Life is full of problems. You run into them as soon you’re born. Those problems can be big or small but all of us will eventually find big ones. It’s not the problems that matter as much as how we decide to deal with them. Music for myself personally as well as the countless musicians often confide and find solace in the creative process.
For Doug Wallace he turned to making music when he was dealing with personal turmoil. He also turned to his friend Alan Charlton who is also a musician. They spent a longtime on the eponymous album for Main Street Revival.
You might be inclined to think this might be a somber reflection. It might be a reflection but it doesn't feel somber, In fact it felt a little more like a cathartic celebration.
The album starts with the glorious “Night Rider” and this song plays into classic Americana in the spirit of Tom Petty. It’s empowering, drives and has the perfect amount of crunch. On top of that the chorus is mighty catchy and you might find yourself singing along in no time.
Next up is “I Wouldn't Worry” and this song is very joyful and chipper between the horns, organ and anthemic chorus. The title says it all really. When he sings, you believe him. They go through the process of finding his footing anew and in that fog of darkness there might be light ahead.
The album continues to roll forward with the country/pop infused “Shot in the Dark,” the reflective night wandering of “Riding the Waves” and album highlight “Rescue Me” which sounds like a revival. “Wild One” and “Time Is a Prisoner” shows more good songwriting as does The John Mellencamp-esque “Baby Game.” I felt like the soulful “Release Me” was another highlight. They close with “Teenage Love” which is by far the most reflective feeling and nostalgic song in the batch.
Jim Morrison sang “Music is your only friend / Until the end.” I remember hearing those lyrics when I was young and didn’t have an understanding of what it meant. It wasn’t until much later in life when I had to confront my own darkness that music held my hand and walked me back into a place where I could see again. I have a feeling Wallace understands all too well how music can be there for you when it needs to be.
I remember getting familiar with Noaa Rienecker when I heard Saltwater. Suffice it to say I encourage you to take a listen. I was excited to hear a new single entitled “Doldrum Blues” under the name Stumble Day. This single is a little taste of what is to come from them as they are expected to release an EP this Spring.
What I really enjoyed about this song was the directions it went in. It starts with a solid blues and rock groove. You could say it’s a bit like The Black Crows. The vocals are loose and immediately infectious. As much as I liked the verse, it was the transition that sold me. He sings “Every cigarette just burns into the next one / Every bottle’s got a bottle at the bottom” as the band simmers down and vocals are very catchy. I’ll also add I thought the lyrics themselves were powerful. My interpretation was that he was talking about how we use these things as escape.
The song seamlessly gets back into a groove oriented verse before revisiting the chorus. I'll also say the way they transition when he sings “doldrum blues” is great and reminded me of the band Pavement. The song gets even better with a much approved sax coming into the mix which added another layer of emotion.
There are some additional lines which are worth mentioning as well. He sings “Fluorescent sun for eight hours / Of I don’t give a fuck about / Who cares if my pockets are green / My days are colorless and runnin’ out” I would say those lyrics are open to interpretation but what I really liked was the imagery he was painting in your mind. He refers to a “Fluorescent sun” the color green and colorless days. I think my mind subconsciously at first noticed and quickly gave a different emotional impression based upon the color palette.
The topic of this song is ubiquitous in the western world which revolves around untapped ambition, monotony and the rat race most of us have to endure in order not to drown in financial debt. It reminds me of my favorite quote from Henry Thoreau - “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” There is some truth in that but it’s also true civilization is something very new in our timeline and things will inevitably change as they always have. Hopefully we will bloom into a butterfly one day but it’s art and music like this that enables us to transcend and reflect on our current condition while simultaneously being a part of it.
Bear's Tapestry is a recently formed band from Burlington, VT that released Wind and Water. There were a lot of people involved with this project. That being said Bear Borges is the main songwriter on Wind and Water according to their Bandcamp page.
Their music is lush, atmospheric and serene. I thought the general vibe I was getting was somewhere between Local Natives and Grizzly Bear. The colors and textures are very easy on the ears. There is a warm melancholy and almost an acceptance that comes with that.
