Archive for August, 2007

Album – New Tricks – Nica Brooke

Posted by admin on 20th August 2007

I love it when an artist gets in contact and asks to be considered for review. Actually with the advent of mySpace this usually isn’t quite the way it happens. Many people ask to be added to the Indie Launchpad friends list, but I’m actually pretty strict in only allowing people and companies that I have a special relationship with, or bands/artists that have been reviewed. When Nica asked to be submitted to the Indie Launchpad friends list, I checked out her mySpace music and asked her if she’d like to submit her EP for review.

As is sometimes the way, something throws a spanner in the works and while I had a review in the bag for the EP, Nica held the EP back from release, instead to release it as an 11 track album. This however doesn’t happen overnight. Indeed from the submission of the original EP, to the release of this review of the album, I think nearly a year has passed. When it comes to good music though, as was the case with the EP, I’m like a like an elephant that never forgets. I’d drop Nica the occasional email just to check in and then finally she told me the album was ready, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Nica has that wonderful bluesy, almost bohemian sound that is just a sheer joy to listen to. Of the eleven tracks on the album, there is something quite different on each, while sharing that common vibe. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve stated my love for some female artists and that’s the music I’m talking about here. One of the things that clinches it for me, is an artists ability to caress the soul. Yes I know that sounds unbelievable poncy, but I can’t really define it any better than that. When I listen to Nica’s voice, it’s almost like she’s singing to an audience of one, me. It’s not just the vocals however, it’s the whole package of music and vocals.

Opening with the old standard “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”, it’s surely never sounded so good and so sassy. The production of this and the majority of the album has that real 40’s feel, but with a tinge of modern day magic. This is every evident in the second track “Get Back”. My favorite track on the EP is “Head in the Sand”, with that wondrous hypnotic drum beat. It’s funny, this tracks reminds me of one of those Bob Hope and Bing Crosby “Road to…: movies, where some siren is trying to seduce them with a song. Terrific stuff.

“Old Dog, New Tricks”, has a more jazz flavor and is my least favorite track, but let me put that into context. It’s like asking Bill Gates, which is the least favorite car in his garage. You know they’re all going to be brilliant cars in their own right. The EP rounds off with the tranquil and mysterious “Transitioning”, with some wonderful Flute accompaniment, I think it is.

Conclusion : Yes very good. OK maybe I restrained my self too much there. Absolutely fantastic is more like it. Certainly up there as one of my top 3 female vocalists, so far this year.

Posted in Alternative, Jazz, Soul | No Comments »

Album – …And the Moon Was Hungry – Morgan

Posted by admin on 20th August 2007

I have to be honest. I heard one track from the album via the Dark Compass podcast and thought, “That’s an interesting sound”. When I got the album in, I don’t think I was quite prepared for what unraveled from my CD player. Actually that’s probably an understatement. When I put the album on, I think my shy reserved side, had a stroke and my darker side got a bit overloaded. This certainly isn’t an album, you put on for light relief, or maybe it is, depending on what floats your boat.

Consequently, unreasonably or not, the CD dropped down in the review pecking order, not because it wasn’t good, but rather I wasn’t quite ready to review it. A good while passed and I found myself listening to the album again with fresh ears. As sometimes happens, with an album that jars me first time around, this time around I was ready, almost eager to get my teeth into it and it’s almost like my aural senses have been reborn.

I’m sure anyone who is familiar with Morgan’s work, will understand some people will find it aloof, almost unapproachable. I’m sure a lot of this is down to the almost dramastic (a word I made up, many moons ago, when I combined dramatic with drastic), theatrical underpinnings. At time it reminds me a lot of Kate Bush, but here there is a much darker side. This darker side feels very sexual, almost ritualistic. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an album for perverts, only that it has a very adult feel to it.

The album opens with “The King”, which probably isn’t the lightest way to open an album, but second time around, I found my self being drawn in, no not drawn in, more like dragged, but with my aural fingers letting go, without much of a fight. “La Mer Enchante” begins with the most gorgeous, operatic vocals. This is probably the track that should have opened the album. “Nice Day” is an interesting track, with a real sense of almost fragile sanity. Deliciously fractured.

The later half of the album, is a lot more relaxed, but it still has a quantifiably dark edge. The album rounds off with “Sonnet” a weighty 7 minutes, or there abouts.

This is an album that drags you in, roughs you up and then casts you aside, but you can’t help coming back for more. Delicious.

Conclusion : This is a difficult album to recommend. Not that I don’t whole heartedly love it, but it’s one that may take you a while to really appreciate. Well worth it though.

