Wednesday, August 29, 2007

dcallen - A Walk In The Dark

Hear The Track Here

This has been a really good month for standout (way above average) tracks and I'm kinda glad that I'm ending this month on a high note - for a change. Longer term Soundclick residents will be only too familiar with Dave Allen (aka dcallen), his tracks have made a substantial contribution to most of our playlists for a good couple of years. He disappeared for a while but made a welcome return to deliver Is This A Problem (June 2007) which showed him on top form and eminently worthy of the Must Have I gave it, Mind you, this is electronica we are discussing here and that ain't up everyone's whatsname. Not that genre classification has ever held young Dave back - that's one of his finer qualities.

As you can see from the current indication of Soundclick popularity (page views/plays, stations playing etc) dcallen hasn't much to worry about - this is the sign of an artist with longevity - and a broad appeal. That comes from the music and Walk In The Dark is more the dcallen we knew from back in the day. Electronica, yeah - but is it? The more you look, the more the definition slips. T'was ever thus though, his melodic skills have been the hallmark of this artists work since the very beginning. While it doesn't storm the place down like Problem, there is a sturdy, timeless feel to the track that is pure bliss (at least to these jaded ears).

This is the track that won a Track Of The Day feature on and I can see why it would appeal. Certainly as far as I am concerned I would have no hesitation to give this a Must Have within the genre but I wonder whether it would have wider appeal. That's always been one of electronicas main Achilles heels IMHO. Firstly this is a mostly instrumental genre, and secondly it also has a weird kind of geek factor. However, the best of the genre do expose that to be typical stereotyping. As a peice of music, A Walk in The Dark is going to be one of the better electronica track you are going to hear; this or any other year. (hint: I don't like Ambient, but I do like this....)

Highly Recommended first-rate electronica.

Avalanche - Deeply

Hear The Track Here

You are never too old, as the saying goes, to rock and roll. Considering that this is keeping most of us old crusties out of the grave, I'd say it was a fine motto to live by. It's also the ethos that powers Avalanche, probably the longest running band on Soundclick (they've been together 30 years), even though they have only been on Soundclick for a short time - if you get my drift. I first came across them through a live performance from Mike Foster and Mark Easton (the two lead guitarists) on Mike-K's groundbreaking Saturday Night Rocks show on Songplanet - where coincidently they became Artist of the Year. In my usual wheedling manner I persuaded them to try out Soundclick as well and I'm gratified to see that it has paid off somewhat. At least judging from their stats and the number of radio stations playing them...

See, where there is life, there is hope. And rock and roll...

The best part of this whole deal is that Avalanche are the real deal: class all the way, with a small proviso. You will have to have a taste for the American rock sound, which I find most people do, especially the ballsy kind which Avalanche always provide with abundance. What they haven't provided before is different voices, and a female one at that. Stephanie Krowka is the lady in person and I guarantee you'll be just as surprised as me at the quality of her singing and songwriting (she wrote Deeply). It therefore means, of course, that the usual Avalanche warhorse is a bit muted but the lead guitars pack enough punch where they are needed in this excellently produced (top of the range I tell ya..) instantly likeable track.

There is a slight retro feel to the track but once the music kicks in, you know you are in good company. I wish I could put my finger on who Stephanie sounds like but whoever it is, it works. Aided and abetted by a faultless (at least to my ears) Mike Foster arrangement and production, the combination brings us a track of rare quality, and a haunting kind of wistfulness that stays with you. It helps, of course, that I do like what Avalanche has to offer and I am aware it may not be to everyone's taste but I defy anyone living to listen to this track and not recognize that this is one of the best sounding tracks you have heard anywhere - online or off it. Not talking about the music here mind, you either like it or you don't; a personal choice. Nope what I'm talking about here is state of the art production in every way. There again, 30 years of experience will do that to you.

Top Class Rock. MUST HAVE

One Kid's Lunch - Overdue Bible Commentary

Hear The Track Here

One Kid's Lunch (think loaves, fishes...) are about the only truly Christian band I have ever seen eye to eye with, and it was a much welcome surprise to stumble across them. They gained a Track Of The Year 2006 from me with Prayer For The Clueless (July 2006) and many new listeners along the way with their breezy pop rock and their peculiar talent for writing tight, hilarious lyrics that just about sum the whole thing up very nicely. All in all, I've always found OKL material to be music that can be relied on to dispel any of lifes dark clouds, their songwriting skills immediately apparent..

It helps, of course, to have a sense of humour.

The first run-through of this much-looked-forward-to NEW track from the band for a while completely took my breath away. I must have sat there for 5 minutes in silence wondering wtf just happened. Overdue Bible Commentary pelts along like its ass is on fire, straining every musical tendon to get through it all in under one minute fifty. Come on, guys, this is not Daytona. So, having strapped on my Safety Helmet (tm), I gave it another shot, and then another until I was fully acclimatised to travelling at sub-light speed. Seen from that perspective, I suspect Overdue Bible Commentary will be somewhat of a puzzle to newer listeners who haven't been weened on their particular, unique take on things.

I've racked my brains again and again to come up with something I can point you at as a musical reference indicative of what this track may sound like and I remain stumped. Take the lyrics for example ' I feel like a total zit. I might as well just say, "Hey, World! I'm a big, fat, hypocrite!"' or 'fish on my car, (parked at the bar,)'. Looks like nothing while reading it but put the track on and then read along with the song and believe me, those plain words become somehow magical - especially as this time the joke extends through the music as well. There's a lovely, look-at-me-I'm-totally-mad feel about this track that I find irrisistable, although the first taste was a bit jarring, as I think many of their longer term listeners will agree. Nonethless; it may be rough (production is a bit flat), it may be silly (Ed: it is. Very) but it's still a diamond.

Always a class act. MUST HAVE for fans. Highly Recommended for a chuckle.

