Tuesday, May 30, 2006

One Kid's Lunch - There's More

Hear The Track Here

One Kid's Lunch specialise in 'goofy Christian rock' and their name comes from a Biblical quotation, John 6:9. That quote concerning the feeding of the 5,000 with two loaves and five fishes (ie one kids lunch). Way more information than you could possibly need but it's always nice to get a back story, especially when you are dealing with such subjects. Having listened to There's More a few loadsa times, there is waaay more to One Kids Lunch than that tired old cliche 'christian rock'. It also shows that showing and testifying to your faith can often be funny, heartwarming and good for your whole well being.

If I wasn't already convinced by the tightness and punchiness of the musical backing track, the vocals and lyrics would have sealed the deal. Those lyrics are priceless but funnily, only in context with the music. I glanced at them while downloading the track at the beginning of the month and they didn't really register. In the track through the make the most perfect sense. There's a wry, humorous feel to the vocals that helps to give the track that warmth I was describing earlier. In the second verse, this really comes together to plaster a wry grin to your face whether you like it or not.

Come on, listen to this.... 'When I get my little halo, Well done, faithful couch potato!' The music backing is pretty much textbook rock, convincingly delivered. It's the deft and twisting arrangement that really pins itself in your mind, this is an artist who doesn't believe in the aba school of songwriting. It's always going to be a difficult task to write about something as intensely personal as your religeous views, and OKL surmount that splendidly with good humour and a fine rocking tune. There's also a pop sensibility to it that makes me think of 10CC in their prime. The most important thing of all though is that this is a pure slice of musical fun that would win anyones heart, regardless of race, creed or colour. That, I contend, is a much finer thing to do.

Power Pop with a message.

Alchemystic - Kaleidoscape

Hear The Track Here

Almost exactly a year ago, I encountered this artist for the first time when I reviewed Sands Of Time (May 2005). I liked his style immediately even though we had a bit of to and fro about his genre classification, and that liking has developed steadily over the last year. To my mind Alchemystic is one of the brighter up and coming electronica artists and that's because he stretches into all sorts of corners you wouldn't have thought possible. In the nicest possible way, of course. He makes very visual music, if you know what I mean. Close your eyes while you are listening to this and you may well see the movie too...

There again, it may just be the drugs kicking in.

Alchemystic is the second artist this month to swap a track around on me, so just a couple of words about Soaring first. Very nice instrumental, reminded me of early '70's rock bands like Caravan, Soft Machine and others in the 1960's Canterbury scene. Surprisingingly enough this same scene was the forerunner of progressive rock and we all rue the day that one came down the pipe. Nonethless, Soaring was a great listen and a track I suggest you check out. Kaleidoscape is much more the Alchemystic we have grown to know, full of nuance and texture and produced to a shiny gloss.

It's also a step away from his more soundtrack side which, I freely admit, doesn't really blow up my skirts. Kaleidoscape is a chilled out, mellow to the max instrumental, exactly what you need for those moments where a little ear massage is in order. This artist knows full well that longevity is what most of us are striving for and this track has that potential, thanks mainly to the packed arrangement and the slickness of the production and mix. At just over four minutes and change, it won't tax anybodys time and I know it's gonna tickle more than a few ears around here. All round a really sterling effort but that is - after all - this artist calling card.

Highly Recommended.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Siiren Siiren Siiren - He Could Never Be Me

Hear The Track Here

Siiren Mikell (aka Siiren Siiren Siiren) is a R&B/Soul artist I first review last month who made a big impression on me. I reviewed Out Of My Brain and loved it to bits; it's a slick peice of work and a track I'd highly recommend but I still don't see it on his page. I'll have to start a petition. :D The same production techniques, especially vocally, that made Out Of My Brain such a treat are present on He Could Never Be Me, although I found the track different in style. Mind you, that may well have to do with my own likes and dislikes than anything the Siiren being is doing wrong.

As a matter of fact, the more I hear this guy the more in awe of what he is doing I am. Certainly if you fancy yourself as a vocalist and you want something to test yourself against, give this guy a go. Best to bear in mind though, that ALL the vocals on this track are his. I have a real problem with the softer, gooier side of R&B and its oh-so-cool approach, and He Could Never Be Me definitely hovers close to my auto-cringe button. What gets over that problem is listening to Siiren weaving his tapestry above a musical track with those softer, gooier bits just about sliding through.

It's the vocals though that are the highlight of any of this artists tracks. While I am sure there are a great many other vocalists (especially in the field) who are every bit as good and maybe some better, Siiren is the one I have heard the most just lately and as a singer and performer he is right on the money. Style, detail, expertise in delivery, the guy has it all. I say this because, I have to be honest, the musical side of this track didn't do very much for me at all. Considering the level of detail given to the vocals, it felt like the track was bolted on to make it all flow better, rather than something that complimented the vocals. Still, fekking small change anyway, because if you like that softer, gooier R&B this will really float your boats. If you appreciate a solid, mature vocal performance - nay sophisticated - then the Siiren is yer man.

Top R&B/Soul smoochie. Highly Recommended (and I don't even like the style)

The Atropos Project - Project X

Hear The Track Here

Gosh, I'm so old because I can remember a time when people had stuff, and talked about it all the time.

Stuff was obviously THE must have item for the 90's but in the Noughties everything has changed. Projects, my friends, projects is what everybody has these days and this artist has two!! Acquisitive enough? :D My heart sunk a bit, I must admit, when I noticed that TAP said Project X was 'another meandering tune' because it touches on my own personal distaste of progressive rock. As I mentioned in my review of The Conflict (Remixed), TAP is an excellent, rounded musician who does what he does very well. He can't help that I have many phobia's and prog rock is one of them.

The other 9,999,9999 would take too long to mention.

So it's a given that there wouldn't be much wrong musically with what TAP does. Certainly anybody with even the slightest interest in the way rock guitar is used will get something from this track. Packed into it's six and a half minutes of life, there are more twists and turns than yer average politician could ever master. Not being a fan of the prog scene I had to find other ways of weighing this up and - funnily enough - the more I heard it, the more I started to like certain sections. I think one of my problems with the genre is this clever-clever stuff it thrives on. Striking a pose is one thing, making a statement is something else entirely. In a way, I think the work of Sylvan & Bonamici has brought me to a better understanding of the genre, and what it takes to be adept at it.

Here's my problem...

I reviewed Nad & Bon's 14 minute Quest For The Last Virtue and have been lost in its depths ever since. Music that is involving trancends genre classification, and believe me keeping someone like me involved for that length of time is an achievement. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I concentrated, I still couldn't get that feeling from this track. As I say there are bits I really appreciate, usually involving the guitars, and bits that make me go 'huh?' There again, TAP should take note that I am not the target audience, and I can see nothing wrong whatsoever with this track, other than my appalling taste in not being bowled over by it. Let me put it like this: The Atropos Project specialize in guitar based hardcore progressive rock and - what's more - they are damned good at it. Therefore....

I rename myself Phyllis Stein.

Jaymz Lee Shaw - Woke Up This Morning

Hear The Track Here

It never ceases to amaze me what a musically fertile country Canada is, and especially for a certain kind of rock music too. The reason I got started on this - one of my favourite subjects - is because I believe Jaymz Lee Shaw is from that country. There is a strain of acoustic rock that Canadians have taken to in their droves and - as if to prove the point - Jaymz delivers exactly what I would have expected; a bright, breezy song with bags of appeal. However, you'll find its growth is a bit stunted. At one minute and ten seconds, this will barely whet your musical whistle and, cunningly enough, makes you wish there were more of it...


I found a lot to like in Older (April 2006) and because of a comment Jaymz had made paid particular attention to the vocals which I found very listenable in an early Pink Floyd-ish way. If I liked what he did on Older, then it's a given that I would like Woke Up This Morning despite it's relative length. If there was any question about his singing on Older, his performance on this track seals the deal. It's tuneful, pleasing and fits the track like one of milady's gloves. So, no more of this 'reluctant' singer stuff OK? You can do it and this track proves it.

I've got to like Starting Over, Cameron Pierce and others over on Soundclick who also make this kind of material and Woke Up This Morning could fit among them with nary a twitch. If I were Jaymz I'd take that as a high compliment indeed as he would see if he heard them. I have a personal liking for acoustic rock vocal tracks and that would account for my own tastes in this affair and I guess the rest of you will just have to make up your own minds. Whatever it is, if we could get another couple of minutes of a track like this I would be very interested in hearing it.

A melodic, tuneful tiny tot.

Friday, May 26, 2006

melv - Don't Want To Lose

Hear The Track Here

melv is a familiar name to many SC regulars and has long been a special favourite amongst the reviewers - this one included - and rightly so. He says on his webpage that his music is for fans of Muse, Coldplay, Keane and a million others but I disagree. I think he's miles better than that. There is a strain of English rock music that throws up true originals; David Bowie, Queen are just two examples I have compared him to. In both style and arrangement/songwriting skills melv echoes the best of these two artists and somehow makes a melv-shaped space for himself. And very cosy it is too.


The one element that I feel has dogged this artists work is in the way it comes out sounding. melv knows this conversation by heart by now so lets not start nailing that cross just yet. I have nothing but admiration for this guys ability to make songs work on an epic scale, and that is down to his knack of nailing down that classic rock nous. Songs like this can only really live and breathe performed in an open air stadium in front of thousands of people; anthemic, detailed novels of life, love and the pursuit of happiness. The kind of song that reaches out and touches people, and that IMHO is what makes melv so special. Take Don't Want To Lose for example, a great song in the melv tradition and believe me this would be scorching if it also had what the artists mentioned above had; a Roy Thomas Baker (or equivalent) production.

