

Its abundantly clear - even in this computer savvy ear - that 99.9% of the unsigned music population struggle mightily against the bounds of their equipment and expertise and it's this, I contend that is what makes unsigned music so interesting... Not always, obviously but mostly I think I'd prefer to listen to unsigned as opposed to commercial any day. It's where the spark is. Speaking of which, take a listen to Hi Girls and tell me whether Michael should have prefaced this track with the 'practising' comment. Certainly in terms of variety, ideas and sounds, his ducks are all in row. It's electronica yeah, but I've heard much, much worse,

There again, it's that quality that has kept this musician out of the doghouse (remember the two games soundtracks?) his tracks - whatever condition he thinks they are in - a very listenable, even when the genre doesn't agree with you. As far as the production and mixing goes, I'd say it was pretty sharp, although for my money the sounds could have done with a little more shaping, it would have added a good deal more punch. Nonetheless, this is a good clear, crisp mix and a decent electronica instrumental and I surely don't get to write that often enough.

Excellent dance-y Electronica. Highly Recommended.

Fear 2 Stop - Tricky Treats

Hear The Track Here

Coming up to the last two tracks of this month, it's a given that one of them would belong to Houston TX based three piece experimental band Fear 2 Stop. This band is so prolific that they have appeared in just about every single months review since I first started doing them on Soundclick. I could have sworn that I started reviewing them sometime in 2003 but the first review I can find of them is Science Friction (January 2004) so it's just me getting old. Nonetheless, from January 2004 to now is five years so its a good run. They have some 197 tracks on their Soundclick site and it looks like I've reviewed at least half that number. So the real burning question of the hour is....

Should I submit my bill now?

Although we haven't always seen eye to eye over the years, I've grown very fond of Fear 2 Stop's particular brand of experimental, an always shifting rhythmic base and a blend of analog and digital that definitely sets them apart; at least to my ears, having become acclimatised. This definitely is a band you want to ease into slowly, even if you gobble up every bit of experimental music on Soundclick. A great many people have found out that Fear 2 Stop may not look like much on first glance, but always deliver if you give them a bit of time. After all, they've been around long enough, right?

Obviously our timing, as usual, sucks the big one. As you can gather from the title this is the band's version of Halloween and, if you are a fan, there is much here you will recognise. On the face of it, it's a fairly conventional track despite some of the aural weirdness being thrown into the mix and it shows (me anyway) just how much fear 2 Stop have progressed over those self same years and kept to their original aural credo. Of course, as I said, it doesn't please everybody. I know there are plenty who just don't get Fear 2 Stop but that's OK because it doesn't matter; there are still the rest of us loonies. :)

Recommended Indietronic

Daniel Eboli - Sapiens Ludens

Hear The Track Here

Out of the two Daniel Eboli tracks I have so far reviewed, I've liked what I've heard. Not that much of a surprise when you see that Daniel Eboli is from Brazil and classed as a World musician, as I am known to be partial to this genre. A genre I am absolutely NOT partial to is New Age and even then Daniel managed to slip one of those by me too, and with no bruising. Says something then about the quality of this musicians work that he can work in an area I despise and still manage to come up with something I can't pick fault with. Doncha just hate it when that happens? Or when someone says - over to Daniel again - 'made in 30 minutes. It just popped out of my fingers'

Ooops, like my finger just popped in your eye? Grrr.

There again, once you get down to the music Daniel comes out with, it's the quality (in all ways) that counts, and wins people over - or at least that's the way I see it. OK, let me get this out of the way. I hate plinky, tinkly things in general and the many tools to tinkle with electronically in particular. One of the banes of my life over the past few years has been the bloody awful sound committed by things called 'pluckers' - yep, FL I'm looking at you - which IMHO should be something else that has 'uck' in it. Even here though, the despair is enormous because the line that Daniel comes out with is soooo pretty you just can't shout at it. Believe me, I tried.

Considering he made this in 30 minutes, the man did good and is a representation of just how good he can be when he's really trying. Mind you, having said that, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with Sapiens Whatsname and much that is just plain gorgeous. About the worst thing I can come up with is that it has more than a whiff of New Age about it but - like Spazio (August 2009) - the quality of the music and melodies gets it over that hurdle. Mind you, I hope this is not going to become an everyday occurrence. All those plinky things make me well twitchy, and that's not good. Not good at all.

Excellent World/New Age (even if dashed off in a moment). Recommended.

Pilesar - Simplexity

Hear The Track Here

There is strange, there is peculiar, there is clinically insane and then there is the state of Pilesar, a strange aural experience that somehow widens your horizons while messing with the gimbals and widgets of your brain. Even so, I KNOW he is the strangest musician on the planet but to give him a Parental Advisory?? In all the time I have been reviewing Pilesar, I have never known him to be anything other than wholesome and family-friendly - even if that family happens to be weirder than the Adams family. So, having perused the lyrics from ass to elbow, I can confirm that no one seems to have taught Pilesar any naughty words, so what gives?

I try not to use that many quotes in my reviews (I consider it lazy), I couldn't resist this one. Here is how Pilesar describes making this track: 'Some friends came over and asked me to show them how I made my songs. They sat on the couch and over the next hour watched me compose and record this piece on the spot. The only gear I used was a Yamaha keyboard, a few effects pedals, a hand held tape player and a microphone' The really funny thing is that it actually sounds like that AND a piece of work that took thought and patience to put together. Long time fans of Pilesar will understand immediately that he really does pull this stuff right out the air. Where other experimentalists twist themselves in knots trying to come with something different, Pilesar pumps it out in industrial quantities.

Of course, it wouldn't be that good if Pilesar didn't know exactly what he was up to and IMHO, the best Pilesar of all is the Pilesar embodied on this track. If there is one artist I would dearly love to see live it would be Pilesar. Not just because of his incredible dexterity with anything he can lay his hands on (for example, the sander on Simplexity that finishes the track by polishing your ear canals), but because when he is freestyling like this there isn't anyone to touch him. Remember this when you are listening to this track and wondering whether I have lost my mind. I'd like to see you do this, live and on the spot...

Quality weird. Highly Recommended Experimental.

Bikini Black Special - The Grim Mathematics Of Intercourse CD

Hear The Track Here

Last request from the blog this month is someone we have encountered before, although in a remix stylee. Electric Eye (Big Weenie Blag Spatial Mix) (September 2009) was a remix from our old friend Big Wheel and - as is usual with me and remixes - I had to catch an earful of the original track and I'm real glad I did because it introduced a very capable band to me. I recommended both tracks, the remix and the original, and that doesn't happen that often. Consequently, one of the band contacted me and asked if I would cast my ears on their new CD thingie. 'Engineered and produced at We Have Your Monkey by Paddy Green and Jonti Peters' it says and this is a terrific sound regardless of what you might think about the material.

Speaking of which, my best guess is a (kinda/sorta) English B-52's but much, much smoother - and I know the band are going to hate that description. Certainly Schrodinger's Bomb (track 1) gives that impression, although Great Apes (track 2 and wonderful) turns that right on its head and the same could be said for the rest of the tracks. This is a very diverse band, they stretch themselves extremely well, while keeping a definable sound. By the time you are onto tracks 3-4 it's obvious that not only are Bikini Black Special pretty keen musically, they have a smart way with a lyric and/or arrangement; both Black Hat and Nagasaki are intelligent, complex and incredibly detailed songs and show that there is more than a distinctive sound happening here.

Having lived with this eleven track CD for almost a week or so, it's actually taken me that long to finally start hearing the tracks properly, ie without that initial impression getting in the way. In that time I have become quite enamoured with the whole BBS style and - I shamefully admit - such wasn't the case with the B-52's let me tell you. Simply going by the track I heard with Big Wheel, I would never have guessed that the band were as advanced (in style and content) as they undoubtedly are. I'd contend that The Grim Mathematics Of Intercourse is a serious work, and probably should be approached that way; not something you can nosh on during your lunchtime. If you ARE pushed for time have a quick listen to Great Apes, Nagasaki (love the acoustic version) or El Tango Del Hombre, that will give you the whole story. Intelligent, wide ranging compilation that deserves to be heard much, much more widely.

