Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sam Green and the Time Machine

 
Sam Green and the Time Machine 


Making his own way is what Sam Green is doing with The Time Machine, his music project which gives direction to those looking for calm waters in the music world keeps going on the CD - Which Way Is Left? If you like Australia, folk-oriented rock about the wilderness and all things positive, then this collection of tunes about that and more is right up your alley. If you’re looking for razzle-dazzle and period garb, you won’t find it here. But it does pay some respect to the form of music that some of the folk and world music groups of today are getting away with.

These gimmicks are of no need to Sam Green, that is all. It’s not the millennial style folk, so to speak. What it does have is something to behold for the raw, stripped back music seekers. Acoustic-driven all the way, with some moments that smolder on guitar and violin, however it’s all pulled off around his heavily narrative, spoken-word singing style. Something like that will always be on old school thing, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t any modern aspects to it. There is a substance to any style if you keep to the simple strengths Sam Green does. Otherwise it can be easy to get lost in this rootsy genre. But it’s not exactly easy to take this in large doses if you’re not into folk, it’s just a fact of the matter. It’s best to have some sense of it, rather than starting with Sam Green. But beginners can start wherever they want, it’s just that appreciation for such art is tricky. Not being a major fan doesn’t help me any better than anyone else. But knowing and liking are two different things, so, the album works if you have and use that sense. But on the down side, tracks like “Eli” and “Howdido” tend to drag somewhat, even though they also hold some fantastic guitar works and technically stronger parts than other songs.

These are times where it doesn’t come together as much as during more successful efforts but they’re somehow better songs anyway. It’s worth mentioning because it’s hard to find anything lacking in these songs. But as an artist Sam Green doesn’t rely on bells and whistles to get by with. Take it or leave it, but like with most folk it is the downright honesty in the music that matters. Marketing will never come first in this category, but this CD deserves as much coverage as any. I liked “Mist Of The Dersert” but couldn’t understand why it is spelled that way when it isn’t pronounced that way. Maybe it should be “Desert?” But you never know anymore with titles in the internet age. For my attraction to folk, that’s the best song but not the only one featured. There’s several to chew on that keep up with it. “Google Me” gets down deep, and so does “Love For A Moment.” Those two work the same way as more like love songs that can be called music pieces just as much as being storytelling vehicles. Both are soulful, thoughtful and well-written for the times we live in. Of-course there is a lot more to this CD and Sam Green himself, but it would take up too much space to cover every single angle. I will point out another Sam Green song “Angelsea” to get an even better read on the Time Machine, as well as all to be found at the website.


Todd Bauer

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. That is as much background he’s working with besides the mention of several subsequent releases which have culminated into “Crime Of Passion” with mixed results coming from this direction. The songs are good and his voice is strong, but the songwriting and production are what suffer the most for a better than not album. This makes it worth sharing some good and bad thoughts, which are neither here nor there, but might help anyway. It wasn’t easy to even get in the right mood to give proper perspective to this until it hit me and dawned that it’s folk for the most part, when I was expecting a “rock” artist.

Once that was over I was able-to give it a better chance but still don’t find it overly spectacular in the process. As a folk-artist I would still expect more energy to back words of wisdom usually contained within the songwriting formula, but it could just be my own in-familiarity with him. That’s no mark against this release, it just shows my lack of knowledge and leaves me up to describing some of the tracks, hoping to turn the right ears onto it. For the sake of the song it’s never that hard to give an objective opinion no matter how into the genre, as-long as it’s good it’s still worth expressing a thing or two about.

“I’m Still Waiting” doesn’t promise a lot, so you can see hesitation is already temping, but it’s not a total loss as the album opener either. You do get where he’s singing from, which is straight from the heart. It helps him to get these lyrics of his mind, and that is clearly written all over the words. It’s pretty-deep but not so deep that it bores you to tears or anything. There’s just a pedestrian vibe to this, which doesn’t impress right off the bat. “Crime Of Passion” would have been a better opportunity to open with more punch, and that’s only the first thing I noticed. There’s more, much much more.

This follows with an even more melodramatic vocal delivery that actually-works this time. But this all takes a few listens to really absorb the beauty of this album as a-whole and that is why the most inspiring moments make up the best way to get the word out there about it. The product always deserves more description than the artist, so if you want the best of what this has-to offer, look no further than the tracks I’ve described, along with the greatness to be found in that of “Sooth Me” “Not Frightened To Be Free” and last but not least the final sleeper track “Gates Of Heaven” which you’ll have to hear to figure that and the rest out.


Mike Tabor

Kazyak

 
Kazyak

What Kazyak lack may in one aspect, they make certainly up for in others if that is the case to be made. It depends on your line of thinking, as they put together more than one style on Happy Camping. Let’s stick to what’s great about this album, which by the way is too short to be referred to as anything but an EP. Albeit it that way, it does have its big moments to hold it down and keep it classified however the consumer sees fit, and that includes any outlets where to find it. So many reviews are getting out without the artist being signed, all that matters is to give an opinion on their work.

This album starts out with “Sacred Cow” and it’s a killer way to come in and ease the mind of any mystery as to what this band are capable of. It is absolutely a cake walk listening to the beauty of this, but you don’t get a read on the rest by any of it. It’s the only drawback to this amazing way to get the ball rolling. It might drone on too long if you don’t get off on the pace, but if you do it does a job on the senses that puts some other tracks on the album beneath it. I’m not saying they don’t stand up, but it is a cool way to ring in what they have-to say and entice with a finesse not often found anymore. What that all means for anyone is usually good things when it reaches the right ears, but are those ears in the right places or not is the question so many are looking for the answer too. It doesn’t appear Kazyak are doing that. They seem to be riding with their own tides, and ebbing on as they see fit instead of following any trends. They could be setting trends for all to see as time keeps on. “Sundial” is an equally remarkable tune that doesn’t let up anymore-than the former. Both cruise into where the horizon comes out for you or not. It’s the rest that you’ll consider smooth or lumpy gravy.


