Ron Wilde aka Adaledge currently hailing from Brooklyn, NY is a producer who recently released his sophomore effort entitled Tell Me What To Do So I Don't Have To. It’s an album that explores intricate electronic compositionsthat are tightly refined and worthy of your time to listen to on a nice pair of headphones. The beats themselves are pretty straightforward, sometimes not straying away from a simple 4/4 beat, but some of the synths parts and other programming are succulent pieces of sound any fan of IDM will be sure to appreciate.
In addition to having enticing parts he never stays on one thing for too long. The songs are constantly morphing and if they aren't changing immediately they are changing on the micro scale which actively listening to on headphones really brings the experience to another level. You could make comparisons to Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Jon Hopkins for even Burial Reference but Wilde definitely has adapted to this own style that is not derivative of one specific source.
The first track is called “Castor, Pollux" which opens with a steady heavy kick drum that is accompanied by a simple cascading piano melody. Eerie alien-like synths drop into the back before the lead synth is introduced. As the song progresses more layers make themselves known including rhythmic progressions and by the 2:00 minute mark the track is rolling with energy and momentum that will take hold of most listeners.
While the first track is good, the second track is better. “You Are Not a Loan” starts off dark and heavy. A dirty low frequency synth plays along with a deep kick drum. The music quickly mutates into an open canvas that seem full of possibilities. It changes so much in the first minute and a half that it’s almost too much. There were some great parts that I wish would have lasted a bit longer than they did. While there is an ample amount of changes he hits his climax at around the 4:00 minute mark. The drum programming gets tweaked as he throws in his disorienting percussive patterns amongst a host of sounds.
Another highlight is “Bowling, Alone.” Adaledge manipulates synths sounds as they are detuned sounding like a buzzsaw. Horns are introduced; it speeds up, slows down. The sounds are original, unique and absolutely appetizing. The album ends with “Moving Towards The One,” which sounded as it was the beginning of an acid trip gone bad. He utilizes vocal samples and cuts them up and adds effects until they are barely recognizable.
I say it right now. Adaledge makes cutting edge music on the cusp electronic compositions. If you have any interest in the innovators of the genre Tell Me What To Do So I Don't Have To is an essential album to listen to.
Phil Abernethy is a self-taught guitar player from Norwich, UK. Inspired by Daniel Johnston’s home recording and self-distribution Abernethy recorded his album Miles To Go at his home using a minimal setup. The recording is lo-fi but fortunately the album is sparse enough that it doesn’t have too much of an adverse effect on the songs. This album consists of mostly Abernethy and his guitar but some other instruments support the cause such as a harmonica, keyboard, banjo and tambourine. The songs are filled with melancholy, nostalgia and enough intimacy to create a solid experience.
The album begins with “Confess Your Sin” which sounds like it is titled. It sounds like Abernethy is confessing with conviction as he talks about past regrets. He adds sparse banjo, which is a nice touch as well as harmonizing with another vocalist. It is a decent song although it drags a bit. He doesn't change thing up much and runs a bit dry by the time we get to the end of the song. One of the highlights of the album is “Do You Wanna Know?” Abernethy plays a delicate melody on guitar that is backed by the slightest of bells that you can hear in the background. His vocal melody verse is good and only gets better when it repeats, “Do you wanna know why I love you so?”
“We Are Lost” is one of saddest songs on the album. No light in the tunnel on this one but there are also some nice vocal harmonies that make the song bearable. The album ends with another highlight called “You.” The song is sweet and exudes child-like innocence.
Abernethy has a number of solid songs and others that don't work as well on the album. If you need a quick fix of acoustic singer/songwriter melancholy Miles To Go is your treat.
Working on your sophomore album can be difficult. For a lot of bands that rush through it, there isn't the same passion as the first record and it can inevitably be called the sophomore slump. Luckily for the band Matheson, instead of rushing they have been taking their time on their self-produced album called The Word is On The Wire. The results are a very professional sounding record that has an eclectic mix of good if not great songs that are full of emotion. Matheson has some of the live energy you feel with a band like Arcade Fire. It’s this forward momentum that feels like it’s progressing and just building upon more and more momentum. They also have some tunes that are more laid back and rely on the singer’s commanding voice and minimal instrumentation. It’s a good mix of songs that lead you through a gamut of emotions that is very rewarding in the end.
The album opens with one of the highlights on the album “Ghosts.” This is one of those songs that you can tell after the first thirty seconds is going to be good. The blazing guitars, the kinetic drums and the singer’s triumphant voice come together creating a tornado of sounds that is steady and looking towards the future. At the beginning of “Sailors Son” it takes down the energy a couple of notches trading it in for harmony and a melancholy. A little after the two- minute mark the band rocks the hell out. The drums are frantic, the lead guitar is thrashing and the bass is keeping the energy balanced.
There are some indie rock ballads on the album not unlike those that you might hear from a group like Band of Horses. Songs like “Golden Ring” and “We’ve Lost It All” are visceral experiences that could be a tear inducing experience.f you enjoy well-produced unpretentious indie rock that delivers on multiple levels I would suggest giving The Word is On The Wire a listen. Eleven songs strong make it an album worth picking up.
It not very often that you find a female whose voice seems conducive for pop music. Before I listened to the awesome new album Postcards From Hokuo by You and Your Perfect Life I felt like the vocalists from Deerhoof and Love is All were about as good as you can get. Well I have just added another one to the list.
You and Your Perfect Life are a two-piece group originally from Canada and Austria and they met while going to school in Stockholm, Sweden. They have since moved to Canada and Hong Kong but still work together. Thank goodness because on this album you have seven songs of near perfect bubble gum synth pop. The songs are so fun to listen to as the vocals are relaxing, cute and feminine. They have a symbiotic relationship with the music, which contains a lot of non-abrasive clean synths, acoustic guitars and piano. Behind this great tone they create, they still have to be able to write well-crafted songs as well. Well, they don’t disappoint here either. They have got the whole package going for them.
The album starts with the quirky, energized “Zooey’s Holiday.” The vocals are the center attraction as they carry the most infectious melodies in the song. Another thing that makes this song entertaining is that they tweak the vocals throughout the song but ever so subtly. For instance, the main verse has just a dose of reverb but during the bridge they layer different effects to give the song a sense of change. Just as infectious is the second song “Real Time Fiction,” which on top of the near perfect vocal melody makes great use of the guitar. There is a section around the one-minute mark that utilizes backwards effect with a clean guitar to create an inventive instrumental section,
The only criticism I have is that I wish there was more. The songs feel shorter then they are and left me yearning for more. All things aside you don't find a much better pop record than Postcards From Hokuo.
Once in awhile you listen to an album that bursts with so much exuberant energy that it feels like the equivalent of drinking three Red Bulls straight. I felt this way when I listened to Gossamer by Passion Pit or to Slow Wonder by A.C. Newman and most recently to My Bright Heart by Latka. Latka is power pop band from Winnipeg, Manitoba consisting of Milos Mitrovic (lead vocals, bass), Cole Vincent (guitar), Andrew Clark (drums) and Eric Ross (violin) who have set out to bring you pop music that you can really move to. Without a doubt they have accomplished this. In fact this album may want to come with a warning not to play it in the office, as it may look bad if your boss sees you spontaneously dancing during work hours.
The album sound polished, professional and works perfectly with the type of sound they are going for. Kudos to their guitarist Vincent who produced and recorded the album. In addition to sounding great each song is a tightly refined dose of pop that has unexpected but ultimately rewarding violin in it. This aspect further defines their sound and creates a nice layer that isn't usually implemented into power pop.
The album doesn't waste any time by bursting on the scene with “The Arrival.” It’s hard not to be put into a good mood after hearing about 30 seconds of this song. The vocal melody is ridiculously catchy throughout as the verse gives way to an even better chorus. Needless to say I was pretty excited after this hoping this song wasn't a fluke. Luckily it wasn't. “Fake and Marvelous Exteriors (F.A.M.E)” may I dare say has more energy than the first song and also makes better use of the violin. One of the other highlights on the album is “Young & Entitled (Summer Breeze) ,” which is not only one of the catchiest songs but instrumentally is one of the most impressive. Everyone is on top of their game not only proving that are incredibly technically proficient but also are extremely creative with how they utilize their sound.
The eight songs on My Bright Heart go by fast like an adrenaline rush. From top to bottom I thoroughly enjoyed myself. For fans of The New Pornographers, Passion Pit and Fountains of Wayne this is a no brainer.
Jackson Legg is a solo artist from England who plays all the instruments (except drums) on his recent album Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul. You get a nice mix of guitar work and vocal harmonies as well as impressive bass lines that feel like it was written by a band not just one guy. His style is hard to classify but mixes in various genres such as glam, rock and pop that ultimately feels like it draws a lot of influence from the late 70’s and 80’s
The album starts with “New Wave” where the first thing we hear is a phased out distorted guitar being backed up by a lead guitar. Within a couple of seconds the drums, bass and vocal enter and the first thing you notice is that is reminiscent of David Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The song is surrounded with effects like phase and chorus and it gives it a distinct glam type feel. “Save the Night” has an impressive vocal performance backed by guitars with various effects on them that often sounded like something you might hear on the Roxy Music album Avalon. “Sugar” is one of the highlights on the album as the song treats his vocals with what sounds like a harmonizer and has a surplus of cool sounds to delve into. At around the two-minute mark you have this interesting guitar work that sounds like a swarm of insects as it pans back and forth between speakers. The album closes with a rocker entitled “Nothing Above.” He vocals are distorted on this giving even more grit to the crunchy guitars.
This is a solid album of impressive songs that are good but not great. The hook isn't always there but for the most part the album is well written and showcases the talent Legg has.
Greg Harr is a singer-songwriter from Phoenixville, Pa who recently released his debut album entitled I’m Doing Well. The album is quite eclectic as it draws from various genres such as country, rock and folk but as you go through the album you realize that the music isn't what makes this album standout; It’s the lyrics, Harr’s various vocal styles and unpretentious tone of the album. Harr has some tender moments on this album but also has some lyrics that will make you snicker if not give out a little chuckle. Take for instance the first line of “Happier Than You” which starts out with a self-deprecating line “I don’t sing for family and I don’t sing for kin, And Lord knows I ain’t singing for the money rolling in.”
The other thing that is interesting about Harr is that he has multiple singing styles. For example the opener “My Darling” sounds like a traditional country song with a bluegrass twist where his vocals sound carefree, are deep and have this slight comical feel. The next song ”My Name Up In Lights” is a ballad where his vocals feel more refined and have a bit more of a serious tone to them.
“4 Chorded Life” is a folk song strummed on an acoustic guitar that contains an ample amount of dark humor that I thoroughly enjoyed. Some noteworthy lyrics are “And I always had hope like Jeff Tweedy I’d write But my metaphors aren't up too par. I’ll be the reverse Johnny Cash, a strange man in white. But in truth I just suck at guitar.” One of the highlights on the album is “I Got You Now” which finds a good balance between Harr’s voice and the music which is a slower country tune with a tinge of melancholy. Another highlight that has a more serious tone is “Ghosts In Photographs,” which revolves around sparse piano and a delicate melody picked on guitar.
The only thing that is holding back this album is that it isn't very balanced. Ironic and comical songs like “4 Chorded Life” seem very distant from a heart wrenching ballad like “Ghosts In Photographs.” Despite these issues I’m Doing Well has a number of well-written songs that are easy to get hooked on.
Sometimes the sound of an entire band can be achieved through one well-produced musician. The Northwest Man might be an example of such talents because even though the album THE is put together mostly by one person, the sound and production is not lacking. The music of the album can be called dramatic new age blues, or experimental jazz rock. The most compelling asset of the album is the artist’s voice. It is somewhat reminiscent of sounds from bands like Wild Beasts, Bear in Heaven, and even The Black Keys. There is definitely a bluesy and slightly southern twang to the album.
The intro song “Sugar” really immerses you in the deep and expressive melodies that make up the album, as well as the artist’s intriguing and almost psychedelic voice. The second song “Spit” is an emotional yet epic track that is sultry with deep valleys of feelings. The melody is very rich and well structured and there is much sound to get lost in.
The track “No One Will” has a hypnotic background synth beat that just keeps the track grooving along with an upbeat pace. The song “We Tried (Beat 2)” starts with an unexpected disco-esque beat and then dives into an ode to love. The lyrics of this song tell a very visual story that a listener can really experience. Listening to any story being sung by the vocalist is a story that one can easily fall in to.
Overall the lyrics of the album are something to enjoy, in combination with the interesting voice of the artist. This blend has the effect of taking the listener on an existential journey through rollercoasters of good and bad sentiments, yet all experiences are set against a breathtaking landscape. The production of the album as well is noteworthy as there was time put into both writing the songs as well as executing them. This is a great album for anyone who enjoys indie rock or experimental rock.
The multi-instrumentalist Ben Shaman presents us with a musical collection of encouragement: Bon Courage. The artist has pulled inspiration from his travels, schoolwork, and spending time away from home, which has made him acknowledge the importance of receiving or giving encouragement in everything we do. The music on Bon Courage is very mellow with a folky southern twist.
Each song on the album has its own southern infused sentiment, some serious, some comical and some just musically appealing. “Tell Yo Sista” is an amusing track that says “tell your sister I said what’s up.” The song “Family” is a catchy folk song that sings about the importance of family. It is such a warming and genuine song that anyone who appreciates their family can jam to; “got some pretty good friends but it ain’t the same.”
“Justine” is an ode to a girl and the song has a nice melody as the vocalist harps about “wanting to be your guy.” There is a nice harmonica part in the song that is full of longing and lust. A song with a traditional story-telling folk vibe is “Nawlins Vatican Tibetan Blues.” The guitar strums along and is accentuated by whistling towards the end. All the songs on the album really maintain the genre of classical blues folk music; each song is very innocent in a sense and very pure in both storytelling and production.
There is definitely some character showcased by Ben Shaman on this solo-project. There is time and attention put into both song writing and execution. Also, for being recorded mostly by an iPhone recorder, the production quality is noteworthy. Bon Courage is an album that can fit into anyone’s folk music collection.
Divide and Conquer is dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We review a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
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