Rory Bezecny (guitar), Angelette Alexandre (bass guitar/MIDI guitar) and Molin Ryecjel, (drums/guitar) are Terrestrial Shackles. The trio is currently a studio project and just released Let's See What Happens.
The band dabbles in experimental rock with some success throughout the six songs. There are some inventive sounds and concepts for those who aren’t afraid to explore what the fringe of music offers. That being said I have to admit I would have loved to hear some of these tracks with better recording quality. With a little bump in recording quality some of these songs really could have hit their potential.
The EP opens with “Disposable” which is really driven by the ferocious drum work. Feedback swirls around from guitars and I believe there was a dirty bass line in there somewhere. It’s a mess of sounds that is quite chaotic and really held together by the beat.
“Turn That Hippie Crap Down” is only thirty-seven-seconds long and sounds like it could be the intro to an Oneohtrix Point Never song. The next song “John R” sounds like a psychedelic trip coming undone. It’s made up of dissonance and sonar-like sounds. The organ and guitar somewhat accompany each other while the bass is all over the place.
“Sometimes” has no percussion. It is an ambient, atmospheric song. The bass work reminded me of Mogwai as the guitar emitted alien like sounds. Although “36” sounded out of time to my ears at times I enjoyed the vibe. It sounded like it could be in a slick ’70s movie about a loner who goes for midnight rides in the desert.
They close with “Why Would It Matter” which felt like the most experimental song. It’s more like a collage of samples and sounds. A solid choice to end the EP.
Terrestrial Shackles is on to something with their sound and I hope this is just the beginning.
The Corderliers comprised of Joe Shaw (vocals), James Walker (guitar), Elliot McNeill (bass) and Matt Lane (drums) formed in early 2015 and are already showing some potential n their self-titled album Corderliers. The band says on their Bandcamp that they were influenced by The Smiths, The Doors and The Killers among many others. Out of the bands The Smiths seems the most obvious. I also heard a bit of The Stone Roses along with a number of other English bands.
The band displays some talent on this album. I thought the songwriting was great and the performances were solid. That being said it seemed as if the performance at times could be tightened up.
They open up with “Shame” which displays some creative guitar skills. I especially thought the lead guitar during the verse was notable. The song isn't groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination but a solid track.
“Cruel and Kind” seems to be directly influenced by The Smiths. Johnny Marr style guitar is all over this well as well and you can even hear a hint of Morrissey in the vocal delivery and lyrics. The album progresses and some of the songs get louder. “Swing to Miss” is a good two or three dbs louder than “Cruel and Kind.” A better mastering job may have been in order here but the songwriting stays consistent unlike the volume.
The band veers into ’70s punk territory with “Honesty” and they may have a hit on their hand with “Impetuous Imposition.” “Damaged Euphoria” is the closer and another highlight. The guitar playing and vocal delivery is top notch.
Their self-titled album is a solid start for the band. The production is impressive for a DIY effort but also a bit inconsistent. For example the snare drum of the closer needs to be more present in the mix. A little boost on their next effort is something they should shoot for. Along with that it seems as if the band is still wearing their influences while slowly carving out their sound. This is a good start and also a case of wait and see.
I have to admit there have been a lot of husband and wife duos in the last couple of years that have made me want to jump off the Sears tower. A lot of these acts sing poppy love songs about how in love they are. Gross. Who wants to hear about how in love you are besides other couples who are in love.
The Darning Hearts comprised of Dylan James and Natasha Edelweiss are a breath of fresh air when it comes to husband and wife duos. Try and follow me here. If Dylan James and Natasha Edelweiss were Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel James would be Simon and Edelweiss would be Garfunkel. James plays the guitar, sings and writes the songs and Edelweiss sings. Also like Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel they sound great together.
Their release Older is an exploration of acoustic music that veers from bluegrass to folk to gypsy jazz. The instrumentation is minimal with a bass occasionally making an appearance alongside the guitar. Older sounds connected and cohesive despite some stylistic jumps.
Up first is “What Can I Say” which has a classic traditional feel which goes way back. The guitar work isn't far off from Django Reinhardt style jazz chords. It’s a wonderful song that feels warm and pure. Catchy, hopeful and leaves you feeling good.
