Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Suntrodden - Suntrodden III

 
Suntrodden - Suntrodden III  


Suntrodden might seem like it's a band. Honestly, the name sounds like a band name. The music even feels like it would be produced by a group of twenty-year old guys. That's because it sounds a lot like the post-prog, dream-pop, shoegaze based stuff that's so popular in certain circles these days. Of course, if it were one of those bands, this project would probably have a name like "Yesterday I Went to the Store" or "I Saw A Dog Walking Down the Street." In any event, this is actually a project of just one guy, Erik Stephansson of Atlanta, Georgia. Yeah, I know, another misconception. You hear "Georgia" and figure you are about to get some country music or Southern rock. This is definitely neither of those.    

The first song, "There's a Place,"  reminds me of some modern progressive rock. It has a trippy kind of element that works really well. "Pure" doesn't gel as well as the first one did. It manages to rock a bit more in some of the later sections, but it's less progressive rock oriented to me.   

Next comes one of the most purely progressive rock oriented things here, "Moonflower." The song has some interesting changes and really works well. It's one of my favorites of the set. The prog elements aren't as prominent on "Never Again." The tune doesn't seem as strong, either. It's a decent song by itself, but doesn't hold up against the rest of the music here, really.   

I make out more of that moody modern prog sound on "The End (Haunt Me)." It is another solid track that works well to drive it to the end. I suppose you can't get much more appropriate than titling the final song, "The End."  

Overall, I think this does best when it strives for that proggy territory and lands in the general vicinity of it. The rest is definitely not bad. It's just not as strong as the prog-based stuff. It's obvious that Stephansson has talent. He also does a great job of seeming like a full band rather than a solo artist. I think that when he gets the most ambitious is when his skill set really shines the brightest. When the music is written closer to a "play it safe" mode, it just doesn't soar quite as high.   

If I were to make another complaint, it would be that Stephanson should work on incorporating a bit more variety into his music. The falsetto vocals that are all over this are fine, but they lend a monolithic feel to the sounds in a lot of time. Using a different vocal style or just including an instrumental to break things up, would go a long way toward creating more variety.   

Similarly, there isn't a lot of change from song to song in terms of pacing or tempo. A really slow tune added in or something that's at a fired up and moving beat set between some of these tunes would really allow it to retain a fresh vibe throughout.    

The thing is, those complaints or just of the "keep it in mind for future work" variety. What we have here works well as is. Sure, there is room for improvement. If there wasn't, it really would be pointless to go on, right? 


Steve Rafferty

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sam Green And The Time Machine

 
Sam Green And The Time Machine 


Sam Green And The Time Machine, from Melbourne, Australia’s CD Which Way Left?, is a collection of folk songs that stay threaded in his surrounding area. The songs deal with everything from love, life, wilderness and confinements to city life as well. There is nothing too serious or playful about them. They stand on they stand on their own feet both separately and together as an album, which is one of the best things to be said about it. You either like folk music or you don’t, but if you do, you’ll be able to appreciate this CD and others available by him. The track list runs at fourteen with a minimalist approach to length. But that is the usual case with folk-laden pieces. And each tell a story as usual too, so this is nothing new whatsoever, and neither is Sam Green. But he’s not trying to be, he’s playing for the sake of the song. You get that feeling in the first several tracks, and it goes from there. If you’re a folk lover you will get it, if not, you can still be turned on by something about it. I’m not saying it is a masterpiece, but Sam Green is no rookie either. The songs have-to speak for themselves and hold up on their own as well as together for any album to work. It’s clear that he’s an artist that knows how to do that.

It's safe to say these are all true stories, but you never know, so it’s up to anyone to make that call and whatever else can be said about it. But reading up first never hurts unless it’s raked over the hot coals, which also safe to say, there is no reason. Beginning with “Dandeong Ranges” the story about the hills of Melbourne, he comes off vocally-gruff at first. This doesn’t really change anywhere in the number, but you get used to it as the music takes control and within the first track that is a non-issue. He shows he knows his way around his own numbers both musically and vocally, but most of all lyric and melody-wise. The difference between singer-songwriters and rock performers is clear as a bell to anyone, and there might be some pop-qualities on this release, but nothing to write home about there. Make no mistake, this is much more of the Gordon Lightfoot than the Josh Grobin variety. But it’s not even that so much as being able to get across both a musical and socio-political statement, with some nature and life’s creature comforts thrown in. You get all these determining factors and more, or you won’t get it at all from jump. There is essentially no turning back after the first number, which is not always the result.

