Saturday, September 16, 2017

John Brownlow - The Summertime

 
John Brownlow - The Summertime 


There’s a real sense of cathartic musical independence here via this latest work from this Ontario based musical act and screenwriter John Brownlow. 
 
While everything on his latest work entitled “The Summertime” is, shall I say, exceptionally entertaining, and it also manages to cover a pretty wide range of musical styles as well. A few tracks notably stand out for me in particular. “Kingdom Come” and “Sunshine On The Radio” are 2 strong songs that deliver pure grooved magic and an impressive vocal tandem. While the movement presents dynamic beats, hooky horns, smooth Guitar lines, classic driven vocals and lyrics that let it all hang out. Despite this somehow the music has a more of an organic feel as the CD hits solid stride.  
 
This album serves as a great example of a musical genius who isn't afraid to take any risks and grow as a musician. The musicianship is very commanding and fully entertaining, as former Spice Girl and current AGT judge Mel B would say – off the chain. The vocals and lyrics: equally as clairvoyant and fascinating. Brownlow really draws you in. Another highlight for me is “Radiation” and “The Pink Raincoat” which to me exemplifies Brownlow core sound to the hilt. The more I listened to Brownlow, the more interested I became. As I mentioned earlier, he's not afraid of playing with other styles and genres and even though the Britpop seems to feel more comfortable around this particular realm of music, he also proves he can dig into Jazz, Country and Post-punk with the same ease. Something not all musical acts and bands can achieve.

The Summertime by John Brownlow offers a mix of music and emotions that bursts to life via a bittersweet voice which ties it all together. Brownlow demonstrates his individual musical talent and abilities without being to over the top about it all. I get the impression he fun to see in a live setting. So are you thinking what I’m thinking? Somehow all the above is not compatible with the superficial musical times we live in. John Brownlow is well-suited for audiences that enjoy this flash back style of music that simply refuses to die.  


Brittany May

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Barbara Jo Kammer - One Song at a Time

 
Barbara Jo Kammer - One Song at a Time 


This collection of covers includes one original from Barbara Jo Kammer, but these covers aren’t your ordinary garden variety riffs on other songwriter’s material. One Song at a Time feels patiently curated to best represent Kammer’s experiences as a recovering addict and it’s accompanied by lights out playing that shows great command over the material as well as superb instincts for entertaining its target audience. This is certainly a retro themed collection, in some respects, but it’s presented in the best possible modern light and listeners will never get the sense that its invocation of old tyme music is some sort of empty vehicle for Kammer to claim musical authenticity. Instead, her musical partners on this trip are every bit as key to realizing the potential of the material as Kammer’s vocals are and they come together with great energy and imagination.  
 
The energy and imagination is evident from the beginning. “I Can See Clearly” is a song many listeners are going to be familiar with, but Kammer rebuilds it in a way much more sympathetic to her designs for One Song at a Time. It’s a solid bluegrass number in this incarnation and she puts it over with all the exuberance that an opener demands. “Choices” requires a different sort of energy, one that behooves Kammer to dig deeper, and she plumbs deep into her personal experience to give this lyric about addiction the gravitas it deserves. Fiddle player Jake Simpson acquits himself quite well here as he does throughout the entirety of the release. “Hard Promises to Keep”, like “Choices”, comes from the traditional country school of song craft and makes a strong impression thanks to the merits of a duet between Kammer and second vocalist Greg Blake. Blake contributes backing vocals elsewhere on the album, but he’s particularly effective as an equal partner for Kammer and they recall past glories in the genre with their turn here. 
 
“Medicine Wheel” and “The Winning Side” are a little different fare than the album’s other tracks, more grounded in a singer/songwriter folk tradition than outright country, but many of the same instruments appear and the musicians bring every bit of their talent to full use on both performances. We go back to the deep south for the performance of “New Shoes” and the instrumental breaks alone are worth the price of purchase. “Bluegrass Melodies”, the album’s penultimate tune, comes from the musical imagination of one of The Statler Brothers and hits its mark from the outset. Kammer does a remarkable job of making listeners see every line of the song and the musicians complement what she’s doing quite nicely. One Song at a Time concludes with “Mule Skinner Blues”, a Jimmie Rodgers cover, but if Kammer has any butterflies tackling a song from one of the Kings of country music, she doesn’t show it. This uptempo final curtain for the album puts a definite end to one of the best Americana themed releases of 2017. 