Rude Corps - A Spark

Hear The Track Here

For anyone new to Soundclick's forum activities the name citizen dolly bitch-hog isn't going to mean much. For forum regulars the name is going to ring endless bells, mostly of panic; our Dolly is not one to suffer fools gladly. Also one of the most prolific posters on the forums it's a wonder he manages to find any time to make music but - should you stumble across the Rude Corps site (for it is the bitch hog in stage glitter) - you find endless tracks there. Lessee....10 full albums, 4 EPs and stray tracks adding up to 251 tracks so if you can't find something of interest there, you probably won't find it anywhere.

S'not the first time I have been in Rude company, I reviewed a few Corps tracks including two killer collaboration tracks this year with a vocalist/rapper/poet called Sir that puts a whole new slant on the UK hip hop genre. A Spark is, however, a proper Rude Corps track with being generated in house, including the vocals. So if you've been wondering what a citizen dolly bitch-hog sounds like, here's the answer. Inspired by the film V-for Vendetta] (mmmmm Natalie Portman) and its closing set of the blowing up of the Houses Of Parliament, the track itself is a blazing polemic about the state of the country and its politics. Strong stuff.

The track itself is hard stuff with a definite punky edge that totally suits the lyrical content. This is an angry track, full of snarls and growls - luckily most of it electronically. In case you were wondering what the cdh-b sounded like, he's obviously from the north of England and he needs to deal with his voice a lot more confidently - at least in the mix; the performance of it seems fine. Musically there isn't much under than a massive slamming beats, some wild breaks and more slamming beats. Forget melody feel the fekkin rhythm, let it nail your head to the floor. With repeated listens, it also becomes apparent that this is a high energy in-your-face track that could - I feel - have done with a punchier mix, but that is exceedingly small change believe me. This is a track that you will either love or hate. Me, I think it's pretty neat.

Highly Recommended. Great song idea, splenetic performance. (Ed: I don't know, look it up!)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Arglebargle - Streetwalking

Hear The Track Here

I know there's probably going to be a lot of people who see this bandname and instantly cry 'but isn't that...?' Click on the webpage link and the mystery is solved. Arglebargle is the SC forum name for the artist most of us know as Alchemystic and indeed (given his last few review requests) is a logical follow-on for him - ie something different to what he was doing before. he has also made sure its been an interesting ride too - including a sleek li'l reggae thing Di Good Life which I reviewed a month or so back. I'm too tired to look it up right now.

Streetwalking is, in fact, ' a short tune tune for the monthly KVR contest. First section is funk-meets-breakbeat, middle section is disco' according to it's maker. I'd say that was pretty accurate too, although I can't say it's particularly impressive being a mere (almost) two minutes long. Nonetheless, it's an action packed couple of minutes particularly if you are into white suits and glittery balls and - of course - the world famous pointy dance. It should be understood that the glittery balls could just as well be on the ceiling as on the person - not everyone was that weird even in disco's heyday. So, taken at face value, Streetwalking does exactly what it says on the can; great fun if you like it, a massive irritant if you don't. However, with someone like the Alchy One at the wheel you can be sure it's an interesting listen and at only two minutes how can you resist?

Alchemystic has a habit of swapping tracks around on me, and this month is no exception with Forgotten being forgotten in favour of a bit of pimping. Normally I would have just reviewed the main track but I couldn't pass by one Forgotten because it is - to my ears - pure 100% the Alchemystic we have come to know and love; music with big skies. If you know the man, you will know that he cut his teeth on this kind of stuff, and he does it so well it's an ear massage in disguise. He keeps threatening to bring his violin and oboe skills to our attention and I wonder what a live violin and oboe would sound on a track just like this.....Even without those glorious adornments this is still a lovely, lovely track, cooked to perfection.

Whatever. Grab both. Highly Recommended, top class electronica.

Nuff X - Poor Mans Bluff

Hear The Track Here

It's always interesting reading peoples webpages and sometimes I find myself nodding in agreement with something written about an artist. Nuff X is the artist in question in this particular instance (and I quote) 'has firmly stamped out his own style (on) a eccentric mix of Breaks, Industrial, Glitch and IDM which has been wonderfully dubbed "Nuffcore". It's true you are not going to hear anything on Soundclick that sounds quite like Nuff's style which has impressed the beejeezers out of this reviewer. From being a fairly typical new artist, Nuff X has blossomed at an awesome rate, especially when he started getting into the tricks I have detailed above. He's gained a sizeable (and growing) audience for his style too, and that's always a bonus.

There again, you could strike up Poor Mans Bluff and be of the opinion that you have just entered a huge factory full of menacing machines, and in some ways you'd be right. Either that or a nightmare industrial wastleand full or marauding leviathans. As the man himself states, these are some v-e-r-y dirty breaks and - as such - is certain not to please certain listeners who would mail this track as noise. Sure, there IS a lot of noise on the track but you would expect it from a mix of industrial and glitch wouldn't you. Take more than a cursory listen though and what makes Nuff X stand out so much will soon become clear, especially if you like this style of music already.

Have to say, though, that it does take some getting used to. I am well aware of Nuff's odd forays into organised mayhem but the sheer scale of it on this track took my breath away for the first few plays. That might have had something to do with the fact that my first session with this track was at ear-bleeding volume, whizzing about on my daily round. It's a lot wilder than a lot of the tracks that have come before it, and that suits the overall 'wtf is going on' feeling that the track forces on the listener. Definitely not a track to be taken lightly and if you don't understand the whole breaks thing it won't make much sense at all. Still, it's not often that you see a track wearing hobnail boots, so that makes it special for me.

