Archive for the 'Electronica' Category

Album – Honeysuckle Weeks – The Submarines

Posted by admin on 16th April 2008

  • Band / Artist : The SubmarinesmySpace
  • Genre : Folk / Electronica
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : Amazon
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

I reviewed the previous album by The Submarines, back in June 2006 and while I really enjoyed it, it did take me a while to really get into it. When I first heard them, I have to admit. I thought of them as a pale imitation of the Weepies, who also share the same record label, but the more I listened, the more I began to appreciate them for themselves.

Again this new album from the collaboration of Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti features 10 tracks. Where the previous album had that darker tinge, here it’s a much more relaxed and happy affair. The album starts perfectly with “Sub Symphonika”, with it’s very light and upbeat music, fused some very phased and delicate vocals. This track also sounds very familiar. It’s almost like I’ve heard it on a TV commercial. “Thorny Thicket” continues the great mood of the album, and further highlights the great fusion of sounds and vocals. Musically this is a very well produced album, which has a lot going on, but never feels like it’s lost it’s way. I did feel at time though, that the vocals were somewhat overshadowed.

“You Me and the Bourgeoisie” has a very interesting sound, which is at first very reminiscent of The Tutles, “So Happy Together”. Talking of reminiscent, “1940” also has a similar vibe to some of Massive Attack’s work. And that’s one of the things I really love about this album, it’s ability to morph and change and yet still feel tightly woven together. I won’t even mention the Lightening Seeds when talking about “The Wake Up Song” as I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this one, but don’t let that detract you from what is a great collection of songs.

“Swimming Pool” is the track that snuck up on me, while I was listening to the album on the bus. I got off the bus about half way through the song and was just about to reach work, when “Bam” it hit me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I played this track over and over again and just couldn’t help but smile like an idiot. “Maybe” is another track that just really gelled with me. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for “Xavia” and the oddly named “Fern Beard”, which while both started promisingly enough, just seem to slowly unravel. Sometimes it’s hard to quantify what you like or dislike about songs. These are two examples of that.

And so we come to the final track, “Brightest Hour” which could at first be mistaken for a Christmas track, as it has a very Wintery feel to it, with what almost sound like sleigh bells in the background. It’s a wonderfully soothing track though, and a great way to end an album, that descended on me from out of the blue.

Conclusion : I found this follow up to Declare a New State, much more accessible and brighter. While I really liked the former, I absolutely love this one, save for a couple of tracks that just weren’t to my taste. I’m hoping that this brighter sound is here to stay, as it really makes for a more pleasurable listening experience.

Posted in Electronica, Folk | No Comments »

Album – Thank God We Got Good Friends – Tom Geiger

Posted by admin on 6th April 2008

  • Band / Artist : Tom GeigermySpace
  • Genre : Electronica / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : TBA
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9.5 out of 10

In starting Indie Launchpad, I’ve not only gained access to an unbelievable vein of music, but I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some amazing artists. There are a few artists however, that go that extra step and let me know when they have news. Tom Geiger, is one of those artists. I first discovered him on MySpace, I think it was, at the end of 2005 or early 2006. The song that struck me like a bolt of lightening, was the appropriately named, “Thank God We Got Good Friends”. Over the years, there’s been a track here and there, but just before Christmas Tom sent me, his proposed new album. Originally 8 tracks, but now 9, I can’t convey the excitement I felt in putting on the album for the first time. Before continuing, I do need to clear up something that may be a little confusing. Although the album is called “Thank God We Got Good Friends”, on iTunes, it still appears as “Vicious Times”, in it’s original 8 track incarnation. This is because of a few factors, including the big digital distribution wheels turn slowly, so Tom left it on iTunes as is. It is also available on SnoCap, by it’s intended title and also the full 9 tracks. Also the final intended running order various slightly, with the addition of the extra track, so I’ve gone through the album in the order Tom intended the final album to be.

The album opens with “Empty Girl”, with that wonderful sound that has become a hallmark of all Tom’s tracks. It’s a very ethereal, electonica sound, fused with Tom’s great laid back vocals. In the past I’ve compared Toms vocals to sandpaper, the highest grade mind you. Tom’s voice has that real life quality to it, rather than some faux manufactured pop sound and it’s one that really contrasts his music nicely. There’s just something that really gets under my skin with Tom’s music, and I mean that in the most sincerest of ways. “Can One Day Change Your Life”, has a more upbeat, contemporary sound, but there’s no mistaking those vocals. “Vicious Times” is one of the tracks previously featured on the EP of the same name. It’s funny, I hadn’t listened to this track in a while, but it still managed to come across as fresh and new.

