Archive for October, 2006

EP – Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys – The Tacticians

Posted by admin on 28th October 2006

I’ve got a great affection for this band. They have such a way with words and a delivery that’s just great. I have to say though that the previous EP, or more precisely the title track “London’s Alright” is still my favorite, but not by much. Being the ex-pat living in Canada, the old heart strings do flutter when I hear my home cityand in particular the actual area where I used to live, mentioned in a song. Anyway, that’s the previous release, so enough of that and onto the task at hand.

In the old days, and I’m talking pre CD, this would have been a double A side and in actual fact, you can order this as a regular vinyl 7 inch record. That is what I did with the previous release, more out of novelty than a hunger for more vinyl, but it does evoke some powerful memories and great ones at that, holding that black disk and sleeve in your hands. That the EP actually contains 3 tracks does add a little confusion in the mix, but hey that’s all half the fun with music.

The title track, “Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys” starts off with some really simple acoustic guitar, but it’s when the lyrics start, that the song comes to life. As has become the hallmark with The Tacticians, the lyrics and melody are exceedingly infectious and don’t take long to burrow into your subconscious. The second track “Get A Move On” is predictably more of the same and I mean that in the nicest possible way, as it is again a cracking track with just that right balance of infectious melody and great lyrics. The final track “Respectfully Proceeding” however doesn’t far as well and feels like a track that was throw onto the EP at the last minute. It’s not that it’s a bad track, it just doesn’t have that magic feel to it, but it’s still an enjoyable track and has a very 60’s feel to it.

Frustratingly an album is still in the distance, but hopefully this EP brings us another step closer. It’s interesting to see that this EP is distributed by Rough Trade, early record label of the Smiths. It would be great if Rough Trade commissioned an album and I’m sure this wouldn’t be too much of a gamble for them as I’d be amazed if it didn’t sell well.

Conclusion : Absolutely cracking stuff and another notch on the bed post of classic pop.

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Album – Antarctica – Simon Slator

Posted by admin on 28th October 2006

  • Band / Artist : Simon SlatormySpace
  • Genre : Ambient / Progressive
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : N/A
  • Free Digital Download : Jamendo
  • Rating : 9.5 out of 10

Every now and then I find something that literally jumps out and shakes me, like a child with a rag doll and says “Play Me”. I found out about this particular release from the Indieish podcast, an interesting podcast that sends out a single track from a different artists nearly every day. I have to admit, many of the artists aren’t usually my cup of tea, but everyday now and again, I found an absolutely amazing artists like Simon Slator.

I was sold on the opening few seconds of this track, because it reminds me of one of my all time favorite ambient/progressive artists, Vangelis. The album consists of just two tracks, but quantity isn’t everything and this album still comes at a tad under 40 minutes.

Opening with “Mount Erebus”, which is just a perfect example of understated brilliance. It draws you in with a very simple, repeated melody and just transfixes you. Repetition is the key, but to anyone that knows me, this is a huge plus point, rather than a black mark. That is when it’s done right and here is just the perfect example. The title track is even more stark, but just as beautiful. It captures the very essence of Antarctica. Vast tracts of beautiful emptiness, but a landscape that slowly moves and evolves.

This album was originally released in 2003, but I’m glad I eventually found it. I have no doubt that I will be featuring more music from Simon of the coming year or so.

The only downside I have to Simon Slater’s works, has nothing to do with the music, but rather the distribution method. All the music is hosted on Jamendo, an excellent resource for freely available music. However this music can only be downloaded via BitTorrent and eMule, which means you’ll need an additional piece of software installed on your computer. This isn’t much of a problem for seasoned computer users, but is quite a hurdle for someone who doesn’t know much about computers and just wants to listen to the music. I’d love to see an additional distribution method that just allows you to download. If this means charging for downloads, I don’t think that’s such a bad idea, especially when the music is this good.

Conclusion : Simply magical and a must have addition to your music collection.

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Album – Noel Ellis – Noel Ellis

Posted by admin on 28th October 2006

Whilst I’ve touched on ska music for Indie Launchpad, I’ve not covered any reggae at all. This however has not been for the want of trying. I’ve approached a few artists, but have yet to receive a reply. This self titled album from Noel Ellis came in unsolicited from one of many record labels I deal with, in this case Light in the Attic Records and it wasn’t too long before I knew this was going to be an album that would definitely be reviewed. Whilst there’s only 6 tracks on the album, they each weigh in at between 6 and 7 minutes, so that results in a respectable length album.

The album opens with “To Hail Salassie”, a pretty slow paced track that really gets under your skin and really gets you in the mood for the tracks that follow. Musically on this track, there’s the usual heavy bass line that the track wallows along with, but as the track progresses, there is a wonderful, almost psychedelic production which is very hypnotic and a real treat for the ears. Vocally there’s not much to really pick on or praise, but I will say, there is a great clarity, that is sometimes sadly missing. It’s really great to actually be able to determine what is being said.

