Archive for the 'Rock' Category

The Mieka Canon – From the Mouth of Paris

Posted by admin on 2nd November 2010

  • Band / Artist : The Mieka CanonmySpace
  • Genre : Alternative / Rock
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : N//A
  • Buy Digital Download : Band Store
  • Rating : 7.5 out of 10

While The Mieka Canon may not be familiar to many, Meika Pauley, who forms one fith of the band, was reviewed as a solo artist back in 2006. Her vocals on this 4 track EP are unmistakable, but there is a much fuller sound, in comparison to her solo EP. Opening with “Faster”, there’s a great sense of cock assuredness, with Mieka’s vocals, who really comes across as very self assured and not afraid to push herself. “We’re All Gonna Die”, has a much rockier sound, but that underpinning of Mieka’s volcas is still there, which lifts an otherwise uninspring song. This EP seems to be dipping it’s toe in many different musical pools. “Colossal”, while again a nice track, kind of fails to ignite, but thanks to Mieka’s vocals, is able to lift itself from humdrum.

The EP closes with “That Golden Room” a much calmer song and my favourite on the EP. You can’t help but be impressed with Mieka’s full, rich sound, which reminds me a little of Elkie Brooks, who was in Vinegar Joe, with Robert Palmer and also a popoular solo artist in the 70’s.

Conclusion : An enjoyable EP, that is not afraid to experiment a little. While it doesn’t jump out at you, it’s still an enjoyable listen.

Posted in Alternative, Rock | No Comments »

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.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

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.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – The Apneist – A Life of Science

Posted by admin on 9th November 2009

Of the many albums that I’m asked to consider for review, it’s often not much more than a few songs that capture my imagination. This was pretty much how it was, for The Apneist. One song in particular caught my attention, “Barnacles of Time”, and was used in a recent podcast. It wasn’t until I had a chance to really sit down with the album and to pur over the sleeve notes, that I was able to fully experience the story that unfolded before me.

Set in a distant future, the hopes of mankind have fallen on the shoulders of “John”, whose whole life has been engineered by his parents for the greater good. Born on the same day as “Sarah”, his kindred spirit, when they become too close, the powers that be, see fit to separate them, and so begins “John’s”, isolation and his goal, to create a robot that will end all war, at the same time, never forgetting his true love.

The style of the album, sways a little between electronica, pop and rock, with an element or two of screamo. Yes you heard me right, I said screamo, but don’t let that put you off the album. While there are a few songs, that feature this, they are very much in context with the gloom and desperation that underlines the whole album, and are used to good effect. While I feel theres not many songs that could be potentially used as singles, that’s really not what this album offers. This is an album, of a kind that’s not often attempted, let along successfully. To me one of the best examples is Jeff Wayne’s, War of the Worlds, a sheer classic adaptation of H.G. Well’s book of the same name, or The Who’s, Tommy.

Opening with the whimsical title track, it’s easy to be fooled into thinking this is going to be some light weight, electronic, ballad album. However as “Barnacles of Time” begins, a darker side begins to emerge. This for me is the highlight of the album, with soft emotive vocals, backed by a wonderful electronic score.

The beginning of the album has an air of desperation, but it’s soon replaced by frustration, bordering on hate, which is very evident in “Carving a Canyon”. The point of this review however isn’t to pick apart the album, but to review it as a whole. As I mentioned earlier, you get a much better sense of immersion by reading the liner notes, included with the download, as a PDF file. For those wanting even more background, there is also a full comic available for purchase, which I have to say is wonderfully illustrated and gives even more background information, making the album really come alive.

Conclusion : An absolutely wonderful find. Whether you consider it a rock, electronic or concept album, there is much within to delight and enjoy. Certainly one of my top finds of 2009.

Posted in Electro, Rock | No Comments »

EP – Bathing in the New Economy – Emmet Swimming

Posted by admin on 17th October 2009

Emmet Swimming is a band that while they’ve been on my radar, I somehow hadn’t manage to pin them down for a listen. Until now. After receiving an email from one of the many PR companies, I have a wonderful relationship with, I figured now was the best time to at least have a quick listen, to see what they were all about. And in a word, or maybe two in this case, “Hoochie Momma”. This is a band that are no strangers to the rock scene, having been around since 1991. Indeed they have had 3 albums with Epic Records, but in 2000 took an extended break. After listening to the first track on this EP, I gather things maybe went a bit sour. This EP was originally released in 2003, but I’m hoping that it will be a bigger hit second time around, as I definitely want to hear some new stuff from this, my new awesome find.

The EP is available in 2 versions. Digitally from iTunes, it comes with 4 tracks and 1 bonus track. From Amazon, also digitally, it comes with an additional bonus track.

The EP opens with “The Dance” which is a fantastic slow burner. Straight out of the gate, it’s the vocals that hit you. They remind me a lot of Brad Roberts, without the quirkiness, but they’re deep and wonderfully powerful. On this track there appears to be something of a backhanded comment, regarding Epic, which I find interesting. I’m guessing the label figured they’d run their course and didn’t want to do another record. Well this EP is well and truly a one figured salute (two figured in the UK) to Epic.

“Don’t Call” is again a slow burner, featuring a different, not so dark sounding vocalist. There’s no denying though that it’s a wonderful track. In fact this is the track that really got me hooked on Emmet Swimming, but I now find I much prefer “The Dance”. “Heart Like an Eskimo” again features “The Dance” vocalist (I need to learn my vocalists), but the song is much lighter, reminding me at times of a happy Nick Cave.

“Joanna at the Door”, is an interesting song, which wouldn’t sound out of place in the Pulp Fiction movie, but I’m afraid it does nothing for me. It has that latin rock sound, and indeed the lyrics are all in Spanish, but it feels most definitely like the odd song out. There is however an interesting guitar solo, about 2 third of the way in, that goes on for the remainder of the track, which goes some way to lightening up how I feel about it.

We’re now into bonus time. The 1 extra bonus track from iTunes is “Door 2”. Flagged as explicit, it’s not quite the racy track, that the term explicit always has me expecting. It’s a very grunge sounding track, and relatively short at just over two and a half minutes. The second extra bonus track on Amazon, is “Waving at Cars”, a very upbeat track, which rounds off the EP nicely.

Conclusion : I’m hoping I haven’t come to Emmet Swimming too late. Yes this maybe a 2003 re-release, but if you don’t have it, I’d say it’s a definite purchase for your collection. Here’s hoping for a new release, sooner, rather than later.

Posted in Alternative, Rock | 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.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Lloyd Dobler Effect – Lloyd Dobler Effect

Posted by admin on 15th January 2009

Lloyd Dobbler Effect sounds like something Doc, from Back to the Future would be looking for to generate the jigawatts of electricity need to bounce around in time. In fact it’s a Washington DC based band, that have a wonderful and energetic sound. There’s certainly no lack of musicanship on the 15 tracks on this album, which is not surprising as the band does around 200 gigs a year. With a hard rock sound, softened by more pop biased vocals, there is a nice balance between blowing the cobwebs out of your ears and lulling you into a false sense of serenity.

The album opens with “Have Faith” which for me, has a oddly soft rock feel, but really loosens up when the chorus chimes in. This is a funny track, as I could really feel it growing on me as the song progressed. “Radio” for me is where things really seem to fall into place. For a lot of songs on the album, I kept getting an 80’s slap across the head. It’s nothing really definitive, just a riff here and a lead in there.

While I really enjoyed the album, there was not enough here for me, that had a definitive stamp on it, a sound that would would allow me to pick out this band on the radio for instance. That being said, there’s some tracks on here that are real gems including the previously mentioned “Have Faith”, “Radio”, “The Past” and “I Have the Touch”.

Conclusion : There’s no denying the talents of this band. With such a touring schedule, I imagine they are pretty hot to see live. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this band, to see how they develop, but if you enjoy 80’s/90’s rock / pop then I think this will be right up your street.

Posted in Alternative, Powerpop, Rock | 2 Comments »

EP – Migrating Birds – Migrating Birds

Posted by admin on 9th December 2008

Migrating Birds, may not be a name that rolls of the tongue, but the music rolls off the ears, like a silk scarf, flowing down a sows ear. OK, maybe not the best of analogies, but hey nobody said I was perfect. Suffice to say, this four piece band have a wonderful sound, that at times harkens back to Gong, albeit the more intelligible, musical Gong tunes. They also remind me of a more recent band, Hopewell, with an at times, almost ethereal, smattering of the psychedelic.

This four track EP opens with “Fearless”, which starts very deceptively, sounding very much like the earlier mentioned Hopewell. The track then morphs into something a bit more upbeat, but with a very intriguing vocal style. This for me is the standout track on the EP, and very rightly placed as the first track on the EP, smacking you squarely in the face.

The track “Atari vs Commodore” came as something of a surprise, as it has a strong British overtone, with mention of pram wheels and Paninni stickers. It’s roots are firmly in the days of the 80’s computer scene. It’s a fairly whimsical track, but really strikes a chord with me. I have to say though, I’m a little disappointed they didn’t even mention the ZX Spectrum, cos we all know the Speccy was the best. Delving a little deeper though, I found the band’s members each hail from a different country, England, France, Canada and the US, which goes a long way to explaining this eclectic release.

“Summmer’s Treasure” again has that vocal style tinged with psychedelic angst, but it is so easy to listen to. I have to admit though, this may not be the case if this were the style running predominantly through a whole album, as I think things would then begin to sound very samey.

The EP rounds of with the title track, “Migrating Birds”, a more upbeat, rock number which again sounds like it’s influenced by the BritPop sound of the 90’s. It’s a great way to round things off.

Conclusion : A great first EP, that shows the bands ability to keep the listener on their toes. Looking forward to a full length release hopefully in the near future. Certainly a band to watch out for.

Posted in Acoustic, Rock | 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.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

EP – Nowhere Else – Dysopian Dreams

Posted by admin on 15th November 2008

This is one of those CD’s that blurs the line between CD and EP. With 7 tracks, and a running time of a tad over 31 minutes, to me this is a short album, but the band call it an EP, so who am I to argue.

I put this EP back on, after writing another review, and the thing that smacked me was the gorgeous guitar work, which was mixed just right, giving the most wonderful sound, real ear candy. However the same cannot be said for the vocals, which for me, were a little washed out in sound and a little uninspiring lyrically. Actually lyrically uninspiring is probably a little harsh, as it’s quite difficult to actually concentrate on what is being sung. This also pretty much describes the song that follows, “How Fate Works”.

With “Comablues” the vocals problems seem to have been addressed to some degree, but I have to be honest, by this stage it’s not the vocals I want to hear, it’s the wonderful, and rich sounding music. For me, these tracks would really pop, if the vocals were totally removed. I hate sounding harsh, but when you get a disconnect that’s so great, maybe it’s better to disconnect totally. That being said the EP seems to be really warming up, with “Sweet Humanity”. The vocals manage to hold their own and this is the first song, that feels like words and music are complimenting each other, rather than fighting for top billing. Similarly “Keep Coming Back” is definitely more refined and feels a more complete track.

“I Would” has a fairly different music style, and is the first track where I feel the vocals are the driving force. The production is much more balanced and I think should give the band a benchmark to work too. Finishing off with “The Aftermath” again, it appears that the latter part of the EP, is where the vocals really come together.

Whatever hangups I have about the vocals, the music throughout is first class, musically and in production. Seeing as this is an all acoustic demo, I have to say it’s pretty well done and with a little bit of work on the vocals, this EP could be amazing. As it is, it’s still rather good and certainly deserves a place in your collection.

Conclusion : A great EP, slightly marred, but managing to redeem itself with wonderfully vibrant and lush music.

Posted in Acoustic, Experimental, Rock | 3 Comments »