Sunday, April 29, 2007

Avalanche+ - The Chicago Loop

Hear The Track Here

When is an Avalanche not an Avalanche? Most of are used to being beaten solidly about the hearing implements by the rock band of the same name but this isn't really the usual Avalanche crew, more like a motley crew. (Ed: groan). Mike Foster (for it is he) is a very engaging character online, and generally has lots to say, and he's always willing to pitch into something new and this track is so new it's growing whiskers. OK OK, take that puzzled look off your face, siddown wanna tellya story... Way back when I first started working with bands, the best way to get a musicians life was to be out playing - anywhere, everywhere, wherever you could. Sometimes you got paid for it, sometimes it was just for fun.

And the blues was the best fun of all.

Jamming together with someone you've never met can be a tremendously exhilarating release, for all the participants and nothing lends itself better to jamming than a good - old fashioned yes - dose of the blues. Mike Foster serves one up here with some unique help from all his mates on Soundclick's Blues Forum. Along with my liking of the blues, Mike adds a Hammond to the proceedings and I'm in hog heaven, as well as transported back in time when playing stuff like this was like life itself. It took me ages to get past the song enough to start concentrating on the particulars of who did what and I am actually researching this as I type. If you love the blues, Momma, here's your baby....

As good as a blues song is, and this IS a good song; it's heart is, was and always will be in the leads; and Chicago Loop boasts no less than six separate guitarists; all well known Soundclicker's so the quality is - as you would expect - absolutely top class in all respects. Sure, its a bit clean in the ol' production but in lots of ways that IS the Chicago strain of the blues, at least as typified by the likes of Muddy Waters, Otis Spann and in a lesser sense the great BB King. The solos are seamlessly integrated right at the end of the track and not one of them detracts one iota from the feel and dynamism of the peice and considering the wide range of styles encompassed, that's a hefty job right there. The soloists are: Mike Foster, Tom 'tootired' Keller, Missippi Spud, Joe Wrabeck, Richard Bethell (aka admiralbob77) and Gem (aka Watsonica) - all delivering their very best. Wins hands down.

MUST HAVE slice of authentic just-like-momma-made blues. (Ed: Momma? WTF???!?)

Nuff X - Undefined

Hear The Track Here

When I reviewed Nuff X's Heaven (April 2005) I was - to say the least - well underwhelmed. There again, first appearances, you know what I mean. Gotta watch them. Besides, the software Nuff was using at the time sucked, and I think he already knew that. Zip forward a year and zoom into Open Your Eyes and See Me Screaming (August 2006) and you can smell the scorched rubber from his passing; having found his own distinct brand of musical mayhem there's no stopping him. As an electronica artist, he's well on the disturbing side; his disjointed, cut-up style will obviously not appeal to everyone, and then there's the experimental side that occasionally surfaces...and Undefined is a bit of both.

Undefined is certainly the first impression you will get, but this track is anything if but undefined - there's a very specific flow and feel to the peice that comes over time and plays. Musical references I got from the bucketload but one stands out as blindingly obvious even though Nuff probably never heard of them - this is worthy of some of the finer early stuff done by the Soft Machine - and thanks to Nuff's English vocals sounds like them too. Mind you, let me temper this excitement by saying the the Soft Machine were some pretty wild stuff, and you needed to be pretty out there yourself to get anything from it other than a blinding headache.

Hey, maybe that's what they mean by 'it's a blinder!'.

Whatever it is, Undefined, is after several n dozen plays well established in my Weird and Wonderful collection and will probably eventually be offered a home. I'm certain a whole lot of that must have to do with the aforementioned Soft Machine connection, but ultimately that's just a reference. Nuff X delivers on the back end with a track of great big musical muscles, some very neat arrangement and a very different approach - well up to his usual clever standard, and in some senses surpassing it. To my mind Undefined is the most seamless Nuff X track I have heard yet, and one of the smartest too. The 'glitchiness' of other tracks is somewhat tempered here, making this an infinitely more accessible track on lots of levels. I think it's time this artist was seen as being markedly different from the crowd.

MUST HAVE for Nuff's many fans, Highly Recommended nonetheless.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Denton - Hard Temperance

Hear The Track Here

Third time around for Newcastle based Denton and although his Instrumental Rock tracks have been interesting, but not inspiring. S'OK, not everyone can be inspired all the time, fair wears a body out doncha know? The Reivers Way (November 2006) was the first Denton track I was exposed to and although I liked its retro feel it didn't really grab me. Whereas Dog Leap Stairs (February 2007) I did like - and for exactly that selfsame retro feel. There's just no winning for some folks, is there? So if you are thinking Shadows?, Ventures? then you'd be right on the money and no doubt a dedicated fan of the genre already.

The absolute very best thing about the internet music scene is the amount of room formerly 'niche' markets can gain for themselves and - by default - spread the good word about. On that score too, Denton is going to help a great deal because he is a reasonably proficient guitarist, who seems to excel in this style. Having said that, Hard Temperance is a step away from that 1950's guitar sound, but not by much. It is, however a sign of a much more fluid, and yeah more exciting side of this guitarist. Although the beginning of the track definitely had a well cheesy Steely Dan feel, it soon developed into a very free form kind of improvisation that (almost/kinda/sorta) worked - had it not been for one massive drawback.