“Basin” is where that journey begins, but it might be good enough to blind you from getting there, by already being there thus far. Some things are so good the rest don’t matter, if that is any hint to drop concerning this track. It takes effort though, or no difference can be detected. If that works, then so should “When I Lived In Carolina.” But if it doesn’t, you might as well give up. This is where it all sinks in or doesn’t. But once again I’m not going to spoil it be describing how. Let the music do the talking after, not before the chance to rate it with any substantial points to be made.


“Darker” is just that, a darker song to throw another stick in the mud. It brings out a four of-six overall rating from me, but it doesn’t mean there is one bum note to actually-be found on it. There’s just a couple of lows among the highs to reach for in the balance of light from darkness and vice versa. You also should read up to know where this album comes from in concept, to help all-the more without getting too deep in this review. “Happy Camper” gets to take the exit spot, which is another oddity thrown in, as the title track usually opens and doesn’t close an album. This is another mark for, and not against it. 
 


Elvin Graham

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Elle Casazza - ‘PROOF’


 
Elle Casazza - ‘PROOF’
From the so many things that I have heard and of which I have made some reviews, this is by far one of the most interesting. It is about the songstress Elle Casazza, originally from Michigan and currently based in the city of Chicago. Casazza shows us a proposal of how business were done way back before and are still in force today, the golden age of jazz, soul and GOOD pop music is not dead yet (our hopes in pop music have revived). This project brings to life an interesting infusion of genres and musical forms that you don’t see frequently on the radio but once it gets noticed people will be asking for it over and over.
The content is appropriately delicate resulting in a very careful, sensible and very well thought-out sound, true to the roots of the forms that can be appreciated and the times it is inspired from (seriously you are going to take a trip back in time and you will feel that you are in a 60’s movie and some hipsters are going to recognize the smooth vibes from the 40s). The first thing you can see on the record and what you will reign is jazz, with elements of the rock'n'roll form, in the tracks 'Hey', 'Save me', that serve as an introduction to the album. You can also notice in 'Last word' (if you've listened enough to Bruno Mars) those funky vibes that will surely make you want to move your feet to the beat. These first two songs illustrate very well what you can expect from the rest of the tracks. Then we find mergers between reggae and jazz elements in 'Too bad' and 'Cooking' respectively, the last one mentioned containing harmonizations in the style of the 30s and 40s. Casazza also shows us her most sensitive side with the ballads 'The Body Knows' and 'You' showcasing the genius within the composition of both and the clever result of mixing a jazz, blues and pop cocktail. In these she makes a great sample of her vocal abilities and set thing straight about her as a real singer, consistent vocals and definitely is not another one using and abusing autotune. 'Is not it good' is the closing theme of the album that although it is a beautiful ballad in coherence with the previous ones, could be used for a romantic scene of a film according to the whole concept of this record, a perfect ending for a perfectly made compilation of sounds. As for the visual and photographic concept, there is nothing more to say than simply beautiful, the selection of colors and frames were selected perfectly, the style is girly, flowery and very fresh. Visual consumers will love it and appreciate it. Elle Casazza has a proposal which not only is very smart, but also original, not everybody who mixes several rhythms has a successful or at least a pleasant result. Her ideas are exposed in a very clear and concise way, rather than looking for a direction she makes her own way and creates her own path without any fear of trying and experiencing.
I assure you, this will appeal to you. Take some of your time to enjoy her music and show her some love. Also, be sure to check out Elle Casazza's official sites and pay close attention to her social networks for upcoming events, news and more.
Jamie Thomas

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Paul Childers - Naked Poetry

 
 
Paul Childers - Naked Poetry 


The thirteen songs on Paul Childers’ debut album Naked Poetry are an emphatic musical statement. It’s a reverberating opening salvo for a career seemingly certain of longevity and leaving behind a meaningful influence for performers who follow him. Few singers and songwriters land in the public consciousness with such resounding effect and it virtually assures anyone listening that this is an artist who intends to produce high caliber music for years to come. The dominating style on Naked Poetry, nuanced R&B typically boasting a brass section, There are some interesting variations occurring over the course of thirteen songs, but Childers moves from one approach to another with unshakable confidence. It’s not the sort of thing musical performers typically possess so early on, at such a young age, but Childers has the sort of poise that comes along once in a generation. This is a potentially iconic career in the offing. 
 
His self-assurance comes through from the first. “Music Will Pull You Through” and “The Art of Being Twenty” are a fantastic one-two punch that serves notice Naked Poetry aims to be a substantive artistic statement. The first of the two songs concentrates more on conveying a sense of universality through storytelling while the latter song hits on much more personal sounding sentiments and strikes a nice contrast with the album’s opener. “Why Don’t You Stay?” shows that Childers has a remarkable talent for inhabiting the slow drag of a real R&B burner. It’s all the more remarkable how well Naked Poetry holds together when you consider Childers’ willingness to take different directions from song to song. The track “At Our Own Pace” moves from a patient R&B style with an emphasis on blues to the deep pocket and slinky sounds heard on “At Our Own Pace” and do so without missing a step. He projects the same vocal confidence on this song that’s stamped on the album’s other ten tracks and it makes it quite an entertaining ride. “My Love of the Rain” comes at an excellent place in the album’s procession – near the mid way point – and works better than you could ever expect as the album’s cinematic heart. It does a superb job with only a few essential musical elements and builds to all of the right crescendos without ever cheapening the moment. 
 
“Emma” has a very different flavor from the other songs for a variety of reasons but the curious rhythms of the song differ most noticeably from his approach in the other material. It doesn’t compromise his vocal, however – time in, time out, on Naked Poetry, Childers gives evidence that he can handle any style. “No One Goes Dancing Anymore” is one of the high points of the album’s second half and blends stylish R&B with pure pop strengths in a way that’s sure to win adherents. “Disclosure” is a different kettle of fish as well. It recalls the personal touch we heard on the album’s second track, but there’s a much cloudier tint hanging over the track than we ever heard from “The Art of Being Twenty”. “Throwing Shade” is the album’s last moment of pure glorious invention. The incongruous marriage of the upbeat musical arrangement and the darkly comic, somewhat cynical lyric is quite dramatic. There’s an embarrassment of riches on this album – Paul Childers has clearly harnessed all of his powers to make this a meaningful initial album that will stand the test of his sure to be long career.


Michael Saulman

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Jupiter in Velvet - In2 the Arms of Love

 
Jupiter in Velvet - In2 the Arms of Love 


Jupiter in Velvet has continued adding to his writing, performing, and recording legacy with In2 the Arms of Love, a ten song collection, another full length studio release. He’s proven to be one of the most fecund musicians working today since his 2012 debut and turns out new songs and albums with such stunning regularity that one might assume there’s an inevitable fall off in quality. It isn’t the case. Jupiter in Velvet does a superb job of sustaining both the inspiration and energy his songs demand over each of his previous releases and In2 the Arms of Love is no exception. He comes out swinging from the first and the stylistic mix bringing In2 the Arms of Love to full bloom is something sure to appeal across a wide fan base. The songs are simply that good and the passion Jupiter in Velvet brings to the performances makes them even better.  
 
As title cuts come, “In2 the Arms of Love” nicely balances accessibly and ambition. It has a great melodic hook that grabs our attention from the first, but it also has the electrified weight to make us sit up and take notice. This is a powerful outing that gets the album off to a fast start and it shoots even higher with the second track. “’Till the End of the World”. The guitar work on this song is among the strongest on In2 the Arms of Love and seems to elicit an inspired vocal response from Jupiter in Velvet. It’s quite amazing to hear how he brings emotion and raucous energy together in each vocal without it ever sounding too samey. The hot streak continues with the third track “I’m So Ready” and it’s refreshing to hear Jupiter tackle a truly clinched fist, out and out rock and roll song. The swagger he brings to the performance is a great match for the musical arrangement and it’s a real sleeper pick for one of the album’s best songs. 
 
“Supercharged” is a riled up, brawling pop rocker with just enough attitude to set it on fire yet an equal amount of focus to utilize its energy in the best possible way. Electronic instruments play an increasingly large role in the performances on the second half of In2 the Arms of Love, but it’s all kept in balance with the other musical colors at his disposal. “Carry On” has a decidedly modern, precise quality, but it comes off with percolating rock and roll energy that unleashes itself in memorable fashion. “Mars Ain’t That Far” is one of the album’s surprisingly humorous moments, but it isn’t a track exclusively devoted to humor. His songwriting manifests many different aspects of his personality and some songs, such as this, reveal just how thoroughly conceived his musical point of view is now. “Bang On” is a surprising track so late in the album’s running time thanks to its irresistible melodic lift and how seamlessly they bring the disparate sounds of electronica, pop, and rock together without it ever sounding stitched together. There’s immense naturalness in each of the tracks on this album that’s a result of many things. The primary thing, however, is his freedom. Jupiter in Velvet sounds like an artist working without fear and near the peak of his powers.  


Gilbert Mullis

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

We The Dreamers - We all Need Time

 
We The Dreamers 


The latest EP from We The Dreamers "We all Need Time" is a seven song outing that announces the arrival of an important unit on the scene. This is an unit that, fortunately, never relies on following one line of musical attack – instead, they base everything from their ability to pivot between different musical styles while remaining essentially true to their talent for incorporating a variety of musical elements into a single package. The production brings everything into vivid relief without ever emphasizing one element at the expense of others. Vocalist Myke Wilken emerges as the primary musical force here thanks to his role as the lead singer and his voice is more than adequate to carry these songs. Moreover, he varies his approach enough that it gives each of the EP’s seven songs a distinctive character. We The Dreamers come out of this studio effort as an immediate force to be reckoned with.  
 
“Crystal” has understated dramatic power even on first hearing. It takes a while to fully show its hand, but when its melodic ideas have been fully developed, “Crystal” reveals itself to be a composition of rare depth. Wilken’s singing distinguishes itself here for the first of many times and really gets under the skin of the track without ever making a production of itself. He takes a different tack on the second song “Parasol” and the extended treatment they give to the musical arrangement varies so much from the first song that it stands as an entertaining contrast. The melodic powers of this song are more considerable as well while the vocals meld nicely into the movement of the song. “A Spark” is, ironically, the most delicate track on the album and the use of a second voice, female, to contrast Wilken’s singing works exceptionally well. It has dramatic qualities quite unlike any other song on the EP, but it doesn’t overexert in that area. 
 
“Wiser” is a definite highlight on the EP. This is one of the release’s best example of bringing Ethan Rose’s guitar, keyboards and synthesizers, alongside consistent melodic excellence, into one performance that has an impressive live feel. We The Dreamers brings that aspect of musical performance to everything they touch and the last song on this EP embodies that principle better than any other. “Time” is a natural first single for the duo because it pictures for audiences the band’s ambitions in such a way that any listener will relate to where they are coming from. It’s Wilken’s best vocal yet and he throws himself headlong into the performance in such a way it elevates, even further, an already fine lyric to its position as one of the best moments on this EP release. They have vast territories to conquer from this point forward and the seven songs on their debut prove they have the skills to do whatever they like.  


David Beals

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Spiders - Another Mile

 
The Spiders Another Mile
The Spiders are an authentic band with real people. Watching their video Another Mile you see four regular guys jamming out. They are not dressed in leather or spandex. They play in an American flag t-shirt and a pair of jeans or a bowling shirt. One of them even wears a Spider-man T-shirt. They could be your neighbors. In that music video you also get the feeling from these guys that they’re close and that they really care about the music they make. Their biggest concern is their lyrics and the sound of the song.  
One of their newly released songs is Another Mile. This song is all about being able to overcome difficulties in life and making it to that next mile. The video on YouTube features scenes from the American Classic movie, Forest Gump. It also has sections of the video containing bits of the band itself. The song is very much about the American spirit and running towards your dreams. Election Day is their better known song. It was played all over radio stations for awhile. The song is about the working class. It’s about Americans who work at minimum wage jobs, like Starbucks and fast food to get by. The song is also about those who fought for their country. The Spiders are including all people who pay taxes in this segment of the song. It’s also critiquing those who are paid by those taxes. It’s about those who run the country and whom we elect, or rather who we have to choose between. This band is definitely a band about America. They are pointing out obvious flaws which almost everyone sees with these elected officials. However, the song is still from a Patriotic viewpoint. It’s about the choices you have on Election Day and how even though there is a choice when you vote you still don’t feel like there is much of a choice. This is because voters only get to choose between two bad candidates.  
This band originates from LA. Their lead guitarist and Vocalist, Nick DeStefano was in a few videos which were featured on MTV. He’s played pretty much everywhere in the US and he also was signed for a solo career in his earlier days. The sound of the band is rock is a quick pace and easy to listen to. Their songs are relatable and have a real AC/DC feel to them. Also the instrumental parts of the songs have a country sound, soft and nice. 
This vibe the music gives off goes well with their style of music and the lyrics they are writing. It gives The Spiders an authentic feel and watching and listening to them just makes you feel good. These guys are writing and playing these songs in a way which you don’t see any more, without the need for a flawless image. They could be your neighbor or uncle. Also they really look like they’re having fun while they play. All of them wear a smile at some point in their videos. Jamming out with friends and singing a great message.
Kevin Hardy

Monday, May 22, 2017

Swaylex - Raging Rapids

 
Swaylex - Raging Rapids 


Swaylex’s “Raging Rapids” is probably the hardest and heaviest of his recent YouTube uploads.  Swaylex’s warm, yet crunchy, Ibanez guitar sound is the primary mover for this tune, but he also shows the same tendency for interesting drummer complementing this track that listeners can hear on his other upload “Scrale”. To Swaylex’s credit, he avoids the same over-indulgence plaguing many of his contemporaries – everything here is focused and streamlined to the best possible effect. The composition and performance, likewise, exude a confidence you can detect in both the music and video presentation – there’s a swagger here that never stretches the boundaries of taste and, instead, draws you deeper into his musical world despite the song’s brief duration. Swaylex, even at his crunchiest, gives listeners numerous melodic hooks to hang onto. “Raging Rapids” is a powerful performance and composition from the first. 
 
There’s a lot of power in this song. Swaylex structures it just right – from the opening wash of wailing guitar notes, the seamless segue into the song’s primary riff, and the perfect accompaniment from rhythm guitar, bass, and drums, “Raging Rapids” has an impressively full sound that never dips in quality or intensity. His home recordings might strike some, without taking a listen, as doomed to amateurish. That isn’t the case. He has full command over each instrument and weaves the different parts together with the sort of clarity we expect from longtime musical veterans, not relatively newcomers to the scene. It is obviously that this is a young performer who has worked mightily to polish his skills and presentation alike in such a way to make the best possible impression on his listeners.  It has a surprising horror or thriller movie character with its sustained, sharp guitar notes and the menacing riffing accompanying those touches underscores this effect in a memorable way. 
 
It never reaches too far either. He knows what he wants the song to accomplish, seemingly from the first, and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the song has been well rehearsed before he ever dared commit the performance to recording or film. Fortunately for us, however, it has a live and off the cuff quality that sounds like he hasn’t lived with the song too much or too long and, instead, is striking while the iron of inspiration is hot. This is the central factor that sets his work apart from similar musicians promoting themselves in such a way. Swaylex’s music is alive with a passion that is quite impossible to fake and it comes across with a very first take feel. There’s no sloppiness here however. Instead, it’s a direct and powerful track that grabs listeners’ by the ear and forces them to listen. Never under duress – instead, you will be grateful to hear every note and it never threatens to overwhelm you. 


William Elgin

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Chameleon Project - Funk ‘n’ Space

 
The Chameleon Project - Funk ‘n’ Space  


The Chameleon Project is based out of the Toronto, Canada area and has established a growing reputation as one of the most inventive young acts working today. The four piece’s eight track (excluding two remixes tacked on at the end) release Funk n Space shows them to be one of the foremost units today in terms of creating a fusion of various styles into a distinctive and highly unique sound. They are just as adept with the traditional elements of great music, like melody, as they are at invoking heady atmospherics with their use of electronica and spoken word passages in conjunction with one another. There is a strong underpinning of tradition making these songs go, but the surfeit of experimentation that colors the songs is equally key to making these tracks work. It’s never self indulgent however. Even at their most daring, there’s a mastery of fundamentals that makes this material fly.  
 
