Johnny Webb (vocals/guitar), William La Salle (guitar), Leon Patio (bass) and Sebastian Platte (drums) are a band entitled My Dreams Met Alice from Germany that formed about half a year ago. The band already had time to record The Colourful Edge which is a demo-quality EP that contains seven songs.
Although there is still a good amount of room for improvement this is a solid first showing. The band plays into grunge and post-grunge style rock for most songs except one. At this point the band isn't doing anything particularly genre defining but have some inspired moments along the way.
“Your Blood” is the first track on the EP. The vocalist is in a comfortable range with just enough aggression on his delivery for the first minute-and-a-half. He gets into some trouble after that where the production doesn't work as well as his aggression sounds too exaggerated. The second half has some notable moments before going into an enjoyable but somewhat standard sounding guitar solo.
“Red Light Beauty Realm” hits a little more into a classic rock type vibe. The vocals sound smoother and more well rounded but I'm not sure the song needed to be six minutes long. The technically impressive but familiar sounding guitar solos seemed a little long winded.
“Bottom Of My Bottle” felt like grunge 101 while “Sadistic Desire” had a darker sludge metal type feel to it. “Prison In My Head” was the most anthemic song on the album.
The head scratching “Russian Eyes” was a jazzy, swing vibe that closed the album. The song which felt completely unrelated speaks to the band's new beginning because it displays the band is figuring out their sound. “Russian Eyes” was actually my favorite song on the EP but it just felt so out of place. The last thing bands want to do early on is confuse their audience. They spent six songs defining their sound only to smear their hard rock/grunge foundation by throwing in a jazzy, upbeat song that sounds completely different. To the band's credit they mentioned they were spitballing ideas with this EP but it still felt like an odd move to close the EP with “Russian Eyes” after building a sound.
This band certainly has potential but they are obviously in the embryonic stage of their development. They just need to keep on playing and with some effort they should be able to slowly but surely narrow in on their sound as a band which isn’t completely there with this effort.
Hopefully, the band sticks together. I love hearing bands evolve and come into their own. As I mentioned they have a lot going for them so I would keep your ears on them.
MIchael Brooks aka The Errant Hair has been writing, recording and performing for over thirty years. One of his most recent efforts is The Journey Of The Lonely Child. The album could be formed into a play and feels at points like an opera of sorts.
The story he says “is about overcoming depression and isolation. It begins with the narrator deep within the confines of depression and loneliness. As the story unfolds he realizes he must make the effort to escape his loneliness. He is brought out of the darkness by the love of a woman whom he realizes was once, and still is, his one true love.”
It works great as a story but I have to say I don’t think this remedy to depression is something anybody should think is realistic in everyday life. Anybody knows who has dealt with depression that seeking salvation in another sentient being is a band-aid at best. It may cover up your sadness for a little bit with hits of dopamine but the root cause of the depression is what needs to be treated. Suffice it to say I would suggest the works of Eckhart Tolle first for someone who was suffering from loneliness and depression instead of finding a romantic interest.
The album is largely divided between tones, textures and sounds. None of it actually felt too depressing to me. Like I mentioned I felt like I was being told a story. For some reason I kept on thinking about The Phantom of The Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame in regard to the protagonist and the theatrics created a sense of levity for me.
The first couple of songs are synth heavy as is most of the album. Brooks creates a sense of vertigo on “In The Darkness.” The lyrics also come off like you are inquiring into the inner mind of the protagonist “In the darkness of my life / My soul is painted shades of gray. I want to paint it colors bright /That won't run or fade away.” There’s a bit of a Pink Floyd vibe on this song and I really liked the guitars.
Half-way through the album and the protagonist is still lamenting about his depression and loneliness on songs like “Star Bound” and “Bounty.” Luckily, the hopeful vibe of these songs especially “Bounty” juxtaposes in a great way against the lyrics. The songs do get more upbeat but it isn’t till “Rescue” and “Once Before” where the protagonist finds his soulmate and finds the happy ending.
This story plays out like pre Elizabethan era Shakespeare that idealizes and romanticizes the concept of true love. A perfect being with faults that caters to the need of the afflicted lover. Shakespeare rebelled against these literary tropes but the ideas live on through many works like ’90s romantic comedies and musical albums such as The Journey Of The Lonely Child. These pieces of art romanticize the concept of a soulmate and a happy ending which can put a smile on your face.
