Thursday, May 29, 2008

Azoora - Revelations EP

Hear The Track Here

One of my own personal favourite finds over the past couple of years Azoora have blossomed into an awesome talent in a very, very short period. The band, JB Purcell, Paul Loader, Trudi Lawrance and Ben Cochrane, have scored Must Have after Must Have from me, the last one being for Restless (March 2008), a blinder of a track which is saying something considering I had thought the previous EP (Tall Tales, also free from the 23 seconds Netlabel) so wonderful, they just couldn't do better. Restless showed me that the band had been merely finding their feet because it raised the bar significantly, a beautifully realised peice of pop encased in the most professional of production and arrangement.

Try it and prove me wrong, I dare you!

When I got a copy of the upcoming Revelation EP (officially released on 23 seconds on 5th June) I set aside some time when I could relax, get all inspirational and settle down to some of the best musicians I have ever heard on the net. I've waxed lyrical enough about Restless (check the review) so let's look at the other tracks that make up Revelations. It kicks off with a couple of versions of Restless, both sounding really fine nay even better than ever. Then comes You Capture Me, the first new track to me. One of the biggest problems I am having with this band is doing their work justice through my mere words. To my ears Azoora have a UK pop sensibility and You Capture Me only comfirms my feeling that these are musicians and songwriters of the calibre of Squeeze, Amazing Pumpkins and others.

Both versions display the amazing tightness, nothing wasted arrangement and blend of musical and vocal skills each member brings to the party. I used the Amazing Pumpkins reference because - to my ears - Azoora tap splendidly into this very rich area and by God my ears are the better for it. Be Here is a typical example of how English they sound yet still being so insanely commercial (nay universal) - a mark of how much they stand out from the crowd. As it happens Be Here became my favourite track from the EP within a couple of listens, and it's no surprise because it's exactly what I would expect from this band. Complex, inspirational and a prime example of what unsigned musicians are capable of; world class material. Be Here Goes Into The Deep, brings out a sleeker, sinuous side that slides into your ear canals like aural gold and is the perfect complement. Their last EP was groundbreaking (and free), this EP is ever more so (and still free) and remember where you read it first. Available June 5th remember. Write it down.

The. Real. Deal. Absolute MUST HAVE.

Berino - Saturation

Hear The Track Here

I didn't know anything whatsoever about Berino or the music he/she/it made going into the review which is rare, because I usually try and pick up a little info as I'm downloading the track. Must have missed that with Saturation and ended up with nothing but the music to guide me. Which is why I ended up assuming that Berino was a) Italian and b) he was heavily, heavily into my least favourite genre; trance. Having said that, I think I frightened my neighbours somewhat by bellowing **** off!! Not real!! and other such urbanities to my sound system. Why was I doing this? I hang my head in shame and admit, with great sorrow, that I actually enjoyed this light and refreshing track and it is - most definitely - Trance from the old school.

Before you all dash off into the streets shouting 'the end is nigh?? ' and 'run away', let me put your minds at rest. I haven't gone barking mad suddenly, I genuinely enjoyed this 'reminder of blissed out times' because of precisely that reason. I liked the genre initially, like most people at the time I found it exciting and vibrant but it died the death of suffocation through too many wannabes. This is a splendid recreation of what it sounded like way back in the day and as a nod of respect to the genre, a very worthy listen.

Obviously it isn't going to be of any use to you if you don't like the genre, but if you have any interest in the history of dance music at all, this should be checked out. It's the feel and the energy that keeps you listening. just as it did back in the day. After all, there isn't really that much that you can do with 1,2,3,4 1,2,3,4...and what tricks there are Berino includes them in the track. As I said at the beginning, I had made a couple of assumptions based on the music only. Matter of fact, Berino is from Liverpool, England and an electronica artist I'll no doubt be listening to further on the strength of this excellent Euro-disco tribute.

Excellent old school Trance. Recommended.

SilentWave Ent. - New World Order

Hear The Track Here

Being a Soundclick forum regular I am well aware of SilentWave Ent's many posts on there but this is the first time I think I have ever reviewed them. I had always assumed that they were from some gritty inner city area such as NYC, Chicago or the like. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were from the much more bucolic surroundings of South Wales here in the UK. OK, so maybe Newport/Cardiff and the like don't have the hip hop resonance of the American cities I mentioned but certainly the problems younger people have to deal with are the same - regardless of where you live.

Which is why, I suspect, I found New World Order so satisfying in many ways. See, to me hip hop has always been about communication and NOT about buff, bling and bitches, and it sounds from this track that SilentWave Ent understand that only too well. Although the UK is considerably smaller we are undergoing an upsurge in violence particularly between younger people; knives are a big, big problem here. I'm gald to see that not only do SilentWave take their music seriously, they take their message seriously too - hence the Parental Advisory. It is worth a listen for all that BECAUSE of what it says - especially to parents.

It's actually a gathering of rappers, including Soundclick's own Buzrk and surprisingly Lil Rascal (legal or otherwise). So, you are told the raps go: ZND VITAL, OD, B.Watts, Lil Rascal, Buzrk, Lil Rascal (again), Mojo and Buasi. The music is fairly typical fayre for the genre, it's the raps and the lyrics that make it work - which is why I mentioned them by name. It'll take more than a couple of plays to have the track register properly and it is plagued somewhat by a thin basic sound, but what lyrics I could make out definitely fitted what I would consider to be hip hop, whatever it actually sounded like. S'all about communication, after all.

Hip Hop that should be heard. Highly Recommended (despite small quibbles)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jabba James - Artist Overview

Hear The Track Here

I try and avoid the fashion contest that is called Myspace but, every once in a while someone will direct me that way and I usually find the visit worthwhile. I got an email from a fan of Jabba James a while ago asking me to check him out. Usually I don't but something about the email caught my eye, the email stated 'he's a session musician at abbey road'. Abbey Road Studios is right around the corner from where I live so it's obvious I had to check it out and I'm glad I did, so thanks Billy for the heads up!