Few songs better exemplify that than the opener “Milky Way”. The aforementioned atmospherics are a big part of its success, thanks especially to the even handed manner with which they are handled, but another key part of the success is the chemistry struck between the band’s instrumentals. The rhythm section, above all else, makes the groove manifest itself deeply and instantly. It isn’t a track, however, that browbeats listeners into submission. Instead, it’s spacey overtones and a well defined funk sound that never overstays its welcome. “Playhouse” takes things in a different direction. It’s much more superficially simple, but there’s clear evidence for their versatility They are capable of bringing out a strong layered disco and funk influence in their music without ever overburdening the song with too much action. “Steppin’” certainly beefs up the customarily streamlined approach of reggae music and the form’s influence is quite heavy in the song, but The Chameleon Project is able to bring that influence to the fore while still embellishing the track with a number of their signatures elements – sounds that would have been quite foreign to the genre’s bygone icons. 
 
They go down the electronic dance music road in the biggest way yet with the song “Reactor”, but tweak listeners’ expectations by bringing rock overtones into play. The often beautiful guitar lines, however, never sound out of place with the synthesizer work. The following song, “Bigfoot”, steers the band toward much more definite rock music territory thanks to the thunderous rhythm section, but The Chameleon Project fortunately avoids the bash and thud so often associated with attempts to bring these influences into play. “DiMiTri cOde” recalls the earlier “Reactor” in its invocation of EDM elements, but things are played much straighter here in that regard and there’s little of the rock guitar poses here that we heard in the earlier tune. Funk n Space ends with the album’s seeming centerpiece – the six minute twenty six second “Wako”, a cinematic and bold confluence of all the aforementioned sounds into a stunning last curtain that stakes the band’s claim as one of the foremost instrumental acts (sans the aforementioned spoken word bits – not a significant amount of the album’s duration) working today.  


Montey Zike

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Round Eye – Monstervision

 
Round Eye – Monstervision  

The self-proclaimed “loudest band in China” are Round Eye, from Shanghai, and they’re making their way around the globe, having toured with UK greats like The Boys, and US legend the Paul Collins Beat. These tours are constantly going, and many have had the opportunity to play on these packages with the likes of Paul Collins. They are usually punk or pop punk bands, but Round Eye are a different animal. They have everything from 50s jazz to ska and R&B to blend with their punk intentions. You can’t keep that bottled up in one country, so away they’re sailing with Monstervision on their plate.

Joe Bob Briggs(John Bloom of the Daily Show) narrates in the house of monsters to get the blood flowing, and he does by letting the “Commie Blues” loose. And it quickly passes into the deeper thinking “Billy” which almost verges on horror-punk with its shock rock tactics. But there is much more to meet the eyes with a video that gets pretty graphic in its delivery. It’s nothing to be scared about, but Round Eye also aren’t playing to the bubble gum chewing pop punk crowd either. This is a troupe of seasoned players with a horn section, which even puts Joe Bob in his place as he pleads for a lighter shade. But it is not found on that or the following two, in the shape of “Sifter” and “Troma.” As they too, burn the candle at both ends with no slowing down as the guitars take over and the pogo dancing comes directly to mind, body, heart and soul. This is mostly found on the former, but the latter rocks more along its own lines. Then Joe Bob comes back with the funnies and throws John Goodman into it, to double take an ear or two. The music is much better than the spoken word is funny, but it doesn’t take away from the program as it serves the purpose for the taking. Getting lost in the music still happens, and that is all there is to really shake a stick at while you play along.

“Hey Dudes” could even be reminiscent of “All The Young Dudes” if it weren’t about culture being in a tailspin. But glam isn’t the strong suit of Round Eye or anything. You just feel some influences where they come on strong. The last thing they’re up to is being serious, but that doesn’t mean they don’t tackle serious topics. They do occasionally go into them, but they get out of it in some places on Monstervision to contrast that. “Pink House” is one of those times you fall or you don’t, but it’s one of the more well-crafted songs, so there is no ignoring it. They have a good repetitious go at the government with some fine jazz tones to back it. And it plays out very nicely with a howling tone. And that has Joe Bob Briggs telling female jokes before “Cats” and “Richie” get by with upper marks, to still leave Briggs bewildered. But the listener is then treated to “Curami” and gets whisked off to another place, where the outdoors are felt and even smelt for a few long minutes on a thing of beauty which captures one of the best efforts on the whole LP. It just sways with the breeze and takes you away and leaves you wanting more. This is where it pays to get into Round Eye and their eclectic pieces of Monstervision. With the rest coming in as the last, but not least, as it should be. 
 

10/10 

Todd Bauer  

Blue Room by Johnathan Cavier

 
 
Blue Room by Johnathan Cavier 


Blue Room, Johnathan Cavier’s 2017 full-length album, takes him to higher highs and no lows to report on these ten tracks that smolder with pop star qualities. If you could nail his influences does they’d have to be firmly grounded in the 70s and 80s R&B crooners like David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Simon Le Bon and Martin Fry. And if that is calling it far from the mark, then take your pick of others with the same front man swagger. He’s a throwback in every sense of the term, but doesn’t forget he’s not living in the past, he’s just paying his usual homage to the finer things that used to fall off trees compared to now. With much more to know in his background, it’s been told and this is about the room of life’s mellowest color, blue. And so that naturally has the LP starting with the title number “Blue Room” where you get the first ripples of the smooth Cavier effect. You almost find yourself dancing at the clubs of youth or early adulthood. It has something so familiar about it that he’s like a ghost from the past, here to set the clock back a little and put some happiness into the world. You’ll be glad you heard him after just this one song, and if you’re already aware of him it will bring a smile to your face.

This is followed by what could be part two because it’s just as good, but it also seems to invite someone back into the room on “When You Come Around” if you try to nail the feelings. It’s worth the try, as he insists is the case himself on this tune about a disenchanted lover’s chances of coming back around. And all of these backing arrangements are spot on as every track flows along. There is no letting up after that, and the place where all your dreams come true gets fully explored on the streets of “Hollywood” and there’s no secrets hidden as he tells it like it is when you’re living it up out there.

This is toe tapping stuff for the masses to bump and grind to on the dancefloor, as it has the easiest beat for dancing away. It’s a finger snapping good cut with all of that retro comeback content done the right way. This isn’t quite R&B, but it’s closer to that and straight up rock, than disco or funk. Such a title cannot lose unless it’s done in poor taste, so, it wins with flying colors. But so does “Phoenix” in every other way possible, as it stacks up to being the most modern edged piece, with only slight inflections of any ambiance yesteryear. The bird wants to fly closer to real time than time wants it to. This track features some biting guitar to sink its claws in as far as possible. You’ll be swept away by this time, or not. But if not it only takes another crack at drawing you in to take you “Far Away” with an over the top acoustic trip to wonderland. Cavier seems to manipulate the wind in your sails on this easy listening masterpiece that reminds of sitting around the campfire, telling spooky stories to family and loved ones. It offers up as much as any track in the Blue Room of poetic pop and crooner musings. And don’t let any of these chosen titles stop you from hearing it all in one experience, as albums are meant to be heard. But “Someday” and the final cut “Edge Of A Singularity” are worth every bit of time they take to absorb, as I did like a sponge. 
 


10/10
 

Mike Tabor

Friday, May 12, 2017

David Starr – The Head and Heart


David Starr – The Head and Heart
With Arkansas roots and Colorado wings, David Starr has been making music since the age of 10. He is an Americana singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer with hundreds of live shows and seven releases under his belt both as a solo artist. Starr was awarded the Hotdisc Top 40 Most Successful International Artist of 2016 by participating UK DJ's and radio programmers.  Love and Sabotage was also reviewed very favorably by Glasgow's Paul Kerr in Blabber and Smoke in May of 2016.
He has a new six-song EP entitled The Head And Heart produced and arranged by John Oates, and this is review and a look at the songs, which features a surprisingly cool re-worked cover of the Mamas and the Papas classic “California Dreaming.” And it’s not only a highlight, but a bold effort to do something different with the well-known folk-heavy monster. And to get right to the tracks it comes off slowly but surely with “Edge Of The World” with its sad but enlightening lyrics about angels and redemption. This actually reminds me of Billy Joel’s “She’s Always A Woman.” And the great thing is that it gives him a run for his money. It could just be me, but that’s what I take away from it.

“The Head and Heart” keeps the same intentions but goes a little deeper and probably gets the best message across on the EP, which if were an album would just be twice as good. But being an EP, it manages to pull off all of the more power in one little package. It even questions the lack of EP appeal when that happens. I just don’t find that many prolific artists doing EP’s, but maybe that is changing. I still like full albums but this provides no skippers. And it is another good song but takes nothing away from the rest. But I think he could’ve named the EP after any of these tracks and kept the same meaning.

It almost gets smothered by the next track, the cover of “California Dreaming” but once the dream is over, it comes right back to mind. And that is a testament to it. But moving right along this is an extraordinary cover with sweeping violins and a slower, but much more powerful and even almost scary in some parts. It’s like making another song out of it, and doing it as well as the original without disgracing its standards. This isn’t always done with such great results but when it is, you get something not only refreshing, but way outside the box. And you have to credit David Starr for doing something brave and not pulling off a massacre at the same time.

It’s like he approaches his originals, with that same integrity. It’s not easy following up such a peaking point as that, but “Waiting In The Dark” keeps it real with a few welcoming bursts of excitement to bring you out of the trance of the previous animal. It keeps things as fresh as possible and quickly makes you forget you just listened to something that is now around fifty years old. But you’re still in the same century on what is essentially a track about getting tired of being alone. And it might just be me, but this is another one of the best tracks. They all have something compelling about them. But if you’re anything like me, this one stands on top.

“I’ve Come For You” takes on another good notch of the same caliber with its quieter but by no means weaker or less meaningful vocals. It’s a lot more blunt in getting its message across but doesn’t show any less spirit from Starr, with its vibrant but aware of the shadows mentality. It keeps things rocking a little into the finale, which slows back down a little on “Dancing With My pride,” but it also brings everything back into perspective, as it closes with class. And that is what this EP seems to be most fortified with, and you can’t help but feel that John Oates it more present than it appears. But that also should be attributed to the long way David Starr has come by dancing with his own pride.

INSTAGRAM:
https://www.instagram.com/davidmstarr/
10/10

Kevin Webber

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bradford Loomis - Bravery & the Bell

 
Bradford Loomis - Bravery & the Bell 
 
 
There’s a time when albums like this had hit written all over them in colored marker. That earlier era in our collective musical histories respected soul and meaning much more than modern audiences; the majority of the music listening public, these days, turn their ears towards the sound in full flight from meaning and substance desiring, instead, for nothing more than escape. Bravery & the Bell’s seven songs promise few escapes – except through love, acceptance, and forgiveness. These are exactly shopworn qualities in the wheelhouse of modern music. Bradford Loomis, as his official website bio states in different words, is a man and performer plucked from another time and the ethos informing his art will never fail to touch the hearts of those open to receiving its experience. The album, produced by Brandon Bee except for the closing number, is the pinnacle of Loomis’ solo career thus far.  
 
It gets off to a fantastic start with the song “Wind & Woe”. Loomis has tremendous confidence coming through from the first and he gives the vocal the same sort of treatment. Newcomers are unlikely to have a difficult time adjusting to his voice. Loomis may use a rough hewn delivery on a number of tracks, but this isn’t Tom Waits territory where gurgling nicotine gouged vocal chords makes phrasing frequently indecipherable. He uses his voice to similar effect on the second track “Chasing Ghosts” and, like the opener, the singing brings a believability and depth to his lyrical content that makes everything all the more richer. It isn’t nearly as straight forward as the first track, but accomplishes the same goals ultimately with a different thrust of attack. “In the Time of the Great Remembrance” aches from the first and the exquisitely arranged acoustic guitars give Loomis’ voice a memorable setting for the words. It takes on a different air near the song’s end and concludes in a much different fashion than it begins. The acoustic character of the track isn’t out of place – even shorn of his voice, the same sensibility clearly guides the performance that fills the earlier songs. 
 
He brings the pace up some more on the next cut “The Swinging Bell”. It’s a song that has an irrepressible arrangement beginning with hard-charging acoustic guitars before the full band comes in behind Loomis’ voice. It has a vaguely commercial air, different from the opener, but still has the potential to get over with a wide audience in a fashion unlike the gentler numbers on Bravery & the Bell. “Drive You Home” shows how Loomis is perfectly at home on the stairway of surprise as he throws himself with just the right amount of vocal panache into his take on soul music. There’s a strong Motown influence pervading the song, but he balances it quite well with choruses much more in keeping with his typical approach. Bravery & the Bell ends with “Across the Divide”. It’s a song that has some obvious influences and scores as a love song, but it also has much more widespread potential than the earlier tracks – a fact reflected in its choice as the first single. Bradford Loomis’ third release builds on the praise his first two have received and his development shows no sign of slowing down.  
 
Dale Butcher

Friday, May 5, 2017

Threefifty - Gently Among the Coals


Threefifty - Gently Among the Coals 


The title alone tells some of the story. Gently Among the Coals is an understated image for an album bringing together strong musical and literary qualities in often surprising and dramatic ways. Threefifty has been working for some years now and has acquired a sterling reputation for their consistently high quality of achievement but, unlike many older and younger bands alike, Threefifty have proven rarely content for staying in one artistic place for very long. Gently Among the Clouds brings together the band’s penchant for classical composition together with a folk and slightly baroque sensibility. The sound, approach, and final result is singular. Some might say the world doesn’t need any more songs and the last half century plus flood of all manner of music might give the same impression to those otherwise uninformed. The bar has simply never been set high enough. Bands like Threefifty, however, are clearly aspiring to fare able to withstand posterity’s glare and succeed in doing so.  

Gently Among the Coals never takes shortcuts. The opener “Crossing State Lines” could have been much more traditional fare, but Threefifty thankfully hears the guitar in a much different way than many old and young bands alike. The instrument is recorded with great intimacy throughout the course of the album’s twelve songs, but the common theme in its presentation is that it takes on an orchestral role. The seeming chorus of guitars on the first song is arranged to perfection but still achieve recognizable effects. “Allegiance” will impress a lot of people. The song communicates with great simplicity, but likewise has a layered arrangement that will draw listeners in from the start. It is one of the few lyrical numbers on Gently Among the Coals and Threefifty makes the effort count by utilizing a superb vocal performance bringing the fine lyrics fully to life. Another musical high point comes with the song “Andromeda”. It’s another example of how this band inventively uses guitar in ways that few other bands would dare attempt, but despite the daring they show, Threefifty never loses the melodic plot. Their melodies are restless, forever evolving, sometime flinty or cracked, but it remains one of the band’s chief pursuits in nearly every song. 

Few songs on Gently Among the Coals better illustrate that quality than “Until Our Hearts Give Out”. Threefifty brings different styles together with a less than heavy hand and the conscientious artistry they show fusing electric guitar work with an electronica backing succeeds, in no small part, thanks to understatement. “The Door”, with lyrics by Vicki Kennelly Stock, has a disquieting effect on the listener thanks to its penchant for darker sounds, but there’s still the same attention to melodic detail setting it apart from the band’s peers and the expert way the band steers through a variety of textural changes should be admired. “More” features contributions from electronic performer and producer Daedelus, but it bears all the marks of Threefifty’s constant upending of expectations. They employ traditional instruments in unusual ways and the gripping backbeat frequently coming out of the mix will surely capture listeners’ attention. Threefifty’s latest release Gently Among the Coals is a new benchmark in an already impressive career.  

9/10 

Joshua Stryde

Cause for Paws – Rescue Me


 
Cause for Paws – Rescue Me 


Some of acoustic music’s most respected and gifted artists have come together with Blue Night Records for the creation of Rescue Me! It is truly a “cause for paws.” From its inception, the project has had one driving purpose: to support the furry creatures who so enhance our lives with love and loyalty. Now, at last, that purpose has materialized with energy and joy as a 12-track compilation album of tender tunes that honor our four-legged friends. Rescue Me! is a heartfelt collection of Americana music featuring songs that are thought-provoking, uplifting, engaging, and downright funny. These compositions are mostly family oriented but do occasionally get into more mature style of humor.