The old traditional music with sparks of jazz and folk continues with “Eleven Miles High.” Edelweiss is the lead on this song as James occasionally provides harmonies. The old time jazz guitar work is fantastic.
I heard a bit of Tom Waits voice on the fast picking “Lonesome Bones” while “Coyote Song” is a clear highlight with some of the best vocal harmonies on the album. The band continues with some exceptional songs. “Suicidal Squirrel” which is a great name stuck out to me. They close with “After You've Gone” which was a personal favorite. Lyrically, the song is quite sad but the music gets to be downright jovial towards the second half.
Older is a great album from beginning to end. Don't miss this one.
Break-ups are complicated. There's a lot of emotions going on - many of them contradictory, hardly any of them rational. Breaking up with your lover affects every single aspect and area of your life - your physical stability, your emotions, your finances, your self-worth. It's a visceral process, that can feel like dying at times, as our old and outdated ideas of ourselves struggle to re-orient themselves in realtime.
Considering the amount of intense emotions involved, it's no surprise that "the break-up album" is one of rock n’ roll's most cherished formats. From Fleetwood Mac's Rumours to Spiritualized's Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, albums created in the throes of despair, elation and emptiness that comes with a lover's departure.
The Good Grief by Omaha's The Way Out does a wonderful job of summarizing all of these emotions with heavy fuzz riffs and catchy pop harmonies vacillating like the sun breaking through a leaden, overcast day.
The Good Grief was inspired by two of The Way Out's members breaking up. Instead of burning pictures, leaving countless messages, shit-talking them to the their friends or just going on a six-month blackout bender, The Way Out's two principal songwriters Levi and Mari wove the napalm emotions into a tapestry of heavy power pop and jangly indie guitar rock.
If Weezer were to write a break-up record with the guitarist from Explosions In The Sky and bring in Frankie Cosmos for lyrical and vocal duties, it might sound a lot like The Good Grief. Mira's roots are like in infectious indie rock, a la Pixies/The Breeders, while Levi favors a thick, pummeling rhythmic guitar assault that would do Mastodon proud. Whatever the lyrical origin, power pop and fuzz rock always make fine bedfellows. Sludge/stoner/doom can often be too repetitive, too samey-same, sliding off your eardrums like oil off of a duck's back. Likewise, indie pop/rock can be too saccharine to truly capture the layered emotions of a break-up.
Consider the album opener “Intro," perfectly capturing the tightrope act of despair and excitement, as Mira bravely sings "I know I don't need you anymore," over Levi's crashing, thunderous sheets of guitar. It sets a tone which builds, breaks and explores throughout The Good Grief, until finally culminating in the Catherine wheel pyrotechnics of "Nerves", where epic post-rock guitars shimmer and scintillate over a thick, syrupy, sludgy rhythm section.
The Good Grief by The Way Out is like The Soup Dragon's "I'm Free" for the 21st century, which is great, as that song sucks and this album is incredible! A great opening from a talented band. Ones to keep an eye/ear on, for sure!
On July 20th 1969 American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed a spaceship on the moon. The total distance traveled was 953,054 miles. On August 6, 2012, NASA landed the rover Curiosity on Mars, a journey of 350,000,000 miles. And on this past July 4th the Juno Spacecraft finally reached Jupiter’s orbit after a journey of roughly 1.7 billion miles. It makes the 700 mile distance between Newfoundland rock trio CastawayNights seem like small potatoes. Two of CastawayNights members -- Jon Williams (guitar/mandolin/vocals) and Glenn Hoyles (guitar/lap steel/vocals) live on the eastern half of Newfoundland whereas Brian Barbour (bass/drums/acoustic guitar/harmonica and keyboards) lives on the western side of the island in a town called Corner Brook. Williams and Hoyles record their respective parts and send them to Brian Barbour who puts it all together.
Despite this displacement, and the fact that the band has never played any of the songs they’ve written at the same time, their debut record The Midnight Hour sounds cohesive. It opens with the distortion soaked ambler “Double Rum & Coke.” This passes into the equally distorted, slow and haunting “Passing Through,” which employs some nice vocal melodies. CastawayNights shift gears into low-fi alt-country pop on the rambling “Don’t Wait” which continues with a bit more psych aesthetic on the echoing and ambling pace of “Acre of Land.”
