Archive for the 'Pop' 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.

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Album – Loneliest Generation – Harper Blynn

Posted by admin on 20th October 2010

I’m sure the band will not mind the comparison, but when I first heard the opening track, “25 Years” I couldn’t help but hear a strong vocal resemblance to Paul McCartney, very reminiscent of his early solo years, it’s the strong, belt it out style of vocal. For the top 40 of yesteryear, this would have been a certain hit record, fast paced and eminently memorable.

“Steal Your Love”, while shorter, actually feels like a longer track, but still very much in the upbeat style. “The Doubt” sees the album back pedal and relax a bit. It’s hard not to be seduced by the basic, but very clean vocals in this very simple, but elegant song. “Loneliest Generation” again swings back to the more upbeat, but I can’t help but feel “25 Years” would have been a better title track.

On “Love Struck Kitty”, the first thing that hits you with track, is the bass drum, a very pleasant assault on the ears. The second thing is the almost rhythmic lyrics. At first I was on the fence, but after hearing this track a few times, I really began to enjoy it. “Centrifugal Motion” continues with a driving beat and it was then that I realised, as an album it had me hooked.

Listening on head phones as I do the majority of time when reviewing, I loved ” All That Noise” with it’s wonderful acoustic guitar and piano accompaniment. The vocals also are very complimentary. Finishing off the album is “It May Be Late”, which has that wonderful, bringing an album to a conclusion feel. It reminds me a lot of listening to old vinyl albums, and hearing the last track and wanting to flip the album over and play it again.

Conclusion : The whole album in fact has a very balanced feel, not too dissimilar to Macca’s later works, especially Flaming Pie. There’s the up beat, stereotypical singles, the down beat, self reflective songs and that little hint of quirkiness. A very enjoyable album.

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Parlotones – Stardust Galaxies

Posted by admin on 18th October 2010

  • Band / Artist : ParlotonesmySpace
  • Genre : Rock / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : Amazon
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9.5 out of 10

Many albums come my way that I really enjoy. There’s a few that really capture my imagination. There’s a few however that totally blow me away. Needless to say, the Parolotones latest release Stardust Galaxies is firmly in the latter category. I kind of came across the band by accident. I found their past release in my in pile. but reviews had kind of ground to a halt. The podcast was still going stong, so I decided to feature a song from this album on the podcast. The song I chose was “Play On” which was never a single, but unbenowst to me was recently featured on the US TV show, Ghost Whisperer. Raphael from the band’s label, thanked me for including them on the podcast, and sent me a link to their new album, the very same one I’m reviewing here.

I really wanted to review this album the instant I heard it, but unfortunately I got it in February and the release date, if I remember correctly was in June. I put off reviewing it and, well anyway I’ve finally got around to reviewing it now.

The album opens with the amazingly strong “Push Me to the Floor” which is just one of those killer opening tracks.The vocals are very reminiscent, well to me anyway of the Killers. It’s one of those songs that cries to be aired on radio stations near and far. What excites me more, is the sheer creative genius that unfolds with each track. This is not an album driven by a couple of killer tracks, this is an album, where the band has grown, and forged forward. While their previous release “A World Next Door to Yours” was a pleasant album, it didn’t have that killer punch. I’m reminded of a couple of albums, of the recent past, like Oasis, “What’s the Story Morning Glory” and Blur’s, Parklife. The instant I heard them, I knew they were going to be considered classic and I very much had that feeling with “Stardust Galaxies”.

“Stars Fall Down”, slowly unfolds and kind of hits you in the gut with melancholy. It’s a hard thing to explain, but there’s a real beauty in the sadness. “Fight Back”, again slowly unfolds, and has that anthem quality, akin to Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. I can just imagine a packed to the brim stadium audience singing along. “We Call This Dancing”, at first felt a little like the odd track out, but it slowly works into it’s groove and then, that Parlotones hallmark slaps you in the face.

“Life’s Design” is a song, that again took a little while to get into it’s stride, but as soon as the chorus unfolded, bam it becomes an integral part of this albums makeup. In making this album, there are themes and idisyncracies that are used throughtout, “Fly to the Moon” being a case in point. It’s slow burner, but I can’t help but feel genuine emotion. This could very well be me reading too much into things, but this album feels like it was a labour of love.

“Remember When” sets it’s scene very quickly and as the song unfolds, a picture is painted very vividly in your head. “Welcome to the Weekend” features again the sound of kids voices and feels very much like a logical extension of the previous track. When ever I review an album, while zeroing on the best tracks, I can’t help but make a mental list of what I consider the worst tracks. “Brighter Side of Hell” kind of went straight into that list, but as the song builds momentum, I didn;t have the heart to relegate it to a list that so far was empty. Suffice to say though, I don’t consider this one of the stronger tracks, but by no means bad.