Tango Moms is a three-piece band from Columbus comprised of Preston Budd, Jon Coon and Austin Crist that recently released The EP which is a four-song demo. The band at this point plays very straightforward indie rock alternative type songs.
As an engineer I was having trouble getting past how lo-fi these songs were. I’d suggest they do whatever they can moving forward to work with someone who has some of the fundamentals of engineering down. Whether it's shell out the cash to work in a studio or befriend someone who knows how to properly set up mics, use a compressor, etc. One tip I will give them is that the vocals sit on top of the mixes on these songs. They should utilize a compressor with a fast attack and slow release to help tame the dynamics to have it sit within the mix.
They open with “Young Girls” which was one of the highlights. The song is simple but catchy. The vocalist sometimes goes out of his natural range and I have to admit I was thinking how much the song could have used a bass line to create some more energy. Despite that I was able to appreciate the performances.
“Sweet Talk” is a solid track that revolves a couple of distorted major and minor chords, a 4/4 beat and reminded me of The Strokes.
The other highlight was “Outta' Town” which hits more upon an early Pavement type vibe. There are some inspired moments throughout the song that displays the bands strengths.
Tango Moms is a bunch of young guys having fun in a band. They do have some talent but if they hope to be doing this as career they have some work ahead of themselves if they want to be recognized as a premier indie band. The songs felt broad and they are going to have to keep working to find a defined sound.
As of right now the band falls into a case of wait and see. There is some potential here and I hope to hear their evolution. I’ve seen tons of bands on this website improve dramatically on their sophomore effort and I will be anticipating their next move. On that note this is a formidable effort that is worth a spin.
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Cuban Heel is a five-piece rock band from Launceston, Tasmania in Australia. They started playing shows in 2016 and also recently released a six-song EP entitled When You're Alone. This is a very impressive debut. I’m not sure when the band actually formed but they are obviously not novices. They have chemistry throughout the EP. The songs are well written, catchy and well delivered.
They open with “10” which was a highlight. The song is dynamic and has a contemporary rock vibe. Things can become convoluted with a five-piece band but they are smart enough to never allow that to happen. The instrumentation is exceptional overall but on this song I would say the vocals are just as worthy. There is a bit of sadness, reflection and hope in the delivery of lyrics. The vocalist sings “I remember when time was on my side, and like a broken record spinning, It’s skipping most of mine.” The tempo changes towards the end but is not to be missed.
“10” was a personal favorite but the band proves they aren’t a one hit wonder. “Ghost” and “What Was Underneath” are other notable efforts. Similar to “10” they latch onto a popular rock vibe that isn’t too far off from bands like Interpol and The Killers.
“Chaos” was the first song that had a notable shift in energy. Take the intensity down which was needed and the song ends up being more emotionally powerful because of that. The lead vocals and background vocals are on point.
“Vessels” seemed to have a different lead vocalist for the first couple of measures. It’s a different tone but works great for the the song. “Vessels” is upbeat and infectious. They close with “Blood Type” which solidifies their talent.
The only advice I have for the band is to be aware that they are playing into a style that has already been quite popular for the last couple of years. Don’t get me wrong they do it to near perfection but they might have a little bit of trouble making their way through the noise because of the sheer number of bands. Finding a way to stick out from the pack is extremely hard but still something I encourage talented young bands to think about.
When You're Alone is a great EP and one heck of a way to get going int the right direction. Recommended.
Is goth folk a thing? It should be, in fact, it most certainly is now because White Robot has given me this one of a kind album called The Belligerent North Star. This is a dark and brooding collection of songs laced with old world folk charm and the result is unforgettable. Grab your jug of moonshine and be prepared to drink yourself into a stupor of righteous misery.
First things first, I need to address Amanda Joy who brings a soulful, undeniably cool voice to the album. She can be guttural, coy, and even soft and demure. You pair this fabulous voice with the beautiful work of Asher Cochláin’s guitar and you have a winning combo. Some of the songs are fire-y and rhythmic, others are slow building dramas. There is probably more slow than spunky stuff, part of me wishes that the ratio was different. The music sort of absorbs into everything around you. When listened to at a nice loud volume, you can’t escape the black hole, I have a feeling they would take that as a compliment. The music is thick and sometimes unsettling, which I think is certainly intended.
The lyrics are also their own wonder. There are so many excellent tales being told. Not everything is explicitly literal, but they still manage to nail an accessible meaning. The guitar and the vocals seem to almost have a conversation. I think there is also a healthy amount of the artists letting the music do the talking at times. The guitar is as versatile as Joy’s vocals and is given plenty of room to breathe and validate her words.