This mix of Don't Want To Lose doesn't really work for me, at least not as soon as the bass kicks in. It takes up a huge chunk of the right speaker and sounds as boomy as a boomy thing. It also steps over the heavenly choir (yes there is one...see...) and does detract from the power going on right there. In all other respects, this is a great rock song delivered with power and commitment even if you do have to work at pretending a widescreen arena-rock mix is happening as well. melv is a young man who has remained consistently meticulous at delivering quality music, which can only bode well for his future. In the meantime, this will do but puhleeeze can we have another mix of this with the bass fixed?

Recommended (for the song and arrangement).

Silvertrain - Good People

Hear The Track Here

So there I was last Saturday night propping up the bar over at Songplanet for the Saturday Night Rocks show (Germinate good times, come on, dun dun dun dun) giving it the verbals with me mates (as you do) and John from Silvertrain bent my ear. They are - finally - about to go into a real live studio and record some new tracks for us... Hey hey. "Not before time" I say, as I rap the naughty boy on the knuckles, "laziest bunchagits known to man you and whatsisname...." I got to say I think John and Ritchie (oh yeah, that's his name) have milked the success of the tracks off their One To Blame CD with expertise. With the emphasis being on the tease of course. Listen to any n dozen of Soundclick stations or the DJ streams from sites such as Songplanet and Indiehitz and sooner or later up pops a Silvertrain standard.

But that was soooo then and this is soooooo now... Waddup??

I think the thing that will please many people that call John a friend - especially from this track - is how much he has accomplished in a short time. I feel like I have reviewed John's entire catalog and even maybe a couple his Mum wrote, so I've seen him come from a very rough, nervous start to where he is with this track. We have had endless discussions about recording, especially on the computer because it's the whole 'going into a studio' thing that has held Silvertrain back since those heady days of 2003/4. His early acoustic tracks were fair enough, given the circumstances and it looks like the discussions we had about how to go about it have taken root. Good People is the closest thing I can think of that deserves the title 'a Silvertrain' track and the great thing about it is this is all John. Ritchie still has to finish his bits.

I'm not sure how this was recorded but full marks to John on coming this close, from a production standpoint, this sounds great. It's also a fully realised track; drums (kinda, sorta), backing vocals and a noticable sense of confidence in vocal delivery. Again, I've probably writtens reams of stuff about John's singing style but by God, he's captured it on this track. It is, of course, still lacking in certain departments (Ritchie, a punchier drumtrack, frills) but it still contains essential ingredients such as a good arrangement and an easy accessibility. All the hallmarks of classic Silvertrain even. Tell ya what guys, why don't you work on this one a little more and I think this will be good to go as it is and spend the studio money getting legless down the pub. You know it makes sense.

Recommended (after all, it is still a demo)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Unlimited Pineapple Club - Danlog Babyhead

Hear The Track Here

Here I am starting the review process for this track with visions of white beaches, succulent palms and even more succulent women set to a musical soundtrack that sounds like something from the Buena Vista Social Club and what do I get?? Think of unlimited quantities of pineapples and clubs and the last place you might expect to end up in musically is (and I quote) 'quirky nerd metal' That, my dear friends and loyal readers, may well be the understatement of the year. Quirky isn't just a word to these guys it's a passion they delight in pursuing to it's ridiculous extremes.

Uh. Oh. Surely not?

TUPC are twins Kris and Mark and its obvious these guys are close because they couldn't have pulled this off if the weren't in some way telepathic. That they do pull it off - against some fearsome odds - is a telling point in the bands favour. So, let's have a look at the odds first... Mmmmm, where to start... The production on this is pretty much non-existent, a static, thin mix that complicates an already complicated arrangement. Let's say that the band recorded this on their trusty four track in their bedroom/garage/shed so it's best not to expect to much in the way of sonic excitement.

If you like to hear a couple of adept musicians trading blows in the manner of Megadeth, Slayer, Rigor Mortis, GWAR and others, then this may very well get you going. Personally I feel if the band could have expended a bit more effort on the final mix (given it a bit more depth for example) it would have made their musical efforts all the more visible. As it is, I had to play this more than a few times before I actually got to like what the guys were playing. Getting past that demo-ish sound took some doing, especially when I know getting a good sound is almost a must for such highly structured music. This is where prog rock and metal collide and it doesn't sound that bad at all musically even if - as I say - you'll have to work to get it out of this particular mix.

Quirky nerd metal? Surprisingly good, I say, despite the odds.

Lead (ii) Nitrate - Our Last March

Hear The Track Here

MmmmmmOK, here's another artist who's gonna make me work for my (no) money. Lead (ii) Nitrate (great name btw) are a punk rock band (ed: eh??) from - if all places - Singapore. The instant conclusion to jump to is that they must be related - as it were - to our favourite Asian punk rockers Shorthand Phonetics who, as you know, come from Indonesia. Is this the start of the punk rock scene Asia style?? You won't find any information on Lead (ii) Nitrate on their Soundclick page - although you will find 23 songs there. Take a look at their myspace site and you'll find that Shyfool, Terence, Somedane, Brian and Bob Doom with contributions from Eleazar and Hairil is wot makes all the noise.

So, pin yourselves up, work up a nice gobful of spit and let's pogo...

Not sure what punk rock threads Lead (ii) Nitrate are picking at in their minds but I hear classic Sex Pistols vocal histronics over a MUCH more sophisticated musical track than any punk track I ever heard. In terms of getting the style down, I shouldn't think this crew had much to worry about. The only slightly worrying thing I found is that the music rattled along at a thousand Mach per minute leaving everything else to come puffing away behind, a fashionable ten minutes late. It's only in the outro where things come back to realistic speeds for human survival that you really notice how decent the preceeding 3 some minutes were...

Oh, it's a rough (full strength sandblasting anyone??) production but punk was supposed to be that way, wasn't it and Shorthand Phonetics have certainly not been hurt by it. Lead (ii) Nitrate's version is a lot more hard core - even though a lot of the musical track has more in common with guitar metal than punk rock - and you'd really have to like the genre to get anything out of this track other than earache. Personally, I liked a great deal of punk rock and of course rock itself has become a lifetime obsession, so it's a given that I would like those parts of this track. It isn't - in any form - an o-my-god-you-gotta-have-this moment but given the right material, ya never know.

Now, come here and let me give you a nice Mohican...

Cameron Pierce - Isolation

Hear The Track Here

Canada's Cameron Pierce has long been a Soundclick favourite of mine, ever since I first came across him in his Latmat disguise, and it seems like a million years ago. It isn't of course, I cam across him first at the tail end of 2003 - it just seems like longer. I admit that I like him principally because he makes the kind of music I can really relate to; rock based acoustic vocal harmony stuff. Or, what used to be called the West Coast sound when I were a lad. The kind of stuff made famous by (among others) Buffalo Spingfield, The Byrds, CSNY and other luminaries of the scene.

Please notice that I made no mention whatsoever of the The Eagles. I should coco...

That isn't to say Cameron hasn't suffered the sling and arrows of outrageous Gilmore because he has. Although the list of CP 'keepers' is a long one, there have been several that I haven't been able to get too close too even - noticably -More Than That which I reviewed, but didn't get on with, in February of this year. Isolation is back to pure CP territory, a languid laid back track replete (nay stuffed to the brim) with the kind of vocal harmony work I really prize this artist for. Moreover, as well as those special treats there's a definite whiff of Steely Dan about this track so that just about ticks every West Coast button I know of.

For my money, I would have liked for the more rocky sections to be a bit more forward in the mix than they presently are, but that would be an unbelieveable nitpick. It helps that the track is tightly produced - especially the drum track which hasn't been Cameron's strong point before. Isolation has an anthemic chorus that - given time - will sink into your brain never to leave it, a real arena track and no mistake. Not sure whether this actually tops tracks he has released in the past as yet, but it's made a real humdinger of a start. A blinding track and no mistake and yes, I am biased so nrrr :P Cameron's many fans will already have this in their collection and so should you if anything I said above struck a chord.

Highly Recommended. Top Tune.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Monktrump - Long Time

Hear The Track Here

It's a given that, at least once every month, someone will put a track up for review then change their minds almost immediately. Top of the name and shame this month - a busy month, I got two of these guys :D - is Monktrump. To give him due credit, he changed his mind because he felt he had come up with a better version in collaboration with one Simon Williams on who I have no information whatsoever. At this stage I am not even sure who did what so maybe Mike Atkins (aka Monktrump) would like to fill in the gaps.

The trouble with this changing of minds is that I've usually downloaded the original track anyway, so let's see what Mike wanted to avoid should we? The original track is - to my ears - exactly what I would have expected from this artist. Except, I might add, for the vocals which are a big departure for this artist where, for the first time to my knowledge, he sings along with himself and lays down a whole mess of vocals that really help to lift what might otherwise be quite a mundane track. If this was the track I had to review I would have said that I liked it greatly for the effort of trying to do soemthing different and would have given it a positive rating.

However, Long Time, with Simon Williams IS the track to review and I am so, so, so glad it is. Not that Monk's original is bad, it's not and I would have rated it recommended in it's own right, but this version is something else entirely. A much more stereophonic picture automatically raises for the bar for this song, as does the enhanced production done on those vocals bringing them to the very forefront of this staggeringly effective track. Certainly the best thing I have ever heard from this artist, Long Time is a great song, incredibly well vocally choreographed, that carries a massive charge - although you may have to listen a few times to really appreciate how effective it is. Excellent stuff by both musicians but - just for the record - I'd still like to know what did what and where...

Highly Recommended.

Encryption Complex - Rose On You

Hear The Track Here

Encryption Complex are a couple of people; Paul and Andy, and they specialise in 'intelligent dance music' and I have to say I find the genre name amusing. I wonder, for example, what Idiotic Dance Music would sound like. On second thoughts scratch that, let's not go there. I first reviewed Encryption Complex when I put All For You (March 2006) through its paces and found it quite listenable, although I have to admit it didn't really do much for me. People Are Divided featured a lot of the same tricks but this time really delivered and got a very favourable reaction from me so I guess it's one for one so far...

