Archive for June, 2006

Album – Airshow – Francine

Posted by admin on 22nd June 2006

Let me get this out of the way first. Not wishing to offend, but the name Francine reminds me more of some distant, elderly aunt than a rock band. There I’ve said it and I can now bury that deep down, where it belongs and get on with the task at hand.

This is another one of those unsolicited albums, that’s a joy to receive. I’ve mentioned before, unsolicited stuff makes me nervous, as there is a certain pressure to like it no matter what. Indie Launchpad is designed to showcase the best in independent music, not to lambast bad music. However none of this is a factor with Francine, as this is a great album.

The album starts off with “Stood” which has a very Morrissey sound to it. It’s also a track that meanders a bit, with no real direction, so maybe not the best of tracks to start off an album. The next track “Zeros and Ones” is where the album really starts to take off, with a relaxed, casual feel to it. “Here Comes” has that musical quality that you often see in films, where the character is in turmoil and you watch as they go from place to place, getting their head together. My favorite track on the album has to be “Storrow Driver” with it’s wonderfully simple and light piano accompaniment.

Musically this is a quite eclectic mix of musical styles. At times the production has very Beatles and Beach Boys feel to it, during their inventive, creative phase that blossomed in the mid to late 60s. There’s also the occasional bluesy hint, an early almost Fleetwood Mac sound, which goes to create a very interesting sounding album.

Conclusion : This is an album that almost seems geared to a more mature audience. Whether this is intentional or not, I don’t know, but it’s a perfect calming album, especially when the world is winding you up.

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Album – Room to Dream – Tom Wehrle

Posted by admin on 22nd June 2006

Room to Dream is Tom’s sophomore album. It’s funny, but that just isn’t a term that means anything to the majority of Brits. A sophomore album is the one that follows the debut album and is usually the most difficult and nerve wracking album, as the debut sets peoples expectations. I haven’t had a chance to listen to Tom’s debut album “Something You Can’t Find”, so can’t make that comparison, but that also means I can be more objective.

From the get go, it’s immediately obvious that Tom has one of those very characteristic voices. A low, husky voice, with just a hint of gravel.. and sprinkles with chocolate sauce. OK, maybe I need to read a dictionary to find some more adjectives, but Tom’s voice is one that stands out and makes an impact when you first play the album, which is always a plus in my books.

The album opens with “Far Away”, which immediately made me think of the Australian band Savage Garden, with it’s acoustic feel and catchy tune. This track pretty much sets up the rest of the album as there are some great pop songs on here, with that bright optimistic feel, that makes albums like this a delight to play when the weather is nice and you just feel like kicking back with some good music and a beer or two. That’s not to say there aren’t a few more poignant, reflective songs, there are “I Will Be Your Friend” being a good example.

One of the things I particular like, is the breakdown on the website of what is behind each song, along with the lyrics. It’s great to get this kind of insight into creation process and I found this by accident, just trawling through the site. That being said, I always like to read this kind of stuff, after I’ve formed the majority of my reviews, as I’m always worried about being driven by what’s written.

Conclusion : This is a great album, with a wonderful balance of songs. One of my favorite albums of all time, is “Woodface” by Crowded House, which is a wonderful example of a well balanced album (even though, to this day, I still skip past “Chocolate Cake”, which very nearly upsets the apple cart) and would consider “Room to Dream” right up there alongside.

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Album – Declare a New State – The Submarines

Posted by admin on 20th June 2006

Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy and girl realize that life is better together, than apart and so begins the The Submarines debut album “Declare a New State”. Boy, girl duos seem to be pretty popular at the moment and indeed this is the second one I’ve reviewed recently from the Nettwerk record label, the other being the truly outstanding Weepies.

Opening with the track “Peace and Hate” first introductions are very pleasing to the ear with an almost ethereal quality. The vocals are also very complimentary as they should be with duos.
But being a couple, always seems to add that hidden spark of electricity to albums. There’s a connection that you can hear in the music, but just can’t put your finger on, whether it’s familiarity, understanding or just old fashioned love, it doesn’t matter, what matters is the music.
The album contains 10 tracks of mostly acoustic music, with the odd smattering of keyboards and other electronic instruments. It is however the vocals of Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti that really carry this album. There’s just a great relaxing, soothing feel to them, especially Blake’s caramel flavored, almost breathless vocals, but let’s not get me started on female vocalists again. Add to that the wonderful airy and lush production and you have a wonderfully gorgeous hit of an album on your hands.