This CD doesn’t waste any time, so getting right to it, the compilation kicks off with a song about a cat with a job. Naturally it earned the appropriate title of “Barn Cat.” It has a light percussive effect behind some excellent guitar work and nice harmony vocals weaved in and out of the story. You’ll like this cat, if Americana, folk and even some country is your thing. It delivers. It’s by Mary Ann Kennedy. So does “Possum And Pearl” deliver just as much with its singer/songwriter aim, and bluegrass twist. It has a swirling ring to it if you like fiddles and banjos. Penned by Kathy Chiavola from the CD “Somehow” and it sets well among these other humorously poetic, low key tracks.

With “Our Cats” things get smoking with a classy acappella song featuring Cindy Mangsen and two other voices. You can’t miss this because it’s up there with what makes this CD work so well. Good storytelling. This is a cool way to liven up the whole collection of funny if yet somehow interesting music. These are veteran artists, so that comes as really no surprise either. They’re all good at what they do. On “Get A Dog” you get that command presence, even from a female vocal, to replace the bad with the good, and go out and get a dog instead. The CD starts to get better as it goes, and the rest is pretty much gravy.

There are songs with humor, as pointed out, but there’s also some melancholy stuff to even it out. “My Old Cat” by Heidi Muller from her CD “Giving Back” is a classic style vocal, not unlike Brenda Lee or someone from that era. It’s also very well done and worth its recommendation. Just about anyone can enjoy that kind of thing, young or old. And “My Best Friend” by Mark Weems is a love song to his pet. You can’t make this stuff up, yet it is so precise and almost as serious as it is not. The piano on this is what really brings out the best in it. You manage to feel for him by the time it’s over.

But that’s not all the piano you get, as the next number razzle dazzle’s the ears. It’s the cerebral “Kitty Kitty” by Ashley Joe Farmer, with its tales of mischief and laughter. The vocals here are of that classic style, heard a few times throughout, but the music backing this is light and bouncy with a hook that won’t quit. It’s an up-tempo boiler with cute lyrics. And it goes well with “Why, Why, Why” even though it is country, as it contrasts with it so well, you get the best of both worlds. This is by Aidan Quinn and Christian Stay. It features a nice vocal duet about the theory that dogs look like their people and vice versa. And that sums up the titles question.

And it gets more personal on “Catitude” with a song about a lover being replaced by a cat once they left. This is one of the funnier arranged vocals offered, but it’s not alone. It just rings of déjà vu because I’m sure a lot of people have wound up this way a time or two in life. And Effron White did a fine job performing it in the studio, which is vastly becoming a lost art form. And the rest floats along with such beauties as “I Miss The Dog” by Jamie Anderson, with its generally sad tale but uplifting string with mandolin and two part harmony vocals. “The Best Dog” which such a close title to the previous that it’s easy to fool but not when you hear it. It’s just another track that makes you want to hear the CD “Home Sweet Home.”  And last, but not least, is “The Kitty Ditty” about cat behaviors, which often adapt from our own. This is a solid closer that goes out on a good note and doesn’t leave a sad feeling. It leaves a feeling of wanting to buy it and donate to cause for paws.

8/10 
 


Kevin Webber 

Pat Simmons Jr. - This Mountain


Pat Simmons Jr. - This Mountain 


Pat Simmons Junior brings something of his own everyday life to his musical art. His sense of social justice, commitment to the environment, and concern for his fellow man comes through in each of the six songs on This Mountain. There’s enormous finesse coming through as well. Each of the numbers are cut to an ideal length and Simmons knows when to push certain elements while pulling back on others. His voice comes in at the right places and he reveals himself to be an exemplary singer with a deceptively wide range. The music primarily relies on guitars, largely acoustic, but other instrumentation makes its presence felt on a variety of cuts. This Mountain is an intimate effort, every song is full of that presence that comes with a singer looking to unload their heart, but it clearly looks to communicate as well and does so wonderfully.  

“Up and Out by Five” shows Simmons’ ability for taking common conversational speech and stringing it together in a fresh way. It has a decidedly chipper air, much like the idea driving the song, but there’s deeper meanings driving the lyrics here for anyone to discern. Simmons conveys the sentiments with an immensely artful touch. Blues comes to the fore on his track “Rust”. It has a much more downcast musical tone than the first song, but the change isn’t jarring at all as the song embraces many of the same strengths making the preceding track so memorable. It’s admirable how he handles heavier emotions without ever leaving the songs feeling somewhat lopsided. “Mauna Mele” is another example of that talent at work. It probably possesses the ideal length of any song on This Mountain and the immense likeability, thanks to its airiness and tempo, makes it one of the EP’s standout numbers. Simmons stretches out some on the song “How Many Years” and indulges his love for the blues in a more pronounced way, but he never loses his touch despite the extended running time. There’s a strong acoustic guitar presence in the song, existing higher in the mix, and Simmons responds with a perfectly tailored singing job.  

“Touch the Ground” is, conversely, the EP’s shortest song. It also shows off more electric guitar, by far, than any of the other songs and the instrument’s presence never seems incongruous. Simmons gives audiences one of his loosest, most charismatic vocals, but it never sparkles with the same presence that he brings to the closer “All The Way”. He throws himself into this jazzier tune with the same upswing to his phrasing that makes the opener so good. It’s a low-key underlining of the EP’s virtues and a great final curtain without ever being too heavy handed about it. This Mountain is about as good of a debut as you could hope for and Patrick Simmons Jr. comes out swinging with a confidence that’s quite impressive. 

9 out of 10 stars  


Michael Saulman