Monday, July 31, 2006

Crimson Summer - Last Lullaby

Hear The Track Here

Crimson Summer isn't loads of geezers or geezeresses. Crimson Summer is but one geezer, Mark. Mark, say hi to everyone, everyone say Hi to Mark. Yes, I know they are an unsavoury looking bunch, Mark, but it's all I could drag in here at the last moment. The smell will eventually go away too. Anyway, back to business. Crimson Summer are Alternative, which usually means oodles of guitars. Alright by me. Exciting. This version is actually called (ahem) 'NEW All Instruments Last lullaby' but I have a feeling that name won't last for long, which is why I've called it Last Lullaby in the review title.

I likes fings neat, know what I mean?

Considering it weighs in at four and a half minutes, it packs a surprising amount of frenetic activity into it - sometimes I suspect against the better good. The one thing that will become immediately apparent from the getgo is that this is essentially a heavy rock track that needs a vocalist with the style and range of Robert Plant in his prime and this one would eat worlds. As it is, I think it would be hard pressed to down a couple of kerbstones. For all the good things I got from this track, I got an equal number of negatives too. As always I like to try take account of an artists recording situation, and it's obvious that from a production angle Crimson Summer's work is challenged, so what he does come out with is worthwhile to anyone but a famed nitpicker.

And that would be me.

For sure there are parts of this track I found myself nodding too, and parts I found myself nodding off in. There is a noticeable sound and volume differences between the sections that make up the track (a bit of thrash, a bit of heavy rock, a LOT of axework) but overall the sound just about passes muster. As it is though, it's a decent enough instrumental (waiting for a vocalist/lyricist) and there is enough there to satisfy anyone with a passion for guitars. Ultimately though, this is a very restrictive market and I believe you'd need something a lot stronger than this to make a significant mark. Nonetheless, kinda hard to judge on the strength of this one track, let me hear more...

Alternative guitar rock.

Eric Congdon - Good Ol' Days

Hear The Track Here

I first met Eric Congdon over at MP3 Unsigned and it's nice to see that he's also made the move onto Soundclick, especially seeing as he is an Alternative Country artist because as far as I am concerned you can't get enough of them. I reviewed his Crawlin Back (December 2005) over on that site and liked it a great deal. So just to make sure we are clear about this I am talking about original American [i]country[/i] music here - not the Nashville bastard offspring laughingly referred to as country and western which - to my mind - is a wholly corporate construct. Real American country still wears dungarees for cripes sakes and rhinestones look damn silly on a pair of them, let me tell you.

So, it's already established that I like a good knees up (and a yeeeaahhhh to you too madam) and he's already given me one terrific track so the odds look good eh? I already mentioned when I reviewed that track that he could fit in well with Soundclick's Bob Gretz, Morris P Rainville and the Chairs and that's what I mean by real American folk music. There's some lovely acoustic guitar lead lines running through this tune ably aided and abetted by a solid banjo and an almost subliminal slide guitar. All in all, this is one of the best instrumental lineup to deliver complex, yet incredibly catchy tunes.

Such is the case in Good Ol' Days, a hearking back that is lively, bouncy and as fresh as a Georgia peach - or whatever it's North Carolina equivalent is. Probably grits, except grits couldn't possibly be described as fresh. Yucky and vomit inducing may be two words I'd apply to it. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, transported to the Land of the Big Sky. Good Ol' Days carries a credibly authentic sound and glory of glorys it's a good song too. Again though I found myself wishing that this artist would publish his lyrics. For someone like me, reading it as I hear it makes a lot of difference to my perception of the song. In this particular case, it didn't matter anyway because within the first few bars I was out organising a line dance - a block long off your tits yeaaaahhhhhhhhh

Excellent American Country/Folk. Highly Recommended (but I'm a big fan of the genre)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kenneth Nishimoto - Mischief Makers

Hear The Track Here

Kenneth hasn't had a very good time from me, I'm afraid. I am quite prepared to admit that may have to do with his choice of material and presentation, his oevre being lo-fi pop (think Big Ship but dodgier). Out of the two tracks I heard last year: Outlive The Progressive Rocker (June 2005) and Anvil, I didn't really either like or 'get' what this artist was about. Now that's all well and good because we can't like everything can we? My main complaint, at the time, was that I thought the music was more a 'jam' than anything structured.

Still, a year is a reasonably long time and much can change.

I mentioned Big Ship earlier and once you start getting into this track, the more it fits the reference - or at least the early stuff young Marcus was responsible for. Billed as experimental trance and 'best experienced with Ecstasy', and for the first time since Kenneth and I first crossed paths, I agree with the sentiment. Growing up on a steady diet of lsd, doobies and music from the (late) Syd Barrett and all the other acts famous for introducing the noticable hold English whimsy has on todays vocalists and musicians. Mischeif Makers could well have been released 30 years ago and it wouldn't have been out of place.

Lo-fi being the new black, of course...

True to form there is a certain amount of sloppiness in the vocal delivery and a couple of stumbling points in the arrangement too but ultimately, the track comes out of it surprisingly well. Thanks to my lo-fi education from Soundclick I can see this track doing well on here - among a certain grouping, but do I really like it? The really weird thing is that I actually do. There's a nice feeling from this track, despite the misgivings I have spoken about, and it's that which gives it a certain lift. Let's put it this way, it's a marked difference to the tracks I reveiwed previously and does show that Kenneth has been working at it. The song also shows that he has potential as a songwriter too and hey, we got some time to wait right?

HELLbus - Every Little Thing

Hear The Track Here

HELLbus first appeared on my personal radar when I reviewed the immaculate Table Fate (January 2006) and gave it a Must Have rating. Doled out a few more of those since too I tell you, so given that it's only been a few months it's amazing how much of an impact HELLbus have made. Right now I have Table Fate, Lift and the incredible Miss Your Little Black Heart sitting on my hard drive and they have no intention of leaving anytime soon. As if. Fact is, I reckon that towards the end of the year HELLbus are going to reap some decent rewards for all this aural fodder of the quality kind. I haven't as yet seen Jon Cockner (aka HELLbus) on too many other sites and that might be an oversight worth correcting. Judged on what I have heard so far, I don't think there's any site around that wouldn't like to host music of this quality.

Spread your wings a bit Jon....

The really knockout thing about this artist that really does my head in, is that no two tracks are alike but all share a very high level of musical thought, arrangement and performance skills and a talent for knowing when something is just right. Take Every Little Thing for example. A soaring, ethereal ballad that even the Queen Of England (that's Elton John, not Brenda) would have been pleased to have written. In fact the first impression I got of the track was of the original Elton John/Bernie Taupin sound. To be sure, there ain't much to it instrumentally, except the most delicate and beautiful piano you are likely to hear this side of Sir Elt, and damnit even HELLbus has the better voice.

Can it get any better than this?

Of course it can, because with a lot more familiarity with the track brings a deep and abiding love for the song it contains. As I already mentioned, you'd have to be a pretty decent singer to be able to hold a tune together over a piano accompaniment and Jon rises to the occasion with the style and professionalism I have come to expect from him. The more you hear this, the more you begin to realise that this is a solid, professional delivery of a blistering torch song. The man has a set of pipes on him for sure, especially the little inflections of the vocal that sent shivers down my spine. If all of this sounds like hyperbole, some over the top hero worship, then you'd be right. However, let's have a little bet, you go and have a listen to this track (or any other HELLbus title) and tell me that this artist isn't destined for something much greater.

MUST HAVE (this is getting tedious now) AND it's a ballad!!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

ArtRuleS - Bring The Jazz

Hear The Track Here

I am the first one to applaud when an artist shows they have an essential ingredient for sticking with this internet music game: tenacity. I especially applaud it when the said artist has a barrage of not so hot reviews and still persists in following thier dream in the way in which they see it. That shows yet another essential ingredient, determination. The ability to let no one put you off what you see is right is the most important trait - that will keep you going through any amount of bad reviews. Yep, you guessed it, ArtRuleS has been trashed by me. Not once, not twice, but several times. Yet here is Arturio G (aka ArtRuleS) with yet another peice for review.

Good on ya dude.

My main gripe, over the last three tracks I've reviewed isn't the genre, I like jazz. It isn't that I don't like whizzo multi-instrumentalist cos I loves 'em - provided they supply that essential spark that connects to me. Nope, my primary concern has been about feel. This is a word used to convey when a track feels right to your perception, everything fitting together, everything having a place. It's also used to describe the impact it should have on the listener and it's a quality that all the best tracks have, the ability to communicate the artists inner being onto someone else. A neat trick and I'm just one of many millions of artists the world over trying to perfect that, AND we all have to start somewhere don't we?

