Archive for August, 2008

Album – Bingo – Rinaldi Sings

Posted by admin on 26th August 2008

OK I think I have to make a full disclosure here. Apart from being a huge fan of Rinaldi Sings, I’m also a Cockney, so when the opening line of the album unfolded:

“Cockney. Characteristic speech, of the greatest city, of the greatest empire, that the world has ever known”

I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise, I won’t mention what’s said after that. I’m not sure of the film, this line features in, but suffice to say, being so far away from the place I was born, it brought back a pang for the place I used to think of as home. This self conscious feeling soon passed as “You Take Me There” the first track of 11 got underway, and it was then that I suddenly realised that the last Rinaldi Sings album and indeed only the seventh album I ever reviewed, was way back in November of 2005. Admittedly it’s been a little while since I played the last album, but I can’t help but sense, things here are much more refined and Steve has managed to hone his craft even more than the previous release.

I’ve heard many albums that allude to that sixties sound, but although the albums are usually pretty good, they can’t help but end up being pastiches of the real thing. Here, things are very different. You very much feel that Steve Rinaldi has this music in his blood and it’s transposed directly from his soul. I’ve heard terms like “bubblegum Northern Soul” which doesn’t really do much for me. The phrase I love is one that I found on the PR material supplied with this CD, “Cockernee-toned pop”, and it’s this phrase that I feel gives many a simple insight into what to expect.

With the first track, there are all the hallmarks that listeners to the first album will remember, from the brass and guitars to the distinctive vocals of Steve Rinaldi. “You Got Me Believing” continues this characteristic sound. Where the first album had a few rough edges, they were in keeping with the overall feel of the CD. This CD also has that rough, almost raw edge to it. Steve’s vocals are certainly not Scott Walker, but I much prefer them, as they have a realness to them. “End of an Error” is an interesting song, as that 60’s sound is prevalent, and only betrayed slightly with the opening verse, relating to reading a text message. I can’t explain why, but when I heard that I couldn’t help but raise a wry smile.

“Bingo”, the title track is in fact the song that I had the most trouble with. Having listened to the album a couple of times, it just wasn’t my cup of tea, or so I thought. It’s a very atmospheric track, which I can well imagine being used on a soundtrack, showing the protagonists after they have just successfully completed a heist. It was when listening to the album in the car and hearing this track, that it just clicked with me. Whilst it’s still not my favorite track by an means, it’s not longer a track I feel the need to skip past. “The Only Show in Town” is a great laid back track, which has a wonderful piano solo in it, but the piano in this case is one that’s more akin to being found in a pub. Thinking about it, it’s more like a piano found in an old western saloon. It’s just those kinds of features in a song that raise my interest no end.

“Pick Me Up, Put Me Down”, is a pleasant track, but one that feels very much like a filler track. It has some nice brass featured, but seems to amble along. I absolutely love “Welcome”, especially the opening line:

“It’s been a long time. It’s good to see you mate. But it’s like meeting an old girlfriend, when you’ve put on some weight”

Upon hearing this line, I suddenly had a flashback of bumping into all my old girlfriends and couldn’t help again smiling. The other thing I particularly love on this track is the bassoon that gets featured later in the song. The bassoon is not an instrument you hear very often, in fact I though it was an oboe at first, as it’s been that long since I’ve heard a bassoon. Hearing it here, combined with some strings, just sounds so fresh and interesting. and again just makes this album feel much more mature than the previous one. The keyboards that open “Come as you are, You’re a star”, are very reminiscent of early Beach Boys songs, but the song soon breaks away from this preconception and turns into a fairly fast paced, pop song.

And yet again with “She Don’t Know”, there’s yet another instrument that you’d be hard pressed to heard on a modern pop song, the harpsichord. I’ve always had a soft spot for the harpsichord, since listening to the Beatle’s song “Girl” a million and one times and then more recently, but still many moons ago hearing it featured on the Strangler’s song “Golden Brown”. The track itself is terrific and is enhanced all the more, by the creative musical genius.

“Goodbye Steve McQueen” is the first track I heard in full from the album and it’s certainly managed to hit all the right spots and virtually had me salivating for the full album. While Steve McQueen was a big part of my growing up, he’s all but forgotten today, apart from his car chase in the movie Bullit and his abortive attempt at jumping a barbed wire fence in the movie “The Great Escape”. The track itself is fast paced, high octane and brass filled. Wonderful stuff.

The album closes with “Where Did It All Go Wrong Mr Best”, which is for me one of the weaker tracks on the album, but still very listenable. I think the thing that really spoiled this track for me, is the electric guitar solo that breaks in half way through the track. It’s funny that this then made the track feel very much like an album ender, but just doesn’t sit right with the rest of the tracks.

Overall a fantastic album, which tips a huge nod to the music of the 60’s, but also manages to assert a Rinaldi Sings stamp of it’s own. With a creative use of instruments and some great lyrics and music, this is an album I have long waited for and enjoyed immensely.

Conclusion : There’s many great rock, pop, R&B, Soul and a plethora of other good albums. However with so many other albums in the same genre competing for the attentive ears of music lovers, it’s great to come across an album that rises above the norm into a realm of it’s own. Were it not for the fact, I know full well that this is a modern release, I could have well believed this was a classic release from the 60’s. Authentic, creative and sheer unadulterated class.

Posted in Pop, Powerpop | No Comments »

Book – The Empowered Musician – Chris Juergensen

Posted by admin on 11th August 2008

  • Author : Chris Juergensen
  • Publisher : Lulu
  • Cost : $14.99 (Paperback) – $7.99 (Downloadable PDF)
  • Buy Book : Lulu
  • Pages : 133
  • Star Rating : 9 out of 10

Chris Jurgensen is a name familiar to many Indie Launchpad readers. I reviewed his last album “Big Bad Sun”, back in September of 2006. His latest album, “Strange Phenomena” is currently towards the top of my review stack, but that will have to wait a little longer, as out of the blue came an email from Chris, letting me know I’d been mentioned in his latest book. Lo and behold, not only is Chris a crack musician, he’s also an author. His previous book “Infinite Guitar” comprises of the guitar lessons previously published on his web site. His latest book “The Empowered Musician” has the sub title “Finding financial Freedom in Music”, and goes into fine detail of what to expect when you enter the music business, from the pound of flesh you can usually expected to part with with your first recording contract, to doing it all yourself.

Before going any further, I think it’s important to say I read this book, from beginning to end. I am not a musician, just someone who’s passionate about music. I’ve been told many times, I should be a singer, but unfortunately the only thing that cures me of stage fright is vast amounts of alcohol and then as you can imagine, that’s not really conducive to a charismatic stage presence. Anyway I originally only intended on skimming this book and writing a quick paragraph or two, but with Chris’ great writing style, I found it pretty effortless to digest the whole thing. Admittedly this isn’t a large book, at 133 pages, but this is also reflected in the cost. That being said, what you are paying for here, is quality rather than quantity and there is just a ton of information here, for anyone looking to make a living from their music.

The book is broken down into 12 chapters :

  1. Introduction
  2. How the Professional Thinks
  3. Education
  4. Understanding the Music Business
  5. Empower Yourself
  6. Your Website and Marketing
  7. Internet Radio and Podcasts
  8. Press Kits and Where They Go
  9. A Word of Caution
  10. Making a Living
  11. Finances and the Keys to Success
  12. Questions and Answers

As you can see all the areas are covered, with the emphasis of actually making some money from your hard work. There were a few times, I felt that some of the chapters could benefit with being expanded a bit, but I’m sure most of that was due to me enjoying Chris’ writing style.

Conclusion : If you are in a band or recording solo and are looking to persue music as your career, this will certainly get you up to speed, let you know what to expect and even point out some of the many pitfalls. Even if you aren’t a musician and just curious about the music business, this books serves as an interesting insight.

Posted in Book | 1 Comment »

Album – One More For The Road – Rob Szabo

Posted by admin on 11th August 2008

It’s been a while since I reviewed Rob’s last album, Like a Metaphor, so you can imagine I was a little taken aback, when I found Rob had released not one, but two albums, The first of these is “After the Gravity”, a collection of older studio recordings, demos and acoustic versions of songs recorded by his previous bands. It was this album, “One More for the Road” however that really got me excited, a collection of 13 tracks recorded live.

The first thing that struck me, was the wonderful sound of the recordings, that capture the atmosphere of a live performance. Many times, recorded live performances are tweaked and cleaned, almost to the point of sterility. Here the recordings are crisp and fresh.

