Archive for May, 2008

Album – Midwestern Hurricane – Maggie Walters

Posted by admin on 31st May 2008

The thing that really intrigued my about this CD was the ethnic overtones that are instantly apparent. Unfortunately for all the ethnic overtones, it can’t hide that fact that the opening track, “Fingerprints” is also pretty forgettable. Maggie has a great voice, but this track really seems to lumber along. “Ann Marie” again has some very interesting sounds and here everything seems to kick into gear. Maggie’s vocals have an unnerving sexiness to them. This track however is still only a warm up, it just gets better and better.

“Girls Like Us” has a funky, almost 60’s psychedelic feel. The first three tracks, have distinctly different flavours, but the one thing they have in common is a wonderful production. There’s just all sorts of audio nuggets lightly buried, waiting to be discovered. The vocals here are also a bit racy and at times frank, but they work really well and you just can’t help but get lulled by the driving guitar and wonderful touches. “Under the Table” is one of my highlights on the album, along with “Girls Like Us”, it’s also a track that suddenly brought to mind a wonderful vocalist, but the name just wouldn’t come to me. It took me a couple of listens before I slapped my forehead and remembered, Natalie Merchant, former 10,000 Maniacs singer.

“Captain” has that experimental edge to it, but oh those vocals and the mesmerizing tune, almost like a soundtrack to lovemaking. “Sundays” is a delightful track, but a track that really seeks attention, with it’s simple melody and accompaniment. It’s a track that has that instant repeat effect and one where you feel like you’re hanging on Maggie’s every word.

“Water Signs” for me is a bit of a pot boiler, pleasant, but nothing more. I could see how “Be Careful Love” was going to unfold, only hearing the first seconds. A very country feel, with just the merest hint of something more progressive. I was expecting much of the title track, “Midwestern Hurricane” and not just in song length, which here was a tad over 5 minutes. Whilst I liked the ebb and flow of the track, it never really blew me away, which is something I was sort of expecting. The final track “You Got Something” rounds things off nicely, albeit with a track length that screams the perfect single size, at a tad over 2 minutes.

Conclusion : This for me is an album, that starts off slow, but really comes into it’s own. It did take me a while to really get into it as a complete work, but Maggies is a voice I could listen to for an eternity, as long as it’s singing the right songs. Certainly an interesting album, with some great audio production and a few stellar tracks. Whilst there is nothing particularly bad on this album, there’s a few tracks that didn’t gel with me, but more than enough tracks to make up for it.

Posted in Pop | 1 Comment »

Album – Hideaway – The Weepies

Posted by admin on 29th May 2008

This is a user submitted review and does not reflect the opinions or views of Indie Launchpad…. even though we loved the album too.

Submitted by Ian Taylor

  • Band / Artist : The WeepiesmySpace
  • Genre : Pop / Rock / Acoustic
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : Werkshop
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 8.5 out of 10

His longstanding listeners will remember Colin Meeks at Indie Launchpad ( enthusing about The Weepies previous phenomenal album Say I Am You way back in February 2006, and Ive been eagerly awaiting a new release from this talented duo. I think I managed to get my sticky mitts on the album before Mr Meeks for a change but he still managed to cram in a review before I submitted this tribute one in celebration of his 100th Podcast.

It was with mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation that I put the CD on, would it be as good as Say I Am You, which quickly became one of my all time favourite albums? In fact Steve Tannen and Deb Talan have to be held partly responsible not only for my membership of the Indielaunchpad Fan Club but also my ever increasing collection of CDs! Would it be worth the two year wait?

I loved the design of the 2006 CD and the theme carried through to The Weepies great website, which has now received a makeover (care of Deb) to coordinate with the new whale CD artwork. Turning to the music itself we have 14 varied tracks making it cracking value, albeit the first five come in a tad short at just under three minutes. The problem I have is that so far non stands out quite as well as Gotta Have You or Painting by Chagall, or Stars. Im sure this album is a grower though or perhaps it is because the quality is so good and consistent that its hard to choose a favourite.