I much prefer this artist when the music strays into the Free Jazz area, and Bring The Jazz struck me immediately as being worth listening to, and it's elaborate arrangement only helped to take me through it step by step. There's a period around the two minute mark where all of sudden this takes off and sets a terrifically lively pace and everything gels. Now THAT is what I call feel. Top marks also to the sound quality (although it sounds like it was recorded in a large room) it still packs the requisite punch. Its a complicated peice but still accessable for all that, and all of this spells a step in the right direction. There's a wonderful small group feeling in this track that really appeals to me but that's because I do like the genre and its instrumentation.

Recommended Jazz.

Monktrump - The Way I Feel Today

Hear The Track Here

Despite my hard assed attitude about reviewing, I never find writing bad reviews easy. It's relatively simple to say what is good about something you hear, I find it almost fekkin impossible to write hard-to-take reviews. I know full well what its like to be on the end of some of those stinging rebukes and it takes confidence and experience to make something positive out of it. The reason I started picking at this old sore is because Mike Atkins (aka Monktrump) has been a much spanked reviewee and he just took it all, and went on to the next one. That's the kind of attitude I can admire about this because it says something about that particular musician. I am enormously pleased when artists I given a particularly hard time to come good, and over the two or three releases, Monktrump has done just that.

It should be said that you should have a liking for rock, and in this case 'something mellow' as Mike assured me on the signup thread. Uh oh. There again, it's not such a shock when you realise (almost instantly) that this artists interpretation of mellow means a slow acoustic blues rock tune that - for all it's simplicity - reaches out and grabs you. To be sure, there isn't much in the way of extra instrumentation going on here except the occasional (very effective) backing vocal, bass and lead guitar. All pretty much standard for the genre, the real surprise comes in it's delivery.

All my problems with this artist have stemmed from two things, hesitancy in delivery and lack of arranging skills. Both of these things are now niggles from the past as can be seen by this latest string of superfine rock tracks. I've used the term classic rock about this artist a great many times and the label fits his muse perfectly. Despite the lack of high end production the tenseness and drama of the song still comes across clearly and with great emotion. The conduit for that emotional pull has to be Mike's voice whose confidence and drive is self evident; he's also adopted a much rougher, breathier vocal style and I for one applaud it. Because of the genre it's obvious this won't please everyone but by golly it certainly pleases me.

Recommended classic rock.

Silvertrain+ - Epitaph

Hear The Track Here

I write Silvertrain+ because whatever this is, it isn't a real Silvertrain track. In fact, it wouldn't qualify in any except for the involvement of Mr Music Clip, John Brandon of Silvertrain. In collaboration, in this case, with Lana Albert and Damien Project - a couple of names that should be familiar to you if you keep your eyes and ears open. Of particular importance is the inclusion of Damien Project, as John points out 'because Mark makes music with the sole intention of raising awareness of Juvenile Diabetes' and that is a pretty rare thing in this material world. Lana Albert is a well known and respected member of Soundclick's burgeoning New Age/Classical community epitomised by her collaborations with such luminaries as Ed Drury, Evan Paul Kozaris and others.

I'm not quite sure who did what, or even where, but the end result comes across magnificently moody and oh so John. Above all, the lesson I have learned about this songwriter is that he does love his ballad, and Epitaph - as you would imagine - is one of the weepy kind. So, hankies at the ready we progress. As I mentioned in my review of the last Silvertrain track, the production standards of this new material is as good as it gets. Although I fouond the vocal initially a bit boomy, I think that's probably down to my ears because after a while I didn't even notice it. Probably because I was too busy sobbing me li'l heart out...

Such a softy, me.

Actually, such a softie John really because he is undoubtedly the inspiration behind this peice. I suspect the guitar lines come from Damien Project and I don't a clue what else. To delve into the long and boring story of my intense dislike of ballads is to redundant for words by now and - surprisingly - I found myself liking this sombre little track more and more. It's currently number 1 in the Power Pop genre and it so deserves it, a widescreen, three hankie monster of a ballad that shows that despite all my efforts to dissuade him from this path John Brandon has fnally delivered a ballad that counts. Damn, even I have to admit to liking it and that is going to cause havoc with my already tattered reputation.

Excellent, superfine ballad.

Fluid Breaks - Dirty Boy

Hear The Track Here

I've come across the two members of Fluid Breaks three times before, once together and then on their own separate tracks. Two well known names make up this electronica breakbeat outfit: Japan 4 and me ol' mucker (and world class pimp) Tacx. Or, if you want to be really matey, Tomo and Tomos, two very likely lads from the wilds of Cheshire. Together and separately I've rated these guys work, 'top' and 'class' or two of the words I've used to describe them. It also has to be said that Tacx is a promo machine but even so without the music to back it up it still wouldn't work. The music delivers on every level that counts in my game.

Ah, but now they have been married together formally (as it were) will the magic still remain?. While they were a loose duo, sparks flew, but living together on a daily basis is a different ball game altogether. Let's have a quick look into the Fluid Breaks household and see how the newlyweds are getting on... Quick! Avert your eyes, I think we've come at an inconvenient moment!! Oooh, I say, she's a sexy sounding beast isn't she? All that malarky about getting to the shower is enough to give every man within earshot a third leg, and I guess that says that Dirty Boy is exactly what is says on the tin. A bit naughty, a bit saucy, a bit ooooh missis!! Doesn't stop it being an enjoyable four minutes of your time though, although (due to the third leg effect) it would be good if you were sitting down first. Whatever happens don't be dancing to this or you may poke someone's eye out.

I admit in all honesty that I am not really into the whole breakbeat thing as a musical form, except for the vocal cutups thingie which I love. What I do like about the genre, however, is pretty much encapsulated in this track: great production and a serious love of tweaking. I really like the way Tacx dicks around (that's a technical term, I'll have you know) with filters, and I like the way this has been incorporated into what Fluid Breaks do. There are a million production tips going on in this track so if you like the genre and want to make it sound as good as it should, then give this track a listen and understand just why jerky, disconnect and slamming all make for a wonderful aural experience.

Breakbeats by the bucketload...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pilesar - The Spirit Kind

Hear The Track Here

It's been almost two years since my ears where assailed by a vigenette about roadkill of some kind. Most pleasant it was too, although I was soon to find out it wasn't always the norm. Pilesar - in all his various guises - has become a permanent fixture on Soundclick's Weird: wonderful genre of experimental (yes, it could be said as awkward) artists. Fact is, in my very personal opinion, Pilesar is one of the leading lights of that scene because there certainly isn't anyone around like him and the endless list of class tracks he has delivered (in lots of genres) is nothing less than inspiring. At least that's what I say to his face, but behind his back it's obviously a different story.

Disturbed. Lunatic. On. The. Loose. Yep, them's the words...

The Spirit Kind is a track from Pilesar's new EP Abrasion Therapy Volume Two and believe me when I say the key word here is abrasion. Of a special kind right enough, and that is usually enough for me but even in this Pilesar is not content. Here he delivers two tracks for the price of one, a peice running forward and a peice running backwards. All using the same paltry five minutes it takes to tell the tale. Naaaahhh, stop shaking your head with wonder, I'll have you know that is a fairly accurate description, taste this and see....

Aaah, not such a smug git any more are we??

Listening to Pilesar isn't so much a experience as a world altering reality. Because he works in some extremely dodgy areas (experimental not being the least of them), I sometimes feel it hides the real musician he is. Anyone who can take a bunch of tones, some extremely earthquake inducing sub basses, and a million extraneous effects and make it [i]interesting[/i] is fine by me. Certainly Pilesar is going to be way out there for most people, but I admire his ability to skate on the thinnest of ice and yet make it somehow an enjoyable experience. Believe me - fans of the man - you may have to work to extract this tracks full measure but it is so, so worth it. Weirdness raised to the power of ten.

Highly Recommended for the wild at heart

Smalllife - All The Things You Said

Hear The Track Here

I had much confusion when I first met Jaymz Lee Shaw over which was his material and which was his bands - Smalllife. Well, seems like all the tracks I have reviewed so far (a couple I think, and quite nice they were too). Older (April 2006) and Woke Up This Morning (May 2006) were both excellent examples of the light, Pink Floyd tinged rock I have come to like as practiced by a great many musicians these days. I do find them more in abundance on Soundclick than MP3 Unsigned but so far Jaymz Lee Shaw (the man not the band) hasn't let me down. His voice, which he was amazingly apprehensive about, is one of the main draws of this material so I must admit to interest in this before the review came up. So if you into harmony rock as practiced by Tom Petty, Travelling Wilburys, Jeff Lynne et al, you will like his solo material but what of the band?

The first thing you will think is 'aaarrrggghhh' as this juggernaut bounds into view. The second thought you have will be 'rrrrraaaaaaawwwwwwwkkkkk' and then you'll be gone. Tell you what I am an absolute sucker for a good rock track and All The Things You Said fulfills all the main food groups: killer axe, rhythms so crunchy they could double as breakfast cereal, and drums that kick your fekkin head in. Moreover, there's a right sleazy geezer on the vocals which I cannot believe is Jaymz. If it is, the transition between his own material and this is nothing less than startling. All along here's me thinking that he has a really sweet voice, on that can lull you to sleep even (especially on Older, a must hear if any of this interests you), but no - if this is him, he has the voice of a demon from the pit; fiery, smoky and as scary as shit.

I was lucky enough to work on a couple of early Aerosmith European tours, and there is a lot of the same energy coming from this band - and they are so obviously a band. I mention Aerosmith because - to be honest - they REALLY remind me both in style and sound. There isn't a hair out of place on this track and that takes competence in the band and the same level of competence about getting it down in a studio environment and it comes out smelling sweet everytime. As I say, I readily admit to being a consumate rock animal but even I don't come across tight, punchy guitar rock tracks like this that often - as you'll see by my rating - but this is a special track whether the rock genre bothers you or not. It's also an excellent song, with memorable lyrics, a sensible structure and some top sing-along lines. Believe me, I know. So do my neighbours, much to their eternal reget.

MUST HAVE classic rock.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Aerish - You Told Me

Hear The Track Here

Aerish is a new name to me, and judging by the complete lack of information on this musicians Soundclick webpage, new to this site to. An acoustic guitarist from Leipzig, Germany and that is the extent of my knowledge. OK, an acoustic guitarist, I can live with that. I've been one myself and when I hear that instrument played well it pulls me in like no other. My reticence in this case coming from the term acoustic, which as we well know these days encompassses a multitude of sins to this most subtle of instruments. About the only thing you'd need to know about it is Dylan or Reinhardt? (Bob and Django respectively in case your brain is overheating trying to work it out...)

In other words, is it music or is it (gulp) folk??

Well, You Told Me isn't exactly folk and considering this is just a guy and a guitar that's pretty good going in my books. Given the current fetish with artists like James Blunt, this track deserves to do very well. It's a simple track (well it would have to be wouldn't it?) but surprisingly effective and at almost five minutes it keeps your attention extremely well, and with this kind of line up that doesn't happen often. Again though, it's down to the quality of the song and You Told Me is just right.

Although I love the craft and virtuosity of artists like the aforementioned Django Reinhardt and the fire and majesty of someone like Leo Kottke I personally only attained the Bob Dylan bog standard; a song and not much else. Not that I am comparing either myself or Aerish to The Man, i'm just making a point about a good song. I think the James Blunt reference is apt in this case because - like it or not - that is the style this track comes across as and that's no doubt thing. It will give the casual listener something to refer it to, and for people like me it's nothing like as wet as anything Master Blunt has to offer. Aerish has a extremely pleasant voice and despite the odd trace of accent, this is a lovely song performed well.

Matan - Travelogue

Hear The Track Here

19 year old Matan is from Isreal who I first encountered a while ago when I reviewed his The Gate (May 2006). A nice track, if a little sparse in arranbgement and instrumentation and with a decidedly 'home recorded' sound, it nonetheless piqued my curiousity about this artist. It was the style of the track that really caught my ear rather than anything the musician was doing in it. Although he sung the track in English, there is a decided accent on the vocals which I found added to the track but I know that for a lot of people that can be offputting. I said so in my review but I also said I'd like to hear something with a little more substance before I felt able to comment any further.

Travelogue, then, has to serve as the 'more substance' track, and it does a fine job of it despite all of the things I have mentioned above. The essential difference between this track and The Gate is that this is much more recognisably a song both in structure and style. Moreover, there's a nice pop sensibility going on with it, so you may like it - as I do - despite the niggles I have mentioned. I admit, mind, that I didn't think this well of it immediately, I've certainly had to play it for a while before its sheer simplicity won me over.

Travelogue is the sort of song that could be done by many artists, and maybe that is something Matan should think about. There is always a market for a good song, and Travelogue is that rare beast. While its true that you will have to look a little harder to spot it, there's a couple of real hooky bits to this two minute wonder. Despite it still sounding like a demo, the emotion in the song certainly comes across well enough and if 'You're on your own now, on your way back home' isn't a massive arena style anthem (albeit an Alternative one) then I don't know what is. In the meantime, I would suggest that Matan casts around for someone to collaborate with because it's obvious that something else is needed, even if it's just to fill his tracks aout a bit more.

Excellent song but decidedly lo-fi.

Greybrow - Mon cœur en été

Hear The Track Here

Because he has a brow and it's grey I suppose, now any other stupid questions or can we begin? Alrighty then. Dunno what's happening to MP3 Unsigned just lately, the site is up and down more times than a Parisien tarts drawers, but that's neither here nor there either... I've had numerous encounters with this MP3 Unsigned artist in the past, in collaborations generally but also some of his solo stuff. The one thing that you can say about most of the older musicians around on this scene is that they do know what they are doing, and Greybrow is no exception. Mind you, he's been well quiet of late, so it was a bit of a surprise to see this track slipped into the signup thread this month.

Basically, a track dedicated to the man's wife, his heart in summer as it were if you understood French. I have enough problems with English so to me it's all double dutch. Anyway enough of these cunnng linguistics cos it's supposed to be about the music, innit? My Heart is a slice of pure electronic chillout and as such isn't normally my cup of tea, but this track is musically substantial enough to gain interest no matter what genre blew your skirts up - the kind of music soundtracks are made of..

As is usual with this artist the real joy of his music is the depth and variety of the sounds he employs. OK, so it's a fairly standard electronica package but you can tell he's treated these sounds to much aural scrutiny. The kind of day when you think you'll do some work on that new track after supper and end up with the sun in your eyes, wondering where all the time went. It went into making a flawless peice of music that speaks volumes regardless of personal preferences. This is a competition entry of some kind, and I sincerely hope the competition know how to up their game.

Class electronica with a nice summer chill...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jimmy Kent - Table For One

Hear The Track Here

Here's that singing guy again. Anyone who frequents Soundclicks forums will be familiar with this nickname but maybe not so familiar with his musical persona, Jimmy Kent. We've been round the block a few times but as yet Jimmy has still to give me what I want. I have to admit that there are personal preferences playing a part here because Jimmy has a tendency to remind me of the work of George Michael and God forgive me, I can't stand the geezer. It is highly likely that my judgement is coloured by this, although there have been other niggles that are just as noticeable; partly due to Jimmy's recording circumstances and partly his choice/style of songwriting.

Lots of mountains to climb here then...

Top marks for the boys tenacity though, he takes a licking and keeps on ticking and if there is one thing a musical career will demand of you it is a thick skin. Mind you, for the guy who writes a line like 'I was born to be the rain on your parade' how can it be any other way. The one thing that has always struck me about Jimmy's songwriting and lyrical skills is that it's intelligent, well thought out and definitely a lot more sophisticated than most Britpop (the genre this track resides in). My feeling is that if he can surmount the roughness of his tracks in production terms, he will start to attract some serious attention and - at this stage - sorting out that sound really should be job number one. IMHO, it's actually beginning to damage what Jimmy does well...

Funny thing is that on this track Jimmy finally gets away from the GM curse and it's a move I heartily applaud. There's a raw, tense excitement to the vocal on this track and I am reminded of a tape I had once of an early version of the band that became known as The Associates in both feel and - unfortunately - sound. Not that I am comparing Jimmy's vocal style to the late, incomparable Billy Mackenzie just that this tracks style and vocal delivery have very heavy echoes for me. Looked at that way, I suppose I am paying Jimmy a back handed compliment and I am. This track is different and, had it not been for the truly diabolical mix and sound, may well have scored highly with me. As it is, if you can get past that, you may enjoy the track too.

The Antennaheadz - You Know, Times Have Changed and You Are The Enemy

Hear The Track Here

One of the surprises of the last year or so has been the transformation of one Thomas J from the extremely twisted (if prolific) Station For Imitation to the sax playing music machine that informs much of the work of The Pong Bandits, The Men From San Deigo and many more. As much as like the man's wailing, I haven't really struck musical pay dirt with this guy yet although he has come infuriatingly close more than once or twice. That was always the thing with SFI too, it was always, I wonder if this is going to be the track? So far I have reviewed two Antennaheadz tracks: LoL oMG wTF!!11!! (Bingo Bongo Mix) (January 2006) and Ghosts (May 2006). I wasn't exactly bowled over by LoL oMG wTF!! etc, other than it signified a major shift in what Thomas was up to...

I really liked what Ghosts had to offer and even gave it a recommended rating, and I think that was probably a first for this artist, even though I have reviewed almost every track he has ever released. It is worth it though, Ghosts was a track with a lot to offer. So, in fact, does You Know, Times Have Changed although I think that stretching a good idea out so thin at almost seven minutes probably won't help it's chances. Shame really because this piano led peice of electronica is definitely a worthwhile listen, especially if you like a good melody or two.

And that, unfortunately, is where the whole ball of string starts to unravel...

Not that I am about to trash this peice, far from it. What there is here is very nice indeed bar a couple of the usual niggles I have/always had with this particular artist. Firstly, the sound is a bit wooly on this mix and would have contributed to the 'has it finished yet?' factor. Secondly (IMHO obviously) the drum track is disturbingly lame both in sound and arrangement. Neither of those things, or the time factor, really detract from hearing this really pretty tune - if only it had been a lot shorter it may well have gathered some greater glory. Nonetheless, even listening to the first three minutes will give you the gist of the track and it IS worth a listen, especially if you like the genre (Weird:wonderful)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

One Kid's Lunch - Prayer For The Clueless

Hear The Track Here

I first encountered One Kids Lunch's take on their sorta' goofy rock tunes that hope to carry God's Truth (along with an occasional laugh or two) when I reviewed There's More (May 2006). In that review I said ' there is way more to One Kids Lunch than that tired old cliche 'christian rock', and over the space of the next couple of tracks they have proceeded to prove that to a ridiculous degree. Their Fly Me (June 2006) got a highly recommended rating from me and has only improved it's rating since then as I play it almost every day. I said at the time it was a killer pop tune and I stand by that comment even more now.

Especially since I spent a few days with this track, which is almost a logical follow on...

In my review of Fly Me I compared them to The Beatles, and went out of my way to point out that I was deadly serious about that claim. Alrighty, the Beatles circa 1965-66 maybe, but the sound, production and songwriting style are right on the money. So are the vocals (main and backing) which I have come to learn is also a mainstay of what makess up One Kids Lunch. Its the combination of the instrumental lineup and the vocal style that most reminds me of the Fab Four but goshdarn it, you tell me. Have a listen to this track - it won't take but a moment - and tell me this isn't a track off Rubber Soul.

As good as this band are musically and vocally (and you won't hear much better, believe me), it's in the songwriting and lyyricism that they really score for me. Each of the three tracks I have heard so far have featured concise, pointed, laugh out loud funny lines and this one is no exception. If it were up to me I would paste all the lyrics into this review because I believe they are OKL's unique selling point. Try this from the first verse... 'Saw a suit and tie with a guy inside it, real excited…, Pleased to explain that I can be filthy rich and free from pain…If I just help pay his hairspray bill (and have the faith to convince God to do my will…)' or this from the middle eight 'Now I’m the first to say it’s true that I can be a moron too. I’m afraid we often do way more harm than good for you, Marching on without a clue.' Without a doubt, One Kids Lunch are going to be heavily featured in my house from now on...


Mirala - Aurora

Hear The Track Here

Mirala is a 23 year old trance artist from MP3 Unsigned so before we get to the goodies let me throw in the usual caveats. I'm not a big fan of dance music. If I wanted to listen to dance music I'd rather be doing it WHILE dancing if you get my drift. I'm even less of a fan of the electronica dance end of the market and, unfortunately that does include techno and trance. So what's the fekkin point of reviewing this then? Welp, I like to think that after (mumble) years of this review game I can bring objectivity to the exercise, regardless of my personal feelings about the style or genre. After all, good music is good music right? Regardless of it's stripe.

Having said I don't like trance I do like the synth sequencing that predominates the genre, especially if it's a sequence I haven't heard before. The first thing that will strike you when you fire up this little demon is how full it all sounds. Strike one for the artist methinks. A lot of trance I hear is often marred by simple production and that charge certainly couldn't be leveled at Mirala. This is a sound that pays attention to all shades of the spectrum; hefty thumping basses, hissy-fit hihats and top end clarity. Aurora has all that and a bit too spare.

At 3:40 it's a bit short for a real good dance session but it has all the hallmarks of the genre and does provide a perfectly reasonable listen even for a philistine such as me. It's a mark of Mirala's musical maturity that his music can calm even my fevered brow, which is mighty surprising seeing as he has only been at this lark for a little over a year and a half. Should someone be daft enough to ask me what I thought a typical trance track would sound like, I would have no hesitation in pointing them in the direction of this track. Surprisingly good, very efficient and a very decent waste of three minutes of your day, how could you not jump at the chance?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Waxko - Can We Get it?

Hear The Track Here

Or Pero...¿Podremos conseguirlo? if you 'appen to be as Spanish as Mr Waxko. The same would apply to the lyrics of this track and I dare not put them through a Babelfish translation because it the best word mangler I ever came across, it doesn't so much translate as take some seriously (un)educated guesses. I found this out the hard way, so heed the advice. Waxko and I hit it off straight away with his first couple of tracks but things haven't gone so well since then. Still, that's the way it is sometimes, real good tracks are hard to come by and often come about over a long period of time...

Still, let's try this one...

It's a hefty peice of work, weighing in at six and a quarter minutes and believe me if there is one word that can be used to describe this track it has to be cadence. It think it will probably help with your enjoyment of this track if you were into pounding a few million drums because this tracks main supports are exactly that. To be fair, they's good drums, especially if you like 'em all a-poundy like that and stereo separated to within an inch of their lives. Mind you, for a track as long as this, it sure as hell better have something more going for it than some tasty pounding - regardless of how well it's done. It is, as it happens, very well done but I would say that because I do love the sounds of drums in general and the pounding kind are my favourite kind.

To help the track, Waxko has also provided a decent musical score although - to my ears - it often seemed to be pushed into the background by the aforementioned drum assault. As powerful and muscular as the rhythm track is, the musical side of it sounds more chillout than you would think and - truth to tell - it's certainly better than the last couple of tracks I recieved from this artist. It has a lot more to say for itself for a start, and although it does have a couple of (I think) fairly large production/mix problems, it's very nature and drive is what keeps me coming back for more. I might well grow into this track a little more than it feels at this moment and it may have problems finding the right audience - other than me of course.

A lively track that is slightly marred by its overall mix.

Big Wheel - Far Away

Hear The Track Here

Let's start off by saying that I know nothing whatsoever about Big Wheel, other than this track coming up in the list this month. Mind you, the very kind hearing he gave in a recent review of my stuff definitely made me notice him. T'ain't often, ya see, the the reviewer gets reviewed and one must grasp at any straws at my age. The review, btw, was completely his decision KNOWING (I hope) that I wouldn't allow anything to change my objectivity as a reveiwer. In my world, I don't care who you are; friend, foe, mate, nemesis, you give me a duff track and I'll number its ways. Can't help it, it's the way I'm built. Yet another hurdle Big Wheel has to overcome in this review is the genre he works in: Electronica in general and Mellow in particular.

Yep, I don't do mellow very well either.

So, that's a lot of adverse crap even before we even get to the music. Big Wheel counters all this by delivering a peice of electronica that sounds anything but. To be sure it's mellow, in a smoky jazz kinda way but for all that there is still a pretty insistent 'on your feet soldier' command from the inbuilt propulsion unit. This is especially true after the two and a half minute mark, I found meself boogying to that more than once or twice. The really surprising thing is that Big Wheel states he has only been doing this project since the begining of this year but this track fairly shouts authority and experience so what gives?

Do a little more digging on the page and you'll find out that BW is a solo project, this artist usually plays in another band. The experience is evident on this track by some faultless playing, some absolutely lovely chord progressions and the best acoustic guitar synth I have ever heard. It can't (can it?) be a real acoustic guitar? Covering just over five and a half minutes, you would need to also have some pretty handy arranging skills to keep up interest over such a long time and Big Wheel has no problems there either. Ultimately, Far Away is a damn fine track in every way and one I will certainly be hanging onto. Don't look too hard at the genre classification on this, it goes a lot further than that. An instrumental that has as much muscle as brain. Nice combination and guess what??...

Highly Recommended chillout (with added jive)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cam's Even Song - A Brief Survey of Human History

Hear The Track Here

Not one to do things by halves, our Cam. If he is going to tackle a subject, it might as well be a worthy one. Granted the tune is a little long at almost six minutes, but come on... What is it? A musical wormhole that magically expands to encompass aeons of human stupidity? Nope, can't be done, which as you know is the standard tradesmans answer when faced with something beyond their comprehension (ie almost everything). Uh oh, I think it's probably showing that I've had a spot of bother with builders today. Just ignore me, I'll just sit here and simmer...

Now. Where was I? Ah yes, attending Even Song...

Regular readers will already know that I hold Cam in high regard, as a songwriter and musician. He has his own, very recognisable style, and is a charming and helpful human being as well. Of course it goes without saying that I'd still kick his butt if for some reason I could find fault with his work, but try as I might I only find the merest niggles - usually because of the 'home recording' syndrome. Materially and stylistically, I've never been able to feel anything except envy for his work. Cam is a experienced and capable singer and songwriter but when I have the opportunity to take in his instrumental work (ie Sonic Salad), I have found a musician of rare taste.

If ever a A Brief Survey of Human History could be worked into a six minute tune, it would be every bit as pretty, dramatic and captivating as this track. It's classed as Electronica: Ambient and it so fits the category; it's topping and tailing with ambient sounds is particularly atmospheric. The meat and potatoes though is a fairly standard rock beat married to some great ambient/electronic sounds. Each second passes and the scenery just keeps changing roaming through - I would imagine - virtually ALL man's endeavours (as you do in a nice likkle choon) and it's that detail that will keep you listening to this long after others have fallen in the dust. A big project this, and Cam has pulled it off perfectly and you know I'm not normally into the chill-out side of things...

Beautiful. Highly Recommended.

Ditheramb - Darkest Hour

Hear The Track Here

The Kinghorn brothers (Steve and Scott), Jack Greenhill and Glenn Townsend collectively known as Ditheramb have - in the space of a year - carved themselves out quite a reputation for fiery, rock based tracks and have a lot of credibility from this reviewer. I got some cute metal ears after having spent many years getting blown from wall to wall by this heavy metal band or that one. Fact is, it's a bit like chocolate, if you worked in a chocolate factory, you wouldn't want to eat any of it would you? That was my feeling about heavy metal until I happened across this Australian band in October 2005, since then I have had a severe adjustment about the state of metal...

In a nice way, of course

After the small joys of Premis (June 2006) a very short acoustic rock guitar peice, I was ready for something meatier from the band, so they put up Darkest Hour - an older track apparently. Never a band to ever do anything by halves, Ditheramb go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Where Premis is a mere one minute and change, Darkest Hour is a monster eight minutes - talk about different shades... I don't think the production is as clear and all encompassing as their later works but that's only to be expected and no-one would probably spot that difference anyway. What they would say is that whats here is produced to a high standard although IMHO it lacks the space/headroom whatever you call it for a track of this size and scope. The track itself, in tone and content, is an epic of the first order veering wildly between several different streams of guitar based rock.

All so far, so Ditheramb...

Again though, where Darkest Hour scores highest is where this excellent band's real talents lie; songwriting, arranging and playing rock music that truly deserves that honorific. Darkest Hour is d-r-e-n-c-h-e-d in guitar licks, as befits the genre, but it's guitar playing of a quality you won't hear in much of todays rock music. Ditheramb stretch back into the past for their inspiration and their respect for their musical roots is evident; Darkest Hour is a classic example of what Ditheramb bring to the term rock - of whichever stripe you require. For example I hear prog rock, surfer rock, blues rock and a million other variants in this track. Had I heard it without knowing that it was an older Ditheramb track I would still have made the point about the crispness and sharpness of the mix, but the music at it's heart is still pure Ditheramb and that is priceless. They are definitely a contender for some accolades towards the end of the year. Older Ditheramb maybe, but still packs the regular punch; ka-fekkin-POW!

Highly recommended rock.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Nuff X - Am I Cool?

Hear The Track Here

About the one charge that cannot be leveled at Nuff X is that he is lazy. The guy has a massive 109 tracks on his page so if you are into the more breakbeat kind of dance, then this would be a good destination. Because of that, Nuff X and I haven't always seen eye to eye on the material he comes up with but very rarely on the way he does it. Matter of fact, I have watched this artist improving tremendously over the past year. Coming from the Ejay flavoured Heaven (April 2005) to Feeling Trapped (May 2006) is no mean achievement and shows that practice does actually pay off. Like a lot of artists who start off on 'instant music' programs, he was quick to see he'd have to move on and he did that well, and with considerable style.

So what's he got in store for us this time?

About a ton and a half of the squelchiest bass you have ever heard and some slamming breakbeats to add to the the mixture. As someone who has a vested interest in other artists who are using the vocal cut up style (and or vocal based scratching) as the main lead, I have enjoyed the last two Nuff X tracks because of their inclusion. The same is true of the bulk of Am I Cool?, although there are a couple of small sound issues I would still want corrected but that's me being picky again. All told, there isn't really much wrong with this track and a great deal that is oh so right, especially if you are interested in the genre anyway.

While I freely admit that music in this field doesn't exactly excite me, if music in any genre is done well I'm not going to find too much fault with it. Nuff X has been gaining ground and big credibility over the past year as a part of Soundclick's up and coming electronica artists and if his releases keep up with this pace, it isn't going to be that much longer before this artists starts producing music that can transcend the very narrow musical field that contains electronica in general and breakbeats in particular. It would be interesting to me whether I am presently hearing a series of tracks from the same muse (ie a concentrated period of creativity), or whether these tracks were made some months apart. I tend to favour the first option because they certainly have the feel of that - and that's no bad thing.

Am I Cool? 'course you are!! Recommended breakbeats.

Dimension 5 - Sunset Beach (Viva Ibiza Dance Edit)

Hear The Track Here

A point I made at the beginning of this year when I wrote a small peice about the death of my (internet) friend Mary Gottschalk, also spring to mind when dealing with Dimension 5. They absolutely shot to prominence on MP3 Unsigned almost out of the blue which very few artists achieve normally, and that was explained when a much older name came out of the undergrowth as the main mover behind D5, one Clive Beresford known to all and sundry as Spyda. See, the point made in the Mary Gottschalk peice was that friends are friends, on the internet or off it. After 13 or 14 years on the internet you get to meet a hell of a load of people, some you click with and some you don't. So what is a friend? Someone who you share a large slice of your life with, a person you share many experiences with: up, downs, births and yes death's and tragedies. Over the space of three years or so I have had one of those relationships with Spyda and I know the guy has had more than his share of troubles lately. The fact that Dimension 5 is an offshoot of those troubles says everything that needs to be said about this musician.

I first met Clive over three years ago and even though he didn't work in a genre I enjoyed, he still managed to capture my attention and keep it. Dance has always been Clive's predominant skill so it's really no surprise that Dimension 5 is his answer to it. I mean the guy has so many artist names it's hard to keep track!. Sunset Beach (Viva Ibiza Dance Edit) is, as you will no doubt gather, is from the summery Ibiza side of the dance music and - in fact - a return to Spyda's own roots. I put this track back to back with an REALLY old Spyda track (Blue Without You, August 2003) and the development is phenomenal although the mix of Spyda funk is still there but much, much stronger and more defined. To be sure, anyone who has the slightest, remotest interest in the genre will just love this track and it's so utterly commercial it should be Government certified.

It's on the production side that sells me on the track. There is no doubt in my mind that Clive has progressed beyond all imagining in his production skills in most spheres, but when he applies it to his first love it's always something magiical. The bass on this track is a wonder of the world, let alone all the frilly bits Clive hangs around like confetti. The sound of this is so gorgeous, you could float away on it. I certainly did more than once or twice. I've heard this artist do a lot of commercially viable tracks over the years but this tops everything so far. This has all the ingredients of a summer hit AND still have enough leftover to bring out the sun in midwinter, well worthy of the praise and attention it has gathered on MP3 Unsigned.

MUST HAVE dance classic.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Pond Surfers - Naked Lady

Hear The Track Here

Jimbo, Lief, you really didn't need to send me a naked lady, I'd have reveiwed this anyway. So, I stuck her away for further scrutiny (and a bit of how's yer father) so now lets get to the business at hand. Pond Surfers is a collaboration between the artist called Alderman and Jim Miller (of Jim-n-Lisa), both of whom have been very special artists to me for a long time. I seem to have known Leif (Alderman) forever and Jim has become one of my favourite Soundclick flavours in whatever guise he seems to adopt. The story behind this track is about a 1954 Conn 'Naked Lady' saxaphone that Jim rescued and restored which has since become one of his trademark sounds.

Come on, you don't seriously think they would send me a naked lady, did you?

On the face of it, a collaboration between the musical style of Alderman (electronica, dancey) and the edgy, dark alternative indie that Jim-n-Lisa produce doesn't seem feasible but that's before you hear it. Although I've come across them in various combinations, I've only ever reviewed one Pond Surfer track: Excursion (October 2005). Although I always appreciate the density of ideas and the sheer musical nous of both these guys, for me the track was just a bit too new age-y in feel but there was no disputing the style and expertise on display. It goes without saying that I expected a lot more from this track...especially since it features a bassline from yet another old friend and well known internet face, Steve Worswick aka Square Bear.

It's easy to spot the bassline in question, especially if you are familiar with Square Bears work and it can only be Jimbo on the tooter so is the lead guitar work courtesy of Alderman? Not at all the track I was expecting, Naked Lady is an almost chaotic but sublime romp into jazz fusion and one I found much to my taste. Central character is, of course, el saxo and it fully deserves the spotlight. I've always made a big thing about Jim's saxplaying and on this outing he shows exactly why he is The Man, the sound, the phrasing, the tone all shout 'fekkin listen to me!' and you do. It helps that the musical backing is edgy AND soft and that is no mean trick, and that some of the most inventive sections where truly splendid. I am, however, tremendously biased and I feel it only fair to mention it. Nonetheless, if you want to hear some music with balls and style, this'll be that bad boy. Oh, btw, it is REALLY good to hear Square Bear again because it's been a while.