Entering the last quarter, I make no apologies for reviewing each of the 12 tracks, as I don’t feel anything less would do justice to the album. “Science” certainly slows things down a bit, and you kind of realise that the preceeding tracks have ripped by. “Fireworks and Waterfalls” has an interesting intro. When “Reaching your Destination” is mentioned, it’s profetic that it leads into the final and indeed title track “Stardust Galaxies”. For me this is a perculiar title track. It’s very downbeat and kind of out of kilter with the rest of the album. The female vocals make a welcome appearance, but I’m glad that they’re just on this one track, as for me, it’s the distinctive vocals and excellent songwriting that make this album.

Conclusion : When I hear an album this good, I want to tell as many people as I can. It sounds silly, but it kind of hurts to think of an album this good, not reaching the widest audience possible. I hope with this review, I further that reach just a little more.

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Album – Accidental Experimental – Inara George

Posted by admin on 9th November 2009

  • Band / Artist : Inara GeorgemySpace
  • Genre : Alternative / Folk Rock / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : N/A
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 8.5 out of 10

I like to think I have a pretty eclectic and open mind when it comes to music. However, every now and again, I find my self discounting an artist or band at the slightest of challenges. Case in point, Inara George. For whatever reason, subconsciously kept thinking this was going to be some kind of Aboriginal or Maori music and just passed on by. Let me clearly state, I don’t have anything against Aboriginal or Maori music, but it’s not usual fayre of Indie Launchpad, and with so many artists and bands to investigate, one or two do manage to slip through, that shouldn’t. Anyway, yes slap me silly with a wet fish, imagine how stupid I felt, when I actually took the time to delve a little deeper and found what I can only describe as an absolutely amazing artist.

The album opens with, coincidentally enough, the first track of Inara’s I ever heard, “Surprises” and to say my socks were blown off is and understatement. I immediately replied to the email from Inara’s record label and upon receiving the album, voraciously ingested the album with relish. With a wonderful voice, that reminds me a lot of the early Suzanne Vega, with a hint of the musical stylings of another indie artist, Ingird Michaelson, the album, is exceedingly easy on the ear. Many of the songs like “Surprises”, “Accidental” and “Can’t Say No” feel somewhat upbeat, even though they are laid back tracks, there are a few tracks like “Bomb”, “Where to Go” and “Captured” that have a more darker tone, however this is shrouded with amazing vocals, and works out well, giving the album some nice contrast.

For me the stand out tracks on the album, would have to be “Surprises” which I have absolutely played to death and still love, “Bomb” which was recently KCRW’s top tune, “Bottlecaps” and “Captured”.

Conclusion : For anyone with a penchant for wonderful female vocalists, like me, this album is a total no brainer. For anyone that is looking for great vocals, with that little quirk of wonderful, do yourself a favour and head straight to your favorite digital download service.

Posted in Alternative, Folk Rock, Pop | No Comments »

Album – Misadventures in Stereo – Jim Boggia

Posted by admin on 15th January 2009

  • Band / Artist : Jim BoggiamySpace
  • Genre : Rock / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : amazon
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

The instant I had the fortune hear Jim Boggia sing, I knew in an instant that this was going to be a special album, that I needed to get my hands on. This 10 track CD opens with “Johnnie’s Going Down” and I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to one of my favorite current indie artists, Mike Viola, solo artist and member of the Candy Butchers and Lurch. This turned out to be quite an apt comparison as Mike and Jim gig together quite a bit and I get the feeling they are quite good friends. “To and Fro” also shares that Mike Viola pop vibe, and is truly a wonderful track.

It was the third track, “No Way Out” that really made my ears prick up, as this is where I feel Jim really begins to come alive. While the previous two tracks are more conventional pop, this track has a much more soulful, earthy tone. In fact it reminded me a lot of Rod Stewart, but the Rod Steward of old, when he was in the 60s band, The Faces. “So” is another track that really blows me away, as there is a wonderful emotive quality to Jim’s vocals that are quite mesmerising, as indeed they are for the following track “Nothing’s Changed”.

“8 Track”, shakes things up a bit, but this is more rock, that the poppy sound of the first two tracks. The title of the song is very apt, as there is a great 70’s rock vibe to this track, very reminiscent of George Harrison in his solo days. Talking of George Harrison, be sure to hunt around on Jim’s site for a cover of one of my favourite Harrison songs, “Wah Wah”. It’s funny how one minute I can kind of criticise for sounding 70’s, 80’s etc, but the key is being able to use these influences and firmly place your stamp on them, which Jim does exceptionally well. “Listening to NRBQ”, has that very 70’s AM sound and it just brings visions of convertibles and wind in your hair, on a sunny day, with the girl of your dreams in the seat opposite.