“Stop Your Fighting” is somewhat of a departure from the reggae I’m used to, but I have to say that my reggae experience doesn’t deviate away too much from Bob Marley. Sadly narrow, I know, but it’s not like I’m not open to it, it’s must a matter of finding it. “Rocking Universally”, is probably closer to what I would consider as radio friendly reggae. It has a great upbeat feel and bounces along at a nice rate. I do have to admit however, that the quirky little voice that eminates throughout this track does get a bit on the annoying side.

The rest of the album has a more traditional reggae feel to it and it’s the latter half that really clinches this album for me. And that’s where the really funny story comes in. I don’t normally like to research the music I review too much. I like to listen without any kind of bias. It was only while getting ready to post this review, that I found out this album was actually recorded in 1979. It’s then that the album really started to make sense, because it has a very authentic feel, but the dub and ethereal quality also adds a contemporary element.

Conclusion : A great album, that’s like a breath of fresh air. I’ll definitely be playing this in the car and expect my speakers to be getting quite a work out.

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Album – Making Up Time – Candy Butchers

Posted by admin on 20th October 2006

One of the bands that gained a huge surge of popularity in the early days of podcasting was the Candy Butchers. Several songs including “Let’s Have a Baby”, “Give Me A Second Chance For Christmas” and the insanely catchy “What to do with Michael”, caused a new wave of interest for the Candy Butchers, who hadn’t had a new album since 2004’s Hang on Mike, from which two of those earlier songs were taken. In November of 2005, Mike Viola one half of the Candy Butchers creative duo, released his Just Before Dark, solo album, which showcased the more raw and acoustic side of Mike’s talents. Realizing there was now an audience waiting with baited breath for new material, Mike decided to dust off some recordings made with Todd Foulsham,that had previously laid un-released and turned them into the album you see here, Making Up Time, which comprises of 10 tracks, recorded between 1994 and 1998.

For an album who’s tracks are between 8 and 12 years old, there’s a nice freshness to it. Whether that’s the stripped down,live production, or the hunger for new Candy Butchers material, I don’t know, but suffice to say this is a cracking album, with some wonderful tracks.

Opening up with the title track “Making Up Time”, it’s by no means the strongest of tracks, but I have to admit it does grow on you. It’s the next track “What I Won’t Give” that really brings to the fore everything that is great about the Candy Butchers. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of a distinctive voice and Mike Viola certainly has that. When you fuse that with some great pop melodies, you are onto another sure fire hit. “Brother’s Back” is another track that follows this winning formula. I won’t bore you with a full on dissection of the album, but this is a great album to be sure. My favorite track on the album would have to be “Bruises and Beauty Marks”, which digs into your subconscious within minutes of listening. My least favorite track would have to be “Circus” or rather it was upon first listening. Even that track has won me over, which is very unusual when I have such a strong first reaction. It’s one of those bizarre tracks, that whilst having it’s own merits, sticks out like a sore thumb on this particular album. The album finishes up with a suitably unusual “Jerry Rigged”, which has a real early 60’s feel to it.

Conclusion : It’s nice to have a new album from the Candy Butchers. I wonder whether the next batch of new material will be Candy Butchers or Mike Viola solo. Go forth an purchase, forthwith!

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Album – Eleven Through Fifteen – Chance

Posted by admin on 17th October 2006

There’s a few artists that truly get me excited, when I hint a whiff of a new release and Chance is one of them. I last reviewed an album from Chance in November last year. In actual fact I reviewed his first two CD’s releases virtually back to back, as this was the early days of Indie Launchpad and I had a stack of artists I wanted to get off my chest.

I call this an album release, but it’s more an extended EP. It is however two tracks longer than the previous two releases, having 9 tracks, rather than the usual 7. As with the previous two releases, this album consists of the previously 5 individually released singles. As well as those singles, there are some live tracks and an interesting song that was the result of a open poll, for the worst song possible for Chance to cover, which is the “Milkshake Song”, previously released by and a hit for Kelis.

The album opens with the track “Man on a Mission”, which for me is one of Chance’s weakest songs and unfortunately featured on this album as both a studio and live version. I hate being critical of music, but this track really rubs me up the wrong way. It has a very amateurish, song writing feel to it, which for Chance is a rarity. Of course I’m probably going to get flamed alive for this, but he it’s just my take.