There are only streamed 'taster' tracks on Jabba's page but there's more than enough there to show you why this guy is already signed up to a label and well on the road to commercial success. 'Jabba James is on a mission to bring melody back to the beats' boasts the webpage and - for once - it actually means what it says, all of the four taster tracks convey a marked pop sensibilty both in performance and production.

Coming from one of the UK's great musical cities (Bristol seeing as you asked) can only have helped. I know the city and know just how high the local bar can often be - and I'm not referring to the falling down kind of bar. Jabba's musical style seems to stretch over a few genres too, although the main root is rock when all is said and done. Personally, I like artists whose musical approach is positive and energetic and Jabba James is certainly that. btw, I'd recommend you at least listen to Make A Little Smile, if not all four.

Excellent UK Pop. Well worth a listen.

Iannai - Just Enough For Me

Hear The Track Here

This artists name has been ringing some furious bells with me but I have no idea why. I haven't, to my knowledge, reviewed any of his material before although I have noticed forum postings from him. Mmmm. Anyway, he's from the Northern US and is a Contemporary Christian/Pop musician. I always get a shudder down my spine with that particular word pairing (Christian and pop) and it has nothing to do with religious ecstacy. As you know, I have nothing whatsoever against this genre, in fact Cam - a master of the art - was my AOTY a couple of years ago. In my time, mind, I have heard some real horrors in the field too.

I think it scarred me for life.

Just Enough For Me promises to be smooth jazz and - I guess - it fulfills that promise very well. I noticed while downloading the file that the lyrics were 'added 15/02/08' so I was surprised that they weren't published online. Didn't make much more difference though because whoever is vocalising on this track understands one thing about their craft that most completely miss: enunciation. Now before you all go spazzing for the nearest dictionary, let me put you straight.

Singing. Words. Clearly.

As much as I usually dislike anything preceeded by a 'smooth' tag, Just Enough For Me is surprisingly listenable in a way that does the genre justice. OK so it's the smoother end of the pop/jazz spectrum more Stan Getz/Herb Alpert early 1960's stylee but the mix of vocals makes it much more appealing than it reads. I would hazard a guess and say that there are two vocalists on this track and it's that blend of voices that kept me listening even when the music paled - remember, I don't like the genre much. Needn't have worried any about the other things nagging at me either because this track is light and uplifting and not a sermon in sight. Just how I prefer my religion.

Smooooth as bbbbbbuuuttttteeeerrrr. Highly Recommended for the softer side.

Laroche - A Synopsis

Hear The Track Here

23 year old Nick Laroche is Canadian and a new name to me, and I suspect, Soundclick too. Even so there are already lots of tracks on his page, many with intriguing comments about Arabic influences and this track which promises a mix of electronica and dub. All of which pleases me because it fits with my own particular musical palate, but - as always - there is a large distance between the words and the actual music living up to those brave and maybe foolhardy terms. Moreso because I have spent many years producing such genre-bending tracks and it's always nice to see someone else as foolhardy as me....

Reckless. Insane. All good descriptors....

The truth is that A Synopsis is much more electronic than anything the blurb led me to believe, although that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not so much dub as some neat effects being deployed and lotsa stuff whizzing between your earholes, which makes for a decnt listen whether you like the style or not. Credit where credit is due, Laroche delivers a very clean, clear sound all the better to display his wares.

A Synopsis is a very good electronica blend that grows better with each listen, although it doesn't do anything that unusual or astounding - and why should it? Coming in at a whisker over three minutes, this is an eminently digestable peice of electronica. Just a couple of points though, as good and clear the mix was, after a few plays I started to notice a flatness about the track which suggests its a pleasant, interesting listen but the taste probably wouldn't last. Damn fine introduction to this artist though IMHO...

Excellent electronic blend. Highly Recommended for the genre.

Largo - My Head

Hear The Track Here

So surprised was I to have been (forced, I tell you, forced) able to give a Must Have to Largo's Heal In Time (April 2008) you could have slapped me in a dress and called me Sally. Now maybe that doesn't seem to impressive to the more jaded palates out there but consider this for a second. The number of ballads I have given my ultimate rating to can be counted on my two hands, so it certainly means a lot more than most Must Haves. After all, I don't hate anything with the vehemence I reserve especially for the wet and weepy. It's not that I'm against showing tenderness and emotion in music, I'm all for it.

It's the cringe factor that does for the genre usually in my books.

Largo shows that emoting (not to mention drama and excitement) are not flash in the pans but a regular part of his act, at least judging by My Head, about as classy a rock song as I've heard this year - and that was my opinion as soon as I heard it and it hasn't changed much since. With it's Riders Of The Storm opening sequence and the absolutely knockout pin-you-to-the-walls guitar, My Head establishes its identity suprisingly quickly but I do urge you to do more than listen to this a couple of times. Every discerning rock collection (unsigned or otherwise) should have a copy of this.

As much as the rock setting appeals to me, as well as the extremely classy arrangement and the faultless instrumental and vocal performances, My Head gives you something more. The root of this tracks appeal (whatever genre usually floats your boats) lies in the song itself; a clever, complex but eminently appealing song about reaching out and giving/recieving love. Largo has always struck me as a typically American rock musician but you know what? It's style is definitely Antipodean rock in feel and, I don't know call me silly but - this sounds very like our old chum JP Carroll aka Fluidity and I mean that as a compliment too

MUST HAVE Rock song

Mark Holley - Wonder Why (Feat, Joseph Rodriguez)

Hear The Track Here

I've known of Mark Holley, an MP3 Unsigned based songwriter for a couple of years but, sad to say, I haven't heard anything new from him for a while. Most of the tracks I have reviewed, I haven't particularly liked the style but there is no denying that the man knows what he is doing, and that ultimately if you like a good song, tastefully delivered then he can by relied on to supply that. Whatever you might think of the style. He is also Mr Collaboration over on that site working with Dawn Sinclair , Mark Alexander, Joseph Rodriguez and Dan Peck to name but a few I have reviewed.

No wonder he's got no time for new stuff :)

Going off a tangent for a moment, I've just been watching Amazing Journey, a documentary about The Who and was struck yet again how timeless those songs are. Mark Holley is that kind of songwriter and I mean that as the compliment it sounds. Although we've never seen eye to eye about material, the quality and presentation is always first rate; as is this track. As with all good songwriters, lyrics are an essential part of the mix and this is one artist whose lyrics should also be read as well as heard.

Helps with the understanding, ya know.

I reviewed the original Wonder Why in August 2006 and wasn't EXACTLY knocked out by it, even though I was technically. In the meantime the aforementioned Joseph Rodriguez sent some guitar licks to Mark which he then mixed into the original track, added various other things and remixed the whole thing. If I hadn't already known that the guitar parts were added, I wouldn't have been able to tell and I guess that's also a compliment (Ed: and that's quite enough of that...pick holes!). Looking back through the original review I wrote 'on a more reflective note, whenever I hear a track of this quality, it's a given that - sooner or later - something WILL come up that I can feel right about raving about' Well, guess what, this is it. Excellent.

Highly Recommended classic rock song.

Alchemystic - Machines Of Madness

Hear The Track Here

The Alchy One has been threatening to drop a new tune on me for a while and, true to his word, Machines Of Madness thumped into my inbox a while ago. I suppose I shouldn't really complain because this has been a very, very quiet year for this electronica artist so far - at least reviewwise. I reviewed Dark Omen (March 2008), which seemed to show a very different artist from where he started. Again, though, he has always been known for stretching himself and on that track it certainly paid off, which made this new track all the more alluring...

Machines Of Madness is billed as Electronica: Noise which is not all that far from his usual stomping ground and is a 'droning ambient noisescape' according to Merlin er, I mean Alchemystic. So, let me press this big red button that says START and see where we end up. Your intrepid reporter is here to tell you that by one minute or so I was ready, willing and able to run away from such insane madness and by two minutes or more I was biting my own tongue.
Imagine there is a key in your back, and it is attached to your central nervous system. Listening to this track tightens that key like you wouldn't f****** believe, if you are not screaming for release by the time The Doctor makes a kinda/sorta appearance (Ed: I think he is referring to the Tardis noise being used there) then you are obviously not of humankind and are - in fact - a Machine of Madness. Did I like it? Well, what do you think? As noise, it is excellent, as relaxation its rubbish. So industrial you'll need goggles and a hardhat. Good if you like working in a factory manufacturing giant noisemakers.

Interesting diversion though, O Alchemical One. Now. get back to work ;)

Zebrabook - Minstrel Of Hate

Hear The Track Here

I don't think anyone in their right mind could say that Jon Bushaway's (aka Zebrabook) music was easy or accessible. When I reviewed It's Only Rock and Roll (April 2008) I recieved a couple of such comments about my review even though I stressed that it was a) very strange and b) hugely long. I have known this artist for a good many years and I know just how capable he is a musician, and I grew used to his macabre style. Other artists describe themselves as dark but Jon Bushaway goes several leagues further than that.

Not, obviously, for the faint of heart.

Mind you, in comparison to some of the material he was coming out with when he was part of The Dead Company makes this latest work quite tame by contrast. Not for you, of course. Only for us with a bit more experience of all things Bushaway. To you Minstrel of Hate will sound somewhat like the massed Horde Of Apes banging on every single thing that can find while shrieking with rage at the brutality of the world.

Or something like that.

Obviously you can't, in this context, use the word 'like' but I do find a lot of this artists works intriguing, and always unexpected. Minstrel of Hate could very well be the best kind of crash course into this artist who, to be honest, you are either going to love or hate. I use the word 'crash' in the literal sense because that is exactly what it sounds like, but knowing Jon Bushaway that is what it is supposed to sound like. As I say, love it or loathe it, I am willing to bet you can't ignore it. Exceedingly strange (but effective) experimental electronica.

Recommended for a quick ear syringe.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Solid Sounds - The Rescue

Hear The Track Here

Considering its relative size and population, the city of Sheffield in Northern England has played a massive part is creating and shaping the music we hear daily through millions of different bands amd sources. It had a huge influence in the early electronic scene through (obviously) The Human League Heaven 17, ABC, the Thompson Twins, Cabaret Voltaire and Autechre. Not bad for a city with only half a million people eh? It's nice to see the tradition kept up too because - surprisingly enough - Solid Sounds hail from that fair city too.

My, isn't this a small world?

The only (sizeable) fly in the ointment is that Solid Sounds and The Rescue are billed as (gulp) Trance and that's usually what the music does to me. Oh no, sorry, I don't mean trance, I mean catatonic coma. Yep, that's the one. I can usually understand it when you get off your face but as music to relax too, naaahh. Not too sure what's going on with the backstory to the track but it carries a vocal that simulates some kind of rescue mission, and indeed most of the usual disaster effects into the bargain.

Instrumentally, it's pretty basic but is recognisably a nice peice of electro-pop whimsy that fits in well with what I was trying to point out about the bands musical roots. Certainly it impels me to find out more and listen to some other tracks by this band so I guess it works in that way. So, upfront; can't stand the genre guv. Backstory: this is a neat example of basic electro-pop that is surprisingly listenable and it's only a whisker above three minutes. Gertcha!

Recommended Trance (Ed: now I've seen everything)

Mike-K - Guitar Blues

Hear The Track Here

Over the years I have known him Mike K has unearthed a wealth of talents from every genre under the sun, and even a few from outside the Solar System entirely in all likelihood. For me, some of the best Blues and Country artists I have encountered over those years were originally played on Mike-K's awesome Saturday Night Rocks radio spot over on Songplanet. From the getgo, the show had no boundaries whatsoever - except the taste and presence of the Mic Meister - and the one thing the man has is taste. However, it's the authority that counts as well for me and I usually find that hard too judge when I review Mike's normal MOR style.

In fact within the first ten seconds of this track I knew this could only be a Mike K track.

It's hard to fake the blues. Nay, it's fekkin impossible. You either can play it, or you can't. Sure, it's still a skill and can be learnt and improved on but ultimately if you can't make that axe wail and gnash its teeth, it's nowhere baby. Authoritah is what I'm talking about and you don't hear it much in the blues these days. Welp, considering that Mike and Christopher Martin Hansen (who also plays lead on this) are not well known for their blues, I'd say they do a perfectly respectable job...

and accordingly shall keep their heads.

The difference between their two individual styles has never been more evident than on this track and I'm sure that Mike would be the first to point out that Chris's work on this is superb. As always, that liquid bubbling sound he gets perfectly suits the slickness and depth of the arrangement - for which Mike must get top honours. His own guitar parts were more than adequate although his fingers seemed a little more tentative than ol' Speedo (Ed: He means CMH) but that is also something I feel Mike would agree with. Nonetheless, bringing the authoritah back into the review, both guitarists had that.

Highly Recommended Guitar Blues (like wot it sez)

A New Left - Copasetic (Feat. Ten Fold)

Hear The Track Here

A New Left is a new name to me, but obviously not to Soundclick judging by the amount of plays and views this artist has. Mind you, one of the biggest areas of Soundclick's activities is hip hop and even though I've reviewed a great many musician/producers working in this genre, it's just too big to get around in any meaningful way. A New Left seems to be one guy (in this case joined by Ten Fold obviously), can't find any more information other than he is 24 years old and from New Jersey USA.

Now obviously what matters here are the beats and the flow of the rap, so it's pretty much a given that whatever musical accompaniment there is will be sparse and often repetitive. It isn't true of all tracks in this genre but it certainly true for the majority. It is true of Copasetic to a certain extent but what A New Left do with it somehow makes it appealing enough that listening a few times isn't that hard a chore. What saves it, as usual, is the rap between A New Left and Ten Fold with the former scoring mucho points in my books.

No matter what you do with hip hop these days you can bet the influence of Dr Dre will pop up somewhere, and lo here it is. It doesn't have the punch and snappy riffs of course, but it certainly does a workmanlike job especially when supporting the rap which means the greater part of the track. For my money, as good as the rap was, the track just needed more life and definition in the beats which became a bit of a plod once you'd heard the track a few times.

Nonetheless, worth checking out if you like the genre.

The Antennaheadz - Shy

Hear The Track Here

Shy is probably the last word you would ever associate with Soundclick veteran - can they be grizzled veterans even at 20something? - Thomas J aka endless alter egos and The Antennaheadz. He's never been backwards about coming forwards, if you get my drift. Right from the first time I ever heard him, he stamped his particular style on my review sheet and hasn't stopped since. Sometimes with terrifying results but often coming up with something that was different, challenging and yay exciting even.

Of late that has especially been the case, as the past year has been marked by a massive shift in musical focus and a strengthening songwriting hand that, although simple, can be remarkably effective. One of the things this artist has always managed to do with regularity is to surprise me, and that's a hard thing to do with any consistency. Since the later part of last year Thomas hit an appealing lo-fi acoustic side of him and Shy is a logical progression from that beginning.

It's a softer, gentler sound than he's ever done before and is even - dare I say this without derision? - tasteful in a kinda Thomas J way. While I admit that I found it a very pleasant experience, I couldn't swear that Shy is the kind of track I would personally want to hug to my scrawny chest. Mind you, it IS tasteful and understated, and the slight musical addition right at the end made perfect sense. The sort of thing that makes you nod your head and say 'nice' a lot. Maybe that's the reason I don't want to hug it to my scrawny chest! I don't do nice. Thomas J obviously does though....

Very basic alternative but a good song. Recommended.

Eric Chiryoku - Silent Wind

Hear The Track Here

A few years ago when I was hanging out regularly at the original POP site, the name of Eric Chiryoku was bandied about with great regularity. Knowing the calibre of artist The Gathering had attracted, I wasn't surprised at some of the intense praise heaped at his feet; this is a different world to many other websites. Unfortunately, at the time, I only got to hear Eric work on some collabs so I guess this is the very first time I've had him all to myself - as it were. Just for the record, Eric is a New Age instrumentalist and while New Age is not my idea of musical heaven, a professional and experienced track definitely is.

Nirvana buddy.

'Whenever I’m frustrated and down, I like to reach out for the wind for it brings warmth and calm to my heart. Close your eyes and you can even hear the beauty of its sound....' Eric says in the song comments and I'd say that is probably the best way to approach this track. Certainly if you are a fan of the aforementioned professional and experienced track, this is everything you would have expected. Music played with great style and emotional content, enhanced by a mix so clean and clear, it's balm to the ears. Which is what it is supposed to do, I guess.

As I say, I've never been a fan of the style but I am more than willing to admit that Eric Chiryoku is an excellent musician in every respect. The main weight of the track is carried by a perfectly rendered piano, aided to perfection by the occasional dab of cello and light strings. All very tasteful in fact. When I am looking for something to chill out to this is the kind of track I would automatically reach for, dramatic without being overblown, pretty without being sugary or sweet. The kind of track, in fact, that should be taken seriously because there is certainly a serious and intelligent musician behind it.

Elegant and gentle New Age. Highly Recommended.

Tedd-Z - Deadbeat

Hear The Track Here

Yet another in a long line of 'edgy electronic nonsense' tracks from MP3 Unsigned bad boy Tedd-Z looms into view, it's impending presence somewhat alleviated by the fact that his last track gained a Must Have from me. Now if you could just stop rubbing your eyes in disbelief, we'll get on. Senseless Logic (March 2008) absolutely blew me away; a match of electronica and dancehall that worked a treat and - as I said at the time - possibly one of the most innovative tracks I am likely to hear this year. Such turnarounds are the stuff of Tedd-Z legend. He may be mad but he ain't completely bad...

er...if you know what I mean.

If I didn't know any better I would class the electronica that makes up Deadbeat as techno and I think I've said enough about my thoughts on the genre to last you all a lifetime. Stretching that out to over five minutes might even be seen as provocative to those people (like me) with a aversion to the genre. Still, I've known Tedd-Z for a long, long time and am very aware of his many foibles, and techno has long been one of them. He's also been around to know that a simple four-to-the-floor is not really going to cut it. To be sure there is a fair amount of rigid timekeeping (the hi-hats are particularly busy) but all in all, it's not a bad listen.

Tedd-Z has grown enormously as a musician and as a producer in the years I have known him and Deadbeat is adequate testimony to his skills. For techno, it's quite engaging, mostly because he can generally conjure up some weird sounds and Deadbeat has lots and lots. Probably one of the most basic tracks he has done in a long while but it still has something that almost anyone could get a lift out of. Just don't expect to get wowed by some great musical experience - you should go back to Senseless Logic for that.

Recommended techno-ish Electronica.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rude Corps - More Orchestral Film Crap

Hear The Track Here

I do like a man who speaks plainly and I have no doubt that in this title Rude Corps speaks to a lot of convinced ears. Now before all the Soundclick film composers get their panties in a bunch with that last remark let me qualify it. I am sure I am not alone in disliking soundtracks (outside of the whole film experience) and can't really see the point in them. When, however, they are written as peices of music that then become soundtracks, the experience is a lot more satisfying. If you think I sound confused now, just wait a minute. I have found lots of good composers on Soundclick who happen to make soundtracks but I would never - in a million years - have said that our favourite anarchist would be doing a John Williams on us.

See, isn't life interesting?

After the string of alternative tracks Rude Corps have delivered this past year or so, it seems odd that he should delve into this kind of thing, but surprisingly enough, it's definitely a reasonable track for the genre. Aaah, but what about the rest of us musical philistines who think that the title is accurate? Well come on, t'ain't that bad. There is a bit of a mismatch between the cello and the main strings that I personally found a bit off putting but the structure and flavour of the track was definitely all there.

So what it comes down to is the usual thing, personal opinion. Me, I prefer the fire-breathing, radical sound of Rude Corps but that's my choice. Yes, I did like listening to this as part of the review process but - when all is said and done - this is not a genre I would rummage in for aural gems. As an exercise, I'd say Rude Corps shouldn't hang his head in shame (other than making some more....- insert title) because there is nothing whatsoever wrong with this track; it has atmosphere and it builds well as you would expect from the genre. If he does this genre again, there is sufficient meat on this track to make me listen to another - under duress of course.

Not what it says on the tin. Recommended Film Music.

Paul n Mack - Tearing Up My Heart

Hear The Track Here

Although I have never heard of Paul n Mack, I do recognise one of their alter egos, Mr Saturn, as being a regular Soundclick forum poster so obviously they are not that new. There is only one track on their Soundclick page and they say 'our only completed demo to date. Not the best recording quality, but listenable'. Always makes me smile a bit, comments like that. See, I've heard EVERYTHING and its amazing how much people add caveats to their work here, there and everywhere. Believe me people, it's like gunfighters - there is ALWAYS going to be somebody who is worse than you, take it from one who knows...

Now there's a cheery thought eh?

Tearing Up My Heart is billed as Pop Rock which is always a useful area for me, even though I catch **** from the purists for doing so. I like a good tune, with lyrics and a chorus you can sing along to. It brightens up the day, ya know? Mind you, there is a world of difference between what we in the UK and Europe define as pop and what our brothers and sisters in America define as Pop. A lot of American pop is based solidly on a rock (and I do mean rock) base and, as such, doesn't always sit too well this side of the pond (Ed: I think he means on the cheese-eater side of the Atlantic Ocean) and my first impression of Tearing Up My Heart did show me a very US-centric idea of 'pop-rock'. I do, however, ask you to give this track a bit of time to settle around your ears.

It's a grower, as they used to say when I were but a lad....

See once you get past that initial impression, this is a track that is pop in one sense. It comes from the school of pop made famous by bands such as 10cc (whose style this reminds me a bit of) although it's considerably rockier than anything from this side of the ocean. Shame the lyrics aren't online because I think they are as good as the music and the music is very good indeed, especially after the two minute point with some great backing vocal arrangements. Yes, the recording is somewhat wooly, and the vocals a bit dull but the raw material is most definitely there and I urge Paul n Mack to get something else online - and quick!

Excellent rock pop song. Rough but still Highly Recommended.

Big Wheel Remixes - That's Cool (Large Round Mix)

Hear The Track Here

I can't say I wouldn't be pleased if the Round One got off his butt and make an original track but in the meantime I will settle for this offshoot of his activities. Both of the BWR tracks I have come across so far have been excellent examples of the care and focus it takes to make a remix that is as valid as the original. Big Wheel knows this and he knows damn well I will go and check the original too beforehand so he slips me the address to Delario where the original resides. Delario is a hip hop rapper from Norway and is well worth listening to - especially if you want to hear something fresh in hip hop. If I were reviewing this track in it's own right I would be recommending it highly.

Which kinda fcuks Big Wheel, dunnit?

Stands to reason that if I got hot over the original (and I did, although Delario has better tracks than this one IMO) then Big Wheel is going to have to go some to do a remix that can follow it. To his eternal credit, he doesn't mess with the essential engine of the song, merely puts a slightly different spin on the way it works out. There is a classy, jazzy almost De La Soul sound going on in there too and in that respect this is a very different beast to the original.

I have to say that I do prefer the original, but I would anyway. That is not to denigrate what El Round Uno has achieved with this track because although it shares the hooks and highlights of the original, it comes out sounding much smoother, slicker. That's the whole point in remixing right there, and in that respect the Big Chees... (blush) Wheel succeeds splendidly. This is a kinda drums and bassy, slick hip hop jobbie that should do very well - in or out - of its genre. Be aware though that it does contain cussing and carries a Parental Advisory. Much as these reviews should eh?

Excellent remix of a very hot hip hop track. Highly Recommended.

Waiting For Helen - Feed The Fire

Hear The Track Here

My introduction to Waiting For Helen (blues rock of a very high standard) was with Good Good Woman (January 2008) which found me ready and waiting for a solid jolt of authentic blues rock. The kind that sandpapers your face while soothing your ears. Heavy, drenched with emotion and a beat that is irrisistable and Good Good Woman was all that and more. It's to be expected though, when you understand that Waiting For Helen is a real gigging band so you'd expect them to be showing no quarter.

The title should give you a clue.

Jerry DeCarlo, Helen Harak, Tony Mazza, Pete Salomone and Joe Van Winkle (collectively WFH) are very decent stokers for this particular conflagration which rocks in the time honoured fashion. There again, it was their outstanding professionalism that first caught my atttention and that is much on display here, both in the performance and the pointed, coherent punch of the arrangement. Can't say I was overly fond of the mix on this though, it felt a little flat compared to the music.

Feed The Fire has - for me - many musical echoes and that will go a long way to keeping my interest. Anything from the B52's, Jefferson Airplane and even Cyndi Lauper got in there and I have to say that this is a class pop rock track in that tradition. Whether that will translate to a wider audience who knows but you have to try right? Me, I loved this from the get go, partly because of the above named influences but more because it is a great arrangement of a very strong song.

Highly Recommended Pop Rock!.

Pidgeman - Let Go (Free Your Mind)

Hear The Track Here

Craig Matthews (aka Pidgeman) is an MP3 Unsigned artist you will be familiar with if you are a regular reader, and lets face it if you are not then I am talking to myself and that doesn't even bear thinking about. Having come from a lifetime of real world music, I have found I have developed a specific ear for what is right according to that world. It's why, I think, I am sometimes over-harsh with internet musicians and Pidgeman has suffered a couple of bouts of that but hey it's all about learning... Having said that, his last track - I Don't Know (What You Want) (April 2008) was very decent indeed and well worth a listen.

Rock is what we are talking about here, and shades of classic rock at that, which is what I particularly like about I Don't Know and also - in some ways - why I liked this from the start. There again, as you know, I do like this genre enormously and Pidgeman dishes up a nice serving of crunchy guitars and decent rock vocals, Where it falls down IMHO is the level of separation of drums and bass from the fire works going on on top of them. For me, they should have carried a lot more of the weight of the track. It is, anyway, a bit of a quibble and probably only for mixheads...

Craig has shown - over the tracks I have reviewed - that he is a good songwriter and certainly knows how to put his ideas into action, even though the edges might be a bit rough, That's the way rock should be innit? Considering this is 'a song about taking risks and seizing opportunities', I'd say that's exactly what the song does, and comes up smelling pretty sweet for all that. If the experience of rock makes your heart pump a little faster you would do well to bend your ear in Pidgeman's direction...

Highly Recommended Rock song.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Would you please stop talking - Artist Overview

Hear The Track Here

For the first time in many years, my Soundlcick review signup was well slow this month, so much so that some cheeky chappies even came back and asked for more!! Yeah, you may well look shocked. Such manners. Still when you are young and full of sap (Ed: as opposed to old, wrinkly and full of bile, you mean?) I guess that's what happens. So I did download the first track Would you please stop talking asked me to review and then thought sod it, why not and then downloaded the other. Ahhhh, this is where you should all applaud and say what a nice man I am.


Fine. Glad we cleared that up. Would you..etc (crazy name!) are a new artist to me, from NYC and appear to have been around Soundclick for a while. Not my fault, I say, SC is a huge site and there is NO way I can hear everybody. Folk is the genre and the first track up Space MWT is almost exactly what I expected, albeit with that very distinct New York edge.The real problem about reviewing acoustic/folk tracks is that there is only so much you can say about how a guitar can be rendered into digital sound. Even with its roughness and sub-Lou Reed vocals Space has all the makings of a good song and is a surprisingly easy listen.

Not what I expected at all.

Having whetted my critical whistle (Ed: why does that sound so disturbing?) Never Really Mine (MWT) doused whatever excitement I was harbouring in my puny chest. As a folky song about venal, unscrupulous politicians (Elliot Spitzer in this case) it's good in it's Bob Dylan sound but extremely basic in every other respect. Fine if you like material like this, but it isn't anywhere strong enough to pull itself up and out of there. I am never one to be swayed by the way people get their music to my ears because I know how difficult it can be to come up with good stuff on a shoe string. On that level, Would you please stop talking has some decent songwriting skills going on, and an understated musical style but I fear most people want a lot more than that.

Lo-fi but workmanlike folk tracks. Recommended if you like the genre.

Prash - Give Up Now

Hear The Track Here

Over the past two or three years I have discovered a lot more about India, and Indian musicians than at any other time in my life. I lot of it is down to the one-off 'oh hi, review my track' request but much much more has come from two or three special Indian artists I have become very fond of. Obviously my Artist Of The Year 2007 - Omnisine, also from Mumbai - came as no surprise to anybody but I think Prash has much the same potential except he has been kinda quiet for a while. Even so he did score a Track of the year 2007 with Naach Na Na (September 2007) so he doesn't have much to complain about.

Prash has always been more into rock than just about anything else, and its his rock work that first brought him to my attention. His feel for the genre is special as is evidenced by earlier tracks such as But You're a Loser Prash (March 2005), Weep Over The Demise Of Rock (September 2004) and My Baby Is A Fine, Fine Wine (October 2004) none of which - unfortunately - seem to be on Prash's page. This is the only rock song on the page so you'd better make the most of it. In the meantime I intend to go through all those Hindi film tracks he has going on...

Ah, yes, but what of this track?

Give Up Now is billed as Electro Rock/Heavy Metal and carries a Parental Advisory so it's obviously a mean mofo and best avoided by those susceptible to a good cursing. In feel, and in instrumentation, Give Up Now comes in as something that sounds like it belongs in the early 1970's or even slightly earlier and is a lot tougher than the intro would suggest. Again, it's Prash's attention to period detail, and his unerring ability to nail the genre that scores for me. The early David Bowie would have been proud to have this track...

Highly Recommended 70's style rock (with a unique difference...)

Tim Turner - Mystery

Hear The Track Here

Although I've been aware of Tim Turner for a good while firstly on Songplanet and lately through the burgeoning POP empire, I find that I've only reviewed a couple of his tracks. A blow-yer-fekkin-ears-off Diary Of A Nobody (December 2007) a collaboration with me old mate Jim Miller (of Jim-n-Lisa fame) and Wonder (March 2008) a slice of Southern Rock that was all Tim's own work. Goes without saying then that we are talking about a musician here who knows exactly what he is doing and where he is going with it. Always a pleasure to review musicians of this quality because there is usually very little to pick apart...

and you know I like a good pick, pick, pick...

I absolutely thrive on rock music, and rock music with guitars more than anything else and Tim Turner has already established that he can wield a mean axe Eugene. Mystery is pretty much all guitar, from the finger picking to the sublime all in the hands of someone who totally understands the 'less is more' concept. Nothing, it was decided should get in the way of the guitars and lo - nothing was. So for a string nut like your reviewer this is bound to tickle all me aural bits with pleasure, especially because Tim has always given good measure in the past.

'I'm doing the best I can...' the vocals wail, but all bow down to the assembled guitar horde and therein lies the real treasure of this track. Tim Turner is not a flashy, gee willikers will ya look at that kind of guitarist; he's a detail main and it's that ability that shines out of this track. Essentially an instrumental guitar peice yes, some acoustic, some electric, a couple of dashes of vocals and big drums and that about does it. So why does it sound and feel soooo good then? I know, I know, 'it's all a haze, a mystery'...

Highly Recommended Guitar track.

MD-1 Project - Altered States

Hear The Track Here

'Most of my tracks are on the dark side' says Ricky Mancini (aka MD-1 Project) completely forgetting that they are also a bit on the wack side, a bit on the 'ow me ears' side, a bit wtf and even a bit on the side. Arguably MP3 Unsigned's most famous denizen, MD-1 Project specialises in what I like to refer to as electronica fukry, the kind of stuff that messes with your head as well as your ears. As I've said before, his music can be hard to take (especially if you have a dislike of the genre anyway) but the one thing you will find is that is a wholly different experience.

Good or bad is your choice.

As the man himself says, he tends to experiment and isn't one for playing safe and that itself can often lead to confusion as indeed it did in past reviews. From the get go, Altered States is not the harsh, hard and abrasive MD-1 Project of a couple of years ago, in fact Altered States is a very, very likeable track. Yes it is electronica and even a wee bit hip hop but arranged and presented in a way that keeps you listening to see what is coming up next, not to mention where the chatty geezer who takes centre stage is going with his lecture.

The track can almost be split into two peices, because about 2/3 of the way through it gathers pace and changes direction very smartly, morphing into an almost world music peice. I think I mentioned before that Ricky's collaboration with Melinda Mohn (Stella Polaris Project) seemed to have toned down some his wilder style so it would be interesting to know just when this track came about; before or after? Whatever it is, I like this track a lot, its a clever arrangement and even though it comes in just under six minutes I doubt whether any of it would be wasted. This is an excellent, different electronica track and it isn't often I get to say that.

Highly Recommended Electronica blend. MUST HAVE for fans (and me).

Friday, May 09, 2008

Cameron Pierce - Red Rover (Penny's Song)

Hear The Track Here

Cameron Pierce needs no introduction to regular readers (hi mum!) and Soundclick veterans. This Canadian pop rock artist has a HUGE list of great tracks to prove his popularity. Musically one of the most likeable artists around, his music snatches you up in its arms and demands its own sense of giddiness. The kind of music that The Beatles forged the template of. In the case of Red Rover, the ultimate culprit would have to be Paul McCartney because he would be the only one strong enough (or bold enough for that matter) to resist the caterwauling when he gets his sentimental mode on.

Gushy? O Yaay, a flood is a-comin'

See, the subject matter of this particular song is a childhood friendship and it's done so well it didn't make me cringe once. No. Really. OK, admitttedly I had my teeth clenched through the whole experience as if I had lockjaw, a talent I adopted - I might add - having spent a lifetime listening to Sir Lord McCartney Sir. So, while the subject matter shudders on the edge of respectability, the music is it's usual brisk, efficient self; yet another sign of this artists growing maturity.

Hand on heart, I can't say this is one of Cameron's finer moments technically. The drums are a bit overdone - especially in the intro, and some of those chord changes I found odd. Everything else though was just as I've come to expect from this artist; excellent sound, performance and an intelligent arrangement. Fact is, Red Rover is unashamedly commercial and taps right into the whole 'yesterday' thing. As such in the Real World this WOULD get noticed because - when all is said and done - it's a blinding song. I say that knowing I am defending a weepie of the first order but hey.....respect. Know what I mean?

Class Cameron. Slightly flawed but knockout song nonetheless. Highly Recommended pop rock.

Charlie A - Épique

Hear The Track Here

Considering that I spend my life avoiding anything that smacks of either film soundtrack or videogame soundtrack, I don't do too badly and have even found a few good artists on Soundclick that can manage to overcome my mountain of predjudice against the genre. Charlie Armour (for it is he) is definitely one of them, establishing that with a string of recommendations and one Must Have from me for Broken China (January 2007). Épique, as you may have gathered, is a posh word. You can tell by the little curly hat the E is wearing. It's also French in origin and considering the difficulties I get myself into with plain English, I think it would be best if I stopped talking about the title and let you sort it out for yourself.

Chas got himself a mate to help on this one, the vocalist is Allen Brooks (aka gamma raye) and it's billed as Experimental Electronica and that's a fair comment, guv. It would kinda miss the whole Charlie A point though because where he really excels is when he is creating his brand of classical music and (on first listening anyway) a lot of that impact gets lost but get sufficiently far enough into the track and it's plain to see who is conducting this particular orchestral oddity. Charlie has his own musical signature and a couple of plays shows his dabs (Ed: dabs=slang for fingerprints) all over this excellent track.

gamma raye supplies a kind of rap/speak style and very effective it is too, although I personally could have done with the volume level being just a tad higher in the mix because the words are real difficult to decipher. So, yes, it is experimental and it is electronic (the rap section kicks ass for example) but more than anything else it's Charlie A welded seamlessly to a block rocking beat and a wailer out front shouting the odds. As such, the first time you hear it it may not hit you, but I'd be more than willing to bet that the second time would truss you up quicker than you could say Festive Turkey.

Great blend of beats, vocals and bombastic classical influences. MUST HAVE.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Cam's Even Song - Waking up the Dawn

Hear The Track Here

Previously my Artist Of The Year 2006, Cameron Bastedo (aka Cam's Even Song) continues to uphold that hefty title with admirable aplomb. His blend of superior songwriting skills with look-how-easy-this-sounds music has singled him out as one of the very best (ie well rounded) musicians on Soundclick, and by far one of the most respected. Of course, a lot of that has to be down to his presence on Soundclick as a long-time reviewer and one of the leading members of this small community for a long time. That's why we are all able to insult him so freely. He's a part of the furniture. He's had more Must Haves and Highly Recommended's from me than just about any other Soundclick artist.

It would be fair to say I am genuinely fond of his work.

For the most part, I've always found Cam's work tremendously uplifting, especially when he's in his Biblical Dylan mode as I've mentioned a time or two (Ed: yeah, that's why we made a template of the phrase). Stylistically, Cam weaves a path between the Beatles and Bob Dylan and all points south, which I suspect is also the secret of his success. Happy music, know what I mean. On Waken up the Dawn Cam goes back in time to a much more whimisical musical age (ie the late 1960's) and that suits me just fine.

S'funny but the first time I heard this I found it jarring and that isn't usual. In retrospect I think it is because Waken up the Dawn is a musical Love Child conceived in that Golden Age, After a couple of plays though, you forget that initial 'eeeww twee' response and recognise the track for what it is. Another solid reminder that Cam's Even Song can tap into this very fruitful song pile with an ease that is sickening. If you like good, well performed pop rock in the grand tradition then Cam's Even Song awaits your pleasure.

Highly Recommended. Terrific song.

Nuff X - Truth Be Told

Hear The Track Here

While it was absolutely wonderful to review a new Muted Silence track (Soul Scar) last month, I have to admit that as much as I like the pairing of Omnisine and Nuff X as Muted Silence, I've also developed a heady taste for Nuff's increasingly bold solo work. For the past year or so I have watched this artist grow and his rate of progression has been wonderful to behold (and hear). Although he still plays electronica, like a lot of artists he is now beginning to play with a great many other influences too and that can never be a bad thing. Ultimately what it has done is to shape and sharpen the Nuff vision to the point where he would get serious attention (or what would pass for it in this Internet Age).

Wot, you mean image? Do I ****!!. S'abhat the music mate, always.

Speaking of which I would advise that you approach Truth Be Told as something of a learning curve, especially if this is the first time you have heard of Nuff X. Long term Soundclickers have learned that Nuff can wander into some pretty strange musical alleyways and Truth Be Told opens up a whole new seam to wander around in. To my ears, this track is much more experimental (in sounds and tricks anyway) than the dnb/glitch that has been his trademark over the past few tracks.

So, not an easy listen then but - especially if you do like this artist - a sonic treat if you like that kind of thing. One thing is for certain you would have to be a primo contortionist to be able to dance to it. It's a tough, dense sound too which I think only helps to pile on the pressure. It wasn't until I had really taken the track onboard that I was able to square my first impression (the track is the bastard child of electronica and ethnic processed through the mind of a mad rocket scientist and shot to the moon. Or at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

An atmospheric departure for Nuff X. Highly Recommended IDM.

The Legendary Fred Miller - The Evil Eye

Hear The Track Here

First out of the box this month is The Legendary Fred Miller, who has become something of a fixture to my review lists since I first gave him crap while reviewing A Light In The Darkness (September 2007). Since then I've reviewed a good many of this artists tracks and, much to my amazement, have become quite fond of this lo-fi, low key artist. As I've said countless times before TLFM is bound to be something of a personal taste, you would have to like folk-rock for a start and that is way beyond most people's tolerances.

Basic is the word we have to apply here, Fred would be the first to put his hand up and say that his arrangements are pretty much standard, It is what he does with it that marks him out from from his peers. It's a fact that you are not going to hear anything quite like Fred Miller vocally and this track is a classic example of what he does with his throat bits. Fred is joined on The Evil Eye by son Timothy who co-wrote the song and also supplies some of the vocals so your task is to spot who is Fred and who is non-Fred.

It''ll keep you off the streets at least.

The Evil Eye is essentially a blues rock track and cleaves pretty much to the standard, except for some excellent blues tinged piano licks that - for my tastes - definitely helped to get the whole feel of the track across. Nothing a piano trill to gladden the heart, doncha know. One thing I have come to know about Fred is that always, no matter what the genre is, he will deliver an actual song with a singable chorus. Well it is a singable chorus if you can sing pitched down near your boots...but that's a small point.

Fred Miller. Highly Recommended oddity.