Aline & Wes is a Seattle based soulful rock duo that recently released Lavender Lemonade. Prior to collaborating they played in Seattle as well as other cities. Lavender Lemonade contains four songs and displays some of their talent.
The duo often sings together but at least within the mix Aline’s vocals are the lead. It’s as if Wes is creating a bed of additional emotion underneath her vocals. Take for instance the opener “Work is Never Done.” The song starts with fuzzy guitar, driving drums and striking piano rhythm that mimics the energy you might hear from Arcade Fire. The vocal harmonies stay and continue to blossom when the breakdown occurs and when it picks back up.
Up next is “Place to Belong” which is similar to the previous song which contains a dichotomy between clean piano and fuzzy guitars. The song is undeniably catchy and infectious with a good amount of kinetic energy. Around the two-minute mark they break into this haunting post-rock sounding section that was an unexpected but welcome surprise.
“Still Want More” has a distinctly different flavor. The soul aspects really come out here and it’s a slow burn of a ballad. There is plenty of space for both their vocals to soar on this song against the more warm orchestral elements and spaghetti western guitar. The song builds to a crescendo when they sing “It’s never enough” which is the most emotionally resonant moment on the EP.
They end with “The Constructs of Time” which rocks. This is more in the vein of bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys. They absolutely crush the vocals.
Aline’s vocals certainly have a soulful affectation that I associate with a lot of prolific jazz/rock singers. Amy Winehouse is arguably the most glaring example that comes to mind but there are plenty of others that go back decades.
The duo packs a lot of punch. Recorded music is always an approximation when dealing with this energy. Suffice it to say I surmise the duo put on a powerful live performance. They certainly captured that with these songs. Take a listen.
I liked the name Constant Comas (aka Patrick Savage) but before I listened to the music I worried if I was going to be greeted with dismal, dark music. If you take that name literally you could see how my mind could go there. The reason I bring this up is that this music is anything but dismal. On Constant Comas’ release C, It’s upbeat synth pop for the most part which has had a particularly big resurgence I’d say for at least ten years if not longer.
It was in 2008 we had releases like In Ghost Colours by Cut Copy and Saturdays = Youth by M83. Further in 2012 Kill For Love by The Chromastics would strengthen synth pop an its cultural influence and by this point hipster bars started to play the pioneers of the genre like Culture Club and New Order.
The four songs on C explore different shades of emotion starting with “Virtues.” This song is pretty straight forward and aligns with contemporary acts like Passion Pit as well as some of the aforementioned acts. On that note there is really nothing not to like here. The hooks, aesthetics and delivery is there making for a fun dance party.
“Shadows” is a percussive heavy song. The synths lurk in the background with the tom heavy drums really being the anchor. Most impressive aspect is the dynamics. There are moments which sound no louder than a whisper and others that are quite epic. It sounds seamless and I would probably attribute some of this to the mastering engineer Jeff Lipton who I have worked with in the past and know what he is capable of.
“Get It” blurs synth pop into LCD Soundsystem influenced dance punk. These two genres bleed into each other for obvious reasons as this song clearly demonstrates. My personal favorite track was the closer “Diaphanous.” Somewhat ironically it's not as connected to the aforementioned genres or artists.
The mood is a lot more solemn and reflective on “Diaphanous.” It starts with an introspective soundscape. The gold however is when the piano emerges with the vocals. His vocals sound a little more natural coated in melancholy and unlike the other songs there was more space for them to breathe. The thought provoking lyrics combined with the Radiohead type atmosphere created an emotional landing I was not expecting this EP to end on.
I liked this whole EP but it seems like the artist might have some things to think about. He threw a wrench into the equation with that last song. You could make a case that a proper follow-up could be entirely based on that mood which I would be interested to hear. Food for thought. I’d say this a significantly impressive debut and I am excited to hear more. Recommended.
Frank Albanese (vocals/guitar) Jason Rho (bass/vocals) and Paul Jarosz (drums) are AVIVA. The band formed recently and recently released their eponymous album. Their music by all means isn’t reinventing the wheel or pushing boundaries but you know what. Sometimes a good rock record that sticks to the basics can be what the doctored ordered.
The band delivers well written songs that are catchy, rock and a blast to listen to. I was reminded of bands as far ranging as Vampire Weekend to The Shins and a host of bands from the 90’s. They start things off with “Kings and Queens” and immediately was enjoying myself. I was digging the groove and thought the vocalist had a good voice. Not too harsh, not too contrived and just an aesthetically pleasing tone.
They continue to showcase a good sense of taste with “Cognizant” which is a fun jam and definitely felt like a summer fling. I miss summer. Although the song does get unexpectedly hard. They mellow things out with the slightly jazzy “Always True” while “L.P.J.” is a pretty funky tune. In fact this sounded like Talking Heads infused funk. I’ll take it.
Things get mellow again but more atmospheric with “On My Mind”. They find some uplifting energy with the percussive heavy “Hey Mama”. Props to Jarosz on this tune for fueling the fire. They last two songs might be the best. The slightly Fleet Foxes infused “Ode to Youth” is killer as is the indie rock infused “Talk to Me” that has some southern rock charm.
As an engineer with a lot of experience my one critique for the band is to do what they can it do to record with a professional engineer at some point. This isn’t bedroom pop or electronic or IDM. They play rock music and for the most part this is a genre that still greatly benefits from an engineer who can hear the difference between 3khz and 5khz. They write good tunes and while I think they did a very good job (I was impressed) with the self-recording there will be differences with an engineer who knows what he's doing.
Overall, I thought this was a good rock album. As they state on their bandcamp. Play it loud. Enjoy!
Sedulous aka Eliazar Sanchez is a bit of a mystery. He apparently was a singer from a notable act that opened from a litany of metal acts. As a solo artist he recently released a five song EP entitled Relentless.
The EP predominantly seems to be influenced by a lot of metal and progressive artists. You can hear from the late 80’s inspired guitar squeals, Eddie Van Halen type lead guitar and plenty of other clues that point to a certain era of rock. That being said he needs some contemporary aesthetics as well which broaden his appeal.
The EP opens with the “You Are More” which is built on sturdy rhythm section and delayed guitar. His vocals are unique and reminded me of Geddy Lee from Rush. Once the chorus arrives an additional lead guitar leads the charge all around powerful rush of energy and melody. This song had a nice mix of contemporary and retro influence.
“Grow” had a distinct early 90’s metal flavor to my ears. I was thinking early 90’s LA scene types of sounds, The drums sound big and the hammer on lead guitar along with the anthemic chorus kicked ass. “True Identity” has a number of different flavors going on. There is some metronome precise double bass drum which has reminded of Metallica but when the verse hits there’s more of 90’s punk sound. It’s another meld of genre and all around positive message if I do say.
I have to wonder who was singing on “Blinding Shadows?” It doesn't sound like the singer from the previous song at least at first. The first verse sounds like Slipknot with the ever popular death metal demon voice.
Up next is “Demise” which continues to meld harder 90’s metal with the demon growl voice and the more LA metal.
Relentless is a what a what is called a true hybrid EP. If you happen to enjoy all these styles you just found some gold. Take a listen.
I was excited to hear The Sun Machine by Taber because I was already familiar with their other project entitled The Disgruntled Sherpa Project. The formation consisting of Joe Boylan, Walt Mamaluy, Matt Jules Rhine and Jimmy Nichol is off to a great start.
I would broadly categorize this music in the indie rock category but even that feels like a stretch. The band dips into other genres some of which feel completely unexpected. You can hear some alt-country, folk and even some funk.
They open with “Despite of it All” which starts off with a whistle and very chill vibe. It’s melodic and the vocalist laments about heartache. The song builds with a swell of horns. It’s a good opener that lets you slowly submerge into the pool of their sound.
I’m a sucker for the types of songs that say the new year is going to be better. “In The New Year” by The Walkmen is one of my all time favorite songs. “This Year's Gonna Be Better” is the highlight on the album. There is warm melancholy here and a vocal melody that is absolutely sing-along worthy. The melody is repetitive but it works.
“Pain Killer” has some ’70s swag and also late ’60s folk mixed in there as well. The vocals are more spoken word at times with this song and the chorus screams late ’60s rock. I was thrown off by the more mechanical and electronic sounding “Blood From a Vein.” It felt like a different band and I can’t say it had the same emotional impact on me as most of the other songs.
“Cowboy Chords” is a short folk song. The vocals might be de-tuned here. It sounded similar to something you would hear on 69 Love Songs by Magnetic Fields in terms of sentiment, length and delivery. “Rain Bird” has its moments and is yearning love ballad while “Let it All Fall” had ’70s quality to it not too far from Elton John.
“Honolulu Holiday” sounds like the title but also felt like another hard right turn in another direction. “That is That” is the closer and the most ambitious and experimental song with play with organic and electronic instrumentation.
The band seems to throw a lot of different styles on the wall. The first three songs felt like their strongest to me and felt like a foundation they could build other albums or songs off of. This is a strong but diverse album. It will be interesting to hear where they go from here. Recommended.
Cowabunga! Surf is on wax thanks to Maryland’s own Agent Octopus. On their new release Blue Eyed Surf, the boys cut to the chase with 11 hard groovin’ instrumentals that hang on the long history of surf rock while at the same time pushing it forward. For a few years now the band has been making waves up and down the east coast and appearing on surf compilations for Bongo Boy Records, becoming ingrained in their scene and honing a tight live sound.
