Archive for the 'Blues' Category

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 – How Can I Make You Mine – Vel Omarr

Posted by admin on 1st June 2008

I’ve got to admit, were I in a record shop looking to pick up a new CD, the cover of this would have me running a mile. No disrespect to Vel Omarr, but this cover, which to my mind, is a little cheesy, just does not do justice to the great music contained within. Now regular readers of Indie Launchpad, are probably going to be surprised by this albums inclusion, however I’ve been a big soul fan for many years and used to be a complete nut for the old Motown classics, so when I heard one of Vel’s tracks on Lynn Parson Red Light Zone podcast, my ears pricked up a little and suddenly those memories came flooding back, which is just the kind of nudge I need to find out more.

There’s 11 tracks on the album, with 3 of those being cover songs, although none of these were immediately recognisable to me. The album opens with “How Can I Make You Mine”, and you can almost hear Barry White’s voice singing a top the airy strings. When Vel’s vocals do kick in, you can’t help but compare them to Sam Cooke, vocals that are smooth and eminently listenable. “Hurry Back Home” continues this great sound. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album and the style on the album that I feel most comfortable with. “Feels Like Love” is the track I first heard on Lynn’s podcast and at just over 5 minutes, one of the longest. It’s an interesting track that seems to go on forever. This is one of those tracks you can imagine dancing to with your partner in some tropical climate and then just leading them off to the bedroom, I can almost imagine it being used in some movie scene.

“Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day” is the first of the three covers and this is where we’re first introduced to the brass section. I’m not sure if it’s real brass, but my suspicious are that it’s not. These suspicious are further endorsed when the track ends. It’s a real shame, as this is a great track, that is pretty much spoiled by the brass. The song also has a very lame ending, which is something akin to a cabaret act. “Trouble Blues” is the second cover and as the name implies is more blues than soul. Again this is not a cover I’m familiar with, but this version has some fantastic qualities and is up there with my favorites on the album. “That’s All That Matter To Me” is again a more bluesy track and while I like what Vel’s done with it, I much prefer the more soul inspired tracks.

“Baby Please Come Home” is the final cover and while I can’t quite place it, it does sound somewhat familiar. The feel of this track, reminds me a lot of Otis Reading and I can just imagine a few keyboard embellishments here and there, as used on “Tenderness”. “Lover’s Deja Vu” didn’t really appeal to me. Again I’m not sure if the drums here are real or electronic, but there’s something that sounds very artificial about them, consequently I found myself, listening more for those and less for the song itself, which is a shame. “Stay Where You Are” has that authentic soul sound, but there’s just something about it that didn’t gel with me. This was also true of the following blues/rock track “Al’s Sugar Shack”, which just didn’t really do anything for me. I think some of this is because it stood out too much from the rest of the tracks, I also wasn’t a huge fan of the keyboards. With regard to the keyboards, the same can be said for the last track, “I Believe I’m Falling in Love”.

This is an album that starts off very strong and tends to straggle somewhat towards the end. There’s enough here to really enjoy, even though there’s some tracks that are not quite to my liking.

Conclusion : This is a nice collection of songs, especially for listening to while snuggled up with the one you love. The only minor concerns I have is at times, the brass featured on some of the tracks sounds a little too artificial and a couple of the arrangements sound like they wouldn’t be too out of water, sung by some lounge act. That aside, this is a genre of music, that doesn’t get the exposure it deserves and there are some fantastic tracks here.

Posted in Blues, R&B, Soul | No Comments »

Album – Mad Dog Howl – The Coggs

Posted by admin on 10th April 2008

Every now and again I get an artist, band or management asking if I’d be interested in reviewing their material. Sometimes although listening to a few tracks on MySpace can give me a flavour of what to expect, there’s nothing like listening to an album in full, to really make my mind up. So was the case with this album from the Coggs. I received an email from their manager, asking if I would be interesting in reviewing the bands latest album. While I like what I heard on MySpace, I wasn’t really chomping at the bit, to get the album in. I did however sense there was something about the bands sound that was going to be interesting, so I asked for a copy of the album, which duly arrived about a week later. On a side note, the band are also from Ottawa, so that was another incentive to really give the band a listen, as I really want to get out more this year and listen to some live music.

The first track, “Elevator” didn’t really appeal to me, with it’s rock and blues, infused with an interesting bluegrass inspired electric guitar. It didn’t turn me off, but by the same measure didn’t turn me on either. “A’int it Nice” is a more familiar sounding blues rock and it’s here that the album really starts to come alive. “Hideout” with it’s lengthy intro, seems to draw from many classic 70s/80s rock tunes, but it’s more gentle inspiration rather than blatant rip off.

