Archive for November, 2006

Album – Silencer – Blake Morgan

Posted by admin on 29th November 2006

Having reviewed Blake’s previous album, “Burning Daylight”, I approached this one with enthusiasm. Upon initially flipping through the tracks, it was immediately obvious that this was going to be a much mellower album and I have to say, this increased my enthusiasm. Whilst I do like the rockier side of Blake’s work, I much prefer the slower, more mellow tracks and indeed my favorite track on the previous album was the wonderful “Better Angels”, which is again featured here, but in a much more stripped back version. For this whole album think more MTV unplugged than your usual studio album. It’s very much one man and his piano and minimal accompaniment, rather than a studio band, which gives it a much more personal feel.

The album opens with “Silver Lining”, which again is also in a more studio arranged version on the previous album. In actual fact there are four tracks here, that were previously on the “Burning Daylight” album, but as mentioned before they a much more stripped down and really do benefit a lot from that. The next track “Danger to You” is probably the only one on this album that sticks out as the odd one out. This track just has that edge that the rest of the tracks do not. “Sick for You”, again one of the four, is the only rerecorded version where I prefer the original. There’s something very hollow about the recording which is much warmer with the previous version.

“It’s Gone” is Blake’s version of the track he wrote for Lesley Gore and just showcases the great songwriting and also musical delivery. I do hope Blake doesn’t mind me saying, but much prefer Lesley’s version, but then i do have a real soft spot for Lesley Gore’s album. “Saccharine” is again a track that I seem to recognize, but can’t put my finger on. It’s funny there was another track that did this for me on the previous album.

“Out of Loss” is the penultimate track on the album and shows an even softer side to Blake’s voice, which usually has that harder edge to it. The final track is one of my all time favorites and I have to say of the three version I have, 2 of Blake’s and one of Lesley’s I like them all, but for very different reasons. Absolutely terrific stuff.

Conclusion : A stunning album, that really shows Blake’s talents in a new light and one that should act like a huge spotlight. If you like a more stripped back, mellow kind of album, this has got to be one to add to your shopping list.

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Album – Above the Clouds – Greg Smith

Posted by admin on 29th November 2006

Although the artist himself considers this as jazz, albeit smooth jazz, it’s not the genrethat comes to my mind when I listen. This is a very laid back, virtuoso guitar style of music, that reminds me greatly of Gordon Giltrap, a guy who came out with a simply stunning album in the 80’s called Perilous Journey. There’s a lot of really great influences, from musicians to countries and it really goes to create a very interesting album indeed. I like to think of it more as guitar folk, than jazz, but I suppose it’s all a matter of subjectivity.

The album opens with the title track, “Above the Clouds” , which really does manage to evoke that sense of flying through the skies. The guitar playing is wonderful and atmospheric. This is the longest track on the album, at a tad over 5 minutes, but it really is a joy to listen to, especially if you want to get some headphones and plug yourself in.

As I mentioned before, there’s quite a few influences, both in musicians and also countries. The title track has a very Australian vibe, running beneath and there’s no need to tell you the country of influence on the track, “Stop Sign in Brazil”

With 14 tracks on the album, all predominately featuring the acoustic guitar, this can be a difficult album to put on, unless you are specifically in the mood. I think it would have helped a bit if there, were around 9 tracks, but that’s not a failing of the album, more my own personal preference.

The title track and “Figaro Tree” would have to be my favorite on the album. The album finishes as it began in the clouds, but this time “Postlude: Back in the Clouds”.

Conclusion : If this is the kind of music you enjoy, then it’s an absolute belter. For the casual listener, it may be a tad too long, but all the same, it’s a CD that features some wonderful melodies and showcases some excellent guitar playing.

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Album – Songs Your Mother Never Sang You – Needle

Posted by admin on 28th November 2006

  • Band / Artist : NeedlemySpace
  • Genre : Acoustic / Down-tempo
  • Sample Track Download : Lost
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 8 out of 10

There’s been a few bands that primarily consist of a guy and a girl. Two of my most recent favorites have been, the Weepies and the Submarines. Needle continue in this great tradition and gives us more of the same wonderful harmonies on top of a wonderful mix of tracks. Be forewarned that this album is so mellow it almost sends me into a trance, each time I hear it. That sounds like I’m saying this is a boring album, I’m not. It’s just the overall sound is so melodic and beautiful, it’s like being seduced by the Sirens.