Posted in Alternative, Classical | No Comments »

Album – Cool Aberrations – General Fuzz

Posted by admin on 19th August 2007

I’m constantly amazed at the amount of amazing music I discover. I’m also occasionally amazed at the amount of artists that give away their music for free. I first reviewed General Fuzz back in September, with his great Messy’s Place album. I was totally blown away then, by the album that I’d found on my hard disk, with no recollection of downloading it. This time around however, I was conciously looking at his site, hoping that there would be something new, as I’ve done several times before. A few weeks ago I hit pay dirt and this is the album, that in his own words, when talking about his music “…raising the bar for free quality music a little higher”. I have to disagree a little. This doesn’t raise the bar a little, it elevates it into the stratosphere.

As with the previous album, the majority of the tracks weigh in at between 4 and 6 minutes, but there’s a few of the 11 tracks at around the 3 minute mark, the first track “Acclimate” being one of them. Man, what a way to begin an album. For anyone not familiar with General Fuzz’s music, it’s a kind of mix between Vangelis, Sven Vath and Tangerine Dream. Very atmospheric, moody and infectious as hell.

“Flow Tater” is a very interesting track, that feels somewhat disjointed, having several very distinctive sections, but they flow beautifully. “Fugal” continues to evolve the album’s sound, but that signature, is still omnipresent, as if it were scripted in gold. “Reasonable Ability” is one of those tracks that’s a feast for your ears, especially when you listen using headphones. Again new influences are introduced with the track “Cliff Notes”, with distinctive Indian drums, that add flavor, rather than conflicting sounds.

The album finishes off with “Acoustic Junction”, one of the mellower tracks and a great way to put an album to bed. You can’t help but feel you’ve listened to something rather special and indeed this is an album that has an interesting story. Every track has had different artists collaborating with General Fuzz, which accounts for the little twists and deviations throughout. If you go to the website you can read the story behind each track.

Conclusion : There’s just no excuse for not checking out this phenomenal artists. So far I’ve reviewed two of the artists 4 albums. All of them are available for free. In giving this album a 9.5, I’ve left myself very little room to manoeuvre should his future albums continue to improve. What do I care, I’ll worry about that with each subsequent release.

I can’t help feeling that General Fuzz is either a crackpot for giving his music away for free, or just a philanthropist, because this is one of the biggest cases of sharing the wealth.

Posted in Down-tempo, Electronica, IDM | No Comments »

Album – Kissing Like It’s Love – The Voyces

Posted by admin on 17th August 2007

This is an album that I was hoping would blow me out of the water. After hearing the title track on a podcast, I was chomping at the bit to get the album in for review. The title track opens the album and although I hadn’t heard it for a few weeks, indeed since the podcast, it was even better second time around, with a melody that seduces and a lyric that bores it’s way into your brain.

Upon hearing the rest of the album, I was disappointed as it had steered in a totally different direction. Not that the rest of the album isn’t great. Indeed had this album been submitted without the title track, I would still have given it a great review. It’s just that the opener is an absolute scorcher and maybe should have been left to the latter part of the album.

Aside from the aforementioned track, the album has distinctly folksy, Simon and Garfunkel sound, which in itself is a great thing. The music is great, but it’s the vocals and amazing harmonies that make this album shine. There’s a very interesting track “Lovers in the Sky” which reminds me greatly of a Leonard Cohen song, which name escapes me.

The end of this 10 track album comes with the track “Where the Little Girls Still Throw Roses”, a mouthful of a title, but with a sweet almost Cat Stevens sound. Killer leads in, sweet and mellow fades to black.

Conclusion : You can approach this album in two ways. As a killer track with some great follow on songs, or a great folksy album, with an additional killer track. I think I prefer the latter description and indeed this album grows on me, the more I play it. I would love to see however, some more killer tracks on the next album. I suppose that easier said than done.

Posted in Acoustic, Rock | 1 Comment »

Album – Happy Today – Camp Susannah

Posted by admin on 17th August 2007

I know I’ve been known to sit on submitted CD’s for a while, but this 2004 release hasn’t been on my in pile for that long, honest. You may think, what am I doing reviewing something that’s over 3 years old? Well as I always say “It’s all about the music”. I first heard Camp Susannah on the Next Big Hit podcast, approached her for a review copy of her latest album and this is it. I noticed that the albums release was in 2004, but for me it’s not an issue. If you like it, you’ll buy it. We do that with the Beatles and Pink Floyd all the time, and we’re talking upward of 40 years there.