OK, so we get to a track that many listeners of the Indie Launchpad podcast are no strangers to, being the one track that has probably featured more than any other song, and also the title track of the album, “Thank God We Got Good Friends”. This to me, is probably one of my favorite tracks of all time and I mean indie or otherwise. There’s just that perfect blend of pop, delicately balanced with melancholy. I’ve heard numerous version of this track and loved them all.

“Queen of C-Bus” is a slight odditiy on this album, in that it’s more pop than electronica. The very thought of that would have probably jaded my thoughts, if I’d have know that before hand, but it’s hard not to be won over, by such a great and fun track. “Wrong Way” is the third track, along with “Thank God We Got Good Friends” that featured on the Vicious times EP. I remember sitting on the fence with this track, which maybe was valid on a 3 track EP, here however it slots in nicely and really feels like a part of the album, rather than an odd cousin. “Peace & Love” is a track that reminds me of another electronica artist, I Am Jen. It has that really similar vibe to it, but both artists manage to take there music in two distinctly different directions.

“Some Days are Better Than Others” is a track that only appears at present on SnoCap, but Tom does intend on it being present on the final physical disc pressing. It’s another of those great fusions of electronica and upbeat pop. It’s hard not to come across as a fanboy, but when I like something I like it full tilt and Tom has never so far given me a cause for concern. The album closes with an extended mix of “Can One Day Change Your Life” by John Creamer & Stephan K, which is one of those tracks I would have bought on 12 inch vinyl back in the day. It’s just over 8 and a half minutes and terrific stuff.

Conclusion : An absolutely wonderful collection of great music, from an artist who appears to not want to compromise. It’s true, that over the course of 2 plus years, music has trickled slowly down the chain, but what has appeared has always been stellar. It would be remiss of me not to mention Lance Jordan, with whom Tom has collaborated extensively, with writing, production and at times instrumentally. With the first album hump over with, I’m looking forward to what the future may bring. One of Tom’s tracks has already been featured on the ABC TV show, Eli Stone and I’m sure there will be many more to come.

Posted in Electronica, Pop | No Comments »

Album – Elevate – Morgan Page

Posted by admin on 27th March 2008

  • Band / Artist : Morgan PagemySpace
  • Genre : Electronica / House
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : Amazon
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 8.5 out of 10

When I was growing up, you either bought music on tape or vinyl, yes those black (well not always), circular things (mmm, again not always) with a hole in the middle. If you happened to stumble across one in the street and it was considered naff, like the latest Max Bygraves (don’ ask) album, or a Top of The Pops special, it usually ended up becoming a frisbee, as indeed did my brothers single of the Jam’s “Going Underground”, but that was certainly not naff, he just used to play it all day and I really do mean all day, until I’d had enough and watched it descend 17 floors from our bedroom window. If it was of suitable weight, it made a nice Deathstar explosion, as the shards of a former melody littered the surrounding landscape.

Vinyl was usually sold as 7 inch singles played at 45 RPM (revolutions per minute) or 12 inch LPs (Long players) played at 33 RPM. There was however another variant, the 12 inch single which was also played at 45 RPM. One one side would be the single and the other side would usually comprise of a few oddities, rare tracks, or a few remixed variations of the single. In the 80’s this began to get a little over the top, with the remixes taking presidence and it became quite common for the whole B side to be filled with really naff, totally unoriginal mixes. I think this is where my disdain for remixes came. That’s not to say there weren’t exceptions, I can remember some absolutely great remixes, but on the whole they left me cold.

When I was sent an email telling me about Morgan Page’s new album, the thing that really struck me, is that it appears all of the tracks seemed to originally be by other Nettwerk artists, some of which I’d already reviewed. Remixing is very much an art form. Yes you want something that doesn’t sound like a rehash, but you also need to be sensitive to the artists work, as that essence still needs to remain. This Morgan undoubtedly does exceptionally well. Although this isn’t to my usual listening tastes, my interest was piqued and I got the album in for review.

Of particular interest was Jenny Owen Youngs’, “Fuck Was I”, which I was quite intrigued to see how Morgan would rework it. Yes the dance, element is there in full, but what really shines through is Jenny’s distinctive vocals, which contrast the music nicely. Leigh Nash’s “Nervous In the Light of Dawn” is another particular favorite of mine. Leigh has an especially light and beautiful voice, so there is some concern that a remix will swamp her voice, and while that is true to some degree, I found myself really enjoying the music and thinking of Leigh’s vocals as accompaniment, excellent accompaniment at that.

Of the other 11 tracks, I found something interesting in them all, featuring the works of The Submarines, Nelly Furtado, Delerium and Bitter Sweet to name a few. True this is not the kind of album I’d kick back and relax too, but it’s certainly one to dance to and I’m sure many of the tracks will feature prominently in nightclubs. It’s also an album I could well imagine being used to train to, or to listen to while out jogging.

Conclusion : An unusual album, but nevertheless very interesting. For lovers of remixes or dance music, this will be a very welcome addition to your collection. For everyone else, there is much to like and the occasional track that just hits the ball out of the park.

Posted in Electronica, House | 1 Comment »

Album – Yours Makes Mine – Pete Samples

Posted by admin on 6th February 2008

If there’s one thing I love, it’s having my aural senses cosseted and caressed. This is exactly what happened when I put in the new CD from Pete Samples and was greeted by the amazing, if a little short track “Bouquets of Balloons”, which really appeals to my love of the repetitive. Listening to amazing sounds and music that just roll in and out, like the serene majesty of the sea.

I’ve mentioned frequently my love of what I can only call the repetitive. One of the greatest examples is the first 30 seconds of the Who’s, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” which I’ve always wanted to splice together into a track that lasted an hour or so, but just never got around to. That same itch is ever present throughout this album. “Standing Upon the Shoulders of Giants”, is simply an amazing track that has all those early mentioned traits, but also has an almost hypnotic beauty. No complexities, no over production, just sheer magic.

All through the album, there’s the unmistakable sound of vinyl, the crackles and pops, that remind me so much of listening to Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd. Indeed there’s a very strong 70’s flavour to many of the tracks, or rather influence, that combines effortlessly with the sound of the naughties. “Angered Man: Novelty Store” is probably the most intense track on the album, which is hardly surprising given the title, which certainly does little to hide it’s wrath.

The 10 track album ends with “And All the Kids Smile” which feels very much like a reprise of sorts. It’s interesting to hear so many different elements of the album converge on this one track. Kids singing, repetition, harsher sound. Although I said this is a 10 track album, on my pressing there are in fact an extra 3 tracks. Track 11 seems to be a reworking of “Standing upon the Shoulders of Giants”. I say reworking, but it’s probably just a different mix sans vocals, as it lasts the exact same amount of time. Similarly for the other two tracks, which are different mixes of “If Something Changed” and “And All the Kids Smile”.

Conclusion : This is such an interesting album, from so many different viewpoints. I love to put this album on to unwind and just let me mind go soaring. If you are into the ambient and mellow, there’s so much here to enjoy.

Posted in Alternative, Electronica | No Comments »

EP – Invisible – I Am Jen

Posted by admin on 1st February 2008

  • Band / Artist : I Am JenmySpace
  • Genre : Pop / Electronica
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 8 out of 10

Having reviewed Jen Scaturro’s previous EP under the name I Am Jen, back in April 2006, when I heard she had released another EP recently (cough well over 4 months now), I had to get it in for review. There’s something wonderful about the way she fuses an electronic sound, with soft, raw vocals, resulting in something quite special. The EP opens with “My Other”, which is a treat for the ears, especially the sounds in the first few seconds. As soon as you hear Jen’s vocals, it’s hard to believe nearly 2 years have passed since the previous EP. Again with the title track, we have an aural feast, which has become something of a hallmark for Jen’s music. I hear the great production and it’s hard to believe this is all recorded in her apartment. “Invisible”, while being the longest track on the EP, seems to end in a blink of an eye, another thing that really enforces how good this music is.

Interestingly enough though, my favorite track on this 4 track EP is “Blowing my Mind”, which uncharacteristically for Jen, has not an electronic sound in earshot, apart from the probable electronic, real sounding piano. There’s just something very warming about it, as it’s pretty much piano and vocals. It’s the kind of track you can imagine playing on the closing credits of a movie. Unfortunately the final track “I Can’t Explain” scuppers the clean sweep. There’s something very disjointed about the music and indeed the vocals. I have an inkling this is as intended, but to my ear it sound both disturbing and awkward and could easily have been left of the EP in my opinion.

On a quick side note, it has to be noted that the cover for this EP is decidedly simple. For anyone who has seen the YouTube video, “Making the Broken EP“, will appreciate why this probably is. Take a look anyway, as it really is a great video to watch.

Conclusion : Another cracking release from Jen, with just a mere blotch at the end. Here’s hoping it’s not another 2 years till the next release.

Posted in Electronica, Pop | 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 – The Marriage of the Sun and the Moon – Aaron English

Posted by admin on 5th August 2007

The tone of this album reminds greatly of some of the classics, from the likes of Led Zepplin and Queen. However whilst the vocals have that Led Zepplin, power and Queen melodramatic delivery, the underlying music has an almost conflicting softness. Aaron will probably wince when I compare him to Al Stewart, he of “Year of the Cat” fame. That’s meant in no way as an insult, just that the rhythm and lyrically flow has that softer feel to it.