The drumtrack being used here doesn't really fit the track at all. It's all very pedestrian stuff too, about as close to a beat wot plods as you can get and - given the energy of the lead playing - totally at odds with what is happening with the instrumental. Now I do understand the limitations most of us suffer under, and I do take that into account, nonetheless in this case this could be easily enough solved. In my opinion, having the drums follow the instrumental action will set this track on fire, instead of helping to damp down the flames as the present accompaniment seems to do. Ultimately, I think you should be made aware that this track is essentially a guitarist working out his own musical demons and there's nothing wrong with that, just may not appeal to a great many others though.

Savanna Roots - A Song For Empty Rooms

Hear The Track Here

Wondering why this name rang so many bells, I did a quick search before I even downloaded this track to find out why. The answer was, of course, I had reviewed Separate (February 2007) and liked it a lot, although not so much as one Cam Bastedo (aka Cam's Even Song) did - as my review of that track pointed out. Although I didn't reach the same heights of excitement as Cam, I certainly enjoyed the track and was pretty knocked out with the talent on display too - especially from one so young. Stephen Bennett is a 17 year old singer/songwriter from Austin, Texas who - in the short time he has been on here - has picked up some very influential adherents to his style, including me ol' mate Cam.

Not bad going, no matter what your age.

As such, it is not the main issue here either. I don't care when your music was made, what with, who played what. All I care about is does it affect me? Does it stimulate parts other music can only wish to acheive? On that score, there is no doubt that Savanna Roots made a very favourable impression on me, even if I would go as far as some of his admirers - at least just yet. The great thing about being 17 is that it leaves you plenty of room to grow as a musician. Certainly his presentation on both times I have reviewed his material is flawless; not a hair out of place - and that is the thing I think singles him out from his peers. On a purely artistic level, it's almost impossible not to be impressed with what you hear - regardless of your genre choice - musicians would appreciate something like this no matter what.

But what of JQ Public and his missis? Yep, regular earthbound listeners.

Well if they are into American rock of a certain style, A Song For Empty Rooms will soon find a home because there is no doubt this track has the musical nous and production facility to daze at a thousand yards. For my money, this is not Power Pop, more like yer regular American-tinged rock and I don't say that in a derogatory manner. Truth is, I am that musician I was describing above and I do admire and like what Savanna Roots are doing, and A Song For Empty Rooms is well up there in terms of friendly, welcoming - especially if you do like the genre. As yet though, nothing from this artist has knocked me on my considerable keister but I'm expecting that one along any moment; in the meantime this will more than do. btw, the guitar solo in this track is scorching, worth a listen/download for that alone.

Highly Recommended rock.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cam's Even Song - My Castle by the Sea

Hear The Track Here

Now that his life has been changed beyond measure (Cam: It hasn't) with the bestowal at the end of 2006 of the dubious honour of being Gilmore's Artist Of The Year; he is constantly surrounded by adulating fans (Cam: I aren't!), coining it in (Cam: riiigghhttt) and - of course - being the star of the hour (Cam: now THAT is me!). It should be understood that the part of Cameron Bastedo (for it is he) in the preceeding light skit is being played by an ac-TOR and obviously bears no relation whatsoever to reality, or indeed Cam. And - much more vital, immediate and to the point - we live in the world of 'only as good as your last one...' here. There again, My Castle by the Sea's first impression, is such a warm, puppyish character that is totally welcoming - the raucousness being the prerequistite ingredient - and it'll charm you right out of your wits.

Yep, it's playful Cam. (Cam: No I'm not)

You'll need to bring your bucket and spade with you because this time, this always interesting artist takes us all to play in his own private yacht to loonyland. Seriously this man has more musical sides than anyone else I can think of. Admittedly, it all sounds so - well - Cam'ish but even so the variance between each of his tracks is perfectly managed, wonderfully performed and often - as in this peice - delightfully fun confections. My Castle by the Sea was apparently inspired by a session playing Empires III, and as a dedicated player myself I can quite see that happening. Although - as usual - Cam then drags in every inspiration his fertile mind can dredge up and it makes for one of the most listenable, likeable and exhilarating tracks I have heard this year.

So what, exactly is it about this track that's got me so hot and sweaty? (Cam: OK, that's it. I'm off)

Where to start, where to start... Admittedly the first couple of plays of this I most assuredly didn't really get it. After the (some huge number) of plays later there is no doubt in my mind that this is well up there with Cam's finest and absolutely the most commercial thing I have heard from him yet. Now me, if I had to 'fess up, I really love the proto-Dylan iconoclastic fire-breathing Cam, but there again I love the Beatles inspired Cam just as much and My Castle is decidedly beatleish in nature. Nonetheless, it's a fine, fine track and I do beg you to give it a bit of time to give you a mind meld. Moreover, my own family is bombarded by indie music because they live with me, and Cam's Even Song is the biggest hit so far. Even my wife, bless her and keep her, absolutely loves Cam's music. As will you if you give this track a bit of ear room.