Months of pleasure. Recommended.

Donegal Street - Shanty

Hear The Track Here

As you might imagine from both the song title and the band name, the emphasis here is on the Auld Country, the Emerald Isle and it's glorious musical past. I have long been a fan of Celtic music in all it's guises, Irish, Scots Welsh or Breton. Mostly I think that is down to this music's incredible joy of life, embodied in the instrumentation that defines the genre; hand drums, stringed instruments, bagpipes, whistles and all... I think it would be fair to say there aren't many artists specialising in this music, and those that are active probably don't get much of a look in because, hey, it's traditional innit?

Yeah, yeah, well spin on this...

Shanty (or more properly chanty) is a musical form that came about aboard working sailships and were performed by sailors to regulate and time the workload, in a similar way I guess to the worksong tradition familiar in Africa and the Deep South of the USA. I have to say that by that definition, Shanty doesn't really do it to it. It's nothing like as rhythmic enough (although it has its moments of which more later) and weighing in at a miniscule one minutes and twenty of those smaller things, it's blindingly obvious you wouldn't be able to get much work done.

However, taking my Mr Pendant hat off for a second, let's have a look at this track in it's own light. Taking into account that Donegal Street are in the New Age section of the World genre, Shanty is an electronic take on the traditional genre and although it's a bit spare in both length and arrangement what is there would keep me amused although I couldn't see it having an lasting appeal. Know what I mean? I think I would probably like what this band is about, and judging them by this slight track doesn't seem right.

An interesting musical diversion sure enough, but I want to hear much, much more...

Charlie A - Bebee Bubba

Hear The Track Here

Charlie Armour (aka Charlie A) is a multi-instrumentalist from the UK whose list of influences reads like a Who's Who of film scores. John Carpenter, John Williams, Danny Elfman and believe me it doesn't come much better than that. Elfman, in particular is a big favourite of mine, I haven't seen him score a dud yet. Kinda weird then that Charlie A's genre is Electronica: experimental, but if Bebee Bubba is anything to go by the genre fits him like a glove because this is high class electronica with just a dash of experimental weirdness to leaven the mixture.

I liked Bebee Bubba from the get go and I ascribe that partly to being a parent of budding rock stars and that the track's vocalist is Charlie's one year old neice Lauren. The bulk of the kudos though must go to Charlie boy because it surmounts a well known showbiz obstacle with ease. That showbiz obstacle most people know as the maxim: Never work with animals and kids. In this case Lauren almost manages to pull off that act but it's Charlie's musical nous and arranging skills that make this track work ultimately - the addition of Lauren's amazing catchy burblings is just the icing on the cake.

Uh oh.

Seriously, although this is classed as a general comedy track (it IS LOL material), it could just as easily have stood up as an electronica contender in it's own right. Cripes, I use all kinds of **** in my tracks and that gets accepted, so why shouldn't this track? Moreover, it's a cracking peice of music too with the vocals counterpointing the deceptively simple arrangement and instrumentation. Definitely a student of the less is more school. Now, if I could only get my twins to stand still for two seconds at any one time, I'm gonna have a go at this so I guess I have been inspired by this track and - buuuhleeeevvvee me - that doesn't happen very often at all.

Laugh out loud funny and Highly Recommended.

Carol Sue Kirkpatrick - I Am Invisible

Hear The Track Here

Well I sure know the invisibility effect, but I have a sneaking feeling that isn't what this MP3 Unsigned artist is singing about. A new name to my reviews from that site, I have been noticing how this lady has been recieved over there, and some of the comments made about her music but this is the first time I have had opportunity to do the same Carol is basically a songwriter, recording onto a 4 track with all it's attendent problems, but as usual lets not take too much notice. Also, let me 'fess up straight away and tell you I don't like ballads, especially 'so called' rock ballads; both which Carol dishes up.

Aaahh, but what does it taste like?

I would imagine Carol is already advanced enough to know what are the pitfalls of this particular recording, and done her best to get over them. Sure there is a certain laxness, almost lethargic, plod to the track, and some of the vocals could do with strengthening but ultimately the track really should stand or fall on one element; the song. In that respect, not only does Carole know exactly how to structure such a beast, she also peppers it with some lovely little touches that life up the hairs on the back of your neck. Seeing as it's a fairly conventional arrangement, there's a lot of freshness to it, particularly in the chorus refrains where - to be honest - I could have done with more harmony work but I always was a glutton for more, more, more....

I know another Carol (Carol Douglas), also a songwriter who has achieved some attention over the past year for her collaborative efforts (and of course her songwriting ability). Carol Sue Fitzpatrick has many of the same qualities; a serious, unfussy backing track, a solid delivery of a very good song indeed and some fine arranging skills. She's got a good voice too, smoky where needed and she sings this track well. I've noticed that she has done some collabs over the past few weeks and I'll be checking those out for sure. Still, if I Am Invisible is to be the calling card for this artist's then I see nothing wrong with it at all other than the fact that some people wouldn't like the genre anyway, whatever the quality on display. There's a lot of that on display here, but I think I'll need to get a few more tracks under my belt before I get a handle on this.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Adam Fielding - Open Up

Hear The Track Here

A long standing member of Soundclick's electronica community, Adam Feilding (along with some others in the field) has become a firm favourite of mine. I must admit I do like his more recent poppier style, but even so this man has given me plenty of good tracks to savour over the years. I heard his New Beginnings track earlier this month because it is one the Sinewinder CD I started the month of with, and that is an example of what he does best, electronica with edge. Mind you, I also like the work he has been doing in other spheres, electro power pop for instance.

I kid you not...

Have a listen to It All Comes Down To This on his page, it's so 1980's electronica you can almost smell the shoulder pads and hair dye. At this stage, even though Open Up follows much the same electro pop path, this is a much darker, more complex peice that has more to do with Depeche Mode than Howard Jones, so don't expect this to hit you straight between the eyes because it isn't going to do that. Open Up is a track that you will have to do some work to get to know, you would have to be prepared to live with it for a while. If you do that, you might find - as I did - that it's complexity isn't as severe as it first appears and there is a very neat feel about the whole affair.

All pretty much expected, of course, when you deal with a musician like Adam Fielding, an artist with a long track record of delivering what is necessary. So it'll be no surprise whatsoever that is produced to within an inch of it's life and there isn't a loose end to be seen anywhere. Exactly the kind of tidy, efficient job you would expect. The sounds and instrumentation are - as usual - interesting without detracting from what the instrument is playing and it evokes the period beautifully. I also had to work my way slowly into Depeche Mode's more weighty material so it doesn't feel so tough doing it now with Adam. Heavyweight electronica delivered by a Soundclick legend.

Highly Recommended.

The Kev - Train Tracks

Hear The Track Here

Almost a year ago I reviewed a track called Fuel The Greed (August 2005) from an artist called Killwevin. Wasn't a bad track exactly, just not good enough considering the kind of competition it would be up against, and that is what I said in my review. However, I was fairly complimentary about the track, in my usual begrudging way, and not having seen hide or hair of the band since then I thought they had gone the way of all things, ie kaput. Welp, here is one of the members of that band, one Kevin Murray to be precise working under a new name.

See what a little research can do? You know it makes sense.

Train Tracks turns out to be in a remarkably similar vein to Fuel The Greed, it being a reasonable mix of guitar pop, a little bit of punk and as lo-fi and monophonic as you would expect. Not that either lofi or mono are that much of a problem when you are looking for a quick aural kick in the pants and if you like the Alternative field, I'm sure you will find quite a lot about this track to like too. Again, though, I feel I have to make the same point I made in my original review, the overall Soundclick (nay almost everywhere these days) audience has become increasingly sophisticated over the past few years and now regularly expect what they download to be as good as any commercial music - in terms of both material and production.

As far as the material goes, Train Tracks is a very enjoyable song (yep song. Verse one, verse, two, verse three) and - liking a bit of whimsical English proto-punk - I found the track very listenable. It has all the right moves about it for sure. You can sing along to it, it has some incredibly simple but catchy lead lines, and it makes sense although the third was a bit too busy for my taste, as well as being a bit strained vocally. It goes without saying that what really let's it down is the overall sound which is thin, weedy and incredibly one dimensional. When you have duelling guitars, believe me you need a bit of space in the mix to make them really count. The same could be said, I guess, of the vocals which could sound so, so much better. Still, that's perfect world stuff and this is Soundclick so this is what we get. Putting those niggles aside though, there is a reallty decent track here. I really liked the first couple of verses, but after that I felt it kinda lost that initial feel.

Lofi guitar pop with a certain charm.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Amorphix - Persephone (The Rites of Spring)

Hear The Track Here

Amorphix is a brand new name to me from Soundclick, an artist working in the Electronic: Ambient field which I admit I haven't much of a taste for. Still I'm always game for an aural seduction and ya never know when one is going to come along. Ambient is a particularly difficult genre to master unless you approach it from the angle - thankfully - Amorphix has decided to adopt. There's a sight more of the classical about this track than anything else, and for me it's that element that makes this track the absolute humdinger it is. A wide-screen, Dolby stereo effort that deserves much praise for it's style, competence and sheer listening pleasure.

This, remember, from a guy who doesn't really see eye to eye with the whole ambient thing. Eno blabbering on about it for what seemed like fekkin aeons didn't help matters much either. Mind you, I've heard some very good tracks in this genre in my time on Soundclick and this musician is going to join them immediately, at least on the strength of this very impressive (in a great many ways) track. The track is about - and I quote - the retreat of winter and the rebirth of spring brought about by Persephone's return to the realm of the mortals so you can bet your boots it's gonna be littered with dramatic sequences, suspense filled orchestration and a tremendous sense of itself.

Naaaahhh, too much to hope for innit?

Not no more, o pesky critters, because Persephone wotsname is the dogs danglies - in or out of it's genre.

You'll have to give it a good ear bashing to really get to the substance of the track, but even the initial impression should be sufficient to induce you to want to download and keep it. I'm certainly going to. Coming in at just over six minutes, this is not a musical trifle, something to be dallied with and then thrown away. Nope, this is something to savour, preferably at your most relaxed and receptive to it's aural magic. Amorphix plays his cards perfectly, the tension, loneliness and definite-nip-in-the-air chill of the classical instrumentation to the first section is melted away after four minutes or so with a very 1960's psychedelic (reminded me of one of Steve Miller's early tracks) electronic section that caps off the track beautifully. I may not have been a big fan of ambient but I suspect I will become a big fan of what Amorphix is about.


Redshirt Theory - Moon Shine

Hear The Track Here

Third time around for MP3 Unsigned's Redshirt Theory and I must admit I was really curious to hear what they'd dished up this time. Warmed Up (February 2006) certainly piqued my curiousity even though - for my money - it wasn't the slam bang track it should have been. Its Been a Long Time (June 2006), however was everything that their first track had hinted at and then some. A solid, banging mega floorfillah that gained them their first Must Have rating from me and I doubt very much whether that will be the last one. Considering that they specialise in dance (albeit very intelligent dance) - a genre I am not always kind to - I'd say Redshirt Theory are doing very well.

Joined in this track by new MP3 Unsigned darling Lollievox who contributed sax and vocal lines to the usual combustible Redshirt mixture, raises the game considerably. She brings in a mean saxophonist, wailing in fine form, adding considerably to this tracks impact. The production on this track also mirrors the classy job that was done on Its Been A Long Time, with much attention to getting that special rounded sound that so fits music made in this genre. Again, although it IS undisputably a dance track, it's a dance track akin to the music made by the Chemical Brothers or Prodigy.

All meat, a real treat.

For those people who frequent MP3 Unsigned, the name Lollievox will already be quite well known to you, even if the music is still an unknown. Well now is the time to get to know her work. I checked her out as soon as she recieved an AOTW (Artist Of The Week) a couple of weeks ago and was most impressed with her jazzy/bluesy vocal delivery, and what we get on Moon Shine is the merest taste. There is an old skool feel to this track, a throwback to a time when dance music was a bit subtler than it is today and that's no bad thing at all. At the end of the day, all the elements that make up this track are right in place and sounding so, so good. If you like IDM then this will definitely bob your corks. If you like a good jig around the living room of an evening, this will also do the trick.

Highly Recommended, very stylish IDM.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Bob Lazar Story - Double Turn Double Safe

Hear The Track Here

Being a well known genre-bender, it's obvious that I would love the little twists and turns SC artists use to cover what they do. The Bob Lazar Story is from the progressive rock field (yep another one!) by way of Country? Country? You mean 'yahoo' country or the kind that has leafy glades? wtf IS a leafy glade anyway? To mount yet another pulpit, what is it about progressive rock artists over the past six months? Some time ago I only knew of one progressive artist, now suddenly we are knee deep in the pesky varmints...and I think I've made my thoughts on the genre crystal clear. Mind you, it says on my contract (Ed: what contract??) that I have to be objective so....

Double Turn Double Safe is a lot more guitar oriented than I expected, almost a wall to wall rifferama going on there. All of that within the first two minutes mind. then the country kicks in and the track takes off in a big way - at least for this reviewer. What a nice blend of styles this is, and this man knows how to sling an axe around too, if that wasn't made absolutely clear in the first couple of minutes, the last three certainly nail that one. Admittedly, I found the second, more country section, a lot more to my own personal taste but to be honest, I couldn't see a lot wrong with the first couple of minutes either.

Taken all together, I am as surprised as you that I found a prog rock track that I actually had some good words to say about it. A lot of the kudos for that has to be down to whoever is handling the guitar duties on this track, they certainly know how to make it sing. I think it probably helps - as well - that this artist comes from New Zealand and I am most definitely getting a taste for artists from that corner of the globe. Although there is only one track on the Bob Lazar page right now, I hope that there will be others to follow because this one has certainly attracted my interest. Jeezzzz, I must be getting REALLY senile, admitting in public that I liked a prog rock track. Can my reputation stand the strain? Do I care?

Excellent prog rock with a great county twist. Recommended by way of a change.

M S L - A Revering Sight

Hear The Track Here

You'll only be able to listen to MSL's latest track partly because, I believe, it's an entry into an upcoming MP3 Unsigned competition but hey, it might be worth it. MSL veered off in an entirely new direction with The Remnants of... (May 2006) mixing their already established electronica sound sense with a hefty portion of classical influence on the side. To be absolutely truthful I wasn't always enamoured with their more dance-y style, partly due to my own bias and partly because the tracks - to me - had some flaws. Reading back through my review of The Remnants of... also reminded me that the same flaws were present, but the material and style overcame them.

A Revering Sight follows that same path stylistically, sounding suspiciously like a computer game soundtrack - at least for the first couple of plays. Nonetheless, having been a-dabbling in this field myself for my latest tracks, I think I took a lot more interest in the actual construction that I did with their previous track of this genre. Mind you, I've only used snatches of classical structure, so to take in the scale of what these two musicians have achieved they have constructed an epic - and it sounds it too. Again, in truth, I do have some problems with the sounds and the depth and tone but hey, it wouldn't be the same without me being a complete audiophile (ie known to the rest of humanity as a wanker of the highest order). Still, seems a shame not to make the very best of what you have.

If that side of it would have been up to scratch, this would have been a very, very class track indeed. As it is, the sounds used and particularly their placement in a structure that shouts classical, overcomes the lack of sonic subtlety easily. For me, the more I heard the track, the more I started to appreciate the work these guys had put into it. I could name a dozen instances but the placement of the horn sections really diddled my pleasure centres, as did the way the track itself slowly grew on me. I applauded their first steps into this field, and this only shows that the move was a good one. About this close (makes an obscure gesture) to being a very, very good track indeed but I think it's more than enough to get most people going ooh and aahh. As it is, it gets MSL the first....

Recommended....from me.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Fluidity - Lucid

Hear The Track Here

John Paul Carrol (aka Fluidity) has become a firm Gilmore favourite since I reviewed his excellent This Time in January of this year. A native of New Zealand, he pursues a strain of rock music that has won him a string of admirers in a very short space of time. The secret to all that appeal is in the name of the band, fluidity by name, fluidity by nature; rock music with endless appeal done with that special antipodean style exemplified by Spilt Enz, Crowded House et al. Fluidiy is, to my mind, a worthy successor to those bands, mixing an English rock sensibility with a NZ outlook that is easy on the ears, but punches its weight when necessary.

The English rock sensibility can be traced to the early 1970's when rock seemed to have a calling, as well as a neat way of getting riches and bitches. There is, indeed, a trace of the early Pink Floyd in both the delivery and structure of Lucid; a finicky but productive arrangement, some gorgeously crafted peaks and a suggestion of either Barrett or Waters in the vocal style. That is a comment I have applied to this artist before and I mean it as a sincere compliment. Quality rock is a hard act to pull off - ESPECIALLY in a 'home recording' environment.

The level of sophistication JP can bring to the affair is only slightly tempered by that ever present scourge but no one but a right basket like me would ever notice that. What other ears will notice is that the music scene in New Zealand is alive and well and - judging from some search results - all living right here on Soundclick. Even so, I'd be willing to put my money where my mouth is that there aren't that many to come up to the level of work Fluidity has so far delivered to some very delighted ears. Delay no longer, click now and give your ears a rock treat courtesy of a kiwi, you don't see that often ya know....

Highly Recommended. But I am well biased.

Alchemystic - Earth Dance

Hear The Track Here

Ladles and gerbils, hurray for today I get to start a review with an alki...

Alchemystic, to be precise. An artist who I think needs no introduction to the general Soundclick community, he has made considerable strides on here in a very short time. I think most people who like his work like it for the same reasons I do; breadth of material, attention to detail (even when he's making 'quick' tunes) and a fine pair of ears on his shoulders. Well, not exactly on his shoulders because that would be far too silly and would look really odd. I'm sure, however, that you get my drift.

Even though I'm not even sure what I just said made any sense...

Earth Dance is - to use the man's own words - 'some tribal drum crap'. Yeah right. As if. Nope, true to form delivers a tad more than yer actual drum crap. Mind you, it's true that it's pretty much all the track features, drums and more drums. However, I'm a big fan of both drums and all manner of percussion and The Alky One uses a couple of examples that even had me slobbering into me speakers. I like the gong stuff, it really adds to the overall psuedo kodo feel, and some of the subtler percussive tricks that - probably - will pass most people by, and that's a shame because they are, to me, the real tricks of the trade.

It has to be said though, that it IS just a drum track and - as such - will probably have a bit of a short shelf life. Even for me, a fan and an interested listener, it started to pall a bit after the plays got into the teens. Mind you, what there is, plays out in your ears extremely well. There is a lovely flow to the track but - once again - I think that is because I DO like this kind of material and would probably be a lot kinder towards it than someone who just wants a quick fix of electronica.

OK, everyone have a grass skirt and fly whisk? Let's party!! Boom chika boom chika..

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Various Artists - Sinewinder CD (Ears International)

Hear The Track Here

Let's say you had this irritating problem. Soundclick is sooo fekkin big and scary and all you really want to know is who are the best Electronica artists around. And yet, everytime you ask the questions on SC's forums you are either met with a mind disturbing silence or showered with abusive one-liners from people who should, by rights, be dead already. Welp, fear not furious friends because I has the answer, oooh yeah and verily and it is contained within one CD.

Wait a second while I put on the approriate hat...

This smart jobbie is what as known in the trade as a charadee hat, for when I am up on the pulpit extolling some of the worthier causes. All artists on this CD gave their services and music free gratis with all profits go to the charity Habitat for Humanity This is what their website says about what they do 'Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates simple, decent homes with the help of homeowner families, through volunteer labour and donations of money and materials'. OK sounds good to me but not - I will readily admit - as good as the CD itself which I think encapsulates a moment in SC time very well. It helps somewhat because I know and love a great many of the artists featured on this CD, names such as Adam Fielding, HELLBus, Omnisne, Alchemystic, USB, drt, Bipolar and many others make this IMHO a slice of just how good SC artists can be. Soooo, let's get to it.

Breakbeatpimp - Ectoskeleton
An artist I've heard by reputation only up until this point, although this track certainly inspires me to check out more. An excellently set up intro track that draws the listener into an ever thickening musical brew until 1:16 when you realise you've forgotten how you got there. Lots of choppy choppy beatage as the artists name should have warned you, but peppy, spicy and very engrossing.

Omnisine - Digital Daffodils
Definitely one of the leading lights of the scene now, even though he has only been around a while, he has made a big impression on everyone. Omnisine's work is beautifully structured, produced and performed as I have written time and time again. He has come on like gangbusters this year to expect to see him to do well towards the end of the year. Digital Daffodils is the man at his punchiest with a rhythm that doesan't let up for a second, and wallow in those textures why don't ya?

Smashed Toy - Re-Entry
Watch your speakers at the beginning of this because the bass eats worlds. A breakbeat from a more established electronica artist, Smashed Toy has been around perfecting what he does for long enough to know what will satisfy. That's why you'll be picking the bones out of this frenetic track for months. Class electronica with a dark, broody heart and an atmosphere you could cut with a knife... Knockout.

Alchemystic - Time Flux
Another artist who appeared on Soundclick a while and proceeded to establish himself quickly with a string of well thought out, melodic peices that had this reviewer almost wetting his nappy. Time Flux is more electronica than this artist usual soundcapes/soundtracks but all the more welcome for it. I'm mean, just listen to those arpeggios - grrr :D

The Downtempo Pilots - Monk-N-Da-Hood
Again a band that's been around a while, I've seen the odd posting about them but as yet never sampled any wares. Monk-N-Da-Hood is another breakbeat chop-em-up that shows considerable style and wit in choosing which sounds to use to make this steamy, beat heavy track. Funnily enough, this ended up being one of my favourites from the CD, because it's a BANGING groove.

HELLbus - Table Fate (Billy)
The original version of this track was my introduction to the world according to HELLbus, and a track that is destined to be at least a track of the year... Out of all the current crop of electronica artists, HELLbus hold by far the pole position for commercially tinged electronica that nonetheless manages to stay true to the genre. I loved the original and I like this - slightly more rhythmic version.

Bipolar - What You See Is What You Get
Although I wouldn't normally associate John Purcell and company with electronica, this track does fit the genre well enough although it still has a poppy edge. That's thanks mainly to Trudi Lawrence, Bipolars singer, and when I reviewed this track earlier in the year I was very complimentary indeed.

Inconnector - Error (Redux Remix)
A new name and artist to me, Error (Redux Remix) showed me that there is always room for harder edged electronica with a pumping, wowing bassline, aided and abetted by endless flurries of chop this, chop that. Certainly different though, so top marks for that.

Flow-Thing - Sunrise On Venus
Flow-Thing is another new name but almost old school in approach and style. Pitched somewhere between chillout and early '90's trance, Sunrise On Venus is epic in scale and scope. Fans of the bleepier side of the genre will ove this, especially with it's out of this world connotations. A very listenable track indeed and one I fancy would do well wherever good music is played.

Adam Fielding - New Beginnings
Here's another long time Soundclick electronica biggie. Adam Fielding is yet another of the genres artists (like HELLbus, Omnisine et al) who is rapidly transcending the genre, stretching its envelope to even include power pop - a trick Adam is becoming most adept at. New Beginnings is a classic example of what makes this musicians work so special; an epic soundscape that glories in the joy of being alive. Magic.

Nation In Blue - Tatal Nostru
Another new name to me, Nation In Blue veer more towards dance electronica, not always a good area for me. Tatal Nostru though is almost chillout and beautiful to boot. A crystal clear production on this track (and the Japanese vocal) won me over instantly but this whole track grows on you like you wouldn't believe. A highspot of the CD for me because I had not heard this artist before and this was such a knockout introduction. Excellent.

USB - Autumn
Another well known electronica face, USB conjures up a track that fully deserves its IDM genre rating. Almost new age in feel and in the instruments used, Autumn manages to avoid the sleepability factor by injecting a healthy does of percussion right at this tracks heart that is a winner. Quality sounds in a quality mix.

Northcape - Distance
And finally, to the instigator of this review, Northcape. Another artist I hadn't, until this track, heard anything from. Judged from this sample, Northcape is my kind of electronica artist, one who uses mixtures of sounds to get what he is after. This pays off handsomely with Distance, an intoxicating blend of different instruments. Interesting ideas too.

Jopy - Paphiopedilum Armeniacum
Now I would have said that Jopy (like drt, the track that follows this) were in fact experimental artists. Sure, there is an electronica overtone but these are more Masters Of Chaos than your normal boingy boingy merchant. One of the CD's longer tracks, Paphiopedilum Armeniacum may take a while to register. It's languid approach is almost reminiscent in structure as a Pink Floyd track, with a decidedly strange tang.

drt - Lacking A Straight Curve
drt has been busily making waves for himself for a while and gathering some attention for it. Lacking A Straight Curve is a classic example of what this artist does, and - as is often the case with this genre - it ain't pretty. On the plus side, it's an awesomely solid (nay dense) slice of electronica that has more than a tinge of classic track about it. And damn me if that doesn't sound like Iggy Pop on vocals :D

The Fruit Orchestra - Morning Light
After the beautifully baffling couple of tracks, The Fruit Orchestra's Morning Light comes as a fresh breath of wind, with it's acoustic sounding leadline, it's long sweeping vistas and it's ability to change with each note. Stylistically it reminded me of koan music but much, much more thought out, and with a definite sense of purpose. A good track to end with methinks.

So, all in all, this is an unbelieveable deal. The best electronica around, all wrapped up in a handsome bundle called a CD - all in a very good cause. Still, all charity aside and wearing my meanest Mr Scrooge hat I'd STILL advocate getting this CD because it really is an accurate look at some of the best electronica artists Soundclick has to offer.