“It’s No Secret” is the first of 10 tracks and shows the Siren at full effect. I tell you it must be how the male praying mantis must feel before and during his final act, though fortunately here, the music doesn’t go on to bit your head off, so it’s like all of the pleasure with none of the pain. This is one of those albums, that’s very difficult to go through on a track by track basis as it’s very much a collective work, of which there have been a few albums of this kind lately on Indie Launchpad and should really be reviewed as such.

The last track takes a slight up turn and rounds the album off really well, with it’s different sound, thanks to the prominent piano. It’s a fairly short track at just over two minutes, but is a great example of simple melody again with that wonderful voice.

Conclusion : If you want to unwind, there’s not many albums that will do a better job than this one. With beautiful vocals and music to caress and lull, this is sheer magic.

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EP – Wishing for This – Leigh Nash

Posted by admin on 26th November 2006

Christmas is a special time of year. The season of good will to all men.. and women, brings freezing cold weather (quiet please Australia), food, drink and the reconnection with family, be it family from the four corners of the world, or the ones under your own roof. Christmas also marks the time of year, when artists decide whether to release something special for Christmas. In the UK, the Christmas chart number one, is a wonderful thing and the number one record is hotly contested. This should certainly be a contender for this year.

Leigh Nash, former leader singer with Sixpence None the Richer already has a solo album under her belt and has released this Christmas EP in good time to get everyone in that holiday spirit. Featuring 6 cover songs and one self penned track, there is a real mix of festive cheer all delivered with that hallmark voice. I’m going to make a comparison here, which many people will probably not agree with, but I’m going to say it anyway. Leigh’s voice really reminds me of Catatonia’s lead singer Cerys Matthews, think specifically of Cerys singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Tom Jones. The main similarity is in their breathless, and exceedingly sexy voices. Cerys has a much harsher edge than Leigh’s, but oh how I could listen to their voices until the cows come home.

The EP opens with “Baby It’s Cold Outside” this is an old holiday favorite and it’s probably the Dean Martin version that I’m most familiar with. Here’s it a duet with Gabe Dixon who sounds very much like Michel Bubl

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Album – Rock & Roll Saxophonist – Johnny Ferreira

Posted by admin on 21st November 2006

This is certainly an album that whilst being a bit different from the norm on Indie Launchpad, is an album that deserves a winder audience, if not for anything other than the incredible music. Whilst Johnny’s vocals are great, they do have that Jools Holland sound to them, which either entertains or irritates. I’m sort of between the two, but that matters not a jot, because when it comes to the music, it’s just sheer class all the way.

The album opens with a great rock and roll track “Wine Women and Song” which has a piano intro that just exemplifies the rest of the album. Actually the piano throughout this track and the rest of the album is just amazing. Old style rock & roll and swing are probably something your grandparents are more comfortable with, but that’s a shame, as good music is good music, no matter what it is.

I first heard Johnny via the Podcast Paul podcast. I can’t say I was really paying that much attention when the music came on, but about half way through, I realized I was patting my hand in my pocket and bobbing my head. That isn’t in itself too bad, but when you are listening on headphones waiting for the bus, it can get a bit embarrassing. No matter the red faced embarrassment I was feeling, I knew this was going to be an album I had to get in for review and I’m glad I did.

Even though there’s 10 tracks on the album, it still only weighs in at a tad over 32 minutes. Although it’s only just over half hour, it’s certainly a quart squeezed into a pint pot.

Particular favorite tracks are “If That Ain’t Love”, “Mean Mr Senf” and “Nighty Gown”. I have to admit, this isn’t an album I would usually go out and buy, but it’s definitely something I would now pay more attention too. There’s a real sense of fun on this album and it really shines through, making it a very pleasurable listening experience.

Conclusion : Certainly something different, but highly entertaining nonetheless. If you just want to dip your toe into old style rock & roll this is the perfect introduction.

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Album – I Feel Like a Fading Light – Kim Taylor

Posted by admin on 21st November 2006

When it comes to female vocalists lately, I feel like a kid in a candy store. Mmmm, maybe not the best of analogies, but there’s such a tremendous wealth of talent and every now and then, which is becoming more now than then lately, I find someone who just blows my socks off.

Now if you got through that paragraph without confusion, welcome to the review of Kim Taylor’s, “I Feel Like a Fading Light”. Another one of those unsolicited albums that just gives me that lottery win feeling. I probably bore people to death with my fixation for voices with that certain something, which the majority of mainstream pop and rock sadly lacks. But I tapped into a seam of gold here and it’s times like these, that the slogging over a keyboard is worth it.

