Archive for the 'Folk' Category

Kim Taylor – Songs of Instruction

Posted by admin on 16th March 2019

I was itching to come back to reviewing music for a while. Recently I’d been listening to some of the past artists I’d reviewed and seeing what they’d been. And it wasn’t long before that urge to review come to the fore.

I reviewed Kim back in 2006, with her then latest release, “I Feel Like a Fading Light”. I resisted the temptation to read the review, or catch up on Kim’s story and thought I would let me ears guide me.

The album opens with “All My Happiness” and I’m immediately at home with the finger picked guitar, reminiscent of the songs from Dylan, Simon or Taylor. “Maybe I Need More Time” follows and I immersed couldn’t wait to see what was yet to come.

While there’s beauty in Kim’s music, there’s also a sorrow, or maybe it’s more likely life’s experiences finding their voice

“The Long Line” was also a particularly stand out track, with the effortless slow burn and ethereal backing I get enough of.

The album closes to “The Last Redemption” and “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”, ending the album on a much brighter, or should that be optimistic note. It’s hard not to feel like you’ve been part of a cathartic journey.

The only track that felt detached from the rest was “Pearly Gates”, which is still a great track, but the slight reverb on the vocals didn’t work for me.

There’s been three albums between this and the last album I reviewed of Kim’s, so I’ve missed out on a lot, but I couldn’t imagine a better album to come back to.

The ultimate test of any album is continual listening and I’ve already lost count on how many times I’ve played it.

Posted in Folk, Pop | Comments Off on Kim Taylor – Songs of Instruction

Passenger- Wide Eyes Blind Love

Posted by admin on 3rd November 2010

  • Band / Artist : PassengermySpace
  • Genre : Indie / Rock
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD :N/A
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

I purchased this album, during my hiatus away from reviewing music and to some degree, it re-energised me, urging me to spread the word. To anyone familiar with Indie Launchpad, you will probably remember my more than enthusiastic review of the bands previous album, “Wicked Man’s Rest”. To some degree, this album is more of the same, but with a more acoustic, striped back feel.

The album opens with “Last Unicorn”, a song that upon hearing for the first time, I knew instinctively this was going to be an amazing album. There is incredible expression and emotion in Mike Rosenberg’s vocals, that draw you in, like an expert story teller, recalling the story of their life. The minimalist accompaniment works very well, and runs like a deep vein throughout the album. “What Will Become of Us”, has some wonderful lyrics, as well as some quite beautiful, but very subtle vocal accompaniment. It is one of several songs on the album, that I find myself strongly drawn to. As one song finishes and the next begins, there is a great continuity. Much of this is probably due to the basic production, but it also has a lot to do with the songs themselves. The transition between, “Is See Love” and “Rainbows” is effortless. “Caravan” is another of the songs that really struck a chord with me. In particular the beautiful lyrics. There is also a whistling respite in the song, that you just can’t help trying to replicate, like Otis Reading’s, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”. “Wide Eye” is in effect the title track, albeit one side of it, as the album title is a combination of two tracks that appear on the album.

“Underwater Bride” has a very fragile feel. The vocals are fractured, with a hint of desolation and despair. As I find a lot of the time, one mans despair is another man’s beauty. There’s something I can’t help but find beautiful in someone elses misery. “Strarlings” has an altogether different feel, reminding me to some degree of acoustic artists of the 70’s. While this was a very interesting and fertile time, this track can’t help but feel to me, a little out of place. It’s also a tad over one minute thirty, so has little time to redeem itself. “Blind Love” is the second half of the album title along with “Wide Eyes” and the old magic has returned. The album closes with “Snowflakes”, which for some reason has a very North American Indian feel to it. Yes I’m probably as far left of centre as I can be, but I can’t help how my mind works.

Conclusion : A truly wonderful album, that is certainly worth purchasing along with the bands other album, “Wicked Man’ Rest”. It’s certainly a more reflective album, but it just works so well. Outstanding.

Posted in Acoustic, Alternative, Folk | No Comments »

EP – Like Wolves – David Condos

Posted by admin on 21st September 2009

  • Band / Artist : David CondosmySpace
  • Genre : Acoustic / Folk / Country
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : N/A
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 7.5 out of 10

It’s funny, I can’t remember how I found out about David Condos, but discover him I did and even managed to download this EP at no change from his website, though not sure this is still possible. I make many comparisons, for the artists and bands I review. Most of these comparisons are usually of household names, but every now and then an indie artists will slap me about about, when I hear something and that was the case here, where I very much reminded of the Jacob Jeffries Band. The music style is fairly different, but the vocal styles have a very similar feel.

The EP starts with the title track, opening with some wonderful cello. Immediately I was enamoured. I hadn’t heard of David Condos before, but on investigation, found he released a full album in 2006, called “Smoking City”. There’s a strong maturity in the overall sound. At times there are many layers, intertwined to form a kind of cacophony, but it’s a noise that draws you in. “Don’t Look at Me Like That”, has a lighter sound and while the name Marc Bolan kept brimming to the surface, I kept trying to suppress it, unsuccessfully I might add. That cello also returns and it almost acts like another vocal accompaniment. The third and final track, “Finding Yourself There Now”, has a much lighter feel, with it’s almost spring time, meadowy feel.

Conclusion: While it’s hard to build up a complete picture of David Condos from this 3 track EP, there is enough here to enjoy and indeed make me want to hear a full length album.

Posted in Alternative, Folk | No Comments »

EP – The Bare Bones and Bad Ideas

Posted by admin on 9th December 2008

Gentry Morris is an artist from Bangor in Ireland, who I’ve been hearing a lot lately on the various podcasts I listen to. It’s funny how they all seem to have targeted in on the first track on this EP, “Rene”, which is a pleasant song, but only shows a mere glint of his amazing talent. When I first heard him, I was at once reminded of one of my all time favourite indie artists, Paul Melançon. There’s a quality to his voice that is eminently listenable and when he lets go, there is an amazing flow of raw emotion. “Rene” is more a pop song, with a loose flow, which is enjoyable, but I saw that glimpse of brilliance and wanted more.

The four tracks that follow, could really hold this EP together all on their own. “The Box” is a fairly laid back track, with minimal musical accompaniment, but man when that voice starts to sing, there’s an incredible power, that you know is being harnessed and the reins skillfully let out when needed. “My Heart” shows a looser side and is more of a pop style I prefer when compared with “Rene”, which feels like a track produced to cater to peoples needs, rather than “My Heart” which is more Gentry Morris, well that’s my take anyway.

The last two tracks that close the EP are very laid back and melancholic, but for me this is when the EP really begins to smolder. “The Waltz” is where I feel Gentry’s voice really starts to come into it’s own. The production on the vocals is great, allowing them to soar, without distortion or hindrance of the music. “Thank God” is much less melancholic, but a real slow burner nonetheless and the perfect track on which to close.

Conclusion : A stunning EP from an artist that deserves to go far. I’m really hoping to hear a full length album in the near future, from this most exceptional talent.

Posted in Acoustic, Folk, Pop | No Comments »

Album – Wicked Man’s Rest – Passenger

Posted by admin on 5th November 2008

I don’t why I get so surprised when I receive an unsolicited CD that just blows my socks off, as was the case with the Passengers’, Wicked Man’s Rest. This year has been a truly amazing one for killer albums and this one is right up there in my top 5. In fact it’s in rare company, as one of the albums that’s I’ve hesitated to score 10 out of 10, but I think that kind of perfection has to come from an album of mythical proportions, however this is as close as I think I’ll ever get, but I’m happy to be proved wrong.