“Chalk One Up for Albert’s Side”, again has a hint of in this case, Steely Dan, but it’s the wonderful vocals, that firmly have the name Jim Boggia in your head as you are listening to them. The penultimate track, “On Your Birthday”, is a very short and whimsical track, and whilst pleasant, feels a little like a filler. This however cannot be said of the final and in my opinion, best track on the album, “Three Weeks Shy”, a story of a soldier killed 3 weeks before returning home. Those Rod Stewart syle vocals return, to this final and indeed longest track, at a tad under 7 minutes, an amazing way to draw a wonderful album to a close.

Conclusion : An album that starts of one way, but turns about face, from pop to more emotive rock. Certainly an artist whose CD will remain in close proximity to my stereo for a good while yet. If you like your vocals with heart, whistle on down to your music outlet of choice and whack down some folding stuff, pronto.

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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 »

EP – boyandroid – boyandroid

Posted by admin on 26th November 2008

I love discovering new bands, especially when they are a little off the beaten track, as are boyandroid, a four piece band from Munich, Germany. As in the best tradition of Abba, you’d never know this band were from Germany, in fact they remind me a lot of Panic at the Disco and to a certain degree, Fall Out Boy, with their own style of emo/pop/rock.

The EP opens with a title very reminiscent of Panic at the Disco, “Magnify Insects Under Bright Light”. It’s an OK song to open with, but lacks a certain something. “Thommy” is an interesting track, that has a nice progression. It’s fairly laid back and mellow,but does have it’s moments of fire, with a very interesting, almost Hammond organ sound.

“Bottles as Ashtrays”, apart from having an awful title, is a wonderful track. The emo sound is a distant memory, replaced instead with a wonderful, style of pop, that could almost be ColdPlay on speed. It’s also the shortest track on the album at a tad under 4 minutes, the other tracks being on average 5 minutes. “Goodby and Farewell” is for me the track that pulls everything together. It’s got a wonderful, intro that lasts well over a minute, and has that wonderful hypnotic monotony that I love. A cracking track. Bringing the EP to a close is “Centurion”. At well over 6 minutes, this is the longest track on the album, and again has that hypnotic style I love. It a track that knows where it wants to go, but is in no hurry to get there.

Conclusion : A wonderful German discovery, which I hope isn’t the last. I much prefer the latter half of the EP, and although I like emo on the whole, feel this is a band that would do much better to push their own style of rock/pop.

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Album – A Telephone Built for Two – School for the Dead

Posted by admin on 15th November 2008

Although I only reviewed the last release from School for the Dead, back in January, it was actually released in 2004. To say I wasn’t expecting to see another release so quickly after the last review was a bit of an understatement, but there in my mailbox, was the new release, A Telephone Built for Two, and I have to say, after the previous album, I had high expectations.

The CD opens with “Periscope” and that infectious brand of pop hits you square between the eyes. I made the comparison before with the Indie powerhouse group, They Might Be Giants, and indeed there is much the two bands have in common, but there is also definite School for the Dead DNA running through these songs, which is no doubt mostly down to Henning Ohlensbusch, principal songwriter, lead vocalist, guitar, etc. This guy has music in his pores and it shows. That’s not to forget the rest of the band, who manage to round out the sound and remind you it’s not all a one man band.

With some bands, probably quite unfairly I’m looking for that killer track, one that burrows into my brains. With A Telephone Built for Two, I was pleasantly surprised to find not one, but three such tracks. The first is “Save My Place”, a wonderfully simple song, but it really manages to burrow like a happy maggot. Next is “Journal of Lies”, which has a wonderful quirky keyboard arrangement, which reminds me of the soundtrack to the kids movie Bugsy Malone. The third track is “Superhero”, which I have to admit really has that hint of They Might Be Giants flavour, but it’s certainly a nice condiment, making a track to savour.

There were a couple of tracks, that felt a little unbalanced with the rest of the album. The first of those is “Feels Like I Should” with some very forgettable 80’s sounding synth, featured at the beginning and towards the end. The other is “Back to School” with a very awkward country guitar accompaniment, which was certainly not my cup of tea. It’s funny though, as the song itself is very pleasant, but every time that guitar kicked in, I could feel those hackles rise, so to speak.
“Disgruntled Lover” was also a bit of a no no for me, or so I thought, as it has a kind of false, rockabilly start, which I hated, however after 16 seconds the song starts anew, and even though there is still a rockabilly/country flavour it’s not as alarming.