I was going to review each track but Colin has pipped me at the post! As far as the whole album goes, like Colin, I have a soft spot for female vocalists and Deb has an outstanding and unique voice. Steves quiet tones meanwhile remind me on some songs of Paul Simon. In both cases we have clear, crisp voices that clearly compliment each other, coupled with the intelligent lyrics. Theres a certain narrative/filmic quality to the words and some of the tracks would fit very comfortable as a soundtrack to a film or TV show, and I mean that as a compliment and not in a background noise way. How about the closing credits for an episode of the quirky 90s show Northern Exposure? Id struggle to pick out my favourite track, All Good Things is great, Orbiting is also excellent, Old Coyote swings along nicely, and is this really the first time I have heard the catchy Takes So Long? Maybe I am changing my mind, this really is a great album.

I struggle to categorise The Weepies, folk it isnt and its too mellow for rock, who cares, its great stuff and I hate labels anyway. According to their website there are lots of who agree as the new album debuted at no.31 on the Billboard Charts, selling nearly 14,000 copies in its first week (13,999 plus one to Ian, Im not sure Colin paid for his!).

Conclusion: Hideaway would have been an outstanding first album, and Say I am You a phenomenal follow up, had they been issued in the other order. Have The Weepies just set themselves such a high standard that its difficult to beat? Has Ians ear been so finely tuned by Colin he knows what hes talking about (musically at least) or is he just so familiar with the first album? Will Colin Agree? Do you care?

Probably not, so my advice is buy it, hell, buy both albums and judge for yourselves, whichever you think is best you wont have wasted any money; they are both very, very good.

Posted in Folk, Pop and 100th podcast celebration!
Surely this beats a telegram from The Queen?

Posted in Acoustic, Folk, Pop, User Submitted | No Comments »

Quick Update on Show 100

Posted by admin on 26th May 2008

Hey All. Haven’t forgotten. Right at the last minute I decided to do a different show and am just waiting to hear back regarding permissions on some tracks. Hoping to release in the next day or so, with some cracking new music.


Posted in Indie Launchpad News | No Comments »

Album – Field Recordings from the City – Sheltered in Sound

Posted by admin on 20th May 2008

As I sat listening to this CD, it was hard for me to know where to start. There’s a real starkness of emotion, overlaid an equally stark musical backdrop. While I wasn’t immediately sure what to make of it, I found myself like a deer in the headlights, with an impending collision awaiting, however as the lights got closer, the danger was replaced with an open embrace, a turnaround that that happened, oh so quickly.

Although I’ve had this album a good few weeks, it was an album I knew I had to invest some time in. Family life is a wild and complex ride, so fitting in some laid back, “starkly intimate” music, can often be a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I could well have put this album on and let the music wash over me, but then I wouldn’t have had much to write about, apart from the rather pleasant listening experience.

I’ve listened to this album a good few times. From my car stereo, to my home stereo and computer, but it’s only now that while giving myself a refresher on the tracks, that I was blown away by how it sounds on my laptop. Not that it didn’t sound great before, but there’s just something that really seems to be stroking my laptop speakers the right way. Opening with “Falling Stars”, there was a lot that reminded me of Rob Szabo, maybe not too surprising when you consider that both Rob’s album, “Like a Metaphor” and this album were produced by Scott Cooper, long time favorite of Indie Launchpad and a guy who really knows how to fiddle with those buttons to get an incredible final mix.

Some of the songs on this album, bare comparison to either Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen, but more in their heyday as opposed to their current incarnations. Musically also the songs here are much softer, more reserved, but no less powerful for it. “Held Hostage by a Restless Heart”, I can almost hear in my head, coming from the mouth of Springsteen, but as mentioned earlier, here there’s much more softness, almost fragility. “We’ll Meet Again”, is a much more conventional acoustic/folk song, but again the sound quality and production shine through, especially the cello, or is it sampled cello, that floats wistfully beneath.

It’s almost all glorious perfection. I say almost as the only track that managed to sour things somewhat for me is “Sleepwalking”. From the reverb on the vocals, to the lacklustre guitar and the really grating drum machine that drove me nuts, every time the track came on, I wanted to hit the next button. In the big picture it’s not a terrible track, just a track that most definitely was not my cup of tea. Now “Mir” had me won over almost immediately. There’s nothing radically out of the ordinary, it’s just in keeping with the rest of the album, and just a track that manages to tick all my boxes. When hearing the first couple of seconds of “No Words”, with it’s drum machine effect, I thought I was going to hate this track, but thankfully the drum machine is fended off for the remaining three minutes or so, and we’re left with another winner.

“Welcome to Generica” has a slightly different sound to the accompanying songs, but it’s refreshingly different and giving another edge to the album. “Requiem in A Flat Minor”, again has a different sound, which while I was glad for a bit of diversity, something about it didn’t click. Were it not for the last track’s title and lyrics, the final two tracks “In Birth and Death” and “One Last Song” would have rounded things off much better had they been swapped. Now this may well be one of my quirks, but unless it’s something compelling, I much prefer a darker, more sombre track to end an album such as this.

Conclusion : Whilst this is an album on the darker, more melancholic side, it’s not at all doom laden. There’s an amazing, almost compelling quality to the songs, that really draws you in and keeps you transfixed. A wonderful album, from an undeniably gifted musician, who I’ll be paying close attention to in the future.

Posted in Acoustic, Down-tempo | No Comments »

Album – Hideaway – The Weepies

Posted by admin on 16th May 2008

  • Band / Artist : The WeepiesmySpace
  • Genre : Pop / Rock / Acoustic
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : Werkshop
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9.5 out of 10

There’s a few albums I’ve been eagerly awaiting and this most definitely is one of them. Building on the success of their previous release, Say I Am You, Hideaway, feels much more of a joint album. Whilst Hideaway, had some amazing tracks, there was very much a feeling that many of the tracks were either Steve Tannen’s or Deb Talan’s. Admittedly much of this stems from who had lead vocals, and I have to admit, I was totally smitten by Deb’s voice. However on this album, the vocals, whilst still featuring either Deb or Steve prominently, manage to sound much more of a collaborative effort. It’s hard to think of the previous album, as anything inferior, but there is a lushness and warmth in this album, that the previous one lacks, but only in hindsight.

“Can’t Go Back Now”, the track that opens the album, quite frankly sends shivers up my spine. While the sound is typical Weepies, there’s something more, that’s hard to quantify, other than an feeling of a band that has really found it’s feet. “Orbiting”, while having very much a Deb Talan sound, still manages to feel a band effort. At every turn, on every track, I feel myself comparing, probably unfairly all tracks to the previous album, which in my mind is one of the top 10 albums ever on Indie Launchpad, but this is not like comparing apples to apples, they’re two albums, by the same artists, at two very different stages of their developmental life. The title track “Hideaway”, has that quirky feel and harmonies that send my brain into apoplexy, especially when listen with headphones. That tone and those vocals are just a sheer joy.

So that’s the first three tracks and I can feel this review very rapidly heading to meet Tolstoy’s War and Peace in sheer size. Yes musically the tracks are superb, but there’s also quite a mix of diversity. The guitar on “Little Bird”, is really familiar, but I’m sure on a track much more melancholic than this. Then in contrast to that, “Antarctica” has a sound that feels very light with a 70’s hint, but with a Weepies twist. It was only when listening to “How You Survived the War” that an artist suddenly sprang to mind and one that I’m surprised hasn’t surfaced before, the Carpenters. Few vocalist in my mind, have managed to sound so wondrous vocally and it’s something the Weepies manage, without sounding like they’re breaking a sweat.

Even as the album draws to an end, the strength of the songs is incredible. “Takes So Long”, reminds me of a song we used to sing as kids, and I couldn’t help but smile when I first heard it, in fact a smile seems to break, whenever this track comes on. I think for me, the most surprising track on this album, is the one that closes things out, “All This Beauty”, which is an amazingly strong song, which could easily have opened the album. 14 tracks that are an absolute joy to listen to.

Conclusion : Just sheer magic. I have to admit, while previously having a strong affinity for Deb’s vocals, I’m now enjoying Steve’s much more than before. If you liked the previous Weepies album, buying this is pretty much a no brainier. If you are new to the Weepies, this is an amazing album to add to your collection, especially if you like the mellower side of pop. Although I’ve marked this as a 9.5, it’s very much a 10 out of 10, in theory anyway. I just have to leave room for improvement… if that were possible.

Posted in Acoustic, Pop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Two Over Seven – Daniel Ledwell

Posted by admin on 13th May 2008

  • Band / Artist : Daniel LedwellmySpace
  • Genre : Folk / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : N/A
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

Sometimes I feel like beating my head against a wall, as I occassionaly find new music almost accidentally. In some cases this shouldn’t be so, as I’ve previously reviewed the band Daniel Ledwell is in, In-Flight Safety before on Indie Launchpad, actually back in April of 2006. Although recordingwise, things with the band are quiet, Daniel released this 7 track album in January and it’s an incredible collections of songs. I only found out about Daniel’s solo work, via the CBC Radio 3 New Music Canada podcast, otherwise I fear it may have evaded my radar totally. Although this is advertised as an album, I’m loathe to call it that, as at just a tad over 24 minutes, a little light for an album. The 7 tracks on here though are an just amazing, so I’ll let it slide.

Two Over Seven is “seven songs about the bad, bad things that happen to our hearts”, consequently this is not an album to get you dancing, unless it’s on the prostrate body of someone who’s broken your heart. To call these tracks melancholic, is a bit of an understatement, but there is just an amazing beauty in the sadness and despair. Opening with “Daisy, You Are a Liar”, I was instantly enamoured with both the sad and almost despondent vocals, and the wonderful minimalist accompaniment, which really allows the misery and hurt to bubble away. “Little River Run” is a very similar track, as is “New Flame” and to be frank, I could listen to this kind of sorrow for ages as it’s always a delight when it’s not your own.

“I Have Made You a Mixtape” is the track that brought Daniel to my attention, and it’s just a wonderful example of melancholic pop, signing off with a stunning kick in the teeth. Simply delightful. “Gone for Good” is probably the weakest track on the album, although I think some of that is down to playing in the aftermath of “I Have Made You a Mixtape”. “Writing You Out” bares similar musical traits to “I Have Made You a Mixtape”, both in the melody and delivery, but manages to tell a story all it’s own. Track 7 is the appropriately named “Goodnight Goodnight” and all too quickly it’s over.

I have to admit, this was one of those albums I threw into the CD player at home, and within seconds managed to burst the family happiness bubble. OK, maybe a slight exaggeration, but it’s certainly not the kind of album to get the party started. That being said, once I managed to find some quiet time to listen, I loved every minute of it.

Conclusion : A great album, with the jewel in the crown, appearing dead centre of the album. If you like the melancholic side of music, Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, Black, you’ll love this.

Postscript : When running this review through the spell checker, Daniel’s name obviously was flagged and I hit the change button a couple of times by mistake, before realising. When I looked back, Daniel Ledwell had been changed to “Denial Lethal”, could that be a sign.

Posted in Folk, Pop | No Comments »

Album – Kiss the Monster – P. Hux

Posted by admin on 13th May 2008

I may have shuffled around this mortal coil for 2 score years and nought, but it didn’t stop the wave of adolescence wash over me, when I first saw the name P. Hux, because the first thing my mind did, was put it together and say it phonetically. What can I say, maybe I should tell you about my childhood someday. Anyway the P in P. Hux, is actually Parthenon, not a name you come across everyday, but certainly one you’ll not forget in a hurry, which can also be said about the artist, whose track record is suitably impressive. He’s had a recording career that’s spanned nearly 30 years. His first recording earned critical acclaim, as have many of his subsequent releases. He has also been a member of ELO II, which makes a lot of sense, when you hear his sound.

The 11 tracks featured on this album, are sheer power pop at their finest. Indeed one of his first reviews commented “You could land a marlin with these hooks!”, and nearly 30 years later, not a lot has changed. This is finely crafted pop, that is instantly accessible. Although I’d seen the name P. Hux mentioned on various websites and indeed had received a couple of emails mentioning the name in passing, but it wasn’t until I listened to a special Coverville podcast episode, that I actually got the chance to listen to the music and was instantly hooked.