“Beautiful” and “Good Son” are particular favorite tracks of mine, which maybe isn’t too surprising, as these two tracks were on the previously reviewed album Like a Metaphor. While the live and studio version are a great contrast, they are all great in their own right. “Good Son” in particular is probably my favorite track on the album. Melancholy and me are great friends and with this song, we have a great soundtrack.

Other particular favorite tracks are “Trampoline”, “The Others” which is absolutely magic, “Incandescent” with it’s great guitar accompaniment and “I Live for the Summer”, a perfect end to an amazing album.

I was unlucky to have missed Rob the time he last came to Ottawa. I know now what to expect and will not be making the same mistake again.

Conclusion : This album for me, shows what is really lacking in the current indie music scene. Yes there is an abundance of talent, but few seem to be brave enough to release live material, which is a shame, as I’m sure there are some tremendous tracks and albums waiting to see the light of day. This is a prime example of a live recording done right, and hopefully gives other bands something to aspire to.

Posted in Acoustic, Pop | No Comments »

Album – SLAVE to the SQUAREwave – SLAVE to the SQUAREwave

Posted by admin on 11th August 2008

80’s hairs, 80’s fashion and not forgetting 80’s music. It all came flooding back when I heard SLAVE to the SQUAREwave (STTSW) for the first time on Pete Cogle’s PC Podcast. Although the band are virtually right on my door step, here in Canada, it would be easy to transplant them back into 80’s England, were time travel possible. The first track “Sinners of Saint Avenue” sounds very much like The Associates, who had a big hit with “Party Fears Two” in the early 80’s. The vocals don’t quite cover the same range, or have the same intensity of the Associates lead singer Billy McKenzie, but they share that similar Bowiesque vibe. “New York’s a Go-Go”, begins in a very electrofunk style, but that is soon quashed with heavy guitars and then a more contemporary vocalist came to mind, Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy.

“Big Change” has that electronic swirling string sound, but it’s upon hearing the vocals that the power of the 80s’ washes over me again. Although “Pumping up the P House” follows in a similar formula, there’s just something about it, that disagrees with me. In fact with 14 tracks on the album, there’s a wealth of music, resulting in an album that’s an hour long and whilst I enjoyed the majority of tracks on the album, there was the odd one or two that seemed slightly out of place, the aforementioned, being one of them.

Of the remaining tracks, I loved “London Baby”, with it’s hint of 90’s pop and “Hopeless Believers” with a great acoustic guitar intro, or I’m assuming it’s acoustic, but knowing this band it’s probably all electronic. “Gorilla Swingin’ Discotheque” would have to be included in the tracks I like, be it just for the title, fortunately there’s also a driving, relentlessness, that while alienating the bands 80’s hallmark, has an almost hypnotic charm.

The album finishes off with a remix of “Pumping Up the P House”, which while not my favorite track, is much preferable to the original.

A really interesting band, that has their feet firmly in the 80’s, but manage to add a more contemporary edge. As an album it feels a little disjointed, but there are enough gems to make the album a worthy addition to your collection. They’re certainly a band I’d be interesting in seeing live, as I’d be quite interested in how they bring this all together live.

Conclusion : A wonderful 80’s bitchslap, which brings back vivid memories of growing up, but also allows me again to wallow in some great music, of a style that is often overlooked.

Posted in Electro, New Wave, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Famous for Fire – Adaline

Posted by admin on 11th August 2008

  • Band / Artist : AdalinemySpace
  • Genre : Electroacoustic / Folk Rock
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

When I got this album in, I was kind of under the impression it was going to be a fairly low key, female vocalist kind of thing. That was based on my listening to just one track on the album and then podcasting it, soon after. When I got the album in, what surprised me was the depth. The opening and indeed title track “Famous for Fire”, while having sumptuous vocals, also have that almost theatrical feel to them. This style of music, often goes two ways, either totally over the top (which can actually sometimes work), or far too serious for it’s own good. It’s nice then to hear something that bucks this trend, an manages to carve a niche of it’s own. With the following track, “Find My Way”, it’s funny but more I listen to it, the more it reminds me of a mash-up between Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time” and Abba. Not that that’s in any way a criticism, but it’s certainly an interesting vibe.

“Chemical Spill” for me goes off on a tangent into the late era Tori Amos sound, which for me is a real turn off. Not that I’m not open to different sounds, Whiter Straighter” being a case in point, with it’s muted trad jazz trumpet. Here’s a song that comes alive and you can just sense Adaline let herself go and it’s a joy to hear. “Poor You” changes tempo, but again the vocals, with their dreamy air of beauty, capture you in the headlights, transfixed and helpless, but not wanting to move.”Meaningless Meeting” was the track that introduced me to Adaline and the more I hear it, the more I love it. Again, there is certainly a Tori Amos feel to this, but it draws more from her pure talent, rather than her pure madness.

“Pioneering” turns it up a notch, and dips a toe into more conventional pop/rock, and it’s kind of the last thing you expect, but I couldn’t help but smile, because here’s a girl that’s doing what she wants to do and while I feel like a spectator, I’m one on the same bus as Adaline and not wanting to get off.

The album ends on a more malancholic note, but while the mood is down, the vocals soar and I couldn’t think of a better song on which to close.

Conclusion : Just an amazing album, that had me constantly notching up Adaline’s final mark, as I kept playing the album and finding new things to love. Aural candy and very tasty.

Posted in Electroacoustic, Folk Rock | No Comments »

Site Update

Posted by admin on 3rd August 2008

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any site updates, but wanted to let you know about a few changes happening here at Indie Launchpad. The number of CD’s submitted has skyrocket and while I’ve tried to keep on top of all the great music, it’s got to the stage where something has to give. While I love to wax lyrical about the merits of releases, realistically I just don’t have enough hours in the day. As from today, you will notice a greater frequency of reviews posted, but many of these will be of a shorter form, 2 or 3 paragraphs, rather than some of the more epic reviews, which I will save for the albums that attain the highest Indie Launchpad ratings.

The Indie Launchpad review site also serves as the content provider for the podcast, so not only are reviews posted, but a track from the release also features in the podcast. Sometimes, I’ve been snowed under, not able to post any reviews, and had to skip a podcast. Under the new arrangement this should no longer happen.

Please understand all music reviewed is listened to, sometimes many, many times, so reviews are never just thrown together to meet deadlines. My passion for music is as great, if not greater than when this site started. I’ve had the privilege to work with many great artists, bands, PR, marketing and record companies and value the relationships I’ve built up over the 3 years this site has existed.

Indie Launchpad was created to showcase the finest in independent music, and I like to think I’ve done a pretty good job so far. Please feel free to contact me, if you feel these smaller reviews are not long enough, or if you have any ideas for improvement.

Thank you stopping by, reading the reviews and purchasing the many albums you’ve let me know about. Here’s looking to the future.

Editor – Indie Launchpad

Posted in Indie Launchpad News | No Comments »

Album – Lucky Girl – Kirsten Proffit

Posted by admin on 2nd August 2008

Many of the female vocalists that really get under my skin, have that edge of uniqueness, whether it’s their music, words, vocals or a combination of the three. I have to admit, although I’d sampled some of Kirsten’s music and had my interest piqued enough to get a copy of the album in for review, when I listened to the album, I though that this was maybe a little too pop for me. I keep seeing Debbie Gibson in my minds eye as I listened to the tracks, and I suddenly had an epiphany, a kind of reality check. Yes this maybe pure pop with a hint of rock, but it’s still musically very pleasant. The more I listened, the more I began to enjoy.

As the album unfolded, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was manufactured pop, with a nice girls voice, being given all the benefits of modern recording magic. As always the Internet is my friend and it didn’t take me long to find a few of Kirsten’s videos on YouTube and she sounds awesome live. I would have loved a live recording to have been included on the CD, but that’s one of my complaints about many artists, so maybe a little unfair to single out Kirsten.

Favourite tracks on this 12 track album would have to be “Something I Can’t Be”, “Chance and Circumstance”, “Lucky Girl” and “Marilyn”

Conclusion : Maybe a little more pop than anything else, but it’s well written nonetheless and wonderfully sung.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – The BDI’s – The BDI’s

Posted by admin on 2nd August 2008

With a nod to 60’s greats such as Free and the Faces, this is one of those albums, that can either console you when you’re in need of a shoulder, or fuel the inner fire, when you are pumped and ready to bitchslap the world.