I readily acknowledge that dance music isn't really my thing, I prefer to dance to it than listen, if you know what I mean. I think a lot of the irritation towards the genre comes from the time I was hanging around the Ejay forums and their own interpretation of the whole 'dance' genre. Speaking of which, and I guess the reason I bought up E*** in the first place is because the vocals in this track sound like they could ahve well come from a Ejay Soundpack. Especially the vocoded varieties. Nonetheless, Encryption Complex vault over this seeming obstacle easily because there's a lot more going on in this track that requires your attention.

Say this about this artist; they ain't afraid of a bit of mix and matching and Rose On You grows on you rapidly. Although there are a couple of things in the mix that are a bit iffy (a crackly sound on the Rhodes line at the beginning, the backing track level) Rose On You scores because of the summery, light feeling it carries about itself. There are some lovely acoustic guitar phrases dotted here and there too, and that's always a plus for me. So, if the band took a vocal from somewhere and then either wrote a track for it or fitted it to an existing tracl, job well done I say. No sign of a join at all. Moreover, Rose On You comes across a cohesive, nicely put together track that you may very well like and btw, don't take too much notice of that 'dance' tag.

There's a lot more to this track than a floor filler.

Nuff X - Feeling Trapped

Hear The Track Here

James Bacon (aka Nuff X) has established himself well on the Soundclick electronica scene over the past year or so and is big mates with two of my own favourites: HELLbus and Omnisine. All three have become much better known to me over the past year which just goes to show how things move around here. This time last year we were all agog with the likes of Stompp, Ad Fielding and a great many others. No doubt they are all busy somewhere or just too horrified about having their bits perused by yours truly. Whatever. That's the great thing about online music, there always someone else :D Oh, btw, that isn't really a dig at Stompp et al, except for being a bit quiet lately...

While I am certain that HELLbus and Omnisine are destined for greater things, me and Nuff haven't always seen eye to eye. Certainly a lot of his early stuff was patchy but God, ya wanna hear what I tried to foist on people when I first started. We all have to start somewhere eh? Mind you, he's been improving in leaps and bounds since then. When I first heard When It's Over (April 2006) I didn't like parts of it but did kinda admire the way he put it together, especially - if I remember correctly - some neat vocal touches. He has taken that idea and expanded it and Feeling Trapped is the result and one that registered immediately with this reviewer. A very nice track indeed but it isn't without it's little niggles.

It will also take more than a couple of plays too I reckon, so its probably best to give it more than one play. If you like the territory Nuff X explores then you will have no doubt downloaded this already. If not, I do suggest you give it a listen because this is a very good example of how far this artists has come. Not exactly the knock 'em outta their socks track but it's sure enough getting close. This is a good touch he's got goping on with these vocals and - as I can testify - it's a difficult act to pull off. Big ups to Nuff X for doing it with style.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Steve Smith - Handheld Mixer Lobotomy Blues

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But Oprah, the truth is that I don't really understand Steve Smith. There. I've said it. I say this not because Steve Smith doesn't speak English (Australian counts I guess) or because he talks utter bollocks because there are plenty of other artists I could say that about. Nope, read any of Steve's reviews and you'll see that not only does he do achingly painful reviews but he's also a big nuts and bolts man; his advice is always sound, cogent and succinct and not a 'peep my sh1t' in sight. Nope, what I can't understand about Steve is that being such a knowledgable and obviously capable musician, why does his music always seem like either a respectful nod at his classical favourites or a f-a-u-l-t-l-e-s-s (please note that means not a hair out of place) rendition of some imaginary TV or Film soundtrack.

Now give him his due, when he wants to recreate something, the man is a demon. Take, for example, Protect and Shoot (January 2006) or Mylanta and Coke (March 2006) both of which centered around ficticious po-leece dramas of the 1970's complete with wah wah and la las. Terrific stuff and - if it's a spoof - it's a well done one. As a musician I can certainly understand the intellectual charge of being able to master something like this but personally it doesn't give me multiple musical orgasms - and that is something I like to get from music. Mind you, this is definitely a personal choice and if Steve is happy making material like this why shouldn't he? Having said all that I do like Handheld Mixer Lobotomy Blues because it is the blues, albeit a bit peppier than you may have been used to.

Here Steve delves into a sub-genre of the blues called Jump Blues, a 1940's big band style of blues and an alleged forerunner of rock and roll itself. Again Steve is totally on the money in terms of style and content, everything sits in the track perfectly, and the track romps along merrily. Not sure whether the man himself is on the vocals but if it is, it fits the track well, and the lyrics are LOL funny - especially when you know something about the genre. This is an entry into something called the FDP Songwriting Competition whatever that may be and I feel Mr Smith will find some favour with this lively track. My only quibble about it, and its a small one at that, is that I felt some of the sounds were a bit dry and 'straight out of the box' but that's just me. As a reference back to the Jump Blues scene, this couldn't be more spot on.

Rip up a rug Momma!!! <-whatever that means. Recommended for the art of it.

Ditheramb - 3 Away

Hear The Track Here

Brisbane, Australia's Ditheramb (consisting of Steve and Scott Kinghorn,Jack Greenhill and Glenn Townsend btw) impressed me enormously from the first track I reviewed, In My Shadow (October 2005). Their blend of styles and arranging skills helped because I haven't been known to be into metal since I got rid of me acne by chopping off my head. No, wait a minute. That can't be right. T'ain't often that you see the words melodic and metal intertwined but with Ditheramb it's a description that fits like a glove. Their next track, Euphoria (February 2006) earned them a Must Have from me and still sits on my hard drive. It is a classic example of what Ditheramb seem to do best; dare to be different. After all, a Must Have for a metal track? Not fekkin likely.

A tough act to follow then? After all, that was then and this is now...

I have to say that although I may have reservations about what kind of track they'd offer up this time the one thing that would never change is the quality. These guys DO deliver the goods technically; class production - the 'pin you to the wall' kind and arrangements that (in this case anyway) have some good old fashioned progressive rock overtones to it. Anyway, just to smash this point to smithereens, it's a given that Ditheramb are not going to mess up technically so it only remains for the listener to either like it not. Personally I love this band and I think they are doing something worthwhile and - much more to the point - they are doing it on a consistent basis. Each track has reached a high level of production, enabling the depth and dexterity of the peice to be heard in all it's glory.

Because of those self same progressive rock tendencies, it took me a while to warm to this track. As you may know I have a phobia about prog rock. Ultimately though, this is a Ditheramb track and the same qualities that won them plaudits from me over the last two tracks are the same as make me want to hang on to this track. Ditheramb know how to construct music of meaning and complexity that still manages to reach out in the manner of simpler, more pointed songs, and that's a rare trick. Granted you may have to work your way into this track but the effort is so worth it. Musical references leap out of every note and when these guys rock, they R-A-W-K know what I mean?

Highly Recommended.

Waxko - Ocean

Hear The Track Here

A musician in need of a vocalist is how I came out of the last session with Waxko, although that wasn't always the impression I had. When I first reviewed his Heroes Of The Daily Grind (December 2005), it impressed the beejeebers out of me and showed that this artist has a sure touch when it comes to writing decent melodies. This initial impression was only reinforced by Deeper (February 2006) which I felt could do with a little trimming but nonetheless recommended it on the strength of the melodies and structure. As I've already explained, I felt that The Scream Of The Night (Versions 1 & 2) (April 2006) was seriously in need of a vocalist and that lack definitely coloured my impression even though - as always - the music and structure is worth a listen.

I commented before about the sounds used to produce his work, and that - to be honest - was the first thing that struck me as I listened to the track through. I'm not a big fan of factory sounds anyway, so I guess that counts as a personal bias. Again, I can't see that many people will notice, they'll be too busy gawping at the things whizzing in and out of their skulls. Ocean, considering the subject matter, isn't the languid encounter it should be. Matter of fact, it's all a bit frenetic if you know what I mean and - again if I were honest - a bit disappointing for me. I think the reason for this is that I have such a high regard for Heroes Of The Daily Grind, that lesser tracks are a letdown. Much more to the point there are some (I think) basic errors that need correcting badly.

The first is, obviously, sound.

As well as a flatness of sound, there is some real flakiness with the hi hats suggesting a rendering problem. Now maybe that is down to my copy but I suspect not. The piano sound, an essential part of this track, is nothing like as bright and fullbodied as it should be and consequently tends to get buried in the mix. I question, also, some of the timings. For sure there is a problem with the pizzicato strings and the high tom hits, both of which sound out of place. As I say, surprising, because it isn't something I would normally have expected from this artist given his track record so far. It's likely then, that this is some kind of demo and - should any reworking be done, I hope the artist has a listen to what I have to say. Underneath it all, is the same thing that attracted me to this artist in the first place, a musicality that - in this instance - is woefully buried under a clumsy mix.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Antennaheadz - Ghosts

Hear The Track Here

The kings of 'Late Night Brouhaha Music'. Not that you'll find many (or any) purveyors of such delights, The Antennaheadz iz one of a kind. You could have knocked me over when I discovered that Station For Imitation (a source of long standing bafflement for this reviewer) had joined/invented/was cultified into a group called Antenna wotsits. More to the point that they made (despite such elaborate headgear) a great and glorious noise although not without its oddities. Mind you, when we are talking about musical origins it really can't get much stranger than Station For Imitation.

Why are you glaring at me like that??

I reviewed LoL oMG wTF!!11!! (January 2006) and liked it a lot. Maybe not the whole of the content but enough of it to register this may be something different enough to make everyone happy. Ghosts, I think, confirms that initial impression; here is music that has a lot to offer. The most immediate impression was overwhelmingly positive. Here was a track that was well produced (a little too clean even) that had something to say musically, harnessed it to a river in full flow and presto - you have nirvana buddy. It's billed as a 'mellow' track and it certainly is that, even while being propelled down a river in full flow, you can relax and wave to the natives....


