Thursday, June 30, 2011

Earth Prayer - Nine Days CD

Hear The Track Here

I have been known to go on (Ed: and on and on) about being the ultimate rock animal but the sad fact is that, since my children were born going out to live gigs was but a distant dream. Now that my children are of an age where they are not likely to burn the house down, I've been let off the domestic leash and have taken in a few locals gigs and bands, After all, I spend all month, every month, plowing through the requests from everywhere on Earth. I'd say it was only fair to give ME a go every once in a while. I went to see Earth Prayer on a cold, dull Wednesday night, at their CD launch party and - considering it was mid-week - the place was jammed and Earth Prayer delivered a great set of the songs from that CD. Proof of that is in the videos posted on their Facebook page. I was there, it really was like that.

Earth Prayer are a four piece North London band consisting of Heidi Jo Hines, Ian Montlake, Geoff Halden and Pete Cowan and classic rock is the name of the game. Just the thing if you need a rock shot in the arm and, let me tell you, Heidi Jo is a wailer (and I meant that in the best sense) from way back with a stage presence to match. It's hard being the front person in a band, especially one that rocks like a pack of wild dogs snapping at your heels, but Heidi Jo Hines has both the temperament and rock and rock history to know how to pull it off. This is a woman whose first breath was of the very essence of rock music and she has the family history to prove it. Comes as absolutely no surprise to me she is as confident and professional singer as you are ever likely to come across. A rock singer in the Janis mould....and her brother Laine Hines is just as handy..

Nine Days is an eleven track CD and I can honestly say that the sound on that is as powerful and exciting as the band is live. Take a listen to Civil War (my favourite), if that introduction doesn't get you into this band big time, you have no soul. There are five tracks from the CD on the band's pages and I heartily recommend you go and take a listen and if you happen to be a Londoner be real sure to try and catch them live. I have been around music so long I readily admit to a certain jaded cynicism towards a lot of bands but in the face of this CD and the live performance, I just might have hope...

Rock music as it used to be. MUST HAVE.

JCH (UK) - Winter

Hear The Track Here

Over the relatively short time I have known James Crosbie Hancox (aka JCH..geddit?) I have learned that he - first and foremost - a songwriter who thinks seriously and deeply about what he does. Which accounts for the praise heaped on him for projects such as the Painting By Numbers LP (June 2010), a whole album made up of songs made with one chord. Sounds a whole lot better than it should do, given the premise. He followed that up by some sharp tracks showing that ideas were one of his main strengths, although I have yet to hear something from him that really pins my ears back but I think that is just a question of time.

If you didn't know that James was from Liverpool, then certainly the style of Winter will give you the relevant sound cues; up-front, thoughtful vocals, lots of jangly guitars and soaring organs... Damn, but this is a busy track, there is a lot going on that will only register if you play the track more than once or twice. For sure if you like rock pop with just a hint of The Beatles, then I think this is the closest to that James has ever been. Although I've remarked a time or two about the musical heritage he grew up with, I don't think it's featured so strongly before in his tracks.

Apparently this song dates back to 1988 and was written for another project but it sounds pretty up to day to me, especially given the great interest in all things retro. The instrumental lineup - and overall sound - of Winter is a retro delight complete with Ringo style drums. Had I not had some experience with this musician, I might have assumed he was merely aping the greats, but this is one musician who really doesn't need to do that. Winter then, should be seen as a wonderful nod of respect to the musical style that started it all.

Highly Recommended Retro...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Smoke It 'n' Die - Believe In Me (feat. Big E & Dash Flow)

Hear The Track Here

Getting towards the end of the month it's time for the almost customary appearance of Howard Billington, Gravesend's finest troubadour, in whatever persona he thinks appropriate - in this case SInD (Smoke It 'n' Die innit). As much as I like Howard Billington solo, I think I have probably heaped more praise on his group than anywhere else. Take Your Shot, a track I have never actually reviewed has been one of my favourites tracks ever since I first discovered the video for it and is well on its way to establishing a permanent place in my heart. Suffice to say that I like the work that Howard and the band do very much and they have been within a whisker of being my Artist Of The Year a couple of times...

I think the genesis of Believe In Me stems from Howard's solo work that, like a lot of his songs, are fitted to the current concept/bandname. Must say it generally works out a treat, giving each entity a different sound and style. Joining Howard, Grace Jackson and Louis Marshall (aka SInD) are the enigmatically named Big E & Dash Flow. This is all looking suspiciously like hip hop isn't it? That proves to be the case although, bless 'im, not without the stamp of Billington going right through it. Big E and Dash Flow are obviously American rappers and the difference between them and Howard's very English delivery that really raise this into something well worth listening to.

There is something raw and unfinished about the production though, but believe me this is small change when put against the energy and general feelgood factor the track itself engenders. However, at the heart of it is Howard Billington, one of the UK's finest unsigned songwriters, the kind of songwriter that writes from life. Yet another track from the excellent Joyful In Defiance album, which definitely sums up the whole ethos of Billington doings and certainly the album to gather to your bosom this year. I concede that yes, Howard and his cohort seem to be a little - how can I put this - quirky, but believe me it gets under your skin...

Highly Recommended (if rough) blast of transatlantic tomfoolery.

Nuff X - Staring At The Ceiling

Hear The Track Here

Well, well well, lookee here... Been a good while since we were last regaled by Nuffcore of any description and that can lead to all sorts of nervous tics. In case you know Nuffing about Nuff X, allow me to enlighten you.. I first met James Bacon (aka Nuff X) around 2005 on Soundclick, just when the electronica genre really took off and he progessed pretty rapidly from there, moving on slightly from his mainly electronica early stuff to an interesting blend of cut up, glitch and heavy electronica which I always think of as Nuffcore because.....well, it is. The best description, know what I mean?

I think everyone knows what staring at the ceiling means, although there are some unkind souls who say I don't because coffins don't have ceilings. Just because I am always awake in the darkness doesn't mean I am a blood-sucking, ravening monster, although I do tend to get a bit furry around a full moon. So where were we? Oh yeah, staring at the ceiling... A lot of Nuff's work has been edgy, experimental and usually not something that would appeal to all and sundry. If anything, that experimental streak has become more predominant over the years and IMHO that's a good thing.

Take it as read then that you would need to like things a bit raw, a bit off the wall. Mixing electronica with solid, heavy-as-housebricks beats, giving it an overall DnB feel that helps it all to go down. Typical Nuff behaviour although I detect an aural hardness in the sounds that haven't been present before that make me think the guy has either got some new toys or he's going into a much more industrial phase, which also would be a good thing. Aaahhh, but then I am a bit biased.

Highly Recommended electronica/wtf from a SC vet.

Ludicrous - The Real World

Hear The Track Here

Ludicrous is a new name to me from Soundclick and is apparently a three piece, multi-country affair. More, and here you need to remain calm, they want to 'take me, slap me, hurt me, whack me' and if that isn't on with a promise I don't know what is. Still, enough with the bawdy chatter, lets get with the program and allow me to point out that Ludicrous '[combines] electronic sounds with cool guitar and subliminal vocals' or so it says on this used banknote. Yeah, as if. That sarcasm is directed to the used banknote jibe btw, not the electronic sounds, cool guitar and subliminal vocals. I'm down for that.