Track 8 “Good Night” is a particular favorite of mine, with that tinge of sadness buoyed by the music beneath it. The album finishes off nicely with “Darkest Things”, but that darkness can be vanquished, by pushing play and starting all over again.

Conclusion : A wonderful collection of songs from a band that is sure to make quite a name for themselves. Definitely a top pick for 2006.

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Podcast : Indie Launchpad #23

Posted by admin on 16th June 2006

Just a quick note to say the Indie Launchpad Podcast #23 was just released. Direct Link here.

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Single – Savva Nuvva – English Pride

Posted by admin on 16th June 2006

  • Band / Artist : English Pride
  • Genre : Pop / Anthem
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : UK Store – Woolworth, HMV, Virgin Megastore, Tesco, Asda, etc.
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

That time is upon us again. Four years have passed since the World Cup and indeed 40 years have passed since England last manage to raise that trophy above their heads, as victorious champions. Every 4 years, we say this is our time, but every time something goes wrong. Maybe this is the time!

Although World Cup songs have been quite a tradition in the UK, it’s only the last few World Cups, that songs have come out that actually fill you with pride and passion. Who could forget “Three Lions”, which first came out in 1996, marking the 30 year point, of our last winning the cup. “Savva Nuvva” builds on the “Three Lions” anthem and gives us yet another song to get behind, to rouse our team to another World Cup victory.

The main vocalist bears a canny resemblance to Neil Morrissey, he of the TV show Men Behaving Badly. People not in the UK may know him better as the voice of Bob the Builder. I’ve dug down in the website as much as I can, but cannot find anything to substantiate this, but it just has to be him.

So 2006 finds our guys in Germany (Don’t mention the War) and it’s time to kick some serious arse. As I type this, England have already qualified for the next round, having beaten both Paraguay and Trinidad. I’ve mentioned before, that it’s times like these, that I miss living in England. I can just imagine this song “Savva Nuvva” being chanted in the streets and pubs during and after each game. It just has one of those choruses that’s instantly memorable and so great to chant. Come the next round I shall be putting this in my CD player and in best English tradition, I shall SAVVA NUVVA BEER!

Conclusion : This is one of those singles that comes out that you just have to buy. Like a notch on the bedpost or a line drawn on the door frame, this will bring back memories whenever you play it. Let’s hope it’s the best of memories. ENGLAND!

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Album – Southern Backtones – Southern Backtones

Posted by admin on 15th June 2006

  • Band / Artist : Southern Backtones
  • Genre : Rock / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : N/A
  • Rating : 8 out of 10

“Forever” was the track that caught my ear and put me onto the band. There’s a very 80’s and 90’s independent feel to it, with a sound not too dissimilar to Echo and the Bunny Men or Psychedelic Furs. In fact some of the songs could almost have come straight from that classic vampire film, The Lost Boys. It was no surprise when I found, that is the track that opens the album, but it’s in no way a lost leader.

The album as a whole, has a very dirty sound. I’m not talking bad production, just a sort of dark, almost gothic vibe. It must be so hard for many bands to find their own voice. With so much competition it’s hard not to blend into the background and the Southern Backtones, manage to avoid this very well.

There’s 13 tracks on the album, including a remix that makes an appearance before the original version of the track, which is fairly unusual, as most remixes appear at the end of the album, if at all. One particular favorite track of mine is “Another Moment”, a real mellow track, with some great acoustic guitar, opening up at times, with some very Beatlesque accompaniment. I have to admit I’m not a big fan of the track “Little Ghost”, which is surprising, as it has a very Nick Cave feel to it. “Lanugo” is a pretty rambling 2 minute track, with some really interesting production, which had it been any longer would have been strangely hypnotic. The album rounds itself off very nicely with “Glamorous”, with that Beatles production surfacing again.

Conclusion : With flashes of the Beatles, Echo and the Bunny Men and INXS to name but a few, this is certainly an interesting flavor of album. I can imagine this being an excellent band to see live. Great stuff.

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Album – Her Majesty – Sophia Ramos

Posted by admin on 9th June 2006

There’s women in rock and then there’s Sophia Ramos. Setting the stage with a taste of what’s to come, the album opens with “Black Madonna” a wicked, guitar laden, smokey voiced, rollercoaster of a track and so begins the Ramos invasion.

