Picture it: there are two guys, one from Japan, one from Chile. They meet in a Japanese online community, and decide to combine their shared love of making music to create an album (you’ve just got to love technology). What was the result of their efforts? You get Cable and Cable’s offering Sailway, a bold and robust album offering a surprising variety of sounds and flavors that come together to make beautiful music soup.
There are some higher-toned songs here that dance along the upper end of the spectrum. A good example is the first song “Wake up” which, true to its title, blasts immediately into an upbeat, intergalactic melody. The whole song sounds like something out of Doctor Who, and serves as a great way to start the album. “Precious and Sad” and “Come to me” also have this plucky, twinkling style, and are really fun songs to nod your head to.
The magic happens with the deeper songs, though. “Without Words” oozes with 80’s pop, but starts with a heavy intro that gives the song meat, much like “Memories of Lies.” Both songs are extremely catchy, particularly the latter.
My personal favorite was “Mira Atrás” an industrial alternative pop rock styled song that works exceedingly well and could be worth the band expanding on later. The vocals are sung in Spanish, which really puts the cherry on top. It is followed by “Behind the Dusk,” which is a fascinating instrumental that just creeps into your blood vessels. “Girar Girar” could be the upbeat, more pop-centric brother of “Mira Atrás” though it still has a rock flavor. It’s also in Spanish. These three songs comprise the power trio of the album, and if you’re short on time are worth listening to first.
One of the things that makes this album great is the unique sound of blending cultures from two different areas to make wonderful music. Much of their sound seems influenced by Japanese pop, while the vocals bring a taste of the Americas into the fray. You can tell that they are two people that gel well together, given the optimistic and forward-facing tone of the whole album.
I would like to hear an album that focused mainly on the heavier songs. Those were the most unique and impressive, and had a slightly different effect on me than the more airy songs. All in all, this is a great album to listen to, particularly in the company of others, and I look forward to their next album.
GCN is a project that revolves around one man who occasionally collaborates with a couple of his buddies. The recent release this place called earth is a lo-fi sounding pop album that is quite diverse. More often than not the production is too poor for my liking but not to the point where the songs are unlistenable. The songs themselves are hit or miss and feel like disparate singles rather than an album that is cohesively connected.
The album starts with “The beginning,” which is comprised of an electronic sounding harp, programmed drums and a lead vocal that sounds like it was manipulated with multiple filters. I can't figure for the life of me if the lead vocalist is actually five years old or it just sounds like that. “I’m not ready” is most likely a different vocalist because it is clearly a man who is singing. This song isn't too shabby it is just held back by the recording quality. It has an upbeat momentum but never gets to the point of feeling electric.
“Dance Free” sounds like a music you might encounter while visiting a piano bar at 2 o’clock in the morning while “Stay Beside Me” has a relaxed feel but suffers from sibilance issues when the vocalist is singing (use a deEsser for these issues in post-production). I was getting down with “No Email.” It vaguely reminded me of Ariel Pink and the vocal harmonies worked wonders on the aesthetics of the song.
“Never” is an oddly attractive song. The synthetic generic synths were appealing although the vocals were in desperate need of proper compression. “Dirty Disease” overstays its welcome and needed some more variation but “The Last Word” closes the album with one of the strongest song on the album.
GCN has some well-written songs but desperately needs some tune-ups on the engineering department. There are a couple of songs on this album that you will want to check out.
It’s always fun to pursue a passion with a friend – most of us are lucky to find one person with a similar vision to us. Day For Night, a three-piece punk/rock/pop/rockabilly band from Los Angeles, has managed to get three people with a shared goal together to create their self-titled album. Day For Night is sometimes raucous and fast-paced, sometimes quiet and beautiful, and all together well played and arranged.
“F T I” starts with a little taste of punk, but has a lot of radio rock elements. The vocals are strong and solid, supported by an interesting guitar melody and steady drums to keep the beat going. The guitar part is at the center of focus here, and for good reason. The drummer and bassist exert more influence over “Mainframe.” I really liked how the song broke from the normal rhythm to give a different yet evolved sound and then went back to the original beat.
“Strange Days” switches between heavy and light, high pop and deep rock, to provide a song that is just enough of everything to sound fresh and fantastic. The guitar solo was very well written, and I love the high notes the vocalist hit. “Complicated” is a pretty, meandering song. This song shows that even their slow songs are full of energy with remarkable depth.
The chants in “Come On” are very reminiscent of “Uprising” by Muse, but the underlying music is quite different and sounds much more like the band’s tone – due, in large part, to the creative work of the guitarist. The song ends with the percussion and bass, where it’s much easier to realize the contribution those two parts made to the song overall.
“Stupid” grabs your interest quickly with an infectious opening riff. Halfway through it melts into a very emotional yet clear instrumental piece, where the instruments are allowed to really take charge of their parts more than before.
I had fun listening to this album; the punk elements blended well with the rock, and the smooth vocals did a fine job of tying everything together. Though one or two of the songs seemed a bit too similar to another song on the album, for the most part, the songs sounded distinct from one another and did a fine job of switching the mood here and there to keep things interesting. For fans of punk rock with a little touch or radio sensitivity, give this album a spin.
Songs Dissolved In The Dawn is one of the most intriguing pop albums of 2013, and it's a shame I must say that retroactively.
Electric Sound Continuum is a Greek jazz-pop outfit with an ear for buoyant melodies and breathy instrumentation. The band lists their inspirations as Beach Boys, XTC and Henry Mancini, among others, and it shows in the arrangements. Loose enough to allow the fun stuff in (undulating synth lines, the fleeting notes of the flute, musique concrete, etc.) but without the saccharine stuff getting all over.
The tracks often go through a revolving door of vocalists, and lyrics alternate between Greek and English. Whatever language, it's all affecting. It's easy to lose yourself in a daydreaming fantasy while a man's echoed voice tells you of "deep sea monsters and bright star clusters." Or perhaps you'd be more interested in a chanteuse listing off the sights she spies on a summer day? It's all there for your entertainment.
And entertaining indeed is the album, with delicate guitar patterns and an ample assortment of delightful sound effects. The beat in "Bossa for the Duplicate Moon" is built almost entirely off of a clownish assortment of synth blips that make perfect sense once the bass line and flute notes enter the track. "Dina" is the most progressive track on the album, layering electronic oscillations carefully atop each other while skittish percussion attempts to create some semblance of rhythm. The only vocals come in the form of a jazzy baritone, who simply sighs "So nearly free / In sunshine, sunshine, sun." The end result is something akin to a Black Moth Super Rainbow cut.
The sunny experimentation doesn't always work though; "Nova Scotia I" is one of those silly sonic experiments that chokes on its own cuteness, "Midnight Transmission" is a dull experiment in cricket samples and the final track, "Andromeda's Waltz," seems more like a lukewarm reception with its musique concrete backing and tepid guitar playing. "After the Winter" is far more lush, replete with flute, heavy male vocals, flirtations with spoken word and snow-light percussion.
Albums like these remind me of why I want to review music in the first place, to bring attention to artists who deserve more attention.
Kemo Treats keeps it steady with bumping bass and danceable flow. It’s a little D12 meets Lonely Island. Effective when listeners can latch on to lyrics especially those that are culturally highlighting passages. Candy and snacks don’t really lend themselves to rap concepts, but that’s just what The Essentials is all about. They Take fun relatable topics, skip the complex and embrace the easy, then own that beats machine. Kemo Treats is basically a satirical hip-hop group for those that don’t take the genre seriously.
G-Wizard & Smoovie II Smoov are two gangster characters created by founding members, Greg Goa & Karl Sharpe based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Kemo Treats really hits their stride when they team up with rock and punk elements. To their credit, they closed for the Edmonton International Film Festival recently and had the dance floor at capacity. The audience demographic? Mostly over 50-year olds. Interesting. There may be more to this group then meets the eye. Or not. Who cares?
“2 Guys, 1 Tub” is a perfect opener. It’s got auto tune, backing crass conversation; everything hinting at the comic content laced within fat beats and quick delivery rhymes.
“Textin’ On The Dance Floor” is an ode to that guy we all know. Stuck on his phone instead of getting busy with the options around him. “Chips In The Hot Tub” is pretty much saying, no need to take this song too seriously. Crack open a bag and laugh along. In fact, this suggestion applies to the whole album, let’s be honest. We have songs about whose shit is hotter, songs that glorify the pancake, songs about wine. Who doesn’t want to hear a song about wine obsession? Hung-over and broke? Let big flat carb Frisbees fix all your problems. The food theme runs steady right alongside the usual fodder of rap. One track in particular has a slower funk feel like mid-90’s hip-hop. I’m talking about “These Guys Mean Business” Complete with female backups, this one bring memories of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy.” The wub wub sound of dubstep is the crutch on “VIP.” Angry, affected, and bottom-end distorted vocals meets Middle Eastern jingles.
The Essentials is a great concept album for just a couple of fresh rappers who blew up on Canada’s Got Talent. Maybe not surprising, is that their colorful language got them sanctioned from the finals. But regardless, they have a brand of off the cuff humor that goes well with scratch the surface integrity so don’t expect these guys to change things up anytime soon. After all, genius is very appealing when inspired through comedy. When it comes to hip-hop we all want to bounce so when we can laugh at the same time, it’s damn near perfection.
Interesting. Deep. Full-bodied. Southern Hospitality. All of these come to mind when I think about West Without’s self-titled EP West Without. The harmonized vocals (from three different singers, no less!) blend with weighty bass and loose cannon guitar to create enthralling tunes that capture your full attention and do not let go. It’s worth mentioning that though the foundation of each song rests on the laurels of basic rock music theory, enough liberties are taken with form and sound to make things sound great.
As soon as “Give Me Your Heart” started, I took notice of how nice the bass sounds in this song. This is where you hear the first vocalist, a woman with a relaxing, sultry and sweet voice. It is followed closely by “The Prey,” a quietly fierce song that has a very cool, offbeat melody, and surprising male vocals that harmonize perfectly with the female vocals. The bubbly plucks are a nice accent to a well-developed bass line.
“Bird in a Cage” will have your head bobbing as soon as the first note hits. On the surface, this is a very simple song, but there is an undeniable allure enveloping every single sound you hear, from the wailing guitar to the soothing and catchy vocals. The bass adds a sense of gravity to the song, making it a very heavy but enjoyable listen.
“Cold Blood” is more upbeat than its predecessor. These female vocals sound very young and fun, with more of the harmony coming from background vocals than from the lead. It’s a nice addition to the other two vocal styles, though, as it balances the harmony with a little more independence.
“Get It Right” is COOL. From the beginning sample to the eerie bell tinkling in the background, this song veered in a different direction from all the rest of the songs on the EP. It’s almost as though they either changed the key, or simply turned their ‘heavy’ dial to double power.
I wasn’t quite expecting what I heard in this EP. I really like that each person plays their part in total connection with all of the other parts. It seems that they knew when to jump to the forefront and take control and when to fall back into supporting line with the others, without any interruptions in the music or mood. This is the stuff good alternative is made of. If you have a few minutes, give West Without a listen. You won’t come out at the end of the album feeling the way you did when you started, and that’s a guarantee.
Walking Relic hails from Noble, Oklahoma and formed just over five years ago. The group is close knit and has relationships beyond just music. Vocalist Jessie Jennings and guitarist Chris Schat are engaged and the drummer Derek Mehl and Chris Schat are brothers-in-law. It’s this bond they share that really comes through in their sound especially live. They currently are acing their four-state tour cycle of Texas, Arizona, Missouri, and of course, their home state.
The first track on Sojourn, “Every Little Thing,” is operatic and driving like the forces of Muse with pure vocals like God Help The Girl. It's sweetly pure and innocent despite lyrical content. Right away, you can really hear that the mix is locked in and very present. The same goes for the following tracks. “Burn” has chugging piano and a sweeping balance of highs and lows between electronics and the guitar line. As the drums roll along they’re accented with tambourine tagged with solid reverb attack. The chorus is a floor stomper, possibly the most stomping of the three tracks on the EP. It has all the trimmings as well, equipped with piano glissandos and textural keyboard swells.
“Galaxy Quest” uses effected vocals as an intro and has a touch of Lorde to it, but then things bend up into a more B-52’s vibe; I’m picturing a cool blue basement rager when I listen to this. It holds true to the prior tracks’ danceability and catchy choruses, which goes to show, Walking Relic understands that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
Sojourn is meant for a compact experience, but that’s not to say that extensive thought and process didn’t go into every note of the EP. There have been around three versions of every song on the album, and each track was carefully crafted to produce the best sounding and fitting elements. The writing process was varied giving everyone their moment to contribute hence enriching the songs with multiple viewpoints, ideas, and melodic ideas. Teamwork is key for Walking Relic and will be their saving grace when push comes to shove. But I have a feeling they can handle whatever life throws their way.
EONS by Tierra Firme is a 17-track album that will require you to get over your ADD and immerse yourself in the experience. There are a lot of wonderful things going on with the album. One of which is that are essentially a rock band reaching for cosmic heights with guitars. They reminded me a bit of Circulatory System in how they tackle contemplative matters and make them seem unpretentious, accessible and even fun as opposed to being super serious. Of course none of this would work if the songs weren't good and more often than not this band writes tunes that are above average and sometimes memorable.
Tierra Firme is a guitar band and they do a great job a creating a shoegaze, celestial type ambience that perseveres over the album. They use a lot of reverb but more importantly the guitar parts are inventive. Sometimes you have multiple leads playing over themselves other times they make their guitars sound like crystallized lasers. The bottom line is that the album offers a rich variety of guitar that kept me intrigued throughout.
While the guitars are great, I don’t want to undercut some of the other components of the music. Erick Pineda’s vocal style works in unison with the music. He sounds laid back, never too full of himself and overall he has a number of very attractive qualities about his voice. Bass and drums create a solid foundation for the guitars. Usually the parts don't get too fancy but simply add a very efficient rhythm section.
The album starts off with “Origins” which is one helluva song. There is an ethereal quality to it that is juxtaposed with a lo-fi indie rock band sound. The guitar sounds more like reflections of light rather than strings and the melodies are contrasting and unique. Its a great way to open the album and had me ready for the journey.
“Empires” is more of a straightforward indie pop gem while “Deluge” sounds like you put a microphone right up the esophagus of a demon and pressed record.
“Populous 2” has some of the best guitar work on the album. The guitars sound like celestial comets passing over the atmosphere. Don’t skip over this one. One of the songs that relied on a very catchy, memorable vocal melody was “Light.” The track is spacious and is one of the highlights of the album as Pineda sings “I’ll see you in the light.”
I would be lying if I said 17 tracks was a breeze to get through. It took a couple of sittings to fully ingest the album but after I did I’m happy I took the plunge. EONS never feels self-indulgent and offers good songs with production that benefits the mood.
You are probably already familiar with the artist Dorine Levy. If not let me introduce her. She started young at the age of 16 and her 2008 debut EP earned her campaigns with fashion brands such as H&M, Zara, River Island and more. This in turn got her selected as a nominee in the 'top 5 International acts' category at the Australian Music Awards (MTV Australia) in 2010. Most recently the full length Underwater was released, which contains 12 pop gems.
Underwater is an album that mixes just the right amount or originality and experimentation into a commercial- sounding album that hipsters as well as your “passive” music fan can enjoy. The first thing I noticed right off the bat is how mind blowing good the production is. Her voice sounds fantastic throughout and the music sounds like it was recorded in a multi-million dollar studio with top engineers. What I really enjoyed about the album was that it felt diverse but never too scattered. For instance, “Mab” is an inspired dance track that utilizes a heavy kick drum and electronic components while a soft, ambience revolves around a great vocal performance.
The album starts off with “There For Me” which is a fun, original sounding track that was a highlight for me. This track contains intricate overlapping vocal harmonies that coalesced into a concoction of sounds. What's most impressive is how accessible but off kilter it is. It doesn't follow a simple verse, chorus, verse structure or a particular hook but instead was a song that was constantly changing. “Cow Boy Fest” kind of sounds like the title while “Wake Up” is a song that is irresistibly joyful.
I was impressed that album ended with the title track “Underwater” which is instrumental. The programming is top notch and gave a contemplative vibe. The best moments on the album are the ones that aren’t afraid to get out of their comfort zones. I enjoyed the songs that deviated from typical structures and weren't afraid to venture into new territory.
After you listen to The Challis Effect you would swear that it’s an entire band but in fact it is just one Boise, Idaho native named Matthew “Axl” Brammer. The project started in 2011 and released two albums, Your Heart Was Built On A Graveyard Of Lies and All The Secrets You Thought You Kept. The third album, No One Will Remember Your Name, was released December 2013. Brammer’s resume is quite impressive as he also produced and engineered his own album since he graduated from The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences. The guy also also plays guitar, bass, piano, drums and he sings.
There is no hiding or denying that the songs from No One Will Remember Your Name are pretty much 1990’s grunge style songs with little deviation. The riffs sound like a combination of something you would here from Stone Temple Pilots, Alice In Chains or Pearl Jam and I could actually say the same thing about his voice. Brammer has a very thick Scott Strap, Eddie Vedder, Scott Weiland type voice but even more exaggerated. It is not as pretty as Eddie Vedder. Brammer sounds more masculine, like he has been drinking whiskey for the past six hours and drives trucks for 14 hours a day.
I’m sure there is still a market for post 90’s grunge but the music is so overtly influenced by that genre it is hard to imagine why you wouldn't just listen to an album that was made 20 years ago. That being said the songs are well written and are consistent throughout. Listening to one song on the album will give you a very accurate idea of what to expect from the rest of the album.
The album starts with a solid song called “Regret.” One of the first things that I noticed is how good the recording sounded. The acoustic guitars sounded warm, with a lot of body, the drums sounded full and organic and Brammer’s voice sat well in the mix. Another highlight was “Pity,” which revolved around a hypnotic yet melodic guitar riff.
I have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Brammer’s voice at first but The Challis Effect started to grow on me the more I spun the album, Overall, Brammer is delivering songs that are rooted in one style and shows that he knows exactly what he wants. If you can’t get enough grunge style tunes than you just found your next favorite album in No One Will Remember Your Name.
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