Wednesday, September 29, 2010

333maxwell - Walk Awhile

Hear The Track Here

Last couple of tracks coming up for this month and here, squeezed right on the very end, is our old friend Chas Holman (known to all and sundry as 333maxwell) making the kind of track that I infinitely prefer him to be working in: jazz (or to be totally accurate Jazz Lounge whatever that happens to be). 333maxwell is a bit of a genre bender and I think I have reviewed a track from him in just about every musical field there is, but when I look back at those tracks that have made the difference with me, they are almost all jazz in some form (usually throwbacks to Jazz's Golden Age of 1940/1950s). It was this incredible musical reach that finally convinced me that he should become my Artist of The Year 2009 (along with the 9 Must Haves he had for that particular year.

It also helps that he is one of the most professional sounding musicians on Soundclick, again regardless of genre as even the shortest of drive by listens will show; pick a track, any track. As I say though, I prefer him when he has on his jazz hat because here is a musician who truly understands the genre. My father played in dance bands during the '40's and '50's so this is music that I grew up surrounded by and luckily this is the very era that 333maxwell plunders so well. Almost all the 333maxwell tracks I still play are from this genre and Walk Awhile goes further into the blue note than most. Yeeeeeeessssssss.....

His musical talent is prodigious; he's a guitarist, a piano player, a horn player (of some considerable chops) and he's no slouch as a singer. In fact, if he were a comely maiden I might be tempted to marry him. However, I know that he is a grizzly man of a certain age, so no thanks I'll just take the music, thank you. And what music it is, Walk Awhile being an absolutely note perfect rendition of yer actual 'crooner' jazz blues, not an area he has cavorted much in before but one I hope to hear more of. I'm a sax man (for the sound) and the tone of this sax is - not to put too fine a point on it - incredible, smoky, blue and as rich as a chocolate bath. It has to be said that you should probably like music of this era to really appreciate the job of work Chas has created here, but try it you never know. Jazz can be like that; one minute you hate it, the next it is all you want to hear.

MUST HAVE time travel.

Dark Arts - A Miracle Never Happens

Hear The Track Here

What is it just lately?? I know people are always shifting around because of one reason or another, but the amount of people who have either flounced out of Soundclick or bounced out of it is becoming stupid. Here's Dark Arts take on it 'Uploaded my last track on soundclick, i shant be adding anymore music here' so the burning question is why? I know Soundclick well, and its problems but at the end of the day it is just another music website - it just happens to also be the biggest. One of the reasons I've stayed on this site for so long is because it really is the only game in town, and I've watched people leave and then come back time after time. I say this because Shane Simpson (aka Dark Arts) has been on Soundclick for a long time (first as Solidsounds) and we need all the veterans we can get.

This is my fifth Dark Arts track and, looking back considering the genre (dance), he hasn't fared too badly. I think that is mostly down to my antipathy towards the genre but nonetheless, I still said (although not in so many words) that the tracks could get a lot better.This is the first track I have heard that is a song, and sung by Shane no less - a first for him. Now in light of what I said at the beginning of the review, I would love to be able to say this track is the dogs bollocks, but I can't do that because it isn't. Its full of glaring errors, abrupt fades and even a mid-vocal ending that just has to be a mistake.

Moreover, although I do get what Dark Arts is trying to do, it just doesn't work. The vocal and the track just don't fit together, at least not in its present style. Its obvious that Dark Arts faces technical limitations too, and none of that helps. However, its out there and I can only judge it on what I hear and what I hear is a decent idea and not much else. Its not that Dark Arts can't sing (although drone would be closer to the truth) but the disjoint between the music and the vocal style is just too great for this to work in any meaningful way. Hate to do this, especially in light of what's happening, but truth is truth.

Nuff X - The Big Bang

Hear The Track Here

Well, well, look who we have here. Been a good long while since we've had an encounter with nuffcore (don't ask) and in fact the last time we encountered him was in a collaboration with (of all people) Charlie Armour. An odd sounding combination I'll grant you, with Charlie A being a classy, talented composer and Nuff being...well Nuff really. There is really no way to describe exactly what Nuff X does, he cuts, he pastes, he glitches, he throws in the odd squalling cat and drunken old wino and it comes out sounding ferking amazing; electronica par excellence. Although I should warn you that this is definitely not yer conventional electronica musician.

Nope, he's nuffcore to the core.

There has always been an edgy, punky experimental side to this musicians work that has always appealed to me, and that was the first thing I noticed missing from this - presumably - new track. Whether that is a good thing or a bad one is down to your knowledge of Nuffs work, but I'm sure his older fans won't be expecting something Musically it has much in common with 1980's electro bands such as Depeche Mode (yeah, yeah, I know but that's what I'm saying) and wouldn't seem out of place in the smartest of dance places. Now THAT boggles my ******* mind OK?

I suspect that I am spoiled by earlier exposure to this musician, and maybe he's exploring some other field, and it IS a fine piece of electronica, even if it is very conventional. He has given us some very nice IDM (intelligent dance music seeing as you asked) in the past and I guess that might well fit in that classification except for the melodies and feel which are dark electronica. I know it sounds odd on paper (as it were) but it does work surprisingly well, as several more plays showed quickly enough. Now that I am finally getting to the writing stage, I've grown quite fond of it, but my heart is still nuffcore....

Highly Recommended Electronic Breakbeat.

Those Among Us - Disco Ball (Demo Version)

Hear The Track Here

You may remember me waxing lyrical last month when I reviewed Those Among Us's's's's A Chance To Die EP, a fine testament to how quickly this band has developed into something with considerable power and reach. It is, no doubt about it, helped enormously by the presence of John Brandon, injecting that special Silvertrain flavour into the proceedings. Familiar, you see. Those Among Us are John Brandon, Lino Gonzalez and Steven 'Mez' Mezropian and (maybe, sometime) Ritchie Allen. Don't make the mistake that Those Among Us are in fact Silvertrain in a slightly different dress (Ed: which he did, about a thousand times...). Sure the songs and arrangements sound familiar but Gonzalez and Mezropian bring muscle and maturity that was never part of Silvertrain.

No more wallowing in the past k?

Where the EP is essentially power pop/heavy rock, Disco Ball is a excellent meld of electronic conventional rock sounds, all very modern and alternative even. As time goes on, and I heard the track more and more, I finally decided that it does indeed deserve the demo tag. Not what I thought when I first heard it mind, I heard a knockout rock song powering its way into my ears. Not that there is anything musically wrong with the track, it's just fine but there is a roughness to both the sound and arrangement that a bit of tightening up here and there wouldn't harm.

The standard of work (technical and musical) on A Chance to Die, and on all four tracks, was right on the money and I know John of old, he would want this one to be as well and so would I. Having said that, the differences are probably only in their ears and mine and most people probably wouldn't care anyway. After the blast of the EP I started to appreciate more and more the vocal qualities Steve Mezropian brings to this particular grouping, he has a very hefty rock feel, as well as being able to give things depth and feeling. Not an easy task I say, and a mark of how much he's put into it. It may be a work in progress but I can't see anyone spotting that difference and the song really is terrific.

Great rock blend. Highly Recommended.

Twizzie - Keep Doin You Ft Chelsea Tan

Hear The Track Here

Twizzie is much better known to us as Canadian rapper/hip hop musician Twisted Angel, but the name change wouldn't be changing the music, I've always thought of him as Twizzie anyway. Matter of fact, Twisted Angel is one of the brighter hip hop highlights around on Soundclick because - no matter what the genre - the man does indeed know what works and what doesn't. He's always had a bit of a fresh take on it too, swapping genres as easily as a snake sheds skin. Not that I am insinuating there is anything reptilian about Twizzie, ya understand, he's probably a very nice chap.

As Twizzie says in Keep Doin You 'See I got somthn to say besides sport cars and babes/how I'm gettin money, diamonds and chains' He does indeed and that is one of the reasons I latched on to him back when I first reviewed Some Kind Of Monster (April 2009), a fairly regular hip hop joint enlivened by a decent music track and a class rap. Keep Doing You sees the man returning back to an more standard hip hop sound, and a fairly smoochy, laid back r&b beat with a vocal from Chelsea Tan that is well used and placed.