This album, really has it’s twist and turns and there seem to be surprises everywhere. “Raised by Wolves” is full on, rock and this is where the band really seem to be at their most comfortable. The vocals are a little akin to an angry slur, but it really adds to the raw feel. The title track “Mean Dog Howl”, draws much from the classic blues rock guitarists like Clapton, in his John Mayall / Yardbirds days. It’s an incessant driving force that is hard to stay immobile to.

I love the vibe on “Pissin’ in My Ear” and it is in fact probably my favourite track on the album. It has a much lighter sound and reminds me of the great 90s band, Ocean Colour Scene. This for me, is where I feel most comfortable. While the hard rock tracks are great, I find it hard to relax and listen to them. This is much more melodic side of the band, and I understand that to concentrate on this style would probably drive a wedge down the middle of the band, but it’s just so much less demanding to listen to. “In Your Eyes” again is a more laid back track which further strikes home the point I made earlier.

“Eleven” is another of the tracks that really have that Clapton feel, but here it’s more in his Cream phase, which is certainly a compliment to the bands playing skills. “You Don’t Lie Well” rounds off this 13 track offering and it rounds it off with a bark rather than a whimper.

Conclusion : This is a band that I’d really be interested in seeing perform live. They have that aura of a band that would be quite stellar. I suppose there’s going to be little excuse not to, seeing as they’re virtually on my doorstep. While the heavier tracks would be amazing to listen to live, I feel the calmer, more melodic tracks are more suitable to an album. Again personal taste, but still this is a very well crafted and accomplished album, that showcases the band nicely.

Posted in Blues, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Superbleau – Sarah Lemeiux

Posted by admin on 18th March 2007

  • Band / Artist : Sarah LemeiuxmySpace
  • Genre : Blues / Roots Music
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : mySpace
  • Rating : 8.5 out of 10

Although I have a strong penchant for female artists, it’s not often I find a female artist that adopts the blues as her choice of poison. I first heard Sarah on mySpace, listened to a few tracks and then approached her to submit her album. Once I received the album however I couldn’t quite seem to get in the right frame of mind to appreciate it. This has happened with a few albums. I know they are good, but for whatever reason, I don’t have that connection with them. It was one night, actually more like the early hours of the morning, when I put Sarah’s album on, plugged in my headphones and was just blown away. Boom, that click moment I’d been waiting for.

“Moonshine” begins the proceedings. It’s a very laid back track, with a very musically relaxed feel to it. It almost feels like a live track. “Boo-Loo-Lah Blues” is a track that I can’t help smiling to. One of the reasons, is that it reminds me of a song played on a kids cartoon show, my children watch, Peep I think it is. It’s also a track that has some wonderful guitar accompaniment. “Gliss” is certainly an interesting track, all 8 seconds of it, which I think is there more as a segway to “Le Temps…”, which as you might guess is a song all in French and is in itself a relatively short track at just under 2 minutes. “Homesick” is one of the softer tracks on the album. Musically there is a lot that reminds me of Simon and Garfunkel, but the vocals couldn’t be more different. Sarah has an incredible voice, but there are occasions where she’s forcing the lyrics, giving emphasized emotion, where it’s not needed and it’s then that they provide a distraction from the track itself. “Momma’s Got The Confusion” also has that very emotive vocal deliver, but the track itself warrants it, so it flows much better.

“Blues Stew”, as the name indicates, is a very blues infused track. It almost feels like a standard that the likes of Johns Mayall and his Blues Breakers would play. “Manhattan” has a more jazz feel to it and shows a nice alternative side to Sarahs voice. “You Keep You Warm” is an instrumental track featuring primarily acoustic guitars. It feels neither blues, nor jazz and indeed feels a little misplaced on the album, but who cares, what a wonderful track. “Enfin” is another track with French lyrics and is indeed an old French standard, unless I’m much mistaken. The vocals are a little weak for me. I would have loved to hear Sarah’s voice smolder and sizzle a bit on this one, as it has the potential to be an amazing track. Track #12, the final track… oops I’ve let the cat out of the bag. Suffice to say it’s top secret and a delight.

A final special mention has to go to the band that accompanies Sarah, the Super Blue Band. They’re musically very tight and just a joy to listen to, providing a great platform for Sarah’s voice.

Conclusion : The blues is not my usual cup of tea, but there’s something about this album I really love. Admittedly it took a while to click with me, but when it did, I was really blown away.

Posted in Blues, Roots Music | No Comments »