Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The SolitaireOne - Memories Of Yesterday

Hear The Track Here

Soundclick is a giant music store, you can find any kind of music on there and most of it for free. Yeah but, you may moan, its free because its crap, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. As any reader of these reviews will acknowledge some of it is downright astonishing, and even the more normal stuff has heart, soul and character. Take, for example, Blues Rock a genre that many dispatched to the dustbin of history after the last phase of it during the early 1970's, and in some cases rightly so. However, I got my very first musical education in this genre and I've had a high regard for it ever since. Its nice to see it find a home on Soundclick and The SolitaireOne has become one of its prime exponents.

Memories Of Yesterday is exactly that if you go by the sound. Solidly based in the late 1960's I'd say that this artist has nailed the period detail like nobody's business. The thin, weedy electric guitar sound is absolutely right on the money even though I wouldn't advise it for any other track but this one. The overriding impression I am left of the track is an incredible amalgm of several strands of 1960's pop/R&B scene circa 1966/7. On that level then, the production is amazing although, once again, I don't think I'd be saying that in any other context than this.

While I was listening to this though and through, hundreds of influences kept hitting me; from the chord progression, the vocal style, the arrangement - fekkin everythiing. Having more than a few plays under my belt I am now able to seperate some of it. The opening 2-4 guitar figure is definitely akin to Spencer Davis Group's Keep On Running, some of the lead guitars are pure CSN and the vocal style is a combination of Eric Burdon and a million others. I mention Eric Burdon (of The Animals a seminal 60's band) in particular because there is one section of this track that gives the whole game away. I recognised the chord progression straight away but couldn't fit it to any track but then when I heard this from around the 2:44 mark it became so obvious it made me smile. It's a dead ringer for House Of The Rising Sun, but don't let that stop you, this is a great listen anyway.  Excellent nod of respect to the Golden Age.

Highly Recommended and MUST HAVE for 60's fans.

Nuff X - Another Way (Refit)

Hear The Track Here

While I was listening to this during the review process I realised that its been a long while since I last heard from this excellent, and individualistic, electronica artist. Now if that sentence just didn't stack up for you, allow me to explain. Over the years I have known him Nuff X has constantly surprised me with his own brand of electronica, sometimes glitchy, sometimes alternative tinged but always enjoyable. Over the years he has had a string of highly recommended tracks from me too and that's always a sign that the artist in question at least delivers with some consistency. Therefore its an even bet that almost any Nuff track would be a good introduction to him.

Or if you just plain can't be arsed to go and see what the man has on his page, the first twenty seconds of Another Way will show you just what I mean about being a bit different. Nuff has always used glitch elements in his compositions even before it started becoming commonplace, and now he has refined it to the point that the glitches are often the wtf factor in his tracks. Nuff also has a well developed sense of just how much he can get away with, and he isn't afraid to push that little bit extra.

I was playing some review tracks to some friends and this track came up. Funnily enough the general consensus was that it was 'a bit of a noisy track' and I can see their point. Knowing Nuff though, I'd say that whatever 'noise' there is on it has been put there quite deliberately. Personally I couldn't see that myself, yes it has noise on it, but that noise is definitely used as a part of the whole and - as such - is fairly typical Nuff X. This would take some getting used to though, Nuff does explore some strange places with this oddly jerky track but ultimately I cam away from the experience wanting to hear yet more new stuff from this artist. THEN I noticed he's taken up singing, but more on that in a later review no doubt.

Class electronica with a chaotic edge. Recommended.

Ron Gragg - Fools... An Apologetic

Hear The Track Here

By now Ron Gragg and I have become quite familiar, this will be the fifth track of his I've reviewed and considering he considers himself a 'Christian' artist, that's not bad going. Its not that I am an atheist, far from it, I just don't like other people trying to force their views on me - something I have had a problem with all my life. I know none of this should matter when reviewing music but the reason I it does is because Christian musicians do tend to bring their faith (and zeal) to the proceedings too. I know it turns a lot of other people off too, and its a rare Christian artist who can sidestep that particular stridency, and surprisingly enough Ron Gragg is one of them.

Unfortunately where it all gets curly at the corners is something that afflicts most home producers, and this is not something I haven't said before, sound quality and - even more telling - a tendency to over-arrange. Fools... to my mind anyway suffers from both these problems and will I fear detract from the impact of the track. Certainly did to me anyway. Ron Gragg is actually an excellent musician as this track amply testifies once you get past that thin sound and the often loose arrangement.

The track is a lyrical ode to the Almighty and as such, fairly standard for the course. Where it deviates is in the Clapton-ish feel to the music, and more especially the vocals; the echo of the mighty Eric is all over that. In fact what saves the track for me is that vocal and I do think that the track needs a re-think; tightening up that arrangement and fattening some of the sounds would do wonders for it. There again, Ron may well be one of those people who, once uploaded, never touch the track again, in which I'd have to say you should really like Christian Rock to get anything from this track. If you wanted to see what Ron is really all about I would recommend you have a listen to Nothing But The Blood (August 2008).

Tedd-Z - The Pheasant Has No Agenda

Hear The Track Here

Tedd-Z is one of those artists who seem to have been around forever, pop up every once a while to baffle, confuse and - at times enlighten us with their music. Seeing as I have history with Tedd-Z then going back a few years, it certainly gives me the right to pull his wings off if he gets too cocky innit? Still, don't have to do that with this guy that often because he has learned extremely well what works for him and what doesn't. The last year in particular has been a great year for class Tedd-Z track including his first Must Have from me. The reason it is his first is because Tedd-Z's musical style tends to veer like a drunken spider. Not exactly the most accessible artist on the block.

Still once you get used to that style, as I obviously have, you begin to see Tedd-Z in a different light. I think ol' Tedd is beginning to mellow with age because compared to some of his earlier releases The Pheasant Has No Agenda is positively commercial, as have been most of his latest releases. God (and Tedd) knows the vocals in this track are about because I have no clue what it might be about - and probably nothing whatsoever to do with the legendary Glorious 12th (a UK tradition when rich people go out and massacre hundreds of defenseless birds).

Ahhhh, don't be saying anything nasty now...

Where Tedd's work has changed most markedly is his attention to production detail and sound fidelity, and The Pheasant carries on that fine tradition. Regardless of what the music is, the sound of this track is exactly right; meaty where it needs to be and light enough for a dusting on top. The track is driven by an absolutely ferocious bassline that nails you between the eyes about forty seconds in, and never lets go. Hanging off this muscular frame is the usual Tedd sound fukry including some great glitch noises and the obligatory wander into wtf land. 'Seek out the chalky dust in the love salad' a voice exhorts you as you gaze dumbfounded at what one unrestrained Tedd can do to your wits.

Excellent, glitchy electronica with a dash of wtf. Highly Recommended.

Art Nada - 2012

Hear The Track Here

One of the more weirder corners of Soundclick is a petrie dish of all things odd, weird and plain just out there. It goes without saying that Pilesar (one of Soundclick's prime exponent of wtf music) is right in there and in fact Chameleon Dish Archives (the corner we are discussing here) is Pilesar's own record label. The list of stablemates contain some very well know names such as Mandible, the enigmatic Freck Scroggs, Mosquito Death Squadron, Bookfair, Pulord and - of course Art Nada. The common factor in all of these affairs is Pilesar; either as a member or as a label executive (a bit of a posh term in this respect). So best to be wary of both the label and its 17 artists folks because, believe me, it doesn't come much weirder than this.

Wtf music, yeah I quite like that.

Certainly goes a long way towards describing what to expect from a label whose latest release is The Antennaheadz latest works. Nuff said. 2012, which btw carries a Parental Advisory (?) sees Art Nada as a three peice: Karakul (guitar, bass, loops), Pilesar (percussion, keys, vox, lyrics, toy recorder) and the equally enigmatic Mysterioso (bass, vox). Now as out there as some of CDA's material is, I do like the musical side of Pilesar (in whatever guise) and I automatically presumed that this line up suggested something along the lines of his live material.

It's nice to have a track that lends itself to the listener being able to scream 'you guys f****** suck!!' as its playing, and Art Nada even supply that very sample for you. If you want a musical reference, the best I can do is point you in the region of The Residents or even Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention, and both of those at their most experimental into the bargain. God know's what the vocal is all about, except its appears to be some kind of restaurant loudspeaker commentary and - in places - laugh out loud funny. Both of the aforementioned references set the template that Pilesar, Art Nada and indeed the whole of Chameleon Dish Archives are busily attempting to smash to peices.  Approach with the greatest of caution. 

Musical lunacy. Highly Recommended you like the weird and wonderful.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Minimack - $Dro and Drank$

Hear The Track Here

OK, I just got to get this off my chest, so give me a minute. What is the deal with rappers not writing out and publishing their raps? All other songwriters I know (and rap IS a song form regardless of what it sounds like) are only to willing to post lyrics with their work. One of the reason that hiphop rap has been a favourite genre of mine for such a long time is because I love the way the best rappers get on top of their subject, spitting out machine gun spatters of meaningful lyrics and ratcheting up the excitement of the whole. Most of my own hiphop favourites are tracks that either tell a particularly intriuging story or are - in some way - musically special.

Minimack (or Minimack Productions whichever you prefer) is an artist I reviewed once before and although I seem to have liked the song and its spirited delivery there were some things that stopped me being completely sold on it. The same thing applies on Dro and Drank (supply your own $ because I'm a well known skinflint), the overall effect is good, but the individual elements could do with some adjustment. Musical track, in this case coming from our old friends Sinima Beats (who don't they supply beats to?) and if I've raved about these beatmakers before you haven't heard anything yet. This is - by far - the best Sinima Beats track I have heard yet; and if the middle eight (kinda/sorta) breakdown is also part of the original track then it's a bloody masterpeice.

'A literal banger that is loaded with power' Minimack states in the song comments and I can only agree wholeheartedly. Where the track falls down, IMHO, is first of all with the tone of the track itself. It seems to have been cut with lots of top and middle and that causes a bit of a problem with lyrical legibility, and it cuts down on the tracks overall impact too. In terms of performance again Minimack shows that he knows what he is doing, this track has an insanely catchy rhythm that he straddles and works as if to the manner born. However, right around 2:20 the magic kicks in and for the next couple of minutes Dro and Drank shows exactly how much power can be pumped into a simple hiphop track. Personally, I'd prefer a remastered version with a little more attention to tone and legibility but hey this will do in the meantime.

Slightly flawed but oh so kickass hiphop rap. Highly Recommended and MUST HAVE if you enjoy the genre.

Largo - This Morning

Hear The Track Here

This is about the fourth or fifth Largo track to come my way this year, and believe me this is no hardship either to listen to or review. At least two of his previous tracks recieved a Must Have rating from me and if you are presently thinking that is pretty normal because I always seem to like the older musicians around, you would be right. There is nothing better, to my ears, than a seasoned, experienced musician; the quality of the music always speaks fror itself. Again if you think I am trying to justify my enormous bias, I would say yes but I would also point you to other reviewers who have given equally glowing reviews of his work. Oh and btw, one of those Must Have tracks was a ballad and if that fact doesn't stop your whinging and moaning maybe this fist in your face will do the job...

Now, where was I...?

Ah yes experience. Even the most cursory listen to this track will show you that This Morning is a finely crafted peice of music, whatever your own personal taste. So, to my eternal shame and the second time this artist has inflicted this on me, I have spent the past few days cavorting around the place accompanied by a willowy weepie - yet another ballad. Not just a ballad mind, a ballad about lurve and if that isn't poison to me from the get go it has to be a very special artist indeed to turn my philistine heart.

Take, for example, ol' Four Eyes (Ed: I think he is referring to Elton John) of which this track most strongly reminds me; a classic songwriter whose touch with a ballad is nothing short of miraculous; nobody else could have carried off that whole Candle In the Wind thing. The reason I wax lyrical about Reg (Ed: Elton again, his real name this time) is because he is a song craftsman, as is Largo. The arrangement, performance and production on this track is absolutely spot on and even though I am dragged kicking and screaming to the verdict it simply has to be said that this is a beautiful peice of work by anyones light.

MUST HAVE ballad (curse that man!, My rep is ruined forever)

Returning Juvenile - Leaving

Hear The Track Here

If you have been following these review (yes some people do), you will have noticed that - once a month - I take a pick from Popspace's Chris Bishop to review. You will also be aware that this man really knows how to pick them because, so far, I've pretty much backed every call he has made. Even so, looks like this month even Chris has outdone his usual excellent style and delivered something truly different. The difference in this case being Returning Juvenile, a 2 peice outfit from Australia. Yeah, so what, you say. Damn internet is infested with Australian musicians, what makes Returning Juvenile that special? Well, I'd say that both members of this outfit being the tender age of  fourteen would make them a little bit different, wouldn't you?

The first thing that struck me was how professional their sound is, for sure this is no bedroom production jobbie - this kind of quality can only come from a professional recording studio. The second thing that struck me is how talented these two are; great voices and a very, very decent pop rock song into the bargain. OK, it has to be said that it is just a bit on the sweet side, partly to do with the clear, almost angelic vocals and partly to do with the style and tenor of the song itself. It is, after all, almost a pop rock ballad and you know that ballads and I don't get on too well.

Nonetheless, not even my countless predjudices can hold sway when the track presented is of such high quality. It wasn't until I sat down and started to write the review that I got some answers to how two 14 year old guys could sound so good. The answer lies in two words, a name that many of you are already familiar with, David Pendragon. He was the guiding hand at The Studio in Canberra where this track was made. Moreover two of Pendragon's excellent tribe World Ensemble, Donovan Gail and Jukka Malburg, supplied the drums and bass. However, even such heavyweight Indie names as those wouldn't make much difference if Returning Juvenile couldn't deliver their own part, and - as the Australians would have it - no worries on that score. Class song, class arrangement and great production values

Highly Recommended pop rock.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kiria - Radio

Hear The Track Here

Tell ya what, in the almost two years that my RebelRiffs review blog has been running, it has increased the amount of artists I can get too by a thousand percent. Most of those artists have been at least listenable, and some have been very good indeed. A lot of the artists I have been reviewing have been coming from Big Red Caravan, an independent promotions company I came across a few months ago who are currently promoting the excellent (and much needed) Knife Crime Awareness Tour throughout the UK. More details about that tours, and the artists that Big Red Caravan handle can be found here.

(note: I know I am breaking precedent because this is the first pic I have ever
featured in my reviews but come on...look at her! How can I not)

Kiria is one of the artists suuporting this worthwhile venture, she is a new name to me (and maybe you too). Kiria is also a band comprising of: Kiria (vocals/guitar), Taylor (bass/vocals) Rob Marche (lead guitar) Adie Hardy (rhythm guitar), Ed Grimshaw (drums) and Sheena (Violin/vocals). Billed as either pop rock, alternative or punk, Radio is currently the only track available on their webpage and one track isn't going to tell you much of a story. It will blow your head off though, and definitely augers well for this London based band. Personally I haven't been to a gig in a million years (had enough of that in my mis-spent youth) but judging by Radio, Kiria is one band it may well be worth searching out live.

It's a kinda rock pop track in a proud English tradition, bristling with hooks and a powerful, focussed production and mix and if it doesn't grab you within the first few bars, you just have to be clinically dead. I usually listen to reviews on lots of different systems just to get different perspectives and this sounds absolutely cracking no matter what I play it on. At its heart is an excellent song, performed with lots of frive and energy by Kiria and chums. It's also a fresh, clean sound that flows into your earholes, blowing away years of cobwebs. Whatever you do, play this track loud for the best effect and just imagine how good this should sound live.

Ace song (and a very commerical one at that). MUST HAVE.

RAF21 - On The Styx

Hear The Track Here

Raf Beaudon (aka RAF21) is a French electronica artist with a difference; he may well be making his music electronically but the sound that comes out the other end is more influenced by the classical world than any other. This is a musical style fraught with danger, especially around me. I have been known to pour battery acid into the faces of some of these tracks and I've met very few exponents of this style that have survived unscathed. Obviously RAF21 knows a little better than most because this is the fourth RAF21 track I have reviewed so far, and neither of us have much a problem with whats going on.

A huge part of that is down to the way this artist chooses sounds and uses them; always a key part of getting that whole classical thing down. Most of us have the kind of hearing that can easily tell the difference between a synth sample and the real thing; especially when it comes to the stringed instruments which are notoriously difficult to render digitally. Great strides have been made over the past few years though, and its artists like RAF21 who are truly exploring that potential. On The Styx is yet another in the Orphee et Eurydice song cycle that Nuptial Danse (September 2008) came from and I liked that track immensely.

On The Styx (nothing to do with the prog-rock band, its a legendary mythical river) is track four of this six song peice and like Nuptial Danse, the instrumentaton is faultless; the attention to sound fideility is spot on. Although I've now heard two of the tracks from this series, I've found it so good that I am now keen enough to want to hear the whole peice, in order. You may not realise the significance of that statement but people who know me and my taste would be scratching their heads right now. I don't know very much about the story of Orpheus and the underworld but I'm sure that RAF21 has faithfully caught the musical taste of it.

Modern classical anyone? Highly Recommended.

The Antennaheadz - Everyone is Weird

Hear The Track Here

Look at this now. Here is an exercise in irony (hint, not the stuff your Mom does). Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Seriously from my very first encounter with this artist over four years ago, weirdness has been the watchword, along with difficult, obtuse, irritating, baffling and any number of other oddities of life. Although he started off life weird even I have to admit that - of late - the man has become positively conventional and that is a quality I would never, in a month of Sundays, have ascribed to this artist. The Antennaheadz, as you may have gathered is yer actual one man band, the man in this case being the infamous Thomas J. Ah, yes, that guy. Hey, don't knock it, said guy has been delivering some VERY strong tracks this past year.

Mmmm, not so frisky now are we?

Everyone is Weird is a track from The Antennaheadz new EP Let Them Down Gently available through Pilesar's excellent left field Chameleon Dish Archives label, and that's an astute move on Pilesars part. Even for the most lame eared amongst us would recognise that Thomas J has grasped a tiger by the tail. That tiger being a change of direction into an extremely charming lo-fi, sub Syd Barrett songwriter stylee. By anybody's lights, you can't say that The Antennaheadz are the peak of sound expertise, but with this style that really doesn't matter in the slightest. In fact, is this music were done any other way it just wouldn't be right.

Now obviously, given the content, it isn't going to appeal to everyone but I personally really like this new style because - in amongst all of this - is usually a clever, witty song performed with great charm and sincerity. It wouldn't endear him to most people though because, after a while, you realise that he's basically calling everybody weird except him - which brings us smartly back to where we started this review. I like The Antennaheadz and I am not afraid to say it. Sure there are/and always will be technical issues with this artist but when you put it against tracks of this quality I just got to say I couldn't give a toss about production values and sing this songs chorus 'o, everyone is weird, yeah everyone is weird, yeah everyone is weird except me'

A world of his own sure enough. Highly Recommended oddity and a MUST HAVE for fans.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Conory - Time Was 2008

Hear The Track Here

My first meeting with UK based alternative artist Conory was a bit fraught but certainly not musically. Matter of fact when I reviewed Long Dark Hallway (July 2008) I was instantly struck by how new, fresh and original it sounded. You should note here that the track is a kinda/sorta prog rock and you know I don't normally like this genre it all. It has to be very different for me to pay any attention and Long Dark Hallway did that and more. Point of fact, I think it still sits on my hard drive as I type this and may well appear in my year end reviews in some form or other. Not bad for a first track from an artist I had no previous knowledge whatsover.

He has added a whole lot songs to his Soundclick site to since I last encountered him and we are starting off with a remix/remake of Time Was, which you will also find on the page. Now, you know I wouldn't be able to resist the lure of the original so - while I was downloading the new version - I had a quick listen. To be honest I've heard a lot better produced tracks but there was something about Time Was that really appealed to me. I do like UK music (oh yeah, biased much) and to me, this version encapsulated exactly why I like that definitive, couldn't-come-from-anywhere-else sound. Britpop, I suppose, is the closest musical reference in time but this style goes way, way back to the Golden Age of pop rock.

It was some anticipation then that I waited for the new version (that'll be the one that says 2008 dear) to crawl its way up this months huge list. It's a much slicker, polished beast than the original and IMHO its some of that quirky britpop feel but what has replaced it definitely makes this a much better song than the original. That's the real treat here, as it was in the original, Time Was - regardless of which version we are talking about - is a terrific song with a killer chorus. While I could pick some holes in this track (notably the drums) it seems churlish to so because this is such a good track in every other respect. If you haven't heard of this artist before it's time to do that, and this is the track that will either do it to you or not.

Excellent UK Alternative song. Highly Recommended.

LeO IcON9 ByTE19 - Night @ Alcazar

Hear The Track Here

OK feast your eyes on that bandname above because I am ****** if I am going to keep repeating it through this review. Suffice to say that Leo, Icon and Byte are three of the musicians involved in the band - with Dee and Bob E making up the full compliment. Now looking at these five gentlemen on their Soundclick page you may assume (like I did while downloading the track) that they were either a hiphop/rap outfit or a soul/jazz band of some kind, For me, I decided that they didn't really look like a bunch of wannabe gangsters so I automatically assumed that I would be getting some retro EWF clone banging away at my eardrums. It wasn't until I sat down to right todays reviews that I realised that I had been way, way way off target.

First impressions? Fugem!

The extremely peaceful, relaxing piece of out and out electronica I had been grooving away to for the past few days was from none other than this oddly named artist. Indeed, now I see that this is billed as Dance Electronica I can see why it has that well deserved billing. All the way through this track though I kept getting the feeling that there was something else supposed to happen, and it never did. Mind you, what was happening was definitely good enough being a neat little backing track that settles on a groove and digs it until the cows come home.

When I looked at their page again though while writing this review I came across a comment that this was in fact still a work in progress and that there was 'still a ways to go'. Well, I do agree with that but I'm not sure mastering this is the last stage in that. It does sound mighty fine, as I say, and should in fact master up a treat; what worries me is that something missing. Certainly as a sparse peice of electronic chillout this really hits the spot but is it enough to hit the spot repeatedly? Not in my books, no.  Mind you, seeing as their latest CD is music from a short film, who knows what the end result will be. Interesting introduction though and one I'd be well keen to hear finished.

Highly Recommended electronic chillout.

Sound Radius - The Rose Ft Sablade

Hear The Track Here

Seems like bloody ages since I last heard this very talented Canadian instrumentalist, and now I have looked I see it is almost a year since I reviewed Opus 2007 Symphonic Rock Demo (January 2008). If the names Hans Zimmer, Trevor Rabin, Basil Poleudoris, Danny Elfman and John Williams mean more you to a roll call, then you will know that Sound Radius operates in the Film Music genre and hopefully you know my own bias against it. Takes a very, very special talent to break through the amount of hatred I usually have for this style but Sound Radius does this often, and with great ease.

Ever since I heard and reviewed The Power Within Score (December 2006) I have been a dedicated fan of this musicians work. He has yet to give me another track with the absolute power and emotion of The Power Within but this is one musician I really don't have to worry about because its only a matter of time. Surprisingly enough, The Rose is actually billed as World General and to be honest, I find no fault with that. Moreover, its actually a song, with a singer and lyrics; although those lyrics are not online and it is a hard task to get the sense of them, even after continued playing.

When I say continued playing, with this track I really mean it. True to form Sound Radius makes some of the most gorgeously lush music you are likely to hear online, combining that style with a clean clear mix and an absolutely faultless arrangement. For my money, I could have done with a lot more vocal presence, Sablade has a rich voice but one that needs a lot more attention to tone and depth in the production process to really make it register. Nonetheless, The Rose is beautiful even with that slight flaw and reminds me - only in style though - of some of Enya's work.

Excellent, haunting world music track. Highly Recommended.

Dan E Peck - Peace Pipe

Hear The Track Here

I think this is the fourth time around for MP3 Unsigned uber rock guitarist Dan E Peck. If you take a peek at his website you will see that this is a man who has been around the block a few times, playing live and - of course - issuing music through the internet. Having all that experience under his belt should mean - by any reckoning - that Dan should know exactly what he wants and how to get it. The last two of his tracks I reviewed - Ibanez Strut (December 2007) and Beachin (January 2008) - both received Must Have rating from me but I guess that is to be expected seeing as I love rock at its best.

and plank spankers too, I guess.

The quality and experience is evident in every note he plays, and in the way he plays them. Add that to a faultless production and mix and believe me you can't go far wrong. Even if I didn't particularly like guitar instrumentals, one listen to this track would convince me that, done correctly, guitar instrumentals are every bit as valid as they ever were. It's a given though that the primary audience for a track like this is going to be other guitarists looking to learn some proper technique.

You just cannot, in any form, replicate the flow and feel that experience gives a guitarist (as opposed to other musicians for example) because each guitarists style, tone and emotion is based on their own capabilities and knowledge. A guitarist as subtle and nuanced as say Jeff Beck is worlds away from the few chord bash that figures in most forms of alternative rock these days. I used the allusion to Jeff Beck on purpose because Dan's performance on this track has the confidence that Beck brings to the party, Dan's tone and style though is most definitely his own. Peace Pice is a wonderful track that I enjoyed listening to immensely, so much so that I also had to listen to the classical version (with Andy F) on the site too. Both tracks deserve a listen IMHO.
Class guitarist with a beautiful track. 

MUST HAVE for me but Highly Recommended even so...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

333maxwell - Spy Music

Hear The Track Here

Almost every newcomer to sites like Soundclick (ie a BIG OMD) makes the same basic assumptions, we've all done it. We look around, read some forums, discover just how big the place really is - and right around there is where the panic starts to set in. The classic response to that is to spam everything in sight in the hope of getting (as it were) bums on seats. What it does do, of course, is to get said newbies butt well and truly toasted by all and sundry. Some cunning folk decide that the way to crack Soundclick is to 'game' it - which leads to its own kind of grief. Ultimately most of get to understand that to make things happen in Soundclick, you have to start clocking up recognition numbers (plays, views, downloads), all usually by some kind of networking. To outsiders, it may look easy to - say - score a chart placing. NOT. Take Spy Music, for example. Yes it reached number #2 in the Rock:General chart but it still had to beat over 33,000 other tracks to do it.

Aaaah, now you begin to tremble...

Having a good distinctive musical sound helps of course, and Chas Holman (aka 333maxwell) certainly has that alright but he's also good at putting his face about, and that always helps. Out of the five tracks I have reviewed so far, the last two gained Must Have ratings from me but the really surprising thing is that each track has been markedly different; cool jazz, rocky jazz, pop rock, classic rock and an incredibly accurate sound picture that could pass muster as an original track from the heyday of 1940/50's smooth blue jazz. For me, its that insane attention to detail that make 333maxwell's peices so refreshing and original in their own right.

Spy Music is not a groomed track by any conventional standard, and certainly it will make people gaze wonderingly in my direction when I say that this is EXACTLY how Chas intended it to sound. Its a given then, that you may have to devote a bit more attention to this track than some of his other tracks but if you like rock history the will definitely appeal to you. What he seems to have captured this time round is a classic late 1960's groove, punctuated by guitar lines that veer between Frank Zappa and Jeff beck if you can believe that. Definitely one for rockheads of all descriptions and for trainspotters like me who love retro recreations. As such though, not as strong overall as some of his previous tracks but I don''t care because I'll still be keeping this - it is a classic rock performance.

Highly Recommended late 1960's instrumental rock.

Waiting For Helen - Kiss Off

Hear The Track Here

POPspace has been up and down the past few days so its proving almost impossible for me to get download links but hey, you can figure it out instead. The above link will at least get you to the site, and I hope that the site gtes its problems ironed out soon. Waiting For Helen are a five peice band from New Jersey (Ed: hey what exit?) comprising Jerry DeCarlo, Helen Harak, Tony Mazza, Pete Salomone and Joe Van Winkle. Both previous tracks - Good Good Woman (January 2008) and Feed The Fire (May 2008) got a top rating from me because they were both absolutely scorching rock tunes; albeit blues and pop respectively. My theory is that a band who can deliver quality like this, sooner or later is going to give me a Must Have track.

and that is why I waited for this one to move up the list...

Anyone who has read any of my reviews will understand that, at heart, I am a die hard rocker. Sure I like other genres, and even work in some of them myself but if I were honest, rock was always my first love. Stands to reason then that when reviewing a rock band I will be considerably biased, but not to the point of foolhardiness. No worries on that score with Waiting For Helen though because the one thing that shines out of all their tracks - and Kiss Off is no exception - is the sheer professionalism and tightness is the band.

Until this point I hadn't heard a Waiting For Helen track that featured vocalist Helen Harak on it, which this track corrects simply and to the point; she's a blues belter. Essentially Kiss Off is yer standard blues riff, you will have heard it a million times, especially if you are familiar with the bar band ethos that permeates American rock music, but more especially those knowing the Tri-State area (NY/NJ/CT) scene on the eastern seaboard. As such then, its fairly obvious that this will not appeal to everyone, like a lot of their tracks it has a raw quality to it that endears it to addicts like me but would probably not make any inroads with someone who thought this kind of music was 'old and dead'. Yeah, weellll, not while Waiting For Helen are stomping on the rock corpse it ain't.

Recommended bar room blues.

Mark Holley - Real ft Joseph Rodriguez

Hear The Track Here

Last night, after a break of a few weeks I spent some time in the chatroom at Mixposure during Mike-K's Saturday Night Rocks radio show. If you don't know about it, you really should check it out; always full of some very familiar names. Ok so there I was hanging out and a Joseph Rodriguez track came on, then the man himself came into the chatroom which got me to thinking... I first met Joseph over at MP3 Unsigned some time ago and now I seem to see him everywhere I go and therein lies the secret of making things happen online. Networking is the name of the game and this talented guitarist plays it well, with the musical muscle to back it up too. Ahhh. Hear that? That wailing sound? That's Mark Holley wondering when I am going to get around to talking about his latest track.

Right now, as it happens.

Mark Holley will of course be quite a well known name to regular readers because I have chewed my way through a pile of his tracks ever since I first reviewed Blink Of An Eye (June 2006). He is certainly a rock musician who can be relied on to deliver good material on a consistent basis, even if the individual tracks haven't always set me on fire. Real is the third collab track between Mark and Joseph and the pairing seems to strengthen and broaden Mark's undoubted songwriting ability.

Mark has a sure touch with classic rock themes and at base, Real is a neat reworking of a couple of good ones. As usual, the production is top notch as indeed is the arrangement and instrumentation. This time, however, the added bonus is the vocals really do work in this track, which isn't always the case with this musician. I can't quite put my finger on who this reminds me of but I'm pretty sure that Elton John may feature pretty large in the equation but may just because of the excellent use of piano throughout this very neat slice of retro rock. Definitely one of the better tracks I have heard from this artist; this is a well balanced, intricate track that grows and grows...

Excellent classic rock. Highly Recommended

David Orrick - Acrobat - radio edit

Hear The Track Here

As you know film soundtracks and I don't get on well and when I first encountered Soundclick's David Orrick those two words sent shivers down my spine, for that is exactly what he aspired to make. Good job that the music didn't sound that way though as Viral Storm (September 2007) and Portland Avenue (April 2008) showed. Viral Storm in particular being a nine minute peice that kept my interest throughout and that - believe me - is a hard thing to do. I have also encountered his Burble & Pine personna with March Of The Truffles (March 2008) also a remarkable peice of music and none of which IMHO tainted by the term soundtrack. Each of these tracks got a highly recommended from me and each of them was capable of standing on its as a class peice of music - whatever your preference.

While Acrobat is billed on Soundclick as a David Orrick track, it is in fact made by yet another personna; this time a collaboration with someone called Ricky J - both musicians hailing from the UK btw. Known collectively as Hedwerk who seem to be attracting some VERY heavy duty action if their MySpazz page is to be believed. Still I am, as ever, the deepest cynic you are ever likely to meet so... The music is what ultimately counts and there I do trust David to come up with the goods, even when said goods happen to be in a genre that gives me even more grief that film soundtracks. yep, you guessed it, Acrobat can only have been a trance track.

Does this never end?? :)

If I had gone by the intro to the track, I would have binned it somewhere in the first minute because it is - in every respect - the kind of thing I would run a mile from, no matter how well produced it is. The first thing that YOU may notice (not having the huge predjudices I suffer) is that this track sounds about as commercially viable as it is possible to get; a tough, wide screen epic that gives your ears a very vigorous workout. At the heart of the track though, is a beautifully rendered song that has more musical references back to the sounds of '80's electropop than any trance track I've heard lately. Admittedly it took me a while to get this track but - as the track states - 'I'm working it out' and this has become one of my favourite tracks of the moment. Give it the same amount of time and this will grow on you too, that much I am certain of. Great song.


Echoes From An Ocean - Stories

Hear The Track Here

At this moment in time my review list is composed from several different strands; as always the bulk of the tracks come from Soundclick, five more from MP3 Unsigned and a further five from POPspace. That usually give me enough of a variety that it doesn't become stale. However, over the last six months, my RebelRiffs blog has started to kick in review requests too - on average around five a month. It means, of course, that I am doing a lot more reviews that I ever envisaged but - at the same time - the RebelRiffs blog has introduced me to artist who do not belong to any of my main sites but have also proved to be of much interest. No doubt that some of these artists will be featurting in my year end review around the turn of the year. Echoes From An Ocean, as you may have gathered, is one of the requests from the blog.

Although the music on the EFAO is actually a one man band (Roger Damen to be precise) there is apparently a live version in the works too. Now I don't know about the rest of you guys but just hearing the word Manchester associated with music and I get a million bells ringing all the way from The Hollies to Oasis. There is no question whatsoever that Manchester has its own particular sound. Sure it can vary a bit but you can bet that certain influences will permeate any track out of that city. There will be guitars, and usually lots of them. There will be vocals ranging from Liam's style through Ian Curtis and seminal Mancunian bands such as The Buzzcocks. I mention The Buzzcocks because the vocal on Stories is very Pete Shelley like.

That is not a bad thing.

The funny thing is that the track sounds as if it were recorded live, directly off the mixing board. I've been around this scene too long not to recognise that boominess. So the question is, is it live? The reason I bring this up is because it does create an enormous fuzziness as far as the musical track is concerned and that is shame because it does detract from the impact of the track. For sure, I reckon if this track was recorded properly, it would lift yer fekkin roof off. For my money, that lack makes the track - for all its energy and drive - a so so listen. You know you are listening to something that is pretty decent but its full impact is definitely missing. IMHO this is a track that screams out to be properly produced, and maybe Roger should think about that. Or maybe I'm just talking bollocks again.

Listenable Manchester pop/rock. Recommended for the energy.

Wreckless Music (Ejay) - Old Times

Hear The Track Here

As I've pointed out often enough before, Ejay in this case is a USA based rapper and nothing whatsover to do with the program of the same name. This Ejay was around well before the software. At this stage of the game I have reviewed (I think) at least five of this artists tracks and - like others artists in the genre at Soundclick - I have come to develop a taste for his clean flow even if his profanity more than makes up for that. Obviously a Parental Advisory on this track then, as there are on many of this artists tracks. That's because Ejay (and friend Sammy on this outing) tends to be a straight up kind of guy who is not afraid to buck the norm. This wasn't evident to me until So Focused (Stand Up) (June 2008) and Shine ft Shaky Shake (September 2008), two blistering tracks that show what this rapper is capable of.

Better be a big fan of extraeous noise though because the tracks starts of as if you were listening to vynil complete with scratches that a few years would have driven an audiophile to suicide. Me, I kinda like the atmosphere that this intro sets because it makes the opening stanzas of the rap much more effective. So, as a rapper let me give you an example of just why I think Ejay is that bit special. Old Times is a nod of respect to the way hip hop developed and a very worthy one it is too, but it's the lyrics of that first stanza that nail the track down. I don't often quote lyrics but these are special to me: F*** those imitating fakes, running after everything that shine bright, think about the history of rap music nothing to do with the bling bling and s*** like that. [that] stuff is making me sick.

That gets it said alright.

"All I need" some sultry women pour liquid honey into your ears during the chorus "[is] time" and it's that chorus that for me, seals the deal on this excellent track. Now I know much about the history of hip hop and rap and I agree absolutely with Ejay that the current crop of wannabes do not have a fekkin clue. Good job then that - on Soundclick anyway - some good men (and maybe women) who are not afraid to go against the prevailing wind of gangstas, guns, drugs and death. Hiphop/rap has always been a life affirming music, something that would lift peoples spirits to maybe a higher state. Death has no place in that.

The Message.  MUST HAVE (for the rap, but the music cuts it too)

David Deal - Help Me Fly

Hear The Track Here

One of the main problems with reviewing the way that I do is that I spend days with the track before I ever sit down and write a word. Why is that a problem? Well because I rely on the websites themselves to give us a little more indepth look at the artist and maybe discern other things about the track under review. Of course, that means that the website is up and running and - in this case - it isn't while I type out this review. It doesn't just happen with the smaller sites (like POP in this case) but it happens just as often on the major OMDs. Good job, I have my trusty review system because through it its obvious we came across this artist with I Don't Know What (December 2007), First Contact (February 2008) and Where Are You Now? - A Rockorian Chant (August 2008).

Over that time, it has to be said, that David has created a bit of a mixed impression. Wasn't particularly blown away by a couple of tracks but certainly the Rockorian Chant worked very well indeed. Help Me Fly is a ballad, and regular readers will understand my customary shudder. My main problem with ballads isn't that they are slow (which they generally are; haven't heard many lullabies at 180bpm) as you would expect but usually because they are let down by what can only be called design flaws. The only ballads that really work for me are the ones that are intense, emotional and with a lyric that says something other than bland sugary confections that just give me a headache.

In my world, the best ballads come about because of life and its trials, not the moaning about it.

I have to say that the production, first of all, on this track is absolutely outstanding. Everything sounds just right and the mix fits the musical style perfectly. Where this track scores above most ballads is that it manages to tell a believeable story with warmth and love. Essentially a song about a fathers love for his daughter, Help Me Fly never veers into the cringemaking partly due to the excellent lyrics but also partly because of the voice singing those lyrics. Again, no idea who is singing on this because it certainly isn't David unless he's suddenly become Davida. The female vocal is the final touch that makes this track not just work but - dare I say it - fly.

Excellent Ballad. Yes I said that. Highly Recommended.

FXMan - Athema sunkissed

Hear The Track Here

Just when I thought it was safe to clamber back into the techno/trance waters that is increasingly a large part of MP3 Unsigned roster, along come another one to taunt me. I make no bones about it, trance is definitely not my favourite genre and one I usually run away from at high speed. However, I have been reviewing way too long, and objectivity is something I've certainly learned along the way. So, if were into the genre, what would I look for in search of 'good' trance track? Well, the 71 downloads - note my italics - scream something positive for a start but that could mean he has a rather large family. Nope, I'm looking for something slightly off the beaten four-to-the-floor norm, acccurate and emotive sequencing and a minute attention to the tracks atmosphere - the most important ingredient in this genre IMHO.

So, whadda we got?

Athema sunkissed is basically a collaboration between FXMan and DJ Dence where FX generated the initial track, DJ Dence added to it and between them I'd say that did a fine job. If your only exposure to the whole dance/trance/Ibiza genre is through Harry Enfield's Kevin and Perry Go Large movie you will find plenty that registers. Best not to go looking for the final mix version with Mom and Dan sex noises on because this is NOT that version. All joking aside, as I said earlier, its atmosphere that counts and the main ingredient of that are absolutely MASSIVE highs that go on forever and again FXMan and DJ Dence deliver - but only just and nothing like as often as should happen.

The second part of the trance equation - for me anyway - that the track has some beautiful (nay gorgeous) sequence melodies that are woven into the fabric of the track and again these guys did the business on that. The final count, again for me, is in the technical department. Is this as good as anything out there? Again it would be yes, but reservedly. As clean, clear and crisp as everything is on the track (top marks for that), there is still a bit too much repetition in the track to sustain my interest outside of the review process. There again, I am known for my whinging against the genre, but hopefully not against the musicians in it. Whatever I think, if you love the genre then this track is going to be your steady date, if not you can **** off and listen to something else.  Excellently presented Trance in that certain Island mode ;) 

Highly Recommended if you like the stuff.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fluidity - SixOne9

Hear The Track Here

Like a lot of Soundclick regulars I think I have probably become way too familiar with New Zealand based rock musician John Paul Carroll (aka Fluidity). So much so that when I found myself reviewing a Largo track just lately I actually made the comparison that it sounded a bit like Fluidity. Which just goes to show how long this artist has been around rocking out with the best of them. I first encountered him with This Time (January 2006), a light breezy track that certainly displayed much fluidity and established a sound that this artist has honed and honed ever since. Earning himself more than a few dedicated fans in the process including yours truly.

I have a lot of admiration for the way this excellent rock musician has branched out in every way since those early tracks, and his tracks can be relied to deliver the requisite punch. 'Ultimate punk metal' says a comment about the track and I find myself nodding in agreement to that. It certainly as powerful as any performance you have heard from this artist, but encased in a wonderful wall of sound, with some of the best rock drums I have ever heard from this artist.

The fly in the ointment, as always with Fluidity tracks, is with lyrics and vocals. John Paul isn't the most coherent of vocalists and reading the lyrics is usually a must, but on this track he has even surpassed his usual self. None of which, I might add, detracts from the power of the track one jot. Sure it will be argued that Fluidity is an acquired taste but I have always found him to be an intelligent songwriter and musician and despite small niggles with the vocals, SixOne9 is every bit what I expect from this musician. It also shows just how good home produced rock can sound when you pay attention to it.

Recommended Antipodean (look it up, ya lazy dogs) rock.

The Peach Tree - A Perception of Change (Understanding)

Hear The Track Here

Regular readers will already be aware of the history between The Peach Tree and myself and I see no need to go into it again here. Needless to say, The Peach Tree (an Australian one man band) took the criticism on the chin and went right on cooking with gas. In my world, that says a lot about the seriousness of the musician we are dealing with. Having been at the sharp end of many negative reviews myself I know how disheartening that can be, and what it takes to persevere. So, not only has this artist done that, but now he's swtiched direction on us and is coming from an entirely different place.

Experimental electronica, no less.

Now having dealt with ACRES of this kind of stuff over at Soundclick, I also know how difficult it is to rate and - in some extreme cases - even understand wtf is going on. Nonetheless, over the years I have developed a fairly good ear for cacaphonia and I can usually spot the track that is that little bit different. Surprisingly enough, when I first heard A Perception of Change, my spirits plummeted as I envisaged what I would have to write about this - at first glance - rather noisy track. Ah, but this is experimental electronica we are talking about here and as The Peach Tree points out in this track 'Perception is skewed...'

Bet your sweet bippy, whatever that means.

The thing about this kind of music, I have found, is that if you listen to it over an extended period the best tracks show all kinds of hidden depths that can't be seen without knowing the peice. While Perception has some of the chaotic feel of some of this artists earlier work, in a track like this its an essential ingredient and IMHO, the reason why the track works so well. As I say, you will have to devote a fair bit of time to prising this bad boy out of its shell but it is worth it.

Excellent, and surprising sidestep. Highly Recommended experimental electronica.

Gavin Valentine - K4rma B1tch

Hear The Track Here

As you know I can be quite acerbic when faced with certain kinds of music; soppy ballads, string driven nightmares and - well - any music genre starting with T. Trance and techno have long been my own particular bete noirs, with dance overall coming a close third. Most of the reason is because I find - in general - these areas to be incredibly formulaic, dreivative. Heard one, you heard them all. It counts as a pleasant day when I find a track in these genres that I can get behind and the last Gavin Valentine track I reviewed - Sometimes I Want To Dance (October 2007) - to be a fine example of what the genre can deliver given a bit of thought.

I have no idea why it should be a year between Gavin Valentine tracks, because this seem to have been released at the same time as Sometimes. Oh well. What K4rma B1tch isn't is techno or even trance for that matter so already things are on the up. It's actually a rather lovely peice of string driven electronica, with a slightly jazzy overtone. Now you know I also have an aversion to string-y things and Gavin just manages to skate his in under the wire of my ire because it is essential to the whole feel of the track.

It starts as chillout but along the way gains momentum like you wouldn't beleive so that by the time you are a minute or so in, you would probably be hooked. More especially if you liked Orchestral sounds as part of your electronica diet but I reckon almost anybody could pass a pleasant few minutes with this track. Its also as clear as a bell, the production quality evident in every note. Composed entirely in Reason so Gavin says and it shows once again what a great peice of software it can be in the right pair of hands. Hand on heart, I can't say I'll be hanging on to this because it really isn't my thing but as a peice of class electronica this is right up there.

Highly Recommended Electronica

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cam's Even Song - Mythology

Hear The Track Here

Doing a search through my review archives is never slower than when search for this artists work. I must have written reams and reams of blah-di-blah about this likeable Canadian pop rock Christian artist, and I'm not the only one to do that. Fact is, in his 194 years on Soundclick (no, seriously) Cam's Even Song has become the affirmed favourite of a great many people. Sure, he was never going to get the attention of the majority of the crowd (ie hip hop) but he does manage to get his stuff across to many different people. That, and his online personna, is the reason why I named him Artist of the Year 2006 in my own shabby awards ceremony...

and you can only get one of them ;)

While other artists may think to coast awhile on such adulation (Ed: Gilmore delusions; a potent force), Cam just kept on cranking out Must Have after Must Have. Those fortunate to know about one of Soundclick's brightest songwriter will already be aware that this artist is a) prolific as the East Bunny and; b) can make a song about almost anything. Take, for example, Mythology. It was inspired by a session with the Age Of Mythology game and, knowing Cam, he read much into it; also another highlight of his songwriting style.

I can eulogise forever about his songwriting abilities but it wouldn't mean squat if he couldn't deliver it and Cam not only did that, he added extra bonuses. For a long time Cam's technical and musical skills were generally working in tandem (which is why he is so good) but on this track I am stunned by his growing grip on arrangement. Yeah, the whole premise sounds well shaky but believe me the track is anything but shaky. Vocally and musically it is class Cam all the way, and one of the best tracks I have ever heard from him. All this is absolutely gob-smacking (Ed: amazing) when you take into account that this whole track is just one guy.

Cam, right on the money as usual. MUST HAVE

The Bob Lazar Story - The Silence Of Perez de Cuellar

Hear The Track Here

I was a bit surprised that I had reviewed five Bob Lazar Story tracks, moreover that the first one I reviewed - Double Turn Double Safe (July 2006) - set the trend for all the rest of the tracks. Considering this is prog rock we are talking about here, a genre I usually drip acid onto whenever possible, having five of those tracks pass muster with me without serious scarring is some acheivement. A goal to be savoured even. So what makes this New Zealand based one man band different from the rest of the dandruff brigade? Simple, it may be prog rock but TBLS always manages to put a unique slant on it, and in my world that's a very good thing.

It's been a year since I last reviewed him, so I was interested to see what he was up to now. The Silence of Perez de Cuellar is exactly what I would have expected from this talented musician; complete with some time exercises just to show he really does know what he's doing. The Silence of Perez de Cuellar is the title track of this artists new CD, and a murky tale which you can find much more about by googling 'Perez de Cuellar' and 'abduction' apparently.

What you get when you listen to the track, and I do recommend that whatever your preference, you will find a clean, muscular track that has more kinks and bends than any F1 circuit. That is, of course, one of the major highlights of the genre and one that - as I say - normally makes me vomit. It works when placed in the right context and tone (ie with a bit of humour) and in the time I have known The Bob Lazar Story, that has become one of the highlights of their music. Dare to different indeed.

Excellent and Highly Recommended prog rock (Ed: oh no! Nurse! The screens)

Thierry Kaufman - Wish You Were Here

Hear The Track Here

Thierry Kaufman approached me through my blog for a review, a growing source it seems. He is a USA based classically trained pianist (he started when he was 9) but other than that this is a brand new name to me. Wish You Were Here (nothing to do with the Pink Floyd track of the same name) is part of a seven track CD called Seven for Summer which he is presently promoting out of All seven tracks are original, even though Thierry seems to have done the usual church/house piano player route familiar to any American musician.

So, given his background, you would expect a solid, professional peice of music and Wish You Were Here doesn't disappoint at all. Of course, its a given that you should like classically inclined piano peices to really get the fullest out of this track but it is nonethless a striking peice of music - classical or otherwise. See, the thing is I've heard thousands upon thousands of these kind of tracks and it takes a special one to wake me up.

This track did that.

It did it primarily because Wish You Were Here is a simple thing: a wonderful peice of music, nothing more or less. It would be fair to say this is technically a piano peice (although it is scored with strings and things) because that instrument takes centre stage. As regular readers are already aware, I am not a big fan of piano peices - usually because they are flabby musically and intellectually. No such problem with this track though, sensitively scored and produced, this is one piano track I am definitely going to be listening to for a while longer.

Excellent, classically inclined piano peice, Highly Recommended, if you like the genre.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Larry Ludwick - The Apology

Hear The Track Here

The Apology is the fourth Larry Ludwick track I have reviewed so I should have come to some form of understanding of him right? Welll, not quite. See, Larry is a bit of a butterfly, one in this genre, one in that genre and so on. So obviously - like the aformentioned flying pretty - he's a bit difficult to pin down. What isn't difficult to understand is the level of musical and production skill this artist has at his fingertips as every track has so far shown - and The Apology is no exception.

I blame John Lennon circa his first solo album for the structure and sound of The Apology. That isn't to say that Larry nicked it wholesale but certainly the Lennon spirit (and venom) is a large part of its immediate attraction. 'In memory of Harry Fisher' Larry says in the song comments and its obvious that the song has a lot of personal feeling. In lesser hands, we'd all be passing the sickbags by now so it's to Larry's eternal credit that he can deliver this kind of emotion without sounding forced or strained.

The more I listened to this track, I detected a Neil Young presence as seeing as he is one of my all time favourite musicians, that's definitely a bonus. At bottom, though, The Apology is a simple song, delivered wiith conviction and emotion, the kind of track that always appeals to me, despite my usual distaste for songs that navel gaze rather than actually saying something meaningful. The Apology certainly does that, although I wonder how many people would get its main message. As a man once said, 'we are through the looking glass here people'. It's combination of the song, and the musical roots of the track that won me over and it will probably do the same to you.   Better like mournful rock ballads though...

Highly Recommended Rock.

AvMo - The Wall

Hear The Track Here

One of the main problems with being a reviewer of any sort is that you, in the process, stick your head up over the parapet and you are more than likely to get it shot off. Now you would think that by the 800th time I lost my head, I would have learned something but no... When I first started doing this I promised myself that I would always say what I thought, no matter what, and sometimes that gets in the way and sometimes it doesn't. When I reviewed AvMo's Learn To Live (September 2008) I stated that I found the sound a bit rough but that I kinda liked the overall track because of the ideas behind it. So, just so we are clear on this, when I use the term 'workmanlike' I generally mean it in a good way; ie someone who spends time crafting their peices. That much was obvious from the track, even if I didn't particularly care for the sound or some of its elements.

By the time I started to become familiar with The Wall (no, not that one), it also became obvious that Avmo has a very 'home produced' sound. Not that this is a bad thing; it just is. Most people will pass it by and either get off on the track or not. Musically, as usual, the track has muscle and power with some lovely, fluid guitar runs that punctuate the later part of the song. Again, like Learn To Live, there are endless musical references to be found in it; for example I got early 70's folk rock from the first plays...

and that's not a bad thing either.

However, no matter how much I wriggle and posture, there is no escaping a couple of salient facts. I think even AvMo would admit that he doesn't have the greatest voice in the world and it is IMHO (obviously) going to be something of an acquired taste. In my time, I have known artists like this to grow on me enormously but up to now Avmo hasn't done it for me although The Wall certainly gets there musically. Hand on my heart, I can't even point to anything that is really wrong with the track so it just has to be a taste thing. As a slow rock peice, The Wall is an excellent song regardless of what I may or may not think. If you like the genre, give this a taste.

Recommended slow rock.

MD-1 Project - Giugno 2008

Hear The Track Here

There are a couple of versions of this MD-1 project track (Ed: him again!) on his MP3 Unsigned website; the original released in 2006 (and apparently Song of The Year too) and this version. Seemed only fair then that I should have a quick listen to the original before trying the remix/remake. Now do bear in mind that this track is essentially trance - albeit with the usual Mancini fekkry with genre mixing - which is not a genre I am usually very kind about. There again, as I said MD-1 Project loves to mix it up so whatever your preference you'll probably find a peice of the original to your liking - as did I. The star of that track IMHO is the great sax lines and I wondered ildly if that would be expanded in this new version..

One of my early problems with this artist is amply illustrated by the differences in overall sound techniques between the original and this updated version. As good as the original is, the whole texture and tone of this new mix is light years ahead and shows just how professional he has become in the lasy couple of years. So it goes without saying that Giugno 2008 is a very classy affair chock full of great sounds competing for your attention. It's almost six minutes will pass in what seems like a couple of seconds.

So did the sax survive the transition, I hear you ask?

It certainly did, fuller, raspier and more in your face than ever before, but there again it has a lot of competition to contend with. Every single sound has obviously been treated with care and it shows but its the overall feel that counts and that is where this version scores big. Trance, but not as we know it Jim. I do advise you to approach this track the same way I did, original first; this version second. It's a wonderful insight into the technical developement of an artist as well as being a scorching track in its own right. And that sax deserves a medal.

F******** wonderful. MUST HAVE.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fear 2 Stop - Perpetrator

Hear The Track Here

No one was more surprised than me at the last Fear 2 Stop track I reviewed, wherein Soundclick's favourite awkward squad got down all funky - albeit in a very Fear 2 Stop kinda way. If you shudder at the mention of the name, read no further because not much has changed in the F2S camp. The thing is, I do like what Fear 2 Stop do, although it hasn't always been the case. I have, however, watched them develop from struggling-to-understand experimental electronica musicians to the present Fear 2 Stop; decidely unique to them and - it has to be said - probably an acquired taste. I have it obviously, having reviewed their music endlessly for well over four years now...

My how time flies...

The main perp of F2S's work is one Billy Castillo (synth, bass, vocals, drum machine) aided and abetted by wife Dana and friend Raymond and they have developed a very distinctive sound. Yes, it might be a sound that irritate a lot of people but once you become acclimatised to the way this trio works, there is a certain lure to their music that I can relate to. Although the had a very commercial patch a while ago, Fear 2 Stop have gone back to where they come from and although now billed under Indietronic anyone familiar with the band will access this track immediately - it has all of the familiar sonic landmarks.

The words 'drum machine' should have given you a clue and - in many ways - its that inclusion that has saved F2S's bacon more than once or twice. It's a bit of a trademark of Billy's to dot the aural landscape with nice tom figures and Perpetrator has the full set. It also has the requisite amount of musical wtf'ery that is often a side effect of Fear 2 Stop's musical predelictions. If I had to describe them sonically I would say they are a retro band, but not any retro band you could name; and even the retro would only cover the analog instrumentation that is also a feature of Fear 2 Stop musical armoury. Give it time, like a lot of Fear 2 Stop tracks, and it might surprise you.

Fear 2 Stop, as only they can do it. Highly Recommended Indietronic.

-LMS- - Halve-KNotz: Mind Over Body

Hear The Track Here

Miami based producer/rapper -LMS- (Last Man Standing seeing as ya asked) has managed to carve himself a slice of Soundclick with his distinctive hiphop; intelligent, vinbrant vocals and some very juicy collabs with other artists and beatmakers. When I first met him with Crow Flyin' (April 2006) I gave him a bit of a hard time about the music track but the rap itself had made a very good impression on me. Over the last two years LMS has been refining what he does and the results are tons of Hihgly Recommended and at least one Must Have track; The End Of The World (December 2007). Not bad going at all, especially considering that it is prime hiphop, a genre I am unusually hard on. Probably because its a genre I have much respect for, don't like to see it abused I guess.

Not much chance of that these days with LMS at the wheel. At this atge of the game, he has his production method down so its a given that any track will have the same sound quality as any other. Here, at last, is a rapper who knows better than to step all over the backing track. That experience means that LMS can finally let his really excellent rap skills live and breathe, his previous tracks being the proof. If you have come across LMS before, you either like what he does or not, but that would be down to genre preference rather than anything LMS is doing wrong. This is a guy who knows what he wants to sound like, and consistently reaches it,

Mind Over Body is right down the line typical LMS fayre; an interesting and varied musical track and a rap that flows, although not everything in the garden is rosy. As good as the backing is - and there are no notes on this on the webpage - after a few plays it did start to sound repetitive to me. Of course, the solid rap happening on top of it does obscure it for some time but - for my money - it just didn't do enough to prop up the rap. Even so, you'd be hard pressed to find better rap/hiphop than LMS on Soundclick and that sure counts for something.

Highly Recommended hiphop.

Tinfoiled - The Sky

Hear The Track Here

First out of the Soundclick bag this month is a new name to me and, by the looks of it, new to Soundclick too. An Australian Alternative one man band, Tinfoiled doesn't exactly big himself up on his webpage; it's tawdry and vulgar yes but it IS a necessity to actually get people to listen to you. If you state on your main page that your music is rubbish (although Tindoiled doesn't exactly say that his sentiments are close) then it would come as no surprise to find that no one listens to what you have put up. Best to say simply what kind of music you make, and then leave the listener to make up their own mind.

F*** me, where did that soapbox come from?

Billed as Avant Rock, The Sky certainly carries the requisite amount of bombast and the kind of instrumentation I would ascribe to rock, and it has a pleasing Antipodean tinge to it too. All those things should endear me to a track because I do like me rock, and Antipodean rock has a particular flavour I really like. Despite Tinfoiled stating that he is a ' guy with a guitar that he can't play too well, a sequencer that he doesn't fully understand' I couldn't find much wrong with this. Sure, the mix is a fuzzy and obviously home produced but I have heard a lot, lot worse.

Where the track falls down for me is in its lack of focus. As good as it is - in a quasi prog-rock sort of way - the overall impression of the track was a bit ho-hum. That has nothing to do with either the performance or production which, as I say, are more than adequate; merely the content. See, the track kinda wanders along from place to place, sure its rocking away but that's an intellectual exercise; you are either going to like it or not. That lack of focus will be a problem with listeners but it is early days yet. Another track may give a different story.

Good track, shambling arrangement. Recommended rock nonetheless