Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weylin's Slayer Orchestra - Nacht der Aufgehenden tot

Hear The Track Here

From the progressive rock of Thielus Grenon to the progressive metal of Weylin's Slayer Orchestra means that prog is the taste that will remain in the mouth after this months reviews. Ewwwwww indeed. It's a good job that both of these musicians deliver their brand of venom (ooops, sorry I mean prog) with much more attention to detail than most other proggies, even though I didn't see that with Weylin until just lately. In fact, Addiction (July 2011) was damn near perfect, and that's not something I would have thought right at the beginning.

Mind you, this is STILL proggy, and as if to prove it Weylin states 'Intro song that ends at about 3:50 at which point the next 'song' in this 2 part song begins'. All well and good you might say but at this point you don't know that this 'part' of the 'song' is some seven minutes long, so God knows how long this track will end up being. Much more to the point, would it be worth it? Well, I guess that depends on whether prog rock blows your musical skirts up or not and obviously it doesn't for me. To my ears, this is the most proggy of any of Weylin's tracks, but that's me and I'm a well known philistine about this.

One of the main problems in past Weylin tracks hasn't really been the music (other than the genre quibble), in fact I quite like Weylin's metal guitar style - the man can rock! The drumtracks have usually been the fly in the ointment but I have to say Weylin seems to have overcome that problem, if I went by Addiction and this one (which btw means Night Of The Living Dead). I know this is a style thing but there is one bit of this track where the kick drum is so fast only Animal from the Muppets could play it. For any normal drummer it would mean a broken leg. So, while I might not like prog (and this is prog) I continue to hold an interest in Weylin's work and if you like the genre I'm sure you will too. All seven minutes of part one that is...

Highly Recommended Prog metal.

Thielus Grenon - The Underground

Hear The Track Here

Looking at the tumbleweed strewn desolation of Soundclick's forums (which may well be reaching their Aral Sea moment), you couldn't begin to imagine what it would be like to be busy, let alone buzzing. There was a time though, where these forums were so active, and the music flowed accordingly. As the old saying goes, everyone should get 15 minutes of fame, around 2004 was Soundclick's turn and bloody awesome it was too. It was also the spawning ground for some of those indie underground names who have become increasingly well known since then.

Therefore I am always delighted to welcome another veteran of those times, so step forward Theilus Grenon. An American prog rock artist, but one of those early pioneers who broke down my resistance to the genre back in the day. Put it like this, out of all the tracks I have reviewed from him, none has escaped with less than a Highly Recommended. It may be (kinda/sorta) proggy, true enough, but there is a really good musician under it and that will always win out over genre. Thielus is a bit of a wanderer, and those tracks are dotted sparingly over the course of many years, the last review was of Platypus on the Prowl (December 2008) but such long absences are normal for this musician.

Here is one track I swear is much enhanced by reading the lyrics, in fact I think it should be integral part of the experience because the one thing about The Underground is that is unbelieveably clever. 'Steam powered riddles' are one of the lines in the track, and that could well describe the track itself because that is where it is undeniably prog-rock in every way. However, when the man puts music and vocals behind the line that goes ' I’ll feel my feet stepping down the stairs' it will make you smile and that is why it's clever. Prog rock (without the posing) is a difficult form to create but Thielus has never had any problems with ir - even with a philistine like me.

MUST HAVE prog rock (yeah, I wrote that...)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tragik The Tragedy - She Says

Hear The Track Here

Don't know why I automatically assume that all hip hop is a) American urban or b) even strictly hip hop when a great deal of the hip hop I get to review - most of it very good indeed - is neither American or strictly what could be termed hip hop. Canada, surprisingly enough, houses a substantial amount of hip hop musicians and rappers. One of my own favourites Twizzie (aka Twisted Angel) hails from Canada and if there is one thing I know about them, they stretch that ol' hip hop label fit to burst. Which is, of course, why I like the artists like Twizzie, Rustik, Gangbangsters and their ilk...

Another beat produced by Soundclick's Sinima who material has cropped up time and again in reviews with one artists or another. They are also one of my favourite beat factories because they do take chances with the material they produce, coming up with new, fresh ways to ride the beat for the hundreds of would be rappers working out on it. Their music always has some instrumentation that makes you double take, and the music of She Says is acoustically pretty in a way that really works against the starkness of the lyrics.

She Says carries the rap obligatory decoration of a Parental Advisory and it does deserve it cusswise, but not IMHO for the actual content of the lyrics, which is a modern tale about the eternal tensions between male and female. Those tensions are magnified in this materialistic, nihilistic world that most young rappers inhabit, and the rap revolves around this theme. While I liked both the music and the rap, there are still the tell tale Sinima audio tags dotted around the track that definitely do not help the track, but that is often the way with free 'factory' beats. Nonetheless, I doubt most fans of the genre would notice, but they would notice the track.

Recommended and a rapper to watch uh uh...

Diamond Lil - Bottom Of The Glass

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Last night I was able yet again to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes; holding up the drinks trolley over at Mixposure's Saturday Night Rocks radio show, where I imbibed huge quantities of hard and heavy rock as is my custom on a Saturday night. Which is why I am now suggesting that Diamond Lil also look at getting themselves over there - as well as Soundclick of course. It's all about going where the audience is, and a Mixposure audience is set up for good rock bands like Diamond Lil. You may remember I reviewed their Sex Injuries (July 2011) and gave it a Must Have because - well, s'my kind of rock innit??

Hard, heavy and sweaty.

Ellis Wilde, Harry Colley, Jamie Downes and Daniel Holyhead make up Diamond Lil who btw are a UK band. Their list of influences is a Who's Who of classic hard rock, so you expect them to be able to back up such boasts, and they do that beautifully. As I mentioned in my last review, having grown up at the time this kind of music was happening for the first time, I am absolutely fanatical about treating it with the respect and love it deserves. That is where Diamond Lil score the big one; authenticity.

While I fully understand that the world isn't full of rock animal nut jobs like your faithful reviewer, i know lots and lots of people who like to rock out without obsessing about every solo, instrument or sock-down-the-pants posing, and if they haven't already picked up on this band, they should. To my mind though, this isn't quite as immediate and punchy as Sex Injuries, but hey those are special, right? As it is, Bottom Of The Glass will please almost anyone who wonders whether the rock flame lives on...