The aural equivalent of a building site. Highly Recommended Industrial Breaks

Friday, August 24, 2007

1969 - Cellar Boy

Hear The Track Here

If you mention names like Zep, Bolan, Barrett, Bowie, Zappa and many other rock luminaries as your influences, it's a sure bet you are going to find an avid listener in this reviewer. Provided you pay those giants whose shoulders you stand on, the respect their efforts deserve. See, I'm a REAL stickler about this particular aspect of this thing we do. I lived through some of the highlights of the past 40 years and it takes a lot to really challenge the likes of the above mentioned. However, here back on Earth (OK Soundclick then...) it's a slightly more egalitarian deal and I've heard hundreds of class tracks that do pay respect to their roots but still manage to sound fresh and up to date,

Give all of the above you would probably expect 1969 to be a Western musician but think again, Bluezz Wilde (aka 1969) comes from Nanjing, China and that's about as far as you can get from the roots of rock. Planet Earths Midnight Creature Show (June 2007) showed that distance means nothing as it delivered exactly what it promised and in the process gained a highly recommended from me. Not a bad start and Cellar Boy follows the pattern set by that track. Where the notable influences in that were Bowie et al, Bolan and Barrett are the influences at play in Cellar Boy, with a dash of Beatles arrangements just in case you get bored.

As if...

As someone steeped in this particular style of music I am bound to appreciate this and the amount of work, patience and skill that went into making it. While it is obvious that 1969 knows his subject matter and how to showcase his reverence for it, there will be people who turn their nose up at this. That would be a crying shame because they would be missing an amazing experience; Cellar Boy is a track to be cherished and listened to time and time again. If you still don't understand what that whole 1960's thing was about (especially later half), then get a fresh ear on the whole affair, because this is as close as you are going to get. Lovingly reproduced in glorious stereo, backwards guitars, da works.... Beautiful. After just a couple of plays I knew that I would be scoring this pretty highly but a couple of days with it soon changed my mind and I realised I had no choice.

MUST HAVE (atmosphere, song, arrangement top class)

Pilesar - Slipping on Eggs on the Floor

Hear The Track Here

And now a special treat for Soundclick's very own P word and mad aural scientist Pilesar (pronounced Pile leeeezar ooh aarrr), and I can hear the complaint emails thundering in as I speak. Special Treat!! WTF are you on Gilmore???? Now I say to those carpers that IMHO Pilesar is one of THE most innovative, experimental, challenging artists you are ever likely to meet, on this site or on any other. It's easy of course, when you are a law unto yourself and - in every way - Pilesar is exactly that. Don't expect any ooohh and aaaaahhh moments though; Pilesar ain't big on them. What he is big on is stretching your earholes, clambering down your ear canals and fekkin with your brain.

And now he has accomplices!! Run away, I tell you!!

I've heard a couple of live peices from this artist before, except in a different guise (Mandible was it?) and they are some of the most exhilarating (as a musician anyway) peices I have heard although - this being Pilesar - the material is bound to stray over to the Dark Side. So, it goes without saying that you are in for almost five minutes of complete musical mayhem, courtesy of Pilesar's new band; although he neglected to mention who exactly is doing what. Yay and to who? The reason I like the live side of this artist is because this is where he usually shines - like a crazy diamond.

Pilesar is an American artist following in the grand tradition first experienced by us with the likes of Captain Beefheart and the incomparable Frank Zappa to whom this track owes a substantial debt, so if you have an inkling of what I am talking about you will already be listening. For those yet to take the plunge, Slipping On Eggs is an egregious mix of rock, jazz and all points doo lalley and I seem to have overdosed on linkages so be warned, this is what it does to your mind. Personally I absolutely loved both the Captain and the Mother at their respective peaks so I'm bound to like the free wheeling, whatever comes feeling this track displays with every note. Definitely not to everyone's taste, but I do like to wander over the the wilder side every once in a while ESPECIALLY when Pilesar is involved. The definition of egregious I linked to above says the word means both outstanding and conspicuously bad or offensive and both will come into play when playing tracks of this ilk. Love it or loathe it.

Probably an acquired taste (Ed: read addiction) but nonetheless Highly Recommended.

Mean Scene Project - Glow (Acoustic)

Hear The Track Here

Third time around for US based Mean Scene Project and, as I've said before, has made a good impression as a songwriter and musician. Although I've ragged on him (yep, another one man band) about the fairly typical American rock sound he is pumping out, there is no doubting that here is a musician who knows what he's doing - whatever the genre. Besides, there are many people who actually prefer this particular strain of Americana and certainly MSP should also think about basing some of their tracks on Songplanet - the style lends itself to Songplanet's playlists. Should do very well, ah say....

Mmmmmm, but wot now?

Acoustic is really where this track belongs - and it's one of the cuter varieties of that; re-categorize it and I think it will do exceptionally well. Sean Tevlin is the brains, fingers and vocal cords that constitutes MSP and Glow consists of two acoustic guitars and Sean's vocals and - as a consequence - it doesn't make an immediate impression. Continued listening brings out a soft, subtle track with hidden depths and some lovely - if basic - guitar playing. Not sure that this is a live track - despite the crowd noise at the end - but even if it is, it's been added to. The guitar placings of not-quite left and right really helps the first part of the track, but doesn't quite cut the mustard in the outro but those are minor details.

As I've also mentioned before, Sean is a well decent songwriter and Glow is - for all its little tics and twitches - a cracking song, full of longing, wistfulness and an aching heart. In the guitar parts I am reminded of the kind of thing the Stones used to do so well, but in the vocals you could reference any one of the singers fronting the guitar angst crazy (particularly as it 'appens Coldplay). Taken on that level alone this is a very worthy listen. It makes me wonder just how delightful a fully scored version of this track might sound. Whatever, for right now, I'm more than satisfied to have this one in my posession.

Excellent acoustic song. Highly Recommended.

BrainTheDancer - Singer In The Band

Hear The Track Here

BrianTheDancer will be a new name to you, as it was to me and - I suspect - Soundclick itself. Never mind, SC is a big old place we can always squeeze in a couple of million more. So, welcome BtD, lets see.... Brian Parker is the said artist and he's from my own fair country - but let's not hold that against him. There is only one track on his page right now, but I have the suspicion that this is just the beginning as he states 'Been singing for a long time, but never had the confidence to perform (too much self doubt), now that's all changing'

Yep, that's what I thought too...

