Saturday, September 16, 2017

John Brownlow - The Summertime

 
John Brownlow - The Summertime 


It’s funny how music can change. It’s so malleable; you could hear it in one setting and hate it, vowing to never again let such filth invade your eardrums again. I’m referring to sonic pop by the way. Then, you could hear it at a different time, in a different situation, a different artist and see something in it that you never considered. It’s not just to down to peer pressure, either. You could be listening to a song on repeat in the morning that by night time you can’t stand. Basically, music isn’t just a meal in itself, to really enjoy it you need to be in the right frame of mind, as well as a situation where you can enjoy it.  
 
When I turned on The Summertime by Ontario (Canada) based singer-songwriter John Brownlow I actually did not expect what I heard. I probably wasn’t giving him the best chance for success as I must be honest. Some artists are a bit over the top about their songwriting. It’s just feels as if they are selling something under a false pretence lacking a real and genuine sense of musical inspiration. I mean give me something I can feel! Today it feels like many artists out there are going through the motions and how appropriate none of it provides real inspiration. Where am I going with his? None of the above applies to John Brownlow and his music. I was sold on him during the first few seconds of “The Summertime.” I might add as I drifted in and out of uncomfortable sleep, hazy static and sporadic bursts of music punctuated my dreams I realized this man believes and feels every stroke, every note, every song he played. I played most of the songs on this CD probably 4 times and despite the brutal sludgy of the Brooklyn traffic there was something on many of this 29 track collection that soothed my inner skepticism. On the second listen, slightly more conscious this time, I began to pick out the sounds somewhere between Elton John, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel and Squeeze. Bending elements of catchy 70s Powerpop, Britpop and powerful singer-songwriter one can’t help but fall madly in love with songs like (Live Forever) and (Shalala Says I Love You) and (Kingdom Come). This is the perfect CD, it relax and drift in and out of sleep with. This is a compliment as John Brownlow manages to transcends space and time. No matter what state of mind your in all these tracks will make a lasting impression on you. This CD will not go in my “reviewed pile” rather it will go on my I-POD indefinitely.  
 
The mix works and the somewhat dreamy precision and concentrated themes meshed with Brownlow’s clairvoyance makes for some top quality music. Like I mentioned I was sold on during the first few seconds of “The Summertime” and I kept waiting for a blemish or disappointing song to emerge – which never happened through to the end. John Brownlow is for real. It’s these types of artists that make it all the way to the top of our hearts.  


Rebekah Neil

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Barbara Jo Kammer - One Song at a Time

 
Barbara Jo Kammer - One Song at a Time
 

The ten songs on Barbara Jo Kammer’s debut solo release One Song at a Time are definitely lived in. They are never oppressive in their conveyance of life’s experience but, rather, never draw back from facing the reality of the situations they depict. They are accompanied by rich musical arrangements and on target performances that complement the lyric nicely without ever going overboard. The production is quite obviously top notch despite this being a decidedly indie affair or labor of love and it further frames the material on One Song at a Time in the best possible light. The center of it all, however, is certainly Kammer’s voice. Her day job as a music therapist positions her to make a success of this release in a way few other singers could – she truly makes the most of this cathartic moment and delivers one spine-tingling performance after another to make this a must have release.  
 
“I Can See Clearly” is one of the most recognizable tunes on One Song at a Time, but Kammer isn’t interested in a straight cover. She adepts the tune for her particular stylistic purposes and dispatches it with the sort of fluidity that the original performers and covers that followed never dreamed of. It’s to her credit that she’s never interested in simply duplicating someone else’s artistic glories but, instead, shows such interest in claiming a bit of the song as her own alone. A similar experience informs her performance of “Choices”. First popularized by country legend George Jones, this fearlessly blunt appraisal of a life wasted drinking elicits one of Kammer’s most impassioned vocals. She’s careful, however, to never go too far over the top with it and allows the excellent lyric do its poetic best and conveying the despair that only alcoholics and drug addicts, or those affected by such behaviors, can truly experience. “So Good” lightens the mood considerably with its breezy bluegrass pace and the positivity that seems to flow from the lyric. Sandwiching “Choices” between these two tunes gives the first quarter of the album an unique feel that she continues to build on as the album progresses.  
 
“In a Cabin on the Mountain by the Pine” is pure, 100 proof bluegrass with no chaser and she imbues the song with all the pastoral grace that listeners will expect by this point. Songs like this live and die by the singer, but Kammer has an uncanny talent for making the reality of these musical worlds come alive in a vivid way. “The Winning Side” underscores that aforementioned talent in its invocation of the day to day gratitude she now experiences after freeing herself from the damaging effects of substance abuse. This is a song about healing, in some ways, and should prove to be an inspiring listen for many. The album, as a whole, is an inspiring musical ride that never fails to connect. There’s no filler on One Song at a Time and she explores its wide range of emotions like a performer who has made countless albums rather than someone embarking on a solo singing career at the improbable age of sixty two. In the end, age really is just a number.  


David Shouse

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Sighs - Wait On Another Day


URL: http://www.thesighsmusic.com/ 

(Western Massachusetts) The Sighs (Tom Borawski, Matt Cullen, Robert LaRoche, Tommy Pluta) are no stranger to musical movement. In fact, though their name may not ring a bell on you, the band has been around for almost three decades now.
 
Having cut their teeth with multiple releases to their credit they have also has enjoyed a healthy dose of tinkering around several studios, no doubt The Sighs benefits from four group of musicians who share a passion for classic and arena rock, but have a variety of tastes in contemporary music and production. These 4 piece band create original power pop music. I honestly can’t think of a better time than now to unleash the kind of classic retrostyle of rock music to the world. Having listened to the radio today - most would agree it’s time for something different. This latest 11 song LP called “Wait On Another Day” is outfitted with a distinctly familiar 60s/90’s style rock feel with a Alternative edge that takes no prisoners. The TS sound, personality just  gives the music credible bulk and authenticity.
 
"Wait On Another Day" is a collaborative project. All musicians participated in the writing of every song on the record. LaRoche vocal skills and Matt Cullen's grungy guitar landscape backed by fast-paced Bass and drum lines gives perfect dimension to the opener, “It's Real”. It’s a tune that takes no time to build and it's always in a continuous peak that transport to days past, and a welcome one at that. The tone starts to change as we follow “Words Of Love”, a single build up on catchy melodies, rather harmonious vocals that feels less like Tonic and more like Gin Blossoms. Keeping the beats down and rather playful, the title track is filled with hooks in all the right places and could easily stand shoulder to shoulder with The Wallflowers, Ben Folds Five and Better Than Ezra. The rest of the tracks on this record keeps coming full circle with influence from the past and modern day musical mentality, these beauties inspire that eyes squeezed tightly shut drifting off feeling brought about by the likes of The Beach Boys & Van Halen . Much of this record is more like in a thrumming of the heart, as a perfectly wrought rock song should be able to do.
 
It also obvious that The Sighs' dream team has not taken their experience in their lengthy  career lightly, nor is this latest effort a heavy-handed grasp at recapturing glory days. For those in the immediate area who are able to catch these guys live this is a great way to hear some great throwback music by some talented people, and for those in any other city this is a great band to try to model after. If you want to start a band go this direction. In a world where corporate is king and cheezy music gets product top dollar product it’s nice to see a real good band play over my speakers for a change. With a well-trained ear for what brought them to my ears in the first place The Sighs have given us 11 hot new tracks to chew on and offered the world a cutting edge glimpse of this amazing style of music that inspires. We can only hope that there is much more where this came from. 


Charles Phillips

Bunny Sigler – Angel Eyes

 
Bunny Sigler – Angel Eyes 


In 1976, Bunny Sigler set up an album deal for Instant Funk with Gamble and Huff's TSOP label. And if you know that album you know you soul music. Creating several hits over the span of his career (many of which are still being sampled today), Bunny continues to write, produce and record new material. He cut tracks for artists on Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label, including Mayfield himself ("Trippin' Out"), and created a duet album with Barbara Mason. He got a chance to work with a number of acts as a writer and/or producer, including the Whispers, Ecstacy, Passion And Pain, Patti Labelle. His forthcoming album is entitled Young At Heart, and the second single on this project is Ella Fitzgerald’s “Angel Eyes” and it’s great. The entire arrangement itself is a high-quality thing to hear. It shouldn’t fall on deaf ears, and it won’t. This isn’t a young artist although Young At Heart takes him into some mature territory that he still aces like he’s 19 years old or something. The spirit has that ambiance anyway, and it’s just me hoping the rest comes on this strongly. It’s a statement nonetheless already, so it begs for more of the same. An album’s full of this quality is worth anyone’s dollar and time.  
It’s easy to glow all over something if you like it the first time, but it doesn’t quit, time after time you hear this sweet tune. The way he does it makes his own song out of it without stealing Ella’s thunder in the process. Frank Sinatra sang it too, but I have-to say this well outclasses him in the vocal department, and that’s nothing against Sinatra but this is not a one-dimension singer. That’s probably why they call Bunny “Mr. Emotion.” That’s certainly nothing Frank would be referred to as. Let’s just say a lot was put into this to bring out the best in Bunny Sigler and the song itself. And if you like videos, take-a look at the promo clip.  
 
He is the co-writer of the song “The Ruler's Back” which was an opening song for Jay Z's album, Blueprint. At the age of 70 he’s still at it with a modern edge and that is just another reason to anticipate this album, and the single should get your ears in gear for just that. He’s a long way from playing the churches of Philadelphia, but he hasn’t lost a step where the hunger lies. It’s important to retain that and the only way to keep proving it is with more work. There is nothing better than going till the day the oil runs out, rather than wasting it away. He’s done his time off over the years, it’s time to keep shining.

The Philly soul sound is important as well, and the heritage of it is something Bunny Sigler holds a piece of, and it doesn’t matter if you’re digging up the late 60s, mid-70s or following him all along, he’s always brought the goods on records and stages. While everyone is dying off it thins out the genres as well, so it’s a use it or lose it thing, and as-long as the heart and soul meet the spirit of music, something takes over and you can’t turn it off. The light switch of this artist is still on and this single proves it as much as the first one. Hopefully the album Young At Heart will too, because this helps light the way for it.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Weatherboy

 
Weatherboy 


The ten songs on Weatherboy’s first album are a reminder that vibrant work in a pop vein can still emerge and make a substantive artistic statement. There’s no question about the bright commercial sheen surrounding these tracks, but there’s equally little question that this is a duo with ambition to burn. There are recurring lyrical themes running through the songwriting and a definite design to the running order, but Weatherboy’s debut never comes off as forced – their range comes naturally and the music moves with a natural, airy sense of purpose that keeps their melodies, vocal and otherwise, engaging. The production invests everything with a forceful sonic punch and it helps further highlight contributions from the duo’s musical partners like legendary guitarist Phil Keaggy. This unheralded giant, formerly of the band Grass Harp, contributes mightily to this collection without ever once overstating his distinctive presence.
 
There is a deliberate shape to the release. Weatherboy opens with two straight ahead, horn powered pop numbers “Got a Good Thing” and “Great Great Life” and there’s a commonality between the songs suggesting they are designed for their specific track list positions. The brass sound rings out in a very authentic way and makes for an excellent, if unintended, counterpoint with the powerful lead vocals. “Riding on the Wind” shows off another side of the duo as they perform a much more moody, hard-nosed musical ride. The vocals respond in kind with an appropriately darker tone and it results in one of the album’s more memorable moments. Acoustic guitar plays an important role in the songwriting on the album and “Eva”, one of the album’s more than likely underrated numbers, has qualities one might associate more with a folk song than hailing from this project. “Bennett” comes off as something practically confessional in its lyrical content and the musical arrangement is one of the album’s more inventive moments. Rosinkranz, especially, comes out of this album sounding like a true virtuoso capable of doing anything he wants to – the sheer variety of melody and texture that makes this album go will please many.
 
“A Bright Flame” returns the duo to more standard pop territory but the edge of your seat vocal melodies and pyrotechnics will exert an aching effect on listeners. This is reminiscent of “Bennett” in the way that the lyrics come off as very personal, but the song is delivered in such a way that the experience runs no danger of being closed off to listeners. “All Your Fault” has a lot of musical and lyrical bite, but there’s a slight sense of the duo trying to take on too much within the song’s somewhat short running time. “Full Bloom” brings the album to an end with a surprising piano ballad guided by the lyrical keys work and the bone-deep emotion coming through in every line of the vocal. It’s, arguably, one of the album’s better lyrical moments and makes for a conclusive ending to this release. It is easy to discern a progression of sorts through this release and “Full Bloom” brings it to wide-open life. 


Raymond Burris 

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. The play he’s working on is entitled Broken Fingers, and the art show Dream of the Snow Geese. And the album Land Of Doubt is a meditation album centering around everyday reflection of the uncertainties in life. It’s a home hitter in that area especially, but it’s also folk music with a lot of heart and soul with a general singer/songwriter approach, with some southern jazzy textures. “Summer Wind” starts out with not much but some cool guitar bits to keep it interesting, and interesting the guitar is, appearing nowhere else on the album like that.

“Some Kind Of Blue” is a track for the masses to soak up, should they ever get wind of such a monster war tune. It tells the typical Viet Nam story and you feel him all the way, from his flashes of humor to flashes of sympathy, as well as his blunt portray of it. He takes you through most of the aspects that meet the usual standard in war songs, but you get the feeling it’s more personal whether you know or not. It’s a lot to take in but once you do there’s almost a sigh of relief, and then it’s all over after the marching beat. Nothing left to do but carry onto the next song with another instrumental, this one a haunting little piano solo. It makes its way into the next track without hardly any notice.

“Margaret” is a melancholy little tune about someone who sounds like anyone would want to be around. He displays a certain swagger in this which can’t be found anywhere else on the album, and it’s appropriately placed but doesn’t seem intentional, and some of the effortlessness of that comes off very well on this song which also has some decent piano behind it too. It’s a point where the mention of production by Neilson Hubbard, using the jazz trumpet of Don Mitchell and the sustained guitar textures of Will Kimbrough, producer/guitarist for Rodney Crowell and Todd Snider, to frame the lyrics. So, it’s not all Sam Baker to credit but all his table to sit at.

“The Feast Of Saint Valentines” is cool, and so is “Moses In The Reeds” especially with the latter’s funny parts if you can catch them. And another highlight for me is “Say The Right Words” which gets the heart of matters and comes with some awesome trumpet playing to polish it off nicely. “The Sunken City Rises” is a string pieces with some cello and violin that start to mesmerize as it falls too short, but “Peace Out” extends the mood nicely. The lyrics tend to lose me but it’s the guitar that makes up for it. “When Fallen Angels Dwell” is the second most interesting instrumental and the album closes with a band on “Land Of Doubt” as it walks away with the ultimate effort of the album. 
 


Alan Foster

bd Gottfried releases new LP


bd Gottfried releases new LP 


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.

The only thing left to say and do is start with “Something You Weren’t” as it does the business in getting right into things on a long-player of an album with some rocking and not so rocking parts. First of-all you can clearly hear where he’s drawing influences from, although it might be newly applied if you know his previous works. But it can’t be denied that he’s been recently inspired by the works of both Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Latter days of both, to be honest, with a few early inflections here and there. But that’s not all I hear, I hear Roxy Music and some others that even creep into the 90s.

The smooth and rough edges continue with “Crosshairs” which is another excellent track, equally as good as the introduction as they both pass with flying colors, but not all do, as there is a low point or two. I won’t mention any of those because it deserves focus on its bright side, as it dominates the production. However, “Blame It On The Money” is not one of them. It rather sits on the top shelf with the best to be found on the CD. If-only every track had the same ingredient power, as this one could be heard on any rock radio station in the world, and not go unnoticed. This is simply a monster track. 
 
It's not easy to follow such a piece of ear candy, but “Eye Of Time” rivals it for airing time, although this one wouldn’t go over as well on radio, it still competes with anything in the set of burning tracks. This could be the more serious side of the artist, but it’s okay because that is his better side. You have-to get into this but once you do, you’re hooked. It should be seen for what it is, and that is one of the ultimate tracks for sure, at least from where I’m standing, on which it really all depends or why give an opinion. It’s where the cream of the crop can be found, and the beauty along with it.

“Frequencies” is a track that almost deceives with its lower key being its tricky aspect. You can either play along or not, which I did, and that is why I get it. Nothing is over until it’s over, but if you hit the next track you won’t have the chance to get it. I’d give this song a chance and see for yourself. It’s a melancholy treat of you let it do its magic. You almost feel like it’s attached to one of the previous tracks, and that bodes well on the concept, whatever it may be. “Breakaway” also leaves an impression, and so do “Reformation” and “We Have Love.” These are all points worth catching on what is a cutting-edge release for the masses, as well as fans of this intriguing artist.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas!

 
John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! 


In some important ways, The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! is a musical narrative about inspiration. This seventeen song collection takes a lot of its cues from David Bowie’s seminal classic The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and, while it may not share its same commitment to gender bending theatrics, it does share many of the same narrative ambitions and clearly draws from Bowie’s album as a reference point. Elderkin, however, is an immensely talented songwriter who never finds himself bogged down risking imitation. The seventeen songs on this album, instead, represent how adeptly Elderkin has proven to be and taking an initial jumping off point of inspiration and expanding on it with a creative and musical vision all his own.
 
Few songs illustrate that better than the album’s first full length number “We Waited Five Years”. You’ll hear few songs capable of conjuring genuine gravitas with moments of unexpected, playful humor. Elderkin’s voice emerges from the mix with bell-like clarity and clearly has the capability of carrying a tune like this with warmth and personality. The golden oldie jump rockabilly flavor of the song “Messy Down Below” sounds like it was cut in a sweaty basement or garage and it’s certainly a major part of its appeal. Elderkin has the voice for this, as well, and throws himself into the performance with wild-eyed raucous glee. There are human voices creeping into art rock atmosphere surrounding “The Message”, but no lyrics or words per se. It is a brief number and has many of the qualities we’d otherwise associate with a spiritual chant augmented by tastefully deployed keyboard textures. There’s some electric guitar heard low in the mix on “Song for David Bowie”, but much of this tune devotes itself to a sprightly acoustic guitar arrangement punctuated by good drumming with a discernible and appealing swing.  
 
The acoustic guitar dominates “Keep It Down” as well, but there’s a dissonant edge cutting into the song’s second half quite different than anything we heard in the aforementioned song. Elderkin consistently makes keyboards work within the context of this music by using them the right now – they are rarely used in a musical “leadership” role and, instead, ably fill the gaps in Elderkin’s arrangements. The beautifully spartan piano of “You Got Sick” finds an equally simplified match in Elderkin’s lyrics. They are words that say more than they know and trying to uncover the song beneath the song, the story behind the story, is part of the immense fun listening to a song like this. “Fat Levon on Acid” is pure hilarity in comparison. The guttural, fuzzed out bass and primordial drumming jarringly contrast with the off the wall lyrics and imbues the song’s character with a discernible shape and mood. “Sore Afraid” comes late in the album and does such an effective job putting over its vulnerable demeanor that you will be immediately drawn closer to its delicacy. “Give Me Your Hands” is a wonderful finale for the album. It has some of the same zany humor that’s distinguished a number of the cuts, but there’s an equal deference to the album’s serious ambitions and a vital humanity coming through during every minute of this performance. John Elderkin and his band have aimed high with this release and it really can’t be heard as anything else but an unqualified success.  


Lance Wright

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Suntrodden III

 
Suntrodden III
“The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the unexpected,” according to W.H. Auden. “The eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition.” Biologically, this makes perfect sense. The eye can take in more information at a faster pace, and the information it takes in is literally right in front of us, so we feel better prepared to deal with it. The ear, however, gets its information around corners, from behind us, and in stereo. To the human brain, sound is intangible and unpredictable, so it’s more likely to be jarring.
By that measure, then, Suntrodden’s latest offering is perhaps the most appealing EP released in years. And if you parse that statement and think it sounds snarky, I can promise you: no snark intended.
Suntrodden III, the final installment of Erik Stephansson’s Suntrodden trilogy, is certainly familiar and expected. You’ve likely heard each track before, somewhere and somewhen, maybe on an elevator or in a pharmaceutical commercial, and when you heard it you mostly ignored it. It’s five tracks blend together, with each melting into the next and making the parts almost indistinguishable from the whole. I know that seems dismissive, but again, I can promise you it’s not.
Elsewhere on the Internet you might find comparisons to Radiohead and Elliott Smith, but III lacks the angsty immediacy of the former and the tortured-artist sensibilities of the later. It’s safer, easier, and less challenging—not quite a watered-down version of those icons, but certainly with a chaser. With III’s jangly tambourines and breezy melodies, a better comparison might be The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar” or Simon & Garfunkel’s “April Come She Will,” or some other crowd-pleasing 1960’s folk-pop standard. III is lo-fi, indie bubble-gum.  For a musician, that could be a sentence to purgatory, but for the last time: it’s not meant to be.
Suntrodden III doesn’t break new ground or test any limits. Its melancholy opening track (“There’s a Place”) tempers the potential gloom with a xylophone, while track two (“Pure”) gives us a Summer-of-Love tambourine backbeat and an airy falsetto chorus. “Moonflower” tricks us into thinking it will break the mold, but after the piano prelude it relaxes into III’s expected groove. Then we’re on to “Never Again,” which combines all the prior pieces into a thesis-statement whole. Only the final track (“The End [Haunt Me]”) creates a momentary exception to III’s rules--with its rising orchestral opening and a moody, Ben Folds-esque piano ballad in the middle—but even this outlier eventually settles into the formula. 
So, if it’s so utterly formulaic, why give it a listen? That’s an easy one: you should listen to Suntrodden III precisely because it’s formulaic . . . and the formula works. That’s the good thing about a formula: when it’s mixed right, it does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and III is mixed right. Stephansson knows what he’s doing: the song structures are pleasantly predictable, the instrumentation is soothing, and the themes are comfy like a well-worn pair of slippers. It’s the kind of album you can play a hundred times as you go about your day—it’ll provide a soundtrack for a trip to the beach, it’ll help you decompress after a hard day at the office, and it’ll loop in the background, undistractingly, as you write a review of it. It is unassuming in the best way possible, and if that makes it elevator music, so what? No one wants to ride in a silent elevator. 
Suntrodden III’s strength lies in its safety and anonymity. Rather than blazing trails or shooting the moon, Stephansson gives us five tracks of warm blankets on cold nights. He gives us familiar and expected. He gives us bubble gum. Who doesn’t like bubble gum?
7/10 stars
Kent LeRae

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