While this album certainly has a very heavy 60’s flavour, there are other great influences clearly heard, like Curtis Mayfield and The Style Council, that fusion of soul and pop, with a dash of the blues.

Of the fourteen tracks, I really loved “Slow Burning”, “The Islands”, “Jingle Jangle” and “The Wrong Man”. There are a couple of tracks, that left me a bit cold, the most noticeable of these was “That’s One Driven Man”. As soon as this track began, it seemed to really stick out from the rest. The other one was “William the Conqueror”, just not my cup of tea.

A really great band, with a nice sound. There seems to be trend where more and more bands are cramming as many tracks as they can onto a CD release. The BDI’s do here, with 14 tracks and a running time of 41, which averages around 2½-3 minutes per track, another trait of many of the 60’s classics. Having an album fizz along for 14 tracks, is a task in itself and like many albums, this one could probably have felt a lot tighter with a few tracks removed.

Conclusion : A great sound coming out of the UK and a name I’ll be keeping track of.

Posted in Blues, Pop, Soul | No Comments »

Album – Radio Insomnia – The Latebirds

Posted by admin on 2nd August 2008

  • Band / Artist : The Latebirds
  • Genre : Pop / Rock
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : N/A
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 7.5 out of 10

I have to admit this is the first Finnish band, I have every reviewed, in fact I think it’s the only Finnish band I can actually name. With an interesting mix of rock and pop, influences range from the Who and The Stones, to INXS, but with a gentler pop style vocal. Actually the vocals are pretty mellow, with the merest hint of an accent, but they’re not strong enough to actually be able to place.

“Set Free the Radio” is the track the starts the album off and it does so with great gusto. Other notable tracks are “Will to Fall” and “Fill Me In” which I have to say is my personal favorite. The album closes with “Without June” which is fairly downbeat, and at a tad over 6 minutes, kind of brings the album down a notch.

This album was actually released in 2006 and a new one has been recorded, entitled “Last Of The Good Ol’ Days” and scheduled for release in early 2009.

Conclusion : A great album, that maybe lacks a bit of fire. The vocals are pleasant and music is tight. Maybe would have been a bit tighter with fewer tracks.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Between Voices – Anti Atlas

Posted by admin on 2nd August 2008

I made a concious effot to get some reviewing done today. Got myself all geared up to do one set of reviews and ended up doing something totally different. I sat at my computer all fired up for something a little up-tempo and out of the corner of my eye, I caught glimpse of a CD I haven’t seend in a while. “Ah, Anti Atlas”, I thought, “I reviewed that one ages ago”. Something made me search for their name in my email and low and behold nothing came back, well nothing from me anyway. Ooops, nearly fell through the cracks, but nice recovery from me.

I put the CD on and memories from a year ago came flooding back, memories of my then newborn son. I used to listen to this CD, to unwind and relax. My mood suddently changed. I was no longer, wired for something fast and furious, I had a tender spot that need itching and this CD would do it nicely.

Opening with “Wait for Me”, this is most definitely down-temp, chill music. Back in my youth, this is the kind of album I’d have put on, after coming back, wired from a night on the town. Yes, I realise that makes me sound like some old codger, but that’s what we used to say and I can tell you, it’s not that many years ago. As the dawn began to rise and your mind was still spinning from the excesses of the night, this kind of music was the perfect lullaby to unwind and mellow out to. “It’s a Shame”, has the most wonderful vocals, courtesy of Gemma Hayes. They’re breathless, haunting and exceedingly sexy. In fact all 8 tracks here feature different vocalist from all over they world, and they are all exceptional.

“Cool is the Night” is just an amazing track. It has that effortless, flying through clouds feel to it. The vocals, this time are provided by Richard Walters and they wash over you, wonderfully. There’s an sound that features ever so delicately, on this track, which reminds me of the theme tune to the old 60’s TV show, the Persuaders I think it was, the sound was also featured quite a lot on another 60’s TV show, Prisoner, can’t think what the instrument is called, but it’s a string instument stuck by sticks.

Although there’s only 8 tracks on this album, it still adds up to nearly 40 minutes of music. All the tracks have that late night chill vibe and are each masterpeices in themselves. Fantastic stuff.

Conclusion : This is a great album, to wind down to. An essential addition to your collection, if you need something to take the edge off every day life.

Posted in Classical, Down-tempo, Lounge | No Comments »