Stephen Bailey

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Sighs – Wait on Another Day

 

The Sighs – Wait on Another Day

URL: http://www.thesighsmusic.com/

Musical energy and the exchange between audience and a song or band can be such a crucial lifeblood for a composer -or a band as a whole- gathered in the name of fulfilling exhilarating music for music fans. Some of this applies to Pop and Rock. Massachusetts based The Sighs seems to have a firm hold on energy with their melting pot of fun sounds and beats that will warp many into musical submission without even trying. One of the industry’s rising and greatest bands are back with their latest 11 track collection called “Wait On Another Day”.
 
The Sighs brings a great variety of influences and experience to the table with each and every track. Cited influences are: The Beach Boys, The Cranberries, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen & The Smashing Pumpkins, among others.We start off with the intro banger “It's Real”, a brilliant melodic intro piece full of heavy riffs and vocals that make a real connection with the listener. Things does easily slow down (though are still incredible catchy) in the following songs, starting with “Wonder of Love” and the title track.  In any other case, this loud to low abrupt progression  would have bother me and bore me to death, but this band has had enough time to chop their skills and that shows on this album, as not only does it feel appropriate and much needed (almost like the half time after a very heat sports game) but it shows the band isn't just one pony trick. The Sighs are amazing constant throughout the whole experience that Classic Rock, Power Ballad and Pop fans will love. LaRoche vocals are to die for, they effortlessly dive between the melodies he's given on each song and knows how to elevate the already great music to higher grounds. The CD ends with what sounds like a live track, "Thinking About Soul" that brings back the same excitement and energy the album kicked off with. The guitar solo and pretty much everything feels as an rock arena anthem and you can easily picture yourself and other people around just jumping around, headbanging and raising those horns up in the air.
 
The Sighs shakes the tree with this CD entitled “Wait On Another Day.” These 11 tracks have a little something for everyone under and is well worth the listen. At the least it will be sure to get your legs and ass shaking along.
 
RELATED ARTICLE: https://joyofviolentmovement.com/tag/the-sighs-wait-on-another-day/

Julie Griffey

Bunny Sigler is back

 
Bunny Sigler is back 


World renowned, Philly-based R&B singer/songwriter Walter "Bunny" Sigler is excited to announce the lyric video for his latest single entitled “Angel Eyes” is now available. The single is also out now on iTunes and all major digital outlets. “Angel Eyes” is the second single from Sigler’s upcoming album Young at Heart – an album that bridges the gap between Sigler’s classic R&B sound and the world of jazz. This is the second single of an album that promises to be everything they’re made of and more, as it bridges the gap between R&B and jazz, both of which he proves to be excellent at.

The song video is a glance into the past, showcasing the glory days of 
jazz, the American songbook, and the Rat Pack while featuring Sigler’s silhouette in various scenes throughout. The black-and-white look of the video compliments the song’s melancholic tone and draws viewers in with its vintage style. The second you hear it though, is where it all begins and the images just enhance the sensational audio experience. It’s a gifted voice that Bunny possesses, just as Ella Fitzgerald, Sinatra and anyone who’s able to even sing this piece of beauty. Because that is what it takes to pull it off without failing miserably.

Not just any song can have the power to be larger than the players, but this is one of them, so it isn’t everyone’s job to tackle. You have-to have the chops and the soul for it or it’s not going to put any hook on such a classic to be covering. The lyrics are marvelous and the backing strings terrific as well. Not to mention the piano playing in which an awesome effort was made. The first thing I wanted to do was look for the first single to go with this and await the album. That’s how much I enjoyed it, and although I’ve known plenty of his work I’m happy to know more. 

