Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tall Child - Andy, andy

Hear The Track Here

My last track for review this month comes from a connection made through my RebelRiffs blog, which is avidly read by my mum and my dog incidentally, and is becoming a regular source of new material outside of the tracks I normally gather in my review lists. Tall Child, from Limousin in la belle France is, I think being a little too disingenuous when he states in his webpage 'to be blunt, I'm not sure what I am doing'. It's a good job the music was already playing otherwise I'd have whipped off the page before you could say cli.... I jest, of course, but with a serious point; you are a musician and you do know what you are doing. I've heard much, much worse where the artists are CERTAIN their tracks are the best ever.

OK, I'll get serious now...

It is obvious that Tall Child has mucho chops as both a musician and producer as I assume that he made everything you hear while sampling the delights of Andy, andy. There are a couple of issues I have but overall this is a clean, well thought out track that show considerable knowledge of arrangement, production and the dynamics of songwriting. Hey, where I live those are the common food groups and it's always nice to welcome new blood. Especially someone as fiery and passionate in musical and vocal performance as Tall Child.

'I did that stint in the studio and I’ve got a load of songs all ready to go but even so, I don’t feel comfortable enough to release them' he adds. If this track is an indication of 'a load of songs ready to go' then I can only say get them out there because you've already gained one avid listener. I can't say I am sure about a couple of moments in the track but the overall impression is very compelling. There's an odd cut off in sound between certain of the sounds and one of the breaks is noticably abrupt. Nonetheless, what really counts is the song, and Andy, andy is a terrifiic one and, so it would appear, a moving memorial. I'm keeping this one.

Excellent alternative rock. Very Highly Recommended

Alchemystic - Dark Omen

Hear The Track Here

Things have been quiet on the Alchemical front lately. You notice such things, ya know? After all, for a while there during 2007 I was beginning to think that all the bloody months started with an A and ended with a mystic. Mind you, I mustn't cavail much because I've actually been a big fan ever since I heard Sands Of Time (May 2005), even though I got confused about some of the labelling of this highly individualistic electronica musician. There ain't quite anyone like the Alchy One, whether you like what he does or not. He always makes music that is interesting, often challenging and always entertaining, even when he veers into film soundtrack territory - and I go a long way to avoid such aural swamps.

Except for this artist and a couple more.

Dark Omen is a 'drum n bass/symphonic/metal thing' according to Alchemystic and I'd say that was an accurate description of what you can expect on the surface. As ever though with this artist, it's always better to live with the track than to make any instant decisions about what you are hearing. To my ears, this is a remarkably different sound and style for him but not one I would have said would have been beyond him - another reason why I like his work so much. He's never been afraid to venture into something new and this gothic/space opera is about the wildest place he's ever ventured before. It's also a nicely current sound that will attract a lot more people to this artist, and not before time.

Although the track only tops out at a titchy three minutes and change (Alchy and epic have been known to go together), Dark Omen is nevertheless an action packed three minutes and change. Obviously it helps that you have a natural urge to the frenetic pace of DnB, but there is plenty of others things to see and delight in along the way - like the excellent church organ that gives this track that gothic feel. At root, I think that this track has its roots firmest in yer good old rock but it's enough of a combination to stir plenty, plenty juices. A thrill ride packed with 'will you fekkin look at that!' moments. Alchemystic goes metal on your ass. Whatever that means.

Excellent blend of styles. MUST HAVE for fans. (that's me and maybe you)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Corey Drumz - Off My Mind

Hear The Track Here

When I encountered The Retribution (January 2007) the name of Corey Drumz became implanted in my brain, and he's provided plenty of evidence to show that he knows more than a trick or two. Hip hop is the name of the game, and the more commercial side of it at that. I see nothing wrong with this style whatsover, especially if you know something about the way music is made in the poorer parts of America. This is a country remember where singing/rapping quartets/quintets and up were a part of the scenery. Street corner singing has given some music greats their start and hip hop/rap (especially of this type) is its logical musical progression.

***** me, have I swallowed a professor suddenly??

What I mean, of course, it that it sounds pretty. Not pink, ponies and unicorns pretty mind, just vocally an extremely potent blend. I refer, of course, to Corey's regular partner-in-crime Kirk Bannano. It's their style that has made some of their past tracks so powerful, and Off My Mind is a spectacular example of why this artist has gained such stature. To be honest, the softer side of hip hop/R&B generally give me the upchucks and I wouldn't touch it with yours, let alone mine**

Done properly, however, it becomes not just listenable but - dare I say it - desirable.

This is apparently a remix by Buzzhawg and Mecca Styles but hey, I never heard the original so wtf. Made up for it this time and played the bejeesus out of this track. So much so that my wife has started singing it while doing her slave duties and that - I must admit - is a bit worrying. Normally when I review a track I am going to put a much harsher slant on it if the track is for $ale. Yes, you can listen to this track online but if you want to own it's little body, you'd better ante up... Mind you, if you like the style (smooth vocal, warm track) this is one track I would recommend for purchase.

Excellent vocal R&B from I.K.E. Highly Recommended.

** (Ed: Now what exactly did he mean by that comment?)

Can't Stop The Daggers - Go Driving Fast

Hear The Track Here

When I was but a sprog in the world, my old Ma was forever telling me that if I drove fast I would shoot my eye out, and that's just a measure of the confusion I suffered during my spotty youth. At the same time my ol Da was exhorting me to never, never stare at a horses arse. Quite why he thought I needed that vital nugget of information I still wonder about today while - of course - being careful not to stare at anyone's ass, let alone one from a member of a different species. Now, before this turns into the weirdest Nature program you are ever likely to see, let's find our way out of here and back to normality...and pray that we don't bump into Sir David Attenborough on the way out because he'll start yapping and that's us fuqued...

As it were.

For those people fortunate enough to have already encountered the work of HELLbus, you'll know that Jon Partelow can be a bit of a stickler when it comes to getting a tune right. Stands to reason then that the band he is in (CSTD surprisingly enough) are going to be of the same mind. Joined on Go Driving Fast by Chris Chattom on basses and guitars, this is still a track in progress, live drums are still to be added. So with those craven excuses ringing in our earholes let me just say that the last track I reviewed - High (January 2008) - was exactly that. This is a track I had waited the whole month almost before sampling, saving the best for last.

Suffice to say, I expected much.

I've always liked Jon's instrumental work but hey, the man has a set of pipes on him too. The vocal is the jewel in this particular gaudy trinket, and believe me it's a beauty. Class stuff, no matter what you like. As always, the sheer audio splendour is the most immediate impact, but the underlying song and it's performance is about as good as it gets. I can see myself driving along (trying not to stare at...etc) some lonely highway, with this track cranked right up. The sort of song you sing along to while driving at zillionsMPH on a moonlit night on your way somewhere. The term 'radio-friendly' was coined for a track of this quality. One of the brightest hopes in this genre IMHO.