Not everything always works out in the bands favor however as the piecemeal Neil Young meets Black Sabbath sounding “Go (As My Friend)” sounds like a recording of basement jam session more than a whole-hearted track and the same goes for the thrashing and flailing about on the weather beaten “Acid Rain & Comets Fall.”
Things begin to take shape again on the roots-y reggae-tempo rocker “James & The Dinosaur,” as well as on the sunny and six-minute sprawling closer “The Thought That Remains” with its spritely, shimmering guitars and spot on vocal harmonies.
Making a record is hard enough work. The idea of a band recording their individual parts separately and then putting them together later may seem like a strange concept, though it seems to work out well for CastawayNights. And as the saying goes if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Based in Chicago, Bryan Away, singer and instrumentalist for his music, has been writing and recording music for much of his life. His album The Educated Youth is his first release, and the release is an eclectic collection of Away’s musical ideas. The style and tone changes constantly throughout the album, and each of the seventeen songs gives the listener a new understanding of Away’s music and a different perspective of who he is as a person and as an artist.
Ambient and free, “Opening Sentiments” starts off the record on a fairly experimental note. Unexpected chord changes accompany Away’s soothing voice as he croons softly. Then, the energy of the album picks up in “Far from Circadia,” a joyful ballad, then cruises back down to a relaxing “All the Waiting” a jazzy piece with saxophone and horns providing a soft backdrop to melodic piano playing.
Musical interludes, ranging from ambient noise to instrumental string pieces, are dispersed throughout the record, giving the listener brief rests from the series of vastly different and original sounds created in all of the full-length songs. The interludes are interesting and creative, and they give the album an added boost of originality. After “An Afterthought,” one such interlude, “Tasks” blends spacey synthesizer sounds with solid percussion and a broad vocal soundscape.
“In a Memory” follows with lush strings and piano to generate a dreamlike, harmonious tune as beautiful as it is catchy. Away highlights his ability on guitar in “Ignore the Signs,” in which vocal harmonies add to the quiet, steady plucking in the serene track. The album delves into a slightly more electronic sound in “Vacation” with pulsing synthesizers and distorted drums that build gradually throughout the song.
Away continues to explore more and more musical genres as the album progresses. “I’ll Find My Way” borders between indie rock and classical rock n’ roll, and the traditional full band sound is one the listener will find familiar. “The Engine,” “In Plain Words” and “Off the Page” return to a more experimental style as orchestral instruments provide support for guitar, piano and sparse vocals.
The final track “Off the Page” is perhaps the most memorable song on the entire album, and not simply because it is the last one the listener hears. The contrast between its subdued tone and rich melodies, which hint at building throughout the tune, is a reflection of the previous sixteen songs, and yet the lack of orchestral instruments makes it more accessible to those accustomed to listening to pop music as well. Overall, The Educated Youth is an album Bryan Away should be more than proud of as it shows listeners his talent, ability and potential as a musician.
Chris Soames is a singer-songwriter, keyboardist and guitarist from Manchester, UK who recently released Trip Inside. He has been playing live since 2008 building up a lot of experience before releasing his solo album Trip Inside.
Soames flirts with a number of different genres but it all falls into the pop category. That being said it doesn’t necessarily sound like pop from 2016. There certainly seems to be a lot of influence from the ’90s as well as the ’80s.
Production-wise the album sounds great although I was questioning the quite liberal use of auto-tune. Soames implements the effect quite often and it’s not always subtle. It’s an aesthetic choice but I would have preferred to hear a little less at times.
He opens with “Sun In Squares” which is a funky rock song. It’s catchy and a good opener. The mood is upbeat and lively. I was a little surprised that he followed that up with the melancholy ballad “Whispers In Paris.” There is a distinct ’80s vibe that is not too far off from Richard Marx.