The immediate thing that hits you when you hear Susannah’s voice, apart from the wonderful tone, is the clarity. Musically there’s a strong hint of the 90’s, electronic sound. Whilst it does date itself, it still manages to sound fresh.

“Way OK” is the track that greets you once you hit the play button, and while I feel it isn’t one of the stronger tracks on the album, it does serve to ease you in. “Happy Today”, the title track builds on the opener very well and has some wonderfully atmospheric accompaniment. “Talkin’ to Myself” immediately started ringing bells in my head, reminding me of Massive Attack, in particular Tracy Thorn. However the track really comes alive when you get to the chorus, when you sense that Susannah’s voice really begins to let go.

Whilst I really enjoyed this album, I did feel that at times, the music tended to drown out the wonderful vocals. The electronic elements, also tended to overshadow things at times, but I hasten to add, that I listened to this album, the majority of times using headphones, so maybe that added to the sometimes overwhelming experience.

I have to give a special mention to “CoulDJa WoulDJa” featuring what sounds like a voxcoder. Also “Fingers Crossed” with it’s relatively stripped back sound, when compared to the rest of the album and “Catch Me”, where Susannah’s voice gains the majority of focus and even gains that hint of raw sexiness. An alternate version of “Way Out” concludes the album and for me is a much more interesting version.

Conclusion : A wonderful album, that’s a little overbearing in places, but still manages to shine.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – She’s About to Cross My Mind – The Red Button

Posted by admin on 16th August 2007

  • Band / Artist : The Red ButtonmySpace
  • Genre : Pop / Rock / Powerpop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 8.5 out of 10

When it comes to recreating the sounds of the 60’s, I don’t think anyone can ever better The Rutles, a fictional band created by Neil Innes, for a mockumentary inspired very much by the Beatles. That being said, I think The Red Button comes pretty darn close, with this incredible collection of 11 tracks, which really do feel like they’ve been lifted directly from the height of the 60’s.

Opening with “Cruel Girl”, this is more Byrds than Beatles, but it’s 100% 60’s. The title track here, draws this time on another of the many 60’s influences and while you do feel like you’ve heard it all before, it’s still very engaging to listen to. When I got to “Floating By” it’s almost like a pastiche of The Rutles, which is really taking things full circle.

I mentioned recently on the podcast, that the perfect length for a pop song, is around the 2 to 3 minute mark and all but one of the tracks here, fall within that range. The only longer track is just a touch under 4 minutes, so still near that ideal range. That means that this 11 track just flies by. Everytime I’ve listened to this album, I end up with an amazing sense of happiness and think that this is could raise all but the blackest of spirits.

Conclusion : If the 60’s is right up your alley, then you’re really going to enjoy this album. I can just image someone buying this and getting the 60’s bug all over again.

Posted in Pop, Powerpop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – The Flame You Follow – Jason Spooner

Posted by admin on 16th August 2007

I first heard this album while wearing my review headphones. Those are the big bulky kind, that used to be popular in the 70’s. Whilst they’re no match for the epic 70’s proportions, they do have a deep rich sound and compliment this album very well. The album opens with “Black and Blue”, and I was immediately struck by Jason’s voice. I have to be honest, male vocalist, don’t have the same kind of impact on me, that their their female counterparts do, but there’s something about Jason’s voice that really held my interest.

Musically the album has a very Paul Simon feel to it. Vocally it’s a lot richer, but there’s no mistaking, the musical genius that lies beneath. “All That We Know”, has a very bluesy/rock feel to it. Most of this comes from the double bass that drives the beat along and man does it get my toes going. “Spaceship” for me is a truly magical track and probably the highlight of the album. It’s while listening to this track, that I really became aware of how good the production of this album is. Everything about it is well balanced and you can’t help but feel that a lot of hard work has gone into it.

The title track on the album, while a good track, doesn’t have the fire in it’s belly that I expect a title track to have. Not that it has to be fast paced, or in your face, but I always expect it to be a track that should showcase the album. This seems to be something that’s happened quite a bit lately, especially on the albums I’ve reviewed.

The album rounds off with “Hover”, a wonderfully laid back, that serves as almost a lullaby, putting the album to bed. Fantastic. Another unsolicited gem, that was thankful thrust under my nose by my old friend Jeffrey at Crash Avenue. Cheers mate.

Conclusion : This is one of those albums, that I’ve played to death, since I got it in. Pure gold.

