Archive for November, 2007

EP – Demos EP – Cancel the Astronauts

Posted by admin on 30th November 2007

Another one of the many excellent bands coming out of Scotland, I heard them for the first time via podcasting and in fact have heard them quite few times on many different podcasts since then. With a sound that is very reminiscent of a combination of 80’s indie rock and more contemporary Brit pop, I was immediately enamoured with their sound and couldn’t wait to get the EP in for review.

Opening with “I am the President of Your Fan Club (And I Followed You Home” the title is almost longer than the song. It is however an indication of the lightheartedness that follows through the EP in great Brit Pop tradition. Although the title of this track and melody indicate a lighthearted offering, there’s a real sinister undertone, with the singer reiterating the track title, but then adding “I looked through your window”, “last night you weren’t alone”, “will he be here tomorrow, I don’t think so”, a fairly ominous lyric ifever I heard one.

Things lighten up a bit with “Skirts”, with again an opening thats is very reminiscent of an ELO track. Mmm, seems like mr Lynne is in vogue again. Certainly the subject matter is pleasing to the ear and while the the sound of this track and indeed the whole album is somewhat basic, it really does work well. “Intervention” is probably my least track on th EP, but it’s not a lemon, just not as strong as the rest of the cast. “Outside” has a very retro, 60’s feel and is one of those track that not too suprisingly ends abruptly just before the 2 minute mark.

“Enough Tonight” is probably where I realised that the lead vocals and music have some level of disconnect. I hate writing anything negative, but felt by the fourth track, somewhat wearied. There’s nothing bad about the lyrical delivery, but it does begin to come to the forefront towards the end of the EP, and I found my self over analysing the vocals rather then trying to enjoy the EP. “Lets Talk” sees out the EP out and while enjoying it, I wasn’t blown away. I need to put into perspective however that this is just my view and I’m sure many fans will want to disagree vehmently, which I can totally understand.

Conclusion : A great EP, which I really enjoyed, but one I felt could do with a little tweaking in the vocal department. I’m not sure it’s the vocals themselves, or the mix, but I did enjoy the EP nonetheless.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Spark – Peter Searcy

Posted by admin on 30th November 2007

  • Band / Artist : Peter SearcymySpace
  • Genre : Rock / Powerpop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : Amazon
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 8 out of 10

I have to admit when I put this album on for the first time, the song that greeted me, “The Summer Behind US”, brought back memories of ELO’s Mr Blue Sky. Yes a huge compliment and one that I’m sure will prick up the ears of ELO fans everywhere. It has that infectious summer pop beat and melodic lyrics that would surely sound at home on radios everywhere.The second track also has that deja vu sound, but I couldn’t quite narrow in on who it reminded me of. Similar to the first track it has a wonderful pop sound that really started to get me excited about the rest of the album.

Of the twelve tracks on this album, it’s around a 50/50 split between infectious pop and that more laid back sound that gives balance to album, providing a nice contrast. While on the whole this is a great album, it does have a couple of tracks that feel a little listless, “Bird Song” and “Truth Rises”, being the ones that failed to capture my imagination. “Don’t Let A Day Go By (Acoustic)” is very much on the road to mellowville, and I have to admit, it wasn’t a track that immediately struck a chord with me. I think the main reason for this is the very raw and emotive lyrical delivery, in conjunction with being a solely acoustic track. This is something that I normally really love, but here I thought he was singing in too higher key, which seemed somehow not to feel right. It was while listening to this album while on a flight, that this track just seemed to click with me. I think some of this may have been my emotional state, having missed my wife and kids, but on listening to it again, I couldn’t help but be moved by the sheer rawness of it.

The title track, while being a nice song, just didn’t have that oomph that I always look for in a title track. It’s a good song, don’t get me wrong, but wrongly or rightly I always want a title track to be a kind of 2-3 minute advertisement for the rest of the album and here I didn’t think the track does the album justice.

I love how Peter’s voice sounds on the track “In the Morning”. As I often do, I try to imagine an artist’s singing live and here I can just imagine Peter kicking some serious arse. The final track is a studio working of “Don’t Let a Day Go By” and just a sheer brilliant way to sign off an album. I’d love style here to be used on the acoustic track and I’m sure it would really ascend that version to a higher level.

