Indie Launchpad Update

Posted by admin on February 24th, 2009

Just wanted to give an update on Indie Launchpad. As you’ve probably noticed, reviews have slowed to a trickle. I’ve been trying to get some done over the last few weeks, but with best intentions, the spare time has just not been forthcoming. Indie Launchpad has always been a labour of love for me, so first let me put your mind at rest, I am not going away, or shuttering the shop, as I have done with a few other web properties. Indie Launchpad will continue, as will the podcast, but I have to try to reorganise my life and find a way to plug Indie Launchpad back in again. With this in mind, I’m going to place the podcast on indefinite hiatus, while I try to put to bed a few other time drains and then think about how I can move everything forward.

On top of this, Google in it’s infinite wisdom, is playing silly buggers with Feedburner feeds, which this site uses, as does the podcast and I think I’d prefer to fiddle about in the background and make sure everything is running smoothly, before getting up a head of steam and potentially causing myself unnecessary headaches.

So what does this mean for people who have already submitted material to Indie Launchpad, well nothing. Your music is still in review rotation and I will get to it when I find some time to actually start listening again. While I am not actively contacting bands and artists, you are still more than welcome to approach me through the usual channels, and partners with whom I have a working relationship, may still continue to submit. Anyone contacting me for review, will be made aware of this post and will then be able to decide if they still want to submit.

So this is by no means a goodbye note. I just need to finally try to get my priorities in order and then I can focus on the things I truly love, with Indie Launchpad being very much a part of this.

Anyway I will cross post this on the main Indie Launchpad site and the Podcast site, just so I reach everybody. I’m not going to post any artificial dates or timelines, suffice to say it will be sooner rather than later. You’ll still probably find the odd review being posted here, so that should put your mind at rest, that I haven’t vanished off the face of the earth.

Thank you to all the artists and bands who have made Indie Launchpad a sheer joy. Not forgetting a very special thanks, to you, the reader, who hopefully has found many great bands and artists to purchase music from.

Here’s looking forward to a reinvigorated Indie Launchpad coming to a web browser near you soon.

Thanks, Colin

Posted in Indie Launchpad News | No Comments »

Album – Misadventures in Stereo – Jim Boggia

Posted by admin on January 15th, 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 January 15th, 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 – The Bare Bones and Bad Ideas

Posted by admin on December 9th, 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 – Migrating Birds – Migrating Birds

Posted by admin on December 9th, 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 November 26th, 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 – Plushgun – Plushgun

Posted by admin on November 16th, 2008

  • Band / Artist : PlushgunmySpace
  • Genre : New Wave / Electoacoustic
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : Tommy Boy
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

With a ton of unsolicited gems coming in from various Indie Launchpad partners, I sometimes have to put together a random sampling from various places, sit down and see what I’ve got. This was the case with the new EP release from Plushgun, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Not that I should be. In building up the relations I have with some of the greatest labels, management and publicity companies, it should come as no surprise that they pretty much only send me stuff they know I’ll like.

Opening with “Just Impolite” again, it’s the production that hit me first, with a wonderful 3D surround sound, that really impressed me, especially seeing as I wasn’t wearing headphones. The style of music is very reminiscent of OMD, or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark for the unenlightened, who weren’t old enough to live through their music in the 80’s. That 80’s sound is very prevalent, but it reminds me more of 80’s soundtracks, especially the moments in the movies, that have that double edge, between despair and hopefulness. Think John Hughes and any one of his great movies from the 80’s like 16 Candles, Trains Planes and Automobiles, and Pretty in Pink and you’ll be pretty close. The second track “14 Candles” is almost an indirect nod to this 80’s genre. Don’t however think of this as some cheesy throwback to the 80’s, this is very much music for today, but with a heavy influence that’s been embarrassed to the full.

“How We Roll” takes the 80’s influence to the next step, going for a more frenetic, power driven beat and it’s just a wonder to behold. The final track “Without a Light” begins almost like a Vangelis track, but then in kicks the drums and heavy keyboards and you realise that this EP is not going our without some kicking and screaming, metaphorically speaking anyway.

Conclusion : A wonderful find, from a wonderful artist. Plushgun have a new album, “Pins and Panzers”, due in Feb of 2009. I shall be looking forward to that with baited breath.

Posted in Electroacoustic, New Wave | No Comments »

EP – Nowhere Else – Dysopian Dreams

Posted by admin on November 15th, 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 »

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

Posted by admin on November 15th, 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.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Wicked Man’s Rest – Passenger

Posted by admin on November 5th, 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 »