“Kiss the Monster”, the latest album, features 11 tracks, all of them prime examples of what makes an excellent power pop track. The first track is “Perfect” which when I first heard the vocals, reminded me of Gerry Rafferty, who had a big hit in the 70’s with “Baker Street” and was also a member of Steelers Wheel, who’s song “Stuck in the Middle” was a track featuring prominently in the movie Reservoir dogs. Anyway I digress. The track opens and apart from the aforementioned vocals, there are some very interesting, almost Roger McGuinn / Byrd’s jangly guitars, which are just wonderful. “Yet to Say” is a track that hides behind and interesting, fairly mild intro and then bursts forth into an amazing track, which you can’t help but move to.

There’s something oh so familiar with both “Wear My Ring” and “Bones”, which I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m sure it’s their similarity with a couple of other more popular tunes, but I can neither think of the track nor artists, not that it matters a jot, they are still great songs, although a little more mellow and relaxed.

“Come Clean” is another great track, which unfortunately blemishes an otherwise brilliant album. The reason for this is the occasional F bomb used here and there. Not that I’m a prude, I love Radiohead’s, album version of “Creep”, but it’s very in keeping with the album, here it just didn’t feel right, in the midst of the other tracks. Of the remaining 6 tracks, the one that really excited me was P. Hux’s version of The Beatles’ “Looking Through You”. I’m a huge Beatles fan and always approach covers with a sense of excitement and apprehension. From the guitar opening, it’s all there, great music and vocals.

The final two tracks on the album, take things down a few notches. “Just Might Fly” has a really nice lyrical flow and indeed could have easily ended the album. It is however “Everything’s Different Now” which closes the proceedings. A real look into the void kind of track, which really appeals to the darker side of my musical tastes.

It’s funny that many times with albums, the title track is the strongest, or so I hope, track on the album. With an album name like Kiss the Monster, I was really looking forward to hearing a title track, but alas it never materialised. Probably me just being silly, but I can just imagine “Kiss the Monster” as a real raucous, rousing powerpop smash.

Conclusion : If there were a text book, to detail what makes a powerpop tour de force, this would certainly feature heavily as reference material. A terrific collection of some of the finest powerpop I’ve heard in a long time.

Posted in Powerpop | No Comments »

Album – The Fall – Sule

Posted by admin on 4th May 2008

  • Band / Artist : SulemySpace
  • Genre : Rock / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : Duck and Cover
  • Buy CD : N/A
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

Sometimes when investigating new artists, what I hear on websites or MySpace sometimes doesn’t fill me with excitement or eagerness. However while my ears aren’t set on fire, something in my gut, tells me to stop and delve a little deeper. This was the case with Montreal, Canada native, Sule, who after I listened to his music on MySpace, enjoyed what I heard, but whether it was the time of day, or the music I’d listened to before hand. my gut instinct was screaming at me to follow up with the artist. This I did and a week or so later, with CD in the player, I was absolutely blown away.

The album opens with “Duck and Cover”, which at first sounds like a pale copy of a Lenny Kravitz track. As the track unfolds though, it smolders and burns. While this track and indeed the whole album has a kind of Lenny Kravitz overtone, the music is sharper and the vocals smoother, without the wailing Kravitz screetch. For me, the album starts proper with “Go On (With Yer Bad Self)”, which has a wonderful acoustic/piano opening, which builds with strings and with a hint of what sounds like a tin whistle, interesting mix of sounds indeed. “Numb” for me should be earmarked as a single, it just has that slow burn start, with killer chorus, that has hit written all over it. The following track “Alive” also is an amazing track, but for different reasons. It has some great lyrics, that roll and flow incredibly well.

I’ve been running Indie Launchpad for nearly 3 years and am still surprised, that I am amazed at the incredible talent that somehow flys below most peoples radars, after all the is the exact reason Indie Launchpad was started. If this were a mainstream artist, I’ve no doubt it would top many charts. There’s a great diversity about this album, but it still hangs together very well. “Mysterious” being a case in point. It’s a more mellow track, but still has that rock overtone. “Simplicity” also has a distinctly different flavour, and is perfectly placed at the centre of the album, as it very much feels like a track to give a brief respite.

