Tom Galloway is an artist who was born in Georgia, raised in Texas and currently writes songs in Nashville, Tennessee. Recently he released Cross Currents which combines elements of folk, Americana, rock and country.
The music sounds a lot like the cover art. Free, open and vast. Take for instance the opener “Wild Bird” where the opening riff sounds a little like “Free Fallin'”by Tom Petty. The song is simultaneously warm, nostalgic and joyful. Great way to get things started.
Next up is “Our Due Time.” I loved the mix of spaghetti western and country. It’s a great groove with some excellent guitar picking. The song unfolds with slide guitar and becomes more festive as the chorus arrives.
“Old Black Dog” felt a little more pop oriented. A similar style was starting to unfold at this point between the way Galloway approached the chorus. You could make the argument “Masquerade” is even more pop oriented. The more hard rock type of chorus felt radio friendly. I preferred the more country rooted material such as “Kingdom of Love” which contains fantastic banjo, vocals and slide guitar.
“Red Whiskey & Wine” is again more rock oriented but steeped heavily in Americana. The slow and reflective “Poorhouse of Sin” certainly has its moments which leads into the celebratory closer “Lean into the Light.”
I really enjoyed this album but thought the bread and butter was the more acoustic based country, Americana and folk. Galloway can pull off rock as well but I just thought his voice and style worked better with traditional Americana and roots based music.
The production is great and I think a lot of people will appreciate this. Take a listen.
Taylor Wells is no stranger to making music. A drummer since the tender age of thirteen, Wells moved to Chicago and took up with a local punk band More Gorgeous. Wells has a new solo album out Before It's Gone and it is a far cry from More Gorgeous, and explores his skills far beyond his drumming abilities. For this album Wells is wearing his composer hat and exploring massive scene instrumental tracks that feels like film scores. This album is an electronic exploration of structure and wordless emotion. I will say Wells surprised me a few times. A lot of the songs are haunting and almost all of them very lo-fi. I like that every track feels like a complete thought.
The first two tracks "Before It's Gone" and "Where The Sidewalk Ended" are interesting. Both of these were big mood builders and they both housed a small similar issue for me. I like what these tracks were painting but something about them felt a little too out of the box. It may very well have been the intention to have that sanitized feel, but I think a few more organic samples could have done the trick. This issue occurred a few times throughout the album. The composition was always very fluid and lifelike, but the instruments or samples chosen didn't always match the intensity.
A favorite that stuck out for me immediately was "Evening Song." It's laden with strings and cosmic atmosphere. I'd say the title is fitting. I also feel Wells flexes his percussive knowledge beautifully. The structure is also great here; it fluctuates, breathing in and out. It has serious dreamy, cinematic qualities to it. There's also "Fingerbib" which surprised me wholeheartedly in the best way. Wells definitely has a penchant for strings and this is such a delightfully bizarre song that incorporates strings in the best and most unexpected way. This song is like an outfit with two competing prints and somehow it just looks fabulous; it works.
This album excels when it really goes for bold unpredictability. Wells has a very unique perspective and that's something worth flaunting. Another thing I came to enjoy about this album is that if these songs were a film score, it could be a film of almost any genre. I think that's a good thing,
Well at no point boxed himself into a corner and so he created something that can go the distance in terms of how people respond to it. I think anyone interested in scores or instrumental exploration could enjoy what Wells has done here.
David Hill’s solo project, Still the Midwest, released Love Verses this past October. This being his first effort and apart from the usual band line ups he’s been in over the years, he wanted his debut to be completely electronic. This Springfield, Missouri artist’s work is deeply personal. The songs’ lyrics are moving – each one expressing his love and heartache for a man he was in love with a couple of years ago. Both Hill and this other man were raised in the Catholic faith. Sadly, any hope for reconciliation between faith and love would come between them. The other man chose his faith and the relationship ended. The songs on Love Verse address Hill’s heartbreak but also, as he describes them, the songs are ‘love letters’ written for his ‘beloved enemy.’ In terms of genre, Hill’s starting point comes from early ‘80s UK synth-pop – think OMD, The Human League, Gary Numan, Eurythmics and Depeche Mode. But he also brings pop sounds with more current ideas and plenty of drum machine experimentation as well. He also admires the people behind the music – producers such as Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Trevor Horn and Max Martin.
“Beloved Enemy” which happened to be Hill’s first choice for an album title breaks in with pure pop sounds and a very catchy chorus that cuts right to the chase – “I prayed look where it lead me / All others they are dead to me / No matter what you said to me / You’re my beloved enemy.” If you are familiar with any contemporary Christian male singers, Hill reminds me of a young Michael W. Smith – although his subject matter is nowhere near any of Smith’s work. The lyrics to “In it Now” pokes some fun of being in love, getting caught with same sex and just telling others – “oh well, I’m deep in it now, so what?” “Fire (I’m ready)” features great throwback sounds to the ‘80s, with its tight and quirky sounds on the synth. As far as I can tell, “Relient K” doesn’t reference the Plymouth vehicle that was a best seller in the 1990s. All kidding aside, this song speaks to the tenderness and deep intimacy in a relationship. I also got that Hill sings about feeling comfortable as a gay person – “hey now I’m golden / glad that I’ve been born / I’m known.” The music is quite lovely towards the end, no drums – just a lot of great synth sounds, ambient and space, with a sing-along chant, too.
“Scripture History” has happy, synth pop beats with some sprinklings of early hip-hop tones. Lyrically, Hill takes a “step back from the golden days” when scripture was his story. But now, without his beloved his confesses, “there’s no story.” “Off” begins with a deep, techno beat and showcases various synth effects and other bells and whistles. The song’s words express Hill’s frustration at a time when his relationship was going good, then it would turn bad and then good again – “Wasting my time that must be the goal / When you boomerang like weather hot and cold / At the place where I’m tired of fighting reasons to let go / I’m tired of fighting with my no.”
The album’s title track “Love Verses” has a more soulful flavor and lyrically I could read that this song describes that Hill’s relationship was coming to an end, or at least at this point he was trying to keep it together by defending the love he had for another man – “So when you’re going through what you do / I only wanna be there with you / And I hope in truth you want that too.” I thought the last few verses were very powerful – “Your soul knit to my soul” and “Right your brain but you’ll never blank my memory.” On “More to Come” Hill chooses to stay positive and optimistic, despite giving up on a love, and his lover – “I’m okay with being single / cuz you’re the king of the mixed signal.” In the end, he gives his former love a warning: “But if you ever take a chance / and you want another dance / I won’t be around / fool me once / my heart’s too proud.” I thought Hill’s style and musical arrangements, not just his lyrics, made for a good ending to this debut and overall, he tapped into the electronic vibe most effortlessly.
The first full length LP In Anonymity under Daniel Wiggins’ name has an intense album cover. It seems to be some dude who kind of looks like a wizard practicing fire magic. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get musically. The cover art does make some sense as you start to listen to the music. I would compare some of the mood and imagery to the David Bowie album Blackstar.
The album opens with “The Fool” which contains hypnotic guitar patterns. Once the vocals come in the mood is very mystical as if you are at some magical gathering, It feels otherworldly. The song grows and there is a mediative feel not too far off from some Pink Floyd at times. As it progresses the song becomes more avant garde and experimental leaving a lot of space for single elements to gain your attention.
“Holes” feels a little more earth bound in the land of living. In fact it's quite beautiful and hopeful. The music comes together with numerous elements. As far as lyrics goes it seems like Wiggins is trying to tap into subjects of the unconscious mind. He sings, ”Now there's a hundred holes in the wall, Missing a hundred memories of life gone by, Hole in your home.”
“Rusted Mirror” has a cool groove. It’s dark and funky in its own subdued way. A couple of bands like Primal Scream and The Stone Roses came to mind. ”Simluacra” revolves around delicate guitar picking. It was calming, beautiful and hypnotic but also felt like a bit of a lull after the previous songs were picking up so much energy.
The energy of the album starts to feel really different with “The Crossing” which is really an ambient piece. It’s a submerged soundscape with white noise and ominous drones. The beginning of “Daddy Cool” couldn't have felt more different. It’s reminiscent of a ’60s folk song at moments. The song also has some fantastic vocal parts. I loved the harmonies.
You then are greeted with “Time Is On Our Side” which feels so serious in a religious way. It felt like it was trying to uncover a universal truth from a celestial body. It’s definitely a song that would stop a party in its tracks.
I thought the closing title track “In Anonymity” was the undisputed highlight. The song is like a ’60s pop song from The Beatles or The Beach Boys mixed with the version of Scott Walker who made The Drift. It’s sort of catchy but distant. You are viewing a pop song through a distorted lens where reality seems to be different.
In Anonymity was a bumpy ride with exceptional highlights. Some of the turns felt a little too jarring and too much of a musical leap for me to feel like it was a smooth, seamless experience from beginning to end. At the end of the day Wiggins displays he is good as ever creating soundscapes and at his best can make you re-think the way a catchy song can sound.
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Jake O'Neal (vocals), Hunter Corrin (guitar) , Ian "Nails" Jones (bass) and Tristan Waiden (drums) are Black Bouquet. The young band from North Carolina released Live at Imurj.
Live albums can be fun. I for the most part however don’t find myself popping in live albums very often at all. Perhaps because I feel like you need to treat the experience like a show. That's what I did with this album. I tried to listen as if I was at a venue.
The band gets going with “Bed of Roses” which is a pretty straightforward garage rock song. There are jangly guitars, intense drumming .a steady bass and dynamic vocals. O’Neal is off key quite often. He would not make it in an American Idol competition but this style of music has a little more leeway. The band played at small venues and the pauses between songs are pretty funny to be honest. My favorite was the first one where the one guy screamed really loud and is followed by tepid applause.
“Out of Luck” sounds like garage rock 101 in the spirit of The Strokes. The highlight is arguably “Colder Weather.” I thought the beginning in particular has some solid instrumental sections. The band shows off some of their more technical aspects. “Dead Flowers” was another solid song which has some of the most unique timing as the band shifts BPM seamlessly. The band finish off the set with “Feline” and “Before I Wake.”
All things considered this is a solid set of songs. The band have some potential and I hope to hear a full length at some point.
Zoltan Kovary (Dr Buffalo) (vocals/guitar), Pete Locke (guitar), Andras Lazar (bass) and Antal "Samu" Gulyas (drums) are The Trousers. The band from Budapest, Hungary formed in 2006 and has had a number of releases since and they have been touring quite a bit. Their latest is Invisible Darkness which is an eleven-song album that builds on the sound they established over the last couple of years.
If you aren’t familiar with them they are a certified rock band. I would argue their sound has an older 70’s feel to it. The songs often feel celebratory and drip with the spirit of what you might call rock. Bands such as The Rolling Stones, Iggy and The Stooges, and AC/DC are groups that come to mind. The band plays into rock 101 type moves that you have most likely heard before but they pull them off with with their execution.
The album gets cracking with “Spinning the Wheel” which gets the party started. It’s just a fun song that is perfectly executed. The tone, attitude and delivery come together for a good time. “You got me rollin’” has the motivational, coming of age energy that I feel when I listen to Cheap Trick. They continue to crush with anthemic songs “Drowning in Numbers” and “The Swamp” which are sing-along worthy. The vocal melodies are almost instantly memorable.
“Dancer from the Dance” had more of a tinge of ’80s arena rock in the sound while “Bad Luck & Trouble” contains an organ and heavy guitars making it one of the darker songs on the album. “Going Inside My Mind” is a highlight. It’s very upbeat and might have the catchiest hook on the album. The ascending and descending guitar work was a high point. The band still has plenty of gas in the tank and keeps going with “The Worst is Yet to Come,” “Done For Good” and “Five Miles High.” They close with a reflective rock ballad entitled “Here Comes the Light.”
Invisible Darkness is essentially a songbook of different styles of rock. Any fan of the genre will want to check it out. Take a listen.
In 2014 Yvonne Sangudi released “Tanzanite.” It was a single that got a good amount of press and got Sangudi’s name into the sphere of pop culture. Her long awaited follow up “MistaRomeo” was released back in October of this year. Similar to her previous song she has released multiple versions of the song.
The song has a similar feel to her previous release so if you were a fan of “Tanzanite” you should appreciate “MistaRomeo.” She incorporates a 1-2 step world beat which drives the song. A number of arpeggiated synths layer on top of the beat along with pads, sub bass and more. It was a little hard to keep track of everything that was going on at once but there is a prominent melody that seems to be made from a lead synth.
Sangudi doesn't waste any time getting to the hook which comes around forty seconds into the song. She sings, “Said we could never expire / Oh Mista Romeo you liar.” A minute later and the song is already back to the verse. The song also contains a breakdown section which happens around the two-minute-mark. Sangudi goes back into the chorus once more and extends it this time around with some higher notes.
The other two versions of the song are a cappella and instrumental. It’s really just the radio edit cut down the middle.
As far as my research goes Sangudi has only released two songs that I could find. Although the two songs are about four years apart they could definitely be on the same album. The production feels very similar and the songs both play into a pop structure.
As far as a club worthy pop song goes “MistaRomeo” checks all the boxes. If you want something to sweat and dance to this could be your ticket.
Every week we mention a couple of artists that are worth your time to check out that were not featured in our weekly reviews.
Artist Album Rating
Goat Bong Lamentation,
Mourning & Woe 3.9
Winter Wife Palace Music 3.7
Deaf Row Buried Alive EP 3.6
The Starlight Pines City Lights 3.8
LATE I 3.9
As it happens I was at a party a few weeks ago and had my first introduction to the “weed pen” which up until that point I thought I had in my illustrious twenty odd year career of doing drugs smoked weed out of just about everything from a soda can to an apple to a gravity bong made out of a water cooler bottle and floated in a kiddie pool (indoors).
But I had never smoked weed out of a pen. Or maybe I had but not an electronic one and not that I remember. Anyhow I bring this up as an segue to the Chicago based garage rock band Old Money Benders whose debut EP is called Digital Spliff. To quote the band members it is “the act of hitting a weed pen (of sorts) and e-cig (i.e. Juul) simultaneously, taking the spliff effects to a new level.” Ah yes what will they think of next. “Nature finds a way” as Jeff Goldblum famously said in Jurassic Park.
But let’s get on with Digital Spliff that was recorded DIY by bandmates Grant Bosnich, Josh Nelson and Christian Bender which took place during a “cannabis and nicotine-fueled summer.” Given this, one shouldn’t be surprised by the opening song “Ex Iphone” which details the calamitous life of all I phone users who leave their phones in toilets or drop them and crack the screens. The guitars are loud and roaring and the hooks are sort of there but the vocals were a bit loud and over the top - too much pop for such a rock song.
Next comes “Cheap (Gl)ass” which again sounds a bit too over the top on the vocals and has a sort of Arctic Monkey style of jangle pop turned loose on the modern world. The band seems to hit their stride of what they’re looking to accomplish on “Stone” which is to bring back pop rock of the kind that radio stations used to play when these guys were probably still in diapers. “Cowboy Killer” the closing song has them hell bent on being the next Japandroids.
If these three lads are looking to make vocal fronted easily digestible pop rock then they definitely hit the mark. It’s not for my taste specifically but the songs themselves get the job done and are very pliable party hits. My advice, keep on hitting that weed pen my guys, cuz it seems to be working its magic.
Connor Buckmaster is an artist who recently released a four-song EP entitled The Secret Garden. The songs revolve around hip-hop beats and tranquil often melancholy melodies that have vocal samples thrown on top.
The group The Avalanches mastered this technique around eighteen years ago with their release Since I Left You. They used samples so seamlessly in the music that it could become a hook. It’s still an album that I will put on from time to time. Although I can’t say Buckmaster is doing anything new on these four songs it does showcase some potential.
Up first is the title track “The Secret Garden.” A melancholy piano and a 4/4 hip-hop beat provide the groove. It’s a slow moving track with minor production techniques changing it up such as filter sweeps. The samples are on top of the music but didn’t really feel like there was a symbiotic relationship with the music.
The music on “Songs About The Sun And The Sea” sounds like it could be a B-side from Beach House. It's atmospheric, dreamy and whimsical. Out of all the songs “A Chance To Talk” sounds like most like The Avanchles.
“Kiss Her” is arguably the most original sounding track on the EP. Truth be told Buckmaster is going to have to push his skill to get on a similar level with top notch producers like Jlin or Four Tet. Those are high standards but production possibilities really need to be pushed these days especially with modern DAW’s making it easier to splice, add effects etc.
Buckmaster is on to something with the light, atmospheric music but figuring out a ripe, original way to layer the samples will have to become a necessity. The four-song EP was solid but the novelty would have worn off with a full album. I look forward to Buckmaster pushing his skills and evolving as an artist.
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