The album rounds off with the wonderful, “Thinking of A Time”, which at first could be the theme tune to Flash Gordon, and then almost morphs into Dolly Parton’s “9-5”. Surely two of the most incredible comparisons to be given to the same song, but it works wonderfully.

Conclusion : So were my great expectations met? They certainly were, with more great pop from an artist I thoroughly enjoy hearing from. Looking forward to what the next album brings, hopefully sooner that 4 years time.

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EP – All Those Pretty Lights – Andrew Belle

Posted by admin on 28th October 2008

I was fortunate to receive near final mixes of two tracks from this, the latest EP from Andrew Belle and they certainly left me hungry for more. The EP has now dropped in my lap and has not disappointed.

The first track, “I’ll be Your Breeze”, reminds musically of Coldplay as indeed to many of the vocals on this EP, but have a much looser feel and a tempo that engages. Before long, you find at least one of your limbs, or indeed head keeping beat. The vocals for me, are what stand out most, being very easy on the ear, a wonderful tone with just a hint of a raw edge, that really adds a nice dimension. It’s funny, maybe falsely, I was under the impression that this was going to be the title track, instead this honor goes to “All Those Pretty Lights”, which is a great track, but “I’ll be Your Breeze” as that intensity that for me, really sells this collection of 5 tracks.

“In Your Sleep”, starts as a much more laid back, acoustic guitar driven track, that slowly builds into a more produced work. Whilst I love this style, I can’t help wanting to hear a more stripped back and bare track, to let the vocals stand out a bit more. This want, is filled to some degree with “Signs of Life”, but again, the production fills in and I feel that Andrew’s true talent is being shrouded somewhat.

The final track “Replace Me”, again grabbed me with the vocals. Like the rest of the tracks on the EP, it’s a tad over 4 minutes, but it has that rare quality, where you find yourself at the end of the track, thinking it’s only been on for a short while. I also love the piano that is delicately laid down, but seems to shine at just the right moments.

Conclusion : This is a great EP, from an incredible talent. The only criticisms I have, are more selfishness on my part, rather than any lacking on Andrews. He has a great voice, and I’d love to hear more of it. Maybe on the next release something purely acoustic, with just Andrew and a guitar.

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Album – Something in the Engine – Hotrod Cadets

Posted by admin on 14th October 2008

Long time overdue for review, this cracking album has been out a few months, but hasn’t been totally ignored as I’ve been listening to it in constant rotation with some of my other favourites. “Something in the Engine” is a follow up to 2005’s Breaking Up, and amongst the first albums first reviewed on Indie Launchpad. Back then they were also blazing a trail with podcasters, allowing their music to be featured, when other bands weren’t too sure. This means that in the podcast community, listeners included they are no stranger.

When I find bands I’m really into, I can be a bit of a pest, I think Alastair from the band can attest with that, as I try to keep in contact, finding our how new albums are going. Alastair put up with me and fed me a track here or there from the new album, so when the new album dropped, I pretty much new what to expect and was not disappointed.

This album feels much more complete, with a fuller sound. I loved the previous album, but this one feels more like a band, than a solo effort. Opening with “Mean Machine”, just the first few bars gave me goosebumps when I put it on, as it was so undeniably the Hotrod Cadets. This is further reinforced when you hear Alastair’s lilting Scottish brogue, something I love to hear in music, as I think some bands try too hard to hide their true voice. “Satellites” again has that unmistakable sound, with some accordion thrown in for good measure. Yes I said accordion, but don’t let that put you off, as soon as you hear it, you realise that this track just wouldn’t be the same without it.

If you nailed me to a wall, and only released me if I picked my favorite tracks, they would have to be “Lost Again”, with it’s quirky wonky guitar intro (love it), the title track, “Something in the Engine”, which has that feeling of striving to arrive, if that makes sense, and “Fly” which for me is the icing on a most wonderful cake, along with the wonderful “Sinking Fast”. If you don’t have to nail me to a wall, then I’d just say the whole album, is full of great tracks, with quirks aplenty, but quirks that bring a welcome smile and a gentle cosseting of the ears.

When the album came to a close I had those mixed feelings wash over me, the one where I’m excited to hear a new album from a band I love, but at the same time, a pang of sadness, that it’s probably going to be a while before the next one. Let’s just hope the next one arrives a bit quicker than “Something in the Engine”.

Conclusion : A welcome return from a band that are firm Indie Launchpad favourites. An album that’s a sheer joy to listen to and certainly one that will enhance your existing collection of music.

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