I suppose I should stop saying that I am surprised by this sudden SFI metamorphosis and give the artist his/their due - this is a knockout track, in feel, style and content. A lovely peice of work although I am certain to attract the usual flak for that comment, but I don't mind because the track IS worth it. There's a tenderness and simplicity to the track that gripped me from the moment it entered my skull, and a clarity in the mix that made it happen - at least for me. It is best to get yourself nicely settled for this one though because it is something to laze along too. For me, its utter simplicity was the essential ingredient and the thing that kept me listening long it should have worn off. Think I'll be hanging on to this one too and THAT is most definitely a first.

Recommended for those simple pleasures...

Greenie - Positive Influence

Hear The Track Here

Greenie (aka Matthew Greenberg) is a hip hop artist from the USA whose interest in music was shaped by Tupac Shakur, Tribe Called Quest and other luminaries of the early 1990s hip hop scene. Not to mention a past history that would probably make a good novel, Greenie sounds like he's lived a couple of lifetimes already judging by the notes on his webpage. Mind you, I guess that is almost de riguer in an increasingly violent world. The good thing is that it doesn't come out in the music. Positive Influence does exactly what it says...

With a certain twist that makes it soooooo brrrrrrr

You'll have gathered I kinda like this track by now, and that comes as some surprise. In a market increasingly dominated by clones (particularly in the US) it's harder and harder to find an original take on the style. I don't know whether Greenie is partial to mixing up styles or not, but Positive Influence certainly right down to it with a will. As I got the first blast of this, I wasn't sure that I wasn't about to face yet another sound-alike, my spirits sank. Nothing I hate more, I tell ya. The right around :35 or so, the first chorus kicks in and everything is up for grabs. While it's true that there is a kind of 'heard this before' about this track it doesn't make much difference because the hook is it's brilliant melange of rap and ragga. Veeerrryyyy neat.

A couple of essential ingredients make an ideal hip hop/rap track for me; an interesting and varied music mix and a sense of humour about itself and Positive Influence has both. The music that backs up the sterling vocal performance is casual, light even and I think that is where I get the biggest 'Tribe' influence and the brass injections in the chorus, and the ragga vocal - the list is endless. I'm not sure there if there aren't two vocalists on this or whether this is all voiced by Greenie, if it is good on ya bud, the ragga tone is done to perfection. If not, any chance of knowing who the other vocalist is? Anyway, knockout track and I look forward to hearing some more.

Highly Recommended

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sherwood - Middle Of The Night

Hear The Track Here

As you know I have, for the past two or three years, been drawing tracks from 3 main sites; Soundclick (primarily), MP3 Unsigned and Songplanet. This track, however, comes from an entirely different place and is a little bit of history. This is the very first review request coming from my RebelRiffs blog so yaay for that right? OK, stop rolling your eyes now, I'll get on with it. Sherwood made an initial good impression with this track from their Summer EP whose link you see above, so I went a-digging. A fourpeice from San Luis Obispo carry on a fine Califiornia tradition on a very bright and breezy guitar pop track that has the Beach Boys stamped all over it.

That isn't to say, btw, that Sherwood are a BB clone, far from it. It will take more than a couple of listens to properly get a grip on this track but it surrenders surprise after surprise so listening really is a pleasure. Mind you, I've always had a taste for pop-rock music that feature vocal harmonies and Sherwood have some very fancy ones. That isn't everything they bring to the party because pretty voices are only that. The music that underpins those vocals is punchy, driving and surprisingly intricate in places. Moreover, it's a recognisable pop construct; a song with a beginning, a middle and an end. All this and a very professional sounding mix makes me wonder why these guys aren't already famous. Just on the strength of this one track they could blow away the miserablists who currently infest the 'indie' scene.

I like music to have a bit of life about it, ya know? Middle of The Night has more than enough of that and I downloaded the EP on the strength of the few days I have spent with this excellent slice of West Coast rock at its best. There is an indentifiable California sound, and Sherwood embody that, along with some cute musical tricks and a knack at being able to put together a warm hearted, uplifting song that also has a point. I'm not sure whether I will have time to do a once over on the EP before the month is up but you can be sure I am going to be looking at these guys a lot harder. Middle of The Night, as good as it is, isn't the track to knock me on my ass but I just bet these guys have got one of those about their person and I aim to find it. In the meantime, this track will definitely do.

Highly Recommended slice of sunshine.

oic2/Angelika and Demons - Iisus Christos #3

Hear The Track Here

This rather enigmatic bandname hides a familiar face and one not so familiar. Our ol' mate Gem Watson (aka Watsonica) arranged and - I presume - produced this, the original coming from Angelika and Demons. They prove to be a progressive rock outfit from Moscow, Russia and - before this review - I hadn't heard anything at all by them. Watsonica, on the other hand, I reviewed his Talking Backwards track last month (first time I had ever heard him too) after a bit of forum banter and discovered he was a very able guitarist. A deft, emotional player that sounded as good in tone as any you care to name.

Iisus Christos #3 (to give the track it's 'proper' title ;) ) is the third (the 3 being the clue, d'you see?) version of this particular song. It always fascinated me how a track develops and here is a classic example why. It's a song about Angelika's awakening to Christianity and - believe it or not - it's actually highly listenable to in ALL its varieties. The original version is as rough as old boots in production style but nevertheless packed a neat punch but - being sung in Russian - the context completely escaped me. I liked the groove of the track and Angelika's vocals sounded great. The only letdown was the awful sound quality. #3, the one I have spent most time with, adds enormously to that initial promise; the sound fleshed out and glittering with neat little keyboard/guitar flourishes. The third version, also a fly-by listen while I'm writing this review, is a redux of the track I have been listening to, only lusher...

Whichever version you listen to, you will find a sweet voiced, lovely toned ballad peppered with some trademark Watsonica licks. For my money, now that I have heard it, I'd go for the version at the top of Angelika's page here. It's not exactly progressive rock (even though it has some of the same elements) more like a kinda classic rock tune with some hefty chunks of classical structure to keep the roof up. If I had any gripe at all, I would have to say that the vocal tended to overshadow the subtlety of the backing track at times but that's just me being picky. To be sure, you would have to like a slice of rock, and a taste for someone singing in a language other than English or Ebonics (that's peep my s***, to those in the know) but I found this track very likeable in all its versions. I think I'd like to see something a little more substantial from this quarter before I get to frothing at the mouth but a good start...

Recommended - for exotic tastes :D

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

HELLbus - I Miss Your Little Black Heart

Hear The Track Here

HELLbus, in the space of three tracks, established their credentials with this reviewer and then some. They blew me away with Table Fate (January 2006), Lift (March 2006) and certainly tickled me with their Azoora collab track January One (April 2006) although I think I prefer my HELLbus pure and undiluted. Which is exactly what you get with the splendidly adventurous (and extremely well named) I Miss You Little Black Heart. Best to strap yourself in though, before you start the track off. HELLbus have a known habit of making some propulsive mixtures and IMYLBH has enough for just about anyone.

Joe Cockner (aka HELLbus) likes everything about music, as his list of references/influences will show you. I bet the music will show you more eloquently than any words can though. The one thing I have always appreciated with this artists work is the depth of musical detail, and the time and effort involved in making all that detail work stand out in the completed mix. Little Black Heart is a classic example of exactly what it is that makes HELLbus work, at least for this reviewer. He describes this track as 'dark house/blues influenced ' and in some ways, I can see that.

What I see more though is an artist willing to work to tease that beat out, make the damn thing work for you and I will put money on it that the track will NOT seem like six minutes long or anything like it. Again, a sign that the artist has sweated a great deal about getting it right. It has an indecently infectious bassline, along with aforementioned blues influences (in this case coming from the piano). Stylistically this scores off the scale, as piledriving as the rhythm is, the different elements of the track spin around and capture your attention just as much, neither being able to outdo the other. The two line vocal works surprisingly well too, and it's use is just sparse enough to keep you wanting to hear more. It's a rainy day and I'm glad I've got this track to make me feel a whole lot better about it.

Highly Recommended.

Omnisine - Dream

Hear The Track Here

I absolutely raved about Omnisine's Incense Boy (April 2006) so that wouldn't be bad for a new artist, would it? Except, of course, the name change doesn't hide the fact that I have slobbered all over this artists work ever since I heard Psycho Rampage (October 2005) when he was going by the name of CJ Freq X. This young (18yrs old) Mumbai based electronica artist has come on in leaps and bounds since that first track and I have a string of favourites and Omnisine is on target to be one of the main over achievers this year. Omnisine has the same ability as Prash - another Mumbai native - to put across sophisticated western music in a way that stretches the genre and pleases the ear.

There is a lot that is pleasing to the ear about Dream, and it is indeed a dream of a track. As exquisitely crafted as anything I have heard from this quarter before, the instrumentation is straight down the line electronic rock (loadsa swishes and swirls) underpinned by a solid bassline and drum track. All great stuff as a musical backing track but the real diamond of the track is in the vocals, the lyrics and the solid way those elements are produced and delivered. My feeling about recording and presenting vocals (especially female ones) is that it can take endless time and backtracking to really capture and enhance a tasty vocal. As a producer myself I am real keen on getting as much bang for my buck as anyone and I see nothing but good in echo-y overhangs.

It's that time consuming, almost painful, refining of sounds and instrumentation that - to me - spells out the difference between making really good tracks and making life affirming, vibrant music that touches people. Dream, Omnisine and Rohini (the lyricist and vocalist) make all of this happen in a way you will recognise instantly but will not be able to pinpoint the source and neither will you be able to say that isn't one hell of a knockout track. Rohini, you have a beautiful voice, and I think Omnisine has done an excellent job of capturing it. I hope very much that you guys work together some more because the results speak for themselves. Although I've only lived with this track for a few days, I have a feeling it will become an old and valued friend because it's bloody wonderful... Close your eyes. Relax. Float downstream.


M S L - The Remnants of...

Hear The Track Here

At this stage of the game, I have five MSL tracks under my belt, so I should know what to expect by now. The Remnants of... isn't, to be honest, that much of a surprise. I first came across MSL when I reviewed their Keep It High (October 2005) track. Obviously the review was full of my usual gripes and groans about the genre but I think MSL came off quite well, it had an infectious breezy quality about it that quelled my usual sneering at the genre. The same is true of The Dimension of Sound (December 2005), The Night Before the Hangover (January 2006), all of which recieved favourable receptions from this pair of ears.

They've been experimenting a bit since then, dabbling especially in classical waters and it shows with this interesting electronic/classical hybrid. It takes a while to get to the real meat and potatoes of the track though so be prepared to sweat it a bit at first. My initial reaction was that whole thing sounded a bit disjointed, and after many places I can see why I got that impression. There is a lot going on in the arrangement of this track (a very good thing), but that may well be off-putting for the more casual listener. Still, fekk 'em eh? It did take a few sessions on this track before I started to feel comfortable with it, and even now I have reservations. I think I understand what the band were after here and I think they've almost got it.

Some of the sounds were - I felt - a bit too 'synthetic', especially with the choir sound. That's also an essential part of the whole picture too, and I do feel that a more 'human' sounding choir would really make this track ready to rumble. What is here however, is more than adequate to the task, except for mad scientists like meself of course - nit pick 'til Doomsday. It would help if you have a liking for classical structures and/or techno based sounds but if not this epic sounding track may well capture your attention anyway. Given time, the tracks excellent melodies do work a splendid massage in yer earholes, especially in the bass synth sections. Despite reservations about some of the sounds, this is another big step forward for MSL and a sure indication of how fast they are picking up new tricks.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Cams Evensong - Sad City

Hear The Track Here

If anyone can be classed as a Soundclick veteran it has to be one Cam Bastedo (aka Cams Evensong). As well known as a reviewer as he is a musician in his own right, Cam is a guy it is almost impossible to miss. I've known him in all the time I have been reviewing on Soundclick but it took me a while to get with his quirky, offbeat style. It was only the past year or so that Cam has made a substantial impression on me, and since then the list of tracks that have lasted on my hard drive gets longer by the month. Just The Truth On Christmas, Red Rock, Waiting On The Lady, I'm Your Garbageman, Scream are just some of the tracks I would refer anyone to if they wanted to know what this artist does best.

He writes and performs songs.

Joining him on Sad City is Jim Miller, one half of Jim-n-Lisa who contributes a sterling sax part to the proceedings, giving the track that extra push. Although it's noticeablly a Cam track, Jim's talent for his instrument does indeed impose his considerable presence on the music. So much so, that I spent as much time listening to what he was doing as I did to the overall impact of the track on me. It's funny to think of two of my favourite artists working together like this but thankfully neither one detracts from the other and bring noticably different approaches to bear on Sad City that makes it as deep as it is wide. Lyrically, Cam's excelled himself. It's a track about leaving this world (Sad City) where Cam 'can’t count [the] things it lacks' and boy do we know that feeling.

To my ears, there is no-one who quite sounds like Cam, either in style or in content. His music is always approachable, open even when dealing with tough subject matter, such as Sad City, and this is a classic example of Cam at his best. The highlight of the track, it has to be said, is undoubtedly the sax additions particularly around 2:50 on out. Jim's never sounded sweeter or lighter, it's nice to hear the man wailing... Ultimately though, Sad City is a fine collaboration between two quite different artists that has worked a treat, this is the kind of track you should be hearing on a fine summer day surrounded by friends. Definitely a party animal this one....

Highly Recommended.

AndyF - Remember The Night (Vocal Version)

Hear The Track Here

Here's an artist I haven't heard from for a while. Another name who stretches back at this games a few years - I first reviewed him in October 2003 with Di Da Mix -AndyF specialises in music of a classical/film nature. As you well know, this is not always my favourite genre because I certainly don't feel qualified enough to comment to any substantial degree. I either like the track or I don't. However, in several collabs AndyF has worked with some very good collabs with the likes Of Deggsy, Dawn Diamond, and (on this track) a new vocalist to me, Nicky Moran. Remember The Night is a three way collaboration; AndyF made the music, Dawn Diamond wrote the lyrics and Nicky sings it.

I have to state here that IM(very)HO Andy's music does tend to be somewhat 'easy listening' as I've mentioned a few million times in the past. Hey, he worked with Mr Smoothie for cripes sake!! (ed: I think he is referring to Deggsy). There is a place for this kind of music though, especially when it is performed and produced to this level. Because I have an inbuilt hatred of anything even remotely smelling of 'show tune' I approached this track quite carefully the first few times, unsure about whether it was going to get to me or whether I'd be violently ill. Mind you, even the name Andrew Lloyd Webber is enough to make me hurl chunks so that should tell you something...

Nope, what I started to notice after more than a couple of plays what a beautifully crafted peice of work this is, musically, vocally, everywhichway. Dawn Diamond is a well-known and respected Soundclick singer and songwriter and can be counted on to deliver quality lyrics and Remember The Night is well up to her usual standard. So is the classically influenced musical backing track provided by Mr AndyF, an ideal setting for what has to be one of the best vocal performances it has been my pleasure to hear in a good while. All this, mind, from a genre that regularly makes me gag. It should go some way towards showing how much I rate all the elements that make up this beautiful, beautiful track. Special mention though to Nicky Moran's vocal performance; a diamond set in gold. Great tone, excellent flourishes and a heartbreaking sense of vocal delivery. All three of you should take a bow; this is a rare, rare track...

MUST HAVE (and I HATE the genre!!)

Fear 2 Stop - Enter the Eclipse (2005 remix)

Hear The Track Here

Coming up on my fourth successive year of reviewing on Soundclick, I look back and see a mountain of tracks that have come and gone through my ears. Some of those tracks I have still but the majority have gone the way of all things. Still it was a surprise to see that the artist I mention the most over that period of time is none other than Fear 2 Stop. Now that may have to do with their prodigious output (125 songs on their page and counting...) or the fact that I've reviewed near on most of them. S'funny, the band that makes me work the hardest at reviewing is also the one I have struggled with most in all that time.

See, I'm a great believer in 'doin' it fo' yo'self' and having a unique (or as close to it as possible) sound and style, and Fear 2 Stop does score highly on that. They haven't done as well in my musical critiques though, but they keep on rolling along - and that can only be a good thing. Taking criticism is hard - as I know to my own cost - and the ability to take it onboard then move on is to be valued. Only an opinion, after all. The one word best used to describe what F2S come up with is 'strange'. Sometimes it connects with me, others it doesn't but judging from reactions to their tracks over the years there IS an audience for what Fear 2 Stop do and that's another good thing.

We need all the strangeness we can get in the Clone Age.

Enter the Eclipse (2005 remix) is exactly what you should expect from this highly individualistic trio; the track certainly hangs together right enough and indeed has a certain charm. This is - as always - offset by the particular musical insanity F2S always delivers. Your mind veers between 'hey this is really neat' to 'surely they shouldn't be doing that in public' as if it were a pinball game, and therein lies the beauty of this band for me. The music you hear isn't (I guarantee you) like anything else you may here, the ears question constantly the oddity of music that shouldn't be doing what it does, but does it anyway. In some ways, this is constructed as if it were a video game track, as is most of the instrumentation; there's even a jaunty 'Hi I'm some silly animal-thing' feel about it that - to me - only emphasises it's charm. A nice, clear production on this too...thumbs up. Odd. I have to agree. Somehow charming though, and to my ears one of the better F2S tracks I've heard. And so....

Highly Recommended for the strange at heart.

Alex PG - Miss You

Hear The Track Here

Yet another brand new name from Soundclick, Alex PG is a new addition to SC's ever growing electronica congregation. Hailing from Leige, Belgium, Alex brings a pop sensibilty to this track that makes it instantly listenable and it isn't that many tracks you can say that about - ESPECIALLY in electronica. He describes himself as 'just a guy with some melodies in his head' and I'd say that was an accurate description. Certainly his musical tastes does run to some very tasteful melodies, especially if Miss You is anything to go by.

It effortlessly invokes visions of the early electro-pop of the 1980's although Alex doesn't list any influences on his webpage, I'd say Depeche Mode had to be in there with a shot. It's an even bet that if you like that kind of music then Miss You will very much appeal. Moreover it is a recognisable song that may well vault it out of its genre, although not I fear with this particular version. If I had to suggest anything that would help the track I would say backing vocals more than anything else, and maybe a slightly heftier percussive edge.

But, hey, that's a wishlist...

It is enough for me though and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this excellent track whose strongest asset definitely lies in its melodies. Funnily enough, he also kinda reminded me of fellow Soundclicker Waxko who works in much the same area. There is a light breeziness to this track which I think provides that initial pull but the more you hear it, the more you get to like it. It's true that I do like music with a pop edge that pays its due respect to the past and Miss You certainly does that. It's a little short on lyrics and a little long of music but what is there is plenty enough to be going on with.

Excellent electro-pop.

Devin O'Brien - Just Try

Hear The Track Here

A completely new name to me, Devin O'Brien is in fact three peeps, at least if I understand this correctly. Devin O'Brien (guitar/bass/hand drums/keys), Andy Risitano (guitar/bass) and Jenn Hartford (vocals). They also appear to be called either =cellar door= or Blue Iris but then I kinda gave up the inquisitive ghost... Way too much information for me. They are also labelled under Experimental and I'm not sure this is the right genre at all, unless you count acoustic rock (albeit of the lo fi variety) in that realm.

In fact, there is nothing whatsoever experimental about it at all.