Conclusion : Not an immediate hit with me, but something that really grew on me like a weed. A very welcome weed indeed. I’m sure from this spark a mighty fire will roar.

Posted in Powerpop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – My Holiday – Mindy Smith

Posted by admin on 30th November 2007

With American thanksgiving a recent memory, the Christmas season begins to quickly descend upon us. This is ever more apparent with the steady trickle of Christmas releases hitting my postbox. Many of these releases serve as little more than musical regurgitation, however every now and then, something sparkles like the bright Christmas star, in this case a wonderful collection 11 classic and contemporary Christmas songs from Mindy Smith.

Mindy’s name is a relatively new one to me, but as soon as I heard the briefest of snippets undulate from her lips, I knew she was going to be something quite special . Let me just get a quick something out of the way, I’m in no way a Christmas song aficionado. Yes I know the classics like Silent Night, Jingle Bells and Silver Bells, many of the songs on this CD are relatively fresh to my musical repertoire.

The CD opens with the title track and I have to admit the music just falls away like the snow on a roof and all I can hear is Mindy’s beautiful voice. There’s enough of a rawness to be intriguing and enough of a beautiful tone to be engaging. Already I’m beginning to sound pretentious even to myself, there’s just something quite beguiling, almost mesmerising about a voice so wondrous.

People expecting the usual Christmas fare will not be disappointed. “The Christmas Song” has many of the elements you come to expect, in this case an almost full rendition of “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”, was it really not called this? “Santa Will Find You” will please many fans of a previous Christmas reviewed artist, Leigh Nash, pure poetry and pure unadulterated bliss.

If I were to pick out the just one track to highlight, it would have to be “Silver Bells”. While not one of my favorite Christmas songs, there’s something about Mindy’s interpretation that just captures my imagination and bring to the fore of my thoughts, all the good things to come in the coming holiday season.

Conclusion : Yes I can praise this album up to the yin yang, but I really do not need to. Maybe the window of opportunity to play this album is quite limited, it will always serve as a reminder to check out Mindy’s other works and act as a constant reminder to catch the future releases of this amazing artist.

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

EP – One Chance – Skipping Girl Vinegar

Posted by admin on 30th November 2007

I’m constantly on the lookout for new music and always particularly interested in new music from around the world, specifically music that fits the Indie Launchpad ethos. It was therefore exciting to get this EP in from Australia, from a band I’ve certainly not heard anywhere else… so far.

The EP opens with the title track and has a really interesting flavour to it. There’s a great driving beat, but this is underpinned by the fairly uncommon, banjo or banjo sounding instrument. It’s a sound I’ve heard before, but not in a long while and really has that infectious feel to it. The second track on this 3 track EP is “Cold Come The Nights”, which maybe is a bit too mellow for my liking. Actually mellow isn’t the word for it, it’s more a horizontal. It’s so laidback it’s bordering on the brink of life, kind of track. The final track, a reworking is a bizarre little, soundscape of the original track or so the title “One Chance Soundscape” indicates.

Conclusion : With 50% hit rate on my radar, this could be considered an EP a bit on the fence. However it’s the opening track that is more the A side of this, virtual two track single. Certainly an interesting sound and one that I’m sure will flourish on a full length album.

Posted in Acoustic, Pop | No Comments »

EP – What’s Not Plastic – Digby

Posted by admin on 17th November 2007

  • Band / Artist : DigbymySpace
  • Genre : Rock / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : MySpace
  • Free/Donate Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 7.5 out of 10

Digby always brings to mind the cult children’s movie, “Digby, the biggest dog in the world”. Whilst this 5 track EP is in no way a dog, it does feel like it’s a bit in conflict with itself. If I solely flipped through the tracks, listening to brief soundbites, I’d probably pick out 2 tracks that were great and decide against reviewing it. This isn’t the way things work however and I really felt the EP had a lot more to offer than I first thought, this was evident after a good 3 or 4 plays.