MUST HAVE indie. Class act.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cameron Pierce - Cognitive Vacuum

Hear The Track Here

Cameron Pierce (or Latmat for those with long Soundclick memories) has long been a cherished favourite of mine and - I suspect - many other SC old-timers. Obviously having a good few years of making and releasing tracks online under your belt is only going to help in the long run, musically as well as socially. Fact is, Cameron has hardly put a foot wrong ever since I first met him reviewing The Road Is Long (I Need You) (November 2003), a very Beatle inspired track that I still dig out every once in a while. See, the great thing about all this artists tracks is that they are made to sing along to, in much the same way as yer Beatles tunes... But that's also denying the strong West Coast influence courtesy of Neil Young, CSN and (gulp) The Eagles.

Yeah, pretty singing. Gotta love it.

Having said all that, Cameron doesn't acknowlege any of the artists I've mentioned as influences and, truth to tell, Cognitive Vacuum doesn't even sound like the Cameron we know. What it does show is just how advanced he has become; a sophisticated, complex songwriter than can turn a few words into an epic ramble through the last thirty years of rock music. I have to say that this track took a long time to settle into my head, and that is definitely not usual for this artist. I think it's because it is such a massive departure from his usual ouvre (Ed: Oi!! No French please) and it will come as a pleasant surprise to those people who have discovered this excellent Canadian musician.

It was only when I was coming to the end of the review process and sitting down to actually write this when something that had been puzzling me finally clicked. All the way through something, some vague memory had been tugging at me saying that I should PAY ATTENTION. It's only now that I realised I had been thinking about 1970's band Klaatu (also from Canada as it happens) and that is what this track most reminds me of; in structure, sound and instrumentation. As I said, a major departure for Cameron but one, when the dust settles, that I am more than willing to explore with him. A massive step, taken perfectly.

Highly recommended Rock and an absolute MUST HAVE for fans.

Lost Avenue2 - All The Kings Horses

Hear The Track Here

Lost Avenue2 is one Chris Burns and several other musicians whose homes are in or around Mesa, AZ, an area where rock bands thrive (Ed: they do?). Now you know I'm partial to a bit of rock and a new experience is never something to run away from. Although, with hindsight, it might have been better if I did run away, but that's another story. As I've mentioned gazillions of times, I find a distinct difference in attitude between rock from the Americas and from (say) the UK. For my money, American rock does tend more towards the whizz-bang, lets see some fireworks but there is nothing wrong with that - provided you can pull it off.

As many bands have found out as the beer cans start flying...

Lost Avenue2's main influence is obviously Green Day (see American rock diatribe above) and again, there is nothing wrong with that so long as the band doesn't actually sound like Green Day. Nope, the vocal on All The Kings Horses is surprisingly low key, none of the usual ball-bursting screeching I usually associate with the other side of the pond. Moreover, All The Kings Horses is a decent, workmanlike rock work out that should find a good few takers, especially if you like for there to be a point to a track.

Whenever this came up on the playlist as I reviewed it, I was assailed by images of Adam and The Ants and Tenpole Tudor in their heyday, because that's what this sounds like to me more than any other influence. Now I happened to like all that fun stuff, and I like this fun stuff too although on reading the lyrics, it's subject matter might not be anywhere near as jolly. 'bout some very bad guys' Chris says in the song comments but thankfully the music doesn't have the same threatening overtone and - I believe - it's better for it. Very nice introduction to a new artist (at least to me)

Recommended kinda punk rock blend.

Buried Talents Band - Unsung Heroes

Hear The Track Here

Buried Talents Band are three brothers Joe, Steve and Chris Solaas, Al English Jr, Sheila Zachary and Mark Lucchessi, hailing from Middle America (nuffing wrong wiv that mate) and are a Pop/Contemporary Christian band. I've reviewed them once before - In The Garden (February 2008) - and I've think I've have to say I've heard better. So, let me get one thing straight before we get to this track. I don't care about genre, style, labelling, lifestyle or even hairstyle, what I care about is notes. Lots and lots of lovely notes. Of the bankable kind? I wish. Nope musical notes is what keeps me going, and pretty much I care about in this sphere of my activities. I know what can be done, what I am constantly looking for are people that actually do it, all the time everytime.

Whether you make music for the joy of it or for the riches n bitches, if it's up on Soundclick you are judged by that music, and least of all - I might add - by li'l ol' me. I've been around this site for many, many years and it's a tough nut to crack, the bar is very high. Like In The Garden, Unsung Heroes is an overtly Christian song with a powerful message - at least on paper (as it were). Excellent lyrics, albeit of the parable kind but what else should you expect? Surprisingly enough on this track I did hear why people say this guy sounds like Neil Young, which I didn't hear on the previous track. Unfortunately, though, neither lyrics or a singer that sounds like whatsisname is going to do much when faced with the instrumentation problems. The same things, incidentally, that dogged their previous track.

About 99.999% of us are doing this and our day jobs but the one thing that we have in common is that we don't SOUND as if that were the case. I complained about the lifelessness of the arrangement and the vocals and the same thing applies here. The shame is that Buried Talents Band sound, occasionally, that they could be something but you would have to do an awful lot of polishing to see it. The worst problem here was the drum/percussion sounds which didn't do anything for the track whatsoever. I hate to dish on music but when something needs to be said, well it's just got to be. I'm sure this band do have potential, at least in their genre, but they are going to have to tighten up considerably to fulfill it.

All IMHO obviously.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Charlie A - The Future

Hear The Track Here

Not quite sure now why I've somehow ended up with a Charlie A track that seems only to exist only on my harddrive and I'm way too tired to figure out why. No doubt Charlie will be along shortly to explain it to you better than I can. Charlie A has sprung back to musical life just lately and that's not a bad thing at all, especially if you like film soundtracks. Ooops, let me qualify that a tad. Especially if you like GOOD film soundtracks. If that's the case you'll find that Charlie's built up quite a stack of good tracks since I first encountered him on Bebee Bubba (July 2006), one of his only non-soundtrack tracks....??

If you know what I mean.

So, no idea where The Future came from but I know it does indeed have a future and is a terrific example of Charlie's wide screen, big sky productions. I'm still wearing out the welcome I afforded Pharoah's Curse (February 2008) and this came as a nice break; it's chilled out second half in particular is excellent. Charlie shows from the first string sweeps that he knows how to pick the right sounds and as the intro descends around your ears you know you will keep listening...

As indeed you should because the piano peice that The Future consists mainly of is lovely; stately and perfectly complemented by the single string (violin?). There is a string section that almost but not quite in the Eleanor Rigby department, and I have to admit to a small smirk every time that passes by my ears. As you know, Film soundtracks and I don't have a lot in common but I do like the kind of material that Charlie provides; and they are always the right length ;)

Recommended Soundtrack/Piano Peice.