Posted in Acoustic, Folk, Folk Rock | No Comments »

Album – Rockstar Poor LP – Rayko/KRB

Posted by admin on 5th August 2007

I have to admit, even though I really liked the previous Rayko/KRB EP release, I came to this album with some reservations. I’d heard several of the tracks from the album, via a few podcasts and wasn’t really struck by them. It’s funny then, that I heard the album in it’s entirety for the first time and was blown away. This is one of those album, that has a constant theme running throughout. The other album that comes to mind, and aptly so, is The Streets, “A Grand Don’t Come for Free” the tale of a guy who loses a grand and begins to blame his friends. Thrown into the mix is a combination of drugs, sex and the odd punch up. Here the album deals with a guy who wants to be a rock star, while also getting in to trouble with his bookie, owing him 10 grand and the odd dalliance with the ladies.

The 13 track album is definitely for a more mature market, with more bad and lewed language than you can shake a stick at, but instead of being nasty and vile it works, however you may want to think first and consider who is around, before putting in on your stereo. The album opens with “The Devil and Rayko Pipes”, a real slap upside the head, that gives you the sense of hitting the ground running. Indeed it’s not long into the track that the hook grabs you and doesn’t let go. The title track follows and again that infectious beat flows on. I don’t know why I wasn’t into this track first time around, but I think it’s the fact that I’ve seen it in it’s natural surroundings or some crap along those lines.

A few of the tracks act as a kind of narrative, allowing the story to progress between tracks. “Identity” is a great track that an interesting chorus. It sounds like kids providing the backing, almost like the Jay-Z track “Hard Knock Life”. It’s in the track “Simple Love Song” that we see a different side of Rayko, a side that hasn’t surfaced before. Yes it maybe a slow ballad, but it’s done in the inimitable Rayko style.

I love the track “(She Said) My Name”, but maybe not for the reasons that Rayko intended. I listen to that track and I’m taken back to the club scene in the 80’s and 90’s . Not that I was an ardent clubber, but hey a man has to drink after hours. It’s just got that style of music that goes straight through your bones.

There’s such a great vibe about this album, that when I got to the final track “…Creepin’ Up” and it ended I was like “Is that it? Surely not.”. And so the album had ended and it was more an experience than a simple collection of music. Amazing.

Conclusion : Emminently funky, with beats that you’d be hard pushed not to move to, this is an album that has all the Rayko hallmarks, but here there is a stronger sense of bravado. Actually, maybe bravado isn’t the right term, I think maybe he’s just grown a bigger set of balls. God help us if they get any bigger.

Posted in Hip Hop, Pop, Rock | No Comments »

Single – Dreamer – Jenn Grant

Posted by admin on 5th August 2007

It’s not often I cover singles, but when I got this one in, I just had to post something, as it was too good to pass up. Jenn Grant is just one of the amazing talents to come out of Canada, or specifically in this case Prince Edward Island (PEI). Jenn’s had 1 EP and an album out so far, with this track and indeed the second coming from the 2006 album Orchestra for the Moon.

The instant I heard the guitar intro of “Dreamer” I knew I was going to like it a lot. As soon as I heard Jenn’s vocals I was smitten. There’s a very definite Canadian feel to both tracks, but ask me what constitutes a Canadian feel and I’d be hard pushed to define it. The second track “Britt n’ Kipp”, starts with a very interesting, almost country sound. Actually it’s not country, but a sort of country hybrid. This is rapidly replaced with a more folksy sound. There are however numerous sounds gelled together making this a very interesting track to listen to.

Conclusion : A wonderful voice and indeed talent. I haven’t yet heard the album from which these track are taken, but will be looking to add it to the review pile in the near future.

Posted in Folk, Pop | No Comments »

Album – Heart Gone Sober – Jason Vigil

Posted by admin on 5th August 2007

I’ve had Jason’s album for a while, but didn’t sit down and really listen to it till recently. As soon as the opening track “You I’m Thinking” began, I had that real head smacking moment, of “Why didn’t I review this earlier?”. While the music reminds me of many different artists, there’s definitely a flash of something different bubbling underneath and the further you get into the album, the more the originality surfaces to the top.

Many of the tracks, whilst being great pop songs, seem to lack that certain spark. This is highlighted even more when you hear the song “Sad Month” featuring a much more stripped back production, with just Jason and a guitar. In fact the album for me comes alive in the last four tracks, where you feel that Jason’s personality really starts flowing through the pores.

On the whole this is a really enjoyable album, but as mentioned earlier, the latter tracks are where the album really comes into it’s own.

Conclusion : Certainly a talent to keep an eye on. I’d love to hear more stripped down tracks, to really get a feeling of what Jason can really do.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »