Jack Wright and William Lorenz are Staring in Spaces. The duo met in high school, started making music and are both twenty years old. Their first release Stop Talking is a seven-song release which showcases a little of what they have been up to.
The songs are for the most part pretty upbeat, optimistic, fun and catchy but there are some darker moments as well. I felt like the hooks and melodies popped out after I listened to them for the first time. Their music felt somewhere between Passion Pit and The Postal Service.
Things get going with “Dance With U.” You are greeted with an arpeggiated synths and warm electronic elements. It’s inviting. Not long after a steady kick drum and bass support the infectious vocals. I liked the vocal inflection right away. The chorus explodes with exuberance, synths and excitement.
“Frodo” is next and is another well crafted song. The song is really well done with multiple vocal parts, instrumental elements and crescendos. The breakdown and verse sections as longer than expected but work really.
“Bad News” is money. They tweak the elements giving way to a beat I found unique and original. The vocals and all around harmonies are again really well implemented. The vocalist laments, “Everything inside my head it doesn't really matter.”
“Every Single Chance (Save Me)” is a little more melancholy and subdued at times and they pull it off with ease. They switch things up on “Painting Faces” which has a slower BPM and is soulful and has a bit of a dubstep vibe.
“Broken And Empty” is very minimal and the darkest song yet. Last but not least is “Start Feeling” which is pensive and questions love with poetic ambiguity. In fact I would say the lyrics feel like a yearning for existential understanding. The music is moody and atmospheric but starts to build with a kick. Eventually the song breaks into the cathartic release we were hoping for and is lead by powerful vocals and a rare guitar solo.
This is a really well done release. They have a lot of talent between them and hope to hear more soon.
The Infinite Improbability Drive - Another Reality Brought to You by the Infinite Improbability Drive
Jesse Steward and Julian Runyon are The Infinite Improbability Drive. The duo released a demo quality released entitled Another Reality Brought to You by the Infinite Improbability Drive. The EP is about “a short story in three parts (linked by narration), telling the tale of a crazed scientist and the effects of his discovery.”
Concept albums are a little hard to pull off for a number of reasons. I think arguably trying to tell a story with music is difficult. There are times for instance where it’s hard to make out lyrics and other times where it seems hard to follow the storyline. This was an issue here so I found myself drifting towards trying to appreciate the music more than the story. By the end I really didn’t know if the story was taking itself seriously or not. It felt a bit tongue-in-cheek the whole time.
The music is really all over the place from rock to more experimental aspects. Additionally, the album is for the most part very lo-fi especially when organic instruments like drums and guitar are recorded.
Things get going with “Holotape 0.40” which is an intro of sorts. There is an off-kilter groove of sorts followed by what sounds like a spoken word. I really couldn’t make out what was being said.
“CPU” is a hard hitting rock song. The song had potential but again it’s so lo-fi it hardly captured the energy. “Holotape 0.41” is a narrative interlude. Up next is “Into Eternity” which is a cleaner rock ballad. “Holotape 0.42” is the last narrative interlude. The last song “You Know Me?” is atmospheric and dreamy.
I can’t say Another Reality Brought to You by the Infinite Improbability Drive comes close to some of the most epic concept albums like Kid A by Radiohead or The Wall by Pink Floyd. As an engineer myself I think the thing the duo should focus on is production value. I think there were some solid songs and with more professional treatment they would have been more impactful.
I hear the band is working on more material and I wish them luck as they evolve.
Overneath is Matt Lusk (drums), Preston Fraser (bass/vocals) and Simon Welch (guitar/vocals). The band hasn’t been around long and they released a five-song demo entitled Self-titled Demo.
I have to admit that’s a good name for the album because the songs are extremely lo-fi. As a recording engineer myself I find it hard to appreciate the songs as much as I wanted to because of the recording quality. The band plays pretty straight hard rock and they mention that they are influenced by bands like Tool and Queens of the Stone Age.
The band opens with “Pitfall” which has an explosive intro. Once the verse hits they impress with a surf rock type vibe. Those are the things that work. There are some things that don’t work as well. The vocalist sounds best at a lower octave range. I also have to mention that the demon like growl that is often used in metal just didn’t work very well here and sounded more silly then intense.
The band has a little more success with “Clouded.” I thought the drummer in particularly tore it up. “Free Weight” sounds a little bit better because they utilize cleaner guitar. The instrumentation has some separation. This is also an example of the vocalist at his best on the verse. His singing is subdued and it sounds great but he does get into trouble when he exaggerates certain words. I think his best vocals are when he is using discretion and not trying to be too dynamic.
“Living is Stupid” and “Dying is Stupid” sounds a little like titles I would have given a song when I was sixteen. The songs are pretty heavy and the band seems to be experimenting here. There are some grooves that they find.
This band is in the embryonic stage but has some potential. I think they should maybe befriend a producer or spend some time learning the basic of engineering if they are hopeful to get something a little more professional but everyone needs to start somewhere. I know for a fact some of these songs would have sounded explosive and intense with proper production. I’m looking forward to hearing that.
Ryan Gilchrist, N. Lee May, Colin Steers and Brian Wilson are The Can-Do Attitude. They released If There Is a God, I Hope She Kept the Receipt which is their second release and an absolute blast of an experience. I really want to compare their energy to Talking Heads who I mentioned in my previous critique of the band. As good as this sounds it seems like an experience you would want to see live. The songs can work you up into a frenzy and the whole band just seems to be having fun.
The band gets rolling with “Big Fuckin' Cowboy” and they jump out of the gate with a great groove. I found the vocals catchy right off the bat and loved the kind of bad ass attitude of the song. There’s a good amount of post-punk in there but it doesn't feel held back with depression and melancholy.
“100 Fallow Acres (Augusta National)” keeps the energy swinging and when I say swinging I mean it. I don’t dance much these days but this might be a song that could get me on the dance floor if I had a couple of beers in me.
The band slows down a bit with “We Work Real Hard” which is well deserved. Well, let me clarify that. The verse is slower with catchy, memorable vocal melodies and it sounds like almost double the BPM on the chorus.
“Interlude - "Fanfare for Those Traveling by Foot" actually sounds like an interlude. The horns are bright, the drums are crisp and the guitars are sweet and melodic. It got me ready for some more tunes. They start with “The People on the Show” which is the most dynamic song yet. You can hear every nuance in the vocals and when the band explodes they do so in epic fashion.
“Draggin' Our Toes” is short and fast punk the spirit of Minutemen while “We're Probably Gonna End Up Dead” has a great drunk sing-along type ending. They close with a little piano piece “Postlude - "Stagecoach Take Flight"” which somehow worked.
If There Is a God, I Hope She Kept the Receipt is an album that feels somewhat crucial in today's social and political climate. There was a time when misfits, punks and everyone who wanted to be included could be included. It was about expression but perhaps more importantly it was about people having fun. I think everyone could use a little bit these days. Don’t miss this one.
UK producer DJ KaizzaB is an alias created by Kieran Bernes. He has released a number of EP’s but just recently released his first full length entitled Fears & Downward Spirals. The album has an electronic/dance foundation but there are a number of guests throughout that enable Bernes to create tracks around the vocals.
The album opens with “Late Night” which definitely has a late night feel to it. It feels a bit dangerous and the guest rapper Phelix really adds a lot to the song. The song also has a solid hook and the heavy beat doesn't let up.
Up next is the kinetic and energy fueled “Visions.” The song is dynamic with breakdowns that release all the percussion only to build it back up again. “The Room” certainly seems to be aligned with an artist like Aphex Twin. On “Walls & Mirrors” we are greeted with the wonderful vocals of Katrina Rae.
“Scars” on the other hand was another slight deviation in style. There is a clear dub step one two clap style not unlike that of Burial. The album is really just getting started. “Infection” and “Whispers” gets your adrenaline pumping and the club hopping. “Crows” however is more experimental than anything that came before and is a bit depressing when following the lyrics.
“Time Bomb” gets the energy going again. The song was one of the highlights with a unique array of sounds and transitions. “Eremophobia” at least sounds like the fastest song yet and would work really well in an action sequence. “Stand Off” and “Confessions” display that Bernes is trying to find new ways to introducer new tones and textures. “Hope” combines a speech from Obama with atmospheric textures.
