DP aka Domenic Petrella is one prolific artist. We have reviewed many of his albums on this website. His new album LIGHT is his seventh release in less than five years. He seems to be using the same equipment but the production seems to be the best yet. I just thought the mixes sounded better; the lows clearly defined, more separation and no harsh highs.
LIGHT is an instrumental album like his previous releases. All the songs have a very similar run time and make for one cohesive piece of work. He opens with “BEAUTIFUL” which is hazy with great contrast between the bass and guitars. I thought the way the chords were drawn out with bass filling in the notes sounded great. That's really something you hear throughout this EP perhaps more than his other releases. The way the bass and guitar complement each other feels symbiotic. Neither instrument seems to be the focal point. Both seem to be on an equal footing.
“WALKING THROUGH A PORTICO” has engaging guitar and bass work. The drums however seem to be there just to have a beat. There are rarely fills or much deviation from the beat. “HBO ON SUNDAY NIGHTS” is the title of a song but is also a true statement. Oh how I miss Westworld on Sunday. The song is one of the most unique of the batch. “TOTALLY BUZZED OUT” took my back to early ’90s indie rock while “GHOST SILVER JM” is a builder that gets more intense as it progresses. He closes with a classic sounding DP song that plays into his signature sound.
One thing has been certain about Petrella over the years. He’s consistently making enjoyable music. From his first release to his latest he can hear an evolution but not a deviation. It’s been about a year since his last release and within the writing process he seems to have become more ambitious than ever. I felt as if there were more transitions; the songs in general never felt stagnant and bass and guitar felt more balanced than ever.
DP is an artist who knows his tools and craft. This is another example of his talents as a producer and a songwriter becoming stronger.
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
Darkness Within The Pages Losing All 3.5
Diving Station Alice 3.9
AHoME Welcome To Earth 3.4
Skyline echo Lightswitch 3.4
paul reichle and eddy truman ya know what im thinking? 3.5
simon magus simon magus 3.6
Sara Emily Time Goes On 3.3
Candy Dogs Candy Dogs 3.4
Harry Arthur Felix Booker 3.4
Deadfly Deadfly 3.4
HANK - the businessman Grate A 3.4
Danni Smith goes by the moniker Juneblood. She recently released Moonbeam which is an extremely dismal and melancholy EP which revolves around her vocals and usually one other instrument.
Smith is a young woman and I have to say that this genre isn’t exactly easy to pull off. Unless you're Johnny Cash, Grouper or Tom Waits, making music this sad can come off as melodramatic and saccharine. Throughout Moonbeam she goes between moments hitting the right frequency of beauty and melancholy and others where it feels more like a journal of a young person that will eventually get out out of this self-loathing stage.
Perhaps her best attempt is on the very first song entitled “December.” The song is simple, revolving around basic guitar chords. I was drawn to the vocals. The best moments are the vocal harmonies where there is a tinge of hope and beauty amongst the melancholy. I was reminded of the band Low. I think this song in particular should be a foundation for her sound. Great song. If there was some additional background instruments I think the song may have even been better.
“MERCY III” is harder for me to appreciate. She strums and delivers spoken word poetry. It reminded me too much of my college days fifteen years ago of philosophy students who knew how to play guitar and wanted to play at a open mic. She recites the words, “It's nothing you've said but everything you've done. I saw the headlights and I walked towards them / Maybe I am who they said I would be / There was a green lantern behind the hill.”
“Miel llanto” is another distinct deviation. Here she distorts her guitar and presents a distinctly different singing style. It reminded me of the band Hole. The song has its moments but it still comes far from the beauty of the opening track.
“Estuvimos cerca de Pozuelo de Alarcón” is one of the highlights. It contains a banjo that is strummed like a guitar. The banjo is there to support the vocals. This is an example of her vocals working. They are on par with the opening track and really make the song. She closes with another success entitled “5:17 a.m. (home soon).” The vocals are coated with melancholy and work because of the various layers of emotion.
There are some obvious missteps on this EP but more successes. Smith is a young artist who still has a lot of time to evolve. The first and last three tracks are the direction I hope she builds on.
Gabe Qazi is a young musician from New Jersey who released Welcome. Welcome is a DIY effort that showcases some talent and also areas that could be improved upon.
The first thing that has to be mentioned is the production. Something I see over and over with DIY efforts is the superfluous amounts of reverb that tend to be in the recording. That's the case here with the guitar. Qazi has some great jazz guitar work, unfortunately there is hardly any clarity because of how much hall reverb is on the guitar.
In this case the reverb itself needed to be EQ’d to open up the sound and get rid of the muddy low end which was masking essential frequencies. His guitar is the main element of these songs. It should be the focal point but it’s not. It sounds like it's in the background while the electronic beats which rarely change are the elements that stick out.
You can hear this on the first song “Good Afternoon” which is one of the better tracks on the album. I really liked the guitar work but could have done without the beat entirely which sounded like a basic loop. “Old Shirt” is an ambient jazz track. I really liked this track and this was the one occasion where the hall reverb worked better. It’s a dreamy song which might make you drift off to sleep. I say that in a good way.
“KK” has a lot of interesting enjoyable guitar parts. Great stuff. The drum sound still wasn’t working for me and overpowered the guitar. “Welcome” goes back into ambient territory with some success. “Fishtank Cleaning Blues” has some inspiring moments while “Midnight Halal” was a serene closer.
If Qazi wants to implement drums into his songs I think he needs to have a little bit more experience with production. I would encourage him to give a listen to the work from Four Tet and Steve Reid and see if he can get close to a drum sound like that.
Qazi has some good ideas and potential. I’d like him to explore where else the songs could go. He has obvious talent on the guitar and is on to something with his songs. As of right now he fits into a case of wait and see.
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Mike Price has been quite prolific recently. On his Bandcamp page he has released three albums in less than three months. With that being said it seems all to be from older ideas or songs he has been working on for the last ten years.
I recently reviewed AVGVSTVS and about a month later he released T I B E R I U S. I can say that T I B E R I U S feels very much like an extension of AVGVSTVS. If you enjoyed AVGVSTVS you will have just as much appreciation for T I B E R I U S. The songs sounded somewhere between Prefuse 73 and Burial to my ears.
There are seventeen tracks but the album is an easy listen. A lot of the songs fall under the two- minute mark; more importantly there is a flow to the songs. It’s an album like its predecessor you can just ride till the end.
He opens with the silky and smooth “Gunlung.” Angelic, alien vocals and warbly synths sit on top of a fat sub bass and a pretty straight hip-hop beat. The song disassembles itself and leads into one of the more robust songs entitled “Just A Thrill.” The song is dark, ambiguous and hazy. He does a good job creating an atmosphere that feels like the “night” which was some of the original intent.
You could make some comparison to The Avalanches on “Artemis Tau [Athens]” while “Candy’ Sister” might bring to mind Flying Lotus. The Vegas pool side charm of “Craneland” hit the spot “Threes” is a certified highlight with jazzy overtones and experimental tendencies. The other standouts to my ears were “Vehicles/Big City Life”, “Foolish Mistakes” and “Hidden Fling”.
T I B E R I U S has digestible easy to enjoy tunes that make it easy to bob your head to. Depending how you implement it the music can be used passively or actively. In other words you can explore the songs with quality headphones and or let it loom in the background while taking care of what you need to. Recommended.
Parsy is an artist from Boulder, Colorado, who recently released Beach Blind Court EP2. The EP is lo-fi and sounds like a mix of ’90s bands and maybe early Deerhunter and Real Estate. The songs are on the shorter side and don’t really go into many spaces from where they begin.
The EP starts off with “You.” You are treated to an audible sniffle before being introduced to clean reverb laced guitar, soft drums and vocals where you can barely make out a word. At its best it has similarities to the band Sparklehorse. The song isn't very dynamic. Whether it's the vocals or the instrumentation. Overall it’s a pleasant, interesting opener but doesn’t exactly grab you. It’s so lush and works on such a low level type energy.
They may have been some influence from Deerhunter, Real Estate or other like-minded indie bands on "Hauh (for John)". His vocals are so wet in reverb and delay effects you might not notice that he is singing. The same riff repeats and he occasionally makes what sounds like improvised vocal utterances.
I really had no clue that there were any words in “Guacamoke” until I heard him cough at one point. He basically plays a guitar riff which reminded me of early Hum or Smashing Pumpkins for a while till it ends. I really dug the guitar parts.
“Sprite Sponsorship” has clear lyrics although he sounds like he's barely getting the words out of his mouth. So much so that it's hard to tell if he was singing or talking or if it even matters. “Oh What a Day We've Had” is another riff that more less repeats the riff it introduces while “Slowguy” could be described as an ambient piece with a slice of Four Tet flair. “Slowguy” had the best groove on the EP.
Parsy still has a long way to go before competing with some of the bands he seems to be influenced by but has great potential. He has kernels of ideas but it seems like he doesn’t know where to take them at times. His songs felt like snippets that could have expanded into more. Hopefully the production will get better in time but I think he needs to focus on structure and transitions unless he wants to stick to more ambient, loop-based material which is what this felt like. I’d also implore him to maybe ease on the vocal effect if he wants there to be a lead vocal with understandable words. Bradford Cox puts a lot of effects on his vocals but you can still understand what he is saying. Those were the kind of effects I felt like he was going for.
While these two things are things I think he can improve upon there are certainly things that seem to be going in the right direction. First off the EP does have a cohesive sound to it and that's half the battle in my opinion. Some bands say that they don’t want a sound but I think that is more just a lack of direction. Parsy has a sound that I actually really enjoyed. That being said I still want to hear him take it to the next level.
Parsy feels like an artist who may be able to hit his stride in the next release or two. There are plenty of great ideas here but I would like to hear him push it further.
Cold Nova is the product of Nashville musician Jacob Hillenbrand after a rather long pause from creating. The musician got back in the recording studio and put together a self-titled EP Cold Nova that showcases the new direction and future of the band. The overall sound has a very recognizable ’80s feel to it with reverb and echoey sounds splashed left and right.
The album starts out with the track “Hold Me Down” which actually sounds exactly what you would image when you hear the word “Nova.” The song starts out with a super electro introduction with a grungy, raspy electronic sound that almost sounds like an early Nintendo game. Once the rest of the band kicks in, you get a classic ‘80s pop disco rock band sound. It has spacey vocals, grungy guitars and a poppy upbeat rhythm with banging drums and a keyboard moving it all along. Like I said, “Nova.”
The whole album is somewhat pretty monotone in that the majority of the tracks sound pretty similar, or rather have the same rhythm and melody. The second track of the album though, “Another Race To Run” actually does have somewhat of a different sound and vibe. This track has a much heavier, funkier bass line. The bass is the most prominent part of the track, and is accompanied by a slower “boom-bap” drum beat that’s a bit different than the other tracks. It’s a fun listen, and has calm vocals the entire time. After this song though, the album goes back to it’s traditional ‘80s like sound with the other tracks.
The musician is clearly experienced, though, and is surrounded by quality recording experts. “Downing of the Day” has extremely clean guitars throughout, and even the touch of the shakers in the background help give this album a bit more character. The composition is excellent, and is probably Cold Nova’s strongest characteristic. The vocals marry the vibe of the song perfectly, the composition is very smooth.
The rhythm and melody stays pretty consistent throughout all of Cold Nova. While it does not have the most exciting vibe, unless you are an absolute ‘80s lover and love poppy slightly repetitive sounds, the recording is on point. It’s an emotional album and a fun listen, although it could have used a bit more creativity or uniqueness.
The Flashpot Moments is the studio project for Tim Cawley. On his self-titled LP The Flashpot Moments he got a lot of help from different musicians to create what you could call anthemic American rock. The album was like going to a Bruce Springsteen concert that is very often going for the crescendo. It’s music that works better in an arena than an intimate setting.
This music has been replicated for decades and Cawley isn’t doing anything new here. He is spinning a wheel that unequivocally will draw an audience that likes to sing along to songs like “It’s My Life” and “Born To Run.”
The production has to be right or it won't work. Lo-fi is going to work. It’s just unacceptable if you want to get people to hold their lighters and sing along with the words. Luckily, the album gets the production right.
The song are all anthemic whether it’s “Abigail, Mispronounced (The Party Aftermath)” that sounds like a B-side from the band Boston to “Places Unknown” which has a classic breakdown with the steady bass drum followed by monstrous toms.
The band occasionally is a little subdued like on “‘Splode (The Party Prelude) which you could argue has some similarities to Spoon on the verse. As the album progresses you can make reference to plenty of prolific rock bands from The Replacements to The Cars and more. The point is Cawley plays into tropes many of us have come to know and love. He closes with an eight-minute epic which sums up the album perfectly.
Cowley is far from the most original artist I have heard in 2017. In fact his music feels more like a homage to anthemic American rock. If you are tired of the same old Tom Petty and John Mellencamp album The Flashpot Moments should bring you some joy.
Jenn’s Apartment is a three-piece ensemble that has broadened their sound and come to us with a new album called Forever For The End. This album is a look into the rock band's new sound and storytelling journeys. It’s a melodic and upbeat pop rock album with folksy vocals and a variety of sounds.
The album starts out with the track “Baby I’m Riding” which has a clean and fun introduction. All the instruments start to come in with an upbeat sound. They’re all very well balanced, each loud enough to add character but not too overbearing to overshadow any other instruments or stand out. The vocals are interesting, although nothing too memorable, and the melody and general sound of the band keeps the tempo high and positive. The lyrics are excellent, easy to follow and paint a vivid picture that we can follow; it makes the album engaging and relatable.
The album keeps going with the same sound, vibe and pace in the second track, “Cut My Hair.” It’s a fast paced rhythm but chill and enjoyable with a mellow and positive vibe. The guitar solo halfway through is spot on in this track, and it showcases the musician's talent really well. This song is a bit more emotional than the first track and gives the vocalist more room to show his range.
The song changes pace a bit and the sound transitions to a more calm and laid back style. The song, “Too Late” has a chill acoustic sound that gives the album a nice different change of direction. The vocals also go back to the style of the first song, more in the background and less prominent.
Jenn’s Apartment showcases a good amount of their creativity and their signature sound in this album. They move from a fast-paced rock sound with badass drums and fast guitars to a more mellow acoustic style that always has a folksy, storytelling lyrics that take us through a vivid and interesting journey. The musicians have a clean and consistent sound that makes the album an easy listen.
The Whipjacks is a five-piece alternative/indie band based in Worcester, UK, who have dubbed themselves as a “speed folk’”outfit. They draw inspiration from traditional Celtic and English folk roots, but they also have clear influences from The Dropkick Murphy’s, Flogging Molly and The Levellers. Of course, they’re still a band with a highly unique and original sound.
This is a band hungry for the stage, and they deliver a foot stomping, non-nonsense show that is filled with raw energy and love for the music. 2017 is looking to be a big year for the band, as they continue to strive for further gigs, a larger following and even a second EP later on in the year.
Their four-track EP entitled Scoundrels and Rogues most certainly lives up to expectations. A frantic, chaotic round of drum filler blasts through my headphones and rapidly-strummed banjos (both acoustic and electric) burst into the soundscape. The punchy, fast-paced drumbeat, catchy chord progression and melodic vocals all combine to create a highly addictive sound.
The Whipjacks certainly allow listeners not a moment’s rest. It’s hard to pin them down. They’re a rock band creating tracks with screeching, electrifying guitar solos and yet also the joyous tendencies and emotions of a folk band.
‘My Madness (Molly Murphy)’ opens with a throbbing drum beat, a meaty and low octave bass riff which channels The Whipjacks’ rock passion and a screeching electric guitar riff during the choruses which, musically, channels their folk tendencies. It’s a chaotic combination of rock and folk, but, in much the same way as The Dropkick Murphy’s,
The Whipjacks blend the two genres perfectly. It’s worth noting that the vocals are also very powerful, both in energy and emotion. Harmonizing, dark and intense vocals fill the calmer moments of the track, but this manic five-piece never let the listener recover for long. The insane drum beats, infectious bass hooks and distorted, fuzzy power chords always return for a furious finale.
‘Campfire Song’ is more of a traditional folk piece, though it’s driven by another frantic drum beat laden with filler. Acoustic guitar chords slowly strum in an upbeat chord progression as the vocalist sings joyously of inspiring tales fit for a campfire. The title certainly lives up to its promise. Furious banjo strumming and the occasional twinkle of clean, restrained electric guitar flutters in and out, but an unexpected, crunchy, distorted guitar riff bursts into the track towards the climax, creating a little diversity within the tune.
All in all, I couldn’t believe how much sound was packed into these four short tracks. It’s an album which excites and inspires; the frantic, furious sound certainly won’t bore you.That’s undeniable. Listen for yourself, and you’ll see.
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