For me the album couldn’t have got underway better, with the title track “I Feel Like a Fading Light”. After all, for unsolicited albums, if it can hook me instantly, it has a much better chance of being reviewed. With this track the music is engaging, as are the vocals with their slightly husky and almost breathless delivery. “People” is one of those tracks that seems very familiar. It has a very 80’s Bruce Springsteen feel to it, with a slightly brighter sound.

With 13 tracks on the album, you sure do get a lot of bang for your buck. “My Dress is Hung” is a very folksy track, but it’s not one that drags and meanders, with some great acoustic guitar that pushes the song along at a nice pace. In fact acoustic guitars abound through the whole album and I love it. I don’t know if I’m just getting old, but I’m certainly enjoying the more mellow CD’s that have been submitted lately.

The album rounds off nicely with “Bruise” which has a much darker sound, but a real energy to it. “You Can Rely on Me”, takes us out as it began, with a voice that’s simply amazing.

Finishing the review off with some of my favorite tracks, I have no hesitation in mentioning the title track, with it’s wonderful vocals and also “Ninety Five Things” which has a very Fleetwood Mac feel to it. To be honest picking out favorite tracks on this album is a real task, as they are all so wonderful, in their different ways, which is a testament to the quality of this CD.

Conclusion : For the opening track alone, this would be a purchase that would give me great satisfaction. Factor in the rest of the tracks and it’s a surefire winner.

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EP – Yern – Julius

Posted by admin on 17th November 2006

  • Band / Artist : JuliusmySpace
  • Genre : Acoustic / Alternative / Folk
  • Sample Track Download : The Line
  • Buy CD : Artist Site
  • Buy Digital Download : N/A
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

Every now and again, I come across an artist by mistake. With Julius (Matt Adams) it was when he was in his former incarnation of Madam. I discovered him via The Boy Lacks Patience and was eager to review his music. However the CD he had, was fairly old and he wasn’t overly keen on pushing it any more. He said he’d keep in touch though and several months later contacted me and, well Yern is the result. Although it’s nice to see him abandon the name Madam, which just brings ladies of ill repute to mind, I’m not overly enamored with the new name of Julius, which now brings to mind the thought of orange juice. Yes, I know I have a vivid imagination and it’s not something switched off easily, much to my annoyance sometimes.

The album opens with “Longing Pt. I” and really got me excited about the tracks to come. This is a track with the wonderful ebb and flow quality, that I’ve talked about a lot, but usually in more electronic and ambient releases. Here it’s a very simple arrangement of guitar, piano and strings, with some very understated vocal accompaniment. Absolutely fabulous stuff. The second track “The Line” takes a slight deviation, but more in the vocals, than anything else, with a wonderful Marc Bolan/Jeff Buckley feel to them. The music is simply stunning in it’s simplicity, but so thoughtfully arranged. OK, so we’re only two tracks in, but I’m sure you can read between the lines and see I’m very, very excited about this EP.

Listening to “Wind and Bellows” on headphones is just a sheer joy. The acoustic guitar sounds amazing and the vocals have a wonderful, natural feel to them. A very simple song, but a very enjoyable one nonetheless. “Untitled” again follows a very simplistic pattern, but here the vocals again have that Jeff Buckley feel. They also remind me a bit of The Boy Lacks Patience. “Tired” has a more aggressive guitar style and has a very familiar feel to it, reminding me of that guitar virtuoso, Gordon Giltrap. It’s still a fairly laid back tune, but has those guitar moments or outbursts, akin to a guitar almost shouting.

And so the EP finishes of as it begins, with “Longing Pt II”. This is certainly an EP that has me chomping at the bit for more material. I hope Julius is with us a long time, because this really is an incredible EP that deserves some major recognition.

Conclusion : An absolutely outstanding EP make no mistake.

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Album – Your Move – Everyday Atlas

Posted by admin on 17th November 2006

Everyday Atlas starts their album very strongly with “Take Me Home”, at times sounding musically like Harvey Danger and vocally similar to Public Symphony. This is in itself interesting, as more and more, I’m finding myself making comparisons to other indie bands and less to more mainstream artists. “Take Me Home” also has a wonderfully quirky ending, using a slice of that other great independent artist, Bach. “Radio Song” is every inch the radio friendly pop song and firmly establishes this album as something quite special. The fourth track “Hang Around” evokes a wonderful air of contemplation, taking a more relaxed and laid back direction and is firmly amongst my favorite tracks on the album.

With 11 tracks on the album, I can honestly say there isn’t a bad, or even weak track among them, which is quite an achievement. “Two Steps” has some vocal characteristics similar to many bands at the moment like, Fall-Out Boy and Panic at the Disco. This isn’t some feeble copy though and for me, it’s a lot more listenable on the whole.

Throughout the album is some wonderful piano work, which seems to be sadly lacking from a lot of pop music nowadays. I make no secret that I’m a big fan of both the piano and acoustic guitar, preferring music that compliments vocals, rather than drown them out.

“Be A Reason” is an unusual track on the album, as it reminds me very much of Tori Amos, both musically and in lyrical delivery, although this is more during the verses, than the chorus. “Stardust” is one of those atmospheric, mellow tracks which really brings the band Public Symphony to mind, who were reviewed back in May. The album rounds off with “Looking Back”, which has an interesting sound and brings memories of the 70’s flooding back. I think I would have preferred the last two tracks flipped round, but this is really just me nitpicking and doesn’t detract from the album at all.

Conclusion : 2006 has been an incredible year for independent music, giving much deserved recognition to existing artists and an incredible platform for new bands and artists. Everyday Atlas deserve much praise and recognition for this excellent album.

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Album – Deep Waters – Stavia

Posted by admin on 10th November 2006

I have a real headache because of this album and it’s not because of the music, which is on the whole great. I hope Stavia doesn’t take this the wrong way, but her voice reminds me of a woman who used to do a lot of UK TV theme tunes. I say tunes, but I can’t remember any of them by name, I just know the voice and it’s very similar to Stavia’s. I can’t even remember any of the shows, which makes it even more annoying.

When it comes to more conventional comparisons, I’ve seen Stavia compared a lot to Dido. Whilst there are similarities, especially in the slow, piano tracks, there is a certain earthiness to Stavia’s voice which makes Dido’s seem saccharine sweet in comparison. I discovered Stavia through a single song and on the basis of that, requested the album. At first I have to admit, vocally her voice has a certain nervousness about it, but the more you listen to it, the more it seems to fade.

Stavia’s music is her passion and this indeed is her second released album, put together with a cast of supporting musicians and indeed friends. It may however come as a surprise that she studied medicine and actually trained as a neurologist.

This 12 track album opens with one of my favorite songs on the album “Falling” and is the perfect opener. “A Different Song” continues in a similar vein, but the two songs that follow “I Don’t Need You” and “Just Can’t Help it” up the tempo a bit. I must admit, I much prefer the slower, more thoughtful side of her music. Fortunately the rest of the tracks follow this more laid back and relaxed approach. “Broken Hearted” has a very strong Greek feel to it and nicely breaks the album up. Every silver lining usually has a cloud and for me that cloud is “Vulnerable”. Musically this track is great, but lyrically it seems very weak and almost childlike in the lyrical construction and phrasing. Fortunately this is the only low point on the album, but it is just one of those tracks that has my finger reaching for the next button. Picking out my favorite tracks, they would have to be “Falling”, “Lucky Day” and “The Tide has Turned”.

Conclusion : An interesting artist, with a distinctive sound. Certainly Dido lovers will feel right at home, but there’s certainly enough on this album to win over all that listen.

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Album – Endless Winter – Run Run Run

Posted by admin on 10th November 2006

Although their mySpace page describes them as psychedelic, to me this is more conventional rock, with a nod to great bands like Pink Floyd, the Who and the Cure. Opening with “Drizzle”, I have to admit, this song gives me a good excuse to hit the next track button on the CD. It’s just a bit of a mess.

“Wait Up for You”, is a much better place to start the review, so start I will. This is a track that has all the hallmarks of great song. Great melody and bass line, with driving guitars and complimentary vocals. The next track “Last One”, lulls you into a false sense of expectation, with it’s dramatic piano chords, and then the drum kicks driving the song with a throbbing beat. “Skyscraper” is a strange track, with a very Iggy Pop feel, but it works very well and really gives the album a nice lift. “Song and Dance” also seems to tip the nod to the Doors, resulting in an album that’s the jack of all trades, but master of none.

At first I thought “Wire” was going to be the most contemporary sounding track, but just as it gets going, it falls back on a real 80’s sound, with the contemporary breaking through here and there. My favorite tracks would have to be the final two “Fade Into You”, which sounds very 90’s and “All of a Sudden”, which has a real strong Echo and the Bunnymen feel to it.

So a real cross section of sounds and influences, which make for an interesting album, but one that feels like the band is still trying to find it’s identity.

Conclusion : Whilst this is a good album, for me it’s not great. I have to admit though, I can imagine this really growing on me with enough plays.

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