There are some choice fun factoids about this group and this album that tickled me. One, this album was recorded in two separate states. Joy is in Florida and Cochláin is in the state of Washington making this album bi-coastal. Here’s where it gets super fun, these two have NEVER met! Cherry on top? This album didn’t have any studio hands involved, it was purely a DIY project. Considering all these factoids, this album is incredibly cool and a testament to what can be done without a massive budget.
The whole no meeting thing truly blows me away. There’s chemistry here, an understanding of one another that one would expect from face to face interaction. Not only is this album breaking genre rules, it’s proving a serious point about the capabilities of today’s technology.
The Belligerent North Star is special in its bold decision to take folk somewhere dark. I have never heard anything like it and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I genuinely enjoyed it. The individual tracks are all lovely but when all put together it just makes such a great listen. I was able to slow down and smell the black, dreary roses and it’s great. I’m not sure if I ever want these two to meet. What if the chemistry is thrown off? I actually doubt that, I think they’d be even better in the presence of one another. I could see an amazing live performance taking place. Congrats to these guys on this very cool album.
The Couchsurfers are an indie pop rock band from Chatham, Ontario. Still in high school, these young musicians describe themselves as “easy going, free-spirited hippies who appreciate good vibes and love going to the beach”.
Their sound definitely reflects that sentiment, with light fun melodies and a beachy, surf rock feel. Their self-titled album features eight original tracks full of good vibes.
The first track “Goals” hooked me right away with its pretty laid-back melody and upbeat vibe. The overall style was unique and original, with stylistic melodies and harmonies that felt almost folksy while staying fun and pop-centric. I really enjoyed it.
Another stand out track for me was “Please Don’t Break Her Heart” which had menacing threatening lyrics while staying light and funky musically. I did feel that it went on a little longer than it had to, but I still loved it overall.
“Marceline” had more of a ska vibe and a darker edge than the other tracks. There was a small rapping section in French that I actually didn’t hate at all. But my favorite track was “Pisces” (and not just because that’s my sign). I loved the playful back and forth between the guy and girl vocal parts and the line “Mom kept all her best trophies in cases, so no one would touch 'em. Guess that’s why I never touched you.”
The Couchsurfers was an impressive debut album. I actually didn’t read their bio till after I listened to the entire album so although I knew they had to be young, the high school thing was a surprise. They definitely write and play with a maturity and wisdom beyond their years, yet the youthful vibe still is a central part of their appeal. The Couchsurfers have a cool take on beach-y surf rock/pop and I look forward to watching them grow as a band.
Mario Luis (guitar/vocals), Grant Gonzalez (bass) and Malone Seymore (drums) are Fat Camp. The band released Blue Face that is a complete DIY effort which embraces atmospheric indie rock/pop.
I thought the album was scattered in a couple of different ways. First off the production and recording quality varies from track to track. Overall, I thought they did a good job but there were some clear differences. Take for instance “Walk Away” which sounded somewhat thin and had an overbearing drum sound. Don't get me wrong, the song was catchy but the production fell a bit short.
I then listened to “Trapped in Your Universe” which sounded much better from an engineering perspective. There was more separation, the drums fit better in the mix and it just sounded much easier on the ears. The song and melody reminded me of a ’50s ballad but the band implements wonky synths and catchy melodies.
The next song which stuck out to me was “Raining Snow” which again has infectious melodies. I was reminded of Mac Demarco in some ways on this song. I would actually say the Mac Demarco vibe was even more obvious on “Thunderbird” although it feels like a different strain. The vocal performance was great. The only thing I would mention here is that Mac Demarco for whatever reason is one of those artists everyone is replicating at the moment and to be cognizant of comparisons.
“Goodbye Gypsy” and “Hello Life” certainly have their moments but I think “Time of Day” was a great closer. The second half explodes with an intensity and the band doesn't hold back.
The band is off to a great start. I thought the songwriting was consistently inspired and they also deliver on performance side as well. This is a band to start following with this release.
Natalie Paige is a singer/songwriter from Seattle who released a four-song demo entitled Piece of Me. Let me say right off the bat she is a great singer and I appreciated the songwriting as well. I was impressed and the songs were emotionally resonant.
The sound quality is really good for a demo. I thought the guitar sounded good and the vocals sounded exceptional. My only issues was the noticeable difference in volume between songs which is an issue that is taken care of in the mastering process.