Superbron - Still Wondering Why

Hear The Track Here

Superbron and I have clashed quite a few times about what works and what doesn't and - more power to him - he takes it on the chin and keeps right on anyway. That's the way it should be I reckon. After, I don't expect any of us is going to get rich and famous from what we do here, so we may as well get it in terms of musical satisfaction. Which means we - as musicians - generally tend to please ourselves first and, maybe, listeners second. See, that is always the problem with musicians, they tend to go overboard unless shaped somehow. Which is why I suggested, in my last review of this artist, that he needs a producer more than anything else.

and now here he is Still Wondering Why :D

Being a 'whatever comes along' reviewer means that I have to take genres I wouldn't normally listen to, and a lot of Superbron's work also falls into that category. Still Wondering Why is, for example, 'a sad song about a lost love' and songs exactly that. Officially billed as Pop: General, I'd say that was about as good as any, although it's well over to the safe side of the genre for my tastes. Have to say though that Superbron does a sterling job on the vocals managing to sound like Paul McCartney in his warm and cuddly mode.

One of our previous bones of contention has been the way his music can often be almost haphazard in its arrangements, and Still Wondering Why is a classic example of it. The song emerges through a series of stages, not all of them coherent although the whole does carry a kinda/sorta charm. Its again the flaws that outweigh the positives because, while you listen you get the impression Superbron knows his stuff, and then he goes and makes basic errors in tuning/timing that make you go eh? eh? eh? Where? The strings are a glaring example of it, some of the vocal pitches need seriously looking at. On the other hand, it DOES sound like McCartney so I'm sure there will be some takers. As it happens, I did manage to listen to it several times without apparent damage and that makes a change.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Denton - DebtorsRUs

Hear The Track Here

Another artist who seemed to have disappeared for a while is Newcastle based Denton who I last reviewed almost a year ago. Mind you, he might well have been avoiding me because I have been quite harsh in some of my comments on his previous work. A guitarist by preference, the only track that I felt I could really get behind was Dog-Leap Stairs (February 2007) a straight ahead instrumental as is all his other tracks. I really ripped into the drumtrack on Hard Temperance (April 2007) but liked other aspects of what he was doing. So, all a bit hit and miss but a year is a long time and much can change.

As indeed, seems to be the case here.

Although DebtorsRus still has a certain raw edge to it's sound, there is an urgency and drive that I have always found lacking in this artist before. Much more to the point, this particular mix is streets away from what he was doing last year; it is clear, punchy and effective. It's a well decent song too, sung by the man himself carrying with it the Northern ethos embodied in the songs lyrics and subject matter; a situation we are all becoming rapidly aware of ie living on credit. In fact DebtorsRUs is, as Denton says is a 'nice, bouncy song with doom-laden lyrics. Inspired by the coming Recession/Depression!!'

Uh oh, run for the hills!!

One of the tracks many beauties are the lyrics, a wry take on our current fiscal situation and what it means to plain ol' you and me and - as we are becoming aware - it ain't gonna be pretty. Nonetheless, this track is pretty, in its rock way, and it's nice to hear that musically and lyrically it seems to be coming right for this artist. Having played this track to within an inch of its life, I've tried to find something to hang a gripe or moan on I couldn't find a thing I would want doing any differently. It's an energetic, catchy, topical track that has much going for it and shows how fast this artist is expanding his horizons. On a personal note, well done Mat.

Highly Recommended look at current fiscal policy ;)

Largo - Toy Soldier

Hear The Track Here

Second time around for David Katsikas (aka Largo) an Alternative Indie artist from (I believe anyway) New Hampshire, USA where, you might be aware, they are currently having a very interesting election. It is, however, a subject we did cover in my review of One Nation (Digi-Generation) (February 2008) so enough of that. From this track, it's easy to see that Largo has all his ducks in a row and as such it got a Highly Recommended from me and that ain't bad for a first time around. It was also obviously plain to me that experience such as Largo shows will undoubtedly deliver other goodies and...

Oooh look, here's one!

Actually, not really. Although el Largo may be supplying all the relevant musical bits but Toy Soldier is in fact a cover of a song by Martika of which I shamefully admit I have been blissfully unaware of until this point. A hit in 1989 so I've found out and Largo does capture the time and period exceptionally well, also a mark of how tight this guy keeps his tracks. While it's obvious that (like its predecesser) that this is a home produced track, I think most listeners wouldn't notice or even give a stuff and truth to tell why should they? The music and production more than make up for it - especially when ya play it loud!!

Like a lot of tracks, continued plays really helped to cement itself into my brain and, for my money anyway, if you are going to do a cover it may as well be a damn good one. Ultimately that is the appeal of the track, Toy Soldier SOUNDS like a hit, know what I mean? A rock hit too and that's always been my favourite kind of fodder. Again the track shows just how good Largo is at this stuff and well worth the listen. Had I not known beforehand that this was a cover track I would be raving about the track itself, and Largo's powerful, creative treatment of it. I know speaking from my own experience how difficult it is to do meaningful cover songs and Largo has done that in splendid style.

Highly Recommended Rock cover song.

John Collins (Can) - Here

Hear The Track Here

Over the last couple of years, the usual ruffians infesting Soundclick have had their rough edges smoothed off by the artists known as John Collins and Lucie Dubue. I use the metaphor in the most precise manner because John (he is the songwriter and musician of the team) and he has been known to out-smooth Smoothy King Mike-K. I even have the vaguest memory somewhere of reviewing a show tune from this quarter and believe me, that's not so shocking as it might sound. Sure I guess it might seem shocking that a hard bitten - grizzled even - reviewer like your 'umble scribe, might actually LIKE such material but I definitely did in this artists case.

The Can in the name indicates that John is a Canadian, or at least I presume so. 'Here's some words for you', John says as he peppers our ears (and eyes) with a flood of verbiage. One of the strengths of the duo's music has been John's extremely professional approach to songwriting - albeit in genres I wouldn't normally be seen dead wearing. Eh? Err. I've often compared contemporary artists to Cat Steven's but John Collins does an incredible job of sounding just like an early version of Yusuf. A little more eccentric sure, especially some of the more histronic sections, but a dead ringer in sound and style.

It also shows that John Collins is first and foremost a songwriter; there are some things on this track that I would never have passed, particularly where the vocals strain so obviously. Nonetheless, as I say, it does get the job done and get the style and tone of the song across which is all I suspect John is after at this stage. The real problem is that IMHO it isn't that good a song - at least not in its present format. You can hear that the track should be building towards that 3rd verse but somehow it just doesn't, leaving you with a very flat impression. No highs or lows.I would be quite prepared to put a lot of these comments down to me not liking the style but something is not right with this track. As a demo song, sure it's worth a listen and I've always got time for John the songwriter but I'll wait for something more fitting.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Antennaheadz - Rosie Step Away From The TV

Hear The Track Here

Yep, another month, another Antennaheadz. Can't say the guy is not punctual, every month right one the dot up comes another slice of the world according to Thomas J, supreme overlord and ruler of The Antennaheadz and sundry other races. I know it's waaay too much information but Thomas really hit my musical G spot last year with a couple of tracks - Loveless Blues (October 2007) and Mr Panache (November 2007) - and since then I've been expecting big things. And I guess that's the problem with hitting it right because The Antennaheadz seem to have veered away from that path, at least with the last couple of releases.

There again, he was always an awkward cuss...