This 12 track album opens with the title track and as you would expect it’s a very strong opener. There’s some great uses of instruments, especially drums. The Al Stewart influence for me, is very strong in the second track “Thin Ice”. As I said before it’s more the lyrically flow than the music, but it’s a wonderful influence nonetheless. “Like Smoke” shows a completely different side of the album, with an almost middle eastern sound.

“Lovers in the Red Sky” is a more traditional ballad and for me is one of the real gems on the album. I’m a sucker for a ballad and this one has a real great feel to it, in both the production and the performance. There’s a real temptation to go through the album, track by track, but I’m sure you can pick up on the fact, that I’m 4 tracks in and there is quite an eclectic mix of influences and flavors.

I do however have to give a special mention to “Crossing the Desert, Crossing the Sea” which smacks to me of a track by Sting. I can just imagine him singing this. Maybe this isn’t a coincidence as track 11 is a cover of the Police’s “Message in a Bottle”, although this is a cover with a very different interpretation. The final track “Moon Murmurs” is one of those tracks that’s just amazing to listen to whilst wearing headphones and would have to be one of my favorites on the album.

Conclusion : This is an album that I probably wouldn’t have discovered, were it not for the fact that Aaron himself contacted me. This is very much an album that stands out from the crowd, for all the right reasons. I have to admit, it took me a couple of plays to really get into, but was well worth the perseverance. A little touch of something different and a wonderfully well executed album.

Posted in Electronica, Melodramatic Popular Song, Pop | No Comments »

Album – Soundtracks for Sunrise – The Winston Giles Orchestra

Posted by admin on 10th June 2007

I can’t remember the podcast on which I first heard the Winston Giles Orchestra, but I knew as soon as I heard it, that I had to get it in for review. This in itself proved to be a little harder than usual, seeing as the CD had to make its way from Australia to Canada, and the postal services just didn’t want to play ball. However the CD eventually made it’s way and I ran off to my stereo like a giddy school child.

This is an amazingly well balanced album, whose 10 tracks flow effortlessly, making it feel like a ensemble piece, rather than a rag tag of disjointed tracks. The production on the album is just stunning, with an amazing sound bed, giving your ears a whole ton of aural candy to digest.

The CD opens with “We Wait For Sunrise”, a track to me that is very stereotypical of the Winston Giles Orchestra sound. It reminds me a lot of a UK band called the Orb, but with less psychedelic/trippy influences, noting I said less, rather than no. This whole ambient sound spills over into the next track “Welcome to the Hotel”, which features vocals that blend in very well, reminding me a lot of Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd. “A Little Song” is a slight departure, but those signature sounds are still there. The beginning of “Revenge” is still more of a departure, but it soon falls back into line with the rest of the album.

Track after track of just stunning music. I was a big fan after listening to that one track from the album on a podcast. One album later and I’m a huge fan, who can see myself playing this album into oblivion. “All Come Together” is probably my favorite track on the album, having the most amazing of beginnings. “Welcome to the Hotel” also gets a very favorable mention.

Conclusion : A wonderful album showcasing some of the amazing stuff Australia has to produce. Just sheer magic.

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

EP – Vicious Times – Tom Geiger

Posted by admin on 14th January 2007

  • Band / Artist : Tom GeigermySpace
  • Genre : Electronica / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : N/A
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9.5 out of 10

I’m a little in the lax department when reviewing this EP. I can’t for the life of me think why though, as it’s an absolutely stellar EP, with a track that’s been featured heavily on the Indie Launchpad podcast. One of then reasons (no excuses here) would be that when I originally came across Tom Geiger, there was no formal release available to purchase. When his EP finally became available on iTunes, I had the best intentions of reviewing it, but it somehow fell by the wayside. So here it is, dusted off and sitting on that musical pedestal for all to admire.

This 3 track EP opens with the song “Vicious Times”. Musically this is best described as a kind of electronic, melancholic pop. Tom’s voice has a wonderful quality that fits the music like an OJ hand in glove, tight as tight can be. For me though, the number one reason to buy this EP, has to be the second track, the absolutely awesome “Thank God We’ve Got Good Friends”. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve played this track, but it’s one of the few tracks I can easily play over and over again. Tom’s voice has that barest hint of roughness to it, a kind of grade zero sandpaper voice. The music is very understated, allowing the vocals to drive the song forward. It’s a ballad of sorts, but without the mush. Based on this one track alone, record companies should be queuing up outside his door. The final track “Wrong Way” is a more upbeat affair, but just the south side of happiness. It’s not my favorite track on the EP, but that’s probably because I’d become accostomed to the first two a long time ago. The third track was added for the iTunes release. It’s still a good song, but doesn’t click in the same way as the first two.

Conclusion : With no record deal, it’s an absolute sin and one for which record companies should be truly embarrassed. Certainly one of the best releases of 2006 and what I hope is a building block to major success.

Posted in Electronica, Pop | No Comments »