 
You don’t get this everyday but you can listen to the original track by Ella Fitzgerald and the Frank Sinatra cover anytime. The good thing is this adds to them all compliments and no disgrace. The soulful sounds of his voice, is the first thing you notice any time you hear it, and on this he makes no exception to that rule. Get to know them if you don’t and get the best of three worlds, because you’ll just want the song in your life more, if you’ve never heard this record before. It comes recommended for its respect to the original, as it dare I say rivals it with every good intention to bring something of his own to it.

Writing for tracks like Instant Funk's "I Got My Mind Made Up", Patti Labelle's "Somebody Loves You Baby," The Whispers' "Bingo", Jackie Moore's "Sweet Charlie Babe" and The O'Jays "Sunshine" are what put him on the musical map. These are some deep funk and soul roots to be having, back in the era where everything sounded fantastic or it never made the shelves. It’s no surprise that level of quality sound is kept in-tact, because any fan can spot a signature sound as the years go by. It also checks out for the effort to embed an authentic sound that holds up and lasts in your head. You can’t beat it, it resets his own bar. 
 


Jeff Turner 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Here's the Riot - 'Love Makes Me Crazy'

 
Here's the Riot - 'Love Makes Me Crazy' 


The year 2017 has shown a rapid gain in musical momentum as a number of efficient and skillful musicians go on a roll craving the desire of creative music. “Here's the Riot” is one of a kind which has proficiently established its place as one of the best rock bands in this era after they released their first album “Tonight We're Alive” on 24th of July 2017 under the label of Full Bleed Records.

The band is masterminded by guitarist and singer Paris Tompkins who has also written all the songs in the EP. Eric Reymond supports him with bass and Victor Singer beats the drums, forming an exceptionally talented trio.  

Paris moved from Houston to Los Angeles to seek his career in music at the young age of 17. Later he formed the band “Slamhound” with singer Josh Todd of Buck Cherry where he was the backup singer and guitarist. Later Paris joined the alternative band “Church of Mars” as their lead singer.   

Taking inspirations from the well-known rock bands like Alice in Chains, Nirvana and Guns & Roses, Paris has shown his genuine creativity in all the five songs of this album. The words are heartwarming and emotional, strongly based on love, anger, heartbreak, hope, freedom and being human.  

Among the five songs, the first single song released was “Love Makes Me Crazy”, which is also featured on the hit television show “One Mississippi”. The song creates the best power chord symphony of a relatively hard rock record taking the band to great heights.  

Beginning with a powerful and balanced rhythmic instrumental section, the song “Love Make Me Crazy” increases the notch of a listener's experience quite high. By the time Paris mouths the first few lyrics, the alternative rock structure is already created.  

Paris has kept the lyrics simple yet catchy, amusing his audience by provoking their emotional thoughts on love and despair.  

The audience would promptly relate to the emotions in each of the lines that he has so perfectly versed in the song. 

The chorus gives the feel of yearning for freedom from an emotionally draining relationship which keeps provoking the anger and helplessness within. Truly inspired by his own life, Paris has effectively entwined his talent and experience in various astonishing moments with each verse.

The chorus is cleverly linked for maintaining the flow of emotions from pain to hurt and then anger. The impressive vocal and engaging instrumental score gives a shallow dip before taking the high notes with the next high intensified verse which enkindles the vulnerable state of a broken heart. 

“My heart is gone but my blood still pumps”, another stance which slowly fades into a painfully defeated state as the song takes a clumsy turn clustering the mind with stories of love and betrayal.

“Love Makes Me Crazy” has the power to engage its listener into a distinctively engaging tale of insane love and heartbreak and the way everything falls apart as the pain engulfs every hope and imposes an unbeatable craziness.  