“Love For A Moment” explores both sides of the artist by showing his influences and his softer side, which almost enters the soft-rock territory but not quite. The point is you get where he’s coming from, as where some songs might lose the listener as to exactly what they’re about. It’s personal that way and doesn’t make any difference because it's still up to anyone to interpret how they wish. Liking it or not doesn’t always depend on what it may or may not be about. Take “Melbourne Town” for instance. One doesn’t have to live there to sing about it, but if one does, the picture can be drawn by experience to make a better effort. You’ll hear all that, “Mist Of The Dersert” and more if you get wind of Sam Green And The Time Machine’s new release. 
 


Kevin Webber

Paul Kloschinsky

 
Paul Kloschinsky 


Paul Kloschinsky was born in Saskatchewan in 1963. He attended the University of British Columbia in the 1980’s and received a BSc in Computer Science and an MD. After living and working across Canada he has returned to his hometown of Delta, BC, Canada. He has played in a few rock bands in the Vancouver area since High School. He is now a Folk-Rock Singer Songwriter. He won the 2007 MusicAid Award for Best Canadian Songwriter for his original song Wearin’ Blue. He released his first album, Woodlands, February 24, 2009 on Prism/Universal in Canada. In addition to being a songwriter, he is also an avid poet and photographer. He has come a long way with several releases in-between, but I feel the need to firstly mention not to miss my take on “Gates Of Heaven” if you get that far in this review of what mostly comes off to me as a frustrated Canadian artist, as many are, even the most brilliant ones of them all. “I’m Still Waiting” kicks off the eight tracks of Crime Of Passion on a pretty high note, if you don’t get too wrapped up in the lyrics and how the vocals pace the track on with a prodding effect. It goes from sounding like a general lecture to a music lesson by the time it’s over. But there is also an excellent tune behind it to save it.

Things get more evenly better on “Crime Of Passion” even though it’s considerably slower. It shows the stronger side of him anyway. You have-to like and appreciate the American folk heroes of the past to really fir the demographic of this artist but not the song. You might even get a distinct feeling you’ve heard this somewhere before, and that takes it up to the second-best track I’m focusing on. There is even an Elvis quality to this somehow. But if you don’t get off on the old school ways, you won’t like anything on this album. That should be made as clear as possible before continuing to read. His hurt feelings come from obvious experience to comes up with a track that oozes his pain so well. It’s brutal, but it’s not the only moment of such caliber among these songs. As I mentioned it’s only one of them, the other comes later. “I Believe” has all the potential in the world, but doesn’t stand out like a few others. The same goes for others like “Sooth Me” and Johnny Cash meets folk sounding “House Upon The Hill” to name a couple. They’re not the shiniest pieces in the bunch, but still worth noting. The sound of his voice is great but not enough to call the two tracks exactly memorable moments.

“Poignant Point In Time” is where everything meets in the middle for a generally positive tune from front to back and back to front. It’s the third most listenable track on the album if you ask me. This once again proves there’s something there in him to look back into the catalog of. And “Gates Of Heaven” proves the most promising effort on offer for that and any other reason worth giving to get his music across to the masses. This is worth the wait, and you can at least trust in that much from an artist that should be exposed a lot more along the illustrious path he’s been paying dues on for all this time. 


Kevin Webber  

Kazyak

 
Kazyak 


Kazyak find themselves in a natural setting before and after some experience there, on Happy Camping. This can all be found in the unfolding press about it, but the album contains six good songs that hit right on the money with a great combo, or not at all if you don’t welcome genre combos of this extreme. Fortunately, they have what sounds like a winning formula anyway. Maybe it’s just that new to me, and could be an illusion to other critics, but that’s the risk we all take with or without bias. Meshing Americana with other flavors doesn’t break any rules here. In-fact it could be part of a ground-swell. If tracks like “Sundial” and “Basin” don’t get through on their own efforts then it’s too bad, because they’re two of the best on offer. Just as opening with the likes of “Sacred Cow” proves to slam dunk. Easily contending for the-best they can muster, this embodies what the core ideas on this album are trying to get across. It is awesome when it boils down to it, but unfortunately not everything on Happy Camping is this epic. The tracks all check out from good to better, but the reality is some go the distance others can’t reach. I’ll explain where the light and shade meet with heavy and otherwise fluffy but good clich├ęs.