Speaking of other decades Soames pulls off an old classic guitar solo on “Trip Inside” as well as the famous talking guitar effect made popular by Peter Frampton. “Fly” is a highlight amongst the batch. The song is hopeful, optimistic and certainly does have a feeling of flying. He sings, “Walking down this lonely road one day / We’ll spread our wings and fly away from this place. /Hand in hand we'll go where the wind only blows. / Never wondering what we might have left back home.”
“Save Me” is a straight up rock/pop song while “Miss You So” is actually one of the more upbeat, lively songs on the album.
Trip Inside isn’t exactly an album that will have an easy time finding its way into the underground but it will be appreciated by an audience who has a penchant for pop music. Take a listen and see if it's your cup of tea.
As a preview of an upcoming full-length album Side One paints a sunny picture on the horizon for California bluesman Johnny Stachela and his energetic band. Clocking in at a brief four songs, the live tracked, analogue-recorded EP finds the trio ripping through a combination of classic sounding blues riffs with a fresh rock mentality and easy virtuosity coming from all corners.
Opening with ripping, crunchy guitar and a full, warm sound, the track “Handle it” sets the tone and the pacing for the album, with all members taking moments to shine without showing off. The song swings between swaying guitar riffs and extended solos with the vocals, bass and drums creating an expansive and driving sound that feels like more than just the sum of three parts. The next track “Firefly” is an instrumental number that puts the rhythm section up front, maintaining the pace of the album and again providing a solid platform for Stachela to crunch his way through guitar riffs on. “Weight of Your World” opens with a riff a bit like The Police's “Roxanne” before cutting to a vocal track delivered with a dry, dessert monotone akin to Queens of the Stone Age. It's the most straightforward rock track of the four, demonstrating the flexibility of the band to branch beyond the smoky confines of blues-rock.
That said, the band does sound phenomenal when they plant themselves comfortably within the realm of classic blues-rock, as they do on the final track “Automatic Pistol.” The song carries strong ZZ Top vibes and, in addition to the great chugging guitar line, features vocals with just enough distortion on them to really add to the thick, dripping rock n’ roll.
The entire album was recorded live onto 2” tape—and then mixed onto 1/4” tape. I'd challenge anybody who doesn't fully appreciate the merits of classic analogue recording styles to listen to this EP. It's warm, it's full, it's fuzzy around the edges and crackles slightly in the center. It's not only recorded live, but really does feel like a live creature, a beast of its own volition. Furthermore, the live recording is a high-risk, high-reward way to make an album—but when it pays off, as it does here, it allows for awesome levels of compounding improvisational moments. The record was expertly mixed at Jorgen Carlsson's Rogers Boat Studio where it was recorded and mastered by Steve Holroyd.
Ultimately Side One is not only a great little EP, but an exciting preview of the Johnny Stachela Band's forthcoming full-length. In four songs the band demonstrates a range of expertise within a fairly concise field. The album is on point and coherent—very much within their genre—but also showcases an ability to excel at both modern indie/alternative rock sound as easily as classic, tried and true blues-rock style. Toss in both the live energy of the performance and the living nature of the recording medium and you've got yourself a pretty enjoyable album.
In the early 1960s, avant-garde guitarist John Fahey innovated the style that would come to be known as "American Primitive Guitar" - defined as "avant-garde/neo-classical compositions using traditional country blues fingerpicking techniques, which had previously been used to accompany vocals." In American primitive guitar, traditional folk songs become grist for the compositional mill, being drawn out to become extended Indian ragas, gorgeous neoclassicism, raw audio, or about any other way you can slice, mingle and morph sounds from throughout time and across the globe.
Fahey gained a reputation for reinterpreting countless classic Americana tunes, like "Daisy, Daisy" or "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home.” Some of Fahey's most beloved interpretations were of Christmas tunes, like "What Child Is This?" or "Carol Of The Bells,” which were transformed into extended opuses of freewheeling harmonics, extended structures and exploratory microtonality. Fahey actually brings out the gorgeousness and inherent holiness of these tunes, achieving a seemingly impossible alchemical act of making Christmas songs cool.