MUST HAVE (Ed: OK, how many is this now??)

Note: Ed: is not an actor, merely this reviewers PITA...and censor :P

Fear 2 Stop - The Napkin Fairy

Hear The Track Here

God bless Fear 2 Stop. I've spent so much time and effort with these guys and despite me feeling really good at their new found musical maturity, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Most dedicated fear 2 Stop watchers will be only to well aware of their propensity to aurally noodle (ie wander around aimlessly), playing with some really strange sounds. It's only the last year or so that their music has developed the muscle we have - to our delight and amazement I might add - heard in tracks such as Drawn, the awesome Dishevelled, Giving In and loads of others in a slightly weirder vein. It's almost as if, over the years, their music has grown from a fairly amorphous experimental hodge-podge to a sleek, often highly efficent way of getting their particular musical point of view across.

Think folks, we saw this band's music grow a backbone!

And what a fekkin backbone it's proving to be. Although I find The Napkin Fairy slightly less urgent than their better works of late, there is still power going on behind the usual F2S bleepishness and - for my money - that is what is making their music so attractive to many people who had written them off as just another experimental band. I personally think they more than 'paid their dues' as it were, and I think it's high time that people started to realise that - like a lot of other experimental artists - they have developed a musical voice that reaches way beyond experimental. Having said that, there's a lot more on this track that is experimental in sound and fury and I think that fact alone may limit this tracks appeal.

The most immediate reference that sprang into my mind was of New Order's Blue Monday. That's because there is a marked similarity in the basic instrumentation, but that's as far as that particular theory got me. Once you are over that 'heard it before' feeling you will realise that in total this is nothing like the aforementioned reference and could only have come from from F2S. It's as if they took one single riff from that track, and diverged as much as possible from it before the track runs out of time. You'll probably have to give it a bit of airplay to really get into it, it's a bit odd at first but soon (probably when the madness sets in) it all sounds as if Fear 2 Stop have no intention whatsoever in dropping a musical bollock at this stage in time. Strangely enough, this and a couple of the other tracks I have mentioned lead me to surmise that this stuff would probably sound much better in a live situation because it's made B-I-G. btw, there is a bit of a overhang in the version that I have, leaving a weird cutoff right at the end of the track. Easily remedied.

Highly Recommended meaty electronica with that distinctive F2S twist.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

John and Lucie Collins - A Voice In The Night

Hear The Track Here

I raved like a mad thing at the original A Voice In The Night which I reviewed first back in December 2006, and was my first encounter with this versatile and accomplished husband and wife team (he does the music, she sings like an angel). Surprisingly enough, the original was way out of my normal league being a kinda/sorta 'torch song' but it was arranged and produced so well, it even climbed the mountain of predjudice I have for the more 'easy listening' side of the musical spectrum. Interestingly enough, I didn't keep it but have since had least three separate keepers from them (Open Up Your Heart, Sometimes and I Feel Your Heart) so maybe the time is ripe for a keeper of their oiginal track to me.

That, as they say, would be serendipity.

That quality seems to be around John and Lucie a lot just lately because (I presume) their daughter Alyssa - whose The Hiragana Song I reviewed a while back (Ed: it was March 2007, he's being lazy today) - was produced - in part anyway by the legendary Art Munson. He also appears to co-produce this new version of the song that first drew me to John and Lucie and of which I wrote 'sends shivers down my backbone' Mmmmm, so far so wonderful. I so wish now that I'd kept the original of that track but I think it feel off my hard drive at some point; I would like to contrast that version with this one to see what had actually been changed. Certainly the tenor of the track has been somewhat reworked because - in my hazy memory - it paid a lot more attention to the vocal than this version does. In some ways it has flattened something I considered the most appealing part of the track, the lyrics and the vocal.

That isn't to say that it doesn't work, it sure does. Just in a different way, is all. The jazz club feel of the original has been extended and made much more 'live' sounding giving it a harder cohesiveness that gives this track that final polish. The brass is in rude health too, the sax tones in particular being an experience in and of itself. A Voice In The Night is bagged and tagged as Pop but its soo much more than that. It's a feast of all the best of the blue jazz tradition couched in a production so clean and clear you could drink out of it. It was always a terrific song, and with a fairly hefty production to back it up but this version of A Voice In The Night is a commercial dream, and as radio-friendly as you could ever want.

Top class song. Highly Recommended.

Silvertrain - Wall Around Your Heart

Hear The Track Here

If I got paid by the word then Silvertrain would have to make me a very rich man. As it is, I don't get paid at all and I've still found time to write many thousands of words about what Silvertrain is all about - or as is often the case, what it is not. Out of all their thousands of fans, I probably rate right up there as in there from day one. Mind you, t'ain't all been wine and roses, as even the briefest knowledge of their chequered past will testify. There was their awesome debut CD 'The One To Blame' way back in the day now, and since then sporadic sets of songs; some of which worked, some of which didn't (or at least particularly well) and all of them passing through my ears at some point.