Stephanie Smith

Weatherboy

 
Weatherboy 

Few debuts sound so assured as Weatherboy’s self-titled debut. This ten song release is a collaboration between Icelandic multi-instrumentalist Rangar Rosinkranz and Los Angeles based artist John Walquist will find favor with anyone enjoying Bon Iver, The Beach Boys, or The Beatles. Weatherboy cover many stylistic bases and their art pop leanings, replete with horns, balances quite well with their explorations through evocative post modern folk landscapes with vocals that cover a wide sonic range and ache with genuine emotion. The production handles the challenging material with great skill and never fumbles with the wide array of sounds and melodies their work explores. The album feels very constructed, but never in a way that feels overly-plotted out or belabored. Even the most cluttered songs on this album come across in a very natural way as if its just a band following their own wayward muse. Rosinkranz and Walquist have released something quite unique and viable here,
 
They indulge their wont for big, boisterous pop music on the first two songs and both attempts come off with real verve. These songs and later tracks alike establish Weatherboy as a duo willing to pursue any vocal approach to make their vision work and possessing the talents to pull it off. It isn’t all about high stepping pop music, however, as songs like “Riding on the Wind” and “Eva” show how good Weatherboy are at reining in their energies and focusing more on atmospherics. The first track leans more in a pop rock direction and features some vivid guitar playing courtesy of Phil Keaggy while the second skirts much deeper into acoustic folk territory. The vocals and general poise of the music on both tracks never veer off course; instead, discerning listeners will notice how such different textures nonetheless sound like they are born from the same musical imaginations. It’s all part of the excellence inherent to this project.
 
Two of the strongest songs on the album’s second half, “Bennett” and “All Your Fault”, also ask a great deal from listeners thanks to how they restlessly move from one section to the next. Weatherboy, with a few exceptions, come off as a duo loathe to linger for long in any particular groove. They are always shifting moods, tempos, and looking for new angles to leave an impression on the listener. “All Your Fault” is, likely, a more lyrically accessible number than “Bennett”, but it’s also a clearly unsettled number that wants to keep a listener’s head spinning. The final two songs couldn’t be more different. Both “Home Fire” and “Full Bloom” are the leanest, bare bones affairs since the song “Eva” and conclude the band’s debut with a reflective point of view. Weatherboy has the sound of duo inspired to explore musical and personal territory they haven’t yet broached and the result is one of the best albums to emerge in 2017. We can only hope they will reconvene soon for a second effort as the promise exhibited here is clearly boundless.  


Clyde Phillips

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sam Baker - Land Of Doubt

 
Sam Baker - Land Of Doubt


Following a European tour behind his new album, Land Of Doubt, Sam Baker is turning his attention to creative projects in 2017: Opening his first-ever exhibition as a visual artist, staging an original play and filming a documentary. As you may know, Sam has limited hearing after being on a bus that exploded during a 1986 terrorist attack in Peru, but he’s from Texas, now living in Austin. This album brings the world up to date on his current activities and sets the tone for the future which brings a lot of new territory into the mix for him, of which some of the songs get vastly described here. There are fifteen tracks, so it’s quite a lot to take in, let alone put down to words about. To begin with this is Americana music of the traditional folk variety. “Summer Wind” kicks it off with what is essentially a guitar-driven piece with some piano backing. It’s a haunting track with a nice mid-section which displays some good guitar chops. It’s not a bad opener but things get more serious on “Some Kind Of Blue” with a better vocal delivery to get a better perspective of his voice. It’s more than a pleasing follow up to the opener and sets the rest up with a better example of his talents. It’s all about staying alive.

The next track “Margret” is followed by a 48 second instrumental called “The Silvered Moon.” They pass by a little faster than the previous two but “Margaret” explores some great arranging, for the love song that it is. “Love Is Patient” is less of a song but it does pick up a little half-way through. The guitar and piano are what really impress the most on this track. “Song Of Sunrise Birds” is a lovely instrumental that leads into “The Feast Of Saint Valentine” which is one of the most brooding tracks and shows the dramatic side of Sam Baker to its fullest extent on this album, and comes off the most serious in the process. “Moses In The Reeds” is a lot more playful than any previous tracks and it helps pick up the pace a little, so it’s a welcoming track for the most part. There is much to like about the arrangement here as well. Bob Dylan almost meets the Beatles, if that is anyway to describe it which is never as easy a job as it might seem. Another track that bodes the same way is “Sunken City Roses” which is led by a complex string arrangement, but it loses a point for being too short as another instrumental piece that could use a few minutes extension at the very least. It still compels either way.