They start with an “Intro” and it indeed sounds like that. Chords are loosely strummed, pads rise and fall and vocal harmonies come and go. It does what it needs to in order to seamlessly transition into the much more meaty “Wind and Water.”
That being said the song is still a slow burn. As it progresses orchestral strings begin to swell and more kinetic energy comes into the song. The vocals sounded great. The comparison to Local Natives seems to make sense here. The warm but angelic solace is in the vocals which I felt here and often when I listen to Local Natives.
The band has more success with the “Feminine Peace” which is a little more folk infused perhaps not too far away from a band like Vetiver. I thought the vocals were fantastic on this song. The song gets even better. I was not expecting the dissonant Thom Yorke like falsetto towards the end but I loved it. It ends on an ominous note. Also very cool.
“Guarded Heart” could very well be the highlight. The seven -minute song felt the most joyful. It starts out sounding like the morning sunrise. The sound contains clarity and feels like you are starting the day anew but with appreciation and gratitude. As it progresses I appreciated the mix of traditional folk, hints of bluegrass and contemporary aesthetics. They close with “Death's Bird” which is the most sparse song. The decision to get it stripped down was cool. I hear a lot of releases that go the other way and try to go as big as possible.
The band seems to be one step ahead. I think for having formed so recently this is an exceptional way to start. Take a listen.
UK Peak District-based singer/songwriter/guitarist/troubadour Charlie Moritz is back with his second LP Two Stops From Hope. Fans of folk-singing storytellers will feel at home with this offering.
As soon as the LP starts, I am transported back to my favorite UK pub. It’s warm and welcoming. I’ve a pint of bitter at hand. There’s a fire in the grate, a dog at my feet, and Charlie Moritz in the corner, sitting on a stool, singing with his guitar. Nearby are friends who’ve brought their cello, fiddle, trumpe, or accordion. They’ll sit in from time to time, depending on the tune Charlie calls. We pub-goes might sing along, or we might just sit back and listen, but we’re with Charlie all the way.
Acoustic guitar is the base for each of the tracks on Two Stops From Home, and the opening track, “Blokes With Guitars” draws us in straight away. It’s a humorous look at a pub open-mic night, with a Leonard Cohen-like trick (“suddenly, a change of key”), and a “drop-D” shout-out to the guitar geeks in the audience. It’s a solid set opener, and Moritz has us hooked.
Moritz lightly mixes in additional instrumentation with his guitar throughout the set: accordion on “Franklin;” cello on “Low Autumn Sun.” There’s nice interplay between the guitar and a wistful fiddle on “Before.” “Terry and Me”--another story about musicians--adds a lovely backing vocal with bass guitar.
We get two instrumentals as well: “A Plucky Break” and “When Dad Went Gadding” with “Dad” the pick of the two. Moritz starts us off in a drop-D blues feel--his “Blokes With Guitars” sense of humor shining through--but then turns us minor as we gad about with our father.
The two top tracks are “Chill” and “Along the Way.” “Chill” starts with a James Taylor/Gordon Lightfoot feel, but takes a harmonic twist. The horn lines set off the cynical lyrics and their quiet call to action. “Along the Way” is the most layered of all the tracks on Two Stops From Home, with the whistle, cello, and steel-string guitar offering lovely texture against the plaintive vocals.
I’ve called for another round from the barman, and am settling in for another few spins of Two Stops From Home. Enjoy a pint with me and Charlie Moritz.
Wisterio is a new artist based out of Boston, Massachusetts. Their self-titled debut is just the start of more things to come, including a follow up album set to release later in the spring or summer of this year. The album was recorded in many places including Sudbury, MA; Windham, Vermont and North Carolina, but the majority of the recordings were done inside the artist’s dorm room at Berklee College (I’m assuming the music college in Boston). But oddly enough, the artist states that it’s against Berklee rules to play any music inside the dorms, let alone record an album – wow, that just doesn’t make any sense at all. The songs on Wisterio showcase the artist’s first year at the college and it was decided that they would include audio clips of everyone who had made an impact on the musician’s life at that point in time. People like roommates, best friend, people who they jammed with, brother and father. This “mixing” resulted in a style of album that is called “very weird” filled with several genre styles like jazz, folk, indie, bebop jazz (influenced by the dad being a very talented horn player) and ‘80s beats.