Opening with the title track, “Wicked Man’s Rest”, it instantly grabbed me, and brought to mind another UK band, Mike Skinner’s, The Streets. The vocals are not as loose as the almost lackadaisical Skinner’s, but that urban vibe is certainly present. I love the start to “Night Vision Binoculars”, which features what can only be described as one of the old Casio VL-Tone keyboards, that were popular in the 80’s. Don’t let that fool you though, this soon breaks into a full on assault of cracking music. “Things You’ve Never Done” is a really interesting track, not because it’s a gentler, more emotional track, but because it has a flow and lyrical feel that is very reminiscent of US folk Icon, James Taylor. Don’t let that put you off, this is no has been granddad folk, this is a wonderful track that tips a nod to a legend, but manages to pull off a style all it’s own. This style flows over into the next track “Girl I Once Knew”, which has a wonderful piano accompaniment, and that instrument that is like a Zither, where you hit the strings, the name of which I can never remember, but then it may just be a synth sound, nevertheless it’s a wonderful added touch.

The tempo and energy level starts to ramp up again with “Do What You Like”, featuring an almost relentless acoustic guitar, that is just wonderful. “Needle in the Dark”, features vocals that are almost spoken and it’s here that I suddenly realised the lead vocalist was English. Listening back over the previous tracks again, indeed the English access is apparent, but it just seemed to burst forth starting with this track. “Four Horses” is a peculiar little track, as it’s very much a folk song in the James Taylor mould. At first I thought it an odd track, but it wasn’t long before I was won over completely.

“You’re On My Mind” features some wonderful keyboards, almost sounding like bells, evoking a wonderful, almost wintery atmosphere, and then bang, the track is off on a different tack, normally something that drives me nuts, but this atmospheric sound returns and exits, giving the track a kind of split personality, but it works beautifully. The production on this album is wonderful, with little sounds and effects, that really feel like they’re been craft, rather than just slapped together with no thought. This is highlighted in the track “For You”, which starts of with what sounds like a music box. There’s also some great guitar and not forgetting the great vocals. I could witter on a mile a minute, about the soundscape on all the tracks when I listen back over them.

For me, it’s the final two tracks that totally blow me away. “Walk In the Rain”, has that passion and drive, that just sweeps you up in the emotion. The strings are a nice added touch. This is one of those tracks that you can feel makes your heart beat faster and for me is just sheer genius. It’s “Table for One” however that for me has to be the crowning glory, on what for me is a masterpiece waiting for worldwide adulation and accolades. This is a track that I played over and over again. Bloody marvelous.

A final note, the CD I reviewed appears to be in a slightly different order to the album as it appears on iTunes. Just thought I’d mention it, before I get the usual emails.

Conclusion : What more can be said. I’m listening to “Table for One” as I write this conclusion and I can feel the hairs go up on the back of my neck. I have discovered a work of art. Now it’s your turn.

Posted in Acoustic, Alternative, Folk | 7 Comments »

Album – Goddamned – Jay Brannan

Posted by admin on 10th September 2008

Sexuality is not something that I generally associate to music, consciously anyway. Yes in this musical world of mine, boy meets girl, marries girl, splits up, sticks together or does any of a combination of those things, sometimes multiple times and continues the rollercoaster that is life, experiencing the constant ups and downs. With that in mind, it was at first somewhat unnerving to listen to Jay Brannan. It doesn’t take long to realise that this is a young man, who’s not only gay, but has no qualms about taking us on the journey that is his life. While this may seem somewhat of an uncomfortable ride for the average hetrosexual male, I had no such worries and even if I had, man that voice can thaw all but the coldest hearts.

I found about about Jay, via my friends at Nettwerk. I received an email letting me know about this guy and his new album. I have to admit, I listened to “Housewife” with the expected preconceptions, but as these preconceptions slowly started to erode, I realised that here was an incredible talent who I had to get in for review. That being said, this is not an album for sensitive ears as there are a few things that might make grannies toes curl, in language an imagery.

“Can’t Have It All” opens the album, and the imagery is finely painted with an incredible attention to detail. The track unfolds wonderfully, showcasing some great lyrics, but an even more incredible voice. I’m not usually a fan of expletives in music, unless they add character. There’s nothing worse than swear words being used for effect, rather than for the setting of scenes. At first I though the expletives here, were a little over the top, but the more I listened to the album, the more they felt right, in a surrounding that was true to life.

With 11 tracks on the album, there’s certainly no shortage of terrific songs. “Can’t Have It All” is certainly right up there, along with “Half Boyfriend”, “Housewife” and “Bowlegged & Starving” which has a great quirky flavour to it. It’s funny, put that together with the track that follows, “On All Fours” and you can’t deny that those are an interesting collection of song titles.

The album rounds off with “String-A-Long Song”, a track that has a different feel than the rest, but it works great as a track to lead things out on.

A great collection of songs, from a truly exciting talent. Even if all the songs on this album were awful, here is a guy that could sing the phone book and make it sound good.

Conclusion : A simply stunning album, that sells itself through Jay’s incredible vocals and wonderful musical accompaniment. Certainly this is not going to be everyones cup of tea, but please take the time to at least listen to a few of Jay’s tracks on MySpace or YouTube, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Posted in Acoustic, Folk | No Comments »

EP – Lights Across the Sky – Nat Jay

Posted by admin on 7th September 2008

  • Band / Artist : Nat JaymySpace
  • Genre : Folk / Acoustic
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes Pending
  • Rating : 8.5 out of 10

There’s a new breed of female vocalist that seems to be all the rage at the moment. Gone is the sugar sweet, doe eyed facades to bland pop, replaced with women who know who there are, what they want and how to get it. K T Tunstall, Kate Nash, Serena Ryder and god forbid, Amy Winehouse come to mind. As soon as I heard Nat Jay’s EP, I knew this was something quite special. What makes it all the more special was that it was an unsolicited submission from one of the many PR companies I work closely with, who seem to know what kind of music is going to hit the spot.

This 6 track EP hits the spot, with the first track “Pick Up the Pieces”. With wonderfully distinct vocals that really get me excited, overlaid on a music track that manages to drive the song effortlessly without overpowering that wonderful voice. And oh that voice. The breathless velvet tone on “Love When I Can” manages to send chills up my spine. It’s not a secret that I have a soft spot for female vocalist, that manage to either bring something unique, or manage to sound like they are making love to the microphone, well here’s it’s double bubble and the aural senses are the winner.

“Daydreaming” reminds me of another artist whose name escapes me, it’s a fairly laid back track, but there’s a wonderful production to it, with an almost ethereal quality. The more this EP unfolded the more excited I got, but also the more anxious I got, as I just knew when the EP was over, I was going to feel somewhat at a loss, with a feeling of being cheated out of a full length album. “Lights Across the Sky”, the title track, is a great track, but one that I didn’t quite feel deserved title billing, as certainly the first 2 tracks are far stronger.

“On My Own” the penultimate track, mixes things up a little. A more uptempo track, but that feeling of intimacy is gone, replaced with something a little more sterile. It’s a niggly point, but with only 6 tracks, I didn’t feel this track was strong enough for the EP, more suited as an album track.The final track “Untitled” returns to the formula that I feel makes this an incredible EP. Certainly the second half, is not as strong as the first, but as an EP this is still pure magic.

Conclusion : A name that I was previously unaware of, but now one that I am eager to hear more from.

Posted in Folk, Pop | No Comments »

Album – Learning to Bend – Ben Sollee

Posted by admin on 29th June 2008

I’ve mentioned before my love of the cello, an instrument that in the hands of the right person, is almost able to speak. So when this album came in, my interest was immediate. Unfortunately though my interest was immediate, my listening schedule was not, so it’s only now, after having the able for a few months that I’m able to give it the attention it deserves. Fusing an interesting blend of genres, from folk and acoustic, to an occasional hint of jazz, this is an album that’s a real tour de force. The vocals also are a perfect companion to the music, clear and soulful.

The eleven track album opens with “A Few Honest Words”. A plucking cello starts the track and you know in an instant, that this is something quite different. Not too sure it’s the right track to open the album, as it’s quite a laid back, almost dark track. “How to See the Sun” in my opinion would have been a much better opener, which I can’t help but feel I’ve heard somewhere before.

For a title track, “Bend” is just a beautiful listening experience, from the wonderful use of the harp, to the great female accompaniment. This vocalist at times reminds me of another, whose name escapes me, but she’s featured on the Roger Waters album, “Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking”. Things liven up a little with, “It’s Not Impossible” and it’s here that I had this strange thought that this sounds like a Canadian artist, which I know isn’t the case, but there’s a sound that runs constantly thorough this album, that I’ve heard many many times here in Canada.

“Prettiest Tree on the Mountain” sounds a little like one of those early Elvis tracks, only not quite so rockin’, which in this case is a good thing. Ben even manages to pluck his way through a cello solo and for the first time, I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned a cello solo on Indie Launchpad and this is one of the reasons I get so excited when encountering an album like this. Too often people get trapped into stereotypes, pigeonholing their own tastes in music. Tell some people that this album has in it some wonderful cello and they’d probably run a mile and that’s pretty much the failing of main stream media.

“Panning for Gold” is probably one of my favorite tracks on the album. It has such a wonderful vibe to it, especially again the cello, that features throughout and I think a violin or two, it does take something of a lacadasical detour after three minutes however. “A Change is Gonna Come” is a reworking of the Sam Cooke classic and Ben manages to really take ownership of it. Not too sure about the saxophone on this track, which I think makes things a little too busy,

“Built for This” allows Ben again to flex his cello chops. This is one of those tracks that I can imagine being played on a fiddle, around a campfire. It has that real turn of the century feel to it. The final track “Copper and Malacite” again seems to draw influences from elsewhere almost sounding like it should be on the soundtrack to a western.

Conclusion : An album that manages to stand out from the crowd, for all the right reasons. A wonderful mix of instruments and music, result in a wonderful listening experience. This is one of those albums that while you could choose to have playing in the background, when you are in a mellow mood, but you get so much more out of it, if you consciously decide to sit down and really listen.

Posted in Acoustic, Alternative, Folk | No Comments »

EP – In Between the Lights – Naama Hillman

Posted by admin on 1st June 2008

While I have many relationships with artists, labels and PR/Communications companies, there’s nothing quite like the buzz of finding music by myself. Admittedly this is often helped by the many podcasts I listen to, and one in particular, the DarkCompass podcast is where I discovered Naama Hillman, who was being interviewed at the Goldhawk Sessions. I immediately like what I heard and when she mentioned the free EP on her website, it wasn’t long before I had it in my possession.

The EP is made up of 5 tracks, including one which was a very nice surprise. The first track “Falling” reminded me of Tracey Chapman. Now at first you may think this is a little out there, but there is just something in Naama’s phrasing that is really similar. On MySpace Naama describes one of her genres as Americana, a genre I always have trouble with. I understand what it’s meant to be, but many times, I just can’t make the comparison. When “Let’s Go Out Tonight”, Americana wasn’t my first thought, but another certain American, Jewel was. This is very much a compliment, both feature strong vocals and acoustic guitars. I kind of forgot about Jewel, many years ago, but the similarities hit me like a shovel in the face.

The next track is probably my favorite, which is surprising as it’s a cover, where the original is one I’ve never really liked that much, the unofficial theme tune of Preparation ‘H’, that old Johnny Cash favorite, “Ring of Fire”. OK, everyone’s heard the jokes before, but I just can’t help adding to them. Comedy aside, this is a stark rendition and a very beautiful one at that. It was certainly one I played a good half a dozen times, the first time I put the EP on and one I’ve played on it’s own a few times since.

“Glory” is probably my least favorite track on the EP, as it feels a little busy and I couldn’t quite focus on it. Rounding of the EP is “I’ll Be Home”. The Jewel sound is very distinct on this track and it’s a very nice track to end things with.

Conclusion : While I don’t think there is enough on this EP to really allow it to shine, I can at least see a huge potential here and will be looking into Naama’s work a little more. Certainly as a free download, this is a cracking bargain and I’m sure one that many people will enjoy immensely.

Posted in Americana, Folk, Rock | No Comments »

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 »