So I also consider myself quite knowledgeable about this Hampshire (UK not New) duo; Ritchie Allen and John Brandon to be utterly precise, and - as they know - I've never been one to hold back on what I think. While I always like to hear material from this band, it's patchy nature almost makes me gnash my teeth because I KNOW what it should sound like. Admittedly John Brandon (the main producer right now) has made huge strides in his recording techniques so I wonder why he has left a drumtrack off this track? For me, it somehow (again) reduces the track to a glorified 'demo' which all well and good in its own place, maybe should have been thought about a bit more in terms of presentation.

It's always hard for me to be harsh with these guys because, quite frankly, I've always liked what they do; write short, sharp, intellgent songs. However, it isn't a question of what I like, it's a question of how a casual listener may hear this track, and that's where it all falls down. I can certainly hear the potential of the track - as always it's a fine Silvertrain song at its heart. It doesn't really get out of first gear though, and the production doesn't help. Instrumentally, think guitar, strings, vocals and that'll be all fank yew. If I were that casual listener, I think that (maybe) it was a nice song but all sounding a bit tame, a bit too lazy for its own good. There again, I'm sure this track may rear its head in a more complete form somewhere down the line, so I'll reserve final judgement until then. I fully understand that the wait might be a while.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Fluidity - Negative Slant

Hear The Track Here

Fluidity (aka John Paul Carroll from Christchurch N.Z) has done very well in his first year or so at Soundclick and its been good to watch him develop into the consistent - and consummate - purveyor of his own highly particular brand of rock; and Negative Slant is a worthwhile introduction to what he does best. There are a couple of points I will address a bit later but all in all, this track made the same breezy entrance as a lot of his better works, filled with a nicely laid back arrangement and JP's hallmark laconic vocals making it feel like its a track struggling to get out of bed in the morning. Sleepy rock, there's the thing. Except in this case, that's not actually a bad thing and may well be one of this tracks main selling points.

I would be a fool to think that everyone would like Fluidity's style, but he sure makes it easy to like it, consistently writing tracks that are full of musical references (OK for me maybe...) and a intelligent lyric that - often - has something to say. Negative Slant, as you may have gathered, is a lyric aimed at the news media and their treatment of what - and what is not - important for us to know. As such it's a sharp, witty peice, no matter what your own thoughts are on the matter. Serious lyrics doesn't have to mean serious music, and this track gets through a surprising amount of twists and turns in its almost five minutes of existence.

For me, one of the main selling points for Fluidity has been the sense of musical fun, the sheer joy of making music that gels that often imbues his classier tracks and - make no mistake - this is one of his classier tracks. For a while I've noticed him drifting more and more towards a much more commercial (nay pop) sound and by Jove, I think he's got it! Certainly the last couple of Fluidity tracks have been in that idiom and I've liked them all. Although the arrangement of this track might feel ocassionally over-fussy and a bit too sure of itself, that does wear off quite quickly as the song its supporting takes to the stage. I found it helped immensely to read the lyrics while listening, always a sure-fire way to appreciate what John Paul does. For fun and for us.

Class rock pop. Prime Fluidity. Highly Recommended.

Shorthand Phonetics - Chivalry Is Lost On Some People

Hear The Track Here

Having taken my fair share of abuse for my championing of the Indonesian based Shorthand Phonetics over the last couple of years, it was tremendously heartening to get an email from Ababil Ashari (now sole prop of SP) saying that the influential IndoStars site had a feature on the band naming them as the best unsigned band in that part of the world. Although you can't say that without taking into account that pretty much all of the SP I have ever heard merely hint at how good they could actually be IF they ever got over their perrenial sound problems, which Chivalry undoubtedly suffers from.

As always that does mar the impact of the Chivalry Is Lost On Some People, which is in true Shorthand Phonetics stylee, definitely a return to musical form for Ababil - at least in my books. However, it is still top heavy with sound errors which - I would have thought - he had ironed out ages ago. The vocal, in particular, snaps out of the speakers quite ferociously more than once, suggesting that the singer was way to close to the mike. OK if you like that kind of thing but rubbish if ya don't. After more than three years at this game, I am beginning to wish that, finally, at last, this really unique band got their sound a bit more together than this because it does take away a lot from a really excellent song - the prime reason why so many people have stuck with them through thick and thin.

The song has always been the thing, and a good job too.

Chivalry is - like a lot of material from this quarter - surprisingly English sounding, even down to the vocal drawl. Which given that Ababil is in med school in Indonesia, could have only come from tracks he has been exposed to earlier in his life. I have often pegged them as kinda/sorta punk rock and I think I have been slightly wide of the mark on that supposition (not, definitely not, a suppository which is something we'll discuss later). What Shorthand Phonetics really remind me of is the musical heritage of the English North-West in particular the cities of Liverpool and Manchester; any resident of that part of England would be right at home with the music Shorthand Phonetics has to offer. Furious energy allied with a certain amount of navel-gazing lyricism that can only have come from this band. Excellent for fans and beginners alike, providing you like the rough and ready production it comes hampered with.