Songs For Open Cages by Phoenix, AZ, singer-songwriter Eric Dutton has a similar approach to classic Christian anthems, like "Yes! Jesus Loves Me!" or "Oh, How Dark Was The Night? How Deep Was The Woe?" Again, no easy feat. One look at the track listing shows that the first two tracks both have Jesus' name in the title. In these days, when even open-hearted and generally loving people shy away like vampires from garlic to the slightest whiff of organized religion, this is a bold move Indeed. Yes, you'll likely find some acolytes in your congregation, and amongst the faithful, but crossover is highly, highly unlikely.
But it need not be.
Consider "I'd Rather Have Jesus," the first song with vocals. Dutton describes all the things that he'd sacrifice to have Jesus in his life. It raises the question: What is this feeling, that is so valuable to so many?
One slight hint comes from an unofficial, gnostic Christian text, the Nag Hamadi Scroll:
"The Kingdom of God is inside you and all around you,
Not in a mansion of wood and stone.
Split a piece of wood and God is there,
Lift a stone and you will find God."
God, Jesus, spirit... these are simple words for vast complexes. Jesus, in particular, encourages compassion, empathy, loving thy neighbor and trying to suss out a modicum of peace in a pretty dark, chaotic world.
On the other hand, Dutton sings at one point, "Jesus died to set me free." Here's where our theology parts way. I'm afraid I must default to miss Patti Smith, "Jesus died for your sins, but not mine." And I'm sorry to say it, Mr. Dutton, but you were already free.
For those that can peel back the terminology, looking past the surface level of Christian mythology, there's a lot of great things about Songs For Open Cages. I've personally enjoyed the dark and somber imagery of Christianity - "the bloody calvary;” Golgotha, the hill of skulls; the shadowy, furtive disciples meeting in shadowed alleyways. I'm from a religious background, personally, and find that reinterpreting hymns in new and interesting ways, particularly in ways that are current and sonically relevant, heals a part of my soul. This music is in my blood, from birth, and there's no denying it. The close harmonies, like sandpaper against silk, the humble, fingerpicked guitars.
Listening to Songs For Open Cages with an open mind and heart encourages a dialogue that lays down the spite in the spirit of open communication, coming together to solve a problem, which is what the earliest churches were. In those churches, whoever felt moved by the spirit spoke without the hierarchy of the priesthood. THIS is the temple where we all need to be gathering, regardless of your denomination.
lkon klng is the one-man project by Alfred Bastion. He is a twenty-year-old who explains “When I write songs I just try and capture how it feels to be twenty and not know where you're going to end up.” Being fifteen years older and barely even remembering being that young I can say that feeling never completely goes away. After college you wonder what kind of job you are going to get, after you get married you wonder how many kids you'll have, and after you have kids you wonder how much your funeral arrangements will cost.
I think Bastion was singing about some of these things on his release stand which revolves around his guitar and vocals. I’m not sure how some of these recordings got so muddy on occassion but I couldn’t make out most of the lyrics and when you have songs with vocals and a guitar it's mighty important that you can hear the words.
Bastion has some talent but still has a lot of work ahead of him if he hopes to be competitive with notable artists. The guitar parts are comprised of basic chord structure and that's really about it.
He opens with “helpnow” which utilizes a backward effect while sort of singing/moaning about something. Up next is “firefall” which contains a couple of strummed chords and indecipherable words. There are some decent melodies in there but they were undermined by the lo-fi recording.
The next couple of songs are more of the same basic chords followed by singing which is muffled by the low frequencies. “Boogerstorm” sounds a little less muddy and I could make out some of the lyrics. He sings about the Internet being down and draining hot water. He closes with a piano piece entitled “afterhours” which revolves around basic chords as well.
Bastion somewhat reminds me of the twenty-year-old I was fifteen years ago - a soul who’s going through existential problems, break ups and all the normal rite of passage stuff that happens until you eventually mutate into an adult who hopefully has a better grasp of how to deal with the world around them. As for as the music goes I have some advice for Bastion. I’d make sure he starts to learn the basics of recording, Even with a little knowledge and consumer equipment you can make a guitar and vocals sound good with proper mic placement, EQ and compression. There were some catchy melodies on this album but it’s not going to matter if they aren't audible.
Overall, the talent Bastion has needs some refinement and if he continues to write music this release will most likely be his humble beginnings.
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