With my usual bag of quibbles, no doubt.

Mind you, I think even if I didn't know that one third of this outfit was European (of some kind) I would have guessed it by the setting and style of the track, even though the vocalist sings (charmingly) in English. So, French musician, English singer...not sure about the rest. Usually the Euro sound is always worth a listen, especially some of the electronic stuff, and Ludricrous tackle the more pop end of the spectrum with The Real World. Tell you what, regardless of content, you be hard pressed to find something as well produced as this everywhere. That polish certainly kept me listening.

I usually dismiss bands bigging themselves up as so much blatant self promotion, although I recognise the necessity, and I did when I saw Ludricrous described as ' a brilliant UK/France pop-rock threesome' but hey, they mean it. Now there's a ******* thing. As I endlessly seem to be saying lately I do love songs with depth and complexity and The Real World combines that with a veritable horde of musical 'whats that' moments. OK, so it's a track you are going to have to grow into, but not so much if you already like what I have described above, then this will come as a very nice treat for the day.

Highly Recommended thinking mans pop.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Doc Taryn - Be The One/Hell Hath No Fury

Hear The Track Here

So the day has finally arrived when I can hold my head up in the reviewing community. Why such cause for celebration? Now I can finally brag that I have a doctor in the house because, as we well know, they are like policeman; never one around when you need one. This particular Doc happens to be Taryn DeCicco, a young lady from Chicago who contacted me about listening to a couple of tracks from her upcoming album. Now the one phrase that always works with women is 'yes dear', any other comment is likely to lead to storm fronts. No truer saying than 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. I downloaded Be The One and (what!? what!?) Hell Hath No Fury.

Yep, uh oh will about cover it.

Judging by the verbals on her Reverbnation page, Taryn does have a four piece band (although it's an extremely tasteful one) because both tracks are essentially acoustic and upon first hearing sounded like solo work. Continued listening shows a sing songwriter in the likeness of (say) Tracy Chapman, who she reminds me somewhat of. That might be the tenor of the track too mind. What I am trying to say here is that Taryn has a fairly unique vocal style, which generally tends to lead to a love it or hate it reaction. As someone who has spent years listening to everything the world has to offer, such distinctive vocals can be a blessing or a curse,

I have grown used to Taryn's style quite quickly but I put that down to those years spent etc but there will no doubt be some people who would moan that it doesn't sound right. No that's because it sounds different, give it time and it won't be so different, know what I mean? The other thing that kept me at it is that I love songs that have depth and complexity and these two tracks show that Taryn has the right medicine for what might ail you. Exactly what doctors are for innit? While I can't swear with my hand on my heart that I'm completely won over, I put that down to my own personal raucous standards and a style thing.

Recommended American alternative rock.

Farrell Jackson - Put My Ashes In The F-Hole

Hear The Track Here

Now that is a rock and roll title!! Just in case you may be thinking that this is a reference to some arcane musician sex thing, let me put you straight. Stringed instruments (acoustic and semi-acoustic) have soundholes. Most of us are familiar with the doughnut shaped hole of the standard acoustic guitar, but have you ever noticed that some acoustic- electrics (often called flattops) have curly F type soundholes. Certainly all violins and cellos do. Not for Farrell are the lurid tales about chicks, wild parties and even wilder doing while on the road, which turn into songs. Nope, he'd rather be writing love letters to his favourite bit of musical kit. That, my friends, is TRUE rock and roll.

As someone whose whole life is wrapped up in Classic Rock, this is an area where I tend to be peevish more often than not. Simply because classic rock wasn't just music, it was attitude. It said I don't care what you think about my music, it's not for you anyway. Such attitude is why Farrell has a string of favourable reviews from me, a man walking the walk. On this track, Farrell delves into the lighter end of the genre and delivers a track that is so Beatle influenced, it's instantly familiar even though you never heard it before. Mostly his work has been a heavier rock take but I have to see this definitely has it's charms, especially those who love everything Beatles...

We're talking mid-1965 here because this is so similar to She's A Woman it's an instant connection. Then you start to take in other aspects of the track, isn't that a lick from Last Train To Clarkesville?, doesn't the singer sound like Johnny Cash? and before you know it you are clutching it tenderly to your bosom. Of course, I am a maudlin old man merely reliving memories, but Put My Ashes In The F-Hole is - despite it's style - a very respectful nod to rock history, incorporating a thousand different memories for those of us who were there. It's also a catchy, almost country tune that you'll be whistling in minutes.

Highly Recommended Classic Rock.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wiredrawn (UK) - I Am Atlas

Hear The Track Here

Wiredrawn (UK) is a brand new name to me, and I suspect, Soundclick too judging by page activity but that doesn't stop Patrick Baird (aka Wiredrawn) yakking eight tracks up there for you all to listen to. Would you want to? Well, that kind of depends whether you like so called alternative music. Me, I can take or leave the more rocky versions of the genre, although I do admire some of the mopy/dopy shoe gazing kind for all my sins.To be honest, I think most of it is to be too derivative to be really useful or too stand out above the massive crowd surrounding it.

Manchester, surprisingly enough, was the city most linked with the Miserablist movement exemplified initially by Echo and the Bunnymen and famously by master moper himself, Morrisey and the Smiths. When you play this track, and I do indeed suggest you do, that is probably the first thing that will strike you. Patrick is not Morrisey though, and when the track has time to setlle, you'll realise that the connection is a tenuous one at best. For a start, I am Atlas is about a thousand times more melodic than anything the Smiths ever did. Moreover, not a sign of the Smiths secret weapon - Johnny Marr.

After I'd become familiar with the track, it became apparent that it wasn't the geographical sound that was bringing up this comparison, it was the style of the track. Cast your mind back, if you are old enough, to the early-middle 1980's where true Miserablism was born. See, after a while the style of the song, and the arrangement in particular, put me in minds of bands like The Associates, Aztec Camera et al... Either way, it's for sure a track that deserves a better fate than most shoegaze tracks so go grab and earful and see what you think and stop being so lazy...

Highly Recommmended UK Alternative.

Alchemystic - Here For You Ft Road Apples

Hear The Track Here

Despite being two distinctly different types of musicians, Alchemystic and Road Apples have managed to find common ground at least three or four times now so what, on the surface of it, looks like an odd combination has been road tested already, listening should be a pleasure. Certainly I would expect such a thing from two veteran Soundclicker's. damn it they almost been around as long as me. I have a lot of time for these guys in their own right, so when they team up it should be double the pleasure, double the fun innit?

I know I am always going on about musical influences but even I caviled at the thought of this next comparison. Surely, I thought desperately, it couldn't have come to this? Was I finally getting past the point of no return? See, the image/sound that popped into my head the first moment I heard this, and has proved resistant to any shifting, this is so hard. Ok, deep breath, hold the gut in and.... Herman's Hermits!!! Yep, o disbeleiving eyeballs, none other than the original cheeky Mancunian who was popular for about five minutes in the wake of the Beatles and the Stones et al. What you get here is essentially a slice of what used to be called 'bubblegum' pop and it's been a very long time since I heard that.

So is this a bad thing? Well, depends where you are on this whole 'pop as entertainment' debate. Personally I love a good song and - by any yardstick - Here For You is a bloody wonderful pop song, musically too. OK, it is a little lightweight but tracks like this are made that way, that is the intention - easy in, easy out. Not sure who is one the vocals on this but whoever it is gives the track this English pop feel that fits it like a glove, and for my money makes it impossible to dislike it. I think both of these excellent musicians should be raising a celebratory glass or two for this new baby...

Highly Recommended pop from professionals.

If This Is A Man - There Is Hope In Small Things LP

Hear The Track Here

If This Is A Man is one John White, a one man band who contacted me for a review of his latest project There Is Hope In Small Things; an eleven track CD. Like most musicians, John covered his request with a number of caveats; the most important being that it was 'recorded and produced at home so the quality is a little hit and miss' Well, mate almost 99% of what I get to review comes under that category but when you consider what our home computers are capable of these days, that still sets a pretty high standard. He was also kind enough to let me have the tracks as full blooded WAV files, and if that isn't close to the recorded event then nothing is. No MP3 delivers the same aural quality.

Whatever you may think about the music and songs stylistically, there is no doubt that this guy spent a whole lot of time and patience putting all this together. I don't think most people would notice the technical bumps and flubs, but to my ears they are there (especially vocally) but that's home recording for you. I was writing in a review lately about how being indie musicians allows us to stretch ourselves further than (say) commercial music, the time and cost is irrelevant. If This Is A Man exemplifies this because I admit that I haven't come across much guitar based music that is as adventurous with sound as this CD. While the slow, very laid back style wouldn't normally catch my attention, the way John presents them to your ears ensure that you will listen just to see what he'll do next.

Musically this veers from influences such as Mike Oldfield (for the way it put together), old style singer/songwriters like Syd Barrett and Terry Reid to Soft Machine. So, being different, and somewhat off the beaten track, this may not appeal to everybody but it appeals to me because of that difference. No matter what kind of music you do these days, you can bet that it has been done before, all you can hope to do is put a new slant on it, and If This Is A Man has certainly achieved that. Every track on this CD shows a different side of what essentially guitar driven songs, and when you are that limited, its doubly hard to hold attention. A fine job, but try a track and see first.

Recommended (intelligent) guitar songs.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nathaneal Hale - Light Chaser/Purple Haze

Hear The Track Here

Like most musicians, I have a little stash of other people's songs that I play in my own rehearsal space, just for the practice and joy of actually playing a piece of music I like. Also like most musicians, I tend to have a few of the greats in that catalog, a couple of God's Own Works being notable amongst them. Now just in case you are wondering when Himself became a musician, I am not talking about the All Powerful, merely one of his most influential disciples Jimi Hendrix. While I may play Hendrix tunes (badly) in my own private room, I would never, ever inflict them on someone else.

It would be sacrilege, know what I mean. Blasphemy. (Ed: is if this whole paragraph weren't already soaked with such inflammable material). Nathanael Hale obviously cares not one whit about such things and takes up what has become The Man's signature tune; Purple Haze. However, lets save them silver bullets for later and have a butchers (Ed: Cockney rhyming slang. Butchers hook=look) at Light Chaser which is billed on Soundclick as Jazz:Lounge. OK who just shouted out 'oh yippee', and why don't they sound excited about the prospect? I personally like jazz, both as a listener and a player, and Light Chaser is exactly as billed although - for my money - it had a tendency to sound sequenced rather than played - or maybe that's just me. Nathanael is primarily a guitarist and he is on fine jazzy form here, although the sound quality left a bit to be desired.

Now that we've had time to erect the gallows, lets have a look at Purple Haze. Nervous readers may wish to look away now, this may not be pleasant. Released covers are to me essentially pointless because most people just copy the original with the smallest of changes. True, and lasting, covers add or enhance the original or show it in a different light. Much more to the point I would expect the musician taking on such a task to own the damn thing when they had finished. To be really fair, Nathanael scrapes by with the addition of some modern day shredding to accompany the extremely good (and faithful) copying of the original, but technical problems do dog it. Nonetheless, it shows that he can actually follow the Master's instructions... ;)

Interesting guitar interludes. Recommended on Purple Haze just for the craic.

Mista Perez - Your Version Of Love

Hear The Track Here

Last time we met Mista Perez is when he guested on Mike-K's I Won't Give Up (May 2011) and surprisingly enough I can only find one other review and that was in 2009. Could have sworn I've done more than that, although it seems not. Maybe I am counting the amount of plays this musicians track get played on certain (discerning obviously) internet radio stations. The truth is that radio stations would love the man's tasteful R&B flavoured offerings. It's smooth, it is sophisticated and it requires the installation of a brain module to fully appreciate. I have a kinda/sorta working brain but, for the life of me, never really saw the point is smooth music.

The bane of my life with Mike-K, I can tell ya...

In this case, Mista Perez is working with a really interesting Soundclick beat factory called Sindustry who, as well as the usual hip hop, ballad type beats also has some very tasty (and chunky) rock riffs for your amusement. The track used on Your Version Of Love is a good example of what that means; big drums, chunky guitars and shredders everywhere. Here again, is an instance where the music track is good enough to stand on its own, although the way Mista Perez has deployed it bears up well too.

Now while there are sections of this track that could be called smooth, the rock content far outweighs any cringe factor I may have suffered. More to the point, while listening to the Sindustry original, it's obvious what Mista Perez has used, and the way he did that and I always prefer to see where the track comes from. Two for the price of one, innit? The original is called You All Along, and you'll find it on their page. Mista Perez takes that solid bedrock and delivers a spirited rock vocal which I felt could have been a lot louder in the mix, but that is small critical change in this instance.

Recommended for the change of pace.

C Anthony Goggin - Cardboard Boxes

Hear The Track Here

Maybe third time around might prove lucky for American acoustic musician Cody Goggin, aka the grand sounding C Anthony Goggin. On the face of it, Cody looks like he's going to have the mother of all uphill struggles. Not, I hasten to add, in a Patrick Lew kind of way - only he can (barely) get away with it. Nope, just simple lack of equipment, what you get is just a man and his songs. Both previous tracks were marred - compared to the competition of course - by the timorous delivery, flattened vocals and bare bones of songs. I've actually come across lots and lots of these types of musicians and some can take off, and some can't.

In the case of Cody, the jury is still out.

This track is considerably more 'together' than any of the previous efforts and it's obvious that Cody is learning rapidly, which brings me to my central point. We are all - to a man or woman - pretty basic at the beginning. What this online environment offers most is the chance to advance your musical knowledge rapidly, and time after time I have seen online musicians do it. All of a sudden, all that prior work pays off, and the musician(s) hit a roll. Soundclick is dotted with stories like that, and some really fine music has come our way because of it.

