Low Worker Equality is the creation of two best friends that have been indulging and collaborating with their musical passion for years. The two decided to put down some of their favorite creations into the recording studio, and put together this unique and feel-good album. The Slow Pianos, the name of the duo, have excellent chemistry evident throughout the album and likely a result of their years of playing music together.
The best part of Low Worker Equality is that it incorporates a wide variety of sounds and samples. The first track, “Navy May in Crimson Tide” for example starts out with a trippy, folk-like introduction. The song starts out with banjos being tuned and tweaked with spacey sounds in the background. The track eventually turns into a calm, feel-good melody. The vocals are also happy and melodic.
There is evident chemistry between the musicians, the music is always smooth despite there being a plethora of instruments and sounds involved. The Slow Pianos have a very unique sound, there are loads of samples splashed throughout -- like the table drumming sound for example -- but they all come in at the right times and fit in with the other instruments really well.
The sound of the album switches around from song to song. Some tracks move from that folksy sound to a more electric, rock type of sound. The song “ADDICTION 101,” for example, starts out with a smooth and fast moving electric guitar and a soft but also fast-paced drum beat in the background. The contrast between the different songs in interesting and make this album a fun listen.
While the production and composition of Low Worker Equality is clearly advanced, the guitar is somewhat more amateur, evident in the solos, bridges and riffs throughout the album. The guitar is by no means bad, but there is definitely no advanced guitar shredding going on. The vocals are the main focus and entertaining part of the album, usually pretty feel-good and emotional. The vocals are not too aggressive and make this a nice, melodic album to listen to.
This album is a fun listen. It’s filled with a plethora of tracks that change up in pace, sound and melodies. This album doesn't get boring, and these two musicians clearly have a depth of chemistry and time playing together that make the songs seamless, fun and excellently put together.
Justin Gitelman is a one-man band from Stow, Massachusetts who plays multiple instruments as well as sings on his debut album entitled Faces. Recorded in his own home studio, the album is a visual and conceptual representation of Gitelman and his life experiences, viewed through his synesthesia and the augmented sense of reality that he lives within.
The intro of “Black and White” features rapid acoustic guitar, mixed electronic and acoustic percussion, as well as light piano riffs. The acoustic rock song builds in complexity and intensity as Gitelman’s voice and background vocals join the mix in Gitelman’s vocal range. Gitelman’s talent in fingerpicking is prominent in “Face Your Fears,” a subdued ballad with throbbing bass and hushed percussion.
“One Chance” is a highly melodic piece with thought-provoking lyrics, bright acoustic guitar strumming and mellow singing. Even as the song crescendos in dynamics, the laid-back, sunny tone of the song is maintained. Similarly, the lush acoustic guitar in “Seasons” brings a very particular optimistic atmosphere to the otherwise ambiguous instrumentation. Gitelman employs numerous vocal effects and reverb-laced riffs to the power anthem “Waves,” the longest and arguably most memorable track on the entire album.
Beginning with quiet electric guitar, “Boston” quickly transitions into a beach rock-infused groove with grunge elements that sneak into the final moments of the piece. The energy of the album is reduced somewhat in the ambient “Rush” and “No One,” whose ominous tones are alleviated by constant acoustic guitar notes and occasional lush string sections.
The record ends with “Holding Back,” a relentless rock anthem with rapid percussion, lightning-paced electric guitar riffs and a chorus of layered voices forming the full soundscape. As a whole, Faces is a unique blend of rock, acoustic pop and ambient electronic styles that make for an immersive and genuinely enjoyable listening experience for fans of many musical genres.
The Symbolists comprised of Scottish poet Carole Young and American architect and musician Eric Daum who have never actually met, but instead they have collaborated online since 2010 when Daum proposed that members of an online forum compose music set to poems written by Young, a fellow forum member. Their first album Devil on My Shoulder contains eleven songs of heartbreak and redemption, inspired by experiences in both Young’s and Daum’s lives.
The album begins with “Alchemy” a steady, upbeat electronic pop rock tune that employs synthesizer sounds, guitars, percussion and vocals to create a full soundscape. “A Lover Like You” harnesses ‘80s-esque ballad elements and pairs them with modern electronic techniques in an extremely intriguing blend and tone. Following, “The Rain” takes an experimental approach to song structure as alternating sections of quiet symphonic tones and sections of loud, dynamic guitar-driven choruses lay down the sonic foundation for Daum to sing over.
“Oliver In His Jesus Sandals” opens with one of the catchiest riffs on the entire record, one that repeats throughout the story-based song without getting old or repetitive. Young’s talent in writing lyrics is clearly evident in “Still Waters Run Deep” and “Faith In Your Convictions,” two reflective and thought-provoking pieces with a bright, almost playful edge in the music. Also, Daum’s composing prowess comes alive in “To Be with You Again,” a lush, beautiful tune led by piano and voice before delving into a delicate, string-rich ballad.
An experimental, ambient style is fully explored in “Paragon of Virtue” where vocal effects and ethereal sounds create an otherworldly atmosphere that is surprisingly peaceful and serene. Bringing the album back to earth, “Like In a Dickens Novel” is an unrushed, groovy song that leads nicely into “Symbol of Hope,” a song that crescendos in dynamic intensity until the very end.
The record comes to an end with the album’s title song, “Devil on My Shoulder.” Grunge elements are highlighted, and electronic sounds are also prominent in this final anthem. As a whole, The Symbolists’ Devil on My Shoulder showcases a wide array of styles and features many moments of musical and lyrical genius, making for a spectacular and particularly unique collaborative album.
Wallow are a four piece rock band from illinois that has been together since the summer of 2015. Despite the band being around for less than a year they released a demo quality EP entitled Limb From Limb.
The plays an aggressive version of rock most aligned with grunge. They keep it simple sticking to 4/4 time signature and mostly power chord progressions. In regards to the recording quality there are a laundry list of issues from phase to masking problems. My thoughts were that this was a decent reflection of what the band sounds like but will have to either record their next effort to a pro studio or make significant strides in their engineering capabiliti if they want to get close to have a commercial sounding release that is suitable contender for the mainstream or underground.
The band starts with an intro that isn’t indicative of what the rest of the songs sound like. A couple of reverb laced guitars make some atmosphere while a melodramatic sample of a guy and girl talking plays over the music.
The band starts to show their colors on “Gone”. It’s a solid song and thought the vocal style worked well. The song more or less sounds like a cloud of white noise with vocals buried in there. “Cut Me Opn” is more or less straightforward grunge with little surprises. The other highlight was “Limb From Limb”. That being said the vocal style was so different sound from “Gone” it feels like a different singer.
While there may be some potential here since the band is so young there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Their style feels a little general at the moment. There is a decent foundation here but the band falls into a category of wait and see for now.
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Lee Roberts (vocals/tambourine), Spencer Beck (guitar/vocals), Eric Heames (bass) and Causey Julian Brady IV (drums) are Blue Frequency. The young band both in terms of formation and age released an aptly titled EP entitled The Demonstration Tape.
For the most part this is a ’70s classic rock inspired sounding EP. The guys more or less pay homage to the style. At the same time they haven’t yet found the key that lets them be anything more than that. Being that they formed in 2015 it’s not very surprising that they don’t have much of a distinct sound.
They start off with “Suspended” which is the most overt ’70s sounding track. The initial guitar riff sounds like an amalgamation of The Rolling Stones and The Who. They start out right by rocking out pretty fast and hard. The vocals felt a little too aggressive for the style they were playing. If he took it down about two notches it would have been perfect in my opinion. As the song progresses you can hear elements of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. There were some classic ’70s drum fills all over this song. Overall, this is a pretty solid song and I’m happy to see young guys still enjoying the classics.
“Goodbye” doesn't have as much as a ’70s vibe. It’s catchy, more poppy and a lot less intense. A good song but it did feel a little too different from the opener. “All I Do Is Complain” is the closer and the most anthemic of the bunch. There is also a nostalgic vibe to the song. Roberts’ lyrics will find empathy with teenagers and they mirror the thoughts of a young mind. He sings, “Alone in my room / Thinking of you / All my friends are having fun without me / Going bowling and watching TV / All I do is complain / No one knows that I’m in pain. The song ends awkwardly with a metal like death growl.