Paige’s songs all hit a similar style. The music has a soft, intimate melancholy to it. It reminded me of songs you would hear at an open mic by someone who was really talented. That is ultimately the one thing I think she needs to be cognizant of. There is a surplus of female musicians who bark up the same tree and the competition is absurd. Anything she can do to stick out from the popular intimate back porch singer/songwriter vibe in my opinion will help her not be lumped with all the other exceptional artists.
The EP starts off with “Piece of Me.” Paige slowly strums a C major - F major chord progression and an additional guitar provides some lead. That's the whole song but she pulls it off although another significant chord transition wouldn’t have hurt. “Many Stories” was a highlight for me and I thought the guitar and vocal melody were strong. Her singing is loose and she seems comfortable. She sings, “I'm in the mood to feel what these songs are dreaming of / All I've got is a one-night stand and a heartless lover.”
“East Coast” is another solid effort with palatable melodies while the closer “Nothing at All” is a delightful mix of hope and melancholy.
Paige is a talented artist and this EP certainly proves that. On that note I have a feeling her best work is yet to come and I am looking forward to hearing it.
The Dunedin Electric Co. is the solo project for Brad Martin. His self-titled releaseThe Dunedin Electric Co. is apparently the third release of the three recorded albums. The album felt like a collection of songs from the ’60s and ’70s that often paid homage to specific artists.
Take for instance “Dinner With the Wife & Kids” which has undeniable similarities to Pink Floyd. It's not only the vocals but the textures and tones felt like I was listening to The Wall-era Floyd. Atmospheric, haunting and ethereal.
What really threw me for a loop was the next song “Monkeys” which sounded like a completely different artist. The music is aggressive, distorted and has many more similarities to bands like Death From Above 1979 and Queens of the Stone Age. He reverts to a more Pink Floyd-esque sound on “Naughty Step” which is more upbeat and has a great groove.
“Speak Before I Die” taps into a another different vibe. This time he seems to be tipping his hat to Bowie. The Pink Floyd influence becomes even stronger on “Ghosts” and was one of the highlights. “Ghosts” which also weaves into classic Americana from a popular ’60s band.
Martin isn't’ done tipping his hat to artists from the 60’s. “Suck it Up” could be a B-side from The Beatles in an alternative universe. He closes with “I Don't Think You Will Miss Me” which is one of the few songs that didn't seem to be connected to a specific artist.
Martin is a really good songwriter. There are tons of hooks and the delivery is often exceptional. The one thing I wanted to hear more of was Martin’s distinct style. I wanted to hear more of what separated him from these legends. It was hard for me not to think about specific bands for most of these songs.
The Dunedin Electric Co. is a fun, enjoyable album that I think fans of ’60s and ’70s rock will appreciate. Recommended.
People have described the recent EP Ole-Skeez by Oleskies “as having an old-school sound reminiscent of late ‘60s blues rock.” I’d say that's a pretty accurate description (but might include some ’90s influence as well). Sure you can say something like the band sounds similar to The Black Keys on this song but guess who those guys were influenced by.
I can’t say that Caleb Hamilton (vocals/guitar), Connor Dille (bass) and Thomas Burke (drums) of Oleskies aren’t pushing boundaries with this album. The songs were straightforward and familiar sounding to me. On that note the delivery and songwriting is notable and ultimately what made this a good EP.
They keep it simple on the production side as well. I do like to hear unexpected surprises on this front but the band decided to have the album stripped back which still worked fine.
The band opens with “Bebop Pop” which launches out of the gate. Within the first two minutes the band pulls out moves from the rock 101 handbook with John Bonham inspired drum fills and blues style breakdown session which in this case reminded me of the Black Crowes.
The first song felt firmly rooted in ’70s Zeppelin-esque but the “Lonely Hearted Guy” felt a little more submerged within ’90s rock. That being said the guitar solo was very bluesy. “Trouble” is a slower more reflective song where the vocals really shine while “Stuck In The Window” has the same kind of badass vibe as “Radar Love.” They close strong with “Hide It” which is an emotional song with extended instrumental sections.
The band is solid and they build a strong foundation with the EP. My only suggestion it that the band think about how else they can differentiate themselves. The simple fact is that there are a lot of bands out there that sound similar and doing something that can differentiate yourself from the crowd is a good thing in my opinion.
Overall, this EP was dynamic and well delivered. Recommended.
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