Cody's contribution, then, should be taken as offered; an incomplete vision sure, but one that may have possibilities down the line. Moreover, at the rate he is developing (even though it may not seem so to him) he will get there quickly enough. All it takes it to work your damn butt off every minute of every day - ask any musician. Cardboard Boxes while still some way from perfection at least has a 'proper' sound and structure, even if it is derivative. So, maybe give this one a swerve if you are not into lo-fi navel gazing, or musicians learning their art...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cam's Even Song - First Sign Of Spring

Hear The Track Here

I suspect, and have done for a long time, that I live in a world full of blind people. Blind, deaf, dumb and stupid too if you want the whole list but let's concentrate just on the blindness otherwise we'll all go nuts. You, obviously, cannot be blind because here you are reading (yet another) rant from me. I speak, of course, of the overwhelming number of people who seem to see nothing at all, not you, not me, not the people they shove aside or stand on in their rush to fulfill themselves on illusions cooked up by business and industry. Ask yourself something. When was the last time you looked at the sky? Observed the flow of humanity around you? If your answer is 'I don't get the question' then you most assuredly don't and I am talking to thin air.

Like Cam I notice things, especially - as Cam would have it - the many works of God. Trees, flowers, skies, seas, mountains, deserts; it all fascinates and enthrals me, and Cam's First Sign of Spring is his salute to the beauty of the season of growth and renewal. Set suitably, as I would have expected from such a musician in the correct context; classical music. Now stop making faces like lemons and going eewwww under your breath, classical music may not be to everyones taste, but when it is done and performed in the right manner, it is still a much more powerful form of music than rock music could ever be. Now, you know I am a well known philistine, and that may be a breath-taking statement from one such as me, but the truth is the truth.

Actually, First Sign of Spring has been a well respectable number one in the Classical: Chamber Music, even though it is - in fact - a song. Mind you, before we go there I have to say that this could just have easily stood up on its own as an instrumental and - dare I say this? - I might have even had a little touch of irritation with the song and that was a surprise. This is Cam we are discussing. My Artist Of The Year 2000something, a man whose songs and voice have become an institution in my life. Luckily it does wear off and you get to hear the track as a whole but hey, seriously threw me there :)

Excellent, deserving of its chart place. MUST HAVE for fans for sure.

Jane G33/picKOne - Right Track

Hear The Track Here

We first met this young female rapper (now there's a thing) when she was known as Jane Do3, so it's obvious she has a thing about threes. I reviewed her collaboration with another hip hop musician we've become familiar with - Daddy Go Go. Babel Remix (September 2010) was the track and pretty decent it was too, for old school rap. Things I Say (January 2011) was her first track with her new name and that was pretty decent too, if a little lightweight. That track was also - apparently - the introduction of Ackurate and the intention of going under the collective name of picKOne, although to be honest I can't remember if I noticed the male vocal or not - and the review certainly didn't explain it.

There again, my reviews never do, do they? ;)

So, the burning question of the hour is, could the Right Track be the right track?, if you know what I mean. Although I kinda like what Jane is doing, she has still to raise the bar to really get me noticing. After spending some time soaking up the teamwork that is definitely the hallmark of this terrific piece of contemporary hip hop and not a swearword in sight. See, you ******* it can be done!! The real treasure here is though is evident from the Hip Hop: Positive Vibes label, and leaps into your earholes like a friendly puppy, positivity personified. The kind of track that slaps a smile on your face for however long it lasts.

One of my prime requisites for hip hop rap is the ability to ride the beats correctly and the chorus of this track is a prime example of how to do it right and the interplay between Jane and Ackurate is right on the money. The music track helps enormously of course and should receive some special mention and knowing that she has used factory beats in the past, I wonder if this is one of them. The reason I question this is because the mix and rap on this is damn near perfect, and anyone who has worked with pre-made music knows full well how hard that is to pull off. The only real problem with the track is the incredibly abrupt cut-off. Had it not been for that, I suspect this would have got a much higher rating/

Highly Recommended nonetheless. G'head carry on... aiight.

The Great Last - Rio

Hear The Track Here

Another request from the Rebel Riffs blog, The Great Last are a London based Indie alternative band, and London has more than its share of them so the competition is fierce. All of which is a good thing for people like you or I because such competition only raises the game for everybody. For my money, its one of the prime pleasures of living in a big city like London. Gigs in my area are ten a penny, but so are the bands, and it's rare to find a night that has less than three or four bands on the bill, all of them playing their hearts out. Got to say tough, that most of those bands I have seen in my travels rarely travel properly onto some kind of recorded media. They might work like crazy but it's impossible to capture it technically.

Right off it's obvious that this band don't have that problem.

The problem that they have with this track is of a very different nature. It is ******* scary how much this track sounds like Joy Division in their Ian Curtis heyday. It could quite happily sit around with She's Lost Control, Transmission et al and no one would blink an eyelid, so uncanny is the resemblance. Whether this is intentional or not is something I will find out when I see them live, but judging from the other tracks on their Myspazz page, it's certainly something they are not sparing with. On all the tracks I heard, it is obvious that the band is tight, coherent and punky with it. Just the recipe for a night out, know what I mean?

Having listened to the other tracks it is apparent that Rio is the most muscular and finished technically. Damn thing bounds out of the speaker at you, eager to prove that it can tempt you into that weird little dance Ian Curtis was famed for. What comes across is that this is a band who know their stuff, have a clutch of very decent songs and a spooky reincarnation as a vocalist. How can it fail? Certainly as far as someone like me, who just needs that daily fix of new fresh meat, The Great Last have just been added to the menu. Besides, I like a little bit of attitude with a song, and it sure sounds like they have that.

Most Highly Recommended punk rock seance...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Road Apples - The Weak And The Wild

Hear The Track Here

It's been ages since I last came across a Road Apples track. I've been kept busy with his other persona(s) Ska Rapples, Sad Hill Cemetery and A Cry Of Hounds, all of which I have enjoyed immensely because - when all is said and done - Road Apples is my favourite kind of musician - a rock and roll animal. Being a musician of Canadian extraction he does have a distinctly North American rock sound, but it has never stopped me from getting into it. I can't say the same about most North American bands, some of the rock styles just refuse to travel.

The Weak and The Wild is the first Road Apples track I have reviewed since the awesome Beautiful Creation (August 2008) by my reckoning although my filing system may have seized up under the strain and several dozen of them slipped under the wire. It also features the man himself on his new pride and joy - drums. Musically the tracks owes a lot to the country genre although the way it is treated is absolutely classic rock and no mistake. Stylistically I am reminded of Bob Dylan in his country period and I think that is down to the arrangement.

Considering that everything you are hearing is coming from the hands and brain from one guy, the sound is surprisingly fresh and open although I have to be honest and state that the style did tend to wear on me after a while, but that's nothing new. While I do like material like this (it does after all touch on Americana another genre I like a lot) it's slow pace and style just got on my nerves, and I reached for something more raucous. However, in my more retrospective moments, this was bloody marvellous medicine for my battered ears. Whatever, no bones whatsoever to pick in its technical and performance values, as is customary with this musician.

Highly Recommended almost country rock...

Chayse Maclair - Always On The Outside

Hear The Track Here

I mentioned Soundclick beat factory Anno Domini in my last review of Klive Kraven and they have also played a part in Chayse Maclair's musical life, supplying the music to the first track I have heard from him - It's Getting Darker (May 2011). Going with such strong musical backing means that you need to have your shit together for the rap to come out right, as millions of wannabes have found out to their discomfort. Looks easy, actually hard as hell to pull off convincingly. One of the enduring problems for many home-based rappers is a) getting the right backing track and b) getting it to work seamlessly with the rap they have devised for it. And don't even get me started on the technical problems associated with the task.

It has to be said that there is a noticeable - and distinctive - sound to some of the better Soundclick rappers. In the past I have used the term indie hip hop because the beats are bought in and not generated, and the rap itself is usually of a lesser sound quality than you may be used to. That doesn't stop it working of course, and it doesn't stop it being the most popular genre on Soundclick, along with some of the rappers who make music this way. Always On The Outside brings in Flawless Tracks for the musical honours this time, and the choice is every bit as effective as Anno Domini was for the first track.

Again, while he might not set the world on fire, Chayse delivers a pretty decent rap although I wouldn't let the intro sway you to think different; it takes a while for the track to get started. When it does, the weaving together of the music and rap are highlighted with some very neat little twists and turns. Certainly listening to the track a few times adds to its effect on you although - obviously - you'll probably have to like hip hop as a main food group to really appreciate this. It would also be a good idea to hear Crack On Crack (the original music track) into the bargain to see how well Chayse worked it all in. Nice job all round.

Highly Recommended indie hip hop.

Klive Kraven - Take Nothing From Nobody

Hear The Track Here

Hang around a site like Soundclick for a substantial length of time, you get to notice that things go round. People appear, they disappear, appear in a new guise etc. That's pretty much where Klive Kraven comes into the picture because although this may sound like a new name, the man behind it has a very chequered history. He's a producer for arguably one of Soundclick's finest beat factories - Anno Domini - but more importantly we have met him before in his IQ The Goon To End Them All guise (now apparently IQ The Number One Goon. Whichever, his Old Man (October 2007) was one of my highlights of the year, being a great hip hop reworking of the Neil Young song.

Nothing much from him since then but up he pops this month with a new track, and a very good one it is too. See, I didn't know any of the above because I don't normally read things while in the downloading frenzy - too much else to do. I usually do the research after I have heard the track a while. So what came across with Take Nothing From Nobody was an oddly skewed little track that either has some elements of commercial music in it, or slices of such things. Personally I like this style of hip hop, especially when backed up by a decent rap.

Although the rap is good, you will have heard something similar before. It's the combination of the music, arrangement and rap together that make the track work, a true sum of its parts. I could each thing apart and pick holes in it, but when listened to a fair amount, this is a track that becomes very familiar and yes, enjoyable. The fly in the proverbial whatsname is that when I come to fill in the links for listening/downloading, it doesn't seem to exist any more I'm sure Klive will be along so I can rectify the situation but in the meantime there is plenty on his Soundclick page to show you what he can do.

Highly Recommended Hip Hop.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dom Liberati - The Good Hurt LP

Hear The Track Here

Caught this little gem at the bottom of LA based musician Dom Liberati's webpage and I thought I'd share it with you guys. 'The Good Hurt is Dom Liberati’s announcement that he is here to stay, so get ready to listen' Ooookkkkkk, that makes it plain. I love stuff like this because it means one of two things; he's either got huge balls and no brain, or he's one of those rare talents who can really walk the walk. Having confidence in yourself as a musician is a long, involved process that comes with experience and Dom Liberati comes with a ton of that. Therefore, in the world that I inhabit, what should follow is some of the classiest music you are likely to hear - whatever the genre.

And then reality bites...

Say what you like, musicians from America's West Coast have a very identifiable sound. Had I not already known Dom was from LA, We Own The Night would have spelled it out in 45 foot tall letters, just like the famous Hollywood sign. Therefore I've spent the last few days up to my ankles in dirty puddles of English rainwater, while my head and ears are out on the beach catching some rays and ogling the women passing by (Ed: riiiighhttt). Love Holds It Down is the ideal companion to the first track, embellishing that sunny energy flowing into your ears. It's when Burn comes along that things change somewhat. One of my favourite tracks, Burn has everything I like in a song; ideas, drive, energy and a chorus to die for. As the album progresses you notice that it's a lot more energetic (a lot of the tracks zip along as if their ass was on fire) than the first tracks hint at, and a whole lot more innovative than you might have initially thought.

I've always been a sucker for high energy rock and that is what Dom does best, and he writes a mean song to go with it, conveniently ticking all my pleasure centres. A beautifully clean, yet intricate, production definitely helps to sustain interest throughout the twelve songs that make up the album, although the songs themselves play a major part in that too. Funny, every once in while I get a flash of Sting in his Police period, echoed in the songs structures and that is a compliment because I only liked Sting in that period - any other time I just want to stuff a cork in his gob. So, with its roots in classic rock pop songs and a very professional sound, how come this guy isn't famous yet? Enquiring minds want to know... Did I like it? ******* A as Americans would have it.

High energy West Coast pop rock. Highly Recommended.

Larry Ludwick - Not So Simple (Final)

Hear The Track Here

See, ain't that typical? Just when you thought you had a reviewer you could trust, he outright-flat-out lies to you IN PUBLIC! What, o most honourable reader, am I on about? Remember my rant in an earlier review of Denyl's The Storm collab with Mr Puddy Tat? (Ed: I think he means Larry Ludwick) In that review I wrote the following because - like me - you may wonder why Larry manages to get more than one review a month. 'I swear on my honour that he will NOT appear in any other review this month' I boldy declared, as if I had any say in the matter. The problem is that Larry is a busy guy, he does tend to pop up everywhere. Last time we saw him in his 'normal' guise was with Farewell - A Poem (April 2011). A month, I might add, when he featured in no less than three different tracks.

This is not a problem for those who like his work, as I do, but I do understand that Larry should be seen as a bit of acquired taste - like a lot of home produced musicians. There's something about making music this way that leads to some very unconventional things. I guess because we have the time, the patience and the will to succeed without the restraints of costs and logistics that bedevil the real world industry. It allows us, in short to be much more creative, which in many will sound strange until you get used to it. I am so used to Larry's music I could call it Grandma and take it it's cocoa of a night time. So for people like me, comfortable with Larry's changing musical moods, Not So Simple is typical Ludwick fayre.

I guess the closest musical comparison to Larry would be Leonard Cohen, although that really does neither of them justice. For my money, this style of spoken/sung lyric has always been a bit of narrow taste, but Larry is one I would definitely say it works for. Not so simple is musically very simple, unadorned and pure, a mere tapestry to rest the words on, picked out by a solo piano recorded extremely tastefully. Those words are the real meat and potatoes of this track IMHO, and a Ludwick tradition I have to come to like more and more. There is also a very effective double tracking of vocals that is either real or harmonised I haven't heard from this musician before. Could that mean he got a new toy?? Damn, you know what that means, don't you? Yes, more tracks :)

Simple! Highly Recommended piano ballad.

Ralph Atkinson - Grey World

Hear The Track Here

It would appear that Ralph Atkinson has been noting what Larry Ludwick has been doing and is copying it, having now snagged two reviews this month as well. Hey, don't be looking at me like that. Can I help it if these guys are forever playing with each other? (Ed: I'm REALLY sure he didn't mean it that way). For sure, it's a good job that I actually like both musicians and sometimes a site like Soundclick can throw up these situations, but looked at another way, it also means there is a lot of collaborative creativity around and that can only be a good thing. In styles, Larry and Ralph couldn't be further apart and that is positively, definitely the last time I will refer to him this month (Ed: Aaah, but do they believe you now?)

Ralph is a guitarist. There are lots and lots of them I know, but I have heard Ralph in many different styles and genres and his own personal style comes through every time. He has delivered some cracking tracks, which to my ears get better with each successive one. So much so that the last few have been Must Have's or thereabouts. Mind you, you would probably already have to like classic rock, the area he specialises in, and most people I know who are aware of Ralph know that rock and blues is never far from his musical palette.

Grey (correct spelling btw) is about as classic rock as it gets; guitars, whiny organs, chunky drums and a vocal arrangement that wouldn't have been out of place on a Steve Miller Band album. Don't get me wrong, comparing Ralph vocally to Steve Miller isn't really fair, but the echo is there for me. Ralph is, of course, a totally different kind of singer to Miller, being a much earthier, grittier sound, closer to the songs roots for sure. It's in the songs structure and style that this reference really comes into play, as well as the instrumental line-up (all provided by the man himself) Steve Miller had a whole band to do what he did, Ralph is but one guy. Intelligent classic R'B is how JCH (UK) describes it and I agree.

Classic American music. Highly Recommended.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Satellite 3 - Love Was Never Enough

Hear The Track Here

American Alternative band Satellite 3 made their Soundclick debut a while ago with a clutch of well thought out, enjoyable tracks that caught my ear, and many others I gather. They even got a mention in my year end Stevies review and that takes some doing. Since then, nada, zip, squat. There have been a couple of distractions featuring Justin Storie (aka Collective Surrender) which I have also liked but nothing, until now, from the original band. This, then, is the first new track from them in what right ot nine months - a long time in internet land. Mind you, they got me sold with their earlier tracks and my first listen to this new track wasn't that hot.

Yeah, I know. What again? Preconceptions, who'd have 'em.

Finally I nailed down the reason after a few more plays, it's the intro. That's a noisy guitar sound, although not in a good way. I found it distinctly offputting, and was preparing for a dose of lo-fi, and this track is definitely not lo-fi once it gets up on its hind legs. Matter of fact, in an American navel gazing alternative way, this is a good track indeed and show that the time off hasn't done them any harm. It's also, thankfully, a track that does grow on you fairly rapidly. Oh, and that guitar thing is a mere quibble from an extremely grumpy old fart. (Ed: that would be him, not me.)

I have often complained of the distinctly different rock palates between Americans (of all stripes) and Europeans in general and the UK in particular and here is another track that highlights that. This became more obvious with repeated plays and is, I guess, a very personal view. All of which are extremely picky points and are really about style rather than content. On that front, Satellite 3 should feel some pride in having crafted a very good song - whatever your thoughts on the genre, geographical or cultural aspects.

Highly Recommended American alternative.

Mike B is for Byj - Average Joe

Hear The Track Here

Second time around for the oddly named Canadian musician known as Mike B is for Byj, or plain ol' Mike B for lazy writers like myself. Crybaby (April 2011) struck me as being a well crafted, if simple, acoustic song that had plenty to offer those interested in such things. I also commented that in light of the quality of the music I surmised that Mike B had been at it a while, certainly long enough to iron out the usual rough spots. Always a smart move, sports fans. Ok, it got a bit kind of mopy and it definitely belonged on the softer side of the musical bed but hey this is me, I'll sleep with anything!! (Ed: I'm sure he didn't mean that literally)

Sure wish you guys had been around the first time this Average Joe assailed my ears. It inspired me to use the longest four letter swearword known to man, and there aren't many tracks that make me do that. Given that the first track was all fluffy and all, the aural destruction wreaked in the opening bars of this one show that whatever he might be called, Mike B is no one trick pony. Damn me if the man hasn't come up with a very, very decent hard rock tune here. It's actually labelled as Power Pop but hard rock is what it bellows in my ears.

It's amazing how much can change with a few plays though, once the initial surprise had worn off. I didn't notice much wrong technically, as I said, this guy knows what he's doing. Materially though, you would probably have to like rock in general and rock pop in particular to get off on this bad boy. However, given the high standard of musicians around, this stands up very well indeed and shows that - no matter what - Mike B certainly gets off on it. Big plus right there, at least for me. If the musician is heard to having fun making the track, that only makes it more enjoyable for us, the listeners. Average Joe may indeed be average in lots of ways, but it's a very high average and shows what this musician is capable of.

Recommended rock pop

Jon Solo - Alice and Elmer

Hear The Track Here

Not, as you might suspect, that nice couple you nod to in the supermarket, nor indeed the neighbours from hell with the dogs and the children; in fact Alice and Elmer don't exist. Me, I like a good pun, know what I mean? Alice and Elmer is in fact a play on the word Alzheimer (yes, as in disease) and the song was written by Jon about his uncle he suffered a long time with this dreadful condition. So, taking that into account, this is going to be a personal song, isn't it? Believe me when I say this, if you don't mean every word you sing with a track of this kind, the fallout is colossal.

I've only known this South Carolina based musician for a little while and not quite a fistful of tracks but everything that I have shows a polish and sheen that is incredibly hard to attain - from arrangement to production. Moreover, he has a knack for a great pop song that is as keen as mustard, as Alice and Elmer will amply display. While listening you may be struck by the same thought as me, it's like a leisurely stroll through the sunnier uplands of pop history from Yes and The Beach Boys (vocally) to almost anyone for the musical style. And that, my friends, makes an unbeatable combination for me.

Now call me old and maudlin but you got to love a song that touches at the heart of what music should be about, communication with other human beings - the language without words. If this had come out in the Golden Age, this would have been a massive hit, and by rights it should be one now too. It probably won't however because, lets face it, no one gives a ****. There again, in the world I live in, this is pretty much perfection and although it might only appeal to those whose roots lie deep in musical soil, it is still likely to capture any passing stranger if heard. THEN they'll get the lyrical content, and that's the way it used to work before money gummed up the works. It's polite, at this stage ya swabs, to say 'thank you Mr Gilmore' for the history lesson and the accompanying songsheet.

Songs with meaning, there's a thing. MUST HAVE classic rock/pop.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fear 2 Stop - Blown

Hear The Track Here

I've obviously gotten over my early fear of Fear 2 Stop, Houston's answer to the genre I lovingly label WTF. As bizarre and off-the-wall as the trio can be at times, having had massive exposure to their entire catalog (or so it seems) this is one band I know only too well. This may explain, I guess, my fondness for their work, even some the more incomprehensible kind. While they put the B in bizarre, they also have a distinctly recognisable sound and pattern of construction that, I swear, I've never heard anywhere else. If it sounds like I am trying very hard to justify something here, it's because I am. I've had the stony look from people when I say I like something of theirs, but when all is said and done, Fear 2 Stop are about as different as it gets - but often surprisingly accessible.

It also occurred to me that Fear 2 Stop is probably the only band in the world I would forgive for using that tinkly, grating high note piano noise so common in a lot of modern electronica. F2S use it in a totally different way, high pitched sonic nails with which to stud the aural mayhem with blinding flashes of impending migraine attack, all set to an absolutely relentless beat that - once again - has become something of a trade mark for this band. Certainly anyone familiar with the band will find much to savour about this latest offering.

Like a lot of 'experimental' musicians, I always get a twinge of uh oh when approaching their tracks, but it has always - for the most part - been a false impression created by my supercharged paranoia about such things. For me these days, getting into a new Fear 2 Stop track is as warm and welcoming as a nice hot bath, and that comment may raise a few eyebrows, but only for the warm and welcoming bit. The thought of me in a nice hot bath doesn't bear thinking about - take it from one who knows. (Ed: why are you looking at me??? Help, somebody!!!) While I deal with a couple of - ahem - office admin tasks, you shuffle off and get a nice earful of Texan big sky, big country WTF to be going home with.

Fear 2 Stop at their fearsome best. Far from blown. MUST HAVE for fans.

Densyl - Spring Is Here/The Storm

Hear The Track Here

Regular (and observant readers) will notice during the course of this review that something creeps in that we thought we'd dealt with a while ago, but the problem appears to be back. Not, I hastily add, anything to do with Densyl...oh no, I'm talking about another character. Aside from a couple of musical misunderstandings Densyl and I have reached some sort of agreement about his work. Me, having stated that I prefer his collaborative efforts a lot, but often find his solo material a bit too smooth for my taste but there again it has taken me an even dozen songs to find that out. Said observant readers would also have noted that there two tracks mentioned here.

So far so huh?, eh?

Having sowed my regular bag of confusion let's start with Spring Is Here (no doubt with a tra la la in the process). A collaborative effort with another Soundclick musician I have a lot of time for, Ralph Atkinson, Spring Is Here is a class example of how to produce a beautifully rounded, deep sound and is co-produced and written by the duo. Some lovely vocal harmonies here, 'bet they melt your heart'... Not sure who did what musically, but who cares when it sounds as good as this. It also showed me something I hadn't known. Whenever I approach a Densyl track, especially one with such a positive title, I get a frisson of fear? Only a well qualified trick cyclist (Ed: psychiatrist) could make any sense of that, and it might well drive the doc crazy too. Such is the Gilmore curse...

Now, the subject of the opening paragraph, The Storm is a collaboration between Densyl and yet another Soundclick musician - Larry Ludwick. Now before you all start shouting not again, not again, here's what I have to say about it. I swear on my honour that he will NOT appear in any other review this month. (Ed: to blow some smoke up Gilmore's butt, Larry got three reviews one month and no doubt felt the smacked wrist...NOT). Again, not sure of the nature of the musical intercourse (Ed: can't say that!) other than it could only be Larry on vocals. Take it as read that I would run a mile from something labelled as Adult Contemporary, and that would be a shame because if you know and like these artists, this is a terrific collaboration.

Double the pleasure, innit? Highly Recommended on both.

Weylin's Slayer Orchestra - Endless Night

Hear The Track Here

It was only yesterday, during the Cinnabar review, that I was yammering on about prog rock, describing how my attitudes to a much detested genre have changed over the years - thanks to some excellent musicians and in there should go a small mention for Weylin's Slayer Orchestra. After a bit of a wobbly start, either Weylin or I got a grip and the music has sounded better as the number of tracks reviewed increased. As always, over time, you can definitely get a flavour of the artist and - except for a few if's and but's (but not butts) - Weylin's Slayer Orchestra can grow on you. Now, given that isn't my music of choice enough said....

Ol' Weylin there states that No Survivors is a 'sad piano-oriented heavy metal track' and there isn't much I disagree with there, except it didn't mention about how it grows rock testicles the size of houses in the more raucous sections. Serious, played at earthshaking volumes, No Survivors shows once and for all that Derek Shunia (aka Ol' Weylin) is a keen as mustard mad axeman, because it's the guitar parts (and sound) that stick with me after every play. So, let's get back to that prog rock thing, seeing as it seems to be my latest drum to bang, surprisingly enough, No Survivors isn't what I would consider prog in any conventional sense.

Sure it's a bit airy, floaty, look-at-me-I'm-a-fairy in places and, a signature of the genre, it does change rapidly but outside of that I'd say this was just a terrific piece of heavy metal of the best kind - with the exception of the airy, floaty etc. Someone will be along later to clean it up. Annnyway, If I can like and understand this track then I guess fans are going to lap it up with a large spoon, and that can only be a good thing. The opening section, before all the airy, floaty etc, is worth even the most casual of listens, and I defy you to take a breath before the air...(Ed: OK Gilmore, we get the picture). Ol' Weylin should get the boys in the band to give him a group hug lol

Prog (?) metal and jolly good too. Highly Recommended for fans of the genre.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Those Among Us - One

Hear The Track Here

It registered on me the other day that I've been reviewing internet based music for almost twenty years. Twenty ******* years!!! That led me on to thinking how much had changed since 1992. In those days, downloading was a pig, even though the files were tiny compared to the file sizes we deal with these days. Soundwise though is where things have changed most, from tiny 8 bit 'tracker' files to music that is extremely hard to tell from its commercial counterpart. So much so that these days it's easy for an unsigned band to get onto - say - your favourite computer game, Rock Band 2. Mind you, it has to be a bit special to cut through the amount of things Rock Band has in it's wake but if anyone can do good out of it is Those Among Us. My idea of yer actual rock band.

In case you've been living on Pluto (the planet, not the dog - wouldn't want to insinuate you are a flea) let me bring you up to speed. Those Among Us is a multinational band, including one Brit regular readers are only too well aware of, John Brandon (Silvertrain). Having reviewed and raved over both of their previous EP's - A Chance To Die (August 2010) and Disco Ball (February 2011), I was definitely up for round three. One is the first track from the upcoming EP of the same name and show that if any band deserves that Rock Band listing this one does. Ever wonder what music sounded like back in the day when music meant something, when the lyrics were just as meaningful? That's where Those Among Us put down roots.

I've watched this band with some interest since it got going a while ago because John Brandon is a good friend of mine and I wanted him to find his niche. The addition of Lino Gonzalez though has been a revelation and I can see his work on this so clearly, the man has been gaining in confidence all along - they all have - but damn it, this is just superb work. There is no doubt in my mind that you won't find much better rock pop, at least this side of the charts. Those Among Us are one of the brightest lights on Soundclick or anywhere else IMHO, especially if you like this kind of music. Me, I'll just bask in the glow of knowing all along that Mr Brandon et al had the goods all along. Just call me Mr Smug Git arf arf arf

(yet another) MUST HAVE.

Cinnabar - Restless Woman

Hear The Track Here

Here's a track that comes with a couple of caveats from Cinnabar's Gary Judge (the other member being Matt Tyson of course). 'I know you do not enjoy prog rock' he writes, in what is probably the understatement of all time. 'I see this un-plugged tune as almost folk' he says, desperately trying to sugar the bitter pill. 'It is prog rock' he then commits the cardinal sin of admitting it. 'As it changes from time' he adds, as if in defence. Truth is, he shouldn't have bothered because while I do indeed have a lifelong antipathy towards the actual genre, I can still recognise when something is THAT good. Matter of fact, out of the pitifully few Must Have ratings I have given to the genre, Cinnabar have snagged at least four over the years.

The difference, I think, is perspective. See, where the old notion of prog rock set my stomach a-churning, my eyes rolling and my mind wandering, but some of the newer purveyors of the genre have certainly changed my mind. It started with the awesome Nad Sylvan (now a member of Agents of Mercy in 2003 and has blossomed of late courtesy of bands like Cinnabar, Gabriel Sabadi, Rayon Vert and others. What I find makes the prog rock appealing in this instance is the way these guys approach the vocals and storylines, it's a cornerstone of the whole musical experience and, for my money, they are good acoustically as they are with the full treatment.

