Thursday, November 30, 2006

Steve Smith - The Other Steve

Hear The Track Here

Being the limelight hogging swine I so obviously am leads to some tricky situations and talk of clonage... There are no more of me (and we all thank God, Beelzeebub and Auntie Nora for that) but there are - apparently bunches of 'Other' Steve's. This is - as you can imagine - a subject of deep and infinite fascination for me because any Steve is better than no Steve at all. Still, this is all getting way too silly and I'll stop now. For those people who don't live on planet Soundclick (ie NOT the 42 people who post there) Steve Smith is - above all - a musician. Nay, a scholarly musician even, and we all know where that leads... Best not go there... Over the year or so I have known Steve I have reviewed some tracks, appreciated them but ultimately not really taken to them and that - I hasten to add before I get fistage - is no fault of Steve Smith's. Merely my plebian need for music that goes bonk-bonk-bonk in a plain, straightforward line so that I can get me foot right.

No, that's something else entirely, so slide past this one....

So you can imagine then, the incredible pain and anguish I suffered when I discovered that The Other Steve was NOT about me. Why the cheek of the young whippersnapper!! I oughtta... Instead it's about a Steve Gibson and no matter what hack I try I cannot seem to get his webpage to accept my name instead. Steve assures me that this track is sequence and MIDI free which I can only assume to mean that this is some way live? Otherwise I'm not sure what ' no midi devices or sequences were used' means. What it means to my ears is a track that is surprisingly listenable and even - dare I say this? - without too much of a joke going on behind it...

Given the awesome kit Steve used to make this track, it's no surprise that it comes out sounding as good as it does. While it is every bit as fussy as his other work, there is a flow and feel to The Other Steve that is a delight to me ears and easily the most accessible (at least for clods like me) Steve Smith track I have heard yet. There again, this isn't a guy who goes in for accessible tracks, he likes to make people work for the pleasure and - conversely - sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. The Other Steve though, definitely falls into the pleasure category as an excellent instrumental, delivered in a clear, clean mix that I felt was a little too flat for the sounds, but hey small change when you get an earful of something as lush as this. Steve says its a laid back chill track and I heartily agree.

Excellent chill out. Highly Recommended.

Duncan Wells - The Garden Wall

Hear The Track Here

Although a new name to me (and I think SC too), obviously the same is not true of Duncan Wells' stature in Canada where he is - apparently - a well known live artist/childrens entertainer and playwright. That's cool, I say. It's always good to have several projects going at once and judging by Duncan's schedule the man is a workaholic! Although The Garden Wall was only uploaded onto Soundclick in August of this year, it would appear it's a little older than that. According to the credits for this track it was written in 1998 and recorded live at the Savoy Hotel (presumably where he lives, not THE Savoy Hotel) but I have no idea exactly when this particular recording dates from. Nothing whatsoever about the accompaniment either which - considering its a live recording - is a massive oversight.

The Garden Wall is actually classed as Acoustic: Folk but I think I'd disagree with that, its certainly a lot further towards the middle of the road than what I consider folk. To be sure, it does carry a fair lyric, and one with a lot to say but folk it ain't. What it is, though is a charming song with 'easy listening' tendencies that is saved by the instrumentation and a excellent rough-edged vocal that carried the wordiness of the song very well indeed. Every second of the 25 years he has been doing this shows in every single note, and that alone should be worth a listen. The real item - for me anyway - was that vocal. A cross between Elvis Costello and Joe Strummer, it really stands out above the usual crowd.

Of course, looking at an (almost) grownup track like Garden Wall, is but a very small peice of what Duncan Wells is all about and this is where I started to get really interested. As the father of two viciously energetic 7 year old boys, I have a vested interest in find them things to take their tiny minds off tormenting Daddy for five minutes. With that in mind, I went on a wander through the World of Wells. I played my boys a selection (they loved Bullies On The Schoolground and Elephant Two Step and definitely favoured a couple more) and I have to say the site itself looks real good. Obviously there is a lot more to this artist than meets the eye, but The Garden Wall is as good a place to start as any as I've obviously found out. I'm just glad he didn't ask me to review Cow Paddy Blues or its forerunner, I Pooped My Pants... I would have been certain for a nice big fatwa up my butt because you KNOW what a meal I'd make of such lush material...

Brent Toland - Fountain

Hear The Track Here

It's taken me some while to come to terms with Brent Toland, a guitarist from Chicago. Part of that has been because he specialises in Folk and it's not always a genre I like, and part of it being the deluge from so many other fields. The two tracks I have heard this year - Sing Your Song (April 2006) and Dominate The Moon (June 2006) have been solid tracks, well worthy of attention because despite all the connotations the term 'folk' evokes, it is still a pretty large tent for a lot of different musical styles. I think that most people find the terms 'acoustic' and 'folk' confusing because they sure aren't the same thing. Folk, at least in my world, is a very particular style and although it may differ slightly between 'traditional' and modern' and even include cultural and geographical differences, the end result is always the same.

Music that speaks of us, our lives... That's why its called folk music.

Out of all the folk artists I have ever reviewed on Soundclick, no one has proved their authentic claim to the genre more than Brent. Following on in the grand American tradition of wandering guitar playing story tellers, Brent Toland learned from the originals and put his own spin on making him IMO one of the most listenable folk musicians on Soundclick. Fountain is pure Brent, that world weary 'when is it ever going to end' vocal style wrings every drop of pathos out of every word so it's a bit of a surprise to discover that no lyrics are posted online.

Even more of a must, I would have thought, when the track is essentially one man, his guitar and his voice. Sure I could pick it up after a substantial amount of plays (which it got anyway because I like Brent's work) but - like a lot of people - I like to read the words as I listen to the song. For me, it carries more impact that way. Still, it's a minor quibble. Speaking of which, that's pretty much the only bad thing I can say about this track. Its recording is basic (as you would expect) and its arrangement is minimal and I guess you would probably have to like either folk itself or decent singer/songwriters to really get something out of it. I'll stick to the Brent Toland tracks I have already saved from this year methinks.....

Envy - Under The Sun

Hear The Track Here

There are three tracks on Envy's MP3 Unsigned page and with this one, I have reviewed all three so I hope those guys are busy with their songwriting kits again otherwise....wot will I do??? Everything (September 2006) and Lilac Daze (October 2006) were decent enough tracks, despite some glaring problems and even though I can relate to this band as songwriters, I still have to hear something that would do those songs justice. We can't all be virtuoso's (virtuosi?) but even so, keeping rhythm and time are critical, as are pitch and confidence in delivery. For my money, I feel that Envy certainly have the potential (decent songs and ideas) but have so far been let down by far too many technical problems and that - in such a fiercely competitive scene - will only hinder the bands reach to new audiences and/or casual listeners.

First impressions, as always, count.

Judging by the comments posted about Under The Sun, I am not the first one to react unfavourably to the echo the vocal is drenched in, so the less said about that, the better. Hey, we all go overboard sometimes and I can't think of any artist who hasn't overindulged their favourite efx so why not. Just not make a career out of it eh? Again Under the Sun shows the band know how to write songs that carry their weight, but when it comes to the actual delivery there is - as always - a hestitancy in the playing that definitely mars all three tracks. Come on guys, you KNOW how to play because I can hear it, all it needs is tightening and that comes - as always - with lots of practice. Looking back over these three tracks I would say that instrumental nervousness is the one constant major flaw. It's even more important to get it right when you commit to rendering the track somehow (Ed: I think he means recording) because you are - despite all appearances to the contrary - making a little bit of history. And that, as we well know, has a nasty habit of coming back to haunt you.

Seriously, I reckon if I saw Envy live, and they played these three tracks I'd be in there moshing away with the best of them because live performance is infinitly more forgiving than any recorded medium. Once you commit to releasing tracks on the internet like this they ARE, whatever you might think, a peice of internet history and may have a profound impact on you somewhere down the line. Carol Kirkpatrick suggested re-tweaking this based on the suggestions voiced in the comments thread of this track and I wholeheartedly agree because - in common with all of their tracks - the song and the idea are sound as a pound. All it needs are some well thought out finishing touches and - of course - some major fixing of the more obvious instrumental flubs and glitches. The worst thing about this is that Envy will be judged on these tracks on their abilities as a live act, and that would be a grave injustice because I think they would be pretty good live.

Oh well, on to the next...

K-Gi - Dutty Water

Hear The Track Here

Yet another Canadian artist (is there no end to them?) this time from Toronto and - despite the rock leanings of his countrymen and women - he is a World music artist - much more my field... When I reviewed his anti-drug song Fans Against Doping (its about sports doping, not that stuff you are doing right now so that's alright innit?) I was most impressed by its surprisingly professional approach and even - God forbid - compared it in style to an old 10cc track, and believe me that is a compliment. This time round, K-Gi informs me that the track will be even more up my street because Dutty Water is that tried and trusted, most special of genres (and my own particular favourite) reggae.

Having spent years listening to this stuff (I first started listening to Bluebeat back in 1962) and almost as many years playing and producing it. I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the genre and that may not do any favours for people who wish me to review it. I'm likely to be harsher in my judgement in fact, simply because the genre is so important to me. See, that there is a classic pessimist's view. I can conjure up a black cloud out of anything. Reggae is also incredibly, unbeleivably difficult to get right because essentially it's all about feel. The very best reggae IMHO floats, carrying you along effortlessly. Ask around, almost everyone you know likes reggae when it's done correctly. So the burning question of the moment is Dutty Water a bit floaty or wot? Truthfully, the first few times I ran this baby past me earholes, they refused point blank to operate. Nope, they insisted, not possible. He took some vocal off a reggae track and some slices of it's riddims, slammed them together and called it reggae.