Another track from the new album In The End, We're All People, Rosie Step Away From The TV shows again that Thomas J can change direction on a dime. The funny thing is, and I know Thomas will understand this comment, on my first listening I could have sworn I was listening to a track from Shorthand Phonetics. Believe me, it can't get much further from Thomas' electronic experimental. Why I could even swear I could hear a (whatever happened to?) Big Ship influence in there too. So, lo-fi grunge rock is the name of the game this time out and I have to say I was up for it. See, this is a difficult thing to pull off at the best of times.

Nonetheless, to give the artist his due, he pulls it off in his usual (casual, offhand) trick and makes it happen. I assume that all we hear is from the mind and fingers of Thomas J and, given the lo-fi genre, his playing makes a decent enough backing for (I again presume) his own vocals. There's even a tasty backwards lead somewhere in the mix and - surprise - a chorus that may well grow on you as fast as it did on me.

So, keywords: lo-fi, irreverent and IMHO very charming. Recommended Alternative rock.

Tim Turner & Co - Wonder

Hear The Track Here

I've known of Tim Turner for some time now, first through exposure on Songplanet and then through many other sites - as it should be. This is, after all, a small digital world, and the same names seem to get everywhere - at least everywhere I seem to go anyway. Not that this is a problem when you are dealing with artists of Tim Turners stripe, and a particularly pleasant one if you happen to like seasoned guitar players with a taste for rock. To say nothing of his power vocal style or the equally talented musicians he surrounds himself with. The last track I reviewed Diary Of A Nobody (December 2007) featured no less than five musicians and one of them was the notorious Jim Miller (aka Jim-n-Lisa). Brilliant track, grab it.

And today is something different...

Wonder finds Tim on his lonesome providing music, lyrics, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass, vocals and no doubt making his own brew into the bargain. See, nothing is beyond the independent unsigned artist. Recorded again at MTM Studios is a blusey treat that I lapped up like a cat with cream. Haven't been able to check into Songplanet Radio lately but I'd be willing to bet this is getting played to death over there. It has just the right blend of blues and rock to appeal to that hard-bitten audience and considering this is just one guy, it should show you that he's also seriously qualified to deliver exactly as specified.

I've always admired him as a songwriter and on Wonder I am even more enamoured because he explores a musical area another artist has this month, and in much the same style too. A collaboration between Tim Turner and Craig Sofaly (Crockmister) sure would be something to hear. If you don't believe me, listen to the quality and professionalism in this track and then listen to Crockmisters Just My Morning; both great songs in that down-home Louisiana style. Wonder is a little rawer (at least in the intro) but it soon slides into a groove that makes the tune do that peculiar hi-step the genre is famous for.

Someone said 'hey this sounds like Dr John' about the Crockmister track and the same could be said of Tim's Wonder - but they are quite different beasts. Both have much to offer. The main highlights of Wonder were for me the almost-couldn't-get-out-of-bed lope of the track, the excellent musical accompaniment and the warm, friendly tones of Mr Turner that so evokes my own memories of Louisiana and New Orleans in particular. Seems fitting somehow that the genre can help bring the area back to life even if only in memory. Come on, a saucy groove, a smooth-toned lounge lizard and a great song to sing along with? What more could you want?

Highly Recommended Southern Rock.

James Oakwood - My Bed

Hear The Track Here

James Oakwood is a new name to me from MP3 Unsigned but hey, he is a man in love with his bed obviously so he's cool by me. He's also a rock artist which, as you well know, definitely fine by me. According to his webpage, he's only been writing and recording since 2006 and features a tasty pick of all his kit (is that a Dell?); the kind of stuff you need to make rock music. Even if it is, in this case, in the spare bedrooom. Some of the best music I've heard in my life is coming from such setups, and usually with very few hiccups so lets get to it..

Rock, the man said....

Well, yes, to a certain extent. Oh for sure the instrumentation and the style is unashamedly rock but with a sharp musical mind and an even sharper arrangement makes for a very strange hybrid. For me, this is like the bastard child of prog-rock and the Beatles in their trippier days. Don't go thinking that I am talking any kind retro sound here, My Bed sounds bang up to date. The songs influences mirror the listing of music greats that James Oakwood cites at the bottom of his page; the Beatles influence for me coming from the intro/outro which is a nice touch. The horn motif that makes that work, appears throughout the song and is one of my own favourite bits.

Hold on, o speedy eyeball!!. Don't be hasty...

Did I, or did I not mention the dreaded prog-rock word there? Am I not usually incandescent with rage at the mere sight of the genre and yet here I am being pleasant about this one. That's because, as I explained, it's the blending of styles that won this track over to my side. James also shows enough inventiveness as a guitarist to keep you listening, and that goes a long way also in its appeal. Although I have certain reservations about the overall sound, the track is surprisingly clear and punchy and shows that what counts isn't kit; it's brains and talent. Judging by this example James Oakwood has plenty thank you very much. An artist I'm sure we are going to be hearing more of.

Highly Recommended blend of rock.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

David Pendragon and Tribe World Ensemble - Lay Down Your Guns

Hear The Track Here

For any English man or woman, the name of Pendragon is woven into the very structure of our being and usually signifies something special, magical even. King Arthur (he of Excalibur fame) was a Pendragon and we all know how that ended... Anyhow, the reason for this jaunt into myth and history is that here is another Pendragon, and this time from the other side of the world to this sceptered isle. I have been aware of Australian musician David Pendragon through Chris Bishop's POP for a while and I have the vaguest memory of even reviewing something on Soundclick once, but all some time ago.

It was nice to re-acquaint myself with this extremely polished musician. Accompanied here by Ernie Van Veen on acoustic guitar, Kieth Jollief on bass and Donovan Gail on drums, Lay Down Your Guns is a simple, almost folk song that rings every single one of my bells. I had the good fortune in my reckless youth to work with Michael Moorcock and damn me if David Pendragon doesn't sound like a more energetic version of him. As simple as the music is, it's strength comes through in the arrangement and production, and the way the musicians interpret their parts; the drums are particularly strong.

All not a lot of use, IMHO, unless you can back all that good sheeit with the kind of song that is inspirational, as well as being accessible to the majority of listeners. In it's folk rock blend, and the way the vocals provide a great deal of the power of the track. it evokes a great many past hits of the genre and there is much right about that. Ultimately though, its the professional sound and delivery that make this track stand out, and well as a killer song. The chorus has already moved it's furniture and extended family into my head so it looks like a long visit. Not that I am complaining in the slightest.

Knockout folk rock song. MUST HAVE

Crockmister - Just My Morning

Hear The Track Here

In October 2004 I reviewed a track called Walking Between Two Worlds from a new musician to me at MP3 Unsigned. It was an absolutely knockout track in every respect, but especially vocally (I compared Craig's voice to both Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) and Van Morrison and nothing I have heard since has deviated one iota from that first knockout punch. This is one artist that is absolutely guaranteed never to fail you, regardless of the genre he is dealing with. All of his tracks reside on my hard drive (along with all his Deggsy and Crockmister collaborations) and still get regular workouts on my playlists. It's great drive music I've found, its kept me amused on many a road trip.

Now before you start thinking that Crocky and I should just get a room and be done with it, lets be about the music so I can show you why I treasure this musician. Just My Morning is exactly the Crockmister mood I really get off on, although his Going Down To Babylon is going to take some beating. Nonetheless, this track has already made an enduring impression on me. It beggars belief that the RW music business doesn't see the possibilities in a musician of Craig Sofaly's (aka Crockmister) calibre and experience. In the immediate future, whenever people moan at me about being such a fan of unsigned music, I'll point them at this track as a classic example of how to make a work of art and the best music you are likely to hear ANYWHERE.

I am well known for my championing of this artist but ffs LISTEN to how good it can get. Just My Morning gets down into that almost-Lousiana feel so much of his work evokes; a peice of classic rock that is so good it becomes pop by default. A devoted student of the less-is-more for school which I am a student, Crockmister weaves a light acoustic rock to back a wonderfully realised - and extremely evocative - song. Lyrics, arrangement, tone, all just perfect. As I said earlier, Crockmister is as close to the real thing musically as you can ever get and as an ex-music business person myself I've heard the best and the worst. No prizes for guessing which one this is.

MUST HAVE. Soul, warmth AND style.

Buzrk - Emissary

Hear The Track Here

You may have thought, in your wandering through Soundclick, whether anyone ever used any of these 'beats for sale' outfits that Soundclick seems to be infested with. Well, put your mind at rest because I know that many of these 'beats' do turn up in my reviews and Buzrk has used a couple too (Anno Domini for example). Sad to say, I haven't really heard anything from Buzrk up to this point that really made me sit up and listen. In all the tracks I have reviewed so far, there is a mismatch between the vocals and music that - considering this is rap - is deadly when not performed correctly.

Consequently, all his tracks have suffered at my hands and I was beginning to suspect a bit of a pattern developing. I had also assumed (incorrectly as it happens) that Buzrk was American and I've only just noticed that in fact he is from Togo, Western Africa so obviously there would be some stylistic differences. That doesn't excuse sloppy work and - thankfully - Emissary shows much more promise than anything I have heard from this artist yet. It's hip hop, of course and it carries the almost obligatory Parental Advisory so be prepared for some cussing...

I think musically the track Buzrk uses on Emissary by Loks Project is one of the best I have heard in this field. It's taut, tight and very, very effective and it's to Buzrk's eternal credit that this time he hasn't allowed his rap to overshadow the track. He fits that rap into the little nooks and crannies of the musical track with some skill, playing with the spaces and gaps as if they were building blocks. This, to me, is what I expect from the hip hop I would personally want to hang on to. Great musical track that gives the rapper a chance to really stretch out and, yes impress even me.

Excellently scored catchy hip hop rap. Highly Recommended.

Pidgeman - Wasting Time

Hear The Track Here

Third time around for MP3 Unsigned's Pidgeman, a singer/songwriter from the UK. The first track I reviewed - Misery Loves Company (November 2007) - showed that Pidgeman knows what he's doing in terms of performance and songwriting style and Can't Stop Thinking About You (January 2008) only confirmed that impression. Where things fell down in both tracks was in the final presentation, as is often the case. We, all of us, struggle with the equipment restrictions we have, and often come up with some ingenious workarounds, but we have what we have and that's all there is to it. So, a certain amount of audio loss is inevitable and it's a good job that most people don't even hear that but hey, I certainly do. That's why I have audio geek stencilled on my heart.

And 'a pain' stencilled on my butt.

Pidgeman's music does appeal to me though, in many ways. He is a very capable musician - he plays everything you hear - and his brand of rock does suit me well. Any comments I have made about him in the past are usually small matters. The same wouldn't be true if I were judging the first version of this (the one I downloaded for review) but before I finished the review I noticed that there was a new version with Andy Foyston (aka AndyF) supplying orchestration, which helps matters enormously. The difference between the verses and the chorus in the original were jarring and the vocals were sloppy, at best. Craig (aka Pidgeman) has a good voice but on both mixes he tends to use a kind of 'Elvis' reverb that just muffles the vocal.

IMHO, I don't think this is anything like as strong a song as Can't Stop Thinking About You, but there again I have a marked aversion to pop ballads. I know it's classified as R&B (and it would make a decent R&B song) but in this version it is ashamedly weepy pop which is definitely not my thing at all. The vocal pitch problems that often dog this musicians work, are really noticeable in both versions of this track and that's a shame. Having said that, having peiced a few vocals together out of endless takes, I know just how frustrating that can be. Still nonetheless, it does blunt the impact of this song a lot. IMHO a clearer, sharper, deeper mix and a LOT more attention to getting those vocals right would scrub this track up a treat.

As it is right now, it still feels mainly unfinished.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Burble & Pine - March Of The Truffles

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'I have never signed up for one of your reviews before' this artist stated, 'because I didn't think anything I threw together was worthy of your ears' Not the same thing as a large denomination banknote of course, but ego stroking is ego stroking and I'll get it wherever I can. Won't mean crap in a review situation of course but hey, it helps me to get through the day. Burble and Pine seem to be a one man show (electronica, UK based) and yes, completely new to me, although probably not for much longer. Believe me when I say this, ol' B&P, whatever you may seriously think about my ears I have heard the very worst that humanity had to dish out and I'm still sane.

Aren't I? Who the **** are you? You looking at me!!!

March Of The Truffles is a tasty confection (Ed: and that's enough of that Gilmore!) which came as a complete surprise given the comments previously made. Yeah, but. There's always one, isn't there? Maybe he made those comments knowing I'd underrate him before listening... Curse these plots!!! I'm losing mine. Billed as experimental electronica March of the Truffles is an easy listen and at just over four minutes no stretch for even the most shrivelled of pea-brains. There's a nice relaxed feel to the track that draws you in from the get go, but the real tricks come with the many and varied breaks in the rhythm. I do love it when things fly about the stereo picture.

There is a guitar lead motif running through this I could swear I have heard before somewhere, but its effective enough so meh. March Of The Truffles, ultimately after a great many plays, showed a neat musical sensibility that doesn't really register at first. You get the 'ooh that's nice' routine but once you've worn it in a bit you get to realise how musically competent this is, and how well it is structured to show off that knowledge. It may be the first time you ever been reviewed by me but I doubt it will be the last, not judging by the quality of this.

Highly Recommended electronica.

Johny Vee - If Tomorrow Never Comes

Hear The Track Here

In case some of my more anal readers catch a hissy fit over my spelling let me start off by saying that Johny Vee is entitled to spell his name however he likes. There is an extreme lack of information about him on this site but - from what I can gather - Johny Vee is a country band from the UK. Country and western country even. I know that has raised a few smirks from the many of American musicians around, but what you don't know is the UK has long been a hotbed of local country and western artists. Many of them up to a very high standard.

So nrrr :P

Now the only wasp hanging out at this lovefest, is a particularly aggressive one. I dislike the genre, especially the more saccarine variety that Nashville specialises in. Tain't country, it's pap for the masses. Not all country and western gets my cold shoulder generally but this type always does. Considering all my misgivings, Johny Vee et al make a pretty good job of it, and a favourable first listen. So, that's one hurdle down. Further plays didn't put me off, mostly because the production on this is sooo clean it slides off your ears.

In a good way, obviously.

Johny Vee has a great country voice; deep and authorative and a tone that says 'experienced' in every breath. There is a definite leaning towards the 'soft' Elvis sound rather than the more edgy Johnny Cash variety but, in truth, the vocalist has much of both artists going on in his vocals. Let's face it, the main point of country and western IS the vocals but here both mesh together well enough to even surmount the mountain of predjudice I'd brought to the party. I know there are millions of people who love material like this, so if my descriptions have interested you, do check this artist out. It wouldn't be a waste of time. Accomplished musicians, class production and a terrific song, what more could you want? In a world without predjudice, of course.

Highly Recommended C&W ballad.

Tedd-Z - Senseless Logic

Hear The Track Here

It's always best, I have found, to be wary of an approaching Tedd-Z track because sometimes Tedd-Z can be a can I put this? Edgy? Maniacal? Profoundly disturbing? Yep, he can be all those things and more as I've discovered in the years I have known his work. That comment should at least give you one clue; anyone who has been doing this for years HAS to have something going for them and - surprisingly enough - so does Tedd-Z. OK, his more outre works can be a bit baffling but Tedd-Z has also been known to deliver some memorable tunes so it's always worth a listen to a new one.

Providing you are wearing your mental baffles of course....

Senseless Logic finds our Tedd messing 'bout in my backayard, dubbing it up mon. Or at least that's the underlying theme going on in this excellent dancehall flavoured glitch hop peice. A new direction for this artist certainly but one he has been working towards for some considerable time; the last few tracks have hinted at a much more musical approach in his works, and I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I never envisaged the impact such a beast would have on me because, after all, I have been castigating this artist for years about this or that. Fact of the matter is, Senseless Logic is a faultless track, and - for my money - possibly one of the most innovative tracks I am going to hear this year.

Having dabbled in Dancehall dub myself more than a few times, I know exactly (nay painfully) just how hard it is to get right. Not only has Tedd-Z got the feel bang on, he's does it with the neatest electronica twist and an MC vocal that is nothing less than inspired. You won't be able to understand a fekkin word of course, this is glitch hop remember, but I guarantee you will not be worried about that. What you'll be doing is grooving snake-hipped to this infernal beat, wondering at how such an odd peice could possibly sound so amazing. That, my friends, is the Tedd-Z effect and Senseless Logic is undoubtedly his finest hour.

MUST HAVE electronic dancehall dub. Honest!! Killer.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Legendary Fred Miller - Jazmin

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The latest entry into the ever burgeoning The Legendary Fred Miller (TLFM) archive is (and I quote) 'Ecclectic Jazz instrumentation' or what I fondly refer to as a kitchen sink job. ie throw everything in there :D To be sure Fred is definitely an ecelectic taste as a few have found out, but as I pointed out many times before he has a homespun quirkiness that makes it all work. Honestly, his work is probably not going to set the world on fire but I've developed a soft spot for - as have a few other of my peers - so I guess he's not doing too badly.

Low key is the name of the game here and I'm not talking about a Norse god either..

Fred goes on to describe Jazmin as a 'strange mix of baroque and modern jazz'. Now I don't know about you, but such a description would make me want to listen to the track. I mean how bad could it be? Well, Fred and I have had our timing conversation, and our production conversation and our sound sweetening conversation but hey, the man goes his own way and sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. On Jazmin it works, barely. Still, it is as Fred says just a keyboard excursion and, and on that basis it's very listenable.

Top marks for the clarity of the mix and even some of the sounds used (especially the piano) but ultimately the track will be judged as a reasonable instrumental. If I had to state a preference, I prefer Fred with his 'porch' hat on and this is more like a basement, dead of night jobbie. It's a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of minutes sure enough, but there isn't enough meat on the tracks bones to make it last longer then a few plays. If you like Fred's work it is of interest but I'd say most people will probably miss this one.

Sexmusic - Ecstasy

Hear The Track Here

Obviously whoever is behind Sexmusic is a plain speaker, because in the name of this artist and the title of this track we have the main three food groups essential to life; sex, drugs and rock and roll. Which surprisingly enough caused me to wander down memory lane to a time when such things were staples rather than the odd luxury. While I was musing such trivia I happened to be looking up Sexmusic to start this review, and noticed that he'd also worked with an old, old mate of mine from Hawkind, Nik Turner. It is a very small world, no matter what people say; six degrees of separation sounds about right. Anyway, lets get to the drugs...

Ecstasy in this case, so just say no kids. Riiiiiiiiiiight, that'll work.

This is also POP's Chris Bishop's review choice of the month so you can bet your bollocks that its gonna be something worth listening to, even if you don't like the style (in this case electronica). Calling this electronica though is really stretching that point, sounds like the whole world and his brother rocked out on this track and it shows. I'm certain that Sexmusic gets ticked off with these references to being an electronica musician. Sure the way the music is made is undeniably electronic but often what comes out is something I would consider rock music. As, indeed, does Ecstasy, although IMHO this is one of those tracks that is ultimately cannot be pigeon-holed in such a manner.

This is a track that everyone is going to see in a different way, partly because of the way it works and partly because of what Grant (aka Sexmusic and also a member of Side Seat Driver who I reviewed a while ago) knowing how to couch it all for the best impact. Can't say fairer than that, and that is a good description of what I look for in a track. A knowing, coherent musical track with that extra mile done on production that makes it stand out from the crowd. With it's dub overtones (especially in the intro) is a surprising track that gets better with repeated listenings. Probably one of the best instrumentals I have heard this year.

Highly Recommended blend of styles (electronic rock anyone?)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Avalanche - So Fine

Hear The Track Here

Seems like it was only yesterday when I was bending Mike Foster's ear to move over to Soundclick as well as Songplanet, and now look. Everywhere I go I see them. Considering the short time they have been on Soundclick, they seem to have made a very favourable impression. If you have been following this classic rock band along with me you'll be nodding wisely too, because there is no doubt that Soundclick has a big appetite for rock and Avalanche have a burning need to stuff it down our ears. Which is as it should be; the best kind of rock and roll is the kind that picks you up and throws you round the room for kicks.

S'why I'm so bruised...

Nothing like a thick wodge of geetar to apply a little healing balm though, and Avalanche supply not one, but two. Ladles and germs I present Michael Foster (on the left) and Mark Easton (on the right) of your stereo picture. Another feature of Avalanche tracks besides the Rock of Ages has to be the relentless attention to detail in both performance and production which make this bands tracks stand out so. So Fine also relies on yet another classic rock staple being a song about 'that thing that boys and girls do'. And just in case you were wondering, it has nothing to do with vomiting in each others presence, that's a treat reserved for younger siblings.

OK thats sex and rock and roll, now wheres the drugs?

