Lazy Projector is a band from Kansas City, Missouri that formed in late 2018 and already released a ten-song album entitled evoco. The band has a palatable indie rock flavor. Their sound fits nice and snug into a genre some somewhere between bands like Spoon, Local Natives, Kevin Morby, Grizzly Bear and many more artists that float right beneath more mainstream acts in a much more artistically celebrated fashion. Suffice it to say if you find yourself at a “hip” local coffee shop (not the more corporate Starbucks), the songs off evoco would sound at home. I should make note that out of the aforementioned groups the band seems to have the most in common with Kevin Morby. The music itself often reminded me of Morby songs I have heard but also the vocalist Aaron Shinnhas has a similar inflection when he sings.
The album is well-rounded in a number of ways. There are plenty of grooves, hooks and a nice variety of textures and tones. They start with “Neon Light” which sounds a little like The Strokes expanded their sound and included airy synths into the mix. It’s ethereal with a hint of Americana and garage rock. On paper it sounds like a bit of a mess but they make it work quite well.
“Get Right” has single worthy indie gem written all over it. It’s got a good groove and is instantly infectious. The Morby influence is much more apparent on “Disco.” On that note the song was one of the best on the album. The band implements horns, cleaner grooves and vocal harmonies.
They show some sides to their sound with “Luna” which has some inventive textures while “Leave A Light On” has a more infectious hook and rocks out pretty hard. As the album progresses I felt the band provided plenty of variety to keep it interesting. I loved the moody, dark noir horns on “Pacific House.” It reminded me a bit of the horns off of Laughing Stock by Talk Talk. They even introduce another vocalist on the closer “White Flag”.
I’m honestly surprised the band was able to create this good of an album so quickly. The band is right there with a lot of the aforementioned acts. I think one more really good album and who knows where they could be. At any rate, you should have a very good idea at this point if this music is for you. Recommended.
Alex Whybrow (guitar/vocals) and Ryan Twyman (guitar/vocals) are Sister See. They recently released Where The Vines Are which is a four-song EP.
Their music is often somber and reflective not unlike that of Bon Iver, Bright Eyes or City and Colour. It’s somewhere in that headspace at least. This type of music is hard to pull off mostly due to the fact that one or two wrong moves on a somber song can make it feel saccharine, melodramatic or at it’s worse just flat out egotistical woe is me type fashion. The duo avoid all these traps and instead pull off heartfelt songs that are simultaneously tender and relatable.
Some of the reasons why this EP works so well is the production and recording quality. It’s one of the best DIY recordings I have heard in recent memory. They capture the intimacy and nuance of these performances which is vital. The songs come through your ears and right to your heart.
They get going with “Something Out In The Dark” and we are initially greeted with acoustic guitar and vocals. It sounds great but I was happy when the song unfolded with more instrumentation and distant vocal harmonies. The sound is full and robust brimming with passionate patterns of energy. There are even drums which are used very sparingly but effectively.
Up next is “Salt” which is a little more melancholy, warm and pensive. The song goes from sparse to completely atmospheric and surrounding. I think “The Wolves” was the highlight or at least my personal favorite. I think it was the vocal melody that had me as well as the more hopeful energy this song brings to the table. The closer “Where The Vines Are” is excellent as well. The very subtle arpeggiated synth is a lot more powerful than its volume would indicate.
This is a beautifully crafted EP with crisp songwriting and emotionally resonant performances. Need I say more.
Time keeps moving forward and some things change and some things stay the same. In 1996 I was fifteen and Nirvana was my favorite band in the universe. It was a couple of years after Kurt Cobain died but Nirvana was big in a way that bands don’t really get anymore. At any rate I played Nirvana and all the songs I wrote back then sounded like Nirvana. It’s now twenty-two years later and a young high school band called Minor Figures is keeping the spirit alive with their release And How Does That Make You Feel?
The songs are a lot like alternative versions of Nirvana songs. Take for instance “About April” which has a similar strumming pattern to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the standard clean and then dirty guitars that Nirvana used to implement.
“Love Is A Trap” is basically an homage to “Heart-Shaped Box.” The guitar melodies are nearly identical on the verse as well as the chorus. “Doxy” and “Alien In Hollywood” continues with basic templates for grunge songs.
“In Front Of Me” is the first song that felt like it was taking a little step outside of the grunge influence. The guitar work is at its best here and the vocals even feel a little more natural on this song. “The Falsifier” is another song that felt a little more out of the grunge vibe. It’s a solid song. They close with “Gaseous Uniqueness” which was a solid grunge/punk. The Nirvana influence wasn’t quite as apparent here.
The band seems to be having fun and that’s what matters. Although it seems like the vocalist is singing with a slight affectation that might make him sound more tortured than he is and a number of songs seem to be directly influenced by specific songs. I like this band and especially like that they are keeping alive the bands that were playing live when I was their age.
My advice is to keep chipping away at forming their own sound so that high school kids in 2042 will be playing songs that are influenced by Minor Figures. I look forward to hearing more.
I have to admit I was rooting for Caelan Irrgang (guitar/bass/vocals/foot drums) and Michael Irrgang (guitar/bass/vocals) of Blue Rock before I heard them. I’m thinking the band is a father and son but I can’t confirm that. At any rate, the most impressive part is that the Caelan Irrgang plays drums with his feet while singing and playing guitar. Ok, I will admit I don’t understand why they don’t just search for a drummer but the feat is by all means impressive.
The album they released Rolling Backwards is really a straight rock album full of tons of familiar genres and styles. For the most part, the songs feel like they are coming from the playback of band from the ’70’s and ’80s. There is some of that classic Detroit rock city sounds amongst plenty of other classic rock moves that will remind you of some of the legends.
The songs are fun and well written. The title track “Rolling Backwards” and “Losing Time” are two clear cut examples of the band bringing an unbridled energy that was manifesting in the ’70s and was kept alive in the ’80s.
“Ringstead Blues” is a solid blues song. However there are some moments that go out of the pocket. There are a number of long songs around the ten-minute mark such as “Drysdale Station” and the bluesy “Gibb River Slide.” As far as highlights go I think “I Don't Know” was a standout.
Caelan Irrgang is a young talent at only seventeen years old but I do have some advice for him because I remember being his age about twenty years ago playing similar music. These songs are very influenced by specific rock sub-genres to the point were I couldn’t pick up on the signature and singular sound of Blue Rock. Caelan Irrgang is young and malleable. I think listening to vastly different music like ambient soundscapes, neoclassical, etc and putting down the legends of rock and blues for a long time would give him more tools. I think finding a signature sound is one of the hardest things a musician can do and much more difficult than learning to play a mixolydian scale in a 1/2 second or learning to play a 7/8 beat.
Overall, this is a great start and a solid batch of songs. I think the foundational areas are covered. Caelan Irrgang has a long journey ahead of him if he sticks with it and I know from experience he is just in the embryonic stage now and is just discovering who he is as a musician. I look forward to hearing his evolution
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
Clumsy Flowers Clumsy Flowers EP 3.6
DGKyle Seams 3.8
The Smoking Section Asheville Sessions 3.7
The Monk Kings The Return
of John Paul 3.1
Sleep Culture Sleep Culture 3.5
All right Egg Eaters, you have my attention. You know most synth lovers I review on here give me lo-fi dream sequences that are lovely. But every once in a while it is nice to be reminded that the ’80s loved to make real noise. That's what makes Gimme Gimme Gimme the latest album from The Egg Eaters so viciously rad (yeah I said rad, come at me). Let's go through this track by track.
First up, "Sarabande." There's a post punk, epic ’80s style power ballad happening here. It sets up with a narrative as old as time with the tale of young talent to Hollywood. However, it has been punched up with modern twists. I'll try not to spoil the story further. There is an interesting mix of dated and modern production trickery at work here. The vocals are held back behind a technicolor fog machine, the guitar and synth brought to the front. It was a very interesting first impression.
Next up, "Ghosts." I like it; it has a slower but still very pointed attitude. I really like the narrative here. It deals with very real life issues like slugging through jobs that pay the bills. There's nostalgia here. It has a levity to it. This song almost felt like an interlude, a mere remembering of a specific place and time.
Holding down the pivotal middle spot is "Cloak & Dagger." This has all the punk appeal of a juicy, prickly pear. I love it. This is where the raw energy kicks into high gear. It's here that I can really sense that live performance aura. It's a fast and fun romp that earned its place on this album.
Gotta love "Crime Of The Century." Here we get a serious garage band feel. I really liked the production choices. The mixing and mastering added a little bit of a different flavor that makes this song really stand out. Loved the lyrics too. The title is deeply metaphorical as I hoped it would be. There's a slight vulnerability in the words here. It creates drama and fear and begs you to react.
Coming in last on the album is "Bank Of America." I doubt The Egg Eaters is so fond of this particular banking institution to write a song about it. Oh no, this one is a clear political message that hits several serious issues from multiple angles. The blood running through the veins of this group is perfectly tuned for political messaging like this. It was cheeky, funny and also pretty damn true.
This is a great little album that has such a curious appeal. At times it feels more like theater than music, and there were times I questioned aesthetic choices. I will say this, Gimme Gimme Gimme is an album I won't forget anytime soon. It wins by being distinctive, ballsy and unwilling to compromise. Sounds like someone I'd love to hang out with. If you feel like you need something that will rub against the grain, give this one a shot.
Harley Broughton is a triple threat: solo musician as well as recording and mixing engineer. Being an artist since 16, Broughton wanted to write, record and produce music that would be creative and inspiring as well as to challenge himself. After going to audio school, Broughton didn’t want to follow the norm of the typical pop scene of country, rap or hip-hop. He wanted to make progressive rock with influences of Rush, Yes and King Crimson while adding more modern prog music like God is an Astronaut and Monomyth.
Intermission opens with the ominous track “Fit of Fiths (Act I).” It pays homage to the avant garden to the metal band Ephemeral Sun’s Lord of Hounds which is the inspiration behind Intermission as a whole. Here Broughton showcases his brilliance, as the arrangements grow more elaborate across the 11 minutes. It’s an intriguing instrumental track that keeps your attention the whole time with the way Broughton orchestrates the instrumentation.
“Dancing Stalin (Act II)” adds a little more funk giving it more bounce for listeners to breathe. What makes this song even more fun is that it was intended as a joke. Broughton writes, “At first the idea was of a marionette dressed like Joseph Stalin dancing on stage as the song chugs along in a somewhat jagged manner.” It switches it up as a funk instrumental and a more defined rock setting with synths. It’s a fun instrumental for sure. The following track “GARGNCHEW1N (Act III)” is pretty metal. “Final Curtain (Act IV)” is as the name suggests the conclusion of the album and ends as the grand finale.
Harley Broughton understands that his taste in music is opposite that of the mainstream. It’s strange and probably too bizarre for everyone. But just because it’s too unique for regular radio doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be heard. When you listen to Intermission it’s a wonderful rock opera with Broughton as the twisted composer. The four-song EP feels more like seven to eight songs cause of their length. While songs are long, he breaks up the monotony that can come with an instrumental album by having well placed synths and he lets tracks breathe with some funky guitar solos adding depth to the album. Compared to other Broughton’s albums that Divide and Conquer has reviewed, he has grown as an artist. Broughton even states that Intermission is only a sample representation of how his methods of recording and mixing have evolved. There’s more to come in the future from this ambitious artist.
Devon Mello is an artist from Newport, Rhode Island who recently released Jennifer. The songs for the most part revolve around piano and vocals. It’s a personal album. Mello says the songs “are a form of self reflection and personal inventory. They were written as a way of reconciling my relationships with my family and myself.”
The songs are emotive, nostalgic and reflective. I was at points reminded of Perfume Genius. The first song is entitled “Jazz Night At Noreys” which is mellow, melancholy and quite beautiful. It’s a well written song and I liked the melancholy emotional response it was giving off which was warm.
Up next is “Gilly” which is more upbeat and catchy. It felt like a song you might hear in a saloon or a piano. Elliott Smith came to mind. “Things Are Looking Up In This Blue Pickup” introduces a drum beat into the mix. It’s felt like the catchiest song on the album.
“The Day My Idols Die I Will Be There To Claim My Throne” goes back into melancholy territory with heartfelt words and delivery. “Buford” might be the highlight. The vocal melody and hypnotic piano instill a sense of tranquility.
As a recording engineer myself I feel the only thing holding back these songs was the recordings themselves. The recordings are very lo-fi and they sound distant which is really the exact opposite thing you want for these types of songs. The songs are intimate and are begging for close mic techniques, clarity and nuance. I think the key to these types of songs is understanding the lyrics and being able to really hear the details. That is where an extra layer of emotion is hidden in these songs. Suffice it to say I would love to hear some of Mello’s songs with the recording quality that I truly think they deserve.
Overall, these personal and heartfelt songs are quite beautiful. I truly hope to hear more from Mello.
Toly Sawenko is an artist from Australia who recently released Cosmic Radio. The album is electic to a point I can’t categorize the music so let's start from the beginning.
The album starts with “Extraordinary Times” which is an extremely lo-fi song. It’s a straightforward rock song. It felt like an odd song to start with because for the most part the album revolves on much more mellow songs with a lot of strings and atmosphere.
He then switches to an upbeat and joyful jazz song entitled “Amatuer Love.” He sounds more at home here than the rock.
“Table For One” was a highlight. There are orchestral strings and an accordion. It reminded me of being in France and being in an outside cafe. He has more success with “It Must Be Good” where he goes melancholy and pensive. Sawenko’s voice sounds good when he stays within a comfortable range.
He then goes super upbeat with the poppy “Starting Out Again” and then orchestral again with “All I Can Care About Is You” and even cosmic with “Lost In Eternity.” Up next is the much more hopeful “Beautiful Today.” Sawenko questions the hard times on “Sweet Sadness.” “Hold Me Darling Please” sounded like it could have been a play about vampires.
“Good Luck, Good Day, Good-bye” felt like a highlight and perhaps the centerpiece of the album. Up next is “Marianne” which felt silly and frivolous. He closes with “Have You Heard The News Today” which is a slow moving song revolving around organ and vocals.
Cosmic Radio really felt like listening to a different radio station with every song. This fact makes it very hard to align this artist with any type of signature sound. I think the slower orchestral music is where he shines and should stick to in the future. That being said, people will have different opinions being the music is so diverse. Take a listen.
Clare Byrne is a dancer-choreographer-turned-musician who has performed and taught in New York City and environs, Burlington, VT and around the world. She is quite an accomplished artist and she has recently released Celestials.
Her music is poetic, folk infused and also dabs into a number of genres. Celestials is very much a slow burn in a number of ways. The first way is the actual songs which often unravel at their leisure. There are a number of songs that go past the six-minute mark and aren’t in a rush to go anywhere. The album is actually a double album’s worth of material. There are sixteen songs. I personally had to split the album up and took a number of weeks to be able to submerge myself.
Since there are a lot of songs I want to focus on the moments which had the most impact on me. “Summer Star” was very loose sounding in a good way and the vocal melodies were memorable.
“Feelings Feel” was also a good one that stuck with me. It’s so mellow and warm just like the whole album. I think part of the reason I liked “Reflection” was because the first part of this song has the same chord progression as “Atlantis” by Donovan and in fact has a speaking part that has a very similar vibe. I’m pretty sure it was an homage but at any rate the song unfolds into a number of different parts, kind of like a play. I really loved this song.
“Cincinnati Lover” has a gospel and soul vibe. The multiple vocal harmonies were very well done. I also have to mention that fantastic flute playing on “Ocean Arrives.”
I felt a little like I was in a beatnik art house in the late ’60s while listening to this album. Actually, maybe a lot at times. Celestials is an expansive album. I will admit you might need some patience to fully explore but there are rewards. Take a listen.
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