Highly Recommended heavy rock.

Cam's Even Song - Light Unapproachable

Hear The Track Here

Those people (a multitude probably) know and love Cameron Bastedo's poppy Cam's Even Song tracks, and probably a few more that like his Christian message side but I'd say very few know that this man can also work with electronica, and well too - listen to side project The Sonic Salad for proof positive. The reason I am saying this is because the intro of this track may throw people unused to this side of Cam. Fear not though because it's a small intro into Cam's eminently light and breezy pop side.

And then you start to take in the lyrics...

'O, God, your so amazing!' and 'O, God, you're more than we bargained for, Your lightest wind is a perfect storm' So then you start to realise that as light and frothy as it is on the outside, inside is a rock solid message. I've never really been into Christian rock per se, usually because of the lyrics. Cam and other Soundclick Christian musicians showed me that there is a better way to couch it and - out of all of them - Cam's Even Song have come the closest to what I would consider acceptable to someone who may not share those views.

The secret, I think, is to work on different levels. I KNOW from long experience that Cam is often Biblically lyrical and it's a side of his work I very much appreciate, and where it really works best is in a track like this one. On the face of it, with the first plays, it's a great little pop song that appears to be about little children and cosmic spaces, but then when you get to the chorus, it doesn't register that when Cam is using 'O God' he is using it in the proper way. So it takes time then to pull this track into your brain but it is sooo worth it, regardless of your beliefs - and that is exactly the way I like my Christian rock.

Highly Recommended pop and MUST HAVE for fans.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Scheezy McGee - Cool

Hear The Track Here

Psssst, you guys! Gather round, I have something to tell you and I need you to help me. Come in closer because, well, this is a little embarrassing and I wouldn't want to make this public (Ed: I don't think he really understands the whole blog concept, do you?). Compadres, I have a problem. I see Thomas J Marchant everywhere I look. Don't ******* laugh, this is serious!!! So, The help I need is dead easy, click on the play button for this track and tell me that young scallywag Marchant isn't present on this track. Wtf, you may be asking, would American alternative hip hop (Scheezy) and English musical eccentricity (the scallywag) have in common?

Cool is, in fact, shit hot, as you may have expected from Scheezy (he's on a roll sure enough), but not in the way you would have expected it. You may, by now, have listened to the track and are no doubt questioning your own sanity too. Lyrically, however, the clues are obvious. One of the main draws for me with Scheezy has been his lyrical side and - whatever the musical illusions - this is one of his best yet. Musically too, I find him adventurous, willing to test what he is doing in other idioms, but this is definitely also his strangest yet.

Good strange, not strange strange. Thought I'd better make that distinction. Actually I think I probably do see Thomas J's everywhere, so maybe it's not a cause to alarm Scheezy. Because of the events described above, it took me ages to exorcise the ghosts from this bad boy and it's in the last couple of days I've started to appreciate it for the simple, but devastatingly effective song it ultimately is. Not quite sure what it's all about but the images and the simple arrangement finally slammed it into my mind.

Alternative Alternative in the best way. Highly Recommended indeed.

Farrell Jackson - Six String

Hear The Track Here

You wouldn't know it to look at me, but I'm a bit of a gearhead. Actually, scratch any musician and you'll uncover the nerdy tones of a gearhead - especially guitarists. See, the first thing I thought when I first played Six String, which is actually a love song about guitars, was 'I wonder what guitar that is?' I'm talking about the beautiful acoustic sound that introduces you to the track, and if you like classic rock, I do recommend you get stuck right on while I go right on yapping like a bewildered beagle. The Bewildered Beagles, mmmm that has a ring to it... (Ed: actually Gilmore, if you look closer you will see it is a noose so best steer clear of that one).

I first met Farrell Jackson and his very likable take on classic rock when I heard The Train To Normal (January 2009) on Mixposure's Saturday Night Rocks show with Mike-K and it blew me away. Since then he supplied an endless stream of very high quality songs with plenty of praise for both the quality of the songwriting and the professionalism of the performance. Great thing about Mixposure, it has more rock quality than just about anywhere else I know, and Farrell is one of it's brightest exponents.

As you can imagine, this could only be string driven affair, so wooden axes are the main deal (Ed: speak ******* English Gilmore!!) Even Farrell himself admits this can only be a kind of folk rock. An extremely fine piece of folk rock, and as good as any in either the underworld (where we live) or the Real World where this kind of stuff dies a death unless you are twenty. As a tune then, regardless of lyrical content, this is an ace little tune and would have people singing along - not really understanding what the track was actually about. That about describes the process but it hardly does justice to this excellent gearhead anthem.

Machine Head rock. Highly Recommended for gearheads

Speak Words Speak - The Sonorous Winds of Saturn

Hear The Track Here

Now here's the thing, this months review list appears to be totally fubar. Thankfully, I can blame it on The Sonorus Winds Of Saturn which - as we all know - plays havoc with your mind. Nothing whatsoever to do with my own eternal incompetence in keeping a proper list. I have more tracks than I have list so I suspect that damn wind swallowed those up before I could finish the list. Consequently I'm going to be catching up with those for a couple of days...

Such is the critical life I tell ya...

Larry Ludwick is also responsible for the Sonorous etc because he is the mind behind Speak Words Speak who, you may remember, I have reviewed a few times now. This is a side project that encompasses Larry's spoken word peices, which I have to admit I am partial to. It is helped somewhat by the influence of Jon Bushaway of The Dead Company who was the guy who first introduced me to the modern version of poems set to music and, truth to tell, their collaborations have been the highlight - for me anyway - of Speak Words Speak's output. Not that Larry is any slouch in that department, merely a personal taste.

Actually Larry himself is a personal taste and my initial introduction to Speak Words Speak wasn't a spoken word thing as such, more an electronic soundscape (which he's also pretty good at btw). Church Of The Lost Frequencies (July 2010) was actually a lovely track, a mix of choral and electronic sounds and tones that really worked, as does Sonorous etc. My only real gripe is that essentially it is an ambient track and it blots my copybook to admitting to liking it. It follows, therefore that a) you have a bit of time (its seven minutes and change) and b) really like good ambient.

Highly Recommended Electronic Ambient.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pilesar - Spider Bait

Hear The Track Here

Get your coats, I want to take you to one of the wilder spots around. The reason why is because there is different music, experimental music, difficult music, all-the-way-out-to-Pluto weird and then, finally in a haze of disjointedness and genetic malfunction, you reach the REAL outer limits. There, then, stands Pilesar, easily and by a country mile THE most different musician you are ever likely to hear. See when you've worked through all those levels of musical mayhem to find yourself in the company of Pilesar, you realise that he really is different. Not only from the standpoint of the instrumentation he sets his little jaunts in, to the often laugh out loud exuberance of it all.

As you can tell, I have Pilesaritis. Yep, I have been an avid listener to this entertaining musical deviant for a good many years now and he just keeps on getting weirder and better and better and weirder. Take Spider Bait, as a case in point. Even better, listen to the first twenty seconds of it, if it hasn't made you run away in terror yelling obscenities, Pilesar will definitely appeal to you. Pilesar uses anything at his disposal to make music, even parts of his own body, or yours if you get too close. His primary thrust is percussive, but he's shown some substantial electronica muscle in the past too.

Both of which contribute to making Spider Bait one of Pilesar's more accessible tracks, although I don't know why I bother to make that distinction any more because almost everyone I know really likes what Pilesar is about. What is not to like? The man rocks, rolls, slices, dices, gets down on the dancefloor, directs a church service and stomps seven kinds of crap out of the drums in this really excellent - even by his standards - instrumental. Pilesar squared is what it is, and it sounds wonderful.

Highly Recommended WTF-ry from the Master and MUST HAVE for fans.

Versions - Directional Child

Hear The Track Here

Well, well, lookee here. Versions consists of Jon Partelow, Emily Schalick, Josh Griffith and an indeterminate number of others but it's the first couple of names that are probably ringing bells. Jon Partelow definitely qualifies as a Soundclick veteran by now, and by the looks of it a musical survivor. I first came across him as HELLbus when I reviewed Table Fate (January 2006), a track that assumed much greater proportions in my life after the review and I still play it every now and again. Then he popped up again (along with Emily) in what I contend is one of the very best bands to come out of Soundclick over the past few years, the late, lamented Can't Stop The Daggers.

Now read on...

There are only two tracks on the band's Soundclick page right now, this one and a basic demo with no drums. Certainly Directional Child give you a rough idea of what to expect when they get up to speed. Jon Partelow is a fine songwriter, nuanced and varied, especially given the usual rigidity of the alternative genre, even more so the American version. What Can't Stop The Daggers did, and did so well, was to bring those songs to life, adding a sharper edge that came from the combination of good musicians inspired by a great song.

Directional Child is, by it's own admission, a scratch vocal track so you shouldn't read to much into it, it will be cleaned up (and toughened somewhat I hope) but it's certainly something that shows there is life in Phoenix AZ yet. One of the best things about reviewing longer term is that I can follow a musicians ups and downs, and indeed growing experience, which is why I tend to be lenient with tracks like this. It is rough, but it's also engaging and entertaining and I suspect the finished version will be something to behold.

Recommended Alternative nonetheless.

Ralph Atkinson - Flashing 12 o'clock Ft Tim Lowe

Hear The Track Here

Tim Lowe makes an appearance on Ralph Atkinson's Flashing 12 o'clock which pleases me in two ways; he plays tenor sax on this and he's from the UK. Ralph, of course, hails from Canada and is IMHO one of the finer Soundclick Canadian musicians around, easily adapting himself - so it seems - to genre after genre. All done to a fine art. Mind you, he's been around a bit and that always helps to sharpen one's musical vision. Oh, and btw, please shoot me saying for 'one', I mean one doesn't do that, does one?

Flashing (ooo missus!!!) is billed as a Jazz ballad, and while I have an enduring love for jazz, ballads can die with festering boils as far as I am concerned. There are some (very) few Soundclick musicians who can actually deliver something worthwhile in this genre (333maxwell springs to mind) and Ralph, damnit I wouldn't put anything past the guy. I am an enormously lucky man, living in a city that holds one of the finest jazz clubs in the world - Ronnie Scott's - and I've spent many a great night there listening to jazz. It's got to be real, know what I mean?

The really wonderful thing about our Ralph is that the man is a consummate musician, songwriter and producer, furthermore a musician who appeals to a lot of people in a lot of ways. Can't think of many (or even any) bad tracks given to me by this musician, but Flashing 12 o'clock is in a league of it's own. Not only is so crisp and clean you could eat you dinner of it, but the delivery (especially the sax solo) steals the show. The very best kind of jazz, looks oh so easy, almost impossible to get right. Except here, apparently.

MUST HAVE Jazz (yay) ballad (gulp)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Frankfurt Dialog Company - Know By Now

Hear The Track Here

There is, apparently, a Blues Triangle to go along with the more well known Bermuda Triangle. Not a place where blues musicians are known to disappear but one, equally apparently, that seems to breathe new life into the suckers!!! Yeah, that's what I thought, but then I heard what it was capable of and that's all she wrote. See, I love the blues. No, I mean I luuurrrveee the blues, since forever and I am a real pain in the ass if its not cooked right but Frankfurt Dialog Company have earned their skill at the genre and it shows. Now before you start getting all survivalist on me, let me explain that the Blues Triangle consists of musicians from South America, North America and Europe and IMO some of the best Soundclick has to offer.

I am aware that putting something together like this but when you have musicians like Mike Wayszak, Lee Velaszquez, Mark Cloutier and saxist Tom Stockwrock pitching in and helping Andreas Horchler put together a really nice piece of feelgood blues that keeps insisting it 'don't know nothin' at all' when in fact it contains the secret of the blues; atmosphere. To be sure it's a bit on the jazzy, Chicago style of the genre but that's no bad thing, because no matter what else it does, it sure does swing. I think, when I'm honest, that I prefer my blues more low key, but that's merely a personal taste.

I am aware that many people don't like blues, again a personal choice but it's always been a choice of mine. Know By Now is a very solid piece of musicianship, and considering it was put together remotely it's a miracle baby, but it isn't without a couple of other flaws, at least for me. Chief amongst them is the quite harsh volume changes, and the lead being mostly overhung by the rest of the instruments. However, as I made clear in the beginning, this is the blues and I do tend to be harsh where that is concerned and probably me being over critical. Whatever I say, it will come down to a personal choice, as this material always does.

Highly Recommended feelgood blues.

Ratchet - Numb LP

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Way back in the mists of time (as it were) I happened across You Left Me (July 2004) by a group called the Ty Kaufman Group. It was led and featured lead guitarist Ty Kaufman (Ed: no really? Ffs get on with it!) who absolutely blew me away with his 'passionate, fluid, emotional sound'. That is what I wrote at the time and between then and now Ty has gone through a few changes but none, I sense, as dramatic as Ratchet. He has roughened his style to an incredible degree, got some ******* huge rock testicles, and gone all nu-metal and I absolutely recommend it. Ratchet, of course, are a proper band, not just one guy, and a band to savour. I have feeling that the video currently on their page doesn't do them justice.

The first track to leap out and give me a good aural kicking was Numb itself, a solid, chunky fist in the face and yet, when given time, turns out to be a very decent song indeed. The hardest kind of rock, linked with a coherent, intelligible vocal, just the kind of thing I like to slam into my ears at max vocal just to make sure they stay awake. As if to make sure that we are paying attention (and by God we sure are) Million Miles Away is a sure fire, 100% rock classic, so right in every way. A word here about professionalism, it shines out of every note and mood of this album and, to my ears, makes it all the more enjoyable for that. The kind of rock I yearn for like a thirsty man in a desert, raw, red and bloody and Ratchet provide track after track of this...

Changes (reviewed November 2010), Million Miles Away and Numb are the only tracks on Soundclick right now but I assure you they give an accurate picture of a very tasty album indeed. Out of the three, Changes took more time to win me over, the others had me in seconds, and if you are a rock animal, they will snare you too. The album was produced by Tim Narducci who deserves special mention for doing such a great job, it sounds like the labour of love it undoubtedly is. There are ten tracks on the album and these three are undoubtedly among the strongest but so could Now You Know, or More, Needy Bitch... I think you get my drift, whatever you do, if rock fills your life, you need this.

MUST HAVE hardest of hard rock.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Harlot - Empty Words

Hear The Track Here

It is always nice to make the acquaintance of a new netlabel, even more so when it's based here in the UK. Mah country, love it or leave it eh? Ambicon Records is the name of the label, based out Newcastle and the North East, always a good breeding ground for class bands; they have to be good otherwise the local audience will swallow them whole and spit them out in little bubbles. Harlot are a four piece, doing lots of live work by the looks of it and they certainly don't look any the worse for it so that's a good sign too, isn't it?

I must admit I suffered some nerves as the intro had definite proggy overtones but once the main song kicked in it's obvious that hard rock/metal is where this Harlot's heart is at, and - as you can imagine - that's fine by this rocker. My initial horror at the proggy bit was mistaken because, when all is said and done, this is a surprisingly American sounding piece of rock, especially vocally. Don't be misled by first impressions, Empty Words will take some digging into to really appreciate what Harlot are about.

Not exactly the kind of rock song I would have associated with the North East by hey, it takes all kinds. As well as showing the confidence and maturity of the band, Empty Words also displays a clean pair of production hands too; a recording and mix that seems to do them justice. Having said that, I admit that Empty Words isn't exactly to my taste (I prefer the rougher trade) but I'd certainly point any discerning rock fan the bands way because they definitely have the song, the attitude and the track. Neat.

Highly Recommended Rock.

Mike-K - Kick It

Hear The Track Here

As a child I was made aware of a French gypsy guitarist named Jean (Django) Reinhardt although, being so young I didn't really understand the impact this man had on musicians of my parents generation. His style of playing virtually created an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique; hot jazz, or gypsy jazz as it's also known as. Looks like our old friend Mike Kohlgraf (aaah that's what the K stands for!!) has been at the absinthe and onions and strolled off down that gypsy path too, judging by his last couple of releases. I don't know, wait ages for a gypsy track to come along, and then they all come at once..

See? No way of winning.

As I grew older and started playing myself, I delved into jazz in a big way, and gained a whole lot of respect for guys like Django who were doing what we are all striving to do, make music with a unique voice. Mike's musical voice is softer than most, but it is no less potent because of it, especially on a track like Kick It where - it has to be said - he has caught the free flowing style that typifies the genre. Having said that, Mike has a knack of - how can I put this? - smoothing things out and here is one track that it actually suits down to the ground.

Now, whether my previous love for this music is a factor here or Kick It is as good as I think it is is kinda moot. My appreciation comes because Mike has worked wonders in getting excellent slouchiness into the music, aided enormously by the standout playing of that most essential of companion - the upright bass. That's the big one dear, it rests on a pointy stick. So, any self respecting jazz fan - of whatever persuasion - will find a great deal to like about Kick It. Got to say, Mike's played a blinder with this, didn't see this one coming.

Highly Recommended gypsy jazz and MUST HAVE for fans.

Ludicrous - Everywhere

Hear The Track Here

I'm an odd cuss when you look at it (Ed: no surprise there then?) because I am anything but a music consumer. I haven't really listened to commercial music for so long its not funny. I read the papers and websites though so I kinda/sorta keep up with what is going on but some things obviously pass me by. Take Bjork, for instance, what is it with her? Never been into what she is doing, although it seems millions and millions of others think she's doing something good including - it would seem - Ludicrous. They cite Bjork as one of their (many) influences.

In the space of two tracks (and this one but more of that later) Ludicrous have proved to me that they are indeed ' a brilliant UK pop-rock threesome' as they say on their SC page. I am, as you know, heavily swayed towards female vocalists (Ed: mmm wonder why.....NOT) and Ludicrous have a jewel in the vocal prescence who I presume is Olga, a sulky, breathy vocalists in the fine tradition. Although The Real World (June 2011) didn't feature her as such, both of the better tracks IMHO. Dead Woman (July 2011) is every bit as striking and is why it got such high praise from me.

She doesn't get it all her own way though, because the music certainly keeps up it's end although, as I say, I am well blinded because of that vocal. Their songs are clever, interesting and subtle (as you may expect given the Bjork thing) but are not in any way experimental. All three tracks I have heard from this outfit have been very listenable indeed, and Everywhere especially, a nice moody peice that really hits the spot. One thing though, I thought the vocal production was a little flat. This is a terrific voice, expanding the dynamics of it would help enormously to thicken the whole sound.

Highly Recommended intelligent pop.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thomas J Marchant - Disappoint

Hear The Track Here

Disappoint is not a word I would associate with Thomas J Marchant who IMHO is one of the very brightest talents on Soundclick or anywhere else. A very different, and unique songwriter who has proved, time and time again that he is the real deal - at least as far as I am concerned. That's not to say that his output isn't patchy, he's not had the best year technically but he's still managed to come up with some ridiculously good tracks. It's Easy To Get Confused (July 2011) was the last we heard him, and that should tell you the tale if you doubt my word. If that doesn't, Disappoint certainly will because it's classic Marchant material.

Thomas is an ace plunderer, whether he does it intentionally or otherwise is a moot point. That is why almost every track is something you look forward to hearing, the influences and the way he subtly twists thing are one of the joys of listening to this musician. Taken as a whole Disappoint probably hits me strongly because Thomas is plundering the early punk years with this track, there is a noticeable Buzzcocks feel and sound about the track. It's also good to hear Thomas getting some of his production problems sorted because I do like when he rocks out.

Sounding suspiciously like a cross between the Batman theme and something the B-52's would have come up, Disappoint is gratifyingly retro yet still manage to punch its weight, especially when Thomas lets his Rock God Lead Guitarist off the leash. Damn, I even heard echoes of Status Quo's Picture Of Matchstick Men and there is no way Thomas would be that familiar with something from ancient history. Don't, however, take my word for it. I think this is one of Thomas best tracks in a long while, tell me if you agree.

MUST HAVE Alternative alternative (if you get my drift).

C Anthony Goggin - Dancing

Hear The Track Here

Fourth time around for American guitarist and songwriter Cody Goggin (or C Anthony Goggin as the fully monty), so what have we learned so far? Well, it's a guy and a guitar so lo-fi is the name of the game, but also to be honest none of the songs or performance has yet ironed all all the wrinkles. Nonetheless, we all have to start somewhere and the line Cody must be getting used to by now is that it takes time, patience and effort. What makes it immeasurably harder is that everything rests on both the guitar and the voice, unlike more scored tracks.

Which is why I have held fire somewhat with Cody so far, because everyone is entitled to a certain amount of trial and error. In many ways, that has paid off with Dancing which is, despite the lo-fi approach, a decidedly much more 'together' song and performance than anything I have heard from this musician yet. One of the main problems with his earlier tracks was that I felt he was holding back on the vocals. As Dancing shows, he's managed to get past that one, although that might well be his vocal style too.

Structurally too, Dancing is better than any of his previous tracks although, if I were being totally honest, it isn't something that would interest me. It still sounds like someone recording and making music for their own benefit. Not that this is a bad thing, of course, and certainly not in this internet age. Why shouldn't people put anything they like online? Well, because other people tend to judge them on it, a point I have made repeatedly to Cody (and many, many others) but hey, give and take, right?

So if you like a simple song, simply told, Cody has one for you.

Friday, August 19, 2011

JPC (NZ) - 12:51

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At 12:51 pm on February 22, 2011 a massive earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand killing scores and generally creating havoc. On of those killed on that sad day was a friend of our very own John Paul Carroll (aka JPC (NZ)) and consequently this track is dedicated to Mattie and the others who lost their lives in that country's moment of tragedy. Now John Paul is waaaaayy too much of a rocker to go the maudlin, weepy eyed route, so I expected him to do what he does best - especially in moments like this. The man vents, ladles and gerbils, splenetic, half murmured lyrics snapped at you like bullets, all backed by some very hefty rock - all his trademarks right there.

Like a lot of people, it took me a while to get into John Paul's unique way with the genre but bless his cotton socks, he stuck to his guns and went his own way and converted me - and a great many others - to his way. His way is rock, hard and banging, backed up by powerful, often topical, lyrics and a keen sense of timing, all of which are evident in this track. I remember writing a track around 7/7 (the London train bombings) and being surprised at how angry it sounded, and I suspect John Paul may have had the same epiphany - pour all that hurt into a song, and it'll do that every time.

While not always understanding the lyrical point has become something of a thing with this musician, there is no doubting the message right at the heart of this track. Riff driven, full of fire and righteous anger, 12:51 is classic JPC (NZ), the energy and drive pour out of the music, although - as usual - reading the words would definitely help. As I say, he does have a tendency to murmur (kinda sorta) his lyrics and if there is one song of his you need to understand lyrically, it's this one.

Highly Recommended rock tribute to the fallen.

Gangbangsters - Choke

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One of the brighter spots of originality on Soundclick over the last couple of years has come from an unlikely source, artists that started out as hip hop musicians. I have heard some great stuff from Ryan Wixted (aka Gangbangsters) across a whole wodge of genres and you know I'm going to like a bit of genre bending (Ed: is that strictly legal Gilmore?) Since first introduced to us with Shoelaces (September 2008) where he showed the bare bones of what he was to develop into, releasing some amazingly strong tracks. Although, it has to be said right now, judging by Choke, you might find all this hyperbole a bit over the top, in which case I say check out his other stuff too.

He's always had an electronica side and this has been given free rein on Choke, which has more electronic weirdery that you can shake a toggle stick at. It's also experimental so I guess that is going to narrow the field down quite a lot, but hey there is experimental and there is experimental, know what I mean? Have a care though because the first time I fired this bad boy up the opening kick drum knocked my head clean off my shoulders and into the neighbours back garden. Awfully embarrassing asking for it back, They couldn't figure out why the knocking came on the front door but my voice issued from a pile of compost.

Apt, is it? Why I oughta...!!

I think I've probably heard every shade and variation of what Choke is trying to achieve and, in many ways, it succeeds. But is it something that Joe Q Public would want to hear? I doubt it, but anyone who likes the whole 'look what we can do with our knobs' school of modern music, we definitely find much to take notes over. For my taste, as I say, I've heard him do much better and I guess that colours my opinion of this piece, but I also found it a bit noisy - which or may not have been intentional..

Dark electronic mayhem.

El Efecto - Ciranda

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Regular readers will groan in frustration when they realise that I am about to go off on one again, and this time about Prog rock - but not as we know it Jim lad. I would have imagined that the whole world would have realised by now that prog-rock and I are not the most comfortable companions. However, as we have also discovered over the past few years the term prog rock is getting incredibly elastic and - by gum and golly - I've even started to like some of it. So although my heart sunk to see that El Efecto, a Brazilian band from Rio de Janeiro who play their own brand of it. My spirits were saved insofar that it may (just) count as world music to my weary ears...

Shhhh, don't tell them.

El Efecto are a five piece band who make an exceedingly good case for themselves and certainly if the genre appeals to you, you will find much to like with Ciranda. On the prog-rock front, the is undeniably the bare bones of the genre but with a very palatable Latin overlay that - for me anyway - stops it from being consigned to the seventh circle of Hell. Ultimately, it's the instrumentation, and the fact that the song is sung in Portuguese that kept me listening to it, despite it being almost nine minutes. Well, if that ain't prog-rock I don't know what is.

OK, being bluntly honest, I am not going to run off and marry this track (as it were) but I certainly have nothing against it. As I say, if you like then genre then you'll probably like this too. My problem is that I don't like the genre but I do like this, despite it's obvious prog-rock overtones and it often sounding - how can I put this? - a bit bland, middle of the road. Nonetheless it shows that El Efecto know exactly what they are doing and surprisingly enough sound like they are having a great time doing it. The instrumentation, for example, is an absolute joy, more great sounds than you can shake a stick at...

Highly Recommended Brazilian prog-rock (again, I kid ye not)

Repeater - We Walk From Safety LP

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If you are interested in bands such as Korn, Soulfly, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, the Cure and Sepultura, then you may be interested in what Repeater have to offer with We Walk From Safety, an eleven track album from this California based band produced by one Ross Robinson. Who also, as it happens, produced all of the artists I mentioned in the first sentence. What?? Yep, sounded kinda odd to me to, especially because those are some of my own favourite bands, but the video on the band's Myspace page with both the band and Robinson discussing how they met on that site is an eyeopener and well worth watching. Therefore, you might think, the ensuing album has to be some pretty hot ****, right?

OK, well I would too.

The band are billed as experimental indie rock and you can see from track one, Yours and Mine, that label fits them like a glove. Moreover, it's very rare to hear a vocalist trying to tear his throat out expressing the emotion of the piece and this track has a peach of a vocal. Funnily enough I am reminded a tad of My Chemical Romance, but this vocalist is so much more expressive. Musically too, this is one of the most interesting bands I've heard this year, a remarkable blend of what seems like a million influences - most of them contemporary. I can certainly see why Ross Robinson got so hot under the collar, this is a band to savour, pore over...

Tell you what too, the more you listen to these tracks, the more you realise just how experimental they are, it's a fairly even bet that this will sound as fresh to you as it does to me. Take a listen, for instance, to Patterns. On the surface, a fairly standard shoegaze-y indie thing, but the more time you spend with it, the more you start to realise how full blown it is, the many changes of mood and style. Mind you, I could say the same about almost any track on this incredibly strong album. This is the first project from Robinson’s new “label-less” initiative, White Label Collective, and if this is the kind of standard we are going to dealing with, well it's a game changer. At least, for Repeater, being online has paid off big time and the result is nothing less than stunning.

Heavy duty dark indie rock. MUST HAVE

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Violent Whispers - Heartbreak Loves Romance

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Don't know what it is about the UK right at this moment but it seems to be bursting at the seams with new bands, and from the most unlikely places too. Dundee in Scotland, for example. I know the place, been there a few times, played there and definitely got wasted a time or two there so it's stands to reason that such a party town has that other staple: decent bands. I suspect either Ed Muirhead has something to do with this, or he knows the band and he's from Dundee too. What? I reviewed him a couple of days ago dear, try and keep up... (Ed: he's also something to do with Love, Susan too - just to muddy the waters a little further).

Dundee is a very small place to harbour so many good musicians, but it does as the tracks on this very likeable EP amply testify - especially if you like the Coldplay style of the game. Actually, that's not fair, and it's a lazy reference as any track will show you if you give it the time. Heartbreak Loves Romance, for example, is a bloody terrific song and Coldplay don't have too many of them IMHO, certainly not as nuanced anyway. Lost is just stunning from the getgo, it's vocal intro alone gets it into the VIP room and it just keeps getting better, with a chorus to die for even though it was a bit too poppy for my tastes. What is obvious is that your are hearing quality here, and a welcome addiction to my growing hoard of likes.

Heartbreak Loves Romance is a five track EP and mostly there's a couple of good tracks on most, that is not the case here. Each track is a little jewel set in sound to massage your ears in ways wonderful. OK, the emphasis is on the softer side of indie rock/pop but I happen to like to hear musicians of this calibre in this genre, ballads or no. In Love I Know is a ballad and, not to put to fine a point on it, I ******* love it; and I'm pretty sure my mate Chas Holman (aka 333maxwell) would be interested in it. Right up his street, and you know how good he is. I have long had a high regard for Scots musicians, and The Violent Whispers embody all of the finer points of that illustrious history and then some. Some very fine songs here, and a lot of energy, thought and hard work to dress them up right. What more could you ask for. Well, more, would be a good starting point.

MUST HAVE rock/pop.

Ian Dadon - Am I There?

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When I first met Isreali musician Ian Dadon with The Comedian (November 2009) I, in my usual lazy fashion, compared him to yet another Soundclick musician - JPC (NZ) - although further tracks from Ian showed other sides of him. So far I've reviewed more than a few of this musicians tracks and I think I still haven't got a proper grip of what he is about. This is probably because, like a lot of indie musicians he is constrained by equipment issues - which are surprising hard to iron out even these days, and he is probably more of a songwriter than a musician. If that sounds like I have it in for him, better go check what I have said in the past - it's his songs that have earned him the kind of praise he gets (and not just from me).

The reason I drag an obviously unwilling John Paul Carroll into this conversation again is because, by God, this could have come directly from one of JPC's early stream of songwriting - at least sound and style. Ian Dadon is a very different artist though, darker certainly. 'It's hard to explain this one' Ian says in his song comments and I definitely agree with him because I'm certainly having a hard time with. Musically, it seems to owe a nod of respect to bands such as Joy Division and others of that ilk, lyrically too because if you can make any sense of it...

For my money, as good as the track is, it's punch is somewhat blurred by a drummer who seems to have at least twenty arms and a severe overdose of speed (or a Keith Moon complex come to think of it). Nonetheless, if you can get past the opaqueness of both the lyrics and their delivery, Am I There is a pretty decent piece of navel/shoegaze indie rock and certainly nothing that Ian should lose any sleep over. Definitely most people who like this genre will find much appeal in this track and probably wouldn't be so p-i-c-k-y as me anyway, I'm a right bastard for that lately. Either that or I'm going through the menopause (Ed: do 200 year olds have that?)

Recommended Indie rock.

Rude Corps - See It For Myself

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Looking back on the first time I reviewed Neil O'Brien (aka Rude Corps) - t'was with Tonight's Alright (September 2005) - is a bit of an eye opener. Who would have thought that this musician would turn into IMHO one of the finer exponents of electronica and politicized, topical music around today. Over the years Rude Corps have delivered some big surprises and as a consequence I always look forward to his tracks - and the remixes are pretty awesome too; he's worked with some good people in that time. So, with all that experience under his belt, you'd expect something a bit different, a bit challenging...

A bit lo-fi too, as it happens, but it probably adds to the ethos eh?

No fair Gilmore, I hear you all shout. How come you cut some lo-fi musicians more slack than others? Well, essentially it comes down to one thing and one thing only - ideas. To be honest, I don't really mind what the track sounds like ultimately because I have heard great music in many different guises over the years. What I most care about is impact and the original impetus to actually make the track. Rude Corps, it has to be said, is also a special case because wherever he goes musically, it's usually an entertaining (if not enlightening) experience and See It For Myself has that and an added extra - Neil gets to sing a bit.

The great thing about rock in general is that you don't need a good voice to utilise it's power, it helps obviously as is shown by endless lines of rock gods, but some of the best rockers are not exactly world class singers. Neither is Neil, to be fair, but he does make the most of what he does and with the odd rock/reggae instrumental line-up helps to put across the song. Personally I prefer the fire-breathing, proselytising version of this musician but I can do with his softer side too (Ed: he has a softer side? Ye gods what is the world coming too...)

Recommended lo-fi alternative

Monday, August 15, 2011

Patrick Lew's Band - Shanghai Kiss

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O come now, in the four or five years (yes really) I have been exposed to the toxic qualities of the musician called Patrick Lew, and the endless line of music tracks from him, I till remain - bloody but unbowed. I think Patrick is one of the only human beings ever to be told by me that they were a hopeless musician in every respect - it isn't something I am likely to say without severe provocation. Patrick (and all his various musical offshoots) comes complete with Titan sized provocation nodes and, I believe, has managed to ruffle the critical feathers of almost everyone who has reviewed him. To which his reply is a shrug and move right on to the next one.

Takes a licking, keeps right on ticking.

I believe that Patrick has more energy than God and that if we slowed what he did down to a human level we might find the music he makes is perfectly reasonable, but after spending a year wearing out this theory I copied the man, shrugged and moved on to the next one. I wouldn't be surprised, at some later date, if Patrick isn't the forerunner of some new music fad. The kind of music he makes is so out there, so definitely not the music we know and love that he's either certifiably tone deaf or just plain old doesn't give a ****. I suspect the latter is the real truth because after a veritable tsunami of really awful reviews (many from me), he shows no sign of slowing down or reducing his output.

The closest musical reference has to be the American West Coast grunge rock scene although without any reference whatsoever to any of the following musical standards: timing, pitch, arrangement, pace or any combination of those things. I once played a Patrick Lew track to someone as an example of the sort of material I review and they honestly thought it was a spoof, and even then not a very good one. Fact is, you either get Patrick Lew or you will probably think he is completely insane, and either way you'd be in trouble.

Definitely not for the unwary.

Chayse Maclair - Two Fingers To The Sky

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Produced by the Allspark apparently, but best not to give those nasty Decepticons any clues so best forget I have told you that or Chayse Maclair is going to be getting a visit from some very heavy metal. You may remember the previous couple of tracks I have reviewed from this American hip hop rapper and - given the genre - I think he's probably had a pretty easy ride so far. This is helped - I hastily add - by his choice of musical tracks, always a problem for any rapper without access to original music tracks.

Working with both Anno Domini and Flawless Tracks for those songs may have set me up for the disappointment I initially felt for this track because IMHO the music is not really up to the task or - more probable -it just doesn't fit. Now you know I am not going to make a statement like that without backing it up but it's fairly obvious early on in the track that the music and the rap are fighting each other, especially in the beginning. Actually the more I listened the I thought the chorus was way too tremulous too, but that might have been the style this track is set in.

The fact is, I think I prefer the tracks I already heard to judge Chayse by, in those first two tracks he shows all the signs of being someone on top of what's going on, riding the beat like a good MC would. On Two Fingers To The Sky however he just sounds confused, and not a little whiney, and I put the blame of the stodgy, plodding music track. I think I understand what track he was trying to make, and maybe in his mind Chayse believes this is it, but I don't think so. This is just muddled and confused as to what exactly it is, lyrically and musically. Oh well better luck next time eh?