Although the net is actually an incredible place to market your aural wares - or even just have somewhere you can direct your friends to - as we all know. However, there are the same pressures and competitive elements to this online music lark as there are in the real world, and that is where tracks like Singer In A Band really come unglued. I don't know how many times I have said this in reviews but HEY the competition is fierce me brudder and it's bloody good too, in every respect. There again, there are people - and Brian may well be one of these - to whom this is just a hobby and if even one person listens and comments that counts as a bonus.

Nothing wrong with that I say.

There is plenty wrong with this track though, and putting it up for review forces me to say what I think. Again, Brian is obviously limited by what he's working with, so take it as a given that the production is very lo-fi. There is a basic, pedestrian beat that doesn't always match up with what the guitars are pumping out; is this in fact a rhythm loop with a lead guitar recorded over it because that is what it sounds like. Brian's vocals aren't quite strong enough to hold up that end of the works either, although he certainly tries hard enough. As a first track, I think this is exactly what I would expect from someone just starting out and it does show that Brian has the bare bones of what he is about and not much more. There's always time though, and that is where the 'net' effect really comes into play.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

K-Gi - Born To Lose

Hear The Track Here

Doesn't seem like a year since I first heard this artist so entrenched have his tracks become on my playlist but Fans Against Doping (August 2006) was my introduction to this very singular musician. A knockout track in every respect (song, production, idea) this was one of the most effective introductions to an artist I have heard. He followed that up with the immaculate Dutty Water (November 2006) which consequently became one of my Track Of The Year choices last year. So far this year only Migration (February 2007) has been put forward for review which, although a nice enough listen, was a bit lightweight especially given 2006's wonders.

Great expectations indeed.

Being a real working musician is certainly going to up that expectancy and the one thing that can be guaranteed from any K-Gi track is a high degree of professionalism. K-Gi works in the real world as a musician on cruise liners, as honorable a profession as any but that MOR influence which serves him so well in that job colours much of the material he writes himself. No bad thing in and of itself but you do have to have a taste for the easy listening to really appreciate it. There is a rougher, more homegrown feel to both the execution and production of Born To Lose that takes some getting used to after the material I have heard in the past.

Underneath it all though, is the solid work I have come to expect from this musician, although I think the song is a bit weak overall, there isn't much wrong with the arrangement and delivery. It's all a question of personal taste, and I do like what this artist does musically even though I wouldn't normally touch something from the easy listening side of music. Certainly if I did, the musical past that K-Gi draws inspiration from - and his consequent rendering of it - makes him an artist who definitely should not be judged from first impressions. Work of this quality deserves more than a quick listen and if you already like K-Gi's approach (especially vocally) this track is a peach.

Light, reggae flavoured track that has a certain appeal. Recommended.

Policy Overkill - Happy Havoc Industries Overtime Mix

Hear The Track Here

Having just given one artist grief for giving me a ten minute track to review, I find myself at a complete loss as to what to say to this artist about his contribution. What me? Backwards about coming forwards with the verbals?? Surely it isn't possible for me to remain silent? This track would stop eight million charging rhinos (without a peppermint in sight) and that would be BEFORE you heard note one of the music. 'This one you'll need to download from my website' he says when requesting the review, 'as it's a touch...big...for Soundclick' Wait! read that one again A TOUCH TOO BIG for Soundclick.

What is it? The fekkin Titanic??

Well, I have reviewed some doozies in my time but HHI Overtime Mix has to take the all time record for being the longest track ever - probably in the whole history of recorded music. I almost crapped my pants when I started to download and noticed it was an extremely muscular 38MB or so (and this was an MP3 not a WAV) and I did do the doo when I came to slap it on my Ipod and noticed it was almost 45 minutes long. Best notice the emphasis there folks because this obviously will not be a quick listen. Admittedly, I am a bit crazy when it comes to hearing music, I really DO listen to everything I review several times but even this stretched me to my limits and I freely admit that I only played segments at a time. I listened to it once completely though just in case I missed anything. Note, too that there is an original version of the track on the SC website and it's only 5MB so it'll not hurt much; the link in this review is to this monster mix...

Uh oh CANNOT possibly cover it...

It's a funky little devil too, let me tell you. It's that initial groove that will get you into the track and it's that same groove that motivates the original and the intro to this. Mind you, from there on in, the landscape becomes both more industrial and a lot more experimental and by the time five minutes rolls round, most people will have their coats on. How Policy Overkill could expect anyone to last for yet another forty minutes is beyond even me. It's certainly an interesting (if increasingly noisy) diversion but not one to be approached in any way lightly. HHI Overtime Mix is the Mount Everest of tracks and not for the foolhardy. If you appreciate solid experimental electronica then this is a massive tour-de-force you are not likely to recover from quickly and one I find easy to recommend simply for the feat of keeping this thing alive so long.

Woooooaaaahhhh. Maximum. In.Every.Way.

Sleutelbos - About a man who ended up rather badly...

Hear The Track Here

Considering Sleutelbos has a princely 115 tracks on his Soundclick page, it's surprising that I seem to have only reviewed a couple. Either that means this Dutch artist has been hoarding tracks and just now put them online or they have been online forever and I'm late to the party as usual. Still, it was always thus. Sleutelbos has been a bit of experience so far, veering from quasi-chamber music through musical jokes; and now - apparently - more alternative experimental. All of which makes this artist more than a tad difficult to pin down, but I suppose that's not really a bad thing eh?

Unless, of course, you really want to piss me off.... :D

Bearing that last statement in mind, now consider the fact that About a man... is somewhere in the vicinity of ten minutes long and you can maybe guess what my initial reaction was. Ten minutes of anything is a strain for most people, ten minutes of experimental music is a sure cure for insomnia in most parts of the world. Now before y'all start having conniptions and whatever, rest assured that Sleutelbos isn't really going to make it that difficult, About a man... is pretty familiar in all of its guises and - given it's length - quite listenable. Good grief, did I just write that out loud?

The secret, I think, is that the track is based in rock (despite its labelling) and is - in fact - very reminiscent of some of the eraly works by the Pink Floyd. Eh? Come again? Yep, Dark Side of the whatsname and all that and I have to say Sleutelbos has made a pretty good job of it. OK, so I wouldn't go around hawking monsters like this as a general rule, but if you like that era Floyd sound then you will find much to like about this track. Probably best to stay away from it though if you don't like obviously home produced stuff and/or have the attention span of Paris Hilton or her dog.

Not so badly after all. Recommended for the flashback.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Band Of Asians - Fobby Asian Girl

Hear The Track Here

Having already steeped myself in eastern instruments and their usage, it seems funny - so many years later - to find myself reviewing loads of Asian bands (from Mid east to China and Japan) and all of them have one thing in common. To a man or woman, all of these musicians are playing western music and almost all of them surprisingly well. Having already been a devotee of Indonesia's garage band scene courtesy of Shorthand Phonetics, I was eager and ready to get some serious (although very lo-fi) rock back into the game. Band Of Asians are either a three peice or a duo but it seems sure that two of the members are Patrick Lew and Dave Arceo both from Seattle, WA - home of all things grungey. If you went by the buildup on the webpage of what Band Of Asians were about, no doubt you'll be listening already so lets join in...

To my ears - severely battered after much playing of this track let me tell you - there isn't much of a band here. In fact it appears to consist of bass (almost buried throughout), a wildly fast drumtrack (also buried throughout except right at the very end) thrashy, trashy guitars and some of the most uncomfortable singing you are likely to hear this side of Bedlam. Uh oh, you are thinking, Gilmore is about to throw his toys out of the pram. While it's true that I am refraining from really taking this track apart it still fails on so many points it will be blindingly obvious to anyone venturing a listen. Now, I know the grunge genre is supposed to be rough as a bears butt and about as tasty but this even fails the grunge test ie there being an actual song underneath it.

Production is, of course, none existent which accounts for the woeful mix, but it doesn't account for the jaggedness of the performance or the obvious sway of the arrangement. This sounds like a home made jam, and not a very good one either. So? Is that so bad? Surely Soundclick is FULL of tracks like this? Actually, surprisingly not. And that is why I feel I have to be as harsh as I am with this track. Now maybe the world has changed so much that material presented to the SC audience in this manner is now considered 'cool' or even 'retro' but I would never consider it any kind of musical achievement ESPECIALLY when you take into account the competition on Soundclick alone, never mind any other OMD or even the real world. I'll take a listen to some other tracks and hope that I am mistaken about this but...

You read the review; your choice. Me, I'll pass.

Big Wheel - All That Changes

Hear The Track Here

On the outskirts of noodle-y, you'll find chillage; an area occupied on Soundclick by the one and only Big Wheel. Ahhh, but this Big Wheel has even bigger ideas and is rapidly branching away from the genre (electronica if'n ya wuz wonderin') and taking on a bit of funk. No bad thing if you can pull it off. Keep On (July 2007) was essentially his first foray into this area and it was surprisingly slick, as funk needs to be. A large part of its appeal is the way Big Wheel mixes his earlier style along with this new strand, so I was definitely looking forward to a second helping.

Only to find out there is no spoon. (Ed: eh?)

Best if you take a look at the lyrics to figure out the above statement, and while you are doing that grab a listen to this very, very likeable track and its smooth treacle-y sound will ease your way. Damn, this track is so sharp, it's almost got a street swagger. I can't say I am a fan of the Rhodes sound generally, even though I use it occasionally, but when used in music of this genre (smoky blue funk) you can't be the sound. Especially if you ally that with a suspiciously Farfisa-like sound; about as close you are going to get to the period.

It's almost five minutes absolutely whizzes by for the first few plays because it is difficult to resist the internal pull of the track.Once you become more familiar with it, though, you start to notice how detailed everything is and how clearly it is rendered. Me, I'm a sucker for a neat beat and All That Changes, has a couple of doozies happening in there. So, choice of instruments, production, arrangement and attention to detail, top marks. Seeing as it is an instrumental, it may lose some listeners but hey, they would be missing out on a sorely good thing. Seriously chilled funk indeed.

Highly Recommended blend of styles.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Matan - Boiling Point

Hear The Track Here

The first Matan track I reviewed - The Gate (April 2006) - didn't exactly have me in raptures, in fact I was decidedly lukewarm about the whole idea. Firstly, and I know this SHOULDN'T be a problem, Matan is an Isreali artist and consequently sings with a distinct accent. More to the point, ally that with a not-so so-so song and you are bound to be on a cruising for a bruising. Nevertheless, I tend to think that Matan got off pretty lightly, and further tracks have shown that although his accent may have been a problem at the beginning, it's the songs that have captured my attention since then.

Boiling Point is not the usual musical ground Matan covers (much of it rock based), whereas this track has distinct electronic overtones. Stylistically it is exactly what I am beginning to expect from this artist; a sound that he has sharpened over the last few releases. To be sure I still have the usual niggles; mix is a bit wooly, some of the phrasing is definitely off, some of Matan's vocals could have been delivered better. But, hey, you gets it for free so what do you expect? Seriously, I am of the opinion that Matan has the makings of an excellent songwriter and Boiling Point is - underneath the home made sound - a track that would certainly be understood in his homeland.

Obviously, the Isreali music business is as blind as the UK or US.

Over the time I have known this artist, I found it best to actually read the lyrics while you are listening, believe me it will definitely make more sense that way. While Matan doesn't have the most powerful voice in the universe he carries the song well enough and in some ways that's all that counts. Certainly I am willing to overlook some obvious errors to get to a good song, and with this track you will have to do that too. It would be worth your while though because - as rough as Matan's work can be - there is a very decent talent operating there.

Excellent song, not so hot performance. Recommended even so.