“Prologue” begins things with what sounds very much like a beginning to an album – sounds of strings warming up, washing keyboards, chimes, a magical sound – light and airy. “Waiting on the Weather” also starts off with a light sound – wispy, but it also has this “soul sound” – like something from the soul sounds of the ‘70s (think Commodore’s, Marvin Gaye, early Hall and Oates) coupled with a contemporary, ambient style a la “Echoes” Radio Program. “Night Life” keeps things moving with slow, soulful vibes and a jazzy, hip-hop style – it even features a flute solo. How many artist’s put that into their music these days, ok… yes, except for Lizzo. A very chill song overall. “HurryHurray” begins with a rushing sound of some kind, like ocean waves, and a crazy guitar-to-drum rhythm. I’m not sure how I would categorize this song, but if The Police had played more experimental work, it might have sounded something like this. Quite imaginative.
“Where’d You Go?” is another tune that feels hip-hop in a more “traditional” way, layered with a chill sounding keyboard and a jazzy, electric guitar in between verses. Additional muffled voices can be heard, too. “Rain in the City” features heavier use of effects, keyboard beats and claps. Wisterio’s guitar playing is bluesy and filled with chilled soul. “City Sounds” is what you might expect to hear – audio clips of sounds from the city. Mixed in is some shaker percussion, bell chimes and sounds of buses and/or the bustling crowds of people. “Colours of Clouds” is definitely a chill song and I believe Wisterio’s dad steps in to play some beautiful measures of the horn, which by the way, sounded to me like a soprano horn – but don’t quote me, I’m not that well versed in my brass instruments. Overall, a well-polished song that sounds fantastic!
Lastly, there’s “Aiden’s Song/Goodnight” which feels like something you would play for someone whom you wish to have restful sleep. I mean really. It’s quite a lovely sounding song. Featuring echoing acoustic guitars and keyboard effects, the style here is part ambient, part folksy, part…? Again, it was hard to really nail any one genre to this song and equally hard to pinpoint Wisterio’s work to any one style.
On the whole, I liked the album a lot and it wasn’t something I would normally think of listening to and for me, that’s its appeal.
Atomiste is the alias of a musician born in March 2000 in Grenoble, France. Picking up the piano at age six, music became his main outlet for expression. He grew up listening to Pink Floyd, Philip Glass, Radiohead, Boards of Canada and others. Atomiste started to make music in May of 2019 and since then has produced seven albums, one EP and two singles. The electronic artist is releasing his latest record entitled Best-Of 2019, a compilation of his best work in 2019.
The sound is filled with chill and mellow overtones. The album contains various genres from electronic, experimental, ambient, chillwave, synthwave and many more. Atomiste has compiled his most daring work into this compelling record. Bold and filled with an amped energy, these sonorous displays seek out the best and worst out of human nature. Atomiste said that the album awakes from the trial and tribulations that had arose in his life. The record represents the rough times and perhaps how he was able to overcome them. Best-Of 2019 is as much about his efforts to release music that will speak to listeners as it is about the story of his survival. The album symbolizes his spirit and resilience as he sets out to face these obstacles, connecting with audiences on a more down-to-earth and functional level.
On that note, Best-Of 2019 opens with “Society,” where flaring synths shot in and out of this electric track. Electronic beats add in a scintillating vibe. The bass lines thump in the backdrop pulsating with a rhythm-heavy appeal. With vibrant and bright notes, sonically, the song has a chill and smooth sound.
On “Near The Hydrogen,” lush strings trace the gamut of this track. A hush of expectancy pervades on this song. This electro track mixes in organic instrumentation with the electric. The vibrancy of the strings adds in an underlay to the buzzing synths. A whole lot of buildup is evident on this urgent song. Dramatic overtures underline this track.