Call me an old fart, but the first track “New America” just doesn’t deliver. It’s not that it’s a darker, harder rock sound, it just doesn’t seem to have any real direction and has a roughness that is almost for roughness’ sake. “Self Evaluation” was also not my cup of tea, the first few plays around, but it really began to grow on me and I really began to appreciate the overall sound of the group. It’s probably no surprise that “Bad Swing” was one of the tracks that made me prick up my ears, first time around. It’s a very melodic and relaxed track, which is in stark contrast to the raw, but again less frenetic than earlier vocals. “Knocking At Your Door”, is again one of the mellower tracks on the EP, with a rockier chorus section and while it’s very pleasant, it is little more. The final track “How Long” reminds me a lot of another previously reviewed band, Hopewell, or rather a couple of specific Hopewell tracks. This brings to an end an EP that has some great moments on it and indeed grew on me quite a bit since my initial listen.

All through the EP, I kept being reminded of Rod Stewart in his Faces days, probably when he sounded his greatest. All being said, this is a great EP, that’s currently being given away, with request for donations if you like the EP. You simply can’t go wrong.

Conclusion : Two good tracks, two great tracks and one that’s not my cup of tea. I’d love to see the band develop the mellower side, but I’m sure many of their existing fans would prefer the opposite. Ah the joys of independent music.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Burnt Toast and Offerings – Gretchen Peters

Posted by admin on 17th November 2007

  • Band / Artist : Gretchen PetersmySpace
  • Genre : Acoustic / Folk / Country
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9.5 out of 10

I love finding new artists and bands. What is especially neat, is when I find them kind of by accident, as was the case with Gretchen Peters. I recently heard a track by Eva Cassidy, another amazing discovery, on the Coverville podcast and for some reason ended up at CD Baby. While not surprisingly, a search on Eva didn’t return any results, I did get a list of other artists I might like. I don’t know why, but Gretchen’s name stood out and I investigated a little further. I listened to a few of her tracks and while none of them jumped out at me, there was something about Gretchen’s voice that urged me to get a copy of the album in for review. Let me just say, I’m not a great fan of listening to music via web pages, as the quality often does not do justice and there is something very impersonal about the listening experience, but it usually gives me a good indication of whether I am going to like something. The tracks I listened to though, did not quite prepare me for the absolutely amazing experience the album turned out to be.

The album opens with “Ghost” a track that feels like a some kind of out of body experience, witnessing a life that once was. It has a wonderful atmospheric and melancholic feel to it, which really appeals to my tastes. For me though “Sunday Morning” stands out as just an amazing track. Starting with a very simple guitar melody, the vocals come in, and build up to some wonderful harmonies. This song reeled me in, hook line and sinker. I’d never really considered the genre of this album, until I heard this song. While it’s undeniable Gretchen’s voice has a lot of country influences, the album itself feels a lot more folky and relaxed. I actually listened to the CD for the first time in the car. My wife had gone into Timmy’s to pick me up a coffee, and I managed to listen to the first two tracks while she was away. I don’t know why, but when I saw her again, I missed her in a way I can’t explain. I know that probably sounds silly, since she’d only been gone 10 minutes, but those two tracks had really tapped into my emotional psyche.

“Jezebel” is an interesting song, that really showcases Gretchen’s vocals and reminds me a bit of Stevie Nicks. Unlike Nicks however, the harshness and is replaced by beauty and a softness that is at times almost heartbreaking. “Thirsty” really took a while to grow on me. While it’s still not my favorite track, it’s very much a rose, surrounded by roses of a slightly different colour. “England Blues” while very much a bluesy style song, has a very country flavour and is one that I gave more of a chance to, due to it’s subject matter, telling the tale of leaving Nashville for London, and not just for sightseeing. It’s a very simplistic, but enjoyable romp of a song.

While not wanting this review to spiral out of control, it’s ever apparent that this is one phenomenal album. It’s good to see that out of something heartbreaking, can materialize something amazing and beautiful. While I don’t wish Gretchen any more heartbreak, I’m hoping that she can at least draw a whole lot more out of her experiences, if this is a testament to what can be achieved.

Conclusion : A stunning album, that feels very personal and intimate. A tinge of sadness, melancholy and eternal hope for the future. Awesome.

Posted in Acoustic, Country, Folk | No Comments »