333maxwell - And Drift Away

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Not to be mistaken with the infinitely more well known 'and r-e-l-a-x' refrain familiar to readers of this blog - or at least I don't think so. Trouble is, you never can tell when faced with a new Chas Holman (aka 333maxwell) potboiler. There was a while there, for instance, that I know for a fact he was writing song specifically for review the following month. I sent him away with a flea in his ear (Ed: yeah right...) and it's been a while since You Suck (March 2011) so I guess he's suitably chastised.

or I'm delusional... (Ed: yeah that...)

For a human being Chas has more sides than a many sided thing, musically anyway. Almost every genre has felt that maxwellian touch sooner or later and I've reviewed pretty much all of them. It's the reason 333maxwell was a former Artist Of The Year (2009) and has more Must Haves from me than any other musician around so it goes without saying that while I admire his talent and his chops, I feel the green tinge of envy to this day. After such over-exposure though I have figured that ultimately Chas is best when he's laid back, whether that's in a jazz way or a 1960's Beatles type way, and the Fab Four are definitely the inspiration for this track.

To gentlemen of a certain age and discernment, the epitome of great pop songwriting still resides in the ghost of The Beatles, whether it's early or later work it doesn't matter, all of it is ripe for plunder. Having said that there really aren't that many musicians around who can really pull it off on all the levels The Beatles did, but 333maxwell is definitely one of them. More Magical Mystery Tour than Hard Days Night, it's Lennon influences worn for all to see, this is a classic example of just what makes 333maxwell one of the brightest sparks around.

Highly Recommended nostalgia binge.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Go Go Gadget Pink Packet - Sore Eyes

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Go Go Gadget Pink Packet are a new name to me, (although not the famous go go gadget bit), who don't seem to be on Soundclick yet somehow got onto the Soundclick list but hey, **** happens right? Go Go etc appear to be a rap organisation from upstate New York (Utica, seeing as you asked) and they make a very decent hip hop sound. Now while I know that isn't everyone's favourite music, I often find space for it, especially if it is well done; raps are tight, music is tighter, know what I mean? For me, when this genre rocks the house it is at its best. I personally deplore the softening of hip hop's style (musically that is) and even Sore Eyes suffers somewhat from that.

Not sure where the music is from but I think it is somehow in-house, not factory beats. To my mind, it explains why the track gels with me so much - even though I have big problems with the style. As I said, I don't personally like hip hop's current passion for slow, ponderous (or vacuous) almost ballads and Sore Eyes definitely falls into that category. What saves it is the professionalism of the performance, and the fact that the rappers sound like they are working for it.

Another plus, I suppose, is that here is a hip hop track that - for once - doesn't feature Autotune at all. Not exactly the most ringing endorsement you'll ever see I know, but to me it means a lot. Fact is if I had to listen to a lot of hip hop I'd far rather it was of this quality than some of the wild and wooly mixtapes it has not been my pleasure to hear. As it is, Go Go Gadget Pink Packet acquit themselves well enough that it motivated me to check out some of their other tracks into the bargain.

Recommended Hip Hop.

Cameron Pierce - Atra Bilis

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Call me a fool but I have hope for life in Soundclick yet. This month, for example, there are a great many older names re-appearing after a long absence. Cameron Pierce, of course, is one of those veterans (ie five years or more on Soundclick) and while it's been a while since we heard anything from this Canadian musician, it hasn't been so long as some who recently posted on Soundclick. Like a lot of long timers, Cameron's music has changed enormously since his Latmat days, along the way gaining a much harder, edgier sound that sounds IMHO better with each succeeding track and Atra whatsit is no exception.

Who said 'must be rock' then?

I have never made any secret for my love of rock music and, on the face of it, I wouldn't have put Cameron down as a hard rocker but this track sure as hell proves me wrong on that score. 'A moody track... But dynamic' is how he describes it and I'd say the moodiness was there and - depending of what you might like - the dynamics are there too. As I said, I much prefer this heftier side of Cameron because as much as I liked his pop-rock, close harmony work, it isn't something that I'd use to kick me into gear. This track would do it and leave a nice bootmark on the back of my neck while doing it.

So don't be fooled by the pop rock tag here, this is yer actual hard and heavy, complete with navel gazing, wtf is that all about lyrics that really suit the balls out performance and production. I listened to this on a BIG system and it's freaking stunning; trademark arena rock standard and no mistake. There again I do like stuff like this, nonetheless this is a solid achievement whether you like the style or not. Polychrome (July 2010) was the last track from him and shows (again) how much he has changed in a year. Moody rock vocalist, who'da thunk it??

Highly Recommended hard rock.

Ed Muirhead - Cage For The Clouds LP

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You wouldn't know it to look at him but there was a time when Elton John was considered cool. I know he has always had the smack of wetness about him but IMHO when he was first staring out writing songs with Bernie Taupin, Elton actually hit the spot more often than not. The reason I bring Pop's poison dwarf (Ed: Damn, that's harsh Gilmore) into this review is because Promises Are Broken, the first track of Cage For The Clouds, sounds like early Elton and is a terrific song for all that. Our first review subject this month, then, is Scottish musician Ed Muirhead whose DIY album (and record label incidentally) and if the first track was anything to go on, a fun time is promised - especially if you like a good 'choon'.

In my world, someone who gets up off their arse and creates something already gets big kudos from me, especially if you are just one person, but to do it as well as Ed has managed it is a pleasure indeed and he should feel proud of his achievement. Having said that, I have to say in all honesty that the singer-songwriter thing has definitely peaked with me, so it was a bit surprising that got so involved in this album so much. The eleven tracks it contains are all pretty much of a muchness, although Cage For The Clouds gets a big thumbs up from me for the song and delivery; my kind of ballad.

All the songs revolve around love, the getting and losing of, and - Elton John similarity aside - sit well as a complete, rounded whole, leaving the listener with what seems like a very organic musical experience. However, I know what material of this quality takes in terms of love, passion, dedication and commitment and I am going to be right out there in saying - whatever you think about the style - you are not likely to hear much better quality indie music than on this album which I heartily recommend should be listened to 'of a piece' ie track after track. It's an old fashioned notion, I know, but I found approaching this album with that in mind made the experience that much more relevant.

High class UK Indie songwriting. Highly Recommended.