Energetic, noisy and oh so Shorthand Phonetics. Recommended for the song.

One Kid's Lunch - Maybe

Hear The Track Here

Since I first laid eyes on the 'who are these guys anyway?' tagline on their Soundclick page, I've probably learned more about this Texas based duo than is good for me. Getting a string of Highly Recommended's and Must Haves goes a long way toward explaining my interest, as does at least one Track Of The Year 2006; but that's just about the music. Wait up, screech to a halt o thou speedy eyeball. Backtrack a bit... 'but that's just about the music'...what is that all about? The musical style OKL employ has endeared them to many a Soundclick listener over the past year, and has become as familiar as a familiar thing could be, at least in the Gilmore household. And, I might add, in a great many others too, so it goes without saying that the band's musical output is always worth a listen or two.

It isn't, however, the prime factor for my interest in them. It has more to do with the message and underlying tone of pretty much all their tracks. Having just returned from a trip to the US's Shenandoah Valley, and it's communities of Amish, Mennonites and born again Christians (ie pretty much everybody else), you can see only too well how deeply religeous the American people as a whole are. btw, this was not far from the tragedy at yet another American university this week. Where I do disagree with the whole 'Saved' movement is that I don't to be saved by having something forced down my throat. I know what I think about Jesus and God and the panoply, I don't 'need' to do anything other then the thing I have spent my life doing - being obedient to my own voices. All of them. ;) It's to One Kid's Lunchs' eternal credit that - as Christians - NOT ONE of their tracks is likely to push it at you.Humour, now there's another thing that separates them from most of their 'so called' brethren.

In my world, actions always speak louder than words.

Having said that, one of the main draws for me is OKL's lyrics, always a pleasure, always upbeat and often incredibly funny, and Maybe is a classic slice of wordplay, musically mining the sound of the late 1960's for all they are worth. I have to say this track didn't hit me as immediately as other OKL offerings but continued exposure to the track soon corrrected that. I have to also admit that as well as being a fan of the band, I'm also a fan of this particular sound (The Beatles being the most obvious musical reference point, but late 1960's pop in general will do) and One Kid's Lunch bring it bang up to form. I wonder if they have their music on Songplanet yet? There's a (radio) match made in Heaven. Speaking of which, Maybe is musical manna and it desires gobbling up immediately. I, Dr Aluiscious Algernon Gilmore PHD(y) DHD(y), prescribe it for whatever might ail you now or in the future.

Highly Recommended, infectious Pop/Rock.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Denny Schneidemesser - Freedom's Calling

Hear The Track Here

By the looks of it German artist Denny Schneidemesser is relatively new to both Soundclick and music making but, undetered, he jumps straight in at the deep end and takes on Film Music as a genre. There again, he also knows a nice peice of kit when he sees it and he's grabbed some of this which is definitely the number one choice if you are going to take this in any way seriously. So, despite his just starting, he has managed to get into one of the best orchestral tools around. I am, for my sins, an avid user of Miroslav's choral sounds in my own work and would recommend the samples to anyone who wanted authentic sounding choirs. It doesn't, as you can see from the page, come cheap but it is worth every penny.

Now before Denny starts getting worried that I am reviewing the software and not his performance with it, lets get to the track.

Denny has, apparently been concentrating on film trailer music, ie substantially shorter than the usual epic lengths most of us associate with film music. Freedom's Calling is his first foray into the full blown genre but totals out - to you - at a little under six minutes. As such it's first impression is pretty nondescript but partly - in my case at least - because I have a built in antipathy to this genre. Also whenever I hear film music scores these days I am likely to put it against my current yardstick - Sound Radius - and lets face it, nobody is get one over on the Radius when it comes to music with power, emotion and meaning. Still, that was just my first impression and things did get better by repeated listening and shows that Denny thinks long and hard about what he is creating.

Having known huge numbers of German musicians I am ever fascinated by their attention to detail and Denny Schneidemesser has that trait down handsomely. The ever-changing arrangement, the tenor and pitch of the instruments and the sheer 'eat-right-off-it' cleanliness of the production and mix show tremendous innate knowledge about how to display what you have got to best advantage. For someone looking for a new source for this material, Denny will be a most welcome find but for someone like me who has heard what Soundclick offers in this genre, this is pale in comparison. In Denny's defence, he is a starter at this game AND he looks quite young so I am going to end by saying that I am looking forward to hearing some great things from this artist over the next few months or years. There's no denying that - whatever I think - this gets Denny off to a flying start.

Excellent string driven film score. Recommended.

Pilesar - Last Minute Loaf

Hear The Track Here

And now, Soundclick's Dr of Madness, Badness and General Musical Mayhem, the Prince of WTF!!, laaaaddeeessss and gennelmen, shake it all about for PILESAR (Ed: why is this crowd going crazy in here? Don't they know this is a working office?). The wonder that is the big P has baffled, bewildered, boondoggled a great many Soundclickers for a long time now, and thankfully his lunacy shows no sign of abating any time soon, for which we should all breathe a hearty sigh of relief. After all, the world NEEDS artists like Mr P. As a for example, go now - right now - to the Pilesar Soundclick webpage linked above but for forks sake make sure you are wearing the heftiest sunglasses you can lift because you'll be needing them.

I do mean the Prince of WTF!.

Musically too, Pilesar is a superlative, innovative joker that you are either going to get or not. Take Last Minute Loaf as an example, Pilesar describes it thusly 'i'm responsible for all of the sounds you hear in the right channel, he is responsible for everything you hear in the left channel'. The 'he' in this case being Demon Blaster and one half of Dross, Daniel Euphrat. Niether of these artists had any clue to the other persons part and didn't hear the final track until it was completed. So, what part of totally tonto, mad as a box of frogs could you not understand? Only madmen would even THINK about such a task, let alone going about making it a reality. Having said that Pilesar has attempted a great many things in his time and he's not usually wrong in his choice of material.

Still, makes the ol' gills a bit green when ya contemplate divin' in....

Having had an earful of both Pilesar and Dross in the past, I consider myself pretty hardened to their approach, individually and collectively, and even I found myself nodding in agreement with Pilesars parting comment ', i think it turned out rather well'. At this stage I feel it only fair that some people are arranging Rip The Reviewer parties and I can't say I blame them. The sad truth is that no matter how absurd it sounds in print; there is no doubt to its effect on your ears - especially if you like a touch of what Pilesar does best. Matter of fact, except for the trademark Dross guitar sound, I could have sworn this peice was from the mind of the same tortured individual, so well does it fit together. If fit together is exactly the term for it. Pilesar has always been a pretty freewheeling kinda guy and it doesn't come much more freewheeling than Last Minute Loaf. One can only count ones blessings that it comes in around three minutes, which as we well know is almost a world record. (Ed: do we need to think about that?)

Musical anarchy come to bite your butt. Highly Recommended (but handle with care)

Bill Davies - God's Creation

Hear The Track Here

OK, I have to admit to watching this track slide slowly up the list and I am ashamed to say that I was pretty much dreading it. See, I know what I like and I know what I don't like and I am a man of many predjudices, and this track hits at least two of my innummerable mean streaks. Oh dear, you may be thinking (and especially poor ol' Bill), that's not a very good way to start a review off, is it? I am also a highly susceptible person, prone to misunderstand my own language. I could have sworn that Bill used the words 'mellow', 'devotional spoken poem' and all of them bad boys gives me a bad case of the heebies, as regular readers know only too well. Still, as ever, I have been known to overcome the wall of predjudice I'd built around myself and this time I rose to the occasion with a simple bravery beating in my puny breast.

After all, it couldn't be a song about flowers and white fluffy clouds, could it?

God's Creation, as it happens, is exactly about that, and all very new age with it so you best be wearing a flower in your hair if you want to get something more than a good ear-waxing from it. While it is mellow, and it is electronica it's initial impression is marred by the fact that it is technically new age genre-wise and whammo - yet another layer in the ol' pred gets added. I think it's probably a good job that I have the review process to work a track to the bone, because otherwise - quite frankly - I'd have passed this track by without a second glance. That would have been a crying shame because - despite it's insipid overtones - is obviously a musical work of great charm that took a lot of work.

Having worked with a couple of poets in the past and constructed tracks around those vocals, I can really appreciate the efforts Bill has gone to to get it right. The only thing remaining is that you (the listener) actually like this whole new age thing; after all not everybody likes flowers and white fluffly clouds. Many, in fact, like the fluffy clouds to be drug induced and would as soon stomp a flower as look at and admire one. Still, let's turn the other cheek, because I DO like flowers and fluffy clouds, although not so obviously in a song. Bill makes a good job of it and although I can't say I am enamoured of this track I did come to like its easy float-away style but only after a good many plays. Certainly I would be open to hearing more of Bill's work because he obviously knows his stuff, but this one is not for me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sirisat Julia Claire - Searching 'Ong Namo'

Hear The Track Here

I have to admit I was highly skeptical (oops almost wrote sceptical which is another thing entirely) with this whole 'Freinds' lark Soundclick has been running but - surprisingly enough - the silly thing actually works. I've met some great new people since I started really working the whole MySoundclick: Members Pages thingie, many of them eye opening musicians and an indication of how Soundclick never fails to deliver some very surprising musicians. Sirisat Julia Claire has been one of my new finds and I just thought I'd give you guys the heads up too. Judging by her interview page, she has been active in the real world for some time, even having a couple of albums released a while ago and she's working with a whole raft of other musicians (Carles Reig, Pep Rius and Ernesto BriceƱo) - all connected in some way to Ohm Records (or is that Yep, Julia is a yoga teacher/singer/dancer from the beautiful city of Barcelona in Spain, and her musical work is informed by her philosophy so expect some extremely chilled-out music for body and soul.

Ahhh now your looking a lot more interested...

As you should be because, no matter what your preference, a track where everything happens just so is a prime candidate for attracting attention. Despite its obviously spiritual overtones and approach, Searching Ong Namo is a instantly likeable track any level you care to name. Welcoming and warm in the way Enya often is, although I have to say having evoked that image, Sirisat (and musical mainstay/producer Carles Reig) operate on an entirely different level. For sure there is a massive European influence stylistically and lyrically - some of it is sung in French - and another reference my brain made was to Ilona, who operates in much the same musical field. However, as is usual, time and repeated plays really cracked this gem of a track open and although I don't normally go for this kind of thing, the musical muscle on display in this track is absolutely terrific, and worth the listen alone. The breakdown just after 7:00 in particular being a joy in and of itself.

However good (nay stunning) the music and production are, they are still topped by Sirisat Julia's incredibly professional singing (and a very nice video she makes too). Let me put it like this, if you can't get past the first minute of this track, then the whole eight minutes and change it runs for will be of no use to you. You will not have recognised the skill, patience and dedication it took to bring this to your ears and I would guess your life would be poorer for it. In this world of home/garage recording it's a pleasure to hear 'the real thing' and done so well, the only thing you need to worry about is whether you will like the style. There again, it covers so much musical ground in it's length, that I'm sure almost anybody could find a bit they liked. Personally, I think there is a huge market for such material, and it's nice to know that at least I've heard one of the very best - in every way. If it sounds like I love this track, I do but I am professional enough to look REAL hard at anything I could pick apart and there isn't anything. At all. Seamless, that's the word.

MUST HAVE (there's another two).

Sound Radius - Oceans Of Freedom

Hear The Track Here

Sound Radius has the dubious distinction of being the one and only artist working in the whole ickky sticky Film Music genre - a musical genre I have banged on about in these reviews way too many times - to have recieved a Must Have recommendation from me. The Power Within (December 2006) does exactly what it says on the tin and then some. A superlative peice of music that is emotional, stirring and as musically rich as you could desire. It is taking its ease on my hard drive as I type this and there it is likely to stay; for once a peice of film music that did deliver the visuals too. Only yer'll have to close your eyes, relax and float downstream for a while to truly get the picture, so make sure you devote the right amount of attention to it. It is so worth it.

I can't say I was that bowled over by the second SR track I heard but it comes back through Oceans Of Freedom, as majestic and fiery a peice as Power Within, although you'll have to get past the understated intro to really get it. The absolute basic requirement for me when listening to this kind of music is that it provides somewhere for the mind to wonder while the ears are gently rubbed with aural splendour, and Oceans Of Freedom has - well - oceans to explore I guess. This is a seriously dense orchestral extravaganza, but one I found myself responding to from the opening note. Now that maybe is reflecting my admiration for this artist anyway, but when all is said and done - it's the actual impact of the track that really does the job.

It isn't the golden wonder that The Power Within is, but truth to tell it isn't far off it either; emotionally and musically. There are a couple of sections where I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the sheer allness of the sound, but I suspect that will wear in over time. It's emotional tug at me was pretty much instant, but I have liked what this artist does from the get go and this is way up there with the best of them. What kind of movies would they (both tracks that is) belong to? Well, I'm buggered if I know but I'm pretty sure they'd be dark Tim Burton type thingies with a great story and wonderfully drawn characters. Class, you know what I mean? And so is this music...

Film music that does exactly what it is supposed to. Highly Recommended.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Apesoundscapes - HazyDayz

Hear The Track Here

Well, well, just when you thought it was safe... ;)

HazyDayz heralds the welcome return to Soundclick of Apesoundscapes, who seems to have been missing for a while there. For those who haven't got past 'huh?' yet, allow me to explain... My last review of this artist was Out Of The Cold (March 2006) for which he snatched a muist have recommendation from me, so that means (counts his fingers) over a year from one track to another, Feck me, and I thought I was slow. I joke, as usual. Even I knew how the real world can get in the way of what we do on here, and it does lose us some magical moments but hey - it was ever thus. So, nice to see this (and I quote) 'chillin summer vibing tune which is all about blazin, swiggin and reminiscing'

Oh, that's all right then.

Carl Best (aka Apesoundscapes) has always, from day one, walked his own path and often it proves not to be a comfortable one. He likes to delve into musical sounds and textures that often seem to defy or clutter the original idea, until you really start listening to the track. HazyDayz has the same imgredients as previous tracks, and the epic scale of things is still very much to the fore, reminding me in places of the very best bits of Simple Minds. Mixed, as usual, with the more familiar '80's electropop sound I have come to expect from him. Not a casual listen that's for sure, because the more you listen to this track, the more you will find - especially if you are looking for musical references (one of my favourite pastimes).

HazyDayz and Apesoundscapes musical escapades come together after about the third or fourth listen for me so be warned that this is going to a track that might take time to get used to. For me, it's like a musical roll call of everything that has been worthwhile in music over the past twenty years, and is something I am particularly going to like. There again, given its rock style delivery it may pull in a few of the longhairs too, showing that the term 'electronica' is as big as several oceans. To my mind, nothing like as immediate as Out Of The Cold, but by jiminy this guy comes up with something different everytime, and I think further exposure to this over the coming summer will elevate it into one of this years highlights. Confidence, as they say, is high.

Summer song? This bad boy. Top Class and Highly Recommended.

Self Tort - Salvation Carnival

Hear The Track Here

Judged by the paucity of information on his Soundclick page, Self Tort appears to be a mite taciturn, which is kinda surprising considering he hails from the Big Oz (Australia to you mate) and he's very chatty in forum life. Still maybe that's because he'd rather that the music did the talking for him and there is nothing wrong with that. He has also acquired a large selection of listeners too, including some well known Soundclick names, and there's definitely everything right with that. Salvation Carnival was originally written over 30 years ago and has taken that amount of time to finally come together. Yep, well, songs are like that. Dry as a fart for months on end, then you get so many it's difficult to keep track of what belongs to what. Been there, done that.

Obviously not knowing a ferkin thing about the geezer, I presume he's older than most and has been around the musical block a few times. Even a cursory listen to the track was enough to show me that at least he had been around music for a good while; the production is so nice and shiny, you feel afraid to sit down. Know what I mean? It's often a problem with classic rock ballad attempts, and in many cases finally wins out with a decent song to back it up and on that score Self Tort delivers a very credible 70's tinged rock tune that - should you like the musical period - will rub all the right bits for long time. On a more personal note, I didn't particularly think 1970's rock was good then, today I'm even less bovvered.

Taken in its own genre, Salvation Carnival has many things going for it. A strong, well sung song, excellent production and performance - a class job in every respect. So why do you detect that hint of meehh in my voice? Truth is that although I can appreciate the respectful nod to the past this track is, it doesn't exactly blow my skirts up. Maybe that is because it's very American in sound (something the Aussies always do well, surprisingly enough) or maybe it's because material of this type worn thin the first time round. Mind you, I'm not the guy looking for this kind of music and I'm sure there will many takers who do like the genre because this is one of the better tracks (ie more professional) than a great many I have heard.

Not exactly classic rock but certainly a close relative.

Carol Douglas - Money From The Satisfied Man

Hear The Track Here

Being an active member of an online music community like Soundclick demands lots of different disciplines and - let's face it - an awful lot of give and take. Sure, it's OK for someone like me who pretty much works by myself, only taking on the odd collaboration. I feel really sorry for those people who - like Carol Douglas - write the songs and then have to find people who will realise their musical vision. Carol Douglas has been a long standing member of Soundclick and is well respected for her songwriting skills (this is the person, after all, who first introduced me to the immaculate Maria Daines) when she and Paul Killington got together with Carol to put together the classic 'Varog! Varog!' track - now a couple of years in the past...

So what has she been up to lately? Would you believe getting money from a satisfied man?

Decidedly saucy innit??

Think about it? What would you consider is the harder - a rocking peice of music or a lyric that reaches out of the song and touches your heart? Personally speaking from a deep well of bitter experience, I'd say a well turned (and phrased) lyric is probably THE most important element in modern music. I mean, take a look around; there are literally millions of people who make music in varying degrees, but you can count the number of good (read consistent) songwriters with the loan of a couple of your mates fingers. ie barely fuck all. I have known Carol for a couple of years and she is a consistently good songwriter so a review request could not be ignored. In fact, I followed the progression of the song through two music factories; one I am very familiar with and one that was a total unknown for me.

Sahib Radio should be a familiar name, as well he should be because the man is everywhere - his brand of American rock does seem to appeal right across the board. The first version of Money From The Satisfied Man is fairly typical Sahib style (think a New Orleans sound Springsteen) although I thought that Sahib kinda rushed some of the lines. Still, musically, it's a peach and well up the usual high standard I have come to expect from this musician. Style like this you don't hear everyday and I'd recommend this on the music alone - a fine blend of Springbean and Dylan that is pure Sahib Radio. Paul Jeffery was the unknown name here and where Sahib's rock is gritty and raw edged, Paul's version does - I feel - highlight the songs original feel and meaning. I say that knowing full well that I am singling out a rock ballad (oh dear, God forbid etc) for praise. It isn't, as you know, one of my favourite grazing areas but Paul Jeffery's brings out a much more classic rock approach than you would expect and he has a very personable rock growl when pushed to deliver. I found myself liking both varieties; the raw, steamy Louisiana rock and the classic english rock sound - both bought something different to the party. And that, my friends, is what makes a good song - one that other people can interpret in their own way. Lovely start to the month.

Classy rock song, that comes in two tasty brews... Highly Recommended.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'm On Vacation in the land of the free...

Hi All,

In case you are wondering where I have gone to, I am currently visiting family in the USA and will return to reviewing just after Easter weekend (around 10-11th April).