Just Try is an acoustic female vocal track courtesy of Ms Hartford and very pleasant they are too, although obviously catering to North American tastes. DO'B cite a few classic rock names as influences (Greatful Dead, Hendrix, Pink Floyd etc) and I can certainly hear those influences in the songs arrangement and production styles. It's a given then that to really enjoy this track you should like a rough and ready (pretty much live even) recording and a definitely low key delivery. Nonetheless, the power of the song itself is pretty much there and makes me wonder what this could sound like done with a larger scope of production. To be sure, I felt it could have done with a little more of a percussive help, but that's just me being ornery again...

Like a lot of artists who write songs DO'B seem to have forgotten how much enjoyment and understanding listeners may get out of reading the lyrics while listening to the track. Shame really, because I feel it would have helped to establish the song earlier in my mind than the several plays I had to give it before it finally registered. Register it did though and although I am not a mad keen fan of material like this, Just Try stands up as being a very workmanlike peice of music and definitely worthy of a listen. More especially if you like the Big Ship approach to music making because this is the closest Soundclick reference I can make to Devin O'Brien's musical style. I left the track wishing it could have been more than it actually was and maybe a lot of that is down to what the band are using to record this material. Even a couple more instrumental parts might help to lift the song a little. It does - to my ears anyway - some a little too 'home-recorded' if you know what I mean.

Small change, I know, but something maybe to think about.

The Gemini Ritual - Video Mix for Heroine [Suicide]

Hear The Track Here

Although the Gemini Ritual name is not new to me, I do not seem to have reviewed them in the past, so maybe I've just seen a lot of them on MP3 Unsigned's forums. Don't know too much about them other than they have created a deal of interest on that site, but as we know, that doesn't always signify what the music may be like. Industrial isn't really an area I dabble around in much, I must admit but it is an area I have enjoyed in the past - provided that it makes musical sense anyway. Tell you one thing that struck me straight away about the band though, as I was downloading the track, they have a great image - all very Cure Goth types....

Nice ;)

Be aware, however, there are several versions of this on the site, ranging from Heroin to Heroine and why that is, is anybody's guess. Described as 'moody, hard edged industrial rock', I must admit I didn't find it a harsh listen - as a lot of industrial tracks. Matter of fact, there is a studied classic rock feel to the track, which is a laid back, semi piano ballad with a smattering of kerrang that fits the subject matter well. This can apply equally to the drug OR a female icon (Superwoman anyone?), and is extremely well done. Well, a couple of niggles but nothing really out there, and it is best if you read the lyrics as it explains a lot. It's also surprisingly listenable; a coherent, well structured track that makes its point elegantly and with some style. The use of strings, in particular is highly effective.

There is a definite Cure feel to the track, especially in the more powerful lead out which has a terrific guitar sound underpinning it. For my part, I would have liked to have the piano a little more defined. To my ears it sounded a little flat in the mix, but this is a minor niggle, as is the kinda odd (but it does work) drum arrangement in the first verse (last two stanzas) and part of the chorus. Nonetheless, both of those niggles are a personal thing and are what I would have liked to hear. What I did get to hear was plenty good enough showing Heroine to be a powerful, gripping SONG that works on all the right moves, and one I am likely to be hanging onto. It whetted my appetite enough to go and have a listen to Heroin...again (a very cool rock track that is different again to the track I have just reviewed. The Heroin [lifeless] track is - I presume - the original and shows how far the song has developed. All, btw, are very worthy of a listen and I'll be on the lookout for more from this artist.

Highly Recommended

Friday, May 12, 2006

Stain Online - Fear w/absorb (Rough Mix)

Hear The Track Here

I came across this 22 year old rapper/producer hailing from Newcastle (why ay!) by reviewing his Dancing With Death (October 2005) and coming away with a less than favourable opinion. Since then though, along came the impeccable Cradle To Grave (December 2005), an intelligent, rock oriented peice with some killer hooks. It also showed not to underestimate the guy lyrically either as the track amply displayed. Little Miss Star (February 2006) and Digital (Sleepyhead Mix) (March 2006) only went to prove conclusively - at least to my satisfaction anyway - that Stain Online is UK hip hop at it's very best. Even if you don't like the genre (or rap in general) I'm sure you'd like Stain's manner and style.

Aye, a nice lad....

Like a lot of Stain's tracks, Fear will strike you more than once as being a tad Eminem, but given time and more than a few plays, the UK flavour comes through enough to dispel the Blond One. That is probably the reason why I like them so much because I find UK hip hop to operate from a different feel to the US one, and a lot of that sensibility comes through in the music. There's a lighter, airier feel to a lot Stain's work that won't appeal to someone who thrives on foul language and video game images, but if you want a nice mental poking while you are listening to music, this artist is likely to oblige. Again, though, no lyrics whatsoever on display, so you'll have to struggle along with it until it gets familiar.

This version proudly states it is a 'rough mix' and although I can hear that, I wouldn't have said it was far off done. Maybe a bit more sound-shaping, a more rounded mix and Bob may well be a relative. It's a moody, noir track that creates a feasibly edgey atmosphere, a feeling that the other show is just about to drop. If I had any input in what the final track should do, I think I have said it all above and I must admit I do look forward to the finished article. If Stain Online is a complete unknown to you then let me recommend him as a source of primo UK hip hop, even for those people who wouldn't normally listen to a 'rap' record. There's rap and there's rap.... I don't feel, however that I should rate this track in any way - maybe the final version will spur me to review it and then we'll see.

MD-1 Project - The Fear

Hear The Track Here

Behind the shiny new name is Ricky Mancini, a name we are well familiar with now. I've reviewed three of his tracks so far and - to be honest - the jury is still out, if you know what I mean. I did kinda take to Use Your Noodle (January 2006) and - as usual - cut him a bit of slack because he was new. Mind you, if the track didn't stand up on its own it wouldn't have made any difference whether I cut him some slack or not. If it doesn't do it, it doesn't do it. Luckily, though, that track was worthwhile. Area 39 (February 2006) was a much better proposition and got a Highly Recommended from me because of it's dance moves - and y'all KNOW how much I hate that stuff...

You get the feeling I'm building up to something?

Jelly Baby (April 2006) was - again, lets be honest - a severe disappointment - at least in my very humble opinion. After a good start, I kinda thought this was a bit of a fumble for him OR it was just me not understanding what he was trying to do. Certainly it looked like other members of MP3 Unsigned thought the exact opposite and I guess that is what reviewing is all about: one man's opinion. I face the same dilemma when I have to describe/criticise this track because as I see from some VERY favourable comments, I am likely to be Billy No Mates yet again. The real OBVIOUS truth I have to face is that I am either finally losing my touch, or I may know what I am talking about. See, I like drums and bass. I like breakbeats and I love dabbling in weird and wonderful sounds, and I like - as you all know - some pretty weird s***. If I had to place this track anywhere I'd have to say it more weird s*** than anything else.

Now weirdness and general dissonance in todays music and rightly so, but there is something about this track I found off-putting from the get go. Mind you, for a track called The Fear, you would think it was made to scare the crap out of you, and it may well do that at ear blistering volume but not to someone who isn't really into the genre. Taken on that level, The Fear, has a couple of other problems - and that's a bit more technical. Considering this is pure DnB at heart, scant attention has been paid to the lower registers, making the whole track middle/top heavy. More to the point, there are some quite noticeable volume changes, almost - in the intro anyway - as if the noise on top was more important that the rhythm machine. Several of the noiser passages walked all over the backing track and so on. There isn't really much definition between each of the sounds so what happens is that you get slammed by a wall of sound for about four and a half minutes. Which may well be the point. As I say, I am only voicing what I think about this track, not what you will. Credit where credit is due, I can HEAR the amount of work that went into the making of this track, what I am very unsure about is it's presentation; overall sound, all-in-your-ears-at-once mix and a marked tendency to clip (ed: he means they must have recorded it at number 11) in the louder passages.

And then they wonder why I have no friends.....sheesh...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sam 'Bluzman' Taylor - Keep The Blues Alive

Hear The Track Here

Way back in the sweet smoke filled days of my youth, while the rest of my peers were getting brained on the Beatles, the Stones et al, I was quietly grooving away to dub versions and American blues. Initially, I admit, that I was introduced to the music by a passel of white, English bands like Steam Packet and - more importantly - John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Personally one of my own Giants of Rock, John Mayall's blues outfit had it all, and every bit of it authentic to the bone. It started me on a road to Buddy Guy, BB King, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Slim and a billion others. So, it's a fair guess that I've imbibed a few pints of the stuff, and - personal preferences aside - should be able to make an objective critique of whether this track does 'keep the blues alive'

The only trick I got master now is how to stop dancing long enough to write this review down...

You may remember for LAW's review a day or so back that Sam Taylor is his grandfather. A grandfather who has a list of credits to his name that defies description and inspires respect. Obviously though, as always, it has to come down to the music and on that score......I am speechless. As slick as s*** off a shingle, Keep The Blues Alive is a sharply focused, supremely confident peice of blues that have you reeling in musical references. Whether this music is created by a base of musicians or whether Sam got all of it down, it's a technical marvel of it's age. THIS, my friends, is the way to create music that lives and breathes, music that inspires and evokes emotions you won't even believe you had. Music, to put it simply, with immense heart and soul.

OK, I have to admit to a distinct bias, as I've tried to explain above, but I also know what works and what doesn't. So what would you, a casual listener, expect from a track that I would rave about? World class performance for starters, that's for sure (and on that stage, genre doesn't really play a part), it has to have life affirming qualities - as I've also explained above. What it has to contain, above all, is a meaningful, coherent arrangement, and a faultless production and Keep The Blues Alive scores on every single point. It's a terrific slice of HUGE fun that is probably best enjoyed in the company of friends. Fellow musicians, hold on to your jaws, the Bluzman shows how it's done. Keep The Blues Alive doesn't just breathe life into the genre, it expands it to encompass a blend of styles that can only come from a musician of the calibre of Sam 'Bluzman' Taylor - a very class act.


