If you had told me, after listening to the highly southern and spicy mix that is Cowboys from Ukuhelle, that OSOG were from Israel I might have asked you to repeat yourself – until you said the right answer. Not Mexico? The way they wove that Texicana sound was a dead native giveaway, or so I thought. Now how about this factoid – the members of OSOG used to play in a Pantera tribute band. Needless to say, these guys are all over the map and carry a lot of musicianship wherever they go for whatever project they’ve chosen. Following a few long nights jamming on acoustics, the band switched gears and embarked on an 11-month steady rehearsal routine until they had the arsenal of songs and finances to match. This was surged heavily by a fantastic showing of fan support in the form of what we would call a “Go Fun Me” account.
I was very impressed by this group’s website. It doesn’t necessarily speak for the music, but it definitely set me up for some quality expectations. The opening track “ Medicine” is stoic and chanted with country-fried intensity. I picture it as the so-long anthem of a gunman in the West taking his last stroll through town with a bullet wound.
I don’t think my ears can get back the vocal entry on “Blue.” Take it down a notch my friend. The song builds into a sweeping bar frolic and the growl finds a much better home in that context. “B.S.H.” rides like a jolly ole Johnny Cash number and then it’s over before you know it. However, it does return later in the album at a boot stomping tempo. The next track is a fun party song that borrows the refrain of “Wake Up Little Suzy” but puts a nice modern twist on it – “Wake Up in a Jacuzzi.” That’s funny and also a little alarming.
“Quixote” is beautifully done. Performed with stylistic excellence and perfect sound production from the string picks to the hi-hat stomps. It blurs the lines of “Hotel California” for just a second and then covers up with some authentic Mexicana magic.
“Please Don’t Leave Me” has a 60’s west coast feel as if the sound decided to travel a few miles up the Tijuana border. “Government is Organized Crime” hits the nail on the head. I’ve always had a special place for the active minds out there that know when something is corrupt. Hats off to you OSOG for being bold with your thoughts. The chorus is pronounced like a last rights with a chamber of drawling baritones that resonate even after the song is over.
Pet Knives comes from the rainy lands of Seattle and their music is somewhat of a reflection in that it rains more than it shines. But the group always has an underlying tone of positivity. You just have to pierce the veil of fuzz and drone on their EP Papercuts to gather and appreciate their real intentions.
“Big Black Hole” comes right out the gate with jabbing rhythms and booming spacious percussion. The vocal delivery glides in like Say Anything, but the music resides in something that is purely Pet Knives. Production quality is on point; the mix is a touch saturated but it’s nice to hear every level of composition even on laptop speakers rather than wait to hear those hidden gems on surround sound. I can’t relate too much to this track, but it serves as a great introduction nonetheless – very moody and outside the box. The guitar frowns along a wilting melody while atmospheric sounds swirl and project.
“Empty Mess” is a little bit too much like the name. Not that it was a wreck of a track, but the soundscape was timid and dry. I liked the style, but thought that more attractive ideas were possible despite the minimalist approach.
“Forget You Not Blue” is perplexing in that it keeps restating that odd phrase of a title. And then swapping out blue for black and so on. I think it’s cool, just a little weird. The song is a little wonky and that’s just what Pet Knives do best – solid indie with a sprinkling of the strange. “Gifts of Thought” has that whispery lightness to it and is almost a ballad, but still bright and breezy; the acoustic generating delicate interludes.
After listening to Papercuts I felt like I’d just heard one long song. From one track to the next there’s really no arc or diversion from the same alternative spark of soft speak drear-pop. For me, I was left content yet there was no emotional engagement or direct appreciation for a certain element. The band as a whole goes down smooth, but it’s low calorie.
Hunnywell is a Tacoma Washington based duo of surprisingly talented high school students Sammy Patnode and Harrison McDonald. The band was originally formed as a studio project in March of 2013. The band performs as a 5-piece and shapes their songs around storytelling and quirky mood / tempo changes for hooking sound bites.
Sammy Patnode coos gently like the warm and charming young artists of her age and definition. She blends with the self-acclaimed manly vocals of Harrison McDonald. Their voices carry this album because it’s predominantly about two party verse exchange, harmony and maybe some airy acoustic with drums. The lyrics have a good sense of humor and humanity. There are a lot of cute moments that attribute to that charm I was just referring to. No one can resist a blossoming voice that delivers clean and peaceful registers, no big notes in sight. It’s a refreshing and trending nature in this type of music – far removed from the played out expectations of pop stars.
Every song off of Pure Heart has its own lovely melody and has consistent movement and layering. I really enjoyed the final moments of “A Vixen’s Lament Pt. II.” I felt that could have been the point where the two vocalists hit gold. The album does contain conceptual themes, but it’s generally an upbeat and chill ball of sugar. “Suffocation at its Finest” has such a sweetly composed beginning and Patnode’s voice is like fresh cream. The acoustic takes the forefront from its initial support and the song hits full stride. The Cranberries would be proud of such respect and space given to the acoustic melody, both stripped away and lively. And like most songs should, the outro holds and swells into a tasteful climax. Patnode cycles the refrain, the guitar shreds, the tension is released and it’s all over but the reflection.
Pure Heart was aptly named, delivering honest moments of love whether open to interpretation or not. You have to applaud the efforts of these young artists and the songwriting skills they share. This album is a great find for the young and old at heart.
Last year Gil Hockman released a five-song album entitled All The Things. It was an impressive collection of songs that at its core relied on acoustic guitar and Hockman’s vocals to carry the songs. Hockman is back with an eleven- song album entitled Dolorous that builds upon the foundation that All The Things set in place. It also shows that Hockman isn’t afraid to experiment and get out of his comfort zone. He implements subtle and not so subtle electronic components on a couple of songs that actually had me thinking about Notwist.
The production is top notch all around. All the instruments lay where they are supposed to be. The low end is defined, his vocals sound great and the highs never sounded shrill.
Hockman starts off the album with “Dolorous,” which is a really good song but I thought it was a bit of an odd choice to get things going because of the slow pace and melancholy. The song is sparse and revolves an acoustic guitar, Hockman’s vocals and atmospheric components. Hockman’s lyrics are poetic and ambiguous as he sings “I hear the words come out of your mouth / But I'm sinking in the bathtub / On a Thursday after work / I suppose I need some looking after.” The energy is increased a bit with the second track but is still smothered in melancholy. As the song progresses it really starts to take off as distortion and percussion come into the mix. Hockman really hits the sweet spot about three-and-a-half minutes in as he sings, “I'm only here to say goodbye I'm only here because it's time.”
One of the highlights was “NIght Bird,” which was a very infectious tracks. I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of acoustic guitar, drums and synths. HIs vocals sound thick and layered as if his voice is covering the entire frequency spectrum. “Seasons” might be the most experimental track on the album. Hockman utilizes a fat sounding warbly bass synth and also implements impressive overlapping vocal harmonies. The song feels the lightest and most carefree on the album.
“On My Own” introduces more instruments as well new areas of exploration for Hockman. The song is heavy with percussion as Hockman lays down shakers, handclaps as well as a traditional drum set. You won’t want to pass over this one.
Both “White” and “Pass The Ball” sound like straight up electronic compositions. Hockman’s electronics sound somewhere between Lali Puna and Burial. The last song “Far Away” is a five-plus-minute song that introduces some horns to accompany his guitar and vocals.
Hockman makes some bold leaps on Dolorous and my only complaint was that the sequential order was a bit jarring. With that being said Hockman’s songwriting just seems to be getting better and he knows what works in the studio. This is a very fine effort from Hockman and is highly recommended.
Ben Myers has written a lot of music. From 2006 to 2009 he wrote seven albums and also released three additional studio albums. His most recent is Daylight Moon, which is an eleven-song album that has melodic acoustic ballads that you could compare to Elliot Smith as well as light rock that has a 90’s vibe.
Daylight Moon is a complete DIY effort. Myers wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered everything on the album. Daylight Moon sounds better than the majority of albums done this way although some songs could have benefited from being recorded at a professional studio. The songs that contained drums could have used a bit of tweaking in regards to the mix but the sparse acoustic songs sounded great.
The album opens up with “Love’s Alive,” which is a melodic pop song that sounded like a combination of Elliot Smith and Fountains Of Wayne. Myers doesn't actually sound like Elliott Smith (in most cases) but there is something about the melodies he writes that makes you think of him. The song is pretty catchy especially the chorus which is bound to get stuck in your head whether you like it or not.
“We'll Never Know” is a sparse acoustic song that revolves around Myers’ vocal melody. He breaks out the xylophone and piano, which gave the song a sweet, tender quality that was quite enjoyable. You don’t hear many people fading into their songs these days but Myers does it on “On The Way.” The song is another melodic pop song that is on par with the opener.
Myers put down the guitar in favor of piano on “I Look Away” while “I Don't Need To Know” is a soft acoustic ballad, which has a chorus that revolves around guitar, vocal harmonies, a shaker and piano. “Fire To The Flame” was the most rocking song on the album but it lacked a beefy kick drum.
The album concludes with “Loves Mystique,” which contains a soft almost ethereal presence. Myers plays piano while what sounds like synthetic strings provides the atmosphere. Aside from a couple of minor production issues Daylight Moon is a very enjoyable album. Fans of Elliott Smith, Neil Young and Elvis Costello should enjoy his music.
It won’t take long for you to appreciate the recent EP Blue Mtn Belle by Blue Mountain Belle. Don’t get me wrong – the music sounds great but the vocals are unequivocally the focal center. Stephanie Hamood has a voice that is confident yet feminine. It oozes with warmth and carelessly dances around the music.
The band style is varied and has elements from a number of different genres. It contains a dreamy atmosphere while implementing styles like folk, old time country and even jazz. It’s very enjoyable music that is easy on the ears not only because of the style they chose to play but the high production value.
First up is a sprawling ambient song entitled “Silent Film.” The song has a slow BPM and builds with emotion as it progresses. I really enjoyed the drumming by Brandon Delis on this track as his snare rolls and beat added a lot of momentum to the track. Hamood gives a passionate, rather beautiful (I don’t use that word lightly) performance that soars but also contains a decent amount of melancholy.
“Lost With You” is quite a stylistic deviation from the first song. It has a straight 50’s country Patsy Cline vibe. The song is good even though sequentially it felt a bit inconsistent. “Porcelain Girls” still has a country vibe minus the 50’s country pop. The style on this song felt contemporary. This wasn’t good or bad, just different. The vocal work was great but I also enjoyed the subtle banjo that was in the mix.
The album ends with “Should We Fall,” which contains atmospheric reverb-laced guitar, light percussion (Delis breaks out the brushes) and arguably the best vocal melody on the EP.
Overall, Blue Mountain Belle sounds great and can write a tune. Stylistically, they still seem to be discovering who they are as a band but pieces seem to be falling into place. Job well done - I’m looking forward to hearing more from this group.
Jamison Bethea is a singer/songwriter from North Carolina who doesn't seem to give a hoot about fitting into a genre. His thirteen-song album Drum Breaks and Broken Strings is about as varied as a pawnshop. Some songs sound like commercial pop while others are rooted in blues, R&B, rap and even electronic. The album is inconsistent when listening to it in sequential order. With that being said a majority of the songs work on their own merit.
Bethea wrote, produced, mixed and mastered his own music on this album. There were definitely a couple of production issues but nothing that would make you cringe. His vocals needed a bit of polish in the form of compression and reverb, and the music sounded convoluted when there were a lot of instruments playing.
The album starts off with “FML,” which is sounds like a mix between Sublime and Jack Johnson. Bethea strums chords on an acoustic guitar as big-sounding electronic drums provide a meaty low end. The song ends with intersecting vocal harmonies before coming to a close. The humorous “The DJ Stole My Girl” is a fast-paced song that is stuffed with a lot of instrumentation. It’s a light- hearted song that implements elements of dance music such as the steady kick drum and classic house build up.
“Social Media Blues” is exactly what you think it might be. Bethea sings in a classic cliché blues type of voice about Social Media including Facebook and Twitter. Bethea plays a pretty vicious lead guitar and I wouldn't have minded a whole album in this style.
Other songs such “Seashells” revolve around an old school smooth R&B style while “Monster” has some straight up rapping. As the album progresses Bethea experiments with different atmospheres but at its core all these songs are about his voice and acoustic guitar.
Overall, Drum Breaks and Broken Strings is lengthy and disjointed but it also has a number of decent songs. There is a commercial appeal about the music that certain music fans may appreciate.
Hailing from San Diego, CA Brother Weiss is a three piece rock group who recently released their debut EP entitled Conversations. This is the type of EP that will satisfy fans of contemporary indie rock as well classic rock. The EP tips its hat to bands like My Morning Jacket, Led Zeppelin, and The Strokes. The five songs have excellent production and captured the energy of the band. It often bursts with confidence and sounds huge. After you you are done rocking out to a couple of their songs you will want to get out of the house and see Brother Weiss in concert.
The band isn't breaking new barriers and doesnt experiment much but it doesn't matter cause they rock so damn hard throughout the EP.
The lead singer and bassist Miguel Ramirez has a great voice almost anyone can appreciate and it seems to be conducive for rock. He doesn't sound like an Eddie Vedder clone or that dude from Nickelback. His voice usually soars with optimism and contains a kinetic energy that makes you get behind the words that he is singing.
Ryan Weiss provides the inventive guitar parts while Kevin Weiss implements precision type drumming that is an integral part of the music.The bass parts on the record are most foundational providing root notes for the song. It sounds appropriate against the thunderous and versatile guitar parts.
The EP knocks you on your ass immediately with “Conversations” which was the highlight of the record. This song has dash of my morning jacket mixed with Warrant. The music makes you feel like a badass even if you aren't one. “Light Bulb” treads on more of a melodic indie rock vibe while ‘The shortcut” has some very impressive drum work. The EP ends with “Armory” which combines effective vocal harmonies, melodic guitar parts and arguably the catchiest vocal part on the EP.
Brothers Weiss delivered a polished five song EP that displays their songwriting as well as chemistry. There really isnt much to criticize here. The band is on point.
Based out of California, Cryptohelix is a long running one-man band has been creating pure rock nostalgia music on and off for the past 25 years. The music within his recent album The Nostalgia Bottle Breaks is totally grunge punk rock with an alternative edge. I am reminded of a hard core version of The Smiths, Velvet Underground and perhaps a bit of Sonic Youth.
The opening track on the album titled “Who Is That Man,” starts off with that quintessential “one, two, three,” before the percussion and drums come in to remind us of bands like Franz Ferdinand and Keiser Chefs. The lyrics go on to illustrate perhaps a metaphor of the typical person living in a modern society who always runs into “the man” at every corner; “Who is that man? Got a question writ across his face. I see him everywhere, every place. In the mirror, on the street.” These lyrics show rebellion and really qualify the music as punk rock and gives the audience something to infer and relate to while listening.
The track “Your Device” reminds me of open-mic poetry reading where the poet speaks to the beat of collective finger snaps. The vocals are melodic and then toward the bridge transform into a nice flow. The lyrics again call out on modern components of society; “Stay glued to your device, nothing’s changed, now look twice between the real and the artifice.”
The quality of sound on the album could be a bit better as the sound is smudged a bit, this could be attributed to the home studio recording method. Yet, at the same time this gives the album a nice vintage style and a very authentic look into punk music. Anyone into punk alternative rock willfind themselves digging The Nostalgia Bottle Breaks.
An alternative rock band from Kansas City gives its audiences an unconventional take on rock music. While listening to The Monarchs' latest album Shadows Of Our Time, I hear influences from genres like blues, jazz and a bit of punk. Bands like The Heavy, Radiohead, and a rock version of Fat Freddy’s Drop could be brought up in a conversation describing The Monarchs. Overall, The Monarchs maintain a very vintage sound yet transcend their style into the contemporary sphere.
The track “Dancing with Maya” starts off with a trippy and soothing yet wildly seducing guitar intro and soon this intro transforms into something a bit darker and by this time you’re sucked in and its too late. “Discover your world, take care of your world,” are eerily barked as the slightly sweet and deranged melody makes a return. The following song “Projector,” starts off with a jazzy vibe and is then accentuated by some heavy guitar riffs. As the song goes on it starts to show its true personality, which is a crazy one. As the infectious beat draws on, the song becomes so catchy and definitely one to dance to. The horns and drums give the song a unique and delightful character. This song really needs to be heard in order to understand.
A more mellow and romantic song is "Silver Fractal." It has a very chill vibe that would be perfect for lounging by the sand. The lyrics draw some pretty metaphors that further elevate the experience of the song; “Everyone inside each other, a thousand hands melting into one.” The next track “Time” brings you back to earth as it is a simple acoustic track with a beautiful piano riff saturated with poetry and emotion.
The sound quality on this album could be improved because some of the lyrics and percussion get a bit muddy and suffer from a lack of better production. Yet this is a minute detail as the album is fun to listen to and spans many different sentiments and scenarios as well as plenty of goodvibes. The music is not your ordinary and Shadows Of Our Time is a great listen for anyone into contemporary alternative rock.
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