Upon doing some research I found Sophia has quite a presence on the Internet, having been reviewed and mentioned in many, many sites. It’s not hard to understand why, once you succumb to the album and give it a good listen

What’s immediately noticeable, is Sophia’s harder, rockier voice. This is certainly no Britney Spears clone, with musical influences shining through like Led Zepplin and Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders, especially vocally. Sophia also has an impressive list of artists she’s collaborated with, including Paul Simon, Michelle Shocked, Billy Bragg and Joey Ramone.

First surfacing in 2005 this album has been around for a while, but like many artists, finds a renewed interest via podcasts and the public hunger for good independent music. A sating that hunger Sophia does very well.

There’s 10 tracks on the album, and that Ramos vibe prevails throughout. I’ve got a few favorite tracks and they funnily enough are rooted firmly in the more mellow side of the album. Those tracks are “What Do I Know”, “Jon’s Song” and “Stay Here With You”, where the comparisons to Chrissie Hynde are hard to ignore.

Conclusion : The more I listen to this album, the more I hear Led Zepplin. Whether you are a fan of Zepplin or not, there’s no denying this is album that’s something special. Another excuse to find “11” on the volume dial.

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Podcast : Indie Launchpad #22

Posted by admin on 9th June 2006

Just a quick note to say the Indie Launchpad Podcast #22 was just released. Direct Link here.

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Album – Gift to the World – Loveless

Posted by admin on 9th June 2006

Q Division is a label with some great talent. I’ve already covered the latest offering from Rachael Cantu, a CD included with another requested artist. That requested artist was Loveless and man this album is a cracker.

I knew I was on to something good, because within 20 seconds of the first track “Go”, I was hooked. Infectious, melodic and catchy as hell. This album is a nice mix of upbeat and laid back rock.

Whilst listening to albums, sometimes the songs you can imagine hearing on the radio, jump out at you. This was the case with “Go” which I can easily imagine being a high charting single. Some of the other great candidates for singles are “You Wore Me Out”, “Beautiful” with some great guitar at the start and throughout the track and finally “This is a Way”. The rest of the album, is just as good, but more album centric. I like to think of the rest of the tracks as the supporting cast, but man what a supporting cast. “She Could Be Something Good” closes the album nicely, but it’s not a conclusive end, you kind of feel like there should be one more track.

With a very contemporary sound, this album also has that level of maturity about it, of a band that’s on their third or fourth album. So it’s really surprising when you find it’s their debut release. They have however been together in one form or another since 2001, so that goes a long way to explaining the tightness of it all.

Conclusion : This is a great body of songs and a great addition to your collection. I have no doubt the Loveless will end up being the Loved.

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Album – The Subsonic Reel – The Bulldogs

Posted by admin on 9th June 2006

I’ve lost track of the amount of albums passing through Indie Launchpad. Many bands stands out for variety of reasons. For the Bulldogs it was the memories they evoked. Memories of the 90’s in England and the unbelievable BritPop sound that was brewing, Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller to name but a few. There was a sound and feeling of great optimism and the soundtrack of the time, was amazing. The Bulldogs have managed to recreate this feeling and recreate it in a very powerful way.

I have to first admit, that there’s many tracks on the album, that have a striking similarity to the Oasis album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory. Track 5, “The Way to Get Back Home”, has that sound of Oasis’ “She’s Electric” and track 7, “Come Along” starts off in a similar way to “Champagne Supernova”. Similarities aside, this is a great album. When I was single, I’d spend between £50 and £200 a week on albums and this would certainly have been on on my shopping list if it was released back then.

OK so I’ve waffled enough about bygone days, what of the album. There’s 11 tracks of excellent music. The songs themselves have a great feel to them, as do the vocals. As the first track “Come on Brother, Cum on Sister” starts, you can hear that Oasis influence, but the vocals are much softer, without that Liam Gallagher harshness. “Everyday Fades Away” has that great summer feel, the feeling of optimism and upbeatness. “The Way Back Home” is probably my favorite track and as said before has that “She’s Electric” feel, which was also one of my favorite tracks on the Oasis album.

Just want to say, that the bands usual site has been down for a while, but you can still purchase the album via Paypal from their mySpace page. I hope to see the website up again soon.

Conclusions : This band could become the genesis of the new BritPop movement. Oasis have had their day, time to let the youngsters have their day.

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