On this set, the guitar is the star, and lead player Agent Shadowhawk’s melodic sense and effortless phrasing is a delight on the ears. The guitar tones are watery and driving. The interplay between Shadowhawk and rhythm guitarist Agent Giles Latte is a well choreographed dance around the propulsive drum and bass of Agent Von Cleavage and Agent Viktor Martini, respectably. The recording and mix is colorful and dynamic, a perfect blend of smooth and crisp.
Agent Octopus has an interesting conceptual sense when it comes to the arrangements of these songs. The dark and threatening “King Kong’s Revenge!” comes to mind immediately for its sharp use of guitar scratches and a plodding tom and timpani beat in the bridge section that evokes cinema’s most famous giant ape on the offensive.
The first and last tracks are sister songs separated mostly by tone. Opener “Sleeping With Fishes” is brighter and more energetic, representative of a sunrise while closing track “Sleeping With Fishes Too” is a bit chiller and a bit darker, coming off as the equivalent of a sunset.
This perceived sense of Blue Eyed Surf’s bookends as the framework of a day accurately encapsulates this project’s intended use as a soundtrack to those slow days spent beach side, letting the vastness of the ocean and the heat of the sun wash over you. For fans of surf rock in the style of The Shadows with a modern twist and excellent recording quality, Blue Eyed Surf is a real vibe.
Esther Cg is a Bristol, UK based solo artist performing under the name, qariaq. qariaq is a conduit for Cg to release transcending music that will entrench listeners with its wild soundscapes layered with dissonance and avant-garde pop sounds. Cg’s debut release entitled lumber limbs is one such project.
lumber limbs opens with “made by walking” that starts off to some ambient sounding wash of ethereal and haunting cadences. The vocals are, like the music, atmospheric and dreamy. The sound contains an unsettling build up with cadences of keys giving off a lilting melodious quality. A looming essence driven by indistinguishable vocals that rises and falls with the ebb and flow of the atmospheric music makes for an other-worldly sound. There are distinctive layers of vocal harmonies and soaring ambient cadences that gradually flows through the track. The cadence is surreal and dream-like that ties in ambient sounds with reverb-drenched vocals.
On “follicle full,” the guitar produces a staccato tune layered with dissonance. The vocals match the discord seen in the music breaking and falling with each crescendo. A disarray of chaos as echo-y layers of vocals alternate in and out of the songs in waves. The percussion produces some up-keyed moments in the track. The vocals are ethereal and soaring all at once.
Some melodious cadences are carried forth from the keys on the title-track “limber limbs.” The vocals are in turn vulnerable and silky all at the same time. The atmospheric music sounds off in the backdrop. The guitar joins in with the ensemble near the two-minute mark. The cadence really carries with a euphoric and melodious sense. This is a beautiful and lovely melody that has a real nice enveloping flow to it. With a soothing and placating quality, a relaxing vibe could be also detected.
Toward the closer “severn,” noodling on the guitar sounds off on this song. A lovely and intricate melody ensues. The vocals are melancholy and accompanied by keys that give off a moody and ominous feel along with a smoldering vibe. The vocals are sung in a near whisper. The music is also really soft with the guitar playing quietly in the backdrop. This all changes near the two-minute mark when a heavy drumming beat paves the track. Ambient sounds come forth from the music. A dreamy cascading vibe, the arias rising and falling sound ghostly – looming and grave cadences.
Cg proves she is a versatile artist dabbing in all areas of the record – all the songs are written by her with the recording, performing and producing something she in part collaborates with housemate Paul Stallan. Even the beautiful artwork to the EP is done by the artist – the cover depicting a misshapen form that appears to be a broken mollusk shell that aptly configures into the raw and organic fragmentary soundscapes that hinges off rudimentary sounds and melodies derived deeply from nature.
The mysterious form the music takes gives it an appealing cinematic approach. The EP sounds like something t=that comes from a TV show soundtrack like Netflix’s Dark. Enigmatic and powerful with a pulling gravity to the dark recesses of the mind, lumber limbs would suit these types of shows and films.
The music overall kind of drones on with sharp bursts of upstarts and light. Sudden and jarring, these insightful junctures gives us a look into an artist willing to experiment with all forms. Instruments off the EP include the baritone guitar, a kalimba (an African thumb piano), guitar pedals and even samples of crunching branches. lumber limbs is a highly innovative EP that immerses listeners into these startling soundscapes that will be sure to surprise. Be sure you have a listen today!
Simon Buxton aka Lemon Anlime is a musician from Lower Hutt, New Zealand. We previously reviewed his release Lemon and he is now back with - wait for it….Lime. Lime is an album that might be better described in what it’s not trying to cover. On his Bandcamp page he explains it’s, “An aural exploration into the relationship between one's surroundings and one's self.” That statement could definitely be used to define what consciousness is. The sense of self and the external stimuli we interpret through our senses is all we have as humans.
He does narrow things down with the statement that Lime is “an album with the intent of delving into what it means to be alive in the 21st century.” If you read further you might recognize dystopian themes. How is it a city ripe with technological progress can create such isolation and loneliness? These ideas mimic similar concepts posed on OK Computer by Radiohead and perhaps the cornerstone novel for all dystopian literary vision - the novel 1984.
The reason I’m trying to immerse you into the narrative that unlike OK Computer or 1984 you are left to your imagination. There are no lyrics or words to guide your journey. The album is comprised of sonic exploration.
There is a mood throughout this album and the varying degrees are often based on energy. Take for instance the opener “Reverse Psychology” which is perhaps the most celestial and cosmic sounding song. Warm pads pan, synths trickle and suns rise. It’s an evolving and devolving soundscape.
Although percussion does energize this track it’s not till “Dmitri's Theme” where you feel things start to move. There is a lot to take in here between the fast and loose jazz beats to the sub synth bass that drives the song. By the time you get to “Light Pollution” it feels like you might be more earthbound and traveling in a city or some sort. The mood isn’t dread or melancholy. If anything it feels more like rush hour. There is a sense of urgency.
As the album continues I felt the momentum really being amped up. The mixes are dense with synths and there is a lot of percussive elements. There is a lot of music ahead, so buckle in.
Lime is a cohesive release. I don’t think it’s a stretch for fans of electronic artists like Boards of Canada and Burial to get on board. This is an immersive experience you won’t want to miss.
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“Here I Am And This Is Now” is the seventh single from MikeTV aka Go Set Go. It’s the most beautiful and meditative song thus far that I’ve heard from his upcoming album.
The song starts with gentle strings, distant bells, piano and a distant voice saying “Breath In /Breath Out.” It’s very warm, comforting and borderline religious sounding. I’ve always loved his vocals but they sound so good wrapped in melancholy. The song is so strikingly honest you just can’t deny the emotion.
MIkeTV reflects on the present moment by singing “Here I Am And This Is Now.” As the lyrics progress he makes a declaration about this sense of melancholy as well as the songs he writes and the emotion it may or may not capture. It’s an ironic self-reflecting mirror as if the very song he sings lays bare his thoughts.
The chorus is about doubt and some of the genius here is the ambiguity. It can pertain to a person's future, their job, their romantic partner or the very moment they seem to be stuck in. The second verse considers a person dreams and when is the time to push and when is the time to go a different route.
This song choked me up. It avoids the saccharine and melodramatic qualities that sometimes get embedded within melancholy and reflection. The difference is often in the nuance which in this case has been combed over with great care. It’s such a striking title that is a self evident truth. In a world where we sift through so many things that feel false a sentiment such as “Here I Am And This Is Now” will always ring true.
Ben Ringgenberg (vocals/bass guitar/harmonica), Dallas Wade (vocals/guitar), Bob Salihar (vocals,guitar), and Eddy Henderson (drums) are Lost Monarchs. We reviewed the band's eponymous release and they are now back with Eye on the Sun.
Apparently the album is about the band's own journey. They explain, “This album represents and describes the journey the band members took to meet each other and eventually create the band that is Lost Monarchs.”
They bring together warm textures and tones, and a psychedelic sense of discovery on this album. I was reminded of bands as far ranging as the Grateful Dead, Santana and The Eagles. They start off very strong with the track “Nothing Said.” The vocals are really catchy and sing-along worthy. Additionally, the sentiment is positive and hopeful. Ringgenberg sings, “Morning is coming it’s gonna be alright / Blue skies or grey sunshine or rain.”
“Hollywood Lady” felt very much in the vein of many classic rock songs. You remember Morrison singing about an L.A woman and Hendrick singing about a Foxy Lady. That was sort of a thing in the ’60s and I was instantly reminded of that.
“I'm Just an Angel” is very jam band sounding. They have some that reggae wah effect going on as well. “Shake the Booze” has a good amount of attitude. There is this Easy Rider vibe on this song. The folk inspired “East of the Ocean” features impressive vocal harmonies and reverb laced lead guitar while “San Andreas” is a psychedelic whirlwind with a blaring guitar solo.
“Dream I Know” is super slick. It has that subdued ’70s funk love. The closer “Land of Endless Summer” was the catchiest song. It’s on the verge of ’50s pop/surf.
The band is very obviously influenced by older music. On that note it's also music that is best experienced live, on a summer night with some possible conscious expanding substances. Get on board the gravy train and take a listen.
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