The rest of the album is a delight. “Pause But, Don’t Stop” has all the classic Chance hallmarks, and made it easy to put the previous track behind me. “Independent” is a true classic and is also a track that featured pretty heavily on various popular podcasts, including our very own Indie Launchpad podcast. “Here” provides some light relief. I would have loved a more dramatic organ intro to this, which would have added some great atmosphere and would have been good to lead out with. I can hear it in my head as I type. I would love to hear what magic Sebastian Ciceri could craft with this track? “Push” is the last track formerly released as a single and is track fifteen of the Eleven to Fifteen, as referred to in the album title.

The remaining tracks include two live tracks, “Man on a Mission” and “Radio Free”, which even if you don’t like either of the tracks, as I mentioned previously with “Man on a Mission”, you can’t deny that Chance is an energetic and extremely talented live performer. “That Means Everyone” is a previously unreleased track and one that really strikes a chord with me and is probably my favorite track on the album. Finishing up with “The Milkshake Song (sever xtra thick)”, this had my 16 year old daughter rolling her eyes, which I take to mean she’d rather boil her head than listen to a variation of a formerly hated song. I must have missed out on the original release, but it looks like I didn’t miss much. Chance manages to put an interesting spin on it and certainly managed to make it his own… which I’m not sure if he wants or not. I must track down the original to see how different it is, as I find Chances version quite entertaining.

Conclusion : As we’ve come to expect from Chance, a great release, with some nice twists. Certainly one of the most exciting and interesting indie artists around.

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Album – Flower and the Fall – Stanley Lucas Revolution

Posted by admin on 15th October 2006

The rain fell from the sky like tears of pain and sorrow. The grim blackness of the sky did nothing to lighten the mood of the people shuffling about their every day lives. In amongst the madness, there was a man, battling the hounds of desperation, solitude and terminal illness. No one knows who Stanley Lucas is, but for the select few of us, who receive the fruits of his labor, mysteriously on our doorsteps, we are privileged to be part of the inner circle.

I can’t remember how I came upon the Stanley Lucas Revolution. I’m sure it was a podcast, but can’t remember which. The song that brought him to my attention, did nothing to prepare me for this simply stunning album. I do have to say, that this is a quite intense experience, but certainly one that appeals to my sense of adventure. It’s actually 6 years old, but has a wonderfully ageless quality.

There’s some very strong influences that really slap you upside the head, as soon as you get into the album. I think the strongest of these is John Lennon, but think the more experimental and intense Lennon, rather than the poppy melodic Lennon. There’s also a strong hint of Harry Nilsson, which is very apt, seeing as Nilsson and Lennon were the best of friends, not to mention a little hint of David Bowie.

There’s 9 tracks on the album, and as is to be expected of an album like this, they should really be considered as a collective work, rather than an album of individual songs. That being said there are some wonderful tracks here. My particular favorite is “Suddenly Nothing”, but in particular the last 2 or 3 minutes, which are purely instrumental, not that I have anything against the vocals, that have a suitable air of angst, but because the last few minutes of this track, have that wonderful ebb and flow qualities that I commonly refer to as repetition. Don’t be mistaking in thinking this is another word for boring, it’s not. It’s just something that has that hypnotic feel, something I’m a particular fan of, when it’s done right.

Conclusion : Whilst not mainstream pop, this certainly deserves a wide audience, especially those that enjoy an album that provides a more immersive experience. We can’t do much to help poor Stanley Lucas, but we can at least let him know he’s appreciated.

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Album – Stardate Unknown – The Vulcan Freedom Fighters

Posted by admin on 15th October 2006

Q. “Why did Spock look down the toilet”
A. “To see the Captains log”

OK, not the best of jokes but it’s the only Star Trek one I know, barring a few regarding Klingons, but we won’t go there. So what does that have to do with this release. Not a lot really, apart from the fact they’re both firmly entrenched in Star Trek. Actually this is quite unlike any album you’ve probably heard before, but wow what a nice change. I do have to add a proviso however, that this that is not your usual album. It’s not going to be an album you break out at parties for a singalong, but it’s still a very valid release and very enjoyable to listen to.

The whole album, and there’s 23 tracks, has a real rock/ambient feel, with a little dance and electronic throw in. As well as the music, the whole album has sound bites from the original Star Trek TV series. Yes, the 1960’s Star Trek, with the carpet monsters and wobbly sets. You get a healthy smattering of Kirk, Spock, Bones and Scotty, along with a host of supporting cast members, who probably wore red shirts and beamed down to the planet, only to get vaporized by some weird mutant plant.

It’s very hard to pigeon hole an album like this, but it has a very soundtrack feel to it. I can just imagine it being used in some indie Star Trek homage. Consequently it’s very hard to pick standout tracks, as this is not that kind of album, but I did have a particular liking for “Khan”.

The album rounds off with a particularly weird track called “Doomsday Sabotage Remix”, which is like one of those bizarre trippy things, that sound good at the time, but end up being quite disturbing when you suddenly hit ground zero and listen to what you did. Mmm, now follow that one.

Conclusion : Sometimes it’s great to take a moment and delve into something fun and this most definitely is a whole lotta fun. “Live long and prosper”. Best of all it’s available for free download.

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Album – Better Days – The Perms

Posted by admin on 6th October 2006

  • Band / Artist : The PermsmySpace
  • Genre : Powerpop / Pop / Alternative
  • Sample Track Download : Lies
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 8 out of 10

It’s not often you hear brass accompaniment in todays’s rock, which is all the pity, when it’s as stonkingly good as this. The album opens up with “Bring You Down”, which is a nice fusion of rock, pop and that previously mentioned brass sound. The Perms have a sound that reminds me very much of a combination of Squeeze and Madness, with just a tinge of Elvis Costello. There’s also something that reminds me of the recently reviewed John Evans band, especially the track “Lies”. This album contains 11 tracks, which have that very strong signature sound.

I love an album that has so many strong tracks. Usually most albums reviewed have 1 or 2 really stellar tracks, and an OK rest of the album. Here’s it’s very nearly 50% of the album, with the balance still being exceedingly good. Picking out my favorite tracks, I’d have to say they are “Lies”, “While I’m Away”, “Versus”, “Saturday Night” and “Holding On”, which are nicely spread out throughout the album.

I’ve reviewed quite a few bands from Canada. The Perms are from Winnipeg. Many of the Canadian bands, have a very distinctive edge to their music, which gives away Canadian roots. The Perms don’t have this sound, but instead have a much more mainstay, powerpop sound, which you can well imagine being played on the radio.

Conclusion : I just love the feel of this album. It has a real up beat sound, with a great balance of tracks.

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Album – Stay – The Brightwings

Posted by admin on 6th October 2006

Instantly accessible is probably the best way to describe The Brightwings, a band out of the US, specifically Boston. This 8 track album opens very strongly with the wonderful “All I Need”. For the first minute or so, I was almost sent back in a worm hole to the early 90’s. There’s something very familiar about the sound, in fact the band reminds me a lot of that great Scottish band Del Amitri. A lot of that is down to their very crisp, clean acoustic sound and wonderful harmonies.

I often wonder if 8 tracks really make an album. Maybe if they’re 6 or 7 minutes each, but here they’re around the 3-4 minute mark. Not that that matters, as at just $8.00, it’s nicely priced between an EP and an Album.

There’s a real Eagles kind of feel to the majority of tracks. I must admit to not being a big Eagles fan. Most of their songs are pretty dreary. But hey, that’s just my opinion. Fortunately here, the best elements of the Eagles are fused together with a few other influences and not forgetting the Brightwings, own obvious talent.

Of all the tracks “Far From Shore” is probably the weakest. I think for me, the lead vocals are a bit off and it sort of falls a bit flat. My favorite is “Mallory”, which isn’t a name I’ve ever heard in a song before. It has a great melody, with some great acoustic guitar. Rounding things off is “Please Come to Boston”, which has some great harmonies and is a fitting song to sign off with.

Conclusion : A great, relaxed and very enjoyable album. I’d be interested to hear the Brightwings cover an Eagles song, “Desperado” comes to mind, but there’s no desperation in this group of talented musicians. Top notch.

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Album – Slow Motion Reign – Slow Motion Reign

Posted by admin on 6th October 2006

From the get go, it was obvious that this was going to be an interesting album. The opening track “Twilight Skylight” has the rapid fire style of lyrics, that you either love or hate. Think “End of the World” by REM or “Start the Fire” by Billy Joel. It usually takes me a while to warm to something like this, but this has that “little something extra”. The next track “Isn’t It Time” fuels the already burning fire. It has a great pounding piano, that underlines most of the track and just pushes all the right buttons for me. “Embryonic” brings a certain hint of balance to the album, with a more laid back style. Things then head off in another direction with “Via Satellite”, a particularly interesting track, as it’s almost like some kind of adult nursery rhyme. Not that I’m dissing the track, it’s adds another dimension to the album and makes for great entertainment.

This is one of those albums that takes a couple of plays to really get into, but once you do it kind of unravels very nicely. Suffice to say, this is a great album, with a wonderful diverse selection of tracks. The vocals on the whole album are very distinctive and remind me very much of a modern day Randy Newman. Actually whilst listening to the track “No Way, No How”, I also sense a slight Peter Gabriel influence. The band also brings another recently reviewed band to mind, Public Symphony. OK, that’s enough comparisons for one review.

With 12 tracks on the album, there certainly a lot to keep your aural senses occupied. The album ends with the wonderful track “Space”, a wistful, almost haunting ballad and probably my favorite track on the album. Great stuff.

Conclusion : This has all the earmarks of a classic album. Certainly different, but all the better for it.

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