I don't think this side of Twizzie's work appeals to me as much as when he is out exploring other musical genres, but nonetheless, he's still a good rapper with a very positive lyrical side and that always makes listening a pleasure. 'No matter where you go, dont forget who you are' Chelsea wisely and Twizzie illustrates this with a tale about how he is finding his own musical style, which I have had the pleasure to watch over several releases. 'I'm not rich or famous....' Twizzie says in the song, 'but I made music and that was good enough for me. Me too, as it happens. A Soundclick original for sure.

Highly Recommended hip hop.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Larry Ludwick - I Hear You

Hear The Track Here

Not sure that this title is intentionally ironic, given Larry's hearing difficulties this year but Larry describes I Hear You as a 'mixture of old and new'. Hopefully that means he is getting back to whatever passes for normal in the Ludwick household, this man is a pillar holding up (almost singlehandedly) the Soundclick Critics Corner Competitions and it's one thing we need and that's builders. Not, I hastily add, the kind with butt cleavage and a propensity to overestimate both their ability and their price, but more the kind of empire builder that builds....well Critics Corner Competitions I guess. Win the monthly one and you get a days free advertising on Soundclick's front page, what's not to like?

I Hear You finds Larry in mellow semi-classical mode, a genre he has thrown at me once or twice but not one that always finds favour. True appreciation for orchestral pieces for me go hand in hand with mood. Sometimes a classical piece will sit like a lump of four day old porridge and then, in a quiet moment obviously, it will finally be heard as it should be and this proved to be the case with this track - although at the end of the day, I do have reservations.

That may well be down to the style, but it might also have to do with the overall sound and, at the time of writing, I still haven't made my mind up about it and maybe I never will. When put up against his last classical piece - The Exodus (August 2010) - I Hear You seems like a pale comparison. Again though, it may also have been down to my own moods while listening to this piece; up and down like a frenzied yo-yo. Phillip Grigalanz made a comment on the page that there was 'excellent theory to this composition' and he sounds like he knows....

Almost pastoral classical. Recommended

Brendon McKenna - Get Out On The Town

Hear The Track Here

It's a small world as you'll see. I'll let Soundclick regular Nick Laroche explain it ' I recorded it, my brother-in-law is the artist' he states proudly, 'I recorded this live off of my radio show so there's an air pop at the beginning and the quality of the mix is not so stellar' Pffft, such things don't frighten me and I stand in awe of anyone who can get musicians onto the radio - live - because it's always a very enjoyable experience IMO. Brendon McKenna is a 21 year old Country musician from Canada who has but this one track on his page and no other information whatsoever. Maybe he learned the lessons of Facebook only too well eh? ;)

Off grid is the new black innit?

I am not a great fan of country, although it is a genre that has been known to throw me a curve ball or two in my time. Not that I'd actually class Get Out on the Town as country, it's all a bit folky - if you know what I mean. Nick was wise to put in the proviso about the recording because this is just one guy, his guitar and voice, being picked up by just three mics so it's not going to sound great. Nonetheless, the sound is clear and the energy of the music cuts through to show off the song in its proper light.

There's a bit of boominess and, I think, the guitar is slightly out of tune but hey, that kind of stuff happens live. What counts then are two things, the song and the performance and there's no problem with either. Brendon is a pretty good rhythm player (which definitely gives it a country feel) and a decent singer but - for my money - the song was a bit too formulaic for my taste. Having said that, I think it would be a different proposition entirely with a recorded version of it, especially one that takes advantage of the songs natural lope.

Recommended County folk (but not country folk, if you know what I mean)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thomas J Marchant - Regret

Hear The Track Here

And now, dear readers, time to catch up with the continuing adventures of Thomas J Marchant (24½), a wandering UK troubadour (and btw my Artist Of The Year 2008). So whats the news since we encountered him with Trying Not To Die (August 2010)? Well, its only a month but things move swiftly in Marchant territory - this is a VERY prolific songwriter - and Regret is a track from his NEW album Hang In There, Baby. By my count that's at least two albums the guy has released this year. yeah but, you quibble, it's all a bit low-key, lo-fi innnit? Well, that may well be so, but the style and tone of TJM songs is the real jewel here and always has been and on that score the man can do no wrong (or not very much anyway).

So, thats my bias out the way, now let's tackle yours...

Now I won't deny that Thomas can be an awkward cuss when it comes to doing it his way, and what that generally means is that you will either like him or not. Take Regret for example. If anyone else had done this track, people would have been screaming that its sounds like some English shoe-gazer whining on about God knows what, which completely obscures what Thomas actually does. To me there is a direct link between Thomas and (recent) Morrisey or (ancient) Ray Davies; all songwriters who wrote simple songs about simple things, normal things. It helped that they were master lyricists in their time and although Thomas isn't quite in their league, he's well up there in my books. It should also be noted that this style is VERY commercial here in the UK.

Now, having tasefully built him up, now let me cut his legs out from under him by saying this isn't one of his better sounding efforts. Nothing wrong with the song, mind, that's his forte, after all. The guitars are absolutely drowning in reverb, giving it an inescapable demo feel. Bear in mind that Thomas has almost perfected this arcane art and many of the tracks I have loved also been of this type, but to me on this song that sound blunts the impact, blurs it somehow. It got better when I was able to read the lyrics while reading it, because understanding what he's whini...(oops) singing about is part of the process. It all makes me want to hear it done properly, know what I mean? Still, even with all that, the song still shines through, which makes Thomas J Marchant a jammy (Ed: English slang, lucky) young man.

Lo-fi, somewhat shambolic but a heart of a good song. Recommended.

Guanoman - Minor Attack of Glass Sickness

Hear The Track Here

Question for you fight fans, what links Mr Robert DeVore, the lives and loves of rat men, Huntarr, the Living Weapon, and someone gradually sealing every orifice in his head? Enter stage (far) left: Guanoman!! Now in case you are easily offended and think that I am taking all this birdshit thing way too seriously, you obviously know nothing about this musician and his - how can I put this kindly? - predilections. Guanoman is experimental like no other musician I know of, as far out there as Pluto and equally as inscrutable.

Not that its made any difference to me I've liked whole swathes of Guanoman (and offshoots) output and never been afraid to say so either. Mind you, that isn't what I said when I reviewed Bokonosolonoronach (October 2003) but a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and this is a musician who innovates at a prodigious rate. Damn, has it really been that long??? The mind boggles. So, my little chums, two words to cling tightly to in the coming earstorm: experimental and nutter. A brand new track from his new album, Minor Attack of Glass Sickness shows you exactly how nuts.

Pfft, I hear some you say, I said Pilesar was out there but we quite like him, how bad can Guanoman be? OK, let me spell out the approach method. Sidle into this track slowly, try it on low volume at first and if it doesn't send you into seizures, it may be safe enough to give it some poke. Don't blast it out with the windows open though because you could get arrested for the side effects. Anyone who can mention both Mesheggah and Sun Ra in the same list of influences can't be all there musically, know what I mean? Having said that, like Pilesar, if you listen to the music enough you recognise that underneath all that wtfry is a very serious musician, a totally off the wall, wild eyed, mad scientist of a musician granted but one nonetheless. Me, I love this stuff, so what does that say about me?

OUT THERE must have (Ed: that doesn't look right...)

Big Wheel - Free Me

Hear The Track Here

There are many Soundclickers to whom the Big Round One is legend (Ed: after all, he's been around long enough) and even as jaded a palate as mine have been known to taste some of the man's delicacies although - it has to be said - that I am not a great big fan of the more mellow forms of music, yay, even unto electronica. He's also wandered a time or two into dance and you know what I feel about that. Rather dance it than listen to it mate. Still, as I say, Wheelie knows enough about production and musical prowess that makes any of his tracks listenable so I never experience an ever-growing queasiness as the track moves up the review list (unlike some other artists in these genres).

Saves on the Rennies, doncha know?

Bit of a work in progress by the sounds of it though, 'It's a first draft, and I'll most definitely be going back to this for a fix-up and hopefully to add a vocalist of some kind' Big Wheel explains in the song comments. What?, and you think that will get you off the hook? I think not, young man. (Ed: pssst, kill the daddy voice). 'Funky breakbeat track with a jazz flavr yo' is what he says and I say the jazz tip helps enormously - at least for my taste. As basic as Big Wheel thinks this is, there is no doubting most of would listen to this and say **** YEAH!!, which goes to show how seriously he takes this. Fact is, and believe me I tried, I can find nothing wrong with this track at all - even for an instrumental.

My only quibble has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with music, well not in any conventional sense. There is a vocal sample, breathing the songs title, and I have also just used this sample in one of my upcoming tracks so curse you Big Wheel and a big nnnnrrrrrrrrr. So, now we have that fit of childish pique out of the way, listeners would find that - regardless of your personal tastes - Big Wheel tracks have a nasty habit of hitting the right spot. Just when I was feeling most jaded and unwilling to carry on, this track came along and threw cold water over me. God knows how much better this is going to get if its given a treatment but its good enough for me right now and as it is.

B-B-Bbreakbeat with a jazz lilt. Highly Recommended

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wrechno - Stretch

Hear The Track Here

How come Americans have such evocative phrases?? Take the term 'stoner' and I automatically latch onto the images and sounds of Bill and Ted (Kenau Reeves when he was a human being) or - going even further back - the real classic stoners, Cheech and Chong. Conversations full of 'wha', 'dude' and 'legendary larceny' (Ed: you made that last one up....dude). I openly admit to the whole world that I have practiced the art of classic stonerism at the feet of the masters, and frequently have flashbacks and gaping canyons of blankness about the smoke filled past. While practising this arcane art of the killer weed, I also developed a taste for the killer riff and - in my dotage - am still a high end user of heavy rock in all its varieties.

I mention this because although I know nothing whatsoever about Wrechno other than they are two Tool fans and 'classless stoners' as they describe themselves. So, that's a great many things we have in common already. So pass that bad boy on.... There I was, being painfully adorned with piercings and tattoos, and listening to the track and I am wondering what happened between my expectations and what poured into my ears while reviewing Stretch. Definitely not heavy rock by any description, although in tone and arrangement there are certain similarities except that whatever riffs are happening electronically.

When I went back to check I discovered that I must have been blind when I downloaded it because it plainly states that it is Electronica Trip Hop - definitely not the buzz I was expecting - but I sobered up quick enough, thereby escaping the bodily abuse that comes with piercings and tattoos. Yay, my body is still a temple (Ed: yeah, but your mind is still a cesspit!). Now that I've had time to listen more to the track I can't say that I am completely overwhelmed because it is - at base - just a good piece of instrumental electronica with an edgier feel than most. T'ain't therefore going to win many prizes but - if lets say I happened to be two stoners 'with cheap, pirated beat-making software' and I made tracks, then I think I would feel inordinately proud of what I had achieved no matter what anyone else said. Besides, they probably wouldn't remember it anyway, would they?

Recommended dark, edgy electronica.

Reflexion X - When The Sky Is Blue

Hear The Track Here

Older Soundclick members will probably remember the musician known as deep 'n' dark, the original name for the music of Heikki Roots who I have reviewed quite a bit under that name. Funnily enough, even though we have been on Soundclick for around the same amount of time, I never really had much contact with deep 'n' dark material but I'm making up for it now obviously. Heikki has a nice new domain too: is where you'll find just about everything you need to know about both Reflexion X and deep 'n' dark. Definitely a must if you like well written music, good ideas and a convincing presentation.

Out of the five or six tracks I have reviewed thus far, he's had at least one Must Have so that should go some way to showing you how I rate him. As you might expect from someone who has been doing this for a long time, there isn't much to pick apart in the way this musician puts his tracks together, or performs them. My particular draw is because he is a good songwriter, who understands the need for precision and melody alike. Certainly I'd say that God Vs Satan (June 2010) is the best track I've heard from him yet but hey, there's always the next one...and here it is!

When I first started making music online (1992 or thereabouts) I was heavily involved with the MOD music scene, which at the time was dominated by musicians from the Scandinavian countries particularly Finland and Norway. Reflexion X happens to be Estonian by birth but now lives in Finland I can see that musical history has rubbed off on him. Outside of the vocals (which were almost impossible back in the day, in that format) the music could easily pass for the MOD sound, a very Euro-centric sound, dancey, little electronica and gorgeous sounds. Heikki weaves his usual vocal style over the top of this and although I don't think even he would put his hand up as great singer he can certainly carry a tune in a way that totally fits his music. And, as always, at the heart is always a terrific song and - even with its Ibiza feel - converted me after but a couple of plays and I'm a bitter, cynical Englishman who doesn't do optimism :)

Highly Recommended Euro electronica.

Kashu Da Nutt - Make Moves

Hear The Track Here

Partly because of the size of Soundclick and partly because there is not enough time in a day, I often pick up on musicians long before I get around to reviewing them; Cali's own Kashu Da Nutt being the latest example. I first noticed him posting a while ago, then caught up with a couple of reviews and now finally, I get to dish the dirt :) KANE Younge (aka Da Nutt) is a hiphop grime artist which, as it happens, is one of my favourite of New School sub-genres. Grime is in fact a UK hiphop hybrid first made popular in East London and is an offshoot of UK Garage with a healthy shot of 2-step to keep it zingy. One its first stars was the now ubiquitious Dizzee Rascal, but there are plenty more: Wiley, Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, Aggro Santos, Kano and on and on. So, can't say that I've heard much California grime so this is the ideal opportunity.

I will make one point, I do prefer the more dubstep/dancehall slanted tracks in this genre and although Make Moves hints at it, it is much more standard American hip hop than that. Hardly surprising really when the musician is of that persausion (American that is...). The track carries the obligatory Parental Advisory and judging by what I have been able to make out of the lyrics is probably not there for decoration - like an ASBO for example (Ed: Oi, no social commentary jokes...). Grime has come in for some considerable critical stick for the violence and/or profanity that pervades the genre and I don't think Make Moves is going to change any of that - and why should it?

Personally I have no problem with strong language, especially with strong music and grime has always been that. Kashu builds the track well, bringing a confident rapper manner to the proceedings that definitely helps me to identify with it better. As I say, it has its American tinge but it is grime and it is good grime into the bargain. For my money it could have been a tad longer but that's just me being awkward. Grime obviously isn't going to be everyone's favourite bedtime story but if you do like the genre, Kashu Da Nutt is an artist well worth checking out.

Recommended Grime.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

JPC (NZ) - Tin Man Friends EP

Hear The Track Here

There now follows a short history of Soundclick. Although its only a website among many, but still the largest unsigned gathering place on the web, Soundclick's ever-changing cast of characters have cast some pretty long shadows. Many veterans of a few years ago have become very famous indeed, although not in the conventional sense, because most of them are content to be underground legends, Soundclick has nurtured a great many in its time. The prime years (so far) of the site was between 2003-2006 when this site was packed to the gills with interesting, innovative musicians and I found it pays to keep watch on the comings and goings. John Paul Carroll (aka JPC (NZ)) has definitely been around the site long enough to qualify for a Long Service Medal (not to mention the gold clock) keeping a lot of people happy with his distinctive brand of rock. All the while gathering an influential group of freinds and fans alike, and that - my friends - is the way to do it. Slow and steady DOES win this race.

I've actually reviewed a major chunk of this five track EP in previous months but this is the whole experience and that's always a good excuse. I can't be arsed though to write another review for the tracks I have done, I'll just link to the original review. Dig Up, Stupid (January 2010) kicks off the EP and shows exactly why some people consider JP one of Soundclick's finer rockers and - God bless him - he does it in such a distinctive way that - I think - is the hallmark of a tried and true musician. Must Have track, as I said at the time and this new 256kbps version only point to that judgement. When the first track drops you bleeding to the ground, Exit Strategy proceeds to kick you to death to make sure you got the point. F.I.O.F.O is the third track and by this time you are either going to be in a state of rock bliss or you have no soul whatsoever.

Agreed. John Paul has often been said to be an acquired taste, but then there is a point where that becomes his TRUE voice and Tin Man Friends shows in every track that this is a musician at the peak of his rock game. He's spent years honing this particular sound and it shows in every loving note. Remember Me is the first track that I haven't heard before, and it's also the first chance to catch a breath after the all-out blitzkrieg of the first three tracks, but only a very short breath mind. Although this track differs slightly in feel from the other tracks it doesn't last long because his black rock heart ALWAYS takes over and pounding takes precedence. If you didn't get the point, Bad World is right there to add the final nails to this immense rock edifice. For my money this is one of the best projects I have ever heard from JPC, every track and in every way; a rock feast to have you choking with pleasure. JPC joins the big dogs at last, and that, to me, is the real prize of knowing a musician like JPC.

Truth? FIVE MUST HAVEs. Easy.

Neil Alderson - Guiding Light

Hear The Track Here

Don't be giving me that wtf look, I find it unnerving. The reason I say you will know this next artist is because we know him better as Karma Police (UK) who you may remember I have reviewed a time or two. or if you want to be worryingly pedantic exactly five. Although he has been on Soundclick for a long time, Neil didn't get active with it on the forums until Angels Breathe (Ft LisaT) (December 2010) which in itself was a track from Soundclick circa 2004 when Lisa T was one of the major figures on this site and, of course, it gave me to the chance to engage in some serious wallowing in the stuff of legends and SC's august past. So, over the past year Neil has shown that Karma Police (UK) do come up with the goods so why the switch??

Cue the man...

'This is one of the first songs I recorded, and predates Karma Police' he says, while I gaze off into the middle distance. '. I've created a new artist for it and intend to record some more of my acoustic/guitar based stuff soon' he adds, in a desperate bid to capture my attention not understanding that I have none to capture. Although I knew Neil liked the smoother side of the musical street, I wasn't aware until now that underneath his manly frame beats the heart of a total, coochie-coo, fuzzie wuzzie, everybody hug softy. 'Mellow guitar based song' is what he says in the song comments and I do urge you to take that warning seriously especially if the sound of this is making you vomit. Don't go there.

If, however, you are also a softy and like all this cosy warmth then this track will give you a sugar high. An old track and a old recording apparently, made for the band he was in at the time but, I presume, never finished. While I openly admit that I have a low tolerance for mellow, it still wouldn't stop me appreciating the musical side of things. If I hadn't known the facts about the recording I would be commenting that the vocals definitely sounded home recorded, so I presume that is what Neil added when he did the remix. However, when push comes to shove the question remains, does the song cut it? Not for me, I'm afraid, as pleasant as it actually is, all a bit meandering, if you know what I mean. Again, like to hear something recent. A comment, I fear, Neil is becoming very familiar with.

Recommended smoochy Alternative.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rude Corps - Slowly/Suddenly

Hear The Track Here

I'm hoping that Rude Corps didn't catch me muttering curses under my breath when he said in this months review list that 'it seems like ages since I threw an instrumental your way' and presented me with Slowly/Suddenly. I am hoping he assumed I was saying 'too, too kind' instead of 'you ******* ********!' See, he can be a bit bolshy and its best not to cross him up, otherwise you'll be up before The Committee, which is why I am wearing my 'I can be an awkward sod too' T-shirt while writing this review (sigh) of an instrumental (sigh). The reason you find your old chum so down in the mouth is because I actually prefer Corps venting political venom like no-one else I know.

Oh well, soldier on eh?...

Neil O'Brien (aka Rude Corps) and I have been around the block a few times since I first met him musically a few years ago and he has proved himself an excellent musician and collaborator but where he excels is on his soapbox. Obviously this is difficult with an instrumental of course and I admit to a certain amount of trepidation prior to hearing it for the first time. However, remembering Gilmore's first rule in life, do not piss the bitch-hog off, is uppermost. Mind you, this is a musician who has endless Must Have ratings from me so it can't be that bad can it? So, having sewn my sphincter tighter than tonto, I finally submitted myself to the track.

I am teaching my 11 year old son how to play the guitar and the first piece we tried was - what else? - Smoke On The Water, and I swear those are the notes that introduce this track. I probably wouldn't have noticed had I not been playing it with the sprog, but there ya have it. Anyway, it kept me listening to see where Rude Corps would go with it after that, and it turns into a strangely odd, but very enjoyable piece of electronic noodlage that shows he isn't just a one trick pony and it makes me wonder when I reviewed an instrumental Rude Corps track before... Sheesh, long term memory loss now.....

Amiable electronica, which makes a change. Recommended.

Painted Water - The Chase Ft John Holgate

Hear The Track Here

Back to the rock right now though, although Painted Water first made me sit up and listen with an absolutely knockout World track - Feastia of the Sun (August 2010) - so this is another side of him. From the looks of things on his Soundclick page, he does a lot of collaborative work with guitarist John Holgate who you may also know. It's actually billed as guitar rock and for sure John Holgate sets the place on fire with some incredibly powerful licks, and some sterling acoustic work thrown in for free. Certainly if you have never heard any of John's work before, this will inspire you to check him out.

Painted Water is a minority musician insofar as he plays keyboards and considering we are eyebrow deep in rappers and elbow deep in guitarists, a welcome change of pace. What particularly impressed me with Feastia Of The Sun was its incredible attention to detail and it's even more staggering production values, it was a track that leapt out of your speakers loudly shouting how good it was. I'm really happy to say that the same attention and time has been spent putting The Chase together so obviously this is a musician of some considerable strength. After all, Feastia go a well deserved Must Have from me on all those things and so does The Chase.

What really singles this guitar instrumental out of the millions upon millions of of others is the seamless way these two musicians work together, a truly complimentary pairing. Now obviously it IS a rock guitar instrumental but certainly the score that Painted Water builds up behind that is most definitely world music, showing that this is preferred genre and speaking as a world musician myself, I can see I'm going to have to up my game because I sure as **** wished my tracks sounds this good. A totally dazzling combination of raw rock and world music that just blows me away...

MUST HAVE Rock/World hybrid.

Andrew K-Rock - 10,000 BC

Hear The Track Here

Third time around for Russian Alternative musician Andrew K-Rock and I think both of us enter this review thinking the same thing: will it be third time lucky? So lets get the good news out of the way and say that at least 10,000 BC is a lot more musically coherent than either of the previous two tracks. Mind you, it still has many of the problems that dog previous releases and that is down to one thing and one thing alone: lack of experience. As I have mentioned before, Andrew's music carries the distinct tang of 'lego' music programs such as Ejay or Magix or it could be down to the samples he is using but it often spells incoherence.

On first playing 10,000 BC I thought nothing very much had improved but the more I played the track, the more this one seemed to make sense to me, I also found it helped watching the accompanying video (on Andrews main Soundclick page) which was of excellent quality. The general point to make here is that this track is not some kind of pretend dance music, as were the first two tracks. 10,000 BC tries the classical approach and - for the most part - succeeds remarkably well even though there are some noticeable hesitations between samples.

One of the worst problems I have had with this artist before is his tendency to just mash samples together without and seeming thought or sense of what would work. That tendency has been (somewhat) reined in, although there are still areas - notably in the classical sections - where sounds collide against each other rather than working in harmony. The real telltale about the use of samples though is that there is no overhang, the way there would be if you were using real instruments, and that definitely spoilt it for me. Having said all that, this is a lot better than previous work and bodes well for continued development of this young musician.

Broody, moody (and marred) classically inclined soundtrack.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good Morning Milo - Through the Chaos and the Clatter LP

Hear The Track Here

'After reading your reviews on your blog', the sultry voice whispered into my ear 'I think that Good Morning Milo’s energetic flare will fit comfortably with your readers'. Now, as you know, I am a sucker for a sultry voice (actually ANY female voice but lets not go there) and Brandi Newman was asking so nicely too... What's a guy to do? Simples really, two words: I submit. So now I've illustrated my total lack of a life, lets get back to the music. Good Morning Milo turns out to be a six piece pop/rock band out of San Diego CA and I've been living with their album for a couple of weeks (all fourteen tracks of it).


Bit of a problem initially, that's for sure. If I had to go by the one minute, twenty opener Pickup Lines, I'd be saying the drummer appears to be on another planet. Win her nails that lie smartly to bed because once the track gets going its obvious that this is a tight, tight band. Damn fine track too, as it happens. The same could be said for the whole LP, certainly this is a band who know how they want to sound and good songwriters and arrangers into the bargain. There is also no doubt that Alexis (drums), Ivan (bass), Peter (lead), Ren (rhythm), Weston (vocals) and Johnny (keys) are having the time of their lives doing it too. We kind of forget in this disposable age that music is supposed to be fun, but Good Morning Milo teach that lesson very well indeed.

Looks like they are a live band, and if you happen to be in California would be worth checking out I reckon, at least judging from the videos that have hanging around on their pages - certainly they'd notch up the enjoyment. Only so much of the old 'woe is me' Alternative you can take, know what I mean. Although I had some problems with the mix of the album, I suspect that this is down to the studio. For my money, the drums are way too prominent on almost every track but this is such a small niggle when put up against track after track of excellent, energetic pop rock songs of a very high calibre. Mind you, such insight didn't come quickly, as I say I have lived with this album for some time and there is a lot of it, so I'd say you'll need to give it time to settle in - well worth it though. Energetic, nuanced pop rock that'll plaster a big smile upon your face.

Highly Recommended West Coast sunshine.

Ashique M Fahim - Mornings With You

Hear The Track Here

Bangla Desh, it has to be said, is not a country noted for its shredders. My neighbours are from that country and I've quizzed them about it but I'm not sure they quite understood what a shredder actually was. First they showed me a cheese grater, then a head of cabbage and finally a half empty, extremely sticky, pot of Frank Coopers Oxford Marmalade (the only true marmalade). Mind you, that is one of the problems with sign language, something that is necessary when neither side understands a word you are saying. Anyway when I started saying 'Steve Vai' to them, they threw me out on my ear, so maybe they DO know what shredding is.

Turning guitars into sawdust by pummelling it to extract the maximum amount of notes in the shortest possible time is what we are talking about and it isn't my favourite musical art - in fact, far from it. 'This is a song I wrote for the woman I truly fell in love with' Ashique states in the song comments and its a well known fact that not many women like shredding. Well unless you count shredding of nerves of course. The love of a good woman, so they say, tames even the wildest man and judging from this, she's definitely had an impact on Ashique's playing. It may, as usual, be a guitar instrumental in nature but it's - no doubt about it - a ballad in every respect and you know how I hates them varmints.

Mind you, if you caught me in an unguarded 'Oprah' moment even this old cynic would 'fess up to being a bit of a softy at heart, especially where lurve is concerned so I find myself liking this more than is probably decent. Well, it's pretty for a start and none of the tracks from this musician have really qualified for that description before, oh and did I mention it was a guitar ballad? Yeah, I know, probably nagged you to death with that one. I have spent a fair bit of time listening to Jeff Beck lately and this falls neatly into that picture without too much disturbance. Not comparing Ashique to Beck of course, but the musical style is similar and wait until you hear what little tricks Ashique has for you :)

Highly Recommended guitar ballad.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Dead Company - Mother Feat. Larry Ludwick

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Why am I cowering in the corner? Well, I tell you why. I fear pain. Its no good spluttering wtf's at me like that, let me start at the beginning. For me, one of the most painful songs ever (to hear) is John Lennon's Mother. Now as I plead at every opportunity, I have lived in mortal fear of The Dead Company ever since I met them many, many years ago so the combination of my fevered imagination and the impending arrival of the aforementioned corporate entity sent me into 'scuttle' mode and hence, you find me cowering in the corner. It ain't much of a life, I'll grant you that, but better a corner than a coroner. Anyway enough about me, lets talk about Jon Bushaway (Ed: do we have to?) and - in this instance - Larry Ludwick. Neither of them, to my knowledge, is actually dead but hey this is the internet, anything can happen.

Uh uh, even cowering in corners...

Obviously I jest some (Ed: some???) and maybe The Dead Company have calmed down over the years but they don't frighten me half as much as they used to. I had long wanted to use the word sepulchral in a music review, and here was the band that word was made for. Jon Bushaway, it has to be said, has a somewhat jaundiced view of life and maggots such as us, and his music shows this; it's alien, intense and disorienting. Its also strangely beautiful in a dead kind of way, and it is a style I have become very used to, and like very much. His later soundscapes have real value but were he scores is when he gets back to Dead Company basics: edge of the seat and/or lazy as **** experimental electronica and the spoken word.

Soundclick stalwart (and Competition organiser) Larry Ludwick has featured regularly as a TDC vocalist/speaker since the two musicians paired up with Afternoon Show (February 2009). When I first encountered this highly idiosyncratic band it also featured a vocalist/speaker by the name of Sean Boyle (aka Black Circles), so Larry had some big boots to fill and he has done that admirably, and in the process bought a different feel to a familiar sound. If indeed, it is possible to become familiar with something that shifts and changes before your ears, slithering hither and yon. Oh and btw, this is a song/poem about Mother Earth and its not painful at all. Its the kind of track that would go well with a lie down and a nice cup of chamomile tea (rrriiiiigggghhhhtttt.)

Class soundscapes and poetry, handle with care. Highly Recommended wtf'ry.

Just F.A.M (Freshset) - Grand Finale

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In case you were worrying (oh you were so!) Just F.A.M. (Freshset) 'is a group that consists of eXceL, K~Fr3sh, WildBoy Bloaw, and Kevin'. Ahh, so its hip hop then but I wonder what gave that away (places finger on chin). Mmmmmm. Although I've reviewed a few eXceL tracks this is the first Just F.A.M. (Freshset) track I've heard since I reviewed Dreamer (December 2009). That was my introduction to this group of NJ rappers, and bloody wonderful it was too. See as much as I appreciate the amount of good hip hop on Soundclick, I get a big buzz when I come across a track doing something different (and Dreamer does). Put it like this, I don't give out many Must Haves for unsigned hip hop but Dreamer managed it.

Finale is a piece of scoring software (yeah notes and stuff) that is becoming more and more common as a music program in its own right, having integrated music libraries from the Garritan Orchestral range, drumkits, percussion and what have you. Still, not something you would automatically associate with the rough and ready of hip hop is it? 'They used to say we couldn't make it...' the band says in the song comments, which to me is a balloon waiting to be popped. Gonna be a hard trick to pull off right? The good news is that Just FAM do exactly that, although I didn't come through without some reservations.

Now maybe the glory of Dreamer put stars in my eyes, and I expected more, or this is soooo different that it throws me. Some of the musical progressions sounded very formal to me too, and even a couple I found awfully familiar but that is Finale for you. The latter part of the track that just features the piano is considerably steadier in confidence and rap pacing, before it also gets buried under the orchestral load. Actually on that score, as someone who has used orchestral pieces in music, they don't do that bad... As always, these things take time. Ultimately though the truth that shone out of Dreamer is also here, these guys are class rappers and lyricists willing to be different enough. Top marks for that.

Highly Recommended for the rap.

Cardium - Blue Rose

Hear The Track Here

Since I opened up the RebelRiffs blog in 2006, it has been a steady source of new music for me, especially musicians who I would never have heard in any other circumstance. See, I have a couple of problems. (Ed: a couple?? couple of hundred?, thousand? what number?) Firstly, I cannot abide Myspazz; it isn't a music site and its certainly not as influential if you are an unsigned band. I also will not sign up to the Facebook thing either, but that's another story. So, even though I wouldn't be seen dead at Myspazz, I have been able to appreciate many of the musicians on there through the blog. Take Cardium for instance. Lena and the lovely (apparently) Mr L (Leon to his friends) are a Norwegian duo and before you start shaking your head, let me just put you straight on Norwegian musicians. Never, but never to be underestimated as I know to my own cost. :)

A feature of Blue Rose has to be Lena's vocals, the kind of voice that sends shivers down your backbone. Actually, thinking about it since, I am reminded very strongly of my Artist Of The Year 2005, Maria Daines and Paul Killington - although in a completely different musical way. Yes, my boggled friends, you may be amazed at such an audacious claim but remember if I can spot one I can spot another, and I have. So nrrr. Seriously, considering that this is an acoustic track, with the occasional beat and lick, it carries some pretty serious musical weight.

Cardium started a couple of years ago out of their love of doing Nick Cave covers which just goes to show that it really does take all kinds. I can see that, and the Leonard Cohen connection (musically that is) but Lena has the vocal range and confidence to take it to a whole different level. I will be the first to put my hand up to absolutely loving good female vocals, but this one came right out left field and is all the better for it. Judging by the state of play on their Myspazz page, I'd say they would be much, much better on a REAL music website because that is where their audience is. OK, so I couldn't possibly be this satisfied by one track so I do confess I looked at this video too. Definitely one to watch and please, please spread your internet wings :)

Excellent, elegant and simple. MUST HAVE (far) northern soul music.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Buzrk - Ku-De-Ta mixdown Rough Draft

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I think of all the hip hop rappers I have reviewed over the years, Florida's Buzrk has probably received the most critical flak from me. Like a lot of home producers, Buzrk has had to rely on bought music tracks although he does pick his music carefully, the problem comes with mixing the music with Buzrk's highly individual vocal rap style. Oh come, come that sounds well prissy. What I mean to say is that I think, for a rapper, Buzrk may well be an acquired taste and I just haven't got it. Out of the round dozen of tracks I have reviewed, only one or two have passed a certain level of confidence, THE essential element in this game.

I actually 'fessed up to this in my review of Torched In (July 2009), the last time I saw him but he obviously knows something I don't because here he is back, and with a new single to boot. As you can tell by the tentative nature of the title Ku-De-Ta is a bit rough. On a scale of one to ten where 10 is the roughest, its about a seven and again I should point out that the way Buzrk gets this down is basic and I mean that folks. No idea where the music samples came from but, to my ears, it sounds pretty professional and commercial so it may well be a factory track.

My real problem with this rapper however is the way he puts his rap across, sometimes it just doesn't flow at all. Not that it should matter to him, of course, he is entitled to do what he likes, but that's my opinion. He knows full well my opinion and I don't see much happening here that would change my opinion and I say that in the full knowledge that it will make no difference to Buzrk and that's as it should be. If Buzrk has an audience who like his style, then this will go down well because it features everything that makes him who he is. I have had many experiences where musicians fared worse than this and come back with something to really turn our heads and Buzrk is a confirmed tryer...

And maybe this was unlucky thirteen.

Ian Dadon - Antics of Incognito

Hear The Track Here

Got a few tracks under my reviewing belt by now from Isreali musician Ian Dadon, an interesting if low key songwriter whose work has improved dramatically in a very short space of time. Most of the niggles I have had with the tracks comes down to the kit he is using and the way he chooses to present his material. The songs themselves I found I have no problem with. That's always the way though, isn't it? Held back by either lack of funds, knowledge or both. That's what makes being an internet musician interesting and, I might add, inventive. Seeing as I spent most of the last review wishing he had a bigger sound, best not to go there again.

'Very personal is all I say' Ian says about the track, whereas my eyes are fastened to the label describing the genre, so 'very prog rock' is what I say and regular readers will know that now is the time to duck and cover. Mind you, I think I've calmed down over the years, I'm nothing like as strident about my dislike as in the past. However, having spent some time with Antics of Incognito I don't think it's actually prog rock in the time-honoured get-Gilmore-to-spew-venom tradition and in fact sounds like a very modern, if somewhat energetic shoegaze track. What it does do though is fizzes with ideas, and some very neat arrangement tricks that keep the proceedings bubbling along very nicely.

Mind you, it does feature some drawbacks in overall sound but not enough, I would think, to put anyone off if they like rock songs. Considering that it's a princely six minutes it passes quickly enough aided by the intricacy of the arrangement, vocally and instrumentally. I found it helped immensely in my appreciation of the song once I had looked up the lyrics, the lyrics are often difficult to pick up and it is vital knowledge to really savour the way this song builds towards the finale. When I downloaded this I didn't hold out much hope but again, just goes to show you got to be open to new sounds. Fifth track down for this musician and there is no doubt that he knows how to construct a good song.

Highly Recommended Rock, with a teeny bit of prog.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sudoplatov - Toccatango

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In case you are beginning to see Russians everywhere (having just reviewed Andrey Mishchenko) let me explain that Sudoplatov is merely the bandname of another classical musician, this time from the other side of the world; Texas USA. Mere coincidence that these two tracks happened to fall together but somehow apt too. For those with advanced short term memory loss, my first encounter with Sudoplatov (not on a bridge at midnight, that's for sure) was with Rumbafolia # 1 (August 2010). While I am not a big fan of dancing per se - at least not the ballroom style - I am a huge fan of the various musical styles that go along with it. I should also point out that I have been known to do a Deranged Dad Dance at various functions so dancing is not beyond me although there are many, many people who would dispute that.

My utmost favourite of all dance music is the tango. I love the languid, sensual edge to the music and have done ever since I first heard it when I was a little boy and automatically associated it with the wandering gypsies of England, a notion I was rudely disabused of when I grew somewhat older. Although tango has distant roots in Spanish flamenco, it does stand up in its own right as a distinct sound and style and definitely South American rather than anywhere else. I admit that because of that reason I did grab a listen to this track when I reviewed Rumbafolia #1. So yeah, I cheated so nrrrr

True tango is music and dance of the poorest sections of Buenos Aires, Argentina and - to my mind - is still best performed in as basic a manner as possible, and Sudoplatov shows that he understands this principle, as well as essentially nailing it musically. OK, so there is a kind of 'piano rag' feel about the track but that's probably because it IS just a piano, but the music that is being played is pure tango. Tocca is Italian for touches and given the tango is all about that, this is exactly what I would reach for when I needed a good tango-ing. Excellent, but obviously you should like the stuff, and I do...

Excellent piano tango. Highly Recommended.

Andrey Mishchenko - Love Is The Reason

Hear The Track Here

Andrey Mishchenko is, as you can imagine, Russian. No surprise there. he comes from Valdivostock and I first met him when I reviewed his September 29 (Window to the Fall) (May 2010) and promptly feel into the bear trap of comparing his classical style - it's a solo piano piece - to all manner of Russian classical tradition. 'This is a fine example of emotional, colourful expressiveness' although this didn't really transfer to the second track I reviewed - also a piano piece. So by this time I've grabbed completely the wrong end of the stick and classified Andrey as yer typical moody classicist. Metal Lullaby (July 2010) crushed that idea under its heavy metal jackboot and - as good as it was - didn't really rise from being a decent rock instrumental.

And then there is this... I'm not even sure where to start.

Truth is, the first time I heard this I thought Andrey must be joking but then the more the song developed the more obvious it became that he was serious about it. Firstly, it is a song, and the first one from him I suspect. Well, lets get it said and out in the open, Andrey is not a singer. Not in any form. As someone who has made a study of Russian musical styles, I do understand what he is aiming for here but his voice is definitely not up to the job. Despite the extreme bad manners of plugging myself, I am going to go ahead because I have a track called Love Is All that features exactly the kind of voice that would fit this song.

Love Is The Reason is a ballad, and I admit to a hatred of them although this is only one of the problems of this track, especially to Western ears because Andrey has a major accent. Shame really because the song itself is quite pretty, even if the whole thing is carried by an acoustic piano. The idea behind the song is sound too, as are the way Andrey puts it across. There will be those who like this because of those qualities and I must admit it has that charm about after the initial shock wears off. I've been wrong about vocalists before too, being slow to recognise a hitherto hidden ability or characteristic. Who knows how this one will develop...

Good song, but probably regional in scope.

Bright Midnight - Hotel Saigon

Hear The Track Here

When I reviewed Bright Midnight's Floating Feather (Sleepy Mood) (July 2009) I had no idea what was being unleashed. For example, look at the date of that review, July 2009, a little over a year ago right? 12 months in a year... So how come I seem to have reviewed fourteen of the them? I know the Gilmore universe has some peculiarities but the science of numbers is universal - even in my wacked out world. The obvious point is that Bright Midnight are prodigiously prolific (Ed: please, not with the alliteration again...) and that - depending on your angle of approach can be either a good or bad thing. Certainly if you like good indie with a decidedly rock flavour, then its a very good thing.

Having said that, out of those fourteen there is only one that made a real lasting impression and that was Liberation (January 2010), a very different kind of track to the ones they usually deliver. Not that there is anything wrong with their tracks, Bright Midnight are a pretty good band by anybodies standards and maybe I expect more than I should but... Bright Midnight seem to have three main modes: alternative, classic rock and mid 1980's electronica and Hotel Saigon, even without regard to the lyrical subject matter, firmly belongs in late '60's rock music. The kind of track that evokes the whole Vietnam influence on rock in a way that I found really refreshing and I was around for the first showing so I know what things should sound like.

Damn, such authenticity makes me smack my lips with glee. (Ed: eeewwwwww)

Hotel Saigon is a song 'written about a wartime lovers' tryst in Saigon' and it's heavy rock approach and excellent lyrical vision really hammer the point home. It also points out to this reviewer that this may be a cracking live proposition. If you live in Texas, you would do well to be checking them out. You. All. What always makes listening to Bright Midnight pleasurable is the level of songwriting, especially lyrically and Hotel Saigon is a great example of what this band do best. The production is a bit slight for my tastes, IMHO this should be wide screen, big country stereo to really get the point across (and get that well deserved Must Have hint hint). No matter though, this is more than good enough for yer average rock fan.

Excellent evocation of a dark period. Highly Recommended.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jane Do3 - Babel Remix Feat Daddy Go Go

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Jane Doe if you speak proper English like wot I do (Ed: Oh good diction, that'll convince them) which, as you may know, is American cop speak for unknown female corpse and considering that this Jane is a winsome twenty one year old I doubt whether she is in any way corpse like. Not that I would know, you understand, being way across the other side of the pond and not even my nose is that big. Anyway, dragging ourselves from the slough of despond, she appears to be that elusive, nay virtually mythical, entity: a female rapper. So, pick your jaws back up and we'll move smartly on....

'Rap can be poetic if you do it right' Jane raps after Daddy Go Go had put his brothers right about the absence of decent female rappers and I can only agree wholeheartedly. Personally in this commercially driven genre, I don't find a lot to really like and when I do its usually because it features - in some way - elements of the musical roots it springs from. As you can tell, there are two versions of this, this one featuring more of Daddy Go Go than Jane and which ends mightly abruptly and the original which you can find on the Circa '94 "the Mixtape" project here.

If I had to give you a preference I would head directly for the mixtape because its much more what Jane is about. Much more to the point, Jane doesn't seem to have a Soundclick artist page and is there as a member only, so no remix for you lot unless Jane relents and starts up an artist page. Personally I think that would be worth it, not the least to give the guys on their a run for their money. More importantly, her work has an classic old school feel and her lyrics are cogent and meaningful. Sure the sound is a bit rough and things don't always jibe but hey, it's early days yet.

Female rap? Now there's a thing. Recommended Old School rap.

All Those Ships - Temporary Coma

Hear The Track Here

OK, this is just too weird. I've just started to write this review, came online to get the links to the track and - lo and behold - no track on the artists webpage. Got to love that eye/hand co-ordination innit?? I can only assume that the track was so powerful that it actually did what it said on the tin and induced said temporary coma about uploading the damn thing. I'm also going to assume that the musician concerned will be along at some point to comment (Ed: some do, you know) and who knows, leave a working link. Brandon MacNeil is the admiral in charge of All Those Ships, an Alternative Indie one man band from the eastern seaboard of the US, and a new name to me - although he appears to have been on Soundclick since 2004.

Mystery, doncha just hate it...?

Judging by this track and others actually on the webpage, All Those Ships leans towards the acoustic and even folky sound and style. Whether that is a question of preference or circumstances is open to conjecture, suffice it to say that lo-fi is a main feature of this track and others on the site. Now I personally don't mind because I am an acoustic player myself, but I do understand that it doesn't float everyone's boats. More especially when it is that modern, navel gazing alternative music so prevalent on Soundclick and elsewhere. In other words, it doesn't really stand out. Or at least, not that much.

Musically though, despite the roughness of sound, this track has much to offer, especially if you like something that is extremely evocative of singers such as Syd Barrett and even (at a pinch) Terry Reid although the Barrett connection is obviously the strongest. Mind you, I thought it was stretching the point a bit when the track works out to a lengthy five and a half minutes although its inventive and lively enough to keep me interested whenever its on but - as I said before - I do like this stuff and you may not.

Recommended (if lo-fi) alternative shoegaze.

Let Her Dive - The Bravest

Hear The Track Here

You may remember me writing a while back about an Italian band I had come across through the Rebelriffs blog. Their name is Ofelia Dorme and I reviewed their Sometimes Its Better To Wait EP (July 2009) and then missed out on several London gigs in a row. Shame really because I really liked the EP and the bands style but hey, only too much time in a day, ya know. The reason I bring this up is because Let Her Dive are also Italian. More to the point, one of the members is actually from Ofelia Dorme (Francesca Bono) aided and abetted by DJ/Producer Matteo Trifirò. The Bravest is a track from their The Closet album which can be downloaded for free right here but a word of caution; the music may not be for the faint hearted or bubbleheaded pop popsies...

Intelligent music is often difficult music.

One of the main draws, for me anyway, of Ofelia Dorme was Francesca Bono's vocals and she shows her worth again in this new pairing, her vocals both ethereal and incredibly present, set against a throbbing electronica background that rides off into the sunset in a blaze of glory. Having said that about difficult music, there is nothing difficult about this track and after a few plays I found myself looking forward to it coming up again (I have review tracks on a loop) because it had a great loping sound that really captured my attention.

Aided by G Mod on bass, Francesca and Matteo come up with a darkly tinged piece of electronic pop that, given a few listens, will work its way into your heart and become very special to you. Admittedly I am biased because I like Italian musicians (I know a great many) and find them generally adventurous and worth taking notice of, but I also really like female voices with the timbre and resonance of Francesca's and her performance on this track sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it while writing this. In fact, I'm going to put it back on right now...

Highly Recommended dark Electronic pop.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rustik - Monster

Hear The Track Here

Considering the short while I have known him (musically, ya know?), Rustik has acquitted himself extremely well with three highly recommendeds out of three tracks so far. Not bad going considering this is a) hip hop and b) probably not aimed at me anyway. See, if I were really truthful, I am definitely much more an old skool kinda hip hop/rap guy and Rustik is New School. Not that this is a bad thing mind, just not to my particular taste. I preferred the harder edge and more pointed social commentary that typified the genre's beginnings, all the riches and bitches schtick really sticks in my craw.

Which reminds me, wtf, IS a craw, anyway?

There is a tremendous storm in a teacup raging in the UK about a TV programme using the dreaded Autotune until it has now achieved Public Enemy Number One status, and I say about time too. This pernicious device is merely a tool, not a divine right and it really would be better to actually SING in tune (Ed: now there's a thing...) instead of using it to emulate cute, furry, curiously high pitched animals who should, rightly, be shot on sight. (Ed: Oh God!,where's my censor pencil, the blue jobby). Having spewed all of that venom in your general direction you may be surprised to learn that I actually really like Monster, and by extension am really getting to appreciate what Rustik is up to.

Monster is easily the best track I have heard from him yet, in arrangement, musical weight and a very, very decent rap to hold it all together. Yes, it's definitely commercially oriented but damn, it's been done with class and style. I think this is down to Jay Thomas and Man Mantis (producer and masterer respectively) it definitely raises Rustik's game to a much higher level and is very welcome indeed. However, as much as they contribute to the proceedings, ultimately its the song that is the real jewel here - it's a beauty. I very rarely write a comment on a track on the musicians notice board and then only when the track is really worthy of that extra mile. I would have done it with this one except, for some reason, the board is disabled. So I guess Rustik will just have to put up with...

MUST HAVE (and I mean KILLAH) new school Hip Hop.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pidgeman - Letter Of The Law

Hear The Track Here

Here's a familiar face, Craig Matthews, known to regular readers and Soundclick veterans (Ed: not always the same thing apparently) as UK based rock musician Pidgeman. Classic rock, hard rock, pop rock, Pidgeman has tackled them all and then some. While it would be true to say that he hasn't always jangled my bells (so to speak), those instances are far and few between and generally centre around a difference of personal taste as opposed to anything that Pidgeman is doing wrong. This is a musician who I first met in 2007 and having reviewed a fair clutch (Ed: how many is that then?) of his tracks during the intervening years, seen that he has matured very well.

Letter Of The Law is a lament about the world being up to its armpits in the brown stuff, while Those Who Rule Us (Ed: wtf are they doing in this review?) nitpick us to death about smoking, drinking, eating, falling off things for fun, or even a simple swing in a park. Petty rules and regulations (especially in the UK) are swallowing the whole population in a morass of don't do's. There doesn't, at this moment, seem to be a list of do-do's but I guess that's not surprising, given that it all may be covered in the same. I take it by your screams of 'you're driving me crazy' that you are already listening to it, and know that it is exactly what we have come to expect from this musician.

Way back Craig convinced as a songwriter and lyricist and I have to say that the years have only added more weight to those claims. Letter Of The Law is a damned near perfect rock pop tune that does it every level. Great vocals (yeah, I know!!), killer leads, and a rock solid backline that slams the track against you like a well aimed brick wall. There is no indication if anyone but Craig is involved in this track and if that is the case then paint me seriously impressed because one of the problem areas we have between us in the past is vocally. Seriously, if you like great rock vocals, lead guitar and attitude then Letter Of The Law should be snagged right now and played very, very, very ******* loud. Funny thing though, this REALLY reminded me of Silvertrain at their very best and that's a very good thing


Spliff The General - Adversity

Hear The Track Here

Dear Editor, here is my review: (ahem) The man is called Spliff, what's not to like?!?!? (Ed: har ******* har Gilmore, now get back to work!) I include these pathetic statements at the beginning of this review so you can see how put upon this reviewer is. (Ed: I'm not even really an editor, just the calm, rational voice that commands this idiot). Spliff The General is a Rap artist who I found through the RebelRiffs, despite the Jamaican overtones of his name. Now don't go turning your nose up. I know that, despite all appearances, hip hop/rap is not universally appreciated but I happen to like it when its done with meaning and purpose.

Remember them big words...

Spliff is from Ontario, Canada - not exactly the first venue you would associate with this genre - but nonetheless he manages to deliver a very good track in all the ways that count. My only gripe is that it sounds (to my ears anyway) somewhat similar to Eminem's storming Not Afraid track, but that may just be my delusional mind and a thorough brainwashing from The Blond One. That niggle only lasted about three plays to be honest, and then the quality and depth of the track came through loud and clear. Besides, it is squarely aimed that the commercial market in structure and sound and that means recognisability.

As a long time fan of the genre one thing I absolutely demand is that the track works as a whole, not a rap set to music. Where everything has a point and a function, know what I mean? Adversity does a bloody admirable job of it, even more boggling when you consider that the person behind this very professional sounding track, is a mere nineteen years old. Plenty of time then, for the tracks that WILL kick our butts. In the meantime, this is a very nice taster indeed and - by the way - it's a slower, balladic hip hop and regular readers will know that brings out the venom. Not in this case.

Highly Recommended rap about....well, life really.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cam's Even Song - Reaching Door 19

Hear The Track Here

You see before you a very contented reviewer, and if that isn't a brain**** then nothing is. The whole point, some would argue, about being a reviewer is that you are - not to put to fine a point on it - curmudgeonly to the extreme. Constantly whining about this or that. So what is it, you may again ask, that makes this particular curmudgeon so contented? Variety, variety, my friends, the very stuff of life. Although I'm doing more reviews than ever, I'm getting a much wider spread of the main food groups. Too much Soundclick can even do my head in, ya know?? Nonetheless, its nice to slip into some familiar - and much loved - musicians into the mix, and when its a previous Artist Of The Year (2006 seeing as you asked) the pleasure is palpable. (Ed: don't you EVER proofread Gilmore, look at the state of that sentence... Palpable pleasure, sounds positively pornographic. Gah!! he got me doing it!!!)

Cam's new album is entitled Door A-19 and this - I think - is the first track from it. Let's have Cam explain the reasoning behind this title. 'After I finished the 18th album called *Something LIKEcrazy* I was feeling tired and a bit discouraged' he says, and we'd all sympathise with him except we're all too green with envy at such a legendary tally. Mere numbers sure, but when you take all 19 into account (including this one of course) then you see what a truly outstanding body of work this one man is capable of. Many of us might have that many albums inside of us, but I bet we could never match the sheer quality of this musician and songwriter. The gist of his reasoning is that each album is a different experience and I'd agree with that.

Its no coincidence that the most influential and far reaching musicians on Soundclick are also the ones with an identifiable sound and voice, and that is a double edged sword as many of them have found out to their cost. It becomes, therefore, a long haul but musicians like Cam put that time to good use. So the Cam we see today is, IMHO of course, one of the most polished and professional unsigned one-man bands on the planet, let alone Soundclick. If you think that this is the usual Gilmore hyperbole then I urge you strongly to listen to the proof of these claims. See, no matter what I or other reviewers say, its the music that finally does the work, and with a songwriter as talented as this one and a solid musician and producer into the bargain, you just can't go wrong. Try it and see, this guy just gets better and better...and yes it's Cam with a difference ;)

MUST HAVE from a true unsigned standard-bearer.

Human For Sale - 1,000 Miles

Hear The Track Here

I am not, as you know, an advocate of slavery so no, I will not sell Joe Krupinsky to you, even though he's obviously up for it. Mind you, kind of apt when you consider the business though... Anyway, enough of that bollocks, Joe (the aforementioned Human For Sale) came to me through the RebelRiffs blog and is an acoustic pop one man band from the Midwest and that's about as much information as you are going to get. Mind you, it did introduce me to yet another OMD I wasn't aware of: Pure Volume. As nice a site as it undoubtedly is, it's still - by the looks of it - a small audience and I would suggest a move to a site along the lines of Soundclick if you want to get a wider range of comments and/or interest. But, there again, I am biased towards Soundclick and I freely admit it.

1,000 Miles is a track from the Secretly Believing We'll Never Die EP but this is the only track I have heard, and that can often be a drawback - especially with this genre. The problem I find with being an acoustic musician is that you either have to be a virtuoso player or have a voice to die for. Short of that, the next best thing is a songwriting talent and, for me, this is the best area. Of course when budgets are tight, and who's isn't?, you got to do what you got to do. 1,000 Miles then is basic, at least as far as the recording goes. It sounds like one take, live as it happened and that will detract from its appeal in this day of multi track arrangements...

Personally, I have a fondness for the genre known as Americana and stylistically this could fit right in there with the good ol' boys and gals. Sure, it has elements of Alternative navel gazing and is - at bottom - a fairly simple song and that is what saves the track for me. However, I should point out that I have the kind of ear that can cut through the technical side and appreciate a decent song, regardless of how its presented. Taken then as a song demo, it's fairly obvious that this Human For Sale might even be worth the money. A distinctive vocalist with a simple style that is effective, especially if you like the softer, acoustic side of the street.

Recommended Acoustic.