Fluidity - Social Leash

Hear The Track Here

In a very short space of time indeed, New Zealand's Fluidity (aka John Paul Carrol, or jp23 on Soundlcick's forums) and his rock muse has gained a lot of earholes around here - in a mere three months or so. Mind you, he is worth the effort, especially if you have a liking for strong, melodic rock music with a distinctly English tinge to it. Out of the three tracks I have reviewed so far - This Time (January 2006), Prediction=Presumption (February 2006) and New Direction (April 2006) - point to Fluidity being a very strong presence this coming year.

Still, you are only as good as your last track, right?

One of the first things that hits you about any of this artists work is the attention to detail, both in production and arrangement, music with finesse. Another fine artist who knows exactly how to make a track sit up and beg. Believe me, some of the strokes JP pulls in this track are gonna have a few 'guitar gods' around here feeling a bit sick. I make a big deal of the early English rock scene because - above anything else - this is what Fluidity's music suggests to me, time after time. That holds true whether you were talking about the instrumentation, production, song writing style, vocal intonations and any other element you care to name. I've mentioned before a reference to the early Pink Floyd (with Syd Barrett) and Social Leash at least reinforces the Pink Floyd connection.

Not from the musical style, because if anything it is definitely Syd Barrett whimiscal rather than Pink Floydian pomposity. It's in the structure of the music itself that the reference becomes evident, chord progressions and melodies that will definitely harken back to earlier musical times. My only quibble, and it's so petty it hardly needs saying, is that I found the vocal treatment a bit dry when taken with the lushness and quality of the music. Nonetheless, it is such a small quibble and although I have to say you might need a taste for this kind of material to really get off on it, I think even a casual listener would be surprised at how cool, slick and professional indie music can sound.


EL84 - You'll See

Hear The Track Here

Way back in July 2004 I wrote '(It) left me with strong impressions of Carlos Santana before he lost the fire; a passionate, fluid, emotional sound that fully explores the guitars fretboard' about a lead guitarist I had just come across called Ty Kaufman. A very impressive debut - at least in my books - and the Ty Kaufman Group (as the band became known) slammed to killer classic rock tracks at us over the next year. They then - obviously - changed their name to EL84 and have continued in like manner right up to the present. The band, then, is: Steve Calapp (vocals), Bill Doss (bass) and Amado Tuazon on drums. Bill Doss being a replacement at some point for original TKG bassist Kevin Grant. Now, having given you more information than you could ever possibly want or need, let's crack on...

As a real, live gigging band, you would expect this outfit to know how to deliver a nice steaming plate of what does you good and in that respect, they have never let me down yet. There again, I am a well known rock animal so you should bear that in mind while reading on. You'll See is - to my ears anyway - a bit of a surprise. I was, after all, expecting the usual Kaufman pyrotechnics and this contains little in the way of that, unless you count the killer (K-I-L-L-E-R) lead solo that embeds the centre of the track like an exquisite belly button. Certainly, it's a softer, more rounded side to the band even though the rock roots show through every note that is played.

You'll See is a classic American rock track; acoustic, radio friendly and with more than a touch of Bon Jovi around the vocals and the lyrics. Still, no bad thing really because that is where EL84 have set their sights ever since I first heard them and - should there be any justice in the world - that is where they will end up. In the meantime we get a very professional, wonderfully melodic peice of soft rock that would fit into anyone's collection without the slightest murmer of complaint. As good as Ty is (and he is, the b****!!!), this time I personally feel the real star is Steve Calapp who delivers the vocals beautifully in a clear, clean rock voice that effortlessly pulls out that hard edge when it's needed. Rock isn't to everyone's taste but it is to mine, and this is one of the best examples around.

Recommended, especially for the change of pace.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Shorthand Phonetics - Surreal Situation for Sarah-Jean

Hear The Track Here

OK after the cockup on my part last month with the November Skyline track I reviewed attributing it to SP, I am assured that THIS is the real thing. Surreal Situation for Sarah-Jean is a track from the band's fully downloadable album Fan Fiction which you can download for nothing at archive.org. I grabbed a copy of it a week or so ago but much to my annoyance I have yet to find the time to even give it a cursory listen and once I knew this track was up for review this month, that kinda finished listening to it at all. The album is full of tracks I (and lots of other reviewers) have raved about of the past couple of years. So much so that it reads like a Shorthand Phonetics Greatest Hits jobbie...

Not bad for such young 'un's eh? ;)

There is a side to Shorthand Phonetics that doesn't really appeal to me; the love/life is a tragedy routine I could well do without but there's no doubt that I love this band when they rock out. Surreal Situation for Sarah-Jean is a track that will be instantly familiar to those of us who have developed an appetite for this Indonesian proto-punk particular brand of musical mayhem. The thing that has always appealed to me about them is their ability to craft a song, and deliver it properly despite some horrendous mix stories and Surreal Situation is cut from that mould. Without, I might add, any of the horrendousness so evident in so many of this bands tracks. They do seem to have surmounted their initial problems and are now delivering consistently reasonable sounds, albeit definitely 'live' sounding.

Again, that is another draw of this band. As you listen, you can actually visualise them all going about their business, they SOUND like a band. Surreal Situation is an ace track from the standpoint of us old fans but what might they offer a newcomer? Great songs for a start, set in what Soundclick have lablelled Alternative: Alt Punk which think gets it said. I've said before that when they hit this particular groove (their more punky stuff) that they remind me strongly of the Buzzcocks but that probably has more to do with the vocal tone than anything they do musically. Not sure what the little coda is doing on the end of this track though unless it's just a bit of weirdness for weirdness sake. It's been a while since SP came up with a track like this, but this is worth it - should you like a bit of rough and ready, of course.


Soul Dust - Anaesthesia

Hear The Track Here

'Ever feel like you're just getting numb to it all?' Soul Dust ask in the comments on this track. Good question, as it happens. I wouldn't say numb so much as jaded, ya know what I mean? While it's true that I am the proud possessor of a pair of highly sensitive stainless steel ears, I come by them honestly. Having sacrificed my youth and beauty (Ed: wot?) before the massed altars of Marshall stacks, you would have to developed some heavy duty reinforcment of your pink sticky out bits. Especially as, like Soul Dust, you like things a tad on the loud side. Pardon? I said a tad on the LOUD SIDE... All that volume tends to make you a bit Mutt and Jeff as well as giving you that constant stunned expression...

So...where was I? Ahhh, obviously it makes you a bit forgetful as well.

I have long held a love for crusty, in-yer-face sweaty rock, the dirtier the better and Soul Dust has delivered consistently a steady diet of pure red meat in the past and even given me a Track Of The Year 2005 with the powerful Hard To Say Goodbye, although that is not what I'd class as a heavy rock tune. Anaesthesia certainly is though, and it achieves the opposite of it's title. The kind of music that makes you want to jump from the tops of high buildings just for the thrill out of it, extreme sport music to the max. The kind of music you put on your iPod shortly before leaping of the top of Mt. Ikillhumans on your snowboard, hell bent on being bent to hell.

I have to admit here that I am well biased towards this Canadian band, and it's partner in crime Catapult because they both come across with the real thing. Therefore it's a given that to get anything out of this track you should have some kind of rock sensibility, and the harder the better. Classic heavy rock is what Soul Dust pump out; hot, sweaty and out looking to have a party and it's gonna be at your house and in your ears. Another hallmark of this band is their devotion to delivering quality product so it's a given that it is performed with pride and produced to within industry standards (ie LOUD). This is the bands first outing with me this year - they gave me a rest, what nice lads - and judging by this, nothing has changed and thank fekk for that...

Quality hard rock. Recommended.

One For The Vine - The Day The Blood Spilled On The Floor

Hear The Track Here

I get the distinct impression that I am mellowing out with age. It used to be that I hated the sounds of certain kinds of electronica - the kind that bleeps and clucks with wtf is that moments. Developed a bit of a taste for that over the past couple of years. The same has to be said - much to my eternal chagrin - for (gulp, I can't believe I am going to say this...) that hoary chestnut - prog rock. See thanks to the efforts of people like Sylvan & Bonamici, Thielus Grenon and One For The Vine, even old stick in the muds like me can reach some kind of compromise. Although, I must admit, I am definitely not going to start donning a greatcoat and growing big hair any time soon.

So long as that's understood, press on...

It takes a lot to budge me out of my set-in-concrete ways, and it's a compliment to these musicians that finally I am able to enjoy music I had hitherto only puked on before. The reason, of course, is because of the outstanding musicianship on display in all cases. Although I can certainly appreciate what it takes technically to produce something that sounds authentically 'prog', it's the kind of music that has often left me feeling a bit cold and remote from it. Nad and Bon sorted that one out, bless 'em. The Day... has a lot more to do with the later versions of the genre expounded by bands such as Kansas, Styx and Rush. Highly creative technically and oh-my-gosh-so-clever but so fekkin what, right? And there lies my eternal problem with this genre. It's to OFTV's eternal credit that he's managed to capture the exact tone and feel of the period but that's also where it also niggles little old me.

Having spent HUGE amounts of my youth hanging around draughty stadiums listening to four lifetimes worth of this kind of material tends to make you choosy. What One For The Vine has here is - technically - splendid and if you like the genre you are gonna LOVE this. Full of bombast and self importance, oodles of classical influences and a pacy drum track, The Day The Blood would suit anyone who hankers for the days when musicians were held as Gods above us. Reality bites though, in the Gilmore household, and for me as much as I can appreciate this for the work it entails, this track didn't hit in me in the same way as Far beyond The Plains (March 2006). Still, with me and this genre it was always going to be a chancy thing, so take what I say with a pinch of salt (or whatever other white powder you fancy). One thing I did like was the keyboard sounds towards the end of the track, it reminded me strongly of The Nice.