On “War and Spacecrafts,” industrial-tinged synths make up the gamut of this song. The synths add in a sizzling air. Next, bouncy electronic beats buoy this track. The ambience sounds ominous and dark with haunting undertones. Provocative beats layer in the backdrop of this song. Sirens flare with urgency in and out of this track.
The closer “Air Is Running Out” combines seething synths with ominous overtones. Atmospheric layers pervade. Airy cadences soar in the backdrop. The ambient layers drone on seamlessly. There is a relentless flow. Airy synths go on to reverberate on this song.
Catering to out-of-this-world fare, Atomiste mixes in space sounds with ambient chillwave and epic orchestral overtures to create this compilation. A wash of electro vibes, the album reverberates with an emotional atmosphere. These electro soundscapes soar with power and range. Rendering a sonic landscape that will speak to fans of electronic music, EDM and dance, Best-Of 2019 is a breakdown of the electric artist’s best work of the year. These set of songs speak of the human experience. From subjects like loneliness to despair and heartbreak, “the album represents both the disease and the cure.” That’s coming straight from the horse’s mouth.
Mixing orchestral finishes with electronic beats, the album is a coalescing of the organic and electric. The melding creates an enticing mixture overflowing with ambient and atmospheric soundscapes. Haunting and oftentimes melancholy-tinged, these sets of songs have the power to awaken something innate within us. Whether it be primal or cerebral, Atomiste’s compilation will resonate with audiences. Though ambient in nature, there is no one way to describe them. With that said, Atomiste has created an eclectic record with his best selections out of 2019. I look forward to see what the artist has in store for listeners next.
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
The Original Cliches Irony 3.7
Tamesis Tamesis 3.6
Everett Tea Life Like Cinema 3.6
champ. About Last Summer 3.6
Risqué Holiday Horsepower 3.4
Hosana is an experimental indie band from Toronto, ON. They released their eponymous EP Hosana which contains three songs. The band is one that has a unique signature sound.
They start with “Gurz” which goes in all sorts of unexpected directions. The song starts with a blast of ominous white noise and the band rocking out. When I heard that I was expecting a doom metal/shoegaze type of song but that’s not what I got.
The band within thirty seconds drops the fuzz complete and lands on the acoustic, slight jazzy verse not too far away from a band like Grizzly Bear. They certainly had my attention at this point. They go back into the fuzzy shoegaze and then back to verse which glides effortlessly into a soaring chorus.
As the song progressed they went into new territory around the four-minute mark. There is an absolutely lush and sublime section that melds orchestral strings, haunting vocals and jazzy drums. That is how you open. They impressed the heck out of me with that initial tune. After that I was wondering what else to expect from the band.
“Foggis” was perhaps a little less surprising. The song is very lush and atmospheric. So much in fact I was getting some serious Sigur Rós and Bon Iver vibes. The song builds quite beautifully with angelic harmonies making the song have an otherworldly texture to it. I would also add the build is subtle and layered. There is this climax around the the three-minute mark which does reach some epic heights with falsetto vocals.
“UkuSpuku” is perhaps the best yet. This song felt a little more in Radiohead territory than Sigur Rós, at least at first. Anyway you slice this it is a haunting yet beautiful track. The crescendos also are the most epic yet. I would also say the peaks of this song are just huge and as soon as the song felt a little conventional they changed it up again.
If you enjoy bands like Radiohead, Grizzly Bear, Sigur Rós and other like-minded bands this is essential new listening. There is still a lot of the year left but I would say this would be in my number one EP slot from a new band in 2020. Highly recommended.
Liam Bauman is an artist currently located in St. Petersburg, Florida who released Passing Through. There are six songs on this emotive release all of which at their heart revolve around vocals and acoustic guitar. The mood here is melancholy yet hopeful with a side of reflection.
This synergy of emotions is nothing new in the singer/songwriter genre but it’s not exactly easy to pull of either. Bauman is a creative and technically talented guitar player and also has a warm voice that works very well with the mood.
The album starts off with “31 3rd Ave” and I did find this to be a slight odd choice to open with. It’s just because the recording quality and aesthetics is quite different than the other songs that follow. “31 3rd Ave” sounds like it was captured with a single mic in a hall. I guess he wanted an intro of sorts since it was a minute long.