The heavy prevails on the first half of the album, but the lighter half which is less exciting still takes you through a smooth exit in the process of can’t be described without mentioning the sub-genre factors about it. “Sundial” itself proves that too. And “Basin” should get some rundown for what it brings to the table on both levels. It almost makes it hard to ride on the subject in the first place. But none of it is done without excellence, that’s for sure. There is no knocking what might come out of the woodwork for all we know. All we do know is that we have-to listen then see, in that order not the other way around.


“When I Lived In Carolina” is where a different animal comes out and the country in Kazyak really plays the most important part. But don’t just think country, think folk too, for a definitive Americana song between the two. They get downright spooky in this track that could so easily be heard on both TV and radio in regions calling for it. They succeed at that all over the album, but I hear out the best on this one. It plays out like a dream that struggles between the present and the past, with a brooding approach as it keeps you interested all the way. This is definitely-one-of the “epic” variety. But what follows isn’t as smooth of sailing, as it goes.


One of the shorter travelling tracks on the other hand to be fair, is “Darker” which flirts with more pain than pleasure. But to also be fair, they do flirt even more with it on “Sundial” but it works a lot better if you compare them. Both are still somehow good, but if there is anything weak to single out, this is the place I’d start. It’s about looking on the brighter side, but not without getting into the where, the how and especially the why. So the struggle on Happy Camping is real, and they get a chance to crack a go at explaining it on the final track. The best thing of all is they succeed at it in the end, but not without challenges.


Todd Bauer

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Don Rousell – My wife and my Girlfriend (feat Shane Regal)


Don Rousell – My wife and my Girlfriend


Don Rousell just released his latest single “My wife and my Girlfriend (Feat Shane Regal). Right from the start I like everything about this track. His answer to mundane music is to deliver something unique, and powerful full of rock n’ soul.  
 
In this cut and paste industry with a plethora of DIY Musicians coming out of the woodwork, armed with nothing more than a PC, Microphone, a guitar and a crappy sounding CD – it’s nice to know there are a few artists out there that can still deliver music that will make your jaw hit the floor while plucking your heart strings at the same time. These new artists I speak of manage push their music out to the world and much of it is, do I dare say substandard in nature. So enter a guy like Rousell who breaks through the mold. So what do artists like Professor Longhair, Levon Helm, Taj Mahal, Doug Sahm and The Spinners have that Rousell ddon’t? Not much if you ask me save the multi million dollars promotional machine and major record label support. Rousell and his red hot band break the mold with his classic 70’s sound and amazing movements that will mesmerize both the novice and advanced listeners alike. “My wife and my Girlfriend” is shall I say a top-flight single delivering singing and songwriting that  has deep seeded classic blues-rock roots but also possesses elements of Soul-Americana, Blues so many adore. “My Wife and my Girlfriend” has a solid feel to it while tugging on your heart strings a bit. The playing skills of Rousell and his band are all over the map but manage to never cross into “freak show” territory. But getting back to Rousell - he is a premier talent that makes this whole experience special. His voice is intoxicating like a drug, and with his arsenal of experiences he gently takes you by the hand and leads you down an impassioned musical journey entitled “My Wife and My Girlfriend”. I especially like his trailing vibrato within each phrase. 
 
Right now after hearing Rousell’s music I must say he is the quintessential Soul artist the world needs right now. I don’t say stuff like that often. He’s a bit modest armed with a wise man persona - sings, plays bass and performs songs the way they were meant to be sung - confidently avoiding any over the top vocal “showboating”. All in all “My Wife and My Girlfreind” is a great musical advent. Apparently there are still a few composers, arrangers, musicians, and vocalists out there believe in playing music the way it is meant to be played.  


by Savanah Bryan 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Elle Casazza - 'Proof'

 


Elle Casazza - 'Proof'

Elle Casazza is a pop singer who has been on the music block for several years now. Her latest album, Proof, is a nine-song collection of some of the best neo-pop from the artiste to date. Throughout the album, Casazza uses her silky-like vocals to give narratives that portray her emotion to her audience. The album's songs spring various genres, with neo-soul and jazz strings standing out for most of the collection. Some, like “Hey” and “Cooking,” bring back the ‘60s funky soul. 