Aaah, if life could be so simple...

By the hundredth or so play I had to admit that not only was this a blinding track, but it did indeed seem to be all K-Gi's own work, and that raises the game considerably. Remember what I was bellyaching about earlier on? The bit about reggae being all about feel; authenticity? Welp, I used to love bands like Third World, Steel Pulse because of their willingness to bring that music to our ears in a UK fashion and that - unbelieveably - is exactly the sound K-Gi has so brilliantly captured on Dutty Water. The attention to arrangement detail and the tightness of the musicians involved make this one of THE tracks to listen to right now. It's a scandal that this track hasn't even broken the reggae charts because IMO it should be Number One with several million bullets. The more I listen to the wonderful track, the more I realise how much work and effort went into producing a track that is almost perfect in every single detail. While it's true that a liking for reggae would help when listening to this track, but moreso would be an appreciation for a musician who knows exactly what he is about. A massive keeper for me, and I can't urge you strongly enough to bend an ear to this slice of sunshine.

MUST HAVE. No Question. Perfect.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bill Davies - The Groovy DooBots E-capella

Hear The Track Here

One of the absolute joys of reviewing in the manner I do is the amount of times something slams in from left field and completely floors me within the first minute or so. The amount of tracks that do this is surprisingly rare after consistently reviewing free online music for over 10 years all told. After that amount of earbashing time it takes a great deal to impress me. Bill Davies, bless his warm-hearted cotton socks, impressed the hell out of me in the first few seconds of The Groovy DooBots Acapella which, surprisingly enough means vocal without accompaniment and indeed is that very thing. Well, not much accompaniment anyway, and what little there is is used in such a great way to bolster the drama of the piece. Although this is obviously computer generated, the very first thing that popped into my mind was Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry, Be Happy.

Yep, cheesy or what?

Don't however make the mistake that DWBH is the best thing Mr McFerrin ever did, and don't make the same mistake that I did about Groovy Doobots either. Once you get past the initial reaction the vocal parts force upon you, then you start to realise that this is a very, very good track indeed. Must have taken ages to stitch together, and even in the understated intro there are several things to gawp at. Get the bass vocal digging itself into the ground at the end of those beginning lines.... Brrrrrr The track eventually settles into something that could very well have come from the brain (if that's the word) of Brian Wilson himself; so redolent are the echoes of the Beach Boys in their heyday - especially that wild 60's sitar sound.

Like a lot of tracks of this ilk though, the devil is often in repeatability. Now I am a big, big fan of the REAL Bobby McFerrin and know him to be an extremely talented musician and vocalist. The only reason that DWBH is such a blot is because it became TOO popular. So, in common with that, does Groovy Dooby Wotsname, have any legs to it? Well, I've probably spent a few days listening to it on and off and it's intial appeal hasn't worn off yet, and that's because I have come to appreciate more and more the intricate peice of music tucked away in its heart. Bill Davies is obviously a musician who works hard at getting what he wants out of his setup and it shows. As silly as the title suggests it is, The Groovy DooBots is anything but. It's a deadly serious peice of music that will bowl you over.

So original it's gotta be a MUST HAVE.

Larry Lane - Amnesia

Hear The Track Here

Larry Lane, although sounding like a character tailor made for Superman, is in fact a band who make - and I quote - 'naughty pimp rock to shake that ass' Yeah, oooerr missis indeed. Still anything that features the word rock is usually fine by me, there isn't much in the genre that really gets on me tits. I'm not sure though that band fits Larry Lane because the bio on the pages talks about a band, names a guy called Steve Lindsay and ends up talking about 'me' and I? Bit of continuity there wouldn't go amiss. Still it shouldn't affect whatever goes on with the music, should it? Just a passing thought is all. So, big on the list of references for this track are Red Hot Chili's and the Black Crowes and I can see why that allusion is being made because it is the closest point of reference.

The first surprising thing about the track is the cleanness of it all; the arrangement and production is as clean as a whistle, without losing any of the essential warmth of the music and that's a hard trick. Even after a few plays Amnesia still played tricks with my brain because every time I fired it up I expected a much harder delivery than the laid back almost Southern rock feel of the peice. It does throw it's weight around a bit in the punchier chorus sections which lift the whole chorus considerably, but outside of this Amnesia boils down to a very tasty peice of blues rock, delivered in a convincing, powerful structure that shows instantly just how serious the music making is.

Initially, I didn't think the vocal quite worked with the instrumental but I think that was just a glitch in my ears the first or second play because once I started to hear it properly it didn't bother me any more. I have to say I liked the track for it's flair, although I'm still not so sure about the song. I think for most people, this will come down to a purely personal choice, you are either going to like and appreciate what Larry Lane does to your earholes or you are going to be reaching for the next track. As a confirmed, dyed in the wool rock animal (baaaa, baaaaa) as much as I liked Amnesia, I think I would have prefered something a bit meatier, but maybe that's for the next time? Whatever, this is a very slick track, delivered in a very professional manner that deserves the ears of those who profess to love rock.

Recommended Pimp Rock (Ed: can we say that word? Its not in my book of Rock Definitions)

Thielus Grenon - The October Scale

Hear The Track Here

Because my mind is kinda full right at the moment with the finalising of this years awards, it's timely that this artist pops up for review. In my first year end awards/review (in 2003, this year is the 4th year I've been doing it) I singled out Thielus Grenon as an artist worth checking out. You may not think this comment boggle-worthy right now but maybe you will when I mention the genre Thielus specialised in at the time - progressive rock. Ahhh, now you get it. See, you know that I haven't any time for that genre but - for my money - Thielus is the kind of musician who definitely spreads himself wider than most. So, although I may not like the material he delivers (not always true by any stretch) there is no doubting the quality of the musicianship involved.

Aided and abetted on The October Scale by his 13 year old daughter, Elora Grenon on keyboards, this is his version of a Halloween instrumental. I know, a bit late but hey, I'm a busy boy... One of my main problems with this genre has always been its po-faced, pretentious look-at-me-being-seriously-artistic attitude - especially in it's overblown period. I had the good fortune to see Yes around the time of their first album and there was the prog rock that made sense to me, not the later ramblings. Not that I am likening TG to Yes, or even Genesis for that matter because - and here's the crucial difference - Theilus is managing to sound both authentic AND modern - and that's a pretty tall order to fill.

Thielus rises to the challenge magnifcently, his guitar lines fluid, lively and balanced to within an inch of their lives, and remember that I don't really like this music. I do enjoy a good guitarist having fun though, and that is exactly what I think this artist is doing here. I certainly think it helps to give this track it's freshness and overall appeal. The more I played this track the more I appreciated that sense of well being the track imparted, not bad going at all from an instrumental track. Mind you, when instrumentals are delivered as convincingly as this, it grabs your ears whether you like it or not. So, when Thielus says he is 'in a serious guitar playing mood' you'd better take him seriously.

Top class guitar instrumental, regardless of genre. Highly Recommended.

Smalllife - Run Away

Hear The Track Here

There's no doubting that Smalllife have come from nowhere this year and stolen a lot of thunder in the process. Now on both Soundclick and MP3 Unsigned, this rock band from Stoke-on-Trent, have made a great many friends with their extremely high energy rock music gathering themselves three must haves from me in the process. In my own defence I have to admit that I am an absolute sucker for powerful performances and Smallife's tracks have been some of the most powerful I have heard this year and a prime indicator of how important an incubator of talent MP3 Unsigned is. This year Smalllife, The Shed, Redshirt Theory and many others have proved themselves eminently worthy of some year end awards of some kind - but especially Smallife and yes, that's because I love this kind of rock music - red in tooth and claw.

I think I'd tend to agree with Jaymz Lee Shaw (the main songwriter of the band) that this track does shade more towards metal than their usual fare, but it doesn't stop it doing the same trick as its predecessors; namely blowing your ears off. I've always been a headbanger (or nodder if I have smoked too much) and Smalllife always deliver a terrific mosh pit atmosphere and Run Away is that and a gob-a-thon in the time honoured punk tradition all at the same time. While it isn't as catchy and/or individualistic as (say) Christian or the superb Need To Buy A Woman, it's still a track that will go down great guns with the band's existing fans. Should you like rock (in all its forms) then you should definitely be checking into the racket Smalllife create because there is nothing small about it whatsoever.

In performance Run Away is exactly what I expect from this band at this stage; huge drums, wall to wall guitars and a rhythm that nails you to the wall. As a song, I think it suffers somewhat because of it's setting but hey, you can't hit them out of the park every time. I wouldn't have thought anybody would lose any sleep over it because even a Smalllife 'album-filler' track is better than most anything else you are likely hear right now. What kind of rock band are they? Think classic; Stones, Zeppelin and you'll be at least in the same ballpark. While you are there having your ears crushed to a pulp by Run Away I really recommend that you check out the tracks I have mentioned because IMHO they convey why I hold them in such high regard, even though you may think Run Away is the best thing you've heard this year.

Highly Recommended Power metal.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Decollage - No.1

Hear The Track Here

Although I seem to have become, by default I might add, a fan of certain kinds of experimental music, it still has the power to raise my hackles when I see it. It's one of those genre pigeonholes like 'jazz' that makes people shudder convulsively and cross themselves for luck. Believe me, after having reviewed the cream (if that could be the word) of Soundclick's HUGE experimental sector over the last four years, I consider myself an expert in the wacky, cracky, wtf am I doing here? rough and tumble of the genre and I know what I like. For my money, there are artists hiding under this genre when in fact they could just as easily be placed in the 'we make odd noises for fun' section. See, as experimental as experimental gets it still has to have SOME viabilty about it.

A liddle bit a riddim help too ya know...

One of the prime exponants of really top class music of this variety (electronic/experimental to be exact) is our old mate Burp. Surprisingly enough because the very first thing I though about while listening to No 1 for the first time was it reminded me of Burp's work in lots of ways. All that was before I found out that - like Burp - Decollage is a German artist and I think I knew that from the first play too. There is a set classicism to this track that makes you go 'ah!' and 'that's right' every couple of seconds and believe me that makes a change for this reviewer. It isn't that often that a track comes along that instantly shakes me awake but the first couple of plays of this track did that and more.

I'm also, I hope, paying Decollage a big compliment in comparing him to Burp and I hope he takes it that way. To my mind, No 1 isn't exactly experimental (he doesn't play sonic tricks the ways that Burp does) and by rights should actually be classified as electronica. As that, this is a tour-de-force of a track; alive and hitting all the right buttons. From the very effective stop-start intro, No 1 boldy stakes it's claim to the title and you just have it give it a nod of respect for having the balls to stand up for itself. Although continued plays dented that initial high, I still continued to like what was going on but now found it a bit samey... It's not repetition but it sounds like it, if you know what I mean. Nonetheless, only a toothless old hag like myself would denigrate this remarkabley potent track - most people will just be to busy gawking at the aural storm that suddenly assaulted them. On the strength of this, I'll be checking into this further because although this isn't the class track it should be - I know this artist has one tucked away somewhere. I can smell it, I tell ya...

Excellently drawn electronica with a very neat beginning. Highly Recommended.

G1mike - The Rain Stopped Falling Down

Hear The Track Here

This is the second song this month that has rain as its central feature. Wtf is it with water falling out of the sky that so fascinates people?? Personally, I can't stand the stuff and can't wait for global warming to really kick in so we can all be toasty warm all the time. Won't that be fun!!! Julien Bernier Haineault is the name behind G1mike and he's Canadian (aren't they all these days?) and in keeping with that countries increasing export bubble is also a rock musician - classic rock as it happens and you know I just lap that stuff up with a spoon. Not all mind, because I have the sheer good fortune to have lived through the era most people think of when they use the term classic rock so I heard it the first time round and - to my mind - it is still to be bettered.

One day..... Hey! Maybe today...

The Rain Stopped Falling Down is not, unfortunately a track that will change history but why the fekk should it? That isn't rock's function these days and I'm not even sure it was back in the day either. You either got your rocks off to it or not; it was all about feeling good and having a good time - preferably off your face with your chosen nirvana buddy. Judged on that basis Rain is a workmanlike track and I guess most people of a rock bent will find it worth a listen, provided you can get over the 'recorded in a garbage bin' sound. It's actually not a bad song, if a little undemanding, not helped I fear by a fairly loose arrangement.

Where the track really suffers though, IMveryHO, is in the presentation; it's a track full of hesitancy, half formed lead lines and some well dodgy backing vocals that do not endear it to me. Although the individual sounds are rendered well enough the whole thing smacks of 4 trackery, especially in the weird placement of sounds in the stereo spectrum. If the only access G1mike has is to a 4 track then I guess there is not much choice about the sound but then I noticed he has just acquired a compressor and monitors and I'm sure that will help. It won't of course, cover up the lack of confidence in delivery (particualrly noticable on the backing vocals and some of the lead lines). At this point I'd say that G1mike wonders why he bothered asking me for a review, but let me say in my own defense that this is what I believe you should take care of - from one musician to another. Nonetheless, I certainly have a listen to some more tracks, can't judge a book by it's cover and all that bollocks...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Silvertrain - Waiting

Hear The Track Here

Another day, another Silvertrain. This is one train you NEVER have to wait for, there is a Silvertrain track coming around every time I turn around, and after the welcome release of some studio material of the past couple of months, we go back to the tried-and-tested demo method. Waiting was in fact a hopeful contender for the Nine Lives EP session but looks like it lost out somewhere along the way. It is my contention, m'Lud, to prove that John Brandon (one half of Silvertrain) is a serial songwriter. The man is addicted, he cannot stop. A one man songwriting epidemic and I am not the only one to notice it, others have pointed and sniggered. M'Lud, it is in the public's best interests that this man be placed in a secure record company and put to work for the rest of his life so that he no longers pesters revei.... er... people.

I rest my case.

John has upped his demo game considerably over this past year and even got close to the sound I've always imagined he could get if he tried. While Waiting is a little step back from that high (Good People is the track I have in mind), it still shows that John is thinking a lot more about the total impact of the song on the listener and that's no bad thing. So what would I do faced with this track? Well, the very first thing I'd do is treat them poor, poor drums to a thorough-going service and then boost them well up in the mix. In this version they can hardly be heard. The same is true of the other instruments happening here. While obviously it's the tune that ultimately matters, the main guitar strum and the vocal just overshadow the backing track greivously.

Still, as a song, it's way up there in the 'ooh that's neat' parade of one minute wonders from this duo and I also wish now that it had made its way into the Nine Lives sessions, but I do think what is here could still be tidied up enough that it presented itself in a much better light. Rock has always been the base Silvertrain spring from, even when we are talking about ballads, and Waiting is pretty much a straight forward rock tune, all chunka-chunka and half naked verse and endless repetitions of the main hook. Exactly what you would expect from a decent pop rock track in fact. Truth is that I would probably have rated this track a lot higher had those little kinks in the mix not got in the way. As it is, it serves to remind me the the Serial Songwriter can indeed write a mean tune, but he really should concentrate on getting the other bits right too.

Excellent pop rock song, not helped by its mix.

Nuff X - Shards Of My Heart

Hear The Track Here

As usual at this time of year, I am busy on another task - as well as these reviews. Yep, the 4th Annual Stevie awards are right around the corner and I'm busy totting up the years total of good swag. To be sure, when I am looking into the electronica section it is - like the genre - bursting at the seams with creative energy. It is also usual that at least two or three of these artists manage to crossover the genre into the much larger Soundclick conciousness. Both Bipolar and CJ Freq X (now known as Omnisine) featured in this league at last years awards and have subsequently done extremely well. Nuff X is definitely at the front of this crowd this year, having come from a long way back and I for one am glad to see the guy doing so well.

The most important change that has happened in this year (or the one I notice most anyway) is the cohesion he is bringing to his work. There's a tautness about his last few tracks that I wasn't hearing before, as well as a marked willingness to try things that sound like they shouldn't work together, but undeniably do. Shards Of My Heart does not employ that other trick he has learned lately; this track has no vocals whatsoever let alone any of the cut up variety. There's a choir of several thousand mind, so I guess that's to make up for the lack of said vocals. As it happens, the choir adds enormously to the track, lifting it out of the dreaded 'nice instrumental' category so beloved of the casual listener.

Musically, I find Shards Of My Heart very appealing too and it shows the developing confidence Sho' Nuff is gaining with each release. As I said above, this is much better than a nice instrumental but I think I would have to ultimately agree with Nuff X that it is waiting for a vocal/lyrical line. As good as it is (majestic in its own little way even) it is, at bottom, an instrumental and lets face it on Soundclick they are as numerous as dust motes in the air. While it is significantly better musically than a lot of instrumentals it still is one at base. Of course, fans of Nuff X in paricular and electronica in general will definitely get a kick out of this and so might the odd casual listener because it is a very nice peice of work. I'd certainly be interested in seeing where this goes with some lyrics and a vocal.

Intelligent, melodic electronica. Recommended.

Greenie - This Music

Hear The Track Here

So far this year, MP3 Unsigned's Greenie has given me at least two tracks I found I could truly recommend. and considering this is hip hop we are talking about, that isn't bad going at all. Not exactly sure what the deal is with this track though because it says it features FLO & Peoples and there is no information other than that. Still, ours is not to reason why... To be honest, I don't really see MP3 Unsigned as a place for hip hop, and judging by the paucity of comments on this track, nobody else does either. While it is most definitely true that MP3 Unsigned does have a substantial hiphop/rap roster, not many of them seem to get through to the forum. Electronica by the shedload, classical, dance, trance, prance and all points West we get, but a trickle of hip hop...

While I like a great many commerical rap artists, there are quite literally only a handful of online rappers I would choose to listen to, and Greenie is going to be one of that handful. From the outset, This Music sounds suspiciously professional, and I know I have been singing this guys praises but this is some top production. So who are FLO and Peoples and what is their exact contribution? Has Matthew Greenberg (aka Greenie) taken slices of a commercial track and worked his own rap into it, or is he somehow adding to an existing track? Whichever it is, and I can't say I'm really fussed either way, it doesn't matter because this is a really sweet little track that deserves more attention than it seems to be getting.

Our of the three (!) comments on this song, all mention that it isn't really their preferred genre, and that may explain why this has so few comments. It's true that not everyone gets their rocks off to rap, let alone hip hop but hey, do yourself a favour and have a listen to Greenie who at least manages to carry it off with some style. He's always had a good flow (at least to my ears) and he can turn a neat phrase but I think the jury is till out on this one. I've played this track a lot and - because of the ambiguity about the tracks origins - I think it's clouding my judgement. If I am totally wrong and this whole peice is wholly composed by Greenie, then my beanie is off to you. Don't get me wrong, this is a very crisp, professional peice of work and anyone who does like the genre we like this excellent track. Me, I'll be over there waiting for some answers,

Class hip hop rap. Slick and slippery. Recommended.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Demension - Got Here

Hear The Track Here

Got Here is a track from Demension's Rap Economics, which is about all I can make out his Soundclick page which - to say the least - is a little difficult to read. He/they are either from Atlanta GA (USA) or Mali in Africa, appear to be two guys (Josh and Samba) who between them make up this Soundclick artist, hip hop being the genre in question. Now before y'all old grannies go off in a panty snap, just remember that there is crap rap, decent rap and incredible rap and not much in between c'ept a sea of clones. Takes some chops to make yourself in any way different in this increasingly crowded musical classification and if Got Here were the only example of what Demension has to offer we probably wouldn't get very far. Compared to some of the HH tracks I have reviewed this year, Got Here is certainly competent enough, musically and lyrically and it works well within it's fairly rigid structure.

What it doesn't do, however, is stick out as something that really grips the listener. Now maybe it's my jaded ears (I do hear a lot of these kind of tracks) or maybe it's the lightness (and sameness) of the musical/lyrical themes that do it, but I guarantee you will have heard something similar - and maybe even better. Don't get me wrong about this, Got Here isn't a bad track by any standards, it's just not very exciting or innovative and it has a massively abrupt cutoff as an ending, all of which doesn't endear it to me personally. Now at this stage of the game, there wouldn't be very much else to say on the subject and I should be wrapping up the review but while I was noodling about on Demension's page I caught a listen to a new track Animal (Locked In A Cage) which I have to admit is much, much more my style. It's a damn sight more on the ball IMO than Got Here and it has a blinding rhythm.

In both these tracks the music and raps are reasonably mixed but I personally feel that sonically a lot could be done to sort out the ocassional clash of music and vocals, and of course a mix that let those beats really breathe. Judged on the basis of these two tracks, for my money Demension has something going for them but they will probably have to tighten up some parts of their act to really start cutting through. Mostly those problems will disappear with a fuller, more realised mix but some arrangement skills wouldn't go amiss either. Essentially, I suspect that this is a fairly new venture (at least on Soundclick) and given what they have presented, they have a fair amount to offer. They will, however, have to up their game considerably if they want to get some serious attention from an increasingly sophisticated audience.

Conkuss - Underground Tension (Pull It Tense)

Hear The Track Here

I think it's time for some 'crappy dark electronica from Oldham' don't you? Hey, don't get started with me, that's how Conkuss describes his music and if you were around for my review of Childish Lessons (October 2006) you'll know that this isn't yer regular MP3 cutie. Conkuss is, in fact, a wicked, wicked man who will corrupt your eyeballs and eardrums as soon as look at you so best be prepared. For those who missed Childish Lessons, it is a 16+ minute aural diatribe against bullying that amply illustrates (aurally at least) what it actually feels like to be bullied. Not an easy peice of music by any stretch but there again Conkuss has NEVER been an easy listen - even when he's trying to be. There is an anger and impatience that comes through in his music like no other artist I know, but often delivered with a razor sharp sense of humour. Put it like this, one look at his MP3 Unsigned site will inform you that this is not life as we know it Jim lad. Moreover, if you think that is strange you REALLY have to visit his own site because it's the eight wonder of the world; wickedly funny and lots to do and see...

Oh yeah, its at

At 4+ minutes this time, I throw myself into the track thinking that this will be a doddle - as if. While I struggle to contain and summarise the actual musical content, a word about production. There's always been a high production standard in Conkuss's work, even stuff from years ago (I have known his work for about 4 years) and of course as time has rolled on, so has his experience and knowledge. As noisy as this artists tracks often are, it's amazing how clearly everything is held in the mix, even when all hell is breaking loose around you. As you can tell, I am having great difficulty (again) describing exactly what Conkuss does that so has me in thrall. One of the chief reasons is because - like his long time oppo Ffabbia (aka The Delivery System) - he has mastered and perfected his very distinctive brand of dark electronica; and that's always a sign of good things in my books. For my money, all this malarky is all about making music in your own image - as it were. Music that has YOUR voice stamped over it No, I'm not just talking about the vocal, but the style. Not that many artists have a known, identifiable style (regardless of genre really) and Conkuss is one of the rare ones.

He threw his toys out of the pram when I rated Childish Lessons as a 6 in MP3 Unsigned's review system and he's gonna have a hissy fit when he discovers I've given this track a much higher rating than that. There is a large and growing audience for the web's musical unsigned oddities and it's gonna be a great pleasure to me to see Conkuss become part of that weird and wonderful crowd. Underground Tension is - as it's title suggests - an edge of the seat job. One of those tracks that intentionally throws you off balance and keeps you there, an exhilarating feeling as it happens. Much more to the point, this is a Conkuss track that has major pulling power. Having spent days hanging out in seedy dives and lap dancers handbags with this old reprobate I have to say it has some wonderfully poised hooks. To be sure it may take a few plays to really start hanging out to dry but it certainly is worth it. The juxtaposition of the two halves of this track will undoubtedly sound strange for a while but before you know it, you won't even notice it. You'll be too busy humming pull it tense, pull it tense. Welcome to the wonderdrome...

Weirdly wonderful. Best Served Loud. Highly Recommended (for originality). (btw Must Have for Conkuss fans)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Road Apples - August

Hear The Track Here

Road Apples is a name I've been coming across more and more in my Soundclick ramblings so it's nice to see 'a songwriter in Canada' as he styles himself joining in the review fray too. There again, he might have already been reviewed by just about everybody else, he was saving me for last and that in itself is a bit worrying so I'll give up this train of thought right now. There are a huge amount of Canadian artists who are into rock (especially guitar based rock) it must be something they put in the water but I am willing to bet that each one of us can name at least 2 Canadian artists we like. Now that makes a change from the commercial environment doesn't it? It doesn't? You mean they have caught on there too??? :shock:


All kidding aside, the Canadian music scene is as mature and tested as any other major market, it's not surprising it throws up great artists. So, Road Apples then... Within the first three bars it becomes evident who influenced this artist because the Beatle influences drench this track in familiar sounds and production techniques. Put it like this, if Oasis had written this track they might have some claim to the Beatle ethos they so blithely invoke. Recorded (apparently) in a cabin in the woods of British Columbia, it has a surprisingly fine professional sound and a great deal of effort has been made in keeping the mix period perfect. Retro rock a la Fab Four is always alright in my books provided it pays its respects to its forebears and this definitely does.

Ah bert, you cavail, isn't he just making a copy of what the Beatles did? Surely there is nothing original in that? OK, I say, YOU give it a go then and see just how difficult it is to make a copy of what the Beatles did. They also did that over 40 years ago. In my world, artists who DO use Beatle influences roughly fall into two categories: those who attempt it and fail and those who attempt it and make the grade. If August is anything to go by, it shows that Road Apples is a more than capable musician and songwriter who is IMHO paying his debt to his roots through this wonderfully constructed song, evoking the period with great detail. An excellent introduction to an artist I know I'll be hearing a lot more of.

Top grade Beatle-ish pop. Highly Recommended.

Mosquito Death Squadron - Scarcely Doubt Laughing (Live)

Hear The Track Here

For a couple of years in the late 1980's I lived for a while in the American city of Baltimore, Maryland. It was a pleasant place (although it has its problems like all American cities) and I enjoyed my time there. Oh oh and oh, how things have changed. Now, it would seem, they have capitulated to the powerful Insect lobby and invited the feared (and famed) Mosquito Death Squadron to wildly change the structure of sound within the city limits. Scarcely Doubt Laughing is the proof that MDS are here and among us, this take being recorded at the Talking Head gig in that fair city earlier this year. By now, this being almost the end of the year, I would imagine that the city's residents are just waking from their fearful nightmares and life is returning to almost-normal.

It will, of course, never be anything like normal ever again.

They let the beast in their midst, after all.

I personally really like MDS because part of this outfit is one of my favourite Soundclick characters - Pilesar. The cast of characters in the band may also ring some bells, presumably Hell's bells because when you have a guitarist called Corpsefinger it's gotta be all downhill from there on... During the week or so I had this track hanging around I went to see the Moscow Composers Orchestra at the London Jazz Festival and I have to say they dovetail together as if they were made for each other. Both are live events, both are wildly chaotic - on the surface anyway - and yet each convey the true essence of jazz as performed by Charlie Mingus and the like. Seeing this kind of music close up and personal carries its own magic and it's almost impossible, I think, to convey it to an unseeing medium but surprisingly MDS have caught the set perfectly - ambience and all.

Even though most of it was waaayyy over my head, I did enjoy the gig and I did enjoy this track, probably moreso because of the connections it made. I can't pretend to be an aficienado of this kind of jazz, it just either makes sense to me or it doesn't. I have mentioned, I think, that I would like to see MSD (and all its other partners in crime, they know who they are) live and I think I'd get the same kick out of it. For sure, blaring often discordant jazz can be extremely off putting to a lot of people and I fully understand why - having hated it myself for the better part of my life. However, as I become more and more knowledgable about music and it's place in our lives I can - finally - see the point. And Mosquito Death Squadron make it beautifully.

Live jazz, love it or loathe it. Highly Recommended for those that do love it.

Assiah - Of Fire and Light

Hear The Track Here

I met Assiah a while ago in the Saturday Night Rocks chatroom over on Songplanet, and I even heard this tune - I know it registered on me because I can remember commenting on it. However, like a lot of Saturday nights in that place, the mind tends to go fuzzy when you try and think about what actually happened. It's nice then to see him come up in the list this month with a track stating 'I broke my own rules and put one of my songs up for download just so it can be graced by your venerable presence' Venerable presence eh? You can stay. I can appreciate the pull between artists who want to keep their music as a pay for download, and those who pretty much release everything free. I also understand that it's difficult for artists who don't allow downloads to miss out on reviews because of that, but as most people know - I am very flexible as to HOW I get the track to live with a while. Reviewers in the real world get promo copies, why shouldn't the same rule apply here?

Anyway, enough of that. Let's have some of this...

Of Fire and Light is seven plus minutes of guitar pyrotechnics that could well have come from the dawn of the Rock Age, complete with references to all of David McKee's (aka Assiah) heroes, so be prepared for the ear bashing of your life. Like the man himself, I'm not sure about his Heavy Metal classification because - to me - this is more classic rock than just about anything else around. Because of it's length it obviously dives into a few nooks and crannies along the way and structurally it feels almost prog rock in places and - as you know - that isn't likely to tickle my ivories. Assiah pulls it off though because I did find myself - after some considerable plays mind - liking this peice more and more. There is no doubt whatsoever that Assiah is a guitarist of the old school with solos coming out of his ever pore and that - my fearful friends - is exactly what Of Fire and Light brings into your lives.

S'OK for a rock animal like myself I suppose (although if I were honest it's a bit [i]too[/i] convoluted for my personal taste) but will it appeal on a more general level? For my money, I'd have to say that it's a bit specialised to really attract any but the most dedicated guitar nuts because Assiah is - it has to be said - a damn fine guitarist but having said that I'd still want more than endless guitar solos no matter how good. Assiah does provide that somewhat by the choice of instruments and their use in the backing track but ultimately proved not enough. Not that Assiah would need to worry about what I think about this because I know SC has a large - and largely discerning - rock audience and word gets out surprisingly fast. Of Fire and Light is chock full of ideas in a mix that (just) allows them all to show off and introduces this reviewer - and hopefully you too - to a new source of red meat rock.

'ard, not 'umble and Recommended classic rock sounds.

Rooney Tunes - Island Paradise

Hear The Track Here

Micheal Rooney (aka Rooney Tunes) impressed the beejeebers out of me when I reviewed Sally (August 2006), a rock/pop/jazz track whose production was absolutely spot on, gaining him a Highly Recommended first time out. Stands to reason then that I would be up for another bite out of this artist and - lo and behold - he's going to let me. Some folks just never learn, do they? Going by the list of people lining up to leave this guy comments, he has made an incredible impact on Soundclick already, and rightly so if the quality and breadth of work that Sally entailed is a standard feature. I tend to think so because one of this guy's older friends is young Jim Miller (of Jim-n-Lisa fame) so it's a given that Michael is likely to be as professional as the man himself.

Island Paradise is about (and I quote because I couldn't have made this one up) 'an imaginiary scenario in which a person wakes in the night sleeping with his lover. They live on an island and have a deep love'. MmmmmOK, sounds like a soap dunnit? Here I am thinking I must be the eternal romantic but then along comes Mr Rooney who has a SERIOUSLY bad case of lurrrvesickness. So it's a good job that it's RT who does the musical honours because in the hands of a lesser musician this would all be so sick-inducing, I'd have to hire a vomitorium for a couple of days. I've written reams about my dislike for fluffy bunny, sickly sweet ballads so I won't bang on that drum right here. Island Paradise, then, is a ballad full of the kinds of sentiments that - outside of America - makes most people shudder. Still, give the Americans their due, they wear their hearts on their sleeves for all to see.

The rest of us keep schtum and lech shamelessly...

As I said, in the hands of a lesser musician I would be pounding this track into the ground right now and although I dislike the genre intensely there is no denying the work that is here. It's essentially a fairly wordy peice so I'm a little puzzled about why there are no lyrics online, especially given that it is important to understand what the song is about. Musically, of course, it's about as perfect as it's ever going to get and is another indication of the class of musician Micheal Rooney is - whatever you might feel about his choice of material. The plain, awful truth is that I really don't like material of this kind but - if I had to listen to it - then certainly Rooney Tunes would be one of my first choices. As a performer, Michael is commanding and confident, surprisingly for such a light, ephemeral track but his skills as an arranger and producer fairly take my breath away - a trait he shares with Jim Miller btw. At this stage of the game, I live in hope that Rooney Tunes is going to come up with a tune I would feel more comfortable reviewing in order to really do this artist some justice. Even though I really don't like this track, I love everything going on in it - if you can understand that.

Absolutely top class pop Ballad.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Big Wheel - Illusion (Optical Illusion Mix)

Hear The Track Here

Over the course of time on Soundclick, some artists seem to just pop out of the woodwork at you. Big Wheel is one of those artists. I'd never heard of him when I reviewed (and kept btw) Far Away (July 2006) and since then he's done a sterling job of keeping me amused with his own personal brand of electronica as well as a dabble into Tin Gods (his real band). Another time and another track away, I can find little info on what Illusion (Optical Illusion Remix) is a remix of, unless it's an unreleased earlier version. Don't much matter, of course, but just want to know the ins and outs of a ducks ass me.... In a previous lifetime I must have been the Spanish Inquisition...

Now there's an optical illusion to terrify the kiddies.

Speaking of which, when I put this track through its paces the first times I could have sworn that the bass on this was an aural illusion. Surely it can't be that subby AND as clear as a bell? It is though, and it's a major selling point of this extremely tasty slice of Drums and Bass which - if you like the genre - you will just love to death. So what about the other 6.4Bn people who don't like DnB then? Well, I'd hazard a guess and say that most of them wouldn''t give a rats ass about it, but those that do happen to stumble across this track and like a really excellent rhythm, very snappy arrangement and a mass pounding even a container truck full of Tylenol couldn't shift.

Him heavy duty mother...

Considering it is DnB there is a lot of beauty and elegance in this track, and some of the instrumental sounds - including that exceptional bass - really entice the listener to get involved. Over the time I have known this artists work I have come to regard it highly, he is an intelligent, daring composer who isn't afraid to push the boat out and see what happens. His production values are also of a very high standard, another thing I noted when I first met him, and Illusion is a great example of that; great drive and power, but with a top line as crisp as lettuce in summer. As always, I think the genre classification will be more of a hinderance to this track than help because - underneath the labelling - it's a powerful, bass driven instrumental that hits you like a Mack truck - even if it is by way of a little aural sweetalk (in the intro). Really interesting and solid track.

Highly Recommended Drums and Bass

Bassil Taleb - Starlights Of China

Hear The Track Here

In the present world state it is heartening to see that Soundclick plays host to all countries and nationalities, and has if to prove the point here is (a new name to me) Bassil Taleb. He's an electronica artist from Damascus, Syria and I guess the reason I haven't come across him before now is because Soundclick's electronica forum frightens me :D It's a scary place alright, full of shady coves and dark, edgy corners and some of the loudest denizens of Soundclick in daily attendance. Having said that, over the years I have accrued a great many favourites from the genre so I guess I should get off my Hurling Insults soapbox and revert to normality. Or whatever version of normality I can rustle up in my feeble state of mind.

A few years ago I had the unlucky fate of being Moderator of the forums over at Ejay, not because I was a big fan of the software but because it had one of the best blend of musicians around at the time. Sure, a lot of them did use Ejay, but not for very long. So seminal was this site to the scene most of us experience daily that their names are very, very familiar: Slippy T, Xanthe, Alderman, AndyF, Magnu, Youth, The Delivery System and many more I can't remember right now. The one thing we all learned back in the day was to never judge something at face value; having just reviewed at least two of those artists and known their earlier Ejay work, the distance covered is truly striking. So, when I'm listening to an Ejay made track - as Starlights Of China is - I always tend to cut the track a break because of the limitations of that software (in whatever version).

Where I won't cut a track a break is when it has no ideas, but that isn't IMO something Bassil has to worry about. Nope, what he has to worry about are too many ideas and not much binding them together. For me, one of the main pitfalls of instant music software is its in-built lack of nuance, and the ease of painfully slamming two obviously conflicting sample loops together. Like all musical endeavours, making music this way takes even more time and effort to get right than sitting down and playing it note for note. In fact I've argued with a great many people who believe it impossible to make decent music with Ejay, but I disagree - it just takes a lot of time and effort. For my money, Starlights of China suffers from a major lack of cohesion; the drumtrack and the overlay - especially in the middle of the track doesn't happen at all. For some reason, the drum sound fades in and out too. Now whether this is intentional (I am familiar with filters, and for that matter dissonant sounds) I have no idea but for me it doesn't work. Even the most experimental of work needs that thread linking it all together and this doesn't have it. Having said all that, this is the ONLY track on his page that has a World genre listing so maybe this is just an experiment?

Ilias Pentalias - Ilias Vs Atom Tha Immortal

Hear The Track Here

It never ceases to amaze me who gets to be well known and who doesn't, and the methods employed to construct such an event. One of the main sites I use, MP3 Unsigned, seems to suffer from this collective amnesia to a remarkable degree. Take for example, our Greek friend Ilias Pantelias who I first encountered when I reviewed his South Border (October 2006) and all very impressive it is too. It's even more impressive when you realise that Ilias is just 17 because believe me, the production and arrangement definitely do it all over some of the older faces around. Also as it happens I know that Ilias has been on MP3 Unsigned for some considerable time - so he is relatively well known. So how come then, that on this compo track (a very popular remix Atom Tha Immortal thingie) which - incidentally - Ilias won, there are just THREE comments on this track?? Even I got more comments than that and - I freely admit - my remix wasn't very good. So why is it that some eminently knowledgeable artists like Ilias struggle to get comments and others (who are decidely musically inferior) get comments in the high tens (60, 70 etc)?

Enquiring minds want to know...

I'm a fan of Atom Tha Immortal, a Californian rapper who has long been a MP3 Unsigned favourite and - as you know - I am addicted to remixes so when Atom offered a track for remix, I - and a great many others - grabbed the chance. All the remixes can be found here and they are all definitely worth a listen. Ilias vs Atom is wot won it though, so why? For me, a remix means more than a re-arrangement, it's a total re-working of both the ideas behind the original AND a combination of the remixers own material (in addition to a terrific re-reading of the classic House Of The Rising Sun). Don't believe me? Go listen, be enlightened.

On that score alone, it deserves to win, let alone a great many other things that stand out. If this track had come up in the normal scheme of things, I would have been raving about this little gem, and I probably still will anyhow. Tracks as fine as this don't come along that often and although I have some small niggles to go on about, there is nothing that really needs extra attention. Ilias' contributions to this track make Atom's vocals really happen and it's a perfect blend of Ilias's penchant for epic soundscapes with Atom's venom-spattered, machine gun rap. It's when the House Of The Rising Sun enters the picture that everything really gels and kicks the whole shebang into low Earth orbit. Absolutely terrific track in every way, ideas; execution; production. I found it hard - as I'm sure others did - to fit Atom's style to my kind of music so it makes me appreciate all the more how seamlessly Ilias has worked his miracles. Really remarkable track.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

One Kid's Lunch - Okie Dokie La La

Hear The Track Here

Self acclaimed 'goofy Christian rockers' One Kid's Lunch have done an amazing job this year of spreading themselves about and, along the way, scoring more than a few fans. The truth is, their music and style pretty much sell themselves and even though there is a Christian element, I think that's not in any way getting ahead of the music. I've always found this Texas outfit extremely listenable ever since There's More (May 2006) crossed my path. The element that really wins people over to their side though just has to be their sense of fun; humour with a capital Ha Ha. Serious laugh out loud enjoyment, allied to an uncanny sense of musical rightness and you are getting close to what One Kid's Lunch has in store for you. In the time it has taken me to go through just five tracks, three of them still sit on my hard drive and two of them got a Must Have rating from me. Not bad going at all, although it has to be said that my own preferences do show when I listen to them.

Best to like rock then, or at least the lighter, poppier variety.

Tell you what, just as a taste of what the band is up to. There is a track on their Soundclick page called Wrinkled and Dead. Nothing much wrong with that, is there?. Then the band comment 'Just like my great-great-grandma'... How can you fault that? Sure anyone who hates to see grannies abused may get incensed about it but it just isn't the same as PYL (think about it, think about it). That is the common condition brought on by exposure to this unruly mob but by is it worth it. I'm sorry if this offends but I LOVE great pop songs and this ethos is at the heart of everything I have heard from OKL, and Okie Dokie La La is a class example of their brand of intelligent lyrics, guitar based pop and the wackiest vocals you ever heard. The references I came up with while listening to this epic little track were endless, ranging from 10cc (for the basic feel and pace) to Sid Vicious (for the Okie Dokie La La line right at the end).

Now THAT is what I'm talking about.

The only flaw (and it isn't really a flaw, more a wish of mine) is that the backing vocals just don't figure enough in the mix. I know for a fact there is a point in the second part of the chorus that already makes my ears shiver, and will do the same for you too I suspect; it's a great shame that it isn't just that bit louder. Still, when you are dealing with a track such as this, those are some pretty small apples to be yapping about. Like all their tracks, Okie Dokie is a little work of art, each peice slotting wonderfully into the whole giving the listener of those incredible rushes that only seriously warped musicians can deliver. I can only stand and applaud their endevours, and - if you are in any way taken by anything I've said, I'm sure you will to. Okie Dokie La La is a terrific place to start but whatever you do, don't miss Prayer For The Clueless (July 2006) by far my favourite track by this talented team of songwriters. Oh well, guess that makes four for the hard drive then...


Divine Turmoil - God Amongst Men

Hear The Track Here

Third time around for Nishant Cherian and Carlos Mazal (aka Divine Turmoil), an alternative experimental (whatever that means) artist that I have liked the work of, but not found anything to my own particular taste. Fact is, what I have heard so far is neither alternative or experimental. What I've heard is well performed, intelligently arranged guitar instrumentals which - lets face it - you either like or you don't. While it's true that the tracks I have heard so far are a pleasant and interesting listen, that is from a guitarists point of view. I am bound to like guitar instrumentals; not all mortals are so burdened. Nonetheless, you never know what is just around the corner, and in that spirit let's press on.

Gods Amongst Men is pretty much what I have come to expect from this duo, except in this case with a decidedly spanish/latin feel that I found eminently listenable. I also like it that they experiment more than is maybe even comfortable for them. I'm a big fan of Christopher Martin Hansen whose approach to playing is a wonder to behold. While the ideas behind Gods Amongst Men are there, I get the feeling that the actual performance could have been better. See the real competition for this artist are guitarists like Hansen, Micheal Silvestri and the like and believe me that is tough competiton. Mind you, about the only really bad thing that could be said about the track is that it's a bit rough around the edges.

Reading between the lines I'd guess that DT has a very restrictive recording situation but the track is about as live as it gets, fumbles and all. I'd certainly say that these guys have the musical nous, just tighten up the playing a bit and think more in terms of getting the production right and this would be seriously happening. I doubt that most people would even think about such things on hearing it anyway. All they would hear is to guitarists playing together and expressing some pretty good routines. You are either into it or not. Personally, like all their tracks, I liked what I heard (in the moment, as it were) but nothing I have heard so far is worthy of the bar the duo themselves have set. Time, however, will tell and it's just a question of how long.

Likeable guitar instrumental.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Prash - A Short Soujorn In Amsterdam

Hear The Track Here

2006 has been a bit of a quiet year for Prashant Vadhyar, or at least thats what it seems like from where I am sitting. Short Sojourn in Amsterdam is in fact from 2004 and, as Prash points out, his first attempt at production. No matter for this reviewer because I have had a Prash fixation ever since I reviewed Delusions of Grandeur (April 2004) which I would imagine is from the same period so why he kept this one back from me is anyone's guess. As as I know, there is a reason for the quietness of Prash's activity and that he is busy establishing himself as a musician in the real world in his native Mumbai, India. If you don't know what that might mean to a musician (especially an Indian one) I can sum it up in one word: Bollywood. So, let's see what the man has been keeping under the covers all this time eh?...

On with a Short Sojourn in Amsterdam but let me just roll this little number first.... Ahhhhh, that's better....

I wonder what people would want to go to Amsterdamn for, he asks with innocent expression. Well, if Prash's musical version is anything to go by it's a fairly boisterous affair with plenty of booyahh, ooooyeaaahhbaby and a splendid dollop of dancerama to make it all go down with a nice fuzzy feeling about the earholes. When requesting this review, Prash mentioned that this was an early affair but other than a slight difference in individual samples it still sounds up to the standard I have come to expect from this accomplished musician. A little more on the sounds themselves; I think there is a tendency on this track to sound a bit tame, not the usual sounds I expect from this artist but hey it was early days and I never had to say that about any of his other tracks. It all sounds a bit either a) factory or; b) some kind of MIDI sound.

Even though it sounds like I'm a bit down on this track, that isn't the case. Because he pointed it out to me, I might be seeing things that aren't there (Ed: eh? I hope he says...), so to speak. At first glance, Amsterdam appears to be a fairly standard dance/electronica outing, but in very short order, Prash's innate skill as an arranger and his talent as a musician creeps up on you and hooks you in. I think Prash would agree with me that this is a bit of a throwaway (in the nicest possible way) track, but musically it's a little gem. Sure it's a bit noodly in places, and but it carries itself well except for an incredibly abrupt ending. Personally I'd advise you - if you were a new listener to Prash's work - to look a little further into this artist than this track although it's certainly a worthy introduction but this artist has so much more up his sleeve. Nevertheless...

Recommended electronica.

AndyF - Moondust

Hear The Track Here

T'was brass monkey weather time, three years ago, I reviewed a track called Di Da Mix (October 2003) and although liking its content (a little), disliking its production (even littler) and thoroughly berated the composer to get serious about his sound. AndyF (yep, you guessed it) obviously did because as many of you know, he's been in here plugging away ever since and btw, he did get serious about his sound. Extremely serious. Where the man and I drift apart ocassionally is in the genres he particularly prefers to work in: Classical; easy listening; ballads and soundtracks. For example, in this track Andy wishes to take us on 'an imaginary trip of discovery across space and time....I have tried to imagine the emotions you would experience on travelling to and seeing the Moon for the first time'. Blimey O'Reilly, gimmie some of that. ANYTHING so we can get of this damn rock!! Also, as you would expect, an extremely difficult musical feat to pull off.

There again, that's exactly what this artist thrives on...

So, wearing my comfy Armchair Soundtrack Critic manacles, I strapped myself aboard this beast, lit the blue touchpaper and - AAAARRRRGGGHHHHH - I couldn't escape!! Maybe I should have gone over my plan with a little more care. No choice now but to ride it out. Ooooh look we are just coming out of Earth's atmosphere (around one minute in) and there are a LOT of things whizzing about up here. Testament to the endless amounts of junk mankind has thrown up into near Earth Orbit, you leave that belt around two minutes and start on your way surrounded by the eternal, unimaginable vastness of space and yes, it does cause you to gulp a bit. We drift on in relative peace on quiet until arriving in low Moon orbit sometime in the fourth minute ready to land at Luna Base, although the actual landing is a bit scary - all that noise and commotion. Still, as the dying engines fade out and the track runs out of steam, I realise something dreadfully important. How in the name of seven shades of am I going to get home to finish this review....'cuse me......SOS........SOS.......Save Our Steve....

(Ed: so obviously then Moondust is awesomely effective, and because AndyF finally got rid of that opinionated brit git, I - your editor - award this track a Highly Recommended Editors Choice and the Pipe And Slippers award for appeal).

[the ceiling suddenly caves in with almighty crash, debris lays everywhere (Ed: she would. That slut)]

NOT so fast, you scurrilous swab!! I have fallen on you from a great height and you can never be rid of me!!! So, where was I before I was so rudely interupted? Ah yes, Andy F's little track. As much as I've often railed against some of the sounds Andy employs to create his visions, I cannoty fault either the sound or impact of this track because as a quasi-TV/Film soundtrack it is undeniably right in the pocket. The only question you have to ask yourself - punk - is do you feel lucky? No, hold on, that was a different movie. Sorry about that, there is something about being shot into space abruptly; landing roughly on the Moon; panicking on every level through every second, then falling back to Earth that quite takes the wind out of my sails. As the man said above, if anything I have said to you (if you can find a sensible bit anywhere) appeals, then do give this track a listen and I definitely recommend a download.

Class Soundtrack material. Recommended.

Fluidity - Aaromes

Hear The Track Here

First off, don't go asking me about the title, I'm automatically presuming it's something all very Down Under where one John Paul Carroll (aka Fluidity) has his abode. New Zealand to be precise. Instead, lets concentrate on the other title, the bandname, because it will give you some clues as to what to expect. Some dictionary definitions of the word 'fluidity' describe it so: Readily reshaped; pliable; smooth and flowing; graceful; changing or tending to change; variable. Absolutely ALL of those definitions describe what this artist is about when applied to his brand of guitar rock. A rare case of the name saying exactly what you are about to hear. Since I first reviewed this artist back in January of this year, he has established a fairly hefty prescence around the various sites he is on and rightly so - providing that you like his form of rock.

Having said that, I obviously do as the string of recommendeds I've handed out to this artist over the course of time show, although - somewhat to my surprise - he hasn't yet given me a track that I can right give a must have rating to but I think that is just a matter of time. 'The one thing he don't have' eh? Over the course of the tracks I have reviewed of his this year the first lesson I learned was that his tracks needed time to settle in your mind so this is probably no flyby casual play'll snag you merchant and you should probably download the track and give it some serious attention - always the best way anyway I find. Once you've done that and played around with the track for a while you may, like me and many others, see that Fluidity is an artist who fully deserves to be taken seriously.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is a definite sound to NZ based music. Split Enz had it, Crowded House had it and with that I've run out of names. How sad is that? Anyfekkinhow, Fluidity also has it so if you like either of those two commercial names you will find much to like in JP's work. The same dedication to songwriting at a high level, a remarkable attention to detail in both arrangement, performance and production. I have to say, the first time I heard this track, I wasn't sure I liked it. It wasn't until the more rocky part erupted that I finally climbed off the ceiling. Second and all subsequent plays soon smoothed that out and before very long the music itself worked its magic. Like a lot of us, John Paul operates on a shoestring and considering what he manages to come up with, it shows how much work this man puts into it as Aaromes (or A.A.R.O.M.E.S. to be absolutely exact) so amply shows - given the time to get to know it.

Which, course, I Highly Recommend (because I like classy Classic rock)

Burp Featuring Nini - noctis labyrinthus

Hear The Track Here

I was real excited to see the return of the Master of Lower Case this month in another collaboration with Chinese chantuese Nini. If you remember we last enountered this pairing when I reviewed Recent Colloquy (June 2006) and loved it. I've always valued Burp as an innovative, intricate musician but I have to say the teaming up with Nini added a whole different feel to a much loved general vibe. After all, almost everything I have ever liked of his (all of it) has been instrumental, and intense and a rewarding rhythmic oddessy that never fails to please, even in his wilder moments and - as an unqualified member of the Experimental Sounds set - he can get pretty wiggy and - yes, dare I say it? - scary as fekk.

Actually, I'm never sure what scares me the most; his ideas or his music.

For those who have had the pleasure of making this enigmatic artist's acquaintance, noctis will come as no surprise because - musically - it's everything we have come to expect from this composer. There is the usual crowd of attractive aural shapes and sounds, the usual endless drive that doesn't seem to be driving the track at all but actually is, the odd sploinks, boinks, whizzes and whirrs that are almost past of this artists compositional palette. On the musical front then, same old same old. Although to say that about Burp's work is to do it a great injustice. Although he generally works with electronic instruments, there is nothing electronica about his stuff, unless you counted the sequenced bass line in this track, but even that is delivered with the usual Burp dash of different.

As I commented before, in my review of Recent Colloquy, Nini doesn't as much sing as make vocal noises but between Burp's treatment of her vocal and the tone of her pipes, you will not even notice. All you will be aware of is how clear everything is in the mix, how cosily everything fits. All the while having your ears pinged by the sequences, sploinked by the odd noises and utterly, utterly seduced by the lady whispering sweet nothings right into the pleasure centres of your brain. The kind of track you couldn't pass by without listening to the next bit, and the next bit, and the next bit. Ooops, it seems to have ended. OK let's try that again... See what I mean? The question I want answering I where can I hear some of Nini's original stuff, or does she only work with Burp who obviously is a lucky guy - as well as being extremely talented. All inherently hateable traits I might add ;) Seriously, chill out? Yep, but you'll have to stop the hairs on the back of your neck rising up, as they will do. If you like electronica, world music, tonal variations and all points south, this is the track for you....

Highly Recommended international collaboration. (In both it's varieties)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cam's Even Song - Brother Eli

Hear The Track Here


Woah!! Feel the wind of that character passing? That'll be one W. Cameron Bastedo, more commonly known to us Soundclick addicts as Cam or Cam's Even Song or any of the other aliases he goes under. So why is he whooshing about, I hear you ask. Simply put, Cam has to be the busiest guy on Soundclick, the man puts out tracks like clockwork, he reviews copiously from his leaky boat anchored in the chilly waters of the Critics Forum AND he has a real life! He is also, by any reckoning, having an absolutely wonderful year gathering up much praise - a lot of it from yours truly - and attention from those people who know a good thing when they hear it. By that definition, Cam's Even Song is a very good thing indeed, as the cluster of Must Haves from me and other rave reviews I have seen testify.

But, as usual, don't take my word for it. Climb in and see for yourself.

It has to be said that the primary appeal for this reviewer for this artist is his amazing vocal likeness to Blood On The Tracks era, followed closely by his unerring songwriting capability. I've always had an admiration for his musical skill (these tracks are all his own work) and I have to say that he has absolutely knocked me on my ass this year with the quality and depth of work he has come up with. Brother Eli being no exception of course. In fact, it's the kind of track which I would point to when someone asked me what Cam's Even Song was all about. Songs. Lots and lots of songs. In all manner of guises but all unmistakeably Cam with all the attributes I have discussed above. Take a listen to any track you care to name and his professional sound and easy delivery will undoubtedly win you over too.

Having caroused with Brother Eli from morn to night over the past few days I know a keeper when I hear one and this is it. From its loopy but classic opening riffs, to the depth and authority Cam's tonsils bring to the party make this track stand out in a year full of class Cam tracks. Every time Cam has pulled this trick it has been because of his innate songwriting skills. This is one artist who knows exactly what he wants and he has been spectactularly effective this year. Seems like every track I have reviewed lately, I've been obliged to actually quote some of his lyrics and believe me I don't do that often. However, Cam being one of a kind, try this little beauty: 'Don’t drink the water from the Dragon's head!, Don’t drink the water, or you will be dead'. Nice. Cam has much of a way with words as he does with music and the one thing he hasn't don't anytime lately is disappoint. Brother Eli is a killer track with all the right ingredients.


Jim-n-Lisa - Slow Saxy Blues

Hear The Track Here

This must be the only J-n-L track I've never reviewed and young Jimbo decided that we might as well make up the whole set and who can stop him once he's sufficiently wound up? Not I guv, oh no, more than me jobswerf.. An older track, I think, and one specially dedicated to that other apple in Jimbo's eye - his beloved sax 'Naked Lady' The first apple being - of course - his wife Lisa. I have to write that because otherwise Lisa would probably kill me but I think even she would agree that the whole love thing is pretty even steven between her and the sax. Typical musician, tut tut but it has to be said that when the guy straps on the aforementioned Naked Lady and gives her a right good licking there is nothing quite like it. Although I appreciate and admire Jim's skill in most other areas of his work, I always pay special attention to his sax bits. Not just because I like the whole sound of saxaphones but also because I particularly like the way that Jim-n-Lisa deal with this - often intimidating - instrument.

So, on with the verbiage...

I freely admit to having a huge bias for this artist and with good reason so if this track doesn't hit you, the link above will take you to a page where a great many will hit you. I like Blues and I like Jazz but I wasn't really sure how they would mix together but in the hands of the master, I shouldn't even have broken a sweat. With the laziest rhythm section I've ever heard, the chords sliding almost in slow motion from one to the other, the tune seems to be composed of a couple of parts; a loose assembly that tightens considerably as the track reaches its climax and as such is as accomplished a peice as I would have expected from this hallowed quarter.

Which, as you well know, is not the same as saying that I actually liked it. Well, even that isn't true because I like everything this artist puts out, but there is a difference between liking and keeping and liking and passing on. After a whole string of keepers this year, the last thing I should think Jim is worried about is my opinion of his work. And, truth to be told, Slow Saxy Blues IS a bit specialised for all it's bluesy jazziness. Of great interest to people who like either of those genres or who see world class music (performance and production) as something to be valued and cherished but I suspect most people on hearing this would nod a bit, say 'nice jam' and then get on with what they were doing before you started pestering them.

Class blend of styles. Recommended.

Xanthe - Social Awkwardness

Hear The Track Here

Well here's a pleasant surprise because it's been a while indeed since I have been able to luxuriate in a new Xanthe track. I have known this vocalist for a great many years now and although I haven't raved about everything she has done, she's certainly exceeded my expectations more times than most artists. I am not alone in this thinking because whichever site you are on, you will find Xanthe fans in quantity. So what is it about this enigmatic (believe me, listen to some of her tunes) artist that attracts so much praise? Well I can only tell you what I like about her and the first thing has to be her voice; a tender, evocative instrument that has been known to bring tears to these extremely jaded eyes. It helps that she is a demon songwriter who knows exactly how to craft something of beauty - whatever the lyrical content.

Social Awkwardness is Xanthe's first new track in over a year so - as you can imagine - it was highly anticipated. Being the electro pop character she is, that track doesn't disappoint - at least not on the songwriting/arranging score. Moreover, the mix is as clear as a bell (as you would expect from this quarter) although I felt the vocals were a bit thin sounding but I'll probably be the only one thinking that. So what we finally end up with is a slice of exactly what makes Xanthe stand out from the crowd. If this were a perfect world Xanthe would have had hit after hit and Social Awkwardness would fit that bill precisely. It might be a year between this track and the mighty If but the golden touch is still there. If you have never heard If (ed: eh?) it was part of the collaborative effort of MP3 Unsigned members to voice their feelings about the London tube bombings (7/7/2005) - it's a powerful, heartrending track that has become one of my all time favourites. There again, Xanthe has LOADS of those.

There is a splendid pop sensibility that informs and enhances all Xanthe tracks, and despite the lag between tracks, it's in evidence in this track as if no time had passed. More to the point, the lady sounds delightful in main vocals and backing vocals and it's a real treat to hear her so obviously happy to be singing and recording again. I think it's that quality that really endears this track to me, but I doubt whether most people have the history Xanthe and I have, so what they will hear is an confident, assured artist that writes blinding tracks such as this one; with a very marked nod of respect and admiration to Soft Cell on the way. Whichever way you slice and dice it, there just ain't nobody around that does it in such a fine, relaxing way while making you think about what the artist may be feeling - and THAT is a very cool trick.

MUST HAVE (for fans and new listeners - this is special enough to appeal to everyone)

Bob Brannan - Anybody Care

Hear The Track Here

Ah, that would be an answer to hear Bob...especially here online. Bob Brannan is a new MP3 Unsigned name to me and insisted in his review post that I 'hit him hard'. Eh? Wot? Li'l ol' me? I couldn't punch my way out of a wet paper bag so I'm nothing to worry about physically but I have been known to administer a good verbal kicking when required but even so I think I am a fairly even reviewer. I certainly don't go out of my way to antagonize people by my views, and if I have to be harsh I hope I can say with with a dash of humour, a cheery air and a huge fekkin wodge of bloodcurling invective. The unglamorous truth is that a track would have to be really bad (IMHO obviously) for me to get out of me chair and don boxing gloves but it has been known to happen - especially where I feel the artist had it within their power to make the most of what they have.

Can't stand waste, ya see...

Bob is a long time musician hailing from San Jose which - as everyone knows - no-one seems to know the way to. Still be that as it may, we'll not hold it against him eh? Coming from that background (working musician for years) you would expect a work of quality over and above the pitiful efforts of most of the later computer tots, and that certainly is the case - if Anybody Care is any indication. Funnily enough although this track is extremely Beatle-ish in sound and content I noticed that Bob cites Frank Marino as an influence so I guess I was expecting something along with more kerrang. Having had a personal, and well remembered, visitation with this monster of rock, I was expecting the same whacked out rocky productions and was extremely pleasantly surprised to find I liked this track a lot. Given it's whimsical '60's arrangement and treatment anyway, not always a nice taste in my books unless delivered perfectly.

There's a White Album feel about the track that is its main selling point (it has a progression amazingly similar to Dear Prudence from that album) but it's the faultless attention to detail both technically and musically that swings the deal. After that it's just a question of - if I may paraphrase the man - anybody caring. Well, if you like the sound of it, you are probably no doubt either listening to it right now and I should stop gobbing on, or are not really interested in 'music from years ago'. You would be doing this track a serious disservice if that were the case, if you want a slice of extremely professional 1960's inspired pop then this fits the bill exactly - and with some style too. It will be interesting to see what other strings this artist has to his bow and I'll be looking out for more from this quarter.

Highly Recommended Beatle-ish rock.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Silverline Productions - Shimmer

Hear The Track Here

Most months I deal with a review list clogged to the pores with bozos and clowns (oops, sorry I mean artistes), many of them known to me personally. Not, of course, as bozos and clowns but friends and acquaintances and it's only through the miracle of the internet that I can sustain this pattern of abuse and not suffer eternal bruising for it. Where was I? Oh yeah, abusing folk.... So, the reason I pulled out me soapbox is that this month looks like providing a bumper crop of newcomers and/or just people I haven't met before. Silverline Productions then being the next newcomer to venture forth although I'm willing to bet one Greg Michalec (aka SP) has been on Soundclick a lot longer than I first presumed with a lot of tracks posted and a very respectable Stations Playing list... So much for the 'here's an innocent newcomer' approach then eh?

Moreover, he's probably been lurking in the electronica forum and God knows what they've been telling him over there....

Simmer is ' mellow, laid back fusion piece with a short orchestral intro' as accurate a description as any to this peice of surprisingly accessable electronica. Try as I might to link it to the dread that the term electronica usually inspires, it's just good natured to be taken in. It's a track trying to be a jazz track imitating a classical track and it's not at all bad. The jazzy overtones are mainly coming from the inspired use of saxes, that also provide a lovely emphasis to that section. Pretty much all the sounds employed to make this track are extremely presentable - the sax especially aiding - I think - in a clear, transparent mix that hides nothing.

I'm not sure whether I got a bad copy of this but it clips something feirce in certain places and looking at it through VU meters its rendered very loudly, not that it should spoil your enjoyment of this peice but it is easily rectified. As it is, I liked this track enormously, it's bright cheerfulness a counterpoint to the greyness of the oncoming winter. I can't put my hand on my heart and say that I'll hang on to it because I probably won't in the long term
because I shall probably wear it out quickly. Nonetheless, it suggest that Silverline Productions might be worth a much closer inspection, if not a thorough going over :D

Very tasty electronica (not). Highly Recommended as Jazz Fusion.

Monktrump - The Rain

Hear The Track Here

After a shaky start Soundclick artist Mike Atkins aka Monktrump has - as they say - some good of late. Initially I found his recording process and songwriting style a bit off putting, and I probably said so. However, over the last year or so Monktrump has come in leaps and bounds musically and technically leading to a string of highly recommended's from this reviewer over the last year or so. Still, as always, you are only as good as the last one, so you keep chucking and we'll keep jiving. Personally though, I have to say, as much as we all need the rain and without it we'd all shrivel up and die blah blah but I can't stand the damn stuff. To write a song about (or aboot) it is a sure sign that the artist is Canadian - and for that small crack I shall go to hell.

So, donning galoshes and a sturdy 'brella lets go splashing inn the stuff (Ed: He's on something, I'll be bound)

The bound in technical competence I mentioned is definitely a set feature of this artist's performance these days as The Rain will undoubtedly show. There is a dedication to fidelity he is capturing here that is the production of lots and lots of hours spent fine tuning and tweaking. Such a great shame then most of that hard work was expended on the guitars and vocals leaving the bass and drums to fend for themselves. Arrrrrggghhhhh. That sound is not me, folks. I'm just accurately capturing what Mike is doing right now while reading these words. Seems like the guy can't win for losing but hey - these are only opinions after all.

Even though it's a fairly sedate rock ballad - and you know I haven't much time for them - it should have carried more impact sonically than it does. Moreover, what bass and drums there are don't actually occur where IMHO they are needed most desperately in the straight chord sections. I don't know maybe the drums and bass are REAL quiet there and I'm not hearing it right but I have heard this track on three different systems and got the same results. Despite all this technical bitching and moaning whether or not you like this track will boil down t whether you like the genre or not. On a lot of levels this is not as good as some of the work Monktrump has delivered lately but with a few tweaks I think this could be a whole lot better.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mark Holley - Different Shade Of Blues

Hear The Track Here

Regular readers will know that the hitherto unknown territory of Norman, Oklahoma now contains a person we have all come to know - at least if you are a regular at MP3 Unsigned. I've probably reviewed Mark more often in a collaborative guise than on his own, but hey there's nowt wrong with a bit of mingling. Although a bit rough around the edges both of his collaborations with Mark Alexander have been well worth listening to, for an overall rock experience they ain't too shabby. On this track, though, the collaborator is songwriter/singer Dawn Sinclair who many people will already know fron Soundclick and other sites. Her contribution here is the lyrical content and very good it is too.

I can't say with all honesty that - even after some time - I hadn't warmed to the track It certainly sounds good. Whatever new kit - ain't musicians gluttons for new gadgets - Mark Holley has brought to bear on this track have paid off, instrumentally and technically this is a very tasty work. There are some delightful sounds on display here, in particular I found myself loving the piano sound, especially when mixed with a high string fretless bass sound. All well and good really because - to my ears - these instruments really create the most interest and for me made the track worth listening to.

It still doesn't get to me the way I think it should and I have to lay the blame on the arrangement and material - otherwise I'd have to say I'm not getting this at all. See, as well as all the above ingredients it's a extremely pleasant song, sung with style with a vocal tone and style that is similar to me old mate Rob Taylor aka Slippy T. Given all that, there's a coldness at the core of this track because as technically perfect as it is - and it really goes some there - it still fails to hit this listener with any emotion and listening to it is - for me anyway - akin to a technical exercise. However, I'm pretty sure that is my bias towards material of this type: a type of navel gazing Elvis Costello if ya like. Still no doubting the musicianship on display here and the main reason I say this track is worth listening to just for that alone. Who knows, the tune may click with you, I'm a biased git.

Recommended mellow rock.