While I personally wouldn't call this folk - or even almost folk - it does have a folk element to it, supplied by the lyrics. 'It is one story told in two musical parts' Gary says, eager to get the last word in and I see that. The main musical element at work here though is the combination of 'almost' Yes and 'almost' Beach Boys vocal styles, an excellent interweaving of the two styles you have to hear to really appreciate. It's not an easy listen timewise, its a very respectable prog rock length of almost seven minutes but the musical scenery makes that seem like small change - and this is from someone who thinks 'overblown' is anything over three minutes. If I had one quibble it would be that some of the vocals didn't quite cut through as much as I would have liked.

Highly Recommended lazy day music.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Narisah - Crash Dummy

Hear The Track Here

Now before you start jumping to all the usual 'he found - and no doubt lusted over - a new female singer' conclusions, let me tell you straight, you'd be wrong. Actually it was young Linwood Riley who first put me on to Narisah, and I've known that guy long enough to trust his ears so when he posted a sample of his work with Narisah on Facebook (I know, I hang my head in shame) I clicked right on it. Both Linwood (who is better known as a contributor to Muse Machine and other Chicago groupings), and if you are on Soundclick you will definitely have registered the byte19 tag. Suffice to say that Linwood knows his onions musically so I wasn't surprised by my first listen to this track.

I knew what he could do, I had no idea Narisah could be so potent, however. Her first sound in this track almost caused a very unfortunate reaction in my increasingly overactive libido, and if that wasn't enough beautiful agony for one day, the whole track takes that sultry, pouty feel and runs with it. Musically, this owes much to 1980's electropop but what Narisah brings to this party owes nothing to anyone. Certainly I haven't heard anyone like Narisah before, and believe me I would have known about it if I had. It's her odd, almost disjointed vocal that makes this track more than a sum of it's parts.

You should give this a bit of time to settle in though, as I say it does have this oddity that is one of its main appeals but also, I suspect, one of its main drawbacks. For sure there are going to be a few people going huh? but that's always the case with something different - and this is different. As I say, it took more than a few plays for this to really register with me but it was worth it. This is smart, knowing pop - as expected from it's musical source but it's Narisah's vocal delivery that really seals the deal. If you are more familiar with Linwood's soundtrack work, this will definitely come as an eye-opener.

Highly Recommended intelligent Electropop.

Mitchell Grey - Love At A Distance

Hear The Track Here

Mitchell Grey are a new name to me, a request this time through the review blog. They are a four piece Alternative rock band from New York with the centre being dominated by singer, songwriter and erstwhile ex-rapper singer/songwriter Ryan. Aided by Joe, Napon and Matt. All of which, being the ultimate lazy bastard, was gleaned in about five seconds from their website. More puzzlingly the track is attributed to Ryan Bandong but hey, whats in a name eh? Much more important for our purposes is to see whether the music is alternative, rock or any combination of the two.

Actually if you were to pin me down and demand an answer, I'd soil myself, so before that event I'd venture to say this was definitely the poppier end of the Alternative scale if you take mope/shoegaze at one end, and a light, breezy sing-a-long on the other. I have often commented before on the different perspectives Americans and Europeans on what constitutes rock - or indeed pop. American pop tends to be guitar heavy, lashing of vocals and mucho posturing - figuratively or otherwise. Now while this makes a good live show, it doesn't come across when the audience is one listener.

Nonetheless, Love At a Distance is a light, easy to grasp acoustic rock song, and aficionados of the genre will definitely be into the kind of goods Mitchell Grey are offering. What sold me on the track was the song and performance which shows that there is life and energy still left in an increasingly tired genre, only slightly let down by a fairly commonplace production that had no surprises up its sleeves or anywhere else. Not content with that I went squirreling out more info, all of which was answered with Wish On (Sunday) (Demo) - a video track - I found on You Tube. What Love At A Distance hints at, this song confirms with a vengeance that Mitchell Grey are something out of the ordinary.

Quality Alternative from NYC. Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thomas J Marchant - Everyone That's Someone

Hear The Track Here

Never one to mince his words, Thomas J Marchant has worked up a fine body of aptly titled tracks. You may remember, for example, I Am Really, Really Tired (February 2011) which is essentially a song about how '******* tired' he is. I leave in the cute little ** because there is quite a bit of the ol' profanity in the track, which just goes to show he isn't too tired to cuss. As usual when dealing with this musician, best to leave all preconceptions at the door and while a tad unruly, the song was exactly what we had come to expect from this very singular songwriter.

So, in truth, Everyone That's Someone isn't actually a new song, it's a re-working of the lyrical content of Really Tired which is a good thing because it contains some Marchant gems such as 'don't wanna be a soldier no more but this f*** in' desert doesn't seem to have a door'. It's an orchestrated piece to whereas Really Tired was just the man and his geetar. Having said that, the feel of the original has been brought into this track, and that pleases me greatly because it was part of that tracks main charm.

Thomas has long played with other bits of software and I know he's been fiddling with my favourite - FL Studio - and that is immediately apparent once Everyone That's Someone starts to roll. Damn me, it's even got a (kinda/sorta) lead riff! For someone like me, steeped in years of Marchant sound chicanery, this is the track the original yearned to be and I am glad he made the effort to fix what was wrong with the original. Seems highly inappropriate to use the word 'fix' here because - truth to be told - outside of a certain roughness of sound and arrangement, the original was fine, in an oddball kind of way.

Recommended ******* song.

Bayn - The Aurora Incident

Hear The Track Here

I don't know what it is about the English Midlands but you wait ages for a band to come along, then several come along at once at you find yourself kneedeep in the critters. I reviewed Wwolves from Nottingham a while back and Bayn caught sight of that and thought that Derby (ie their home town) should be represented as well, and rightly so. Bayn are unashamedly metal in all respects, music, image and lyrical quality and - as an added bonus - a singer who sings from his boots. I kid you not, it doesn't get much lower and raspier than this... Funnily enough I've been exposed to a great deal of this kind of music of late and (gulp) I even nod to this one...

Intricate, dark and menacing is the name of the game and there aren't really that many who get it right. It isn't just about sound and looks, it's about the underlying atmosphere too and they have to work in tandem. More so when the lyrics take a devilish turn (if you get my meaning) because the whole thing is supposed to scare the crap out of normal people, it is what the genre was invented for. Mind you, I have to be honest, if it hadn't have been my exposure to metal and rock just lately, I might not have given this a second glance because - let's face it - metal is not everyone's cup of tea. And sometimes not even mine.

The one thing I do require of almost all musical forms is that they make sense, and part of that has to be whether or not the piece is convincing. In that respect, despite a kinda ho hum start, I actually managed to warm to this track and even appreciate the effort these guys have put into this track (and the other tracks on their The Apophis EP I suspect). It also helps that I am a big fan of Rammstein and am used to the growly delivery. Musically, these guys are inventive, fluid and rocking the place down and I bet they'd go down a storm where metal is respected and honoured.

Highly Recommended Metal.