Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Legendary Fred Miller - A Light In The Darkness

Hear The Track Here

The second newbie (at least to me) and the last review track of the month comes from a man who appears to be a legend. Now you would need a whole new set of cojones if you went into this lions den we all inhabit and called yourself legendary - either that or not give a f*** what people think. I go for the latter meself, and say good on yer mate. Judging by his page, Fred (or should that be Ledge for short?) specialises in rock styles so quite why I should end up with reviewing the only folk rock tune on that page, is beyond me. Especially when you consider that this is a genre that has never sat too well with me. Too many days and nights spent listening to earnest young men mumbling into their beards and getting drunk on cider.

Or was that hippies??? Why is my mind suddenly blank?

The funny thing is that I tried really hard to bite down on my own predjudice and listen with an open mind, I really wanted to like what Fred was doing. I've read his forum postings and he seems like a decent guy, but hey if I wasn't honest about what I was hearing, what is the point of reviewing? So, bearing in mind that this track may not be indicative of what Fred gets up to in other genres, let's see why it failed to impress. I know we all labour under various inadequate recording situations and that will affect what our music will sound like, but this track suffers from more than that. Putting all predjudice aside, while this is undeniably folk rock, its not very well thought out folk rock.

There is definitely a certain charm about Fred Miller vocally, he has a good, strong voice although not best treated in this mix. Having said that I should also add that it is probably an acquired taste too. What particularly didn't work for me were the odd timing errors, shown more than anything in the incredibly pedestrian drum track and the very ordinary arrangement. Come on Gilmore, you cry, what do you expect?? Well, I expect to hear something consistent, punchy and to the point and this definitely misses the target. There again, I haven't experienced the rock side of Mr Miller as yet so I'll just hold my (bad tempered) tongue for a while and see what else is on offer.

Wreckless Music Ejay - Gemini

Hear The Track Here

It's nice to round out the month with a couple of newer names (at least to me). The first of which, I have to admit, I had some definite reservations about, long before I heard any music. Which should show that names can more more than just something to chuckle about. So whats in a name, you ask? I know that many, many people will look at this artists name and immediately leap to the same conclusion I did, without hearing a note of music. Looked at in that way, this could prove to be a serious roadblock if you want to make an impact in online music. The problem, as ever, is in the use of the E word. Firstly, I think Ejay (the music software) own the rights to the name, so Wreckless Music may wish to rethink this. Much more telling is the connotation the name Ejay gives the the wider general online audience; software made for building musical blocks; legomusic as some wiseacre once joked.

Having spent considerable time on the Ejay forums during the early 2000's, I don't share the distaste for music emanating from this source, I have met many fine musicians who cut their teeth on Ejay. Mind you, go to the above site and Wreckless Music, will give you a whole other explanation. I still advise caution when using this name because of its wider implications but hey, it's your life. Musically though, Gemini displays none of the downsides of Ejay and much of straight ahead hip hop from this Washington (state) artist. I think they are probably a new addition to Soundclick, and judging by this track are more than a welcome addition to the hip hop field; better than a lot, not so good as the few - if ya get what I mean. Still, we all have to start somewhere, and Gemini is a worthy listen - should you like the genre.

It's a given that not everyone is into hip hop but I have been a big fan from the very start and although I'm not enamored with lot of of todays rappers, I do like some of the unsigned online stuff. Like a lot of hip hop artists, musically Gemini follows a very familiar pattern; dirty beats, a tinkling, plinking soundtrack and machine gun vocals all mashed up into a whole. As such, it won't make much impression, it's too formulaic, to standardised to really stand out. Shame that because the best part of this track (the rap) is special; a double rap between a bass voice and either a female and/or young boy. It works a treat and - as such - is a pretty unique to hang a rep on and one I personally could do with hearing more of, So, not a bad track, just not very inspiring - except for the vocals.

There again, early days yet...

The Vantangle - Ruby

Hear The Track Here

When I crapped on Marc Vantol's (aka The Vantangle) I Am A Genius (October 2006) about the only good thing that came out of that review was summed up in one word, and it had nothing to do with IQ. I think you can guess what the word was. Not to be denied he popped up again with Like It (March 2007) which I kinda/sorta didn't but had a strange fascination for because it was ...well, so helpless... A half formed idea at best but something this artist takes perverse pleasure in as a quick listen to any of his tracks will testify. I did note, however, the marked difference in quality between his first and second tracks and again thought that he had the start of something.

But it was REAL hard to be sure, ya know what I mean?

None of that on Ruby whatsoever, although that singular sound he has is initially off-putting, repeated plays soon wore off the admittedly small rough edges. Hold on, hold on, is the same Vantangle? Sure it is, you can tell instantly by the sound and structure of this track but my, hasn't a year or two at the craft wrought some considerable advantages. For starters, his guitar playing is much more controlled now ensuring that Ruby is the first track I have heard from this artist that most closely resembles what most of us refer to as a 'song'. A bloody good song too, as it happens, although it still has that awkward, shy edge this artists work has laboured under in the past.

Doesn't stop the song shining through though and that's well good news. Matter of fact, the more I played Ruby, the more I came to appreciate it's little quirks and if I haven't made this plain enough yet; came to like it a lot. There again, I am also a guitarist and a vocalist so I am more likely to enjoy it for what it is than most reg'lar folks, who will only hear a very basic arrangement etching out the song. It certainly shows that The Vantangle has made enormous strides in putting his particular vision across, giving this track the right vocal and rhythmic approach that a year ago he would have been totally incapable of; creating a track - however slight - with a fragile beauty. Where there is life, there is hope. Halleluyah!! Halleluyah!!

Highly Recommended Acoustic song.

Decollage - Hot Monster Lady

Hear The Track Here

Although most of us whinge and moan about modern technology and its daily trials, there is no question that has made life much, much better for millions of people. Nowhere is this more so than in the explosion of music making ability that has become available through computer audio technology to every budding Elvis or Britney (Ed: is that the best you can come up with??? and you a famed reviewer? mrrrrrr). When I first started making music seriously the process was almost insurmountable. You had to be young, attractive (Ed: which definitely ruled him out) so that very rich people would invest large amounts of money to go into a studio and record a 'single'. Then you had to go out and play in every fleapit and rathole known to man for the rest of your life in the hope that you may just about appeal to a few thousand people. The nothing I spend on making music now has cost me thousands and thousands and thousands of whatever currency you fancy.

All in the past now.

It also enabled OTHER artists who maybe would never have delved into music on a production level to make a statement aurally as well as physically (ie painting for instance) Decollage is, I believe, one of those people and I have had some interesting musical times listening to her aural works. Another artist unearthed by the ubiquitous Burp, Decollage is a neighour and friend and - as it turned out - also an experimental electronica artist. So, going in to Hot Monster Lady expecting something a little naughty, and you'll get your ears well and truly spanked. Remember, we are talking about experimental here; an area where some things work extraordinarily well and where some crash and burn in glory within seconds.