Which was nice. ;)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dights - Summa Something

Hear The Track Here

S'no good rubbing your eyes and looking at that bandname again. It's never going to say what you want it to say and you'll only make your headache worse... Dights is the name of a producer/engineer based in my own town of London and looks - by my reckoning anyway - as if he might be new to Soundclick. It's amazing how many of us Londoners draw inspiration from dub and reggae, and even invent new genres utilising recognised dub and reggae technical tricks. It's been one of the joys of getting lots of London musicians online, and playing 'spot the references' on their tracks and Dights - I'm pleased to tell you - is well up there with this particular school of music.

Summa Something is an enviable cross between dub, dnb and all points south and although I found it a bit rough in spots, it certainly hits all the right spots. It also a blend of loops and live instrumentation and I think that's where it doesn't quite work for me. The mix too, has its rough spots mainly in gain levels, although it IS as clear as a bell. Ultimately though, tracks like this (ie instrumentals) stand or fall by one thing; how they maintain your interest, especially over the length of 5 minutes plus. On that score, I don't think Dights has very much to worry about because what I came away with would be enough to please John Q Punter, provided you liked electronica blends.

For my part, however, the more I heard the more I began to think 'yeah nice, but where do you go from this?' and I didn't feel the track worked up to anything - if you get my drift. To be sure I definitely enjoyed the experience of wandering through this track more than a few times, even from a technical standpoint. Even so, at the end of this process I came away thinking that Summa Something was a very good instrumental that had a very tasty blend of styles within it, each part was played and produced well, but ultimately it failed to a) knock me on my ass or b)go anywhere special with what it had. It's a great shame that SC still haven't solved their player problem because I would like to have heard the other track on Dights page to see whether I felt the same about that, but such things are not to be...

An interesting diversion, but I need more meat than this....

L*A*W - What Y'all Wanna Hear

Hear The Track Here

First track out of May reviews bag is L*A*W who - as you may gather from the gaudiness of his name - is a 28 year-old rapper/singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist/choreographer. No doubt it keeps him busy. L*A*W stands for (take it however you like) Lyrical Assault Weapon or Loving All Women and although you might expect the usual parade of bling, ho's and f***** c*********, it would be best not to jump to that conclusion. As LAW proudly states in his comments on his page, he comes from a long line of musicians, and there is nothing wrong with that, and a lot that is right. It's good as well to have a bit of 'front' when you are trying to establish yourself, self confidence is a must - even online. Nonetheless, this IS the internet and I have to say the hype surrounding this artist (and by default his grandfather Sam 'Bluzeman' Taylor, also up for review this month) may have raised a hackle or two but hey, we all get excited right? What works in the real world often doesn't transfer itself to cold hard print, and this appears to be the case here and we all got to start somewhere.

As far as I am concerned, there is only one thing I want to know, will they live up to the hype and I have to say that judging from what I've already heard, LAW does that right enough. I wanted to review Wishin U Were Here (a country track would you believe) but for some reason it doesn't want to play or be downloadable. So I went and had a quick browse through the tracks on the page and picked What Yall Wanna Hear because it's mix of rock and hip hop really did it for me. It is a definite fact that not only does LAW know what he's doing, he does it with a professionalism that will take your breath away. Mind you, in an area like Crown Heights (Brooklyn USA), musical families like this have spawned hordes of REAL (ie commercial) stars and I see no reason whatsoever that there isn't room for LAW in that glittering crowd. Which, as he states again on his page, is the avowed intention.

OK, but where does that leave us bottom feeders of the internet? It gives us a GREAT track for free, and What Yall Wanna Hear is a rocking track where plays everything in sight and then some. Mostly I just ignore those people who shout 'me! me! me!' as a constant daily chorus but this time, I'm glad to have made LAW's acquaintance. There is no doubt that if you like rock music done well, you will love this track. There's no doubt that if you like music with an Urban feel, then this'll be that bad boy. The kind of track fits into several genres and you KNOW I couldn't pass anything like that up. It's one of those track were everything works like a well oiled machine, no stresses, no strains. Easy. Yeah, riiiiighhhttt. I worked in a studio in Brooklyn Heights during the 1980's and became very well versed in this particular urban scene around the whole of Brooklyn and this track could only have come from there. Classy, professional, eyes glued to the ball approach are the hallmarks, and THAT is what makes this track work and it still doesn't do what a lot of technically perfect tracks do to me: turn me off for the lack of emotion/excitement. It works because LAW pours his heart and soul into breathing life and warmth into the track with his vocals and lyrics. Having said that, I'd still like to hear the country track though...

Highly Recommended

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Shed - Artist Overview

Hear The Track Here

Regular readers will know that I DO like a lot of stuff I hear but it takes a rare event to get me really throwin' me toys out of me pram and when I reviewed The Shed's 'The Parson, The Pauper etfekkincetra' (April 2006) I gotta to admit to even foaming at the mouth. Right now, The Shed look like having a terrific year because right behind this classic track comes a shedload more, if you'll forgive the excruiating pun. If you don't forgive it then f*** ya. I had already downloaded and consumed vast quantities of Hole Puncher by the time one of the band (millions of them, I tell ya) managed to scrawl their name on the monthly quota, and had already determined I was going to write a much larger overview so I guess we'd better get on with it.

Hole Puncher first methinks....

A different take from my introduction to the band, Hole Puncher is a fine slice of acoustic rock with a sparkling vocal that'll rip your heart out and eat it in front of your eyes. Where the unique quality of The Parson ensured it would receive a favourable reaction, Hole Puncher had no such retreat, it either stands or falls. As it happens it expands my feeling that The Shed are destined for much, much bigger things. Where The Pauper is instant feelgood, Hole Puncher is warming, enlightening and beautifully performed in every aspect but ESPECIALLY the vocal which is...brrrrr...words fail me. An authentic rock original, with some of the sweetest vocal tones you will ever hear, Hole Puncher captured me instantly but in a very different way to The Pauper. I suspect it will assume much greater proportions than Pauper because it is the greater of the two tracks in my opinion and I've only heard it gazillions of times already. Again, I may have some quibbles about this and that in the mix, but it's just another opinion. When it works, it works like billyo.... (whoever he was)

Bouyed up by the obvious strengths of the songwriting, production and performance talents on display here in just 2 tracks, I HAD to dib me fingers in some more. All Moist A Bad Party is again a different take on what The Shed do best: write powerfully structured, beautifully rendered music. If that were all, it would be enough but then they deliver the killing blow which is always superb vocals and lyrics most of us would mug our grannies to write. A very Beatle-ish feel to this track that I find particularly satisfying. I have yet to see a written Shed lyric but they are so easy to pick up (thanks in part to the excellent vocalist(s)) it hardly seems to matter. Speaking of which, I BET that you cannot listen to the first verse of The Shed without wetting yourself laughing. Obviously being of the 'less is more' school of lyric writers, The Shed are masters at tweaking the most out of every nuance, building the vocal no less than the musical accompaniment. Unarguably the brightest spark of the year so far The Shed are - as a man once said - the bollocks. Even, as another man once said, the dogs bollocks. The small ripples they have created so far are nothing to what is about to engulf us....Shedmania!!!

Forget the hoodies, here come the Sheddies!!

Sylvan & Bonamici - Quest For The Last Virtue

Hear The Track Here

Oh come on, you don't seriously think I'd let this one by me, do you?

One of the better things about the way I review is that, every once in a while, I can get to choose some tracks I want to review - as opposed to the fekkin hordes that appear in my sign up threads. It's the only way I can keep up with my own musical preferences, albeit this time in a more Swedish vein than normal. A couple of Swedes is what Nad and Bon are and I definitely contend that their is something in the air in that country that churns out fine, fine musicians - and these are two of the best I have heard anywhere. Online or off it. Regular readers will be well aware of my liking for the works of this dynamic duo DESPITE them being peppered with a trillion Genesis references. Oh btw, that's the band Genesis, not the act of creation. Although knowing Nad and Bon, I'm sure an actual act of creation won't be far behind...

Hold on, maybe I ought to re-phrase that.

Now it should tell you something about the high regard that I hold these guys, not only do I weather the unholy reek of Genesis but when they release a new 14 minute track, I find that a cause for celebration. How weird is that? No weirder, let me tell you, than the amount of S&B tracks you acquire because Nad Sylvan is ever the fiddler with mixes. I have two versions of this epic, and I noticed while writing this review tonight that he even has ANOTHER online. Sheesh guy!!! All that work does pay off because I absolutely guarantee that you will not hear music like this anywhere else, but more especially online. Ever since I met their individual talents about three years ago, I have sensed that Nad and Bon together were something very, very special - way classier than the scuzzy internet fayre. It boggles my mind that no-one in (makes quotes) the music industry (shoots himself for making the quote sign) has latched on to this yet.

Quest will show you EXACTLY why, albeit it in a epic structure that will take centuries for me to assimilate. Musicianship of this calibre encased in a pristine Nad Sylvan mix is a blessing to the ears, no matter what the genre or style it lives in. Besides, although there are echoes of The Bearded Ones (Ed: I think he means Genesis again), Nad and Bon passed that reference at the starting post. Although I felt their earlier S&B tracks were somewhat tributish (Ed: is that even a word??), they transcended that IMHO with Welcome To The Farm and A Way Out. A Sylvan & Bonamici track and nothing but. I know for a fact that there are TONS of S&B fans on SC (even though they are no longer here), and that kinda gives me a right to highlight what they are doing. As I say, it'll take me forever to work everything off this tracks bones, but my first impressions were concisely phrased sections that were distinctly flavoured; jaw dropping, blow yer fat head off instrumentation and a herculean production task and it all works beautifully. The 'Calling' sequence is particularly hair raising, spine chilling, muscular music, and that is what I have come to expect from these talented musicians. Admittedly at 14 minutes it's really pushing the boat out but I'll tell you it's also the fastest 14 minutes you are ever going to hear.

Magnificent. (but I am soooooooooooooo biased....)