“Peace Out” is one of the highlights with a video of footage of the Sand Diego coastline. It’s one of the most sublime moments on the album and serves to get Sam Baker under the skin by showing what a good songwriter he is. It deals with letting it all go and washing your troubles away. And “Where Fallen Angels Dwell” is a nice relaxing mellow piece to go with the final cut which is the title track. It must be a trend lately to do that. “Land Of Doubt” is an outdoorsy western of sorts that carries a haunting melody and earns its title with an excellent way to end a fine record. 
 

bd Gottfried

 
bd Gottfried 


In 2017 - bd Gottfried is an edgy, uncompromised writer releasing his 8th solo album entitled: Through The Dog’s Eyes - produced by Juno Winner Siegfried Meier. With airplay in over a dozen countries he continues to work in an unrestricted style with lyrical depth that will always take you on a journey. Having a varied working background as a touring musician and session player. Working in the past with a vast array of artists such as Pino Palladino (Pete Townsend, John Mayer Trio). Breen Laboeuf (Celine Dion, April Wine). Greg Dechert (Bad Company, David Gilmour), to name a few.

That is just the short bio version of what this artist is all about. TTDY is a concept album of sorts if you put the words together, but they all play like huge individual pieces of their own. So, if you don’t know what it’s about, you still get an enjoyable album’s worth of great tracks. Some of them more serious than others, but that comes with the ups and downs of any story based-music. Kicking off with “Something You Weren’t” gives an instant chance to see how he cleverly combines all-of the styles he brings to the table in one song. This works remarkably well to start with, as makes you want to go the distance with the rest.

The next track, “Crosshairs” isn’t quite as interesting, but you hear some of his musical heroes laced through it. It drags on in a couple of places and doesn’t quite meet the standard of the opener. But this is rectified on one of the upper-cuts of the disc with “Blame It On The Money” and the former is easily forgotten for any flaws. This song makes up for it where anything dips, as it fights for the best track on offer. You can’t say enough about a song like this, it’s as good as he seems to get. It’s strategically arranged in the right spot to give it the limelight too. This should stand at the top of his catalog.
The contrast of “Eye Of Time,” while not too stark, adds some differences to make it hold up well enough to follow such a good track. The up-front singing is world class, and that drives this one all the way home. If you let yourself take it all in, you’ll find a singing job that won’t be easy to forget. This is a sublime album and track that makes a mark by laying on a hypnotic vocal. The same cannot be said for the likes of “Frequencies” but it comes at the right time as it brings the tempo down to a whisper after such a blazing two tracks. The cream all lies right here on this part of the album, and this track helps reset the vibes.

The bluesy sounds of “Breakaway” also make for some pretty-cool stuff with a Chris Rea sounding vocal on the first half that just works. But anyone could get lost or found listening to such a record. It has some huge moments but also some small, less inspiring moments to experience. It all comes out in the wash, and tracks like “Do We Have Love” contain a little of both levels of quality on display. But it’s not a patch on the closing majesty of “SOS with an IOU” with its clearly better effort put forth. It ends what is essentially a fine 8th release, even if you have never heard bd Gottfried. Start here and delve into him.
 

Seconds Before Landing – 'Now That I have Your Attention'