Looking at individual songs throughout the album, a few things stand out. In “Cooking,” Casazza sings a love ballad that explores the sizzling nature of sensuality in fascinating beats that make fingers just tap the air with their own ‘da, da, da’ rhythm. The five-minute “Isn’t it Good” track also brings out a little singing-in-the-shower quality lyrics to the mix. Casazza seems a little bit more experimental with “Isn’t it Good,” allowing for a strikingly high-low vocals combination that makes the song very appealing to listen to.   

“Last Word” and “Save Me” are jazzy, funky and good songs for dancing along to because of the complementary instrumentals. Between the two songs, ladies might appreciate “Save Me” more because it has a very distinct feminist quality to it. Casazza exploits her high-range vocal quality to voice her independence as a woman in a way that makes one think of a woman standing on a dais and declaring that “I’m here!” 

Proof is also a display of Casazza’s creative depth and musical diversity. While she gets away with sultry vocals and cheeky lines in songs such as “The Body Knows,” it is intriguing to see how she balances those with other genres on the same album. Take “Too Bad” for example, she talks about lost chances at love with reggae-like accompaniments. The vocals are smooth, the lyrics relatable and the song so slow that it’s just right for nights by the fireplace with a glass of wine in hand.  

The moods in Proof are diverse. Casazza’s defiant songwriting stands out in the more soulful “I Listed” and “You,” ballads whose vocals are enough to give a few goosebumps. In “Hey,” “Cooking,” “Last Word” and “Isn’t it Good” the tapping beat, vocal crests and troughs create funky treats that make for some good dancing music. “Save Me” is demanding, “The Body Knows” is hair-raisingly persuasive and charged while “You” well, it just makes it seem good to be in love.    

Overall, Elle Casazza’s Proof album is a great addition to the more daring jazz, soul and pop jam fan's collection. Her vocals are powerful enough to engage even the most stoic listeners, and the instrumental complements will fascinate anyone who is more into beats than vocals. The songs are easy to sing along to (“The Body Knows” is especially catchy) and slow and low enough for those long and tired evenings. However, tracks like “Hey” might just be too instrumentally busy for those with a taste for strong, clear vocals at the forefront.  

Sonia Temple

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Prison Escapee - Locket and Au Revoir


Prison Escapee - Locket and Au Revoir 


The name Erik David Hidde has chosen to adopt for his musical project, Prison Escapee, is more than just a stage and recording persona. Instead, it’s an intelligent nod to Hidde’s description of his own music as “field recordings”, along with other elements like post-rock and electronica, which makes the case. It is a clear reference to the relatively low-fi approach he takes to the recordings = the songs are cut in his living room, but they never betray any loss of quality due to the modesty of their budget or surroundings. The term field recordings, though, has connotations reaching back further and there’s a discernibly traditional air emerging at moments during the songs “Locket” and “Au Revoir”. The two tracks are quite different in many respects, but both share a common grounding in what has made popular song so effective over the centuries – strong and certain melodies. Prison Escapee’s more modern touch comes with his talent for filling out these melodies with synthesizer, post-production effects applied in just the right way, and post rock affectations carry the material to whole other level. 
 
“Locket” has a memorable build reliant on a fat, repetitious synthesizer line filling out more and more as the song progresses. There are other musical elements that soon come into the frame – there’s a solid bass line and accompanying percussion that never leaves a busy presence on the song but, rather, achieves a consistent see saw effect that holds everything down. Both of the songs here deal with the personal – in often general ways anyone can relate to and, at other times, with deft flashes of imagery surely all his own. “Locket” artfully conveys the longing that defines much of the track and much of the responsibility of its ultimate effects comes from Hidde’s well turned vocal. He’s a talented singer who never needs to cheapen the composition with needless histrionics and even the light treatment his voice receives isn’t enough to compromise the immediacy of his singing. 
 
“Au Revoir” is even less cluttered than the aforementioned song and focuses much more on conventional instruments like piano. There’s a startling intimacy to this song and much of it comes from the interplay before the piano playing and Hidde’s voice. There’s less post production performed on this song and the way it allows his vocal to be much freer increases the emotional impact of the cut. These are two powerful examples of what he’s capable of and certainly evidence of the excellence we can expect from him in the future. “Locket” and “Au Revior” are fascinating efforts any serious musical devotee is likely to respond to and have a fiercely personal spirit quite unlike anything else on the independent scene today. 


William Elgin