Stupid question really because the music has always been the drug and So Fine satisfies my own rock addiction very nicely, thank you very much. The real problem with reviewing a band as efficent (and proficient) as Avalanche is that you very quickly run out of things to say. How many times can you say ****! in a review anyway? Coming in at a lesuirely six and a bit minutes, So Fine is a rock treat in the grand tradition. Another thing that has really impressed me about this band is that - for a band of Americans - they don't make the American brand of rock. It's either their own or they nicked it from my own motherland. In which case I want it back.

Classic Rock from a classic rock band. Highly Recommended.

Azoora - Restless

Hear The Track Here

One of the most significant bands to come out of Soundclick over the last year or two is Azoora, a four peice band that have surprised more than li'l ol' me with their music, not to mention the splendid production values they embody. All of which helped them gain a whole string of Must Haves from this reviewer for the first few tracks I heard, most have which have turned up again on the Tall Tales EP. The EP features Marzipan, Desert Storms and Love Will Find It's Own Way and their respective remixes, it's a free 70MB download from 23 Seconds Netlabel (now there's a neat concept!). If you only manage to download one free artist every once in a while let it be this one because it's about the best there is. I almost reviewed the EP at the end of last month anyway but time prevented it. Probably a good job anyway because I'd have slobbered all over the place again.

MUST HAVE EP though, Got It? Download now.

What I look for most when I am looking for my own personal preferences musically has to be almost perfect in execution and concept and Azoora fill that space up mightily. For my money here is a band that embodies all the finer pop sensibilties that have informed rock based music for the past forty years. Put it like this, I see no shame in saying that the quality of work in Restless is every bit as high as any REAL BIG name like say, the Beatles or Pink Floyd both of which echo throughout this track. Obviously then, thats a really quick sketch and when dealing with this band, it takes time for it all to sink in.

Restless is a brilliant blend of sounds that, to be honest, I wouldn't have said would work together in a month of Sundays but they do. Particularly the eerie Velvet Underground voila sound that skitters across your nerve endings every time you hear it. Like all of Azoora's tracks Restless can take endless playing and still come up with little surprises; perfectly fitting its Psychedelic Rock genre listing. It's a beautifully realised peice of music, no matter what else you call it and here is a track where the vocal really takes centre stage; as indeed it should. All of which makes for a wonderful song.

Brrrrr. MUST HAVE (no question)

Nikjam and the Meena - Hybrid

Hear The Track Here

Don't know what it is with MP3 Unsigned artists just lately. Don't they know not to poke this bad-tempered anti-dance/anti-technno bear? Say hello then to Nikjam and the Meena (great name btw and definitely not as silly as some) who like to tempt fate by putting forward Hybrid an unashamed out-and-out dance track. The only time I am into dance music in when I am in the process of doing something incredibly silly. Like dancing, for example. No, no, listen. You haven't seen me dance yet. Believe me, it is a sight worthy of inclusion in the Guinness Book of WTF Is That? and one tourists come from far and wide to phtotograph and astound their chums with such contortions.

However, I digress, as usual....

OK, so we've established that I'm not into whumpa-whumpa so what part of dance music would interest me, especially seeing as I do most of my music listening either flat out or seated at the computer. Well, it has to be reasonable in length and at just under seven minutes, Hybrid scores well in that respect. It has to have sufficient nous in the arrangement so as not to bore the casual listener (ie me or you) senseless and - in one sense - Hybrid also scores well and it certainly wasn't exactly what I expected being a strange blend of Electronic and dance and a damn sight harder than most dance tracks.

I have to question the sound levels in the track though, which is shown up even more because the track was mastered at a high level. What happens is that it tends to deaden and flatten what I consider are the essentials of the genre; the percussive elements of the track. The track really kicks off three quarters of a minute and, surprisingly enough, there are more than enough ideas floating around. What needs tightening up (IMHO obviously) are the sounds used to provide the motor of the track, a denser mix would result and that is what this track really needs. Nonetheless this is a surprisingly good track that smacks of tracks by the early electronic artists (especially Yello and the German electro crowd).

Wired electro Dance. Recommended.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Fluidity - Hostile Takeover

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At this stage of the game, you'd have to say that the one thing John Paul Carroll (aka Fluidity) specialises in is consistency; in approach, in style and in performance. You know what you are getting, at least if you are even aware of this NZ based musician. Guitar based alternative rock is the field he frolics in, and I'm here to tell you he's bloody good at it too. Took me a while to perfect the taste but the recent string of really excellent tracks over the past year has been an eye opener, and not just for me. Fluidity has a surprising amount of listeners and a willing audience for his special brand of rock.

But uh oh.... what's this....

Alternative grunge is what the label says and - as ever - it's John Paul's special take on it. See, no matter what he does it still sounds like Fluidity doing grunge :) Aah, but is it believeable? Weeeeeelll (waggles hand) mebbe. Depends. Tut, tut, here I am prevaricating again. It'll never do. Honestly, Hostile Takeover took me a bit by surprise, it took me a while before it dawned on Bozo the Clown (Ed: he refers to himself) that the sound and temper of the song are intentional. See, you don't expect a musician as accomplished as JP to be as rough as a bears rear end but credit where credit is due, he manages it here.

There again, bit of a rock/hardplace thing though. As I say, I'm a big fan but I found the first few plays awkward, letting the track sink into my brain before trying to pick it up, if you know what I mean. Time, as usual, worked its wonders and I could see what was happening and - as I say - it still sounds enough like Fluidity it doesn't make any difference. Where this track really scored for me was in the immaculate sounds on display and the clear, punchy mix he has made his own sound. Takes a bit of work but is well worth the effort.

Another classic Fluidity track. Highly Recommended Grunge (is it really though?)

This man needs his own category!!

The Unwashed and Dazed - Staring Into Infinity

Hear The Track Here

A few words of explanation because you are probably having some whoodiefuq moments right around now. AFAIK, The Unwashed and Dazed are new to Soundclick and to me. Certainly not a bandname you are likely to forget in a hurry. For the first twenty years of my life, I thought that was my name too, but that's a whole other story. An Alternative musician from Florida (which does seem to churn out musicians) gives us 'a murder song with lots of guilt'. Ooh goody exactly what I need to relax with.

I have to say that it certainly doesn't sound murderous, but there again that's difficult when it's just a guitar and vocals coming up with the menacing bits. As such, I can't really say that I would consider this alternative so much as folk really and certainly, definitely acoustic in every form. Nothing wrong with that of course, so long as you have a decent song to back it up with and That's It I've Had Enough is a reasonable song; although the arrangement is as loose as a goose.

Henry Harrington (aka U&D) has a good voice which this obviously home recorded track merely hints at, all delivered in a tone similar to (say) Neil Young. As always, its tremendously hard to make something more of a guitar and vocals, but this track would hold up its end against a good many in the acoustic field. For my money though, there is a bit too much guitar padding out the song itself and that guitar padding just wasn't interesting enough to keep up the tension the vocal sections worked in. Still, early days yet...

Loose (but engaging) acoustic song.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Blue 42 - Mysterious Woman

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The problem with asking for reviews is that sometimes you don't get the review you want/need. It happens to all of us and - to my mind anyway - is the whole point in asking for a review in the first place. When I first starting reviewing seriously some years back, I made myself a promise. I would try not to be negative in my reviews but when the truth needed telling, I would have to tell it. It's lost me some friends over the years but most people get over the odd bad review, especially if they know me well. After all, my motto just has to be 'yeah but what did you do for me today?'

Calling me greedy is probably not the best way to approach this either ;)

Blue 42 experienced this when I reviewed Evil Cries (January 2008) and I'm sure a lot of my disappointment - with hindsight - probably wasn't with the band or the music. My problem was that I really loved Ty Kaufman (lead guitarist of Blue 42) old band and I didn't hear the Kaufman fire and warmth in the prog rock that Blue 42 specialised in. Prog rock has never been a strong lure for me, much less the US variety. Not their problem, s'mine. I'm glad to say that I found Mysterious Woman much more to my my liking; this is the axeman I know and love; and they even keep the prog rock references to a minimum :D

I should point out that you should like the sounds of Boston (who this sounds like), Styx and the like but it's nothing like as lifeless as the last track I heard from this band. From where I sit, with a few plays under my belt, this is a bit of musical mutt. It changes shape before your very ears, going from a kinda laid back bluesy job to full blown pant-splitting vocal hysterics that - for the first time - show this reviewer that Evil Cries hadn't done him any justice. As I mentioned before, the one thing you should expect from this band - regardless of style or genre - is a solid, professional approach in every way. Class.

Classic blues rock song. Highly Recommended.

Mike-K - Swaying

Hear The Track Here

Oh my God, hide the silver, it's the Germinator!. Zwei on the review list, Mike rushed over in the middle of last weeks Saturday Night Rocks radio proggie on Songplanet; so desperate is he for papparazzi and groupies. I'm joking of course, but not by much. Mike has been going through a marked upsurge in his own music over the past few months and that's a really good thing. As someone whose time is also taken up with endless listening to other peoples music, it's amazing how yours seems to be taking second place. So much so that it's a bit of a struggle to find the time to actually make - let alone perfect - a nice choon or two. Try to remember that when you are next clamouring for a review and/or radio play.

Otherwise I'll have to come over there and give you a slap.

'About as smooth as it gets' Mike chortles in the song comments. That sound that may be registering on your ears as a buzzy thing (Ed: I think he means a mozzie/mosquito) is merely the sound of me grinding my teeth. As you know, smooth and I don't like to even be in the same room. In fact, about the only place I will put up with it is when I know the artist can at least deliver something worth listening to; even while the style is bringing on a case of the galloping heaves. Such has been the case with Mike in the past, and Swaying is a fine example of what Mr Smooth (and the odd accomplice such as Christopher Martin Hansen) can do when pushed.

It's a given that you should like jazzy, radio friendly instrumentals of the type that once expired adopt an afterlife of being elevator music. Ol' 26 Fingers (Ed: (sigh) he means CMH) is well on form, showing off his newly acquired electric guitar style and I have to say - much to my chagrin - that he does a fine job of it. Curse the man. Can he do no wrong? I've always liked the pairing of Mike and Christopher, I think its a combination that works in many ways, even on a track that I would normally cross the street to avoid. If you are a fan of smooth jazzy instrumentals you should slice right off this one its so smooth. Best to wear a helmet and shin guards then I say, or even full body armour if you are a wuss.

Smoooooooooooooooootttttthhhhh. Highly Recommended (even if you hate the genre).

Fear 2 Stop - Anti Gravity

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First on this reviewers doorstep this month are my old friends Billy, Dana and Raymond collectively known as Fear 2 Stop, a Houston TX based experimental electronica band. The older Soundclick lags will already either be perking up their ears or shuddering with dread, depending on their point of view. See, Fear 2 Stop are not yer average electronica band, here is a band who specialise in f****** with your ears until you don't know which way is up. Which is exactly the way F2S want it presumably. On a more negative note, I have noticed a marked slackening off of the kind of material they were doing a year ago, and that could be a problem. Which is why I approached Anti Gravity with a certain amount of caution, after all it's science fiction innit? I may not be from this planet (according to some people) but I sure as s*** don't want to get get propelled from it on some fiendish anti-grav device.

Could severely dent my jollity.

What does dent my jollity is having to write only for fans when this time last year I was giving them Must Haves. What's the story morning glory? Even though Anti Gravity is a new track it SOUNDS like an older track, if ya know what I mean. See, back in the day when Soundclick's experimental field was just starting to grow, Fear 2 Stop were one of the prime motivators of what I called the 'awkward squad' , simply because the music just wouldn't appeal outside of it's narrow genre. All well and good if that is what you want, but not much good for getting more listeners.

Basically, the problem is that no matter how well you capture the sounds and performance, an electronic ramble is still an electronic ramble. The other side of the coin is that this band has always gone its own way and gathered some fairly devoted fans to themselves and that is as it should be. However, as some of last years tracks testify, a wider audience beckons so it seems a little pointless to go over the same ground again. OK, if you like a good electronic ramble (described as 'hard electro' in the song coments) then this will fit that bill. Me, I'll wait for something stronger because I KNOW this band can do it.

For fans only. (sigh)

m4rt3z Feat Essence - Staring At Infinity

Hear The Track Here

I could have sworn that I have reviewed MP3 Unsigned's m4rt3z AND Essence (in their individual work not a collaboration like this) and I've just spent a fruitless hour proving myself wrong. So my warped reasoning tells me that a) there is a kink in the universe and I've fallen into it OR b) I really am that old OR c) I have reviewed them before and there is nothing wrong with my mind (or the universe for that matter). See, like a lot of MP3 Unsigned artists, m4rt3z and Essence like to mingle with their fellow musicians and it's highly likely that I have reviewed them in that role. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Better that than a kink in the unverse, I'll tell ya.

You'd need more than ice and a sticky plaster on that.

Because of my many virulent tirades and rants about certain genres, I have gained a bit of a reputation of a hardcase and nowhere more so than when reviewing dance. It isn't that I hate the genre, I don't. I don't actively hate any genre, just sloppily executed music and/or ideas. Besides, I'd say Staring Into Infinity was more Ibiza flavoured, and that is always a bonus as far as I am concerned. Don't let the intro fool you, whatever happens. Whenever it started I marvelled that such a good track could come from such pale beginnings.

Loads of synths, then but not lots of the ol' 4-to-the-floor thank God. Well, sure there is lots of dancey-dancey but it isn't as deadening as usual, thanks to the use of those synths and some smart breakdowns. It takes a lot to fill up six minutes plus change of time and Staring At Infinity does the job very well although, if you are not used to this particular style it'll take a while to sink in. The real ace in the hole with this track was the ever-bright vocals from Essence, whose vocal style fits this track perfectly and lifts the midlle and later sections of the track enormously. An enjoyable track, be you dancing, walking, thinking or ********

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