Highly Recommended multi-genre band and CD.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Michael Hughes - Elegy

Hear The Track Here

As you know, I'm a bit of a veteran of the internet's unsigned music community and - as such - I've met a lot of people in the years I have wasted (oops, sorry) SPENT doing this, so here's a test. How many artists can you name that are conceivably well known? Well, as far as internet based fame goes. None? You obviously haven't been around long enough for names like Maria Daines, Evan Paul, Lex Zaleta to ring the requisite bells, and should rectify this immediately. A couple of other names to throw in that pot while we are at it would be both Michael Hughes and Michael Silvestri and for similar reasons. I have been aware of both of these artists in their own right for a great many years.

Anyway, Elegy is written by Michael Hughes and dedicated to Michael Silvestri and is, no surprise here, an acoustic track. It comes as no surprise because when I reviewed Michael's Cold Rain Water (November 2008) one of the things I raved most about was his choice of both material and instrumentation. On the face of it, Elegy looks every bit as good, featuring High-string parlor guitar (Ed: Wahdat?), baritone guitar, mandolin, octave mandolin and lap steel guitar. Now, that is what I call acoustic, It sounds as good as it looks too, especially if you like this particular instrument line up - and I do.

Michael Silvestri (1953-2009) passed away in February of this year and - if you are a fan of traditional/classical acoustic guitar - is a great loss. Following in the grand tradition set by musicians such as Segovia, Bream, Pena et al, Michael Silvestri was a consummate musician and an absolute joy to listen to after the endless hours of other forms of music. While this is not always my favourite musical watering hole, it is musicians like both Michael's that keep me coming back for more. Elegy is a most fitting tribute IMHO and the baritone guitar sounds absolutely wonderful, it's very tone bringing tears to these cynical eyes and joy to my even more jaded ears.

MUST HAVE acoustic tribute to a great musician.

Wreckless Music (Ejay) - I Cry

Hear The Track Here

I would imagine that one of the worst things about being a rapper is finding decent music to test your raps against. I know I've heard some real stinkers (and I'm not talking about the rappers here, just the music) and - for my money - there are very few unsigned rappers who haven't come a cropper once or twice over this thorny problem. When I reviewed his first track submitted to me - Gemini (September 2007) - I was deathly afraid that we were not going to see eye to eye on this particular issue. Since then, however, Wreckless Music has upped his game considerably and Old Times (October 2008) ended up as one of my Tracks Of The Year 2008 so he's obviously doing something right. Moreover, unlike a great many unsigned rappers, I don't breathe a weary sigh when I see one of his tracks on my review list.

Always a good start.

Teaming up this time with Jinn Thao (aka JT Instrumentals) who seems to be doing quite well in terms of fans and listener stations but is a new name to me. Considering that Jinn cheerfully admits that he makes his tracks 'on the cheap' it still manages to sound surprisingly good although, for my money, I could have done with a tad more definition on the kick drum considering that its front and centre for much of the time. Jinn Thao's music is, by his own admission, piano driven and that's a difficult act. Simplicity, as always, is the key and this is one thing that Jinn does extremely well; this is one of the sparsest hip hop tracks I have ever heard.

Doesn't stop it working though, and working a treat too. Now, you have to realise that I don't really like the softer side of the hip hop world with all it's incredible 'twee-ness'. Such a charge could never be leveled at Wreckless Music, it's the quality of his lyrics and his delivery that mark him out from the usual wannabees. Mind you, he's still deep in lurve and that's never a pleasant experience (at least not in song) but even so, his lyrics are better than most girl-boy scenarios. Now I admit that I am biased and that normally I would run away from a track like this but I do understand there are lots of people who like this style, and this IS a class example of it at least.

Recommended soft hip hop.

National Snack - My Head Hurts

Hear The Track Here

Although I don't do that many full album reviews, I do get asked to do the odd one or two. You may remember that, a while ago, I reviewed an EP (albeit with six tracks) called Apply Machine for fellow Londoner's National Snack. It received a Must Have rating from me because a) the music was really good and b) it was most decidedly a different sound. Although there are a great many really good musicians amongst the unsigned community - and even some great ones - a lot of musicians tend to stick to the tried and tested, with rock and hip hop being the most favoured markets. There are, I contend, very, very few musicians are are different enough to stand out - National Snack are different enough.

They are a three piece (comprising Gemma Storr and Joe Carlo (guitarist and bassist) and drummer Phil Casey) and the sound they make is - to put it mildly - somewhat punky in tone. However, each of the tracks from Apply Machine is rendered at a full 320kbps which should tell you that whatever they sound like, this band is about a certain kind of fidelity. My Head Hurts then, is the free single download from the EP which you can get by clicking the link above or even here. You'll have to sign up to the bands mailing list to get your free copy but hey, you should be doing that anyway. One of the standout tracks of Apply Machine was My Head Hurts so if the EP is beyond you, try the single.

Musically, as I said in my initial review, this may sound rough and ready but take a REAL good listen to it and it becomes obvious that despite it's just over a minute of life, a lot of thought and innovation went into this track. There is a strain of UK based music that is both hard and good-timey and National Snack plug into that scene like gangbusters, The traditional take on English rock as personified by (say) Ian Dury, Tenpole Tudor and even The Clash at their most raucous is where National Snack have set up base camp, so if that sounds like the kind of thing that might tickle your ear canals, go get a listen.

Short, sharp and to the point. Class high energy UK pop rock, Highly Recommended.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Amorphix - Wreathed in Shadows of Light and Ash

Hear The Track Here

This has been a good month for welcoming back some once familiar faces, earlier this month Freqen-Cee and now Amorphix returns from some desolate hinterland to display his wares for the unwary. 2006 was dotted with tracks from this very dark Electronica artist and very smart (if well scary) they were too. He's back and assuring us that nothing has changed because 'This one is a real pitch black, dark ambient soundscape and perhaps the darkest and most minimal so far completed' Oh goodie, lets hand out the colostomy bags and blindfolds (because I really, really don't want to see it). Now if you think I am showing more of my Milky Way sized yellow streak a tad more than normal, you'd be right.

When I say 'very dark' in relation to this artist, I do mean exactly that. In many ways the effect Amorphix's music had on me at the time was akin to tracks from The Dead Company - the same brooding menace. First off, let me say it would be best to be horizontal for this track - yep, it's one of those. Even though Ambient has never been a musical favourite of mine, I've always found Amorphix's particular take on the genre to work its magic on me and I see no reason - having listened to Wreathed In etc - why my initial impression of his work is in any way faulty.

Sure, its all a bit floaty, and at just over nine minutes long is going to be a stretch for all but the most intrepid of Ambient heads. While it didn't really fit in so much on my daily round (too much else going on) when I had a quiet moment for (ahem) 'refreshment' and a quick lie-down this was the track that induced the fastest response. Not because it was infinitely boring (as is most ambient IMHO) but because it provided such vivid and realistic visions along with the music. Much more cosmic in nature and sound, I think, than the bulk of this musicians work but just as good.

Class Ambient. Highly Recommended.

The Modems - The Evidence

Hear The Track Here

Far and away the best thing I have found this year, the UK's Modems have rung bells consistently ever since they first appeared on Soundclick. Put it like this, I have reviewed three Modems tracks, and each of them has a Must Have rating. So, up there with the likes of Azoora, Can't Stop The Daggers et al? Absolutely, and not just because of my own enormous bias towards this kind of UK pop. In the space of those three tracks the Modems proved - beyond all shadow of a doubt - that they not only knew what they were doing, they had some enormous talent to do it with. If you asked me yesterday if I thought the band could top The Devils Lodge (October 2009) I'd have said an emphatic no - and I would have been dead wrong. The Evidence is the Modem's finest moment yet, and it happens to be a track from 2008 (presumably just uploaded).

I freely admit that I have a very soft spot for quality indie music, the kind that marries sound, song and performance into a track that moves and touches and both the bands I mentioned in the first paragraph as famed because of that. The Evidence suggests strongly that those two bands have some very, very nifty competition. I can see you thinking that this is just me floating in a sea of hyperbole as normal but I challenge you to prove me wrong. First off, The Evidence is an impeccable slice of Alternative pop in the finest tradition. It has a decidedly Scots sound about it, and not just because the lead vocal has no problem singing with a brogue. Reminds me some of Jack Bruce, and that's no bad thing.

As if six minutes and change were not enough to convince you that The Modems have an extremely bright future, take a look at the video on the bands Soundclick page. It's obvious that The Modems spent huge amounts of time putting the music together because its damn near faultless, but the video expands that vision to a remarkable degree and is - I suggest - something to do while you are downloading this track. It's well worth while because it's a six minutes plus cartoon which looks tailor made for this track and is something I'd be raving about, had I seen it first. You will need the distraction because you will download the track, its one of those tracks you just can't miss. Right up there with the big boys...

MUST HAVE Alternative Pop. MUST SEE video too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Silvertrain - Falling Apart

Hear The Track Here

Well, well well, things continue to look up in the Silvertrain camp, despite any shadows the title of this track might be throwing. Actually you also need to ignore the fact that this is John Brandon yet again up to his tricks. He states, quite brazenly I might add, that Falling Apart is 'me and a guitar that's all', and if that doesn't remind you of the time when it seemed ALL Silvertrain tracks consisted of this where have you been? Except you, I know you went to the toilet. Now, where was I? Ah yes... Not that I have anything whatsoever against John's guitar playing, singing or songwriting but I do prefer it when he and Ritchie and/or anyone else can be roped in to lend a hand. The problem is that John's songs are actually quite hard to grasp in this format but - unfailingly - work like bejeezus when you apply a bit of poke to the track.

Funny thing that, but true.

So what exactly has 'me and a guitar that's all' come up with this time? There's no doubt about it as the years roll on, the quality of his songs improve, as does his ability to render them accurately. There's no doubt his focus is describing the song rather any flashy footwork (Ed: flashy fretwork surely?). Consequently, if some geezer sitting in a corner strumming some pretty chords and whispering sweet nothings in your ear doesn't float your musical boats, best bail out now. Personally I like John's songwriting style, and indeed his measured, sure guitar accompaniments but I know it won't be to everyone's taste. Until, that is, it receives the official Silvertrain touch and then anything is possible. I know, I've seen it a time or two...

First thing that struck me was the depth of John's vocal these days; a very warm, liquid sound just touched the the teeniest reverb. Just right. If I had to get all tight assed about one thing it would be that the guitar doesn't really come across as well as it should, it's a bit bass heavy IMHO. Still, be charitable, this is one of John's more notable 'song demos' and one that I would heartily recommend for the aforementioned Silvertrain touch. Then stand back and be careful not to singe your eyebrows...

Bare bones acoustic song. Recommended.

Cinnabar - Lost and Found II

Hear The Track Here

You would have think, after all this time, even the village dog would have a really good idea of what makes the Gilmore day go smoother. One thing that doesn't make my day do anything but plummet vertiginously into a gloom the size of a continent is a sentence that starts 'modeled after Genesis'. Moreover, what would really have me hammering planks of wood over the doors and windows is to know that said 'modeled after Genesis' was true to the word. I have a mere snippet of the whole track apparently, the original is over twenty minutes long. My mere snippet weighs in at a truly gut-busting almost ten minutes long. Now considering that Cinnabar has fared extremely well by me, even grabbing a couple of Must Have's along the way, I have to ask....why me???

Yeah, yeah, I know. I ask for it.

As I say, over the space of around three tracks, I have found Cinnabar much to my liking which is why I went against all my fears for my sanity and with great trepidation started wading through this track. At least I knew I had a very good chance of being entertained at least, even if the style doesn't suit me. If you have ever heard the work of Nad Sylvan and Bonamici (collectively known as Unifaun) then Lost and Found is right up your alley because it does indeed follow in some hallowed footsteps. Musically this is everything I have come to expect from these excellent musicians (also a duo incidentally); quality music and production regardless of your own personal preference. Back in the day I much preferred the version supplied by Yes than by Genesis and this track sounds like a blend of the two thus, to my ears at least, eminently more listenable.

Structurally this is pure unadulterated prog-rock complete with sweet sounds, flashes of ambience and shows that Gary Judge and Matt Tyson (aka Cinnabar) know their genre extremely well. Well enough to stretch it far enough to even encompass a well known prog philistine like a certain reviewer we know. Now that takes some skill, and believe me I'm unusually critical of prog-rock and alert for any sniff of ego stroking. What seems to have changed in the prog-rock world (at least the online one anyway) is too be making pieces of music that make perfect sense - even for a whole ten minutes. If Lost and Found were my track, I'd be feeling a hell of a warm glow from it and probably wouldn't give a toss what anybody else thought.

Perfect prog-rock. (Ed: OMG!! OMG!!! They killed Gilmore!!!) MUST HAVE.

Bilbozo Ft Devodale - Magic

Hear The Track Here

Are you aware that Mix Radio is now broadcasting a show every night? My problem is finding the time to spend there but whenever I am in the house working away during that time you can bet Mix Radio is on in the background. Aaahhh, I can hear the howls of rage from here and it pleases me. Oh perfidious Gilmore, where is your damn loyalty? Welp, Soundclick doesn't have an actual radio station per se, does it? Let alone LIVE DJ shows such as Mix Radio features. The reason I am banging on this particular drum is that one of the collaborators on this track is also a Mix DJ (hint: it isn't Bill). Bill Smith (aka Bilbozo) is a guitarist, and this being Mixposure that is hardly a surprise, it being an unashamed plank spanker site. Think then how Bilbozo feels knowing that he (or any other guitarist for that matter) faces competition every which way. A bit like being a hip hop musician on Soundclick I guess; only the very best really stand out.

As it happens, and because of my continued exposure to Mix, I have developed a nice little taste for a lot of the guitarists over there; Bilbozo being just one of them. I heard a track on last Saturday's Mike-K show featuring Bil and Buddrumming and absolutely loved it, nodding like some car back seat animal - and I don't often do that. Too old, ya see. Scared my ******* head will fall off. Anywayyyy, Bil gets guitars, bass, arrangement and production honours on Magic, Devodale supplied keyboards and drums and someone called of Songboy3 coming in with lyrics and vocals. First off, I think all three spirits involved need to receive a well deserved pat on the back for the effort put into this track; great in every single way - and nowhere more so than vocally.

Whoever Songboy3 is, he has a very serious set of pipes on him...

Magic turns out to be a nice blend of electronica and rock with vocals that are somewhat reminiscent of one Jon Anderson of Yes. Certainly as far as performance and material this is indeed a slice of magic, but whoever pixie-dusted this bad boy off they missed a spot. Getting the vocals in the mix in the right place sometimes doesn't quite work, especially where the vocal doubles up; either that or the mix doesn't quite cut right in those spots. An atom sized quibble though, when combined with the musical muscle and drive this track has in its favour. Worth listening to for the vocals alone but by God Bil can reduce a grown guitar to matchsticks and Devodale is someone I need to look into in his own right.

Excellent blend of rock and electronica. Highly Recommended.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ron Gragg - Unrelenting Strength (New Version)

Hear The Track Here

And no, I didn't get to hear the first version, so don't go there. I've reviewed around seven of this Christian Rock musicians tracks and - give or take - liked much of which I heard. I have to admit that it's his more overtly Christian tracks I have liked most but Ron is a very decent guitarist and songwriter whatever you may think of the genres he chooses to work in. On the surface of it, Unrelenting Strength (in whatever version) has Biblical allusions - where do you go in times of trouble type of thing - but as I say that has never put me off any Christian artist and indeed has been a goad to finding the best of them.

Like a lot of home musicians, Ron does the best with what he's got and the result isn't too bad, although most of his work has that inevitable home produced ring. Unrelenting Strength is a song, something which Ron has a taste and aptitude for, even though I have yet to hear something from this musician that truly inspires me. Still, the one thing I have learned is that you never can tell where the next surprise is going to come from and Ron certainly knows enough to be able to up his game soon...

Like a lot of Europeans, I find a lot of American music mawkish and sentimental; especially about lurve. This is exemplified most (and one of the reasons most people shun it) in the Christian Rock category but could well apply to a large amount of American solo projects. I lived in the US, I married an American and I understand that - however it may look to outsiders - they really mean what they say. Fortunately. Ron has only skirted that particular swamp a time or two but not on Unrelenting Strength. Its an acoustic song, performed with Ron's usual skill and while not likely to set the world on fire, nothing to be ashamed of either. Except for the odd mix, this is a very pleasant acoustic listen indeed.

Linwood Riley - Brainiac Theme

Hear The Track Here

Little did we know back in the days of LeO IcON9 ByTE19 (that's a bandname btw) that we were looking at a veritable hit factory wherein ALL the members have subsequently branched out with considerable solo projects - the most prominent member currently being the much applauded Rascal Theorist. The Muse Machine (which LeO IcON9 etc eventually became) aren't exactly prolific though, I've only reviewed a couple of tracks of theirs. Speaking of which this is the second Linwood Riley track I have reviewed, the earlier one being Gotham Raid/Who Is The Brain? (June 2009). Mmmmm, wait a minute. Gotham? The Brain? and now the Brainiac Theme? I smell a DC fan in the building and I'm not talking about Washington. If you think I've suddenly taken to spouting rubbish (Ed: they always thought that, people only come to laugh at your attempts at English) ALLOW me to explain.... Harumphhh DC Comics is what I'm talking about chums. Home of all things Gotham. Comics! The stuff of boyhood and wild dreams.

Obviously made a BIG impression on Linwood because he's still there :P

Seriously, ALL of the fourteen tracks on his Soundclick page have a DC comics theme to them, but I guess thats not much of a surprise seeing as Linwood cavorts in the Instrumentals: Film Music category. I can tell by that sudden intake of breath that you know what's coming next. Well, as it happens, you forget the earlier reference to everything that comes from this talented group of individuals. Linwood isn't going to do your standard film music you and I have become innured to. For a start, Linwood, like all his bandmates is a consummate sound professional - whatever he makes is gonna sound great. Then it's just a question of deciding whether you like it or not. Ahhh, but there is an added ingredient and you can see it by clicking here.

See ya in a few...

While they are finding out that Linwood has a very ambitious project in the works, which looks utterly amazing which is why I put the link there, Let's delve into the aural underworld of Brainiac, courtesy of the man. Whatever else it is, it's a dark and lonely spot, heavy with menace and foreboding - all very DC so far then. As I say, one of the prime elements of this track is the setup and production, bringing an awesome build that just goes on and on until you want to run out in the street and scream at your neighbours. It finally lets you go, like an aurally drowned puppy, three and a half minutes later with a palpable sense of relief and well-being. Now that is what I call film music, who needs the pretty pictures, this is enough to scare the beejeebers out of most listeners. Can't wait for the project to go live... and yes, I'm a comic buff too. There, I admitted it.

Brilliantly wrought, edge-of-your-seat terror. Highly Recommended Soundtrack.

Pidgeman - Solitude

Hear The Track Here

It was OK keeping track of things at the beginning, I used to only review on one site, now I'm reviewing through damn near thousands and - as usual - having trouble keeping it all straight. I try and stick as close as I can to the Soundclick list in principle but there is always something else elbowing its way in. Victim of this snafu this month is my old friend Pidgeman, and for that I offer big time apologies, and get right on the case. Pidgeman is actually an artist I look forward to reviewing; he's a rock animal through and through who knows that the key to it all is the song - and he's written his share of good ones.

I've actually reviewed the companion piece to this track, surprisingly enough called Alone (June 2009) but don't run away with the impression that Pidgeman is one of these morose sorts. Far from it, nearly all of this musicians tracks have a lightness of being for all of its rock content. Funnily enough Alone was the first instrumental this musician had ever given me, and this is the second. Where Alone was mainly a rock instrumental (and a ballad to boot), Solitude is an out-and-out acoustic rock instrumental, and yes almost a ballad.

As we all know, instrumentals are a dime a dozen around here, so why should this one be any different. The key word here, my disbelieving friends, is taste, and lots of it. As well as having a truly beautiful sound (not an easy thing with acoustic instruments and percussion) the guitar leads - there are two: acoustic and electric - are exactly right. The pace and phrasing is as impressive as the sound and I can see this one doing extra well over at Mixposure - the radio friendliness of this track is awesome. Now, I don't particularly like either ballads or instrumentals but I certainly make an exception for this solitary beauty.

Excellent acoustic guitar instrumental. Highly Recommended and a MUST HAVE for Pidge fans

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mike-K - Rain Dance feat RwK

Hear The Track Here

There is a saying that people come to resemble their pets, and if you know Mike Kohlgraf (aka Mike-K), you'll know that he has a dog. This is not just any dog mind, this is a dog who believes its his right to demand to Mike take him for tinkles right in the middle of his Saturday Night Rocks radio show. Not once, but lots of times. Unless, of course, Mike is out there for a crafty smoke. Anyway, to get back to the point. Seen the pic of his dog? He's the one with the intelligent look in his eyes, the one who is sticking his tongue out at you on many of Mike's tracks. Now, study the pics of Mike and his dog and whammo, it's like a stereo picture...

Come on, I got to start with something....

Mike has worked with some truly stunning musicians over the years, pretty much a roll call of the major figures of this scene over the last four or so years anyway. A great deal more, I might add, once the fame of Mike's radio show spread. Reaping the rewards now, Mike gets to work with one of my favourite guitarists of the moment; Rick Kresiak. If you've ever been around Mixposure for any time at all you will have heard Rick's work by the bucketload, all of it rocking as only this guy can rock. From the getgo, Rick's sound and style grabbed my attention and I'm VERY particular about plank spankers, being a founder member and leading light in the religeon of Jimi (wherein Eric Clapton discovered he wasn't God, just John The Baptist). Something about the way this guy plays sets him out, so to see Mike and him getting together was awesome (if somewhat expected ;) )

I was fortunate enough to see Fleetwood Mac right at the very beginning (at some cheesy festival in 1968/9) having followed them from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and all because Peter Green was by far and away the most impressive guitarist of the lot. Rick Kresiak has much of that tonal quality and fluidity of playing Green is famed for, and on Mike's excellent musical underpinning, he swoops, he soars and he scores, time and time again. In all ways, both these guys have given us one of their best. It even avoids many of the usual pitfalls I level at Mike, it's smooth but not overly so and it may well be easy listening but when listening to music of this quality who gives a damn about labels. Now, if only I could get my hands on a Moog guitar I might chance into sounding like this, but it isn't for mere mortals...

Very high class guitar instrumental. Highly Recommended.

Digital Amnesia - Overload

Hear The Track Here

I think we are all suffering a considerable amount of digital overload in our lives, so much new space to fill and so much junk to fill it with. Damn, have we ever had so much fun? For me this digital world we now live has enormous blessings, not the least of it being that I can make music for pennies rather than hundreds of thousands. It also exposes us to the almost unlimited amounts of fellow musicians (hereinafter referred to as The Competition) who listen and comment on our work, although true listeners are obviously the real deal but hey, any port in a storm; got to get what you can. So, what are the odds on Digital Amnesia being an electronica musician? Kinda sounds all space age and electronicky doesn't it?

Nothing on the webpage other than his name (Eddie Shelbourne seeing as you asked, and he's from Nottingham so stfu now) and a page that shrieks dance Ibiza style. Uh oh right enough. As you know Trance is not my favourite musical tipple, in fact most of it makes me want to vomit copiously - which I gather is also part of the ritual. No matter, because I have heard some damn fine trance and being an intrepid and fearless reviewer, I crank it up. AS I WAS SAYING (turns down sound), most trance to me isn't all that interesting to listen to, it definitely fits the bill when you are off your face and on the dance floor but to actually listen to? Now maybe I'm just a damn philistine about all this (Ed: you are, you are, now dance ****** dance!!) but... Still, even Overload contains enough musical meat on its four-to-the-floor bones to keep even a wizened Philistine's lunch where it belongs.

Although it is obviously home produced, Overload is surprisingly crisp and punchy (also rare for indie trance which is probably why I hate it so much). Its only noticeable in certain sections and only if you know what to listen for. I think most people would either groove on this - because it is a good dance track with a great deal of inventiveness - or not, depending on what they thought of the genre. Now I'm as loose as Lucy the call girl as far as music is concerned but most trance does bother me. Overload actually didn't (although there is considerable sparseness in there) because of the times the track was happening. I could certainly see this going down well in the place it was intended; the dancefloor.

Inventive (now there's a thing) Trance. Recommended.

(am) - Soundtrack CD

Hear The Track Here

There is no doubt that over the last couple of years, the review blog has introduced me to a great many musicians from outside Soundclick, sometimes with excellent results and sometimes not. To be honest, getting tracks from elsewhere is also my own way of stopping Soundclick becoming stale for me. As it happens, several people have said that they like the oddities I come up with this way while others say I should stick to 'the list' ie the review thread on Soundclick. See, can't win. Whatever, it's my review situation and it works for me - and by extension - for Soundclick. It attracts these musicians there, and it introduces to Soundclick's musicians artists from hither and yon. Such cross fertilisation is a good thing. How, for example, would I have come across (am)?

There is a track on Soundtrack called Taleopptak that is sooooo different than anything I have heard on Soundclick (or anywhere else for that matter) it makes reviewing the accompanying CD a pleasure. You can imagine my mood when I was pitched this 'soundtrack' album but the sheer quality of (some) of the work negates any real criticism. Then when I heard the opening track of this twelve track project, my spirits plummeted through the floor. Two minutes of tinkly piano sounds and a crackle is not my idea of fun. What came next is exactly my idea of fun; music with fire, vision and more ideas than you can shake a stick at. Musicaoltranza Digital Label is the place where it can be heard and believe me this is so worth hearing. Naif.super introduces you to the real deal and don't let that tinkly intro fool you. The vocals are not as full blown as in subsequent tracks but this is a lovely piece of music.

(am) are a duo from Italy and I notice that Ophelia Dorme (another Italian band) share the same net label, and both made a marked impression me so checking out Musicaoltranza's catalog is a must for me. There are some pretty long tracks on this CD but they all are so listenable you don't notice how much time this is all taking up. It's taken me for-fekkin-ever to really assimilate this huge body of work, and even then I've only just scratched the surface. Oh, btw, the tinkly pianos seem to be standard for every intro and after a while you don't even notice it. I singled out Taleopptak as being one of the highlights of this project but every track after that steams. It seems kind of unfair to praise one but not others. All told, this is a very bold sound, and as I say, so much to take in it will keep you busy for weeks. About as original as it gets my friends, go see...

MUST HAVE oddness with a stroke of genius.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Dead Company - The Pain Of Mr Who

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Being dead maybe isn't such a drag. Certainly most Goths would agree with that statement as would no doubt members of The World Organisation of Funeral Operatives (gravediggers to the rest of us) who coin it in no matter what the weather. If you think I made that organisation up, you need to get out more but try and avoid this or maybe - who knows - it'll open up a whole new career path. So, obviously The Dead Company are the ones to blame for this spate of abyss staring but being a Dead Company musically isn't always as sepulchral as it may sound. In all the time I have known them (getting on for six, seven years) never once have they ever fallen back on the old 'Dr Phibes' organ sound. Fallen back on everything else within human hearing range and a few outside of it too, but that's a whole other story.

The Pain Of Mr Who is also a piece of Dead Company history and although I never officially reviewed the original track, I came across a review of a remix done by Long John Sliver. In it I describe the original track: 'The production is spot on, willfully insisting on building a sullen, brooding tune that has a rhythmic heart as sensual as warm honey, rippling over your senses with an almost reggae-ish twitch to its buttocks' and having listened to this remix I find it still fits the bill perfectly. Mind you, I think this is by far and away one of my all time favourite TDC tracks, along with one of my fave line ups.

Now, finally, you get to hear TDC as I first heard them all those years ago and I think you'll agree that the combination of Sean Boyle's voice (he was also known as Black Circles btw) and Jon Bushaway's adventurous musical is magical. At the time there was absolutely nothing around like them, and experimental was still being sniggered at. That is in no to denigrate the musicians who have since worked within the TDC framework, all have contributed to the story. However, this is a slice of the band when I first met them and - cleaned and brushed up in its new mix - shows exactly why they meant so much at the time to so many people. Probably the most accessible TDC ever, this is their idea of pop ;)

MUST HAVE slice of TDC history.

James Crosbie Hancox - Walking Wounded

Hear The Track Here

Fourth one down so far for Liverpool's very own James Crosbie Hancox who is definitely not yer ordinary Liverpool musician. Nope, James Crosbie Hancox is an awkward cuss, musically speaking. In real life he's probably a real nice bloke, the kind you'd happily down a beer with (Ed: face it, you'd down a beer with a brick wall), musically though he will insist on being, well, one dimensional. That's partly because all of the tracks I have reviewed so far are from the 'Painting in numbers using only one colour' project which basically means that each track is in one chord. Mmmmm, sounds like fun.

Well actually it is, kinda/sorta.

Although I have problems with each of the tracks soundwise, I don't really have a problem with the material itself. In fact considering what it is, it's surprisingly listenable - and that applies to this track as much as any of the other three. He's a bit handy with the old tune you see, and that is what always seems to save his bacon every time. Regular readers will already know that I will overlook all kinds of sonic errors so long as the energy and spirit of the track is there, I have to say, in this musicians defence, that I am not so perturbed about this tracks sound, everything sounds excellent.

Moreover, when all is said and done, Walking Wounded is an absolutely cracking song, full of tasty little aural surprises not the least of it being the vocal. A splendid turnout all round, I'd say and far and away the best James Crosbie Hancox track I have heard so far. It would have been nice to glom some lyrics (what I could make out I liked) while I was about this review but hey, that's the way it goes. Give this a bit more time than you normally would and I think you'll find it grows quite successfully

Excellent Alternative song. Highly Recommended

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Can't Stop The Daggers - One Or The Other

Hear The Track Here

Despite all appearances to the contrary, it's actually been a bit of a slow year for Arizona based four piece Can't Stop The Daggers. This is because they have been working on a new album all this year many of whose tracks I have heard in demo (right off the board) form. Having said that One Or The Other is a 'brand new idea live from the board at practice' so we are not quite out of those woods yet. With anyone else I would have issued them their marching orders, but Can't Stop The Daggers are a very special case - with an enviable catalog of poppy, radio friendly alternative rock.

Aficionados of this band will know their penchant for penning a notable song, and it mostly doesn't matter how its delivered the song still shines through. We also know that Can't Stop The Daggers have a beautiful touch with this kind of material and that - thanks to this live track - we know that they can sound like this anytime too. Still, that's always been the hallmark of this band, right from the start. Their songs are instantly recognisable, instantly familiar thanks to their relentless delving into their musical roots.

In my mind, that ability to break new ground while staying as familiar as rain in August (Ed: Gilmore is confined to the UK) is what makes both the band and their material work for me. As such then, where others deliver garbage can mixes as demos, Can't Stop The Daggers give us a close approximation of the real, albeit flat and lifeless in the mix. In this case, it's what's happening musically that is of interest and considering this is right off the board it sounds fine enough to me. To be sure, I'd love to hear this done in the glory it deserves, but this will do in the meantime. Why, o why is this band not signed and famous already...

Excellent CSTD live performance. MUST HAVE alternative.

Ron Vogel - Blazing

Hear The Track Here

Although he is a new name to me, obviously Ron Vogel has been around a bit according to the info on his Soundclick page. Certainly long enough to work out all them little black dots (Ed: Ahh, that'll be musical notes then Gilmore...?) and their place in the universe. Looks like he's got enough guitars for all those notes too. Anyway, enough of blind jealousy and let's get to Blazing. Downloading the track initially I noted that this was another slice of prog-rock (which seems to have a growing trend of late) and hoped - with all my might - that it wasn't going to be one of 'those' kinds of prog-rock. Some I can stand (barely) but some makes me vomit on sight and this, my credulous friends, is not a pretty picture.

So here we are with a cracking start, a wall of prejudice right from the get go. Oh lucky day. About the only thing I require from a prog-rock track (other than it ending quickly) is musical coherence ie a decent listen. If I wanted to hear someone spanking a plank at supersonoic speed I'd go to You Tube which seems to be invested with them - all I might add, to no great avail. Having said I have herad some good prog rock on Soundclick and I had high hopes of at least being entertained. 'Just having some fun...' Ron says in the song comments and looked at that way, Blazing is a bit of fun and - surprising for the genre - is a song and not just some ego stroking instrumental.

A song that, for some obscure reason, reminded me of the band called Hawkwind in full spate. Quite why that should be I'm not sure, unless it's the tone of the song. No matter, I guess it is musically complex enough to pass muster as prog rock but to my ears Blazing owes more to mainstream rock than the Big Hair=Big Ego school. OK, now I've had the fun, it inspires me to listen to something a little meatier (lyrically) than this although 'Frederick Nitche said it best, "Pain remembers, pain regrets" ' is sure as **** going to take some beating.

Nice slice of rock. Recommended.

Frequen-Cee - Bad Man Sin

Hear The Track Here

I think I may have been guilty of an audible shriek when I saw this musician in the review list this month. A shriek that, like most shrieks, could be taken two ways. A running away shriek, or a come-hither shriek? Well, neither as it happens, it was as noise of surprise at the sight of an old friend. See back in the day (Ed: Oh God, here we go...) Frequencee was one of the mainstays of Soundclick's electronica crowd and was a major participant in Soundclick's own little golden age (from late 2003 to 2005), and its been forever since I last heard from him. Doesn't look like I've reviewed him through the blog (which I started in 2006) and the last actual review is from 2005. Still from what I can remember the guy always delivered a hefty punch, and besides it's nice to see old friends.

So long as they don't want anything...

Bad Man Sin is placed squarely as Electronic:Breakbeat and a very fine example of the genre it is too. Ross McCleary (aka Frequen-Cee) is from the UK and it shows (at least to me) in his musical style, drawing heavily on DnB and Garage to make a sound that has but one purpose: to be played as loud as humanly bearable. All taking place in a warm climate amongst like-minded people, who can't stop their bodies from obeying the track's central message - move your butt and part-tay...

Ol' Freq's become a bit adept at mixing together rock and dance sounds and Bad Man Sin is tough as old boots and just as wiry; a surprisingly good combination in the right hands. I think we should all get on our knees at the altar of Native Instruments and give thanks for Guitar Rig. There was a time when Soundclick's electronica community almost ruled this roost, and it was because of tracks of this quality and drive; the unstoppable, must be heard assault on your senses that only a musician who knows what he is about can deliver.

Awesome slice of hard, in-your-face rhythm. MUST HAVE electronica.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fortune - Just For One Day

Hear The Track Here

So the burning question of the hour is, am I any further towards the end of this bands output? Out of the twenty seven tracks on their Soundclick page, I've already reviewed ten so I am making some inroads. If this sounds like carping, allay your fears because out of the ten tracks I have reviewed almost ALL of them got a Must Have rating from me and that certainly doesn't happen anywhere near often enough. Mind you, even since I first came across this Boston based band with the jaw dropping All Sold Out (December 2008), they have been an oasis of classic rock in my review lists. Not bad for a band that sounds decidedly American in its rock outlook, because it is the best of American rock (no screechers, leechers or creatures). Horny handed workers of the musical fields. God, I hope that sentence isn't libellous - I already know it stinks as literary comment.

Today, my boggle-eyed friends, you become temporary members of the Lucky Bastard Club because you get two varieties of this track; the MP3 I am reviewing, and a live (maybe?) video version on the band's Soundclick page. The thing the video points up for me is one of the main reasons I like this band. It really IS all about the music. Not for these guys lame props, Armageddon style fireworks, or spangled Y fronts; they look like a bunch of guys who just wandered in off the street to play some music together.

Although, to my ears, Just For One Day doesn't come up to the usual (very high) standard of songwriting this band is capable of. Certainly it's likable enough, especially if you already know what the band can do and it will - I'm certain - grab new listeners as time goes by. If this all sounds like damning with faint praise, this is not my intention. If any of us had written a track as good as Just For One Day we'd assume we had been touched by the rock hand of God, but when we are talking about Fortune, I've heard them do better. See, that's the problem with making great tracks, you have to follow them.

Highly Recommended classic rock.

Mista Perez - Temptation and other things...

Hear The Track Here

A track now from Mixposure and a musician I met while hanging out in the chatroom during shows over there. Mista Perez is from NYC, one of my favourite cities on the planet, and he asked me to review a track called Temptation. So far, no normal. Somehow or other we must have figured out a link so that I could download the track, and it duly sat on my HD until it's time came and then - I only get approximately one minute and six seconds of it. I can only imagine I have a crap download and there is actually a whole song existing out there, falling in love, getting married, having babies etc rather than this dwarf I'm saddled with. The greatest shame is that it actually sounds like a real good R&B song, well produced and performed so why waste all the effort and piss off in the middle of it?

Now, grip tight because this is where it gets scary...

When I then dutifully went and looked on Mista Perez'z'z'z'z Mix page, did I find Temptation? Did I ****. Now, I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a half assed review and I cannot allow something like that to sully my reputation (Ed: Should I tell him? Should I?). So with no signs of a quick BJ (Ed: Dude! You can't say that!!) OR any other kind of temptation, I thought I'd have a listen to the tracks that were all present and correct. Pure is exactly what it sounds like, a pure ramble through jazz and funk and all stations to disco, and so beautifully produced and arranged you could eat your dinner off it. Or, as someone commented on the page and I agreed with, 'Good love music!'

The Perfect Team is, unfortunately, my nemesis in musical form; the dreaded power ballad. Moreover, not only a Power Ballad but an R&B tinged one and I must have spat oceans of venom in that particular direction. There are very, very, very few people who can actually pull off the right combination of music and emotion to make it resound with people. Prince, to my mind, is such a person. At his prime, NO ONE could touch that man where power ballads were concerned, and remember I can't stand the things. The other reason I mention the Purple One for is because Mista Perez delivers a very Prince-like sound here - again with a production excellence that fits the music beautifully. Definitely an artist worth checking out. Oh, and if you find Temptation, send her back to me - preferably whole.

Genre? What Genre? Highly Recommended Smooth.

Savium - Conversations With 17 Complete Strangers

Hear The Track Here

It's been a long while since we heard anything from the POP (Project Overseer Productions) site, and being the person I am I had enough bouts of guilt about it to go over there and mug Chris Bishop (sole prop with the missis) for a track to review. Always someone to be relied on, Chris came right back and suggested I apply my ears to Savium, a completely new name to me. Savium appears to be a one man band from Denmark, a surprisingly musical country as it happens - in common with a lot of Scandinavian countries. Funnily enough, it's mostly electronica or pop, you don't hear that much Scandinavian rock, albeit of the instrumental variety.

OK, who did the comedy sigh? Not nice.

I know (only too well) just how many 'rock instrumentals' are out there, and I know the number that are good enough to be out there and the difference and a quarter will take you to the moon. Alice. For my money, it takes a special kind of talent to make a rock instrumental that is good enough to capture the fickle ears of John Q. Public and his consort. The other way around the dilemma of being someone who is only listened to other musicians is to make the tune interesting in and of itself, by whatever means necessary. Savium do a great job in both areas and Conversations With 17 Different Strangers would certainly fit my personal criteria for downloading it...

You can hear the hesitation in my voice, can't you? The appearance of The Inevitable Butt. The only reason I am not doing that is because this is a track whose tendency to wander into prog-rock is not mah thang. The music and performance (not the mention the production) are all absolutely spot on the money. Now considering there are four tracks on Savium's POP webpage, I'm sure there is something there for a prog-rock philistine like me, after all quality is no longer the question. Savium's got it happening, whatever your preference.

Excellent instrumental prog-rock. Highly Recommended.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wake Of Destruction - The Deep End

Hear The Track Here

Now if anyone other than Omar Chavez (aka Wake of Destruction) had lined me up on a blind date with a (gulp) 'power ballad', I'd have told them to get the **** out of here. Im not, as you know, kindly disposed to the easily disposable and I find that few 'power ballads' are either powerful or ballads. Soporific snorers maybe, or so saccharine that your teeth fall out of your wide-open-in-disbelief mouth. Now I'm an old geezer and, as such, I need all the teeth I can get which is (but one) of many reasons why ballads and I will never be happy together. That would be like putting Scrooge and Christmas together and altogether far to silly a concept to be dealt with here. Suffice to say, obviously Wake of Destruction does something right - if such a thing is possible - with (makes quote mark for the very, very last time) 'power ballads'

Three Must Have's this year should tell you something.

Not only is Wake of Destruction's musical stomping ground 1980's electro-pop a la Depeche Mode, Howard Jones et al, he's amazingly good at it too. As a songwriter, musician and vocalist, this Miami based one man band is extremely impressive, there aren't many musicians who are that good at ALL the disciplines needed to ride the indie music beast successfully. Personally, I like the man because he turns out killer songs in the time honoured pop fashion, something - like pianos and/or cowbells - you can never get enough of. Anyone with a halfway decent pair of ears will recognise the quality embodied in this track, and once the vocal kicks in they'd be no doubt hooked. It's a fact that anyone who has heard WoD doesn't forget the voice quickly.

I've already used a couple of 1980's names to describe his style but the vocal treatment on The Deep End is more Bryan Ferry/Robert Palmer than anything from the electro-pop world. The arrangement and style is pure Depeche Mode though, when they were really hitting their form so the song is much more dense and detailed than your conventional pop opus. Just the way I like them, as it happens. I don't think The Deep End is as strong a song as some I have heard from this source this year but it towers over most of the competition in terms of quality.

Highly Recommended electro-pop 'power ballad'.

333maxwell - Gitanos Expulsado in A Minor

Hear The Track Here

There are many musicians and artists on Soundclick who are very good at what they do, in their own particular style and/or genre. There are a few less who can manage to straddle genres and/or styles and there are an infinitesimal amount of artists who can not only straddle endless genres but master them. One such musician, Chas Holman (aka 333maxwell) not only manages to do that but also contributes to Soundclick forum life in a steady and substantial way, aiding his exposure to new listeners as well as doing the community no end of good. Now that is what I call aware self promotion and a lesson to be learned by some of the endless wannabees we all have to do with on a daily basis.

While reviewing Dream Girl (October 2009) I was musing about how long we had known each other because he seems to have accumulated an awful lot of tracks on my hard drive (7 this year alone) which shows I'm a fan. From the opening notes it was obvious that Gitanos Expulsado in A Minor was a shoo in to join them. Firstly, because it's a wild acoustic gypsy ride and IMO truly world music, mixed with a jazz influence I sneered at when I was younger but have grown to respect more and more as I grow older. The names Django Rheinhart and Stephane Grappelli don't mean much to most young people but to musicians of a certain age, these people are legendary. What 333maxwell has done - most successfully - is to update it and bring it before a new audience.

That doesn't mean to say that all Max has done is copy or duplicate what those great guitarists pioneered, that definitely wouldn't be this musicians style. I like 333maxwell most (obviously) when he's wandering in my own musical fields of interest and on this track he's captured two of my all time favourites; world and jazz. So this is obviously a big hit with me, but what about you guys? Welp, looks like you'd have to be into the two genres mentioned, or have an interest in musical history, to really get more than a pleasant listen out of this but even so, this is a very strong sound. Likely as not to snag the drive by listener I'd say (with enormous bias) Want to know the really, really sick-making thing though? When he requested this review Chas said 'I tossed this one together seconds ago' and that is exactly the kind of believable comment that makes me want to throw up (or throw my toys out of the pram).

MUST HAVE World/jazz acoustic guitar thingie...

Friday, November 13, 2009

JPC (NZ) - Queen Bee

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'Whichever it is, this is a great track' was the end result of my very first encounter with New Zealand musician John Paul Carroll (JPC NZ geddit??). The aforementioned great track was an odd sounding, yet very likable pop rock song by the name of This Time (January 2006) which became the first in a long line of impressive tracks John Paul made throughout 2007 and 2008 - all performed under the bandname of Fluidity. It was, as it happened, an absolutely perfect name both for JP's playing style, songwriting ability and prodigious output. He took a break for a while and returned earlier this year in his new JPC NZ guise and I've already reviewed a couple of tracks from this source.

John Paul is definitely an acquired taste, something I have said time and time again. It isn't everyone who is taken by his vocal style but over the years I have grown to like it a great deal and - when is all is said and done - the man can rock with some considerable authority regardless of the song. It helps, mind, that he is also an excellent songwriter and lyricist and Queen Bee is a fine example of what this particular musician does best. If you try this and don't like it, you really shouldn't listen to anything else he has done because it all sounds the same.

Uh oh, that didn't come out right at all.

As I say, I am a long term fan and I like pretty much everything that he puts out BECAUSE of that very distinctive sound. He hasn't changed it overly much over the three years or so I've been listening to him and why should he? It certainly ain't broke so not in need of fixing. It's been a long, long time since I had to say anything technical about JP's work, he's way too good at what he does to be caught out with a blipper or two - and again that's what makes him listenable. The song is 'dedicated to anyone who's bitten my head off without due cause' and shows that you don't want to be making this guy angry. Queen Bee is a solid chunk of class rock that can only have come from the head of one man, like him or loathe him. I know what side I'm on.

Highly Recommended energy rock.

Thomas J Marchant - Beam Me Up or Put Me Down CD

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It warms the cockles of me old whatsname when artists I have known for a long time seem to be doing well and no-one more so than the UK's very own Thomas J Marchant. I was watching the results of the latest Critics Corner competition (Ed: prize? Only free advertising on Soundclick and that's nothing to sneer at) and was knocked out that Sails was voted top and consequently may well snatch that prize. As well it should because Sails is pure Thomas J, a beautiful song, rendered with the style and panache that is this musicians trademark (especially with songs). It's also one of the tracks on the new 13 track CD from young Thomarse. I've already reviewed How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Cyberspace (May 2009), Say No to Racism and Fascism (June 2009), Nancy 2009 (July 2009), Unemployment (September 2009).

All of the above tracks got good reviews from me and even a couple of Must Have's but I am a well known fan. So much so that Thomas was my Artist of The Year 2008 and that is something only a very few people have done; an award - I might add - based on both musical excellence AND the right community spirit. Hee hee, and you thought it was just about the music eh? Well, listening to Survive (track one, as it were) you might be tempted to question my sanity. It's one of Thomas's rawer songs, and rightly so IMO, but not really indicative of how sweet and powerful he can be when he's really humming. I love, for example, this new acoustic rock side of his work exemplified on tracks like Unemployment and Dreamin' About The Apocalypse, both heavily Dylan sounding epics.

I say Dylan but Thomas is, of course, his own man and his songs tell of a very different time and place. To my ears though, the spirit of the thing remains the same and I believe is one of the reasons why I find this artist appealing. The Legacy of Logie Baird show exactly WHY Thomas seems to appeal to a wide audience. It is fresh, interesting, funny and entertaining and it's just a piano and a voice. What that voice says, though, is the clincher; Thomas J is a people poet and a damn good one as shown on every track on this fine compilation. He is also, despite the lo-fi and sparseness of his work, one of the most innovative artists around by a country mile. Beam Me Up or Put Me Down is a brilliant follow up to the classic Chameleon Dish Archive EP, Let Them Down Gently and will join it on my hard drive (well, the rest of the tracks anyway).


District Verdant - Zero Hour

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First track up this month from Mixposure is District Verdant who - it seems - we've only just met. Their track, Easily Charmed Man (October 2009) was one of the last tracks in last months review schedule. That's just the way it happens sometimes. Anyway, it helps that District Verdant are yer actual rock band and that's never a bad thing in my book. Easily Charmed Man was probably more Alternative than anything else but showed a well presented package (ooeeerrr) that - although pleasant - didn't inspire me to either keep it or give you earache about it.

Still, that was only the first....

Zero Hour, on the other hand, is pure classic rock - riff city. It should have been exactly what my tired old bones were looking for and - like Easily Charmed Man - it never really came up to the mark. Don't get me wrong here. I liked that first track, probably better than this one and that is down to pure personal taste and nothing whatsoever to do with the band or even the production. See, that's the problem when you have a group of people who obviously know what they are doing and how to do it. Everything stands or falls on the strength of the material being performed and IMO, Zero Hour doesn't cut it.

Again I have to say this is nothing to do with the band doing right or wrong, but ultimately Zero Hour just isn't that strong a song. Seeing as it's only a whisker away from four minutes long, it shouldn't tax you overly much to go and have a listen and make up your own mind. In a world that throbs with the likes of Avalanche, Fortune, and endless number of other standout rock musicians, that songwriting bar is scarily high. To be sure, with a slight adjustment of the mix to make it a touch heavier (and edgier) District Verdant certainly come across with the musical goods - the ending of this is excellent plank spanking - but the songs need something more...

Try it and see.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bright Midnight - Floating Feather (Blue Day & Age)

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My introduction to our very own Doors-alike was with a Floating Feather track. Floating Feather (Sleepy Mood) (July 2009) was the name of that track and I'm not altogether sure whether that has anything whatsoever to do with this track. However, as Hillis Emanuelson
(aka Bright Midnight) said when requesting this review 'got a much revised/redone/remastered version' which makes me presume that they are one and the same track regardless of title. The problem is that, to be honest, I didn't really think that much about the track at the time and never kept it. 'A track of ideas' is what I said at the time, but nothing fully formed to get our teeth into. Since then, of course, Bright Midnight has delivered some very tasty (albeit with a strong Doors/Jim Morrison flavour) blues rock tracks that show he has something going on there.

Not much sign of Jimbo on this track though which, surprisingly enough, sounds strangely like one Thomas J Marchant, including the tone and tenor of the song itself. Definitely more ultra modern Alternative than anything looking back to the 1960's, I actually found myself warming up to this a lot more than I would have given it credit for on my first listen. Whether that is because of my stated liking for this particular style (exemplified by Mr Marchant), or because Bright Midnight is doing such a bang up job of making it happen. No matter what you do, don't let that first listen sway you.

See it all sounds a bit too lo-fi, garage-y the first time around, then you start to notice just how strong the song is, helped enormously by the drawn out, laconic vocal. Not much to it musically, bass drums, guitars employed in a kinda/sorta blues framework, no virtuoso shredders in sight. Which puts all the onus on the song and vocal and - in that respect - Floating Feather (Blue Day & Age) comes off very well indeed, putting the whole thing into a Smiths mood that suits it down to the ground. This is home produced but everything sits extremely comfortably in the mix and, despite a slight roughness, aids the song by being simple and straightforward. All in all, a neat job.

Highly Recommended Alternative

Mark Colquitt - Something New

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You ever get the feeling you are surrounded by guitarists? I get that all the time, probably because I am; both as a reviewer and musician, guitarists seem to be my daily staple. Nothing wrong with plank spankers mind, except some of them could do with a good wash and a nice haircut (Ed: wtf??) but damn they are everywhere. Mark Colquitt is obviously one, but lets not hold that against him. he's also from Las Vegas, NV and has been playing (according to the webpage) for over 27 years. During that time you would learn a bit, even if you were a sandwich short of a picnic, and judging by Mark's influences, he's not only learned some stuff, he's covered a lot of my favourite tracks. For more on covers of (amongst others) Queen, Aerosmith, Ozzy, LedZep, go trawl his Soundclick site.

I've never been that keen on reproducing things from the past, but I know there are many people out there who do like covers but for me it has to be more than a cover. To do it properly IMHO you have to own the song, make it your own. That is why I tend NOT to listen to a lot of covers. Something New is exactly that, and it's not a cover, it's an original. The years of experience show immediately in the crisp, clear yet punchy production and mix and the tracks arrangement and performance. I think everything we are hearing is the man himself so my hats off to him and I suspect you won't be far behind me.

The only spanner (Ed: wrench to you guys) in the works, and it's a humongous spanner at that, is that Something New is also a ballad; nay a rock ballad even. Regular readers are only too well aware of my intense loathing for the genre, and with just cause. What helps this track enormously is the experience Mark brings to the party. OK, so it's highly redolent of something written by Bryan Adams but it still manages to sound fresh and appealing - even to a grizzled old rock veteran like myself. The bulk of the praise for that has to be the performance, especially the vocals (lead and backing); this is a lovely voice and one I'm sure I could get to like - even if its always singing mawkish ballads :)

Highly Recommended rock ballad (and I don't get to write that too often).

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Ian Dadon - The Comedian

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The world we live in can be an intimidating place, especially when you are new to this whole online thing. I've never been a fan of the whole 'pound the noobs' school of community building and often go out of my way to new people so when Ian Dadon was pounded on for saying something in someone else's review. Now normally I just see that stuff as being background noise but this time I think Ian was sincere in his approach and consequent replies on the subject, so I put him right in a PM. Then I discovered that he wasn't such a noob after all, just inactive, nonetheless been on Soundclick for around three years. See? Ya never know when the bear you are baiting turns around and starts biting.

Complete bollocks, says Confucius. He's probably right too.

I listen to a fair bit of commercial music but for years and years I've survived on a mainly indie diet and I feel better for it. A consequence of which that I tend to describe people in terms of indie artists I know, and of course being unsigned they may not be known everywhere or by everyone. My first instinct was to say he sounded a bit like a lo-fi version of NZ's own John Paul Carroll but that's merely a surface impression because - despite the sparsity of actual accompaniment (ie none) - it's a surprisingly complex piece of acoustic music.

Voice and guitar solos are the hardest things to pull off properly and one of the best aids of all is strong material and Ian seems to have a surfeit of that. There is enough in the exactly five minutes that The Comedian runs to power two peoples normal tunes so ideas are not the problem here. The sound obviously is because, although clear and well recorded, its still as basic as it gets. What is does perfectly is to highlight both the song and the vocal that puts it across - certainly lots and lots of scope there. Excellent introduction to this new songwriting talent.

Excellent ideas. Highly Recommended Acoustic rock.