“Hardly” is a robust song with drums, atmosphere, bass, guitar and more. This could be the most single worthy song in the batch. It could work in a more pop oriented setting or something a little more indie rock infused. The song drives and ramps up as it progresses. I would say it’s the catchy and hopeful vocal melodies that make it a memorable song.
“Speaking Through a Wall'' might actually be a little more up my alley from a personal level. The song is melancholy and utilizes distant pads not unlike an artist such as Bon Iver. It’s around the three- minute mark I was really diggin’ the inventive percussive aspects as well as the colors of the song.
“Circles” is a sublime song that slowly transitions from thoughtful contemplation to a more hopeful feeling. “Glimpse Of” was another highlight to my ears. I was getting Radiohead vibes off the main guitar riff. He closes with “One and Done” and this is the icing on the cake. The end of this song glides with atmosphere making for a fairly epic and reflective landing.
This is a cohesive and very well executed release. The emotional resonance is palatable and I think his music could find a broad audience. Recommended.
The Third Arrangement is a jazz rock ensemble from Southern New Jersey. In 2016, keyboardist Nathan MacAdams formed the group and began rehearsing with a four-piece band which included local guitarist Frank Morley. A year later, the band expanded to incorporate horn and background vocalists. The band is releasing their latest EP entitled Scarecrows.
The sound is a hodge podge of jazz undertones blended with funk and rock elements. The songs on this EP embrace a full band vibe with amped sounds coming from the keys, a funky bass line, blazing guitar solos and energized sounds coming from the sax and trumpets.
Scarecrows opens with “One Way Drive” where the synths in the start of this track contain a groovy feel. Wonky and funky bass lines erupt in the beginning as well. Chimes chip in, giving off a refreshing approach. The guitars are invigorating. The vocals are also energized and amped, and are sung with gusto and feeling. The song is filled with a jazzy flair and lounge undertones. A guitar solo springs in surging with a psychedelic underlayer.
Following is “Time In Green” where groovy tunes come from the keys. A smattering of drums mark a rhythmic backbeat. The vocals soar with emotion and power. Funky rhythms pulsate in the backdrop of this track. The tone is soothing and smooth. A real cool vibe unfolds. Melodious keys dress this song. A jazzy sax sounds off on a riveting solo. Background vocals create an airy atmospheric appeal. Wonky and funky rhythms ensue.
On the title-track, a funky vibe comes from the keys. A jazzy flair could be felt undulating throughout the course of this track. A real cool smooth blend of funk and blues rev with rock embellishments. An epic guitar solo blares toward the two-and-a-half-minute hold. A driving rhythm come from the drums.
On the closer “Lester’s Year” a melodious piano tune starts off this song. The sound is smooth and soothing. A real cool jazz vibe unfolds, bursting with a bluesy lounge appeal. Funky bass lines add a smoldering undercurrent to the track. The sounds of trumpets trace this song. A smattering of drums adds in a smashing backbeat.
With a refreshing flair, these jazz infused funk rock blends stand out on their own. Hinging on narrative-based lyrics, the storytelling on these tracks is spectacular. With a seamless approach, these smooth lounge tunes evoke a magical and fantastical element. The album cover art features a scarecrow on a lane that leads to the City of Oz. As the band states, the journey leads them far from home. You don’t know if the characters ever come back. This is a realistic, though slightly pessimistic, way of looking at things.
The band doesn’t stray far from realism with the storytelling following a more down-to-earth style of narration. For example, “One Way Drive” and “Time In Green” flesh out characters you would happen to meet walking down the street. The characters we meet on Scarecrows are not a far cry from people we come across on our day-to-day life.
The soothing and cool vibes on this EP pervades with funky and groovy undertones. Brandishing a cool jazz appeal, those lounge-like songs will captivate listeners. The smooth effects are superimposed over funky rhythms, creating a blend of funk and jazz. Audiences will be compelled to put these radio-active tunes on repeat.
We are 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 critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook