Lovely Bones initially started jamming together in early 2011. Back then the band consisted of only Julien and Faye. It wasn't until a couple of months later that they started auditioning people to fill out the rest of roster. After about a year they finally landed the right members Quelen (violin, background vocals), Laurent (bass) and Benjamin (drums).They recorded Still got the bruise but only released it recently. There are five songs on this album that fuse upbeat genres like funk, reggae and soul. They play the type of songs that will have hippies who are drunk at your local tavern dancing in no time. The guitars are usually manipulated by a Wah pedal and the bass plays enough notes that it should make fans of jam bands happy. The music is fun, easy to listen but also something that sounds familiar. What is nice though is that it feels fine against the strong almost Joplin-like female lead vocal. She has a great voice as well as a delivery that made the songs infinitely more appealing. They are soulful, full of emotion and is something no computer in the world can replicate. Production-wise everything sounded top notch. I could hear everything clearly from the guitars to the bass. The low-end was defined and everything from top to bottom sounded professional.
The first song “Paper meets ink” initially combines rim shots, clean guitar chords and fairly subdued bass. It eventually gains some momentum and starts to sound more funky. The centerpiece of the song is the vocals as they shine over the instrumental parts. That being said I did thoroughly enjoy the brief breakdown they had with handclaps. “Patience” (no, not the Guns N’ Roses song) has a very distinct reggae vibe. I have to say the somewhat generic reggae music sounded fine when it was put against the lead vocal. What's unique about this song is the chorus doesn't have much of a reggae vibe at all. Instead it explodes with a spacey type chorus that introduces strings if not synths that sound like strings. My personal favorite on the album was “Do me proud” which I felt was the most grounded. It wasn't all over the place and had some exceptional guitar and other strings that sounded original as well as exciting. I have the same sentiment towards closer “Still got the bruise” even though this song had a bit more reggae-inspired guitar chords.
Still got the bruise is an album where the music is solid and the vocals are good. The songs often feel like something you would hear in a bar by an above average band. Although the album sometimes lacks originality there are some very moments of the EP that is a good introduction. They are in the early stages of their career and still have a lot of time to refine their sound.
I remember watching “The Fearless Freaks,” a documentary about the story of Flaming Lips. There is a part where they talk about one their members, Ronald Jones, quitting the band. It was devastating to them and they didn’t know how to function without him at first but then later went on to make one of the most prolific albums of all time; The Soft Bulletin. The Devil and a Penny had a similar experience, except they had two members leave the band. Despite the adversity they worked on and eventually finished Repair, which is a six-song EP that melds melancholy and beauty not unlike that of the band Sparklehorse. The recordings are a bit rough at times and take away from the music but the songwriting shines through despite this. My favorite part about this album was the vocal work. Everything from the vocal delivery, to the lyrics and vocal melody are finely tuned components that draw you in. The vocals seep with a whimsical childlike, often fragile quality. Don't get me wrong. The music is pretty solid too. Sweet guitar melodies abound as they usually create a nice bed for the soft-spoken lyrics to rest upon.
The first song “New Song #1” starts with just guitar and vocals, which I would have been fine with for the entire song. In fact I felt like the additional instruments were nice but muddied up the song a bit. That being said the song is gorgeously implemented and provides enough solace among the melancholy to make you not want to dig your own grave. “Mining Your Own” is immediately pleasing to the ear as the melodies are catchy enough to recognize after a second listen. In addition to some delicate guitar work the song is driven with simplistic yet effective drumming.
The first things you hear are sad monolithic drones on “Peter Black.” They aren't welcome very long as this instrumental piece trades in the drones for a couple of clean electric guitars and a drum set. I liked the instrumental piece but the highlight on the album for me was “Make Myself Scarce.” The song, like the others before it, contained a lot of melancholy but this song also had a cathartic element to it as well. I was also digging the experimental guitar work towards the end of the song. The album closes with “Get at the Moose Edge” which feels like the busiest of songs. At around the two-minute mark a number of guitars rest upon a slab of white noise.
Of the six songs on Repair I have to say there wasn't one that I didn't enjoy. The only thing that bogged down the album was the poor production at times that affected the songs adversely when there were a lot of instruments at the same time. Other than that, the songwriting and lyrics are original and I feel like The Devil and a Penny are just getting starting. I'm hoping to hear more from them soon.
Rodney Castro and Bryan Pasian met while posting ‘musicians wanted’ ads on Facebook. But as we all know too well, some of those ads are directed purely to one form of music…the hardcore. As luck would have it, Castro and Pasian found each other. They also found out that they were neighbors that lived in the same area, within blocks of each other in Washington Heights, NY and they formed their band Doziac.
Their EP What Do We Do? has a surprising strong balance between the evolutions of each song. The majority of the time when a new band comes out, you’ll have that ‘every song sounds like just a longer version of the one before.’ Happily, that is not true in this case. I was intrigued by the free flowing vocals, with the adjustment of the bass fleeting in and out as a beam of light. There is a funky, blues, jazz element to each track, like on “Ectasy” where it picks up a mere seconds into the song, and then from there it fills the room with a chorus and rambunctious energy. “Anthem” (originally a Zebrahead song) is a clever cover. This was not only a right choice but you are able to hear how ahead of the game Doziac already is.
While the first four songs of the EP are instantly catchy and groove intended, the last song “Irrelevant Love Song” is a slower beat that drags on the heart strings a bit and shows a lullaby side that not many bands can convey because it either it comes off as too cheesy or horrible.
What keeps running through my mind is the fact that New York still has the guts to hide these musicians that are clearly on the brink of something big. You would never think that a place deemed “The Big Apple” could be hiding some talent around the corner. Nevertheless we have uncovered them. So get caught up in the catchy hooks that Doziac represents and be prepared to hear the intricate rhythms, stopped beats and at times drum sequences.
The first thing you need to know about Rodney Alan Greenblat is that he is the character and world designer for the iconic 1990's PlayStation game "Parappa The Rapper.” Yes, how awesome is that – I love that game. Well guess what? Creating cultural characters isn't his only talent. He also loves to make his own electronic music. In fact he just came out with an entire album called Nuthatch. It is sometimes quirky, playful, oddly tranquil at times and often incredibly minimalistic. Actually some of the music kind of feels like the music you would hear in a mid 90’s video game. As I was listening I could imagine myself fighting the boss at the end of a level or playing a Tetris-type game. The songs here feel like the sounds are vacant of any type of particular human emotion. It is music that I think fans of John Cage might enjoy. Almost all of the sounds are some type of synth although you also hear some occasional organic recording such as the sound of someone handling glass of some kind on “Shed.” The music is also incredibly slow paced at times. There are very little percussive elements and sometimes I felt like he was going for a meditative, spiritual component. That felt most apparent on a song like “thistle” which was one of the best songs on the album. One thing's for sure is that there is an eclectic mix of experimental sounds over the course of these 12 songs.
The first song “meadow” sounds most like video game music. Not like Halo but like Pokemon 8 bit style. It has structure and is a pretty conventional song considering the rest of the album. The second song “acorn” is no party pleaser. This song is mostly the sound of wind and seemingly random sporadic compulsions to play an electric piano. The minimalistic efforts continue on “nestling” as almost no two sounds are played at the same time. An 8-bit arpeggiation continues for 36 seconds on “gutter pipe” while “feeder” has the most percussive elements so far. Perhaps the most experimental, chaotic and ominous sound song is “sleet.” It kind of sounds like sleet but feels like an impending doom is present. The album ends where it begins with “nuthatch”. He revisits the playful themes and tones that would be on a video game for eight-year olds and younger.
Did I like this album? Yes. Is it something that I will be spinning daily? I doubt it. There are some interesting ideas here and sometimes they seem a bit scattered but ultimately I found it enjoyable. People who enjoy minimalist experimental songs should check this out.
The funny thing about moving to a new area is discovering after a while that you've lived near someone that you will eventually be playing music with. Outside Lions formed in the spring of 2012 when Joel Hermanson (originally from Chicago, IL) and Jordan Burmeister (originally from Phoenix, AZ) both moved to Milwaukee, WI to attend college. Who would have thought that out of this educational decision their duo would form? For a while it was only a guitar/drum progression. Now with Jon Taglienti on bass, there is a tight three-piece outfit.
Their album More to Say lingers on the tongue, with a resemblance to Teenage Fanclub with the focus on the diversity of issues that follows us in our early twenties. “Amherst” answers the 'I don't know' questions that tend to develop as we face that calling card of who is on your side and the basic slap from reality. I felt that the “Intro” was a ballsy move because it is a capella singing about what matters and if it matters enough. Hermanson and Burmeister have two voices that compliment each other balancing out the melodies between them.
In More to Say you relish in the expense of hearing and welcoming the decades old nod to pop punk, indie punk guitar and cymbal clash. From beginning to end, this EP has a perfect loop. Without ever truly ending, it is good if you happen to be going on a road trip or maybe going to visit your hometown once more. This captures a nostalgia that we can't quite shake ourselves free of. “Not About Acting” feels a little too close to home, hitting those buttons that remind you of how badly you wanted to start with your own life. “Cheering” has a guitar riff that has hooked its claws beneath your breath. You'll want to rewind to the first few seconds over and over, just to receive the right amount of satisfaction.
More to Say is a clever, intelligently made EP where everything happens to fit just right, the tuning of each chords rings a little bit louder than the previous track. And if The Concept by Teenage Fanclub needed to become apparent in this musical year, this would be the band to reinvent a modern interpretation.
This humble alternative band is birthed straight out of the south from Nashville, Tennessee and their name Creature Comfort describes it all. The band frequently plays local shows and has garnered quite a generous following, which has resulted in recording and now releasing their debut full-length album Fox Tales earlier this year.
Fox Tales has tones that remind one of bands like Grizzly Bear, Modest Mouse and Spoon. The melodies are really chill and the lead vocalist has a great sound that tells stories that are influenced and based around each of the band members lives. The song “We Paid and We Fought” starts off with a hypnotic guitar chord and then the vocalist appears with a matching soothing tone. This song showcases the band’s ability for effects and their success in song building. It is also softly accentuated by a simple percussion beat and later on in the track a female voice harmonizes with the lead singer.
All of the stories told on the album are not only relatable, but the successful song structures really let you feel the concept of the overall album. It seems to be about the basics of a social life, having ups and downs, fun times and sad times, and dealing with sweet and sour relationships. One of the tracks “Karma’s Gonna Get You” illustrates a situation in which everyone is familiar with, the act of just allowing the simple forces of karma to let someone get what they deserve; “karma’s got a funny way of transporting and communicating.” Another great song from the album is “Riptide” where the chorus screams the lyrics “it will be alright.”
I can just imagine the crowds that Creature Comfort gathers for their live shows as their music is both hypnotizing and comforting. Hopefully this album will enable their following to expand into new lands. Fox Tales is a great album if you like alternative rock music.
Angus Fenton is from Australia and has been messing around with sounds since 2007. He records wherever he pleases and relies and embraces the lo-fi grittiness that in this case seems to enhance the experimental nature of his songs. He cites on his Bandcamp page that Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Jack White and John Frusicante were influences but what's funny to me is that the songs don't sound much like any of these groups. His music sounds closer to a band like U.S. Maple in that the music is often out of tune, disorderly, dissonant and occasionally finds consonance to bring it all together. The first time you listen to the album you may be inclined to think these are poorly written and recorded tunes. But trust me that’s not the case; in fact there is heightened creativity at work here that is subtle and casual music fans may not appreciate. It doesn’t always work but it does more often than not and I applaud him for his willingness to step outside the box and make music that is original and questionable.
The first song on his album Where Rivers Run Red is “Joe’s Odyssey” which starts with a bass line that sounds like it was recorded straight into an M-box. After about a minute of hearing two basses playing with some kind of reverse effect I was thinking to myself “what have I gotten myself into.” While not the best track on the album it creates an odd meditative effect that is a bit hard to explain. “Still Here” is no less odd and again relies on bass but it’s phased out this time. Around the two-minute mark the bass fades away and we are introduced to Fenton’s fragile voice that sounds like he is whispering into your ear. He sings against piano that has a slight delay and some kind of white noise. “Lost In Night” sounds like an utter mess. Distorted guitars flare, organic drums are played poorly and it ends up becoming a mess of chaos - not bad because I liked the chaos. “Not Today” is probably the most conventional song on the album but it sounds like it is being played by a band that is heavily intoxicated by a dose of ether. The next song “Thoughts” has a similar drunken feel but relies on the tones of warm electronic piano and no vocals this time. The centerpiece on the album is the nine-plus minute track “Old Games.” The song is made up of a bluesy bass line, drums and the constant tinkering of phase, which is the coolest part of the whole song. It sometimes sounds like waves at the beach. The last song is called “Runaway” and trades in the organic sounding set for an electronic one and contains the best vocal melody on the album.
Suffice it to say you won't see Angus Fenton being played on the FM radio anytime soon but if you are feeling a little experimental I would suggest taking the time to at least check this album out. It is not for everyone but he is doing something that a lot of hardcore music fans will appreciate.
The Sun and the Moon and So On is brought to us by Camera, a band with a refined yet organic sound out of the United Kingdom. There are only five tracks on the album they recently recorded in their rehearsal studio, but they are all amazing songs to casually enjoy. The songs from the album can remind you of artists like Mark Lanegan or even Citizen Cope. The lead vocalist on Camera has a very enticing voice that is really deep yet refreshing throughout the entire album.
Most of the songs from The Sun and the Moon and So On are a bit slowed down and have a more of a down-tempo type appeal. The song “The Day Before” is a song void of vocals; it is just a hypnotizing melody with a twangy guitar and some piano keys. A track with lyrics that really digs down deep is “Peaceful are the Lonely.” The track explores concepts inspired by loneliness and taking the time to quietly write in a journal, “at night, the stars swallow me whole… sing to the night.” Both the lyrics and the chords found in Camera’s songs are familiar yet comfortably unique and can have an enchanting effect on anyone listening.
The band Camera is successfully signed with a label and has performed at large concert venues, and for good reason. Camera has a natural sound and their instruments and style is neither extravagant nor brash; they get the feeling across musically with just simple and humble tones and lyrics. Like mentioned earlier, several of their tracks are nothing but acoustic jam sessions, “Moment’s Delay” takes the listener on an interesting trail through a misty garden of sorts.
This album is one that can fit into any listening environment and everyone regardless of musical taste will be satisfied. The vocalist has a mesmerizing voice that achieves several different tones and follows along with the fellow instrumentalists’ talents for creating a musical world to get lost in.
Mellow Fantasy is a real trip through a psychedelic unpredictable world created by the artists that make up Kid Chocolate. The album explores obscure topics and is littered with interesting sound effects and deploys some really mind-altering lyrics. The band is comprised of four members located in Rhode Island. They had a humble beginning that started in a dorm room and now their musical adventure has taken them to venues throughout areas like Boston and Brooklyn.
From the beginning, you can really grasp the eccentricity of the music that makes up Mellow Fantasy. The first track “It Happened at the Mall” is held by a melody of interesting “la la la’s” that structure the song, which is about a weird trip to the local mall. While listening you will notice Kid Chocolate draws together sounds that are reminiscent of beach-rock surf music, as well as alternative shoe-gaze style music because of the weird effects and sounds. The song “DOGG” grabs you from the get-go, it is an ironic ode to the life of a dog; “I’m a dog I’m a dog I’m a do-nothing dog,” and the song even takes a reference to dog heaven. There is a catchy chorus to it and the vocals are what really make the song appealing.
A track titled “Mail-Order Bride” talks about a desire to buy love in order to cure loneliness, it is a deep and serious topic, yet the creativity and candidness behind the band lets the topic be presented in an innovative and comical way. “Nemo” is a funky beachy song that has a cool twang that peeps through the melody periodically and keeps you vibing as it encourages you to “dance with your friends and move your body.” Even more interesting is the track “Creepazoid” which is splattered with words like “ice cream bar” and other strange unrelated allusions. Each song on the album has a similar feel yet after one passes, you are refreshed all over again by the colorful sounds that Kid Chocolate conjures up for the listener.
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