Like other young bands Blue Frequency wears their influences on their sleeves. They still have a good amount of work to do if they want to follow this as an actual career path. This demo displays some talent but for right now they fall into a category of wait and see. Good luck guys.
Avid Society is a rock band hailing from Australia that has been jamming together for years, and it’s evident in their chemistry and smooth sound. The band recently decided to record, mix and master their original compositions into what is now known as the Fear the Sane EP. This album displays the band’s genuine sound and attitude, and is a fun listen fit for any rock n’ roll fan out there.
The EP opens up with the track “Maybes” which serves as a perfect introduction to what this band and their sound is all about. The song and album opens up with fast, loud drums that’ll wake you right up. The drums are quickly accompanied by an equally as loud rock n’ roll sounding guitar that lets you know immediately what this album is going to be all about. This introduction hides no attitude; it’s in your face and likely designed that way so us listeners know immediately what kind of EP this going to be.
The sound is very clean, and all together you can tell there was excellent recording and mastering done here. The guitars in this album are fun, the rhythm is fast but very melodic. The guitars do an excellent job of carrying the listeners through the song and making this album fun. The vocals are not the main attraction. They are a nice complement but the distorted guitars and loud drums bring in most of the attitude and character to this album.
The song “Fruit Trees” starts out with a legendary rock n’ roll introduction. All we hear in the beginning of the track is the reverb from the electric guitar, and before we know it the rest of the band joins in with a loud but melodic sound. This track really displays the guitarists’ range and genuine talent. The riffs are fast paced and unique, and also carry a metal/rock n’ roll feeling to them. The singer has a more unique and entertaining voice in “Fruit Trees” as well. This is a fun rock n’ roll ballad; the bridge has a bone chilling guitar solo that adds a unique touch to the track.
The rhythm and ballads in this album are bound to make you move and bang your head. This album has a fun alt-rock feel to it all along. The introduction to the track “My Only Friend,” for example, is the epitome of loud alt-rock sounds. The vocals could use some work throughout, but they are not supposed to be the highlight of the album. The guitars are immaculate, throwing down clean transitions and unique riffs that make this a very fun album. If you need a quick pick-me-up and want to listen to some loud, shredding rock guitars then take a listen through the Fear the Sane EP.
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Adam Tuttle is an artist from Colorado who released a four-song EP entitled Coal Tree. Truth be told there really isn't a whole lot that needs to be said about these songs because how stripped back it is. Tuttle plays a clean piano and sings heartfelt melodies. His piano is basic consisting of mostly major and minor chords. The same could be said for his vocals which stick to palatable, familiar sounding melodies.
With music like this, lyrics matter. Luckily you can hear everything he sings. He opens with “Need” which has a melancholy, nostalgic vibe. The song title works with the lyrics. In a very broad sense the song seems to flirt with the theme in the Rolling Stone song “You Can't Always Get What You Want.” It's a solid song and I enjoyed it more upon my second listen.
Up next is “Grace” which is more upbeat. This is another solid song but I have to admit I thought bass and drums would have worked nicely here. That being said the song still works. “Tall” had a tinge of Dave Matthews Band to my ears while the closer “Both” felt the most life affirming and triumphant song of the four.
This EP isn't one that you need to study with headphones. You should know relatively fast whether you dig Tuttle's style. Overall, I think this is a nice introduction to his music. Suffice it to say if he is going to release a full-length I think a little more diversity would be beneficial. Orchestral strings or percussion could be a nice addition. For the time being Coal Tree is a brief EP which I hope is the first of more to come
Tristan Jackson is a filmmaker who is taking a stab at music with his band The Calvary. Within the first two songs on Build Your Own Empire you can tell this guy is reaching for commercial success. The music sounds like an amalgamation of pop/rock you have heard in the last fifteen years to twenty years. You can hear elements of bands like Matchbox 20 to LFO and Nickelback.
The music sticks to standard 4/4 times and regurgitates predictable FM radio production tricks with no surprises. You get the impression Jackson is attempting everything and anything to get something to stick to the walls for the listener.
You really can’t get much more mainstream sounding then a song like “Don’t Mean You're Gone.” I don’t even say that as a judgment. It’s just a fact. This isn't exactly Radiohead. Suffice it to say if you like “Don’t Mean You're Gone” you will eat up the rest of these songs. “When The Radio's Gone” touts the the over the top grandiose vibe that has been done to death since Coldplay became popular. “Wake Up Call” is the ballad in the batch.
If Jackson’s goal was to meld seamlessly into the fabric of commercially viable music I would call this album a success. Truth be told Jackson did a lot of collaborating with songwriters like Love and Theft, The Henningsens, Nolan Neil and Kenneth Duncan. I haven’t heard their work but it also has to make you wonder how much experience Jackson has in music considering he is a full-time filmmaker and hired people to help with the songwriting.
Perhaps Jackson’s music will be picked up by an FM radio station and his music will be heard on a large scale. This music is certainly digestible to only the most general of demographics that prefer putting on the dial when they are at work as opposed to exploring the fringe.
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It’s crazy for me to think that young musicians will never know the pain of writing music you can’t record. When I was sixteen years I was already composing music. At that point almost no one had gear to record and this was only twenty years ago. I remembering going to my neighbor’s house who happened to have one of those ’90s tape recorders where you could make overdubs. He played me his music and I was blown away despite the pretty bad audio quality. The setup was confusing, every overdub would cause tape degradation and the worst was when your tape got stuck or even broke.
Today sixteen year olds like Luke Morris have almost endless possibilities with music with even the most basic of setups. Morris recorded his album In The Wrong Place All The Time with a laptop using a cheap interface, one microphone and his instruments. His music isn't exactly studio quality but if you heard this music coming from a typical DIY guy or gal twenty years with the junk he or she had in his basement you would consider it a freakin miracle.
The production on In The Wrong Place All The Time isn’t the only thing that I was impressed by. Morris is displaying a good amount of talent in general, The fact that he is so young makes his the potential of future musical endeavors that more exciting. He opens with “Digital Heart” which is a simple, basic indie pop song. Nothing too out of the ordinary here but it is pretty catchy all around. The song has the intensity of a typical song from The Shins.
He has some more success with “Underground” and “Return” but I was most impressed by “Emeralds.” His vocals really shine here and the lyrics are surprisingly poignant. Another standout and arguable highlight was “Halfway There (Probably).”
In The Wrong Place All The Time isn’t perfect but Morris is off to a great start. That's not something I can say about a lot of sixteen year olds making DIY style recordings.
Trevor Aarsvold (bass/vocals), Dean Erickson (guitar/vocals), Paul Winkelman (drums/vocals) and Colby Moores (guitar) are the newly formed band affogato. On their EP entitled finally, the band blends a number of different genres but match rock seemed to be the most overt style in my opinion. They are constantly changing out time signatures, showcasing hypnotic guitar progressions and generally just killing in the technical department.
The band did things right by going to a studio to record. I thought the drums, bass and guitar sounded great. My one gripe is the vocals. Not that they weren’t treated properly but I thought they were consistently too low in the mix. I’m sure that was a creative decision but there were times they were so faint you couldn't make out a word.
Right away I was impressed with what the band brought to the table. “Wishing you well” opens the EP. Smooth clean guitar lines blend with a precise rhythm section. The band latches on to a number of solid grooves. It’s not a particularly catchy song. It's a certified headphone song. Discreet, fleeting elements of post-rock pop on the song.
They have continued success with “unaccountable” and they start to cement their foundation as a band. There are some great melodies, transitions and overall musicianship displayed on this track. “Bloom” may be as close as the band gets to writing a catchy song.
As the album progresses the band continues to stay cohesive. I can’t say any songs were heads and shoulders better than any others. The songwriting is consistent and I never felt the band frivolously went into different genres.
Overall, finally is a great start for a young band. Don’t be afraid to turn those vocals up on the next record.
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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