 
Seconds Before Landing – 'Now That I have Your Attention'
There is a new genre of rock that is slowly getting so much buzz from rock lovers and musicians now. Progressive rock has a cool style that has a huge classical influence, using percussions, keyboard instruments and long compositions and sultry vocals. Picture a rock sound that finds a place in a symphony. It sometimes is called classical rock and some artistes even give it a jazzy treatment.
John Crispino is the brain and voice behind Seconds Before Landing and “Now That I Have Your Attention”’ and you can tell that there is a maturity behind this third studio album. What “Now That I have Your Attention” does is a wonderful mix of eclectic sounds that make the twelve tracks on the album a diverse listen. John Crispino’s writing style is distinct, you can hear the message in each song clearly through the lyrics, others are elaborate compositions that are amazing listening experience. If we take out the Intro and the Outro, there are just 10 full songs so it comes a bit short in terms of actual music content.
There are some songs on the albums that epitomize the diversity of John Crispino and his band. 4 A.M opens the album after the intro and is a mellow sound backed by soulful melodies from the ground. Track 5 is Head Down Low is a mid-paced ballad supported by classical flutes, drums and keyboards. It is a perfect description of S.B.L’s type of music. The vocals are reminiscent of a church choir with varying ranges of pitch. The result though is intense melody that you can shake a bit to, not in the regular rock kind of way, more like a Kenny G song.
One of most interesting things about the album that you would enjoy is the smooth transition from one song to the other. Great lyrics and beautiful compositions befitting of any stage. You may not have the head banging that you’d find in traditional rock but this works wonderfully. There is only one guest appearance on the album and even that does not distract from the sound of the album. Track 6 “Things” is another great song that shows off the entire group’s talent. All the instruments come to fore and are backed by another strong vocal performance by Crispino. The song talks about the different things that run through our minds and determine what we do. Compared to S.B.L’s earlier albums, it’s easy to see that the group is finding its voice and making music their own way.
This would have been a five-star album except for a few reasons. I would have liked to see a bit more diversity in the paces of the songs. Feels Good is one of the few songs that gives a different flavor and so it stands out with a distinctively punk rock sound, under the heavy influence of electrosynth and the guitar.
Now That I Have Your Attention does exactly what it says; it catches your attention from the intro and takes you into a journey into the world of Seconds Before Landing. Have a glass of your favorite drink ready and enjoy!
Jimmy Testa

Thursday, August 10, 2017

John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas!

 
John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas!


The seventeen track opus The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! 

hails from a different place in popular music’s history when daring performers stood committed to breaking the well established forms of pop music and imposing artistic considerations on their work that the art form was supposedly too limited to ever accommodate. Elderkin is one of the best songwriters in America today – no joke. His album combines deceptively simple musical arrangements with lyrical depth that doesn’t much more than acknowledge his artistic and musical debts. His personality and experiences emerge fully formed from this release while his love for the form lights up the collection with a surfeit of inspiration reaching far beyond what many of his contemporaries release or aspire to. The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! is quite unlike anything else you’ll encounter in 2017 and, more than likely, for years to come.  
 
It begins on a relatively sedate note. “We Waited Five Years” comes across, in some ways, as a post-modern folk song and finds firm footing in the singer/songwriter genre, but Elderkin’s sensibility is such that he can’t resist tweaking our expectations with some unusual variations of texture and sound, particularly on the song’s second half.. “The Message” shows Elderkin moving in much more distant, experimental territory. There are no vocals in the traditional sense, only an assortment of chant like voices moving over a keyboard laced backing track. It has a vaguely spiritual air that listeners aren’t likely to pin down to one particular place. “Song for David Bowie” starts off as an acoustic track coupled with Elderkin’s vocal and gradually transitions into a more assertive arrangement during the second half. “Don’t Look Right at the Sun” moves through a number of different moods and tempos before concluding with a guitar-laden final section that brings everything to an explosive conclusion. The vocal is especially rugged and passionate – Elderkin’s versatility in attacking the softer and more rambunctious numbers alike is well worth noting.  
 
“Get Back in the Van” is a slice of life from the struggles of a touring indie band. There’s plenty of humor in this piece, one of the album’s more underrated virtues, and the lyrically mix of concrete detail with suggestiveness makes it quite a memorable ride. Elderkin  takes a much more sensitive turn with the piano driven arrangement and a singing performance from Elderkin that covers all possible bases. “Fat Levon on Acid” is an outright freakout and sound s sort of incongruous placed along side the earlier tracks, but it’s some good fun regardless. The ragged march pushing “Megaphone on the Moon” has a ragged but right quality about ot that slowly draws you in. The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! is a first class operation of powerhouse musicians and superior songwriting talent and this album represents a quantum shift in how Elderkin will be perceived from this point forward. 


Scott Wigley

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