Decollage has some ups and downs to my ears, but I think that's mainly a taste thing than anything she is doing wrong. Always a problem when listening to this genre when you know that what you are hearing is exactly what is supposed to sound like. Going wtf? wtf? wtf? in breathless high dudgeon isn't going to help at all, believe me. Hot Monster Lady is a couple of minutes spent with a moody little track, grounded in the intro by an absolutely rabid sub-bass that'll take the coating off your speakers. Musically, it's a bit sparse, relying on - as usual - cutups to enhance and sweeps to fill in the gaps; but it's overall effect is definitely greater than the parts. The lady is getting mucho practice on putting these tracks together and it really shows in Hot Monster Lady more than any track I have heard from her lately. Fo' sure, it's different.

Recommended Experimental Electronica

Thursday, September 27, 2007

One Kid's Lunch - Moment Of Truth

Hear The Track Here

Some month's I think you guys are just spoiling me. No pleasure to me is greater than reviewing a couple of my favourites together although there is a world of difference between Pilesar and the Contemporary Christian One Kid's Lunch. Oi!! I saw that rolling of the eyes routine. Honestly, do you really think I would subject you to that? Certain breeds of Christians raises my hackles too but thankfully it IS a broad church and there is plenty of room for oddballs such as Dave and Dustin (aka the aforementioned midday meal) to strut their stuff. Any God that would have me for an acolyte would have to be in possession of all his chuckling faculties because you gotta larf, innit?

One of the best things about sitting down to OKL's table is that there is always plenty to munch on, meaty intelligent rock based music tracks, excellent vocals and - best of all - lyrics that are sharp, biting, often irreverent and funny as all get out. LOLrock, anyone? Moment of Truth appears to have come onto Soundclick during the middle of last year and I'm surprised that I seem to have missed out on this band's finer tunes for so long. In the past I have said that this artist often reminds me of the work of 10cc and nowhere does that influence really come out but on this song; performance and songwriting skills are top notch. OK, they are working in a slightly different genre to Godley, Creme et al but not by much.

Two elements of this track struck me as gold dust from the very first play; the way the vocals fitted into the track and played off each other and the lyrics. The lyrics are often the highpoint of OKL tracks, but Moment Of Truth tends to be a little more serious than previous tracks about it's message and - as such - makes a greater impression. At least on me, their number one fan. Moment Of Truth is a very easy track to assimilate but incredibly hard to put down once you've smeared your ears with it. Like a lot of OKL tracks it can soon become incredibly addictive - not to mentioning fattening (of calves, presumably). Ultimately here is a track that almost anyone would enjoy except yer average Goth/death metal freak, and they have their own God as we well know...

MUST HAVE pop rock.

Pilesar - It's A Surprise (Open Your Eyes)!

Hear The Track Here

It isn't very often that a musician will freely admit that 'I just slung this together', and the musician who said it would have to be Pilesar; it's a logical sequence, ya see? Despite the groaning from certain quarters about rabid musicians making noise for noise sake, Pilesar isn't just another noisemaker. Ever since he first stunned me with the incredibly opaque Acka Fracka (October 2004) in his group Mandible personna, Pilesar has become one of the most reviewed - and unquestionably my own favourite - experimental artist. The great thing about Pilesar is that underneath all the musical lunacy is a sharp musical brain, and it shows in his music - no matter how chaotic it sounds.

Personally I have a real taste for his live stuff (with or without the usual suspects) but I'll pretty much take anything I can get. Which he obviously knows because he's trying to foist something 'he just slung together' on me this month. Actually It's A Surprise took a whole one day to germinate, which when judged by time in the Pilesar universe could stretch on into infinity; depending on how bloody minded he is feeling towards us. On this track, the man enters a time warp wormhole which transports us to 1967 Berkeley just as acid hits the streets and people start doing some really, really, weird things; especially with musical instruments.

Funnily enough, I think this is the commercial side of Pilesar - if the C word can be applied to something that could have been dreamt up by Country Joe and The Fish. And it was 1967. T'ain't though, it's 2007 so how would a more freaked out version of that band fare today? Welp, judging by the amount of airplay Pilesar gets (just under his own name, mind, can't count his many collaborations), perfectly well fank 'ee very much. As he should because a mind this creative (not to mention completely foolhardy) cannot be allowed to reside in obscurity. They say that England is the land of eccentrics but I have to say the US is rapidly gaining ground. In all seriousness, this is the most accessible track I have ever heard from this artist; appealing, off-the-wall, charming and sounds like a great deal of fun was had creating it.

MUST HAVE for fans. Highly Recommended for the scaredy-cats...

Drew Warburton - Run

Hear The Track Here

Drew Warburton, in case you didn't know, is the only artist I know who has received not only of of the hardest reviews I have ever written, but one of the longest too. When I reviewed Eternally Forever (September 2004) I wrote reams and reams about everything (including the track obviously) and - to be honest - it probably felt like a slap in the face at that point. Certainly enough to put most newbies off this game for life but thankfully, Drew was made of sterner stuff than that. He bounced back in style with Lose (February 2007) a really terrific Rolling Stones sounding song that surprised the beejeebus out of me. Now that's what I call a smart comeback!

Now just in case you think that Drew is wearing some spectactularly tight trousers while listening to this song, let me explain. The vocals on Run are sung by a lady called Zara and I for one could do with hearing a lot more of her. She has a great feel and her voice just oozes confidence - the sort of voice you couldn't really get too much of (Ed: Unless you were married to it). IMHO her voice could have done with being a lot more up front and centre, her tone and phrasing could certainly fill out the sound more. There again, this is a very minor quibble, and probably just sour grapes from me because Drew gets to work with such a singer and all I get is caterwauling Indian grannies.... ;)

The intervening years since that first review and now have put some very substantial meat on Drew's musical bones and he has become a fine musician and (surprise, surprise) a good songwriter into the bargain. When he asked for this review he was muttering some technical gabble about click track this and click track that but - to be honest - this track seemed perfectly fine to me, in every way. Sure, the music tended to overcrowd the vocal from time to time, but that self same music held some great atmosphere and my, my Drew manages some very interesting licks into the bargain. Ultimately Run is a great little rock song, sung by an angel, written by a capable guitarist/songwriter and I urge you to get an earfull and please, more of Zara!! (Ed: He's not a dirty old man really...) Yes, I am. I am too!!

Most Highly Recommended. A great rock tune.

Nini - Prisoned In Body

Hear The Track Here

It's been my pleasure lately to find a couple of excellent musicians from China; 1969 and Nini - although their musical styles couldn't be any more different. Both have tremendous appeal though and both are worthy of checking out. Nini, a vocalist from Beijing, China is a lady I first heard in a collaboration with Munich's Simon Witt; probably better known as Burp. Experimental electronica then is the area we are going to be cavorting in, so make sure you are adequately prepared. There again, if you are a fan of Burp's music you will already be familiar with this singer.

Nini has guested on a couple of the weird-meisters works (Recent Solloquy and noctis labyrinthus) and it was only when I reviewed Excited Eggs (August 2007) that I got to hear her on her own. Very nice it was too, if such a term could be applied to experimental music; and it is obvious why the Burp/Nini collaboration works so well. Prisoned In Body is considerably more laid back than anything heard from this artist before. It's long, drawn-out lope seems to take forever delivering each note, while you ears are undergoing the most efficient syringing known to man (or more to the point woman). The only other instrument on this track besides the electronica backing track is Nini's own vocal chords. To call her a singer isn't quite correct; she uses her voice like an instrument; using sounds to convey feeling and emotions.

Not a bad trick if you think about it.

Now personally, as meny of you know, I'm a big fan of Eastern female vocalists and despite my many jibes about caterwauling and the like, I find that this style is the most stirring of all vocals. Even, as this track would indicate, when the backing track twists and turns in and of itself and is probably a whole case study in its own right. It's Nini's voice though that gets me every time; and her very idiosyncratic way of using it. While Prisoned In Body isn't exactly comfortable listening, it's certainly interesting, detailed and varied with lots of lovely sounds to gawk at.

Recommended Experimental Electronica.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Young Kannon - Your Fault

Hear The Track Here

Young Kannon is a member of the Chicago Da Luck Ent collective who has become a familar hip hop voice to me, and hopefully you too. However, his music and raps are gritty, often painful and obviously carrying a parental advisory, so I am sure that he isn't going to appeal to anyone who may be offended by such material. I think I would feel that way too if I were to hear what Kannon has to offer in lesser hands. To accurately get across the sense of rage and fury (and the power that induces) takes a very special skill, especially for it to be believable. The sort of track you know will draw a gawking crowd wanting to look in on the action; but at heart a deeply personal tragedy for many others.

In many ways, Your Fault is a logical follow-on from the harrowing Nowhere 2 Hide, a inner city vision of a nightmare come true and - obviously - not easy listening. Musically its a mix of beats, audio clips and various plinks, plunks and plucks that hold the track up remarkably well, despite their sparseness. As always though, the hard centre of it all is the rap and this is where this track - for me anyway - wins out hands down. As I said, takes a skill to get the rage and emotion into a track like this but it works here with a chilling intensity.

Also like Nowhere 2 Hide it tells a very specific story, complete with sound effects; intensifying the feeling that this is an aural version of a Quentin Tarantino movie. It's a short track for the genre too, weighing in just under the three minute mark but - given the content - there ain't much more you could take without going totally postal. I know there is a big market for music of this type and Young Kannon should do well because he has the intensity down to a T. As always, although I can appreciate the music and the style of this peice, it wouldn't be something I would want to listen to on a regular basis. Waaay too traumatic for that but certainly a track to be taken seriously; it's subject matter alone will ensure that.

Highly graphic slice of inner city life. Harrowing. Recommended, even so...

Big Wheel - Boomtown

Hear The Track Here

What? Why are you looking at me like that? Yes, I know I look a little different today but that's because I was instructed, for this review, to (and I quote) 'get (my) dancing pants on'. And I happen to like lilac. And tight, but let's get off that subject rapidly before I cause meself any more shame and embarressment. Anyway, we are here to get down with it and do that thing. Quite what getting down and doing things with it has to do with a nice, clean family type reveiw (Ed: oh f*** off Gilmore) I have no idea but lets press on. Big Wheel isn't just a round object, but will be familiar already to a lot of people as an excellent producer of electronica - with a difference.

Boomtown turns out to be an excellently breezy House workout, leading this reviewer being glad that I am wearing said pants. When I dance it's best to avoid any constriction about my person, while still keeping things contained with the limits of decency - except the lilac of course. Sooo, apart from being a decent, well constructed slice of dance, what else does it have going for it? Welp, our Big Wheel is a bit of a smartarse when it comes to turning out a tune and Boomtown manages to comfortably avoid my own House predjudice (like some of that style but not most).

Like a lot of his tracks this year, this was an entry into the Electronica House Tournament, and I wonder how well it did because, even to my ears, it sounds remarkably authentic. There again, you would expect that with the Wheel, as you would the clear, warm production and those little touches that make a dance track really suck a listener in. Hand on my heart, I couldn't say I totally took to this track, but that's more to do with my own dislikes than anything Big Wheel might be doing wrong. Count in the fact that this was made under deadline and took exactly two days. Have a listen and tell me if you can spot that join. Excellent dance track and let no-one tell you any different.

Highly Recommended House.

Fluidity - Did It Again

Hear The Track Here

The first band from Down Under (Australia, New Zealand) I ever heard was a band called the Easybeats and since then even I have to admit that they have spat out some world class bands between them. It's true that - initially anyway - Australia tended to overshadow its neighbour at the beginning but it's the native New Zealand musicians who have provided the most surprises (Split Enz, Crowded House et al, naming my own personal favourites). The reason I'm chattering about all things Antipodean is that, surprisingly enough, Fluidity (aka John Paul Carroll) is from New Zealand and a fine example of how that spirit lives on he is too. I use the references in this paragraph particularly because in the few years I have known him this artist has progressed enormously, and this track is sure proof that he - how should I put this? - did it again.

Except more so. If you catch my drift.

From the admittedly demo sound he had in the beginning, JP has been learning tricks left right and centre and Did It Again is the culmination of all that hard work. I freely admit I have a liking for his music, a rock musician who feels his roots but still manages to create a sound that could only be Fluidity - where the name means what its says. 2007 has seen a slew of really good tracks from this artist but, right now, I think Did It Again has them all beat. Everything fits together so well in this track, a class production and a song that - once again - has JP wearing his heart on his sleeve. Bless him.... Aaaaaaa.... (Ed: now, now enough of that)

One of things I have come to most appreciate about Fluidity are the lyrics; he often doesn't have a lot to say but what he says he says well. One of the conversations we had waaay back was about whether or not he should be singing on his tracks and if Did It Again isn't the only answer to that question, I know nozzing. I like the tough, rocky side of Fluidity and Did It Again has plenty of that to go along with the cracking song. Front and center though are the excellent vocals, lifted by both backing vocals and strings; between that and the absolutely standout production values this track embodies its a shoo in. On a personal level I think this is probably the best thing I have heard from this artist yet, but I do love rock don' I?

MUST HAVE Alternative rock.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Anna Lea Pudan - The Long Road

Hear The Track Here

As many of you know, I am the father of twins so the first thing that jumped out of Anna Lea Pudan's page was that she is a twin. Her and her sister started musically at a very early age, although never it seems professionally. Now, at this stage of the game, all Anna wants is "hope to interest people in the lyrics and tunes and I want to be recognized as the author and composer of my songs". Can't think of a better place than Soundclick to do this. Anna is a new name to me obviously but she is already chalking up some very influential Stations playing her material so I was much interested to see what she was about. First off, I have to say the copy of The Long Road I had contained some serious rendering problems, which may be a problem for a track that is on sale for almost 1 US dollar (50p to me). You know I have nothing against people who want to sell their music, that's their right. I do have a problem, however, with shoddy product - that affects us all and only reinforces the 'indie music is rubbish' mindset that seems to prevail in the real world.

Ooops, sorry, didn't realise this was a party political review ;)

As it happens, Anna is a songwriter first and foremost and that much is obvious from the get go. Musically, The Long Road is sparse to the extreme, hanging on a guitar figure, a solitary bass and the slightest of percussion effects. At least that way, there's not much to go wrong is there? It provides the most basic framework to highlight the song itself and that's the way it should be in a situation where the song is the thing. On that score, Anna Lea Pudan has the right voice to tackle this "sort of spiritual, bluesy" material, although in no way as powerful as say, Maria Daines. Nonetheless, she does a very decent job of getting the message of the song across and when that is your expressed intention, I'd say you are doing OK.

Apart from the sparseness of the musical content, the track itself definitely shows the bare bones of a good track and one I would like to hear with a much more rounded production but we all work with what we've got, don't we? On that score, I'd say Anna Lea Pudan has a certain something going for her. In my time reviewing online I have met lots of good songwriters, and The Long Road is as good as anyone elses first attempts. Time will tell, of course, and with a couple of years on this scene under her belt (and hopefully some collaborations with other musicians), Anna has the potential to carve herself out a peice of Soundclick she can call her own. There really isn't much more that can be said actually because this is basically a demo for a song; worth a listen for sure, but to buy??? Mmmmmmm.

Good song, flawed recording.

Band Of Asians - Broken Hearts Become One

Hear The Track Here

I don't know, maybe you are a bit sick of music at the moment and are thinking of something else to do. Read a good book, I say. always a sure cure for what ails you. Or, short of that, you could spend a couple of days reading through Band Of Asians Soundclick site. Eh? Yep, if you always thought that SC pages are relatively small and self contained, think again. Sorry about this obvious digression but hey, I notice these things OK? Their front page is chock full of quotes, reviews, band bio and photos which is necessary; but then take a look at the reviews page and you are looking at a bottomless pit of text that seemingly goes on forever. Everything associated with this artist has been painstakingly written out, in every aspect. Nothing wrong with that. I happen to believe that self-promotion is a God given right. When, however, you actually HEAR the music all this verbal diarrhea is about, you gotta wonder what all the smoke and mirrors is about.

But hold on, Band of Asians? Why does that name alarm me??

Band Of Asians have joined a very few artists who I have felt obliged (Nay a duty even) to rip a new asshole publicly for the quality of his work. I'm not even sure whether their is a band behind this name right now but I'm going to presume it is all the work of Patrick Lew; the vocalist, guitarist and songwriter. When I reviewed Fobby Asian Girl (August 2007) I was particularly harsh on the extremely sloppy production and performance, and for good reason. The competition, as I keep pointing out, is feirce out here, they will eat you alive unless you have something to offer. Most other reviews I have read about this artist pretty much come to the same conclusions so I hope that Patrick will see that there is nothing personal whatsoever about this. It's about the business we are all here to do; in other words, it's about the music. Sorry if the music really is crap (and Fobby Asian Girl was that and more) then what is the point in gilding the lily?

So, on my second attempt to understand this particular strain of Seattle grunge, I was hoping that this time I would get off lightly.

Broken Hearts Become One is made entirely on computer so I'm not all sure where grunge would play a part, and indeed it doesn't. It would do well to forget about harmony, melody, tempo, drama, atmosphere or plain musical common sense too. Good grief, is there anything left?? After all this is a track that lives over four minutes, what can be taking up all that space? Well, there might or might not be a slice of Patrick's guitar playing in there, so that might kinda/sorta account for the grunge feature. Oh, and about 6 or seven factory sample loops that are used in the most haphazard way possible, none of which has any bearing on any other sample. They also appear to be thrown together in the same manner, gaping silences between supposed sections, brick wall cutoffs and the most preposterous use of an orchestral sample I have ever heard. The sort of track you could put together in an hour or so and it sounds like it too. Band of Asians have surpassed their own already bad record, so at least that's something Patrick can chuckle about.

Crockmister - Going Down To Babylon

Hear The Track Here

It seems to be the month for old faces to reappear. One of the real harsh drawbacks of cutting down on the amount of reviewing I've been doing (to make room for my own work you understand) has been that I no longer review over at MP3 Unsigned which means that I miss out on previously reviewed artists such as The Shed, Smalllife and - of course - Crockmister and Deggsy. That combination delivered so well that they narrowly missed being my Artist of The Year 2005. Who did they lose out too? Maria Daines and Paul Killington and if that isn't a compliment, I don't know what is. Not content with that they gave me a Track Of The Year 2006 in Lullaby In Blue, released at the very beginning at that year, again showing just how good they can be. Crockmister on his own is no slouch either, let me tell you. Long before the deadly collaboration with Deggsy, Craig Sofaly (for he is the Crocky) had made a distinct impression on me with his extremely professional approach.

An artist to be savoured.

Happily, having finished my own projects this year, I've now had time to re-acquaint myself with MP3 Unsigned and lo, I stumbled across this track and let me tell you, this one was too good NOT to bring it to your ears immediately. It was only then I discovered it was available on Soundclick too, How could I miss this? Waaaaahhh. Judging by the activity on the page Crockmister has been almost silent for a year, but get a listen to this and you'll be begging him not to stop EVER AGAIN. After the dush, dush dush of most indie music, the lightness of touch shown by a true master of what it means to be as professional as you can get - indie or otherwise. Why Craig isn't a major star is completely beyond me: he has everything going for him; a classy, stylish performer musically and vocally and he is a songwriter par excellence. Even the merest glance towards Going Down To Babylon will hook you in before you can say fu....

k? You have been warned.

Although I absolutely hated Dire Straits, I did like the area of music they tried (Business Ed: successfully, mind) to capitalise on. Can't say they really grasped the ethos of it though, whereas Crockmister exhudes it through every musical pore. In my life I have had the great good fortune to encounter some incredible musicians live and in person. One such was Dr John, of Night Tripper legend. One of the most compelling, mesmerising performers I have ever seen (not counting Jimi obviously) his live performances made a powerful impression on me. That seemily oh-so-easy vocal style is why I bring the good doctor into this review because Craig has that same manner about him and Going Down To Babylon (not a reggae track, way more rhythmic than that) is a classic example of what Crockmister is all about, Class all the way. Oh, I did use the Dr John reference on purpose because - to my ears - this track has more stylistically to do with the US South than the land of me bredden. Safe.

Top class track, get it at all costs. MUST HAVE.

Prash - Naach Na Na

Hear The Track Here

Now here is the most welcome sight this year. It's been ages and ages since I last heard anything from one of my favourite Indian artists, so getting this track this month was a real treat - at least for me. However, I suspect I won't be alone in that warm glow, Prash has plenty of friends on Soundclick who will probably feel the same. Funnily enough, Prashant Vadhyar (hence Prash) likes to make gen-u-wine rock music, and very, very well he does at it too; the endless string of must haves testifies to that. There again, when you consider that Prash (in his day job as it were) is a working Bollywood (ie Mumbai, India) musician working on films scores, adverts and God knows what else.

He would have to be good, know worra mean innit?

My only problem with reviewing his work is that I can never find anything wrong with it, and lots that is so, so right. Getting the reviews soaked in drippy praise makes for rubbish reading but Prash is one of the very few artists where such praise is not just so much hyperbole; he really is that good. In this instance he delivers a rare track (at least for him). Naach Na Na is - as you can probably guess from the title - a return to his own musical roots, something he has done all too rarely in the time that I have known him. That whiff of sour grapes is probably more to do with my own love of Indian sounds, than with Prash's equal love for all things rock. Bless him though, he makes it all worthwhile because - when he does return to his own country for inspiration - the result is pure heaven for this reviewer,

So, a liking for all things Bollywood is absolutely essential to get anything from this track but there are plenty of Bhangra boys and girls out there who will love this. Naach Na Na is a track made to help people 'to let go of their inhibitions and join in the dancing... we expect this song to play at parties and wedding celebrations... especially in the northern part of india... ' and I see no problem whatsoever with that line of thought. As you can imagine, the track pounds along like a maddened water buffalo powerfully sung by its composer Sunil Choudhry, backed up with some stupendous production and backing from Prash. It's a given that I would absolutely love this but I would bet my entire (slightly soiled obviously) reputation that you will too; world music at its very, very best.

Absolute MUST HAVE

The Bob Lazar Story - Glass-Eyed and Frankly ft. Crazy Legs

Hear The Track Here

For a moment there, as I started to write this review, I was suddenly convinced that New Zealand's The Bob Lazar Story didn't have a Soundclick webpage. Not that it makes any difference to me, and I'm halfway sure that SC wouldn't smack my bum for going off site for reviews - after all, I've done it often enough. Still, either the drugs kicked in or I was snapped back to reality and checked back through past reviews and there it was. Hey, maybe I am really getting old timers disease which would be ironic considering all the years I've been making fun of it. At this stage of the game I've reviewed a few TBLS tracks and - considering it is prog rock in all it's glory - Matt Deacon (aka TBLS) has fared pretty well, mostly down to his take on the style rather than anything I like about the genre which - as you know- is nothing whatsoever. I do like a good player though, or a good idea and that is where TBLS have always come clean.

Now obviously prog rock is a small part of the musical world, it's a fact that this is going to be decidely 'niche market' (see I learn all the buzz words!) and wouldn't appeal to everyone. However, what The Bob Lazar Story bring to the table is quirky enough to (just) drag it out of the black hole of oblivion I normally consign tracks from this genre to. A quick listen to any track will confirm just how quirky things can get, but as an introduction to the artist, I think this track has the best chance of getting through to a casual listener; there's a cute jazzy style to it that even win over some of the game soundtrack merchants who love anything bleepy and/or geeky.

It should also, in my very 'umble opinion o' course, appeal to those crusty old farts (yep, like me) who remember when Frank Zappa first started pushing the boundaries of what was then rock because it's the instrumental lineup that this track most reminds me of. Can't say that I've ever thought dear ol' Uncle Frank was ever a prog rock artist but if he were: this is what he would sound like. Now look at that statement as much as you want but I would consider I have just paid TBLS a massive compliment as musicians. Glass Eyed has a frantic, breathless pace that never lets up, but remains light enough to sustain even my interest for the requisite four minutes or so. Try it and see.

Excellent jazz influenced prog rock. Yep, that is not a misprint. Highly Recommended (for its genre).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sound Radius - Disney Action Hero

Hear The Track Here

Sound Radius, after a racing start with some really stupendous tracks, suddenly went dark and silent. Wait though, this is a classical/film score type artist and you know how I feel about that. Sound Radius' work sets him so far above the regular crowd though as any track on their webpage will amply testify. Music this good is practically genreless anyway; it's just too good to be pigeon-holed. Sound Radius manages to pack more raw emotion, guys and power into each second of his tracks than six thousand other wannabees - and remember I don't even normally like this style. I will bend the knee to talent though, and that is where this artist has scored consistently - and not just with me; I know he is well liked by SC stations too.

'Simply put, a glorified action track. Features full orchestra, percussion and choir' is how Sound Radius bills this track and I'd say it's not far off the mark. It's also light years away from the more majestic, soaring side of his work that most appeals to me. That's not to say that there isn't plenty of inspiration here - remember this is Sound Radius were are discussing. There are some absolutely thrilling builds and breaks of the kind to make your stare wistfully and go ooh and aah at appropriate points. Like a Disney action film too, you blink and you miss it. The music charges out of the gate, not giving an inch and continues in much the same manner for around two and a half minutes, which means that you end up playing it a LOT more times than other tracks you have to review.

Doesn't worry me, though because I am a confirmed fan.

Having said that, I am not particularly struck personally by Disney Action hero, but I think that's just a personal bias because there is no disputing the quality of the music on display. Can't say that I am as sure about the production on this either, it seems a little noisy especially in the intro and could have sworn I can hear crackles. However, that may also be my ears acting up after playing this so many times. In truth it is a track worthy of this artist, and maybe I am just getting way too picky in my old age. I don't know, it seems rushed despite its extraordinary feel and punch and I can't seem to get past that. It hasn't stopped me enjoying the hell out of it but not, I fear, a Sound Radius track I'll be keeping - and that IS a surprise.

Highly Recommended, endless chases in glorious stereo.

Buzrk - One Last To Arms

Hear The Track Here

I know that people these days haven't much idea of how exciting and fresh hip hop was back in the day. After what seemed like decades of mundane, gazing at your navel turgidity, music suddenly had something to say again and wasn't she about doing just that. Like most major music movements, those early producers, musicians and rappers, changed the world by what they did - and the world of the young inner city African-American male changed with it. While it's true that hip hop has thrown up some greats for the most part, since back in the day, the ratio of good to outright bad has increased dramatically. Whereas in hip hop's heyday the ratio of great to crap (imitators, wannabes, hustlers) was probably 20%; now it's probably closer to 70 or 80%.

Aahh, it was ever the same when music had something to say....

The reason I appear to be in schoolteacher mode is because I love the genre and always have done. It's the reason why - when I listen to hip hop - I want it to at least make me nod my head. About the only thing I get my head to do throughout One Last Call To Arms is to shake from side to side while my mouth screamed 'nooooooooooooooo'. Oh my God, Gilmore, that's a bit sharp innit? Yep, it is but only because creating great hip hop is an incredibly hard genre to master. Hold on, hold on....surely Buzrk is just doing this for fun like the rest of us? Well, fun or not, Soundclick is the closest most people are going to get to a professional standard, and the competition would eat a track like One Last To Arms without pausing for breath.

The beats were provided by Anno Domini who are well respected and popular and I've heard their work and liked it. This is the sort of stuff I am used to listening to when I want to listen to hip hop; dense, complex beats, intricate arrangements and innovative production. So what went on between the original track and what comes out as Buzrk's track? I'm not sure what the original sounds like but I am absolutely certain it's punchier than I hear from this track. A lot of that probably has to do with how Buzrk laid the vocal on top of the track because it doesn't mesh with the track at all; what you have is a dulled down music and a vocal that even though clear, isn't always intelligible. All, as far as I am concerned, critical to whether a hip hop track is going to work or not. However, in his favour, Buzrk is obviously young and new to this, so such tracks can be expected but it wouldn't do to keep on doing it this way. After all, it's all about learning to do it, isn't it?

Denny Schneidemesser - Far Beyond The Stars

Hear The Track Here

To boldly go where no man has ever gone before, no doubt. German orchestral composer Denny Schneidemesser has written about these and other mysteries as part of his continuing development as a (dare I say this? Will it bring me out in a rash?) film music producer. As you know, to your cost, this is not an area I have been known to clasp tightly to my bosom. However, wearing a large garland of garlic, surrounded by silver crosses, I can approach one of these tracks without the usual diabolical screaming fits the genre has been known to induce in me. It's the third track of his I have reviewed and considering my usual dour attitude towards tracks from this genre, Denny has survived remarkably well.

As you know, all of that can change overnight ;)

Like a great many of us, Denny obviously has the habit of gazing up into the stars and wondering... Nothing wrong with that, it's a subject that fascinated us humans since the dawn of time, but to put it to music? Not an easy task, as you can imagine, and there really haven't been that many artists who have managed to nail that particular feeling. Although he is considerably accomplished given that he's only been doing this music stuff for a couple of years, to attempt such a task is wildly ambitious or tremendously foolhardy, dependent on what comes out of the other end. Like a lot of film music, anything that get pointed heavenwards (in a musical fashion) tends to be slushy drivel, bombastic, pompous odes or - the worst ever - a mixture of the two.
Nonetheless, given his past standard of work, I was curious to see what Denny had come up with.

I have to put my hand to my heart and say I wasn't shaken or stirred while listening to Beyond The Stars, but there again I am a hard bitten cynic of the first order and it's hard to move me. Again though, to Denny's eternal credit, what he does come out makes for a very pleasant listen, and a surprising one for so young a musician. There is a maturity and majesty to his work that can only get better with time and while I am not a fan of the style, I am rapidly becoming a fan of this particular artist.and his knack for knowing the right sound at the right moment. He's no slouch in the production department either because this mix is so clear and crisp, you could have it round for tea.

Highly Recommended film score.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Avalanche - Ain't No Hiding In A Digital World

Hear The Track Here

Good God is it that time already? Didn't I already review this?? How come everything comes up Avalanche all of a sudden? Have I been NAV-alated?? Mind you, when you have 30 years of being a band under your belts you are going to be able to do things other bands can only wish for. The reason Avalanche have such a high profile on the sites they hang out in is as simple as ABC; they know exactly what to do and how to do it. The string of classic tracks they have released over the last couple of years is ample testimony to their total professionalism, and a sad, sad indictment of how short sighted the music business can be. As I said before, since coming to Soundclick the band seems to have hit on a new audience and they truly deserve the recognition that means - at least from their peers.

Hey, every little counts.

Just as an indication of how professional they are, take a look at Mike Foster's (lead guitarist, cook and bottle-washer) production notes at the bottom of the lyrics page. Remember the old saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Bollocks to that. Not only are these old dogs learning new tracks, they are mastering them at a prodigious rate. It's a given then, that any Avalanche track will be as close to the real deal as you are ever going to get on the internet - no matter what site you hang out in. Alright, it helps that you have a healthy appetite for class American rock, as well as liking songs that have more to verbalise than riches and bitches. Whichever way you look at it, I would bet you are not likely to hear anything quite this good (sound and performance) anywhere else. And that, my bewildered breddren, is Avalanche's greatest asset.

I've always had a liking for the more traditional forms of rock and I cherish the bands I do find who embody not just the music, but the ethos of what the music is all about. Like all fine traditions, it's ultimately about storytelling; except the musicians get to cavort around like dickheads while wailing their particular strain of the genre. That's the other area that Avalanche have always scored big with me, they have a way of getting straight to the point that is heartening. Digital World could be an unreleased track from any other the early bands who experimented with electronic sound, notably the Who which this initially reminded me of. It's classic style and arrangement on served to reinforce that impression; especially in the stop-start chorus. Regardless of my own clearly obvious bias, I'd defy any one of you to tell me that this isn't worthy of the rating it so justly deserved.

Avalanche. Bury yourself in it. MUST HAVE classic rock.

Smalllife - Marmite

Hear The Track Here

Because of my own committments this year, I've had to scale back quite dramatically how many tracks I review a month; how much time I spend on each forum etc. The one thing this internet business does, more than any other, is to piss time away as if it were water. Time, I might add, better spent making the damn music I came here for. What it meant in practical terms is that one site in particular has been extremely difficult to keep up with and it's the site where I fist met Smalllife, a band I have infinite amounts of time for. I was really glad they looked me up for this - their first release of 2007 - because Smalllife are that magic ingredient; a rock band worthy of the name.

MP3 Unsigned is a terrific site for talent and Smalllife are amongst it's very best artists and - when you consider the competition on that site - you get an inkling of how good this band could be. Put it like this, they gave me a Track Of The Year 2006 for Need To Buy A Woman (August 2006) as well as snagging Band Of The Year 2006 on MP3 Unsigned. Not bad going for yer average rock band, but the one thing about Smalllife you will find is that they are far from average. Marmite is a much rawer, trashier version of the original band and one I suspect it will take a while to get used to; there is a definite punk edge in this track that doesn't make it family listening - all delivered in Smalllife's usual professional manner.

Nice production on this too, but that has always been a highlight of their work as any of their releases during 2006 will show. Smalllife are a band capable of reminding you of many rock greats while managing to stay fairly close to their own particular style, On this track most of the references are heavy metal, punk, and any band inspired by early heavy metal singers rather than the classic rock the band usually feast on. Nonetheless, taken as a whole Marmite is a much welcomed track in the Gilmore household because it goes a long way towards reminding me how good this band can be; all seven minutes of it. I'm sure the band's many fans will already have this but if the name is new to you - and you like the sound of it, you won't find much better than a nice dob of Marmite.

Highly Recommended Rock from the old school.

Mike Prather - It's All The Same To Me

Hear The Track Here

Believe me Mike, I know the feeling. Mike Prather is yet another new name to me but not to Soundclick judging by the usual statistical landmarks; message board activity, stations playing. Still, this is a big place and it's easy to miss something. Mike is a country artist from the country that gave us country if you catch my drift. Look, I'll spell it out: U S A. I live to make your life less complicated. For my money there is a world of difference (nay a gaping void) between the commercial country and western and what I call true American country music; music for folks, made for folks.

Mike is a Texan solo artist so expect nothing in the way of production other than a clear stereo mix with the slightest hint of reverb. Which, in my opinion, already raises the odds against me disliking what he has to offer. Keep it simple is a motto because it actually works. Other than Mike, a fine guitar sound and performance, the only other embellishment is a double tracked vocal that happens at key points in the song that's light enough to lift the mood but not present enough to change it. The first or second time around was extremely entertaining and it didn't wear out its welcome throughout the review process and that's no mean feat; and a no-fekkin-kidding miracle for a singer/songwriter.

There again I do have a taste for the real country and Mike's music and performance shows that he has paid all the dues, knows a trick or two and delivers a likeable, warm track in a fine tradition. Mike has a terrific country voice; one I know will go down well with my old friend Mike Kolhgraf who absolutely laps this stuff up. It would be true to say that - only as a reference of course - Mike Prather sounds a little like Morris P Rainville so if you like that kinda thing, I'd definitely recommend giving this a going over. And if, like me, you are a sap for a simple telling of a tale, then you really should hear (and read the lyrics) of It's All The Same To Me. Well, I've decided. It isn't all the same to me; there is good and there is better; and this is way better.

Highly Recommended Country (yes, I said that).

Gabriel Sabadi - Please Don't Stare

Hear The Track Here

Now I know I've stated in public many times that I'm not really into progressive rock, but I have to say that Messrs Sylvan and Bonamici have convinced me that there is life in the old dog yet. There again, given the professional level at which their material always conveys, the genre is really not that important; its about musicians playing their little hearts out. It does help, of course, if you have some sort of story to tell rather than just a quick noodle around the fretboard and/or your favourite prog rock instrument. Seriously, the only prog rock tracks I ever liked - back in the day - were tracks that had a capable song attached to them. Virtuoso, who would 'ave 'em...rather watch paint dry. Any number of musicians can reach a high standard of performance (given enough time and talent) but ask yourself, how many of them could make you cry with their performance and the number drops dramatically.

At this point Gabriel Sabadi utters a heartfelt 'oh f***!'

Gabriel Sabadi is a new name to me and presumably Soundclick who hails from the western USA (Washington, that's the state not the Capital or the dead dude) which is probably more famous for grunge rock than anything else. I have to say that the immediate impression Please Don't Stare was extremely favourable; it seemed to be produced well, the performance was decent if a little histronic vocally. Having said that bombastic vocals were ever part of the genre, right? In that department, Gabriel has just the right pitch and phrasing to make it work so that you don't actually cringe in sympathy. For this reviewer, it's the vocal side of prog rock in particular that I have most problems with, but Mr Sabadi slides by.

Unfortunately, I can't be as enthusiastic (Ed: uh oh, he hasn't taken his Reality meds...) about the musical track or - ultimately - the production because they didn't do the job they were intended to do: back up that self same bombastic vocal. A large part of the blame for this rests at the tired and confused feet of the drum track, which just noodles along with pretty much the same beat throughout - a kind of aural bash, bash, bash if you know what I mean. This is particularly noticeable when you have those vocals happening above it. The whole mix is well hot too, leading to a slight distortion in the later sections (4+minutes or so) that is offputting, at least to my ears. I think I can see what Gabriel is after here because he certainly delivers it vocally, but the musical backing needs serious work, especially if it is sustain interest over five and a half minutes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dadala - Dabossala

Hear The Track Here

When I get into my wistful old man phase, it's usually best to avoid me. I tell you this now because this review is definitely going to include some WOM type sentiments. The reason for this is dadala, not as you might imagine a new name to Soundclick but an older member who has been quiet for some time - at least in the forums. Richard Dunlap is the name behind dadala which, although starting as a solo project now seems to have taken on life of it's own with a castlist of contributors including Pilesar, Mandible, drt, Thomas J and other assorted musical lunatics - not all of which are on the same track at the same time. That would be just too silly.

In a myriad of ways.

It's a welcome return because Richard along with some of the names above helped me establish my liking for all things experimental - and it doesn't come much more experimental than this. If Pilesar were twins, Richard Dunlap would be the most worrying one. If that hasn't set the alarm bells ringin', nothing will so let's press on... Jopy seems to have been the protagonist here and it's about as experimental as your mum. In fact, on the surface of it, this track is correctly classed as Latin: Bossa Nova but it seems to have an added ingredient - the electrician working in the background right through the track. (Ed: err, I think that is supposed to happen.) How would you know? (Ed: got me there)

Noise of all descriptions has always been Richard's trusty steed and a talent he has put to use quite admirably, and it's that side of him that takes up the non-bossa nova sections of this track; his penchant for electric noise is blindingly obvious. That's the great thing about noise though, used properly it conveys an edginess that's hard to beat. dadala have a classic sound in the 'electrician in the background' thingie they have going on throughout this quite likeable track (and that's saying something considering what normally comes out of these guys minds). Obviously this will appeal to fans, and to the obsessively curious (hello me) but it's probably going to be a bit too off the beaten track for most peep-my-shit beat merchants but it is an interesting detour for all that. And Richard, where the hell ya been man??

Recommended Bossa Nova(?) with added ingredient (who is probably non-union)

Alchemystic - A Cold Light In The East

Hear The Track Here

Nice to get Alchemystic's review contribution in early this month, that way he can't be changing it halfway through ;) Yep, he does have a knack for that sort of thing. On the plus side, he also has a knack of turning out handy tunes too so all in all it evens itself out. Of late, Alchemystic has been venturing into other musical genres that the one he started out with and - again - he manages to come up smelling of roses. He always had this talent for churning out extremely enjoyable tracks both to listen to and as brain food, but now that he is stretching himself further he's coming up with some really surprising things. So if you haven't heard of Alchemystic before, get to know him.

It's well worth it.

No track was more surprising to me than Di Good Life or Streetwalking (ie reggae and discofunk) because they are so different to what this artist has attempted before - and still manage to get it right. A Cold Light In The East is billed as an ethno-electronic track (world fusion as it were) an area I know this artist has tried before. Much more to the point it borders on the kind of music I like to do, so expectations were high. If you've heard any of Alchemystic's previous works, the intro shouldn't be too much of a stretch for you to imagine, but once it enters the main track, abandon hope because if you thought Alchy was a electronica artist, think again.

Oh sure, he's using electronica to give the right poke (eh!), but he's using middle eastern lead lines, tablas and God knows what else and mixing it up in stirring fashion. It's got a hard edge to it, and when those sections kick in the track absolutely takes off. While I will admit to a marked bias for what this artist does, I don't think it's up for question that Alchemystic turns in cracking tunes no matter what genre he is working in. This is a multi-level track that throws up new things to gawk at at every turn and is so well polished and presented, you wouldn't believe this could be 'some guy in his bedroom' All told this track should be a highly recommended, but once I really started to listen to it, there was no choice - which seems to have become one of Alchemystic's other hallmarks.

MUST HAVE world fusion.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Terry Prong and Jim Miller - Coaster Boy

Hear The Track Here

Aaarggghhh, there's a combination to make the eyes bulge!! The Purveyor of Prong and the... (well, we needn't mention the other...). Both are recognised loonies of the first order but that doesn't stop them being - in their own right - musicians of a certain calibre and quality and I bet that this pairing will raise a few eyebrows amongst thier many friends and fans. Terry Prong has delivered some bloody classic tracks in the past although its been a while since I heard anything new from him. Jim Miller is one half of Jim-n-Lisa, one of the brightest, most inventive musicians on Soundclick or anywhere else for that matter and - as you well know - we are ALWAYS hearing from him :P

So it is safe to say that I am extremely biased on both counts...

I'm not sure where you can get this track, having perused Prong's Xpresso Radio site (the link above) and found nothing to download - either that or me broadband's kicking up again because the download page didn't work. Nonetheless I managed to snag a copy of this from Jim's fixthatmix site which is what I am about to discuss. Maybe one of the two will explain where you can pick up your own copy. Even before I heard the track I was certain I was in for a treat, both of these musicians understand exactly how to play and present themselves to the full so the final result is a track that will find many, many takers.

Terry Prong is the intellect behind the whole Coaster (as in Roller) trilogy of songs of which you can read more on his site (Ed: he actually wrote 'you lazy bastards' there but I edited it out), and it's his musical edge that gives this track its particular flavour; a wonderfully fulfilling experience. The one thing you can guarantee from Prongy is that it will sound like nothing you have ever heard before but oh-so reassuringly familiar. Jim's superlative sax work gives this a early '70s jazz rock fusion feel, aided by Terry's solid, chunky guitar and equally inspiring lead lines. However, like all peices of really good work, it is more than the some of its parts. This is a track that will still be revealing bits of itself for ages yet and the 40m plays I've already given it have merely scratched the surface. Class work from seasoned (albeit online) professionals,it doesn't come much better than this...

Beg, steal, borrow but get this. MUST HAVE

(Ed: what? what? what did I do wrong???)

-LMS- (Miami) - All A Dream

Hear The Track Here

There was a time when I had to beg to review hip hop on this site, and if you've ever seen me in such a degrading pose you will know it's not a pretty sight. These days, however, I am glad to say that hip hop artists do turn up now in the Critics Corner forum and I'm managing to collect a couple of hip hop tracks a month. It is, after all, a genre I like to keep up with. -LMS-(aka Last Man Standing) Miami is an artist I've come across a couple, three times in the past and not suffered overly much because of it. In fact, I've really liked his raps in almost every case, but the music often left a lot to be desired. All A Dream (produced by Hazardis Soundz apparently) is LMS's answer to everything; s'all a dream, ya know?

I can relate to that, if I could just wake up...

Tell ya what though, whoever Hazardis Soundz are they have definitely furnished LMS with the one thing he has been missing up to this point; a sound that matched his rap flow and potential. On that score alone, this makes it into my good books but back that up with a catchy, coherent rap and a killer cut up music track and I find it's something I can get behind whole-heartedly. I do like the breakbeat style and when its used to power a rap like this, it counts. OK, there will still be the usual predjudice about the amount of cussing, but listen to this track as a whole and - admit it - it is different enough to stand out. It's an incredibly difficult genre to produce and All A Dream shows what it should sound like when done properly.

It took me a while to get past the intial impression the music and production created, but that's only because my emphasis lies more in that direction. Time and many playings enabled the rap to stand alongside the music and this is one track you really have to hear loud - preferably while driving a fast car. In style, it pays a respectful nod to the beginnings of the genre where the musical content complemented what is happening in the rap (think early 80's rap scene for comparison). No matter what, being a fan of the genre I am going to like this. I think, if you give it a listen, you'll maybe get to like it to. It's definitely a cut above most of the so called hip hop you are likely to hear. A very worthy effort from all concerned, you should give each other a pat on the back, it's a collaboration that definitely works.

Interesting, different AND hip hop. I don't get to say that often enough. Highly Recommended.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Suspeckt - I Confess (Finished)

Hear The Track Here

Second one out of the bag is an artist that has become familar to me of late, delivering a track a month for a while there. Although both Bad Dream (June 2007) and Push My Keys (July 2007) weren't exactly models of the hip hop rappers art, they did show some promise. Out of the two I preferred Bad Dreams which kind of overcame its performance and production problems with some interesting musical ideas to go along with the usual verbalising. Now I know that this genre (hip hop in case you weren't paying attention) has never had much good press, especially on Soundclick but I have a soft spot - and always have had - for this genre because we often tend to forget that was originally music made DESPITE record company attention; usually in their garages on whatever they can lay their hands on. And not a record exec in sight.

My main gripe about this artist revolves around - surprisingly enough - what the term 'finished' means, but even then I have to say that, from the first listen was definitely the best sounding track I had from this artist so far. We are not, of course, dealing with the normal concept of finished aurally but given what Suspeckt is working with to produce his music this is a track he can be personally proud of. Sure it has some of the rough edges we have spoken about in past reviews but here the strength of the musical backing track and the tightness (if that term can be used) vocal kinda/sorta wipes them out.

It all revolves around the rap ultimately though, and on this showing Suspeckt comes out pretty clean too. There is little of the hesitancy in other tracks; he sounds confident, sure of what he's doing. There is a most definite leaning both in sound and performance towards the more commercial strands of the genre, and that's as it should be - so long as it isn't derivative. Despite the similarities, Suspeckt has enough going on for what he uses as source material lyrically that he may very well become (with time and practice) very accomplished indeed. As it is he has something to be proud of in this track and I guess that counts for a lot - even if it is just us guys; if you know what I mean.

Home made yeah, but still showing hip hop promise. Recommended for that.

The Antennaheadz - April

Hear The Track Here

In case your mind is running away with the thought that I am doing Antennaheadz first is because it often is 'music to make you cry', then you'd be well wrong. Although I have to admit that the thought had occurred to me once or twice simply because - like any reviewer - it's hard to find words to describe what slopes shiftily into your ears. Noise, for sure and lots of it, but look closer and you'll see that there is some sense in what's going on - even if its harder to spot than my impending lottery win (14m to 1, as if...). I am, of course, exercising my right to a little jocularity on the artist but hey, he asked for it OK! ;) As it 'appens, Thomas J (for it is he) was actually first in line this month and I think he's more surprised about that than I am. After all, he beat a guy who camped on my doorstep until I opened the September signup. That, my friends is dedication.

Or desperation....

The one thing that can be applied - as a general rule - to this artists work is that whatever genre it is in, it won't sound like anythng you have heard before - or often not want to listen to again. Dependent on your point of view. The Antennaheadz are definitely an acquired taste. So, Thomas's chosen genre for this month is Avant Rock and if that ain't enough to make a grown man quake in his boots, let's go on and apply the music... I have to say, after listening for a while, it's probably more avant than rock but that is pretty much par for the Antennaheadz course. Essentially its a rock based track,a lthough it does indulge in tons of the usual aural fuckery along the way.

Or is that long way?

Because at seven some minutes April will probably stretch more than a few attention spans, should they be prepared to listen. As much as I joke about Thomas's highly individualistic output, I do have respect for him as a musician and large parts of April show exactly why that is. Amidst the swirl, strum and drang of the track are elements of Thomas on guitar, sax and probably endless other noisemakers as well as - speaking as a musician - he sounds like he's having a whale of a time. April turns out to be endless mood track, meandering from one form to another at will; some of it more listenable than others but all told, this is what Antennaheadz do best - and this is one of their better examples of it.

Soundclick Alternative, it don't get much weirder than that. Highly Recommended for the brave at heart though.