Nini - Excited Eggs

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The second track from Burp is also someone he has worked with, and consequently someone who I have reviewed before in that context. Nini is a Chinese vocalist who I first encountered though a Burp collaboration - Recent Colloquy (June 2006) - which I liked a great deal at the time and have grown considerably fonder since then. It's taken up residence on my hard drive and I can't think of a finer accolade for a track. It is, however, essentially a Burp track with Nini collaborating, so I looked forward to hearing what she does in her own right. Be cautioned that this track comes under the Electronica: Noise genre so if you are allergic, don't go there. Besides, there are those who would argue that most Chinese music is mainly noise anyway so what else is new? I disagree vehemently, but I would being a well known fan of all things World'ly....

So, Excited eggs? I should coco.

So if you are looking for the usual 4-to-the-floor bump and grind electronica (Ed: I think he means electronic dance) then it would probably be best to look elsewhere because you could probably tie yourself in knots trying to dance to this track. Or at the very least cause yourself unecessary pain. Nope, Excited Eggs is that extremely rare commodity sophisticated electronica and very good it is too, especially if you like the more experimental side of the genre Yes, it is true that a good part of this track is made of extraneous noise but at least it is noise with a purpose, you can see and feel where it should fit. Not a bad act, if you can sustain it.

One of the main highlights of Recent Colloquy was Nini's cut up vocals and she applies the same trick here, except more cut up and used with a delay that works a treat for the ears. The fact is if I were going to make experimental electronica (Ed: perish the thought!) I would be more than happy if it turned out as well as this. I'm not sure whether Nini did all the musical/production work here or whether she works with someone else but whichever way it is, this is still a track to savour - all the more so if you like the genre to begin with.

Highly Recommended electronica with a difference.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Decollage - geronimos tuch

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A couple of tracks back to back now, both put up by our old friend Burp both - in fact - friends of Burp. Decollage will be a name familiar to regular readers who will know we've already covered most of her output. For those people who have spent some time off-planet, Decollage is an electronica artist from Munich, Germany who shares much of the same musical ground Burp plays in, although I think Decollage has her own distinctive voice. Where Burp approaches it from a rhythms point of view, Decollage loves to play with noise; of all descriptions. Sounds pretty crap, right? Wrong. Again, noise CAN be used constructively and to great effect. I mean God knows what the title signifies, but this track holds wonders...especially if you like some noise mixed in.

It would be fair to level the accusation at me that I do like artists who play with the whole chaosity thing. (Ed: is that even a word?) However, I can't abide noise for noise sake but I do like a good, well put together soundscape and that is the area explored by this odd track. The first time I heard it I couldn't believe that it had taken up a whole five minutes or so; time obviously passes slower in Decollageworld. It will take a while to settle in with you though, this is not a track for a casual listen - at least not if you want to appreciate something a bit (Ed: a country mile) off the beaten track.

geronimos tuch is a very listenable track and I can't decide whether that's because I have a liking for what Decollage does or whether it's because it's easier to grasp (as it were) than some of her other offerings. It may also have a lot to do with my sonic lust after the vocal samples she has used to great effectiveness in this track. There is a lot of World influence in the track for sure and except for it's in-built oddity it would pass as a World Music track. As it is, I think it's one of Decollage's better works and one I can only heartily recommend for fans of any of the artists I've mentioned and people who like their music to be a little different.

Excellent electronica track. MUST HAVE for fans. Highly Recommended.

The Antennaheadz - Garden Party

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Yep those otherworldy creatures with the strange domes (and even stranger music) are back with yet another track, obviously Thomas J et all who follow him are busy little aliens. Now if you think I've been at the moonshine or think I need to up my meds, I'll let Thomas J (aka the spiky ones) have his say about it: 'sometimes we'll make you boogie. Sometimes we'll make you cry'. I stand before you a living (if somewhat deafened) testimony to both those states. When they are on, they are on but when they are not, well..... People accuse me of being too nice to people and while it's true in some cases, Thomas J has been one who has felt the Gilmore Grapple more than a couple of times.

Mind you, he shrugged me off like the punyweight I am...[reviewer spadiongs off the wall]

I've kinda liked The Antennaheadz latest tracks, although thankfully most of them have been more accessible than when this artist really doesn't give a f**k about what anybody thinks. Hey, everyone needs their tone time. Although it's best that you don't try and foist it on me. Amidst all the sonic chaos, we tend to forget that - first and foremost - Thomas is a musician who plays real instruments (I count sax, guitar, keyboard) and this track definitely brings that message home. As usual, it's not yer normal pop rock but Garden Party has a charm and quality that gets you easily through its six and a half minutes of life.

To be blunt there are a couple of dodgy bits; the outro is an example, but on the whole I found this a surprisingly likeable side to this usually complex artist. More to the point, I think this is the very first time I have ever reviewed an actual Thomas J song and that is the big surprise here. While he doesn't have the best voice in town, Thomas makes good use of what he has got and I definitely urge you to read the lyrics while you listen, it'll help to put the song across. As always, there is a decidely lo-fi feel to it that belies the clear, wide-open sound, but overall this is a neat little effort. Moreso if you are of a trippy nature while listening - if you get my drift. Peace out.

Excellent, left-field track. Highly Recommended.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cameron Pierce - Hesitation

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The name will be instantly familiar to anyone who has been around Soundclick for any longer than five minutes but just in case you've just arrived Cameron Pierce is a young Canadian musician who has entertained us all for a good many years already. From the Latmat personna he started with, to the metamorph act he did by (rightfully) using his own name of late, whatever name he goes under he is an artist who is never NOT worthy of a listen or two. The amount (and range) of this artists tracks that have found their way onto my hard drive is adequate testimony to his warm, approachable music; and the reason he is so well known in these parts.