I mentioned diversity on this album, and with the track “Into You”, it feels very much like modern jazz, given a rock infusion. The penultimate track “I Wanna Know (Love Stoned Mix)”, is as the title indicates, a remix of a track that appears earlier on the album. There’s a great ethereal quality to this track, which you really experience to the full, by wearing headphones, fantastic stuff. The album starts with “Duck and Cover” and ends with “Dub and Cover” a dub remix of the opener, again taking the album in new directions, which I absolutely love,

Conclusion : A fantastic album, which I’m really thankful to have found. It’s all in here, rock, dub, light and heavy. This is surely an artist destined for greater things. Looking forward to catching him in Ottawa someday.

Posted in Pop, Rock | 1 Comment »

Album – Something to Talk About – Nick Howard

Posted by admin on 3rd May 2008

  • Band / Artist : Nick HowardmySpace
  • Genre : Pop / Rock / Acoustic
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : N/A
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

Young, good looking, good voice and English too. Well enough about me and more about Nick Howard, who also shares these similar traits. OK, So maybe I can claim 1 of the 4, but this isn’t about me, this is about a phenomenal talent, brought to my attention by a long running friend of Indie Launchpad. When they approached me with a few of Nick’s tracks, I had a listen and was eager to find out more.

Having already played “A Better Man” on the podcast, I was really looking forward to hearing the full album, as there is a sound here, very reminiscent of Nik Kershsaw, another cracking English songwriter, who had several hits in the 80’s, but also had a phenomenal album, To Be Frank, released in 2002. Nick shares many of the same qualities, that make listening to his album a sheer joy.

“A Better Man” opens the album, and the first thing that hits you is Nick’s great voice. Not only is the tone, just right, but there’s a great clarity, which makes listening a sheer joy. Musically, there is also much to love, from the drums to the lovely guitar work that bubbles under nicely. “Wrap Your Streets” has an ever so slightly darker edge to it, but it’s really something that is nice to find, as this is an album that could easily have gone down the boy band route, and faded into bubblegum popdom, fortunately there is so much more to it than that. “Should’ve Know Better”, has something of note happening with the vocals, which are looser, with almost a tiredness to them. I’m not sure if this is intentional, or if it’s the 99th take of the vocals, but it’s something I find very real and doesn’t detract from this wonderful track in the slightest.

“The Pressure” is a very pianocentric track, in the very best tradition of Billy Joel, but with a Nick Howard sound, securely stamped on it. This also would have been a great track to end the album on, as it has that strong feel, of drawing to a conclusion. “Bullied By My Dream” reminds me of a pop/rock track of a few years ago, not that I mention this to detract from the song, rather that it’s interesting to hear other influences, whether they be intentional or otherwise. “My Mistake” is a very nicely balanced track, and there’s just something about the drums on this track, that really grabs the attention of my ears.

“On The Outside Looking In” is an interesting track. Although Nick is from England, and to me, that is very evident in his music, this track has a very American sound. It’s still a very pleasant track, but for me, it kind of sticks out from the other tracks. Of course this is probably just me, but I’ve listened to the album on a good many occasions and every time, I get to this track, it kind of gives me a gentle slap, if you know what I mean.

Heading into the last third of the album, things really loosen up with “I Don’t Really Care”, both in the music and this time in the vocals that this time, just sound like someone feeling very comfortable. Drawing the album to a gentle and relaxed end is “Up and Down”, a relaxed track with very prominent vocals, which just goes to reiterate how good Nick’s voice is. “One Night in the City” is a fitting end to a wonderful album, which could also be easily released as a single.

Conclusion : This is an album that has been playing constantly in my car. The winter is subsiding, threatening to turn to summer and this is just one of those albums that going to fill my ears as the wind works it’s way through my hair, driving with the windows down. Superb.

Posted in Acoustic, Pop, Rock | No Comments »