I like the acoustic approach, especially when combined with a pop rock arrangement and vocals to match and Cameron has made this one of his trademarks. If you like that whole harmony vocal, lotsa jingly guitars and a warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach, pick any CP track to indulge yourself. In the meantime. what does Hesitation have to offer, other than a slight indecisiveness (Ed: huh?) Like it's Must Have mate, Sincere Design (July 2007) Hesitation shows off Cameron's growing confidence as a performer and his song-writing abilities have never been in any doubt whatsoever.

I like this new, more aggressive production stance, it really aids the tracks inherent appeal. All of which should tell you that Cameron is on a roll right now so it'd be best to clamber aboard. Although Hesitation hasn't got the immediate appeal of his previous track, time will show that this track has longevity built-in, partly due to a highly infectious chorus. If anyone in your world wants to know what's happening in indie rock that is worth listening to, Cameron Pierce would be amongst my first choices and this would be a good track to begin with.

Excellent pop rock with endless appeal. Highly Recommended.

Kole McRae - Lets Sing Together

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I was probably a bit harsh with Kole McRae when I reviewed Bob The Zombie (July 2007) but hey, gotta call it as I see it right? Anyways I did end the review by saying that one track does not a summation make, so let's try another one. Mmmmm, lessee... Kole wrote 'this song is SUPPOSED to be a bit korny mate' to me and 'probably not what you think it is' in the songs comments so I guess it one of those to approach with an open mind. All of which I would do, should I happen to find a mind I can borrow; and that mind to have a keen sense of humour, and for the humour to be immediately apparent... Arrrgghhhh, a vortex!! Run away!! So instead, poor ol' Kole get's a cranky, crusty old timer who will instead insist on music being a certain way... (Ed: Ahhh you mean a bigot).

Can't say nothing to that, can you? I won't even try.

I already did a number on the way Kole chooses to showcase his music, and on his obviously limited recording situation and - if the truth be known - I might be well into creating a new butt for this poor guy except for one thing. Funnily enough, even through the flubs, mistimings, mistuning and other obviously non-essential rubbish getting the the way, there is no doubt that in other ways Kole is clever enough to do something well good - given the time and practice. In fact, that's probably the best thing to bear in mind when contemplating listening to this track or not. Now me, I'll listen to anybody who can string a note together, but I know that some of you are not known to be so foolish, so remember that 'raw' is a word to apply here.

It's a shame really because, as I say, Lets Sing Together is a clever track, certainly in the way Kole sets up the arrangement, if not in the actual execution. With a bit more of a mainstream treatment, and the artist reining in a little of his natural exhuberance and this would be - as they also say - a contender. Mind you, right now, it's a long, long way from completion and is a track (and artist) in dire need of a producers hand. I would advise Kole - as well as to keep on doing what he is doing - to get into some opportunities to make tracks with other SC artists. I am certain that will go a long way to knocking off those rought edges. In the meantime, of course, listening to the track would have to be a personal choice.

A glimmer of a good idea.

Mike-K - Midnight

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He's gonna kill me because I missed the chat on Saturday so I'd better be nice to him right? No, I agree that fekk that is a much better alternative ;) Mike-K (Kohlgraf seeing as you asked) shouldn't need introduction, at least to the regular (Hi Mum!) reader of this blog. Mike-K has long been a Soundclick regular, moderator and - for a couple of fun filled years - live DJ on Saturday Night Rocks on Songplanet. He's also, as it happens, a very decent musician in his own right as some of his past releases have shown; especially last months collaboration with Christopher (28 Fingers) Martin Hansen When I Think Of You (July 2007)

A class act then.

Although he wanders relentlessly over to the middle of the musical road I have a lot of time for his easy style, despite my in-born destestation of anything bland. That's IMHO bland, btw. One man gruel is another man's porridge innit? Latin Jazz is Midnight's stomping ground and that's not a good sign either but don't let these appearances deceive you; an artist with Mike's experience and knowledge will always guarantee it'll be a good listen, even if you don't like the style. I've recently taken up playing guitar after a 15 year hiatus, so I can appreciate even more how much it takes to get something like this down; I'm still in the blisters on me fingers stage, and something like this is waaayyy beyond me.

I mentioned Mike's collab with CMH earlier and I don't know if CMH could be registered as a contagious disease, but Mike has certainly caught a hefty dose of CMH's flow and style. Nothing wrong with that I say, because IMHO CMH is one of the ONLY acoustic guitarists on Soundclick that really push all my buttons. Mike can show a very neat, precise style too, but there is still the recognisable almost lounge-band sound that Mike mastered ages ago - his production is so clean you could live in it. I have to say, you'd have to like this genre and/or Mike the K to really get anything other than a 'ooo that's pwetty' reaction. OK, so I don't like the genre but I do like the musician and what he has created here.

Cool, well arranged, played beautifully. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Shorthand Phonetics - Goodbye Juria

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When I reviewed Whistleblower (July 2004) by Shorthand Phonetics, I had no idea of the shitstorm of cries about the quality of the recorded sound these guys pump out. As I stated at the time ' I can overlook numerous production and arrangement flaws if the track carries its own weight' and I've had to stand by that statement time and again over the ensuing years. Those years being full of tracks from their first full album Fan Fiction and the second Apparently...I'm In Medicine / Love, or the Illusion of the Beginning Symptoms of It. All of which didn't help any to get past people's instant love or hate of this Indonesian band.

No, maybe I should clarify.

I say band, but in fact SP is these days singer/songwriter Ababil Ashari who was the sound of the original band anyway. I have to say that being a long time fan of Ababil's songwriting ability, I've had to put aside many of the predjudices I've harshly applied to other tracks. Probably because, at heart, I just like the kind of music that Shorthand Phonetics (in whatever form) have been known to pump out from time to time. Although Ababil's navel gazing whimsical songs often amuse me, it's the harder, rockier sound that I've always gone for and - yipee - Goodbye Juria is made of that material. I've often made reference to the early punk Manchester sound of the Buzzcocks as being the root of this side of SP's work, and I see no reason whatsoever to deny that. In fact, I revel in it because I love the energy and verve of this style.

Even when the performance suffers because of that energy.

So crucify me already and lets have done with it. Working in a language that is not his mother tongue, in a pretty crowded genre, working with a basic setup, Ababil still manages to sound like he's having the best fun and it comes out in the music, slapping a big fat grin on your face. For sure, you would have to put up with a certain number of rough edges but that was always the way with this singular artist, as I am sure their other long term fans will testify. Since 2004 Shorthand Phonetics has kept me both entertained and amused, despite the odd glitch and hiccough, with some great songs and Goodbye Juria is a classic example of what they do best. And yes, that vocal breakdown does sound weird, but hey that's all part of the charm that is Shorthand Phonetics. I've long since given up trying to make any difference.

MUST HAVE for fans. Your roll of the dice for the rest of you.

Well. Do ya feel lucky, punk??

Azoora - Love Will Find Its Own Way

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Azoora describe themselves on their Soundclick page as 'a trip hop blend of acoustic electronica' and it's not a description I'd argue with much, except to say that it slightly obscures exactly HOW good that blend is, After all, trip hop is not everyone's cup of brown fluid, but I'd be willing to bet that Azoora's surprisingly professional music would be to most anyones taste and I only bet on sure things. Although they have been around on SC for a while, I have to say that it's been this year that they are really showing huge promise. So far this year I have reviewed three tracks, two of which recieved a Must Have rating from me and that's not bad going at all. Moreover, their 'stickiness' is becoming apparent the more time they spend on my hard drive, illustrating perfectly their appeal to a very wide church.

As an intended summer song Love Will Find Its Own Way doesn't strike you that way, at least not immediately. Neither will the spaciness of the vocals - which are drowned in echo - or (dare I say this?) the dodginess of the drum track. However, in common with all of their tracks this IS a demo and they make no secret of it, which only further whets my appetite to hear the final things because I have admit to being somewhat smitten when I hear what this outfit come up with. In style the track probably has more to do with the original Summer of Love than with any subsequent resurrections; and as rough as the mix is, the bones and muscle of the song are most definitely there. As such then, this is a damn fine listen, despite all the little niggles.

Yep, I'm such a final product kinda guy....

There is no doubt that the combined talents of Paul Loader (acoustic guitar/lead vox), John Purcell (electric guitar/production), Trudi Lawrence (backing vocals) and Ben Cockran on drums works a treat but it is in the songwriting of Mr Loader and Mr Purcell (who also twiddles whatever knobs you have to) that really makes Azoora stand out from the crowd - even on such a (seemingly) chaotic track as this. It has a great vocal feel to it, provided you like this kind of spread-to-the-horizon vocal treatment. It does, however, fit the tune magnificently and makes the track the unpolished gem it is. Now, understand here that I'm just bitching and moaning because I always expect more from this band than most, and what most people will hear will be more than enough to thrill them. In the meantime, I'll be keeping this until the final version comes along. Terrific song and arrangement (and it IS a demo).

MUST HAVE for fans, most Highly Recommended even so. Class.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Silvertrain - Nine Lives EP

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Every once in a while, this reviewing malarky showers me with real world favours in the shape of CD's of all stripes and varieties. Also, every once in a while, I take it upon myself to bring these shiny beauties to your attention - even though you'll have to shell out hard earned ackers (Ed: money, loot, spondulix, wonga, wedge et al) to get your own version. It's that reason why I don't bring EVERY CD to your attention (I've only ever given Silvertrain, Maria Daines and OnOffOn these reviews). Because I understand that you are all poor as church mice, starving in your garrets and all that artistic shit, it's best that I only single out the best - as it were. As I mentioned, Silvertrain had this honour dumped on them from a great height when I reviewed their first studio CD The One To Blame way back in the summer of 2004. It's kind of fitting then that - almost exactly two years later - I get to introduce you to their latest, all new selection. This time it comes in the shape of a 4 track audio CD and a video all for the measly sum of 3.5 GBP (or $7 or so). All the tracks are also available (for listen only) on their Soundclick page or from the band's official site

Nine Lives
I already reviewed this track once (November 2004) but as you can imagine it's undergone some changes since then. Essentially I heard the barest bones of a song that I knew they'd grow into and the only advice I had was not to lose the emotional punch of the song. Shoulda know better than even to bring it up, because it's that musical vulnerability (in sound and feel) that has always been a Silvertrain trademark, and is at the heart of this track and proof positive that guys REALLY should be doing this in the real world - for real. Classic song with a classic treatment. Solid enjoyment. For the merest hint of how good it is, check out the version on their Soundclick page.

Good People
T'wouldn't be a Silvertrain product though, unless that same songwriting quality were applied to a hefty pair of rock and roll testicular implants and that's where Good People comes in. A head banging wall of sound hammers you into the floor while the excellently mixed vocals raise your spirit to an inch above your head. This should be mainlined to anyone in need of an instant pickup.

Over the past two years I have noticed a distinct toughening of the songwriting style; a much more pointed affair these days and that has leaked over into the music. All of the tracks on this CD are pretty muscular and Empty is one of the hardest; in sound and feel. Where the first two tracks are standard Silvertrain vocally, the anger and passion of Empty is amply shown by the excellent vocal (courtesy of Ritchie) and the song lyrics. One to savour, and a track I predict will have the longest legs.

The End
The real highlight and standout track is The End by a country mile. If there is any track that shows what this amazingly popular Soundclick artist has to offer its this one. Full of trademark Silvertrain traits, the vocals, the delivery, the sheer JOY these guys can put into a track. It also happens to rock like nobody's business and sounds like the hit it rightly deserves to be. When I reviewed the original track (September 2006) I said this would do the trick for the EP and it's nice to see that my Highly Recommended got put to good use, because this track is just knockout - ESPECIALLY in the video version included on this CD (a film by Max Sobel)

Music like this is worth every penny. MUST HAVE (even for starving artistic types)