I think one or two more vocalists may have been cool towards the end but besides that this is a very fluid and cohesive album. It certainly feels like one of those albums where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Fans of any of the aforementioned artists will want to check this album out, in fact if you are a fan of electronic music you should enjoy this.
Color me shocked that one of my favorite Texas towns, Austin, would house a chipper indie pop act like Fertility House. I won't lie, when I first glanced at the band name I was kind of holding my breath for a four-piece of pregnant women about to blow the roof off the joint. Yeah, not so much, BUT, I like these guys quite a bit. The songs are a crisp and clean sound that is surfy, dreamy and strangely innocent, even as some of the subject matter is pretty heavy. In a time of arctic wind blasts and unrelenting social media unrest, I am glad to have something so ironically sweet. This is Fertility House's self-titled debut album Fertility House with a full set of ten songs.
I'll start in the lyrics and vocal department. They have an undeniably lovely lead vocalist who dishes out fantastic narratives and cautionary tales. He's very good at illustrating the human condition, whether it's an awkward moment or a memory seen through rose tinted glasses. He delivers lyrics that are often blunt, not a whole lot of metaphors here so all the more important that the delivery be so intentionally. If I had one gripe, it would be the words are sometimes a little too on the hokey side. In these elements, the songs quickly become addictive because these songs are easy sing-a-longs.
If you're not paying attention, you might think there isn't much to these songs, but that's a misconception I think they were good at projecting. There is a massive amount of attention to detail here - tiny, vital and ultimately album making details. From how the percussion is presented to tiny little adjustments in key or added instrumental choices. Then they pull off these epic stunts like doing a proper baroque breakdown at the tail of "Sweet Matins" leaving me all like, "YES! did NOT see that coming!." I would definitely have welcomed a few more complex, musical surprises of that caliber to break up the tracks from one another. There's also a proportion to their songs, almost like a rule of thirds used in photography. They use their negative space to their advantage. This signals to me their understanding of the mathematical elements in music. Not just musicians here, but true music scholars.
The album required no studio time. Instead, it was recorded in a garage with Ableton. They had a few tricks up their sleeve. For example, with the drums, which I LOVE on this album, they used two dynamic microphones. One by the kick and the other at the snare. Considering the tidiness of this album I am quite impressed. Fertility House seems to be one of those bands that is liberated by today's tech to do things THEIR way.
I listen to a lot of debut albums for my job here at Divide & Conquer. I gotta say that this is a memorable debut album that stands out. Definitely worth a listen.
Become A Fan
Dannon Letica (vocals/guitar), Ben Mcpherson (bass) and Rohan Ford (drums) are 99 and One half day. The band from Perth Western Australia released a self-titled four-song EP 99 and One half day. The songs veer towards alternative and hard rock with an inclination to have sound more reminiscent of bands from the ’90s.
The first thing I noticed was Letica’s vocals. For a lack of a better of a word he sounds “cool.” He has this sort of mysterious, dark tone in his inflection that is often on the verge of sexual. It reminded me a bit of Michael Hutchence from INXS and more generally perhaps a rock singer from the ’80s. I will also say there is a range that he sounds best in which tends to be at the lower end of the spectrum. The dark, sensual qualities get lost on occasion.
The band gets going with “Gypsy Magic.” The band builds a fairly atmospheric verse for Letica to sing over. That being said there is enough momentum to feel like the song is going somewhere. It does on the first bridge. The band seamlessly goes back into the verse. I thought the verse was predictable but catchy. The guitars get louder, the drums get heavier as Letica sings the hook.
“Y The Crooked Letter” is very atmospheric at first and mostly serves as a canvas for Letica. As the song progresses there is a dynamic chorus along with a guitar solo. The only trouble comes around the four-minute-and-thirty-second mark. This is where Letica really pushes his vocals and in my opinion a little too much where he loses the more appealing qualities to his voice.
“The Wolf And The Raven” was a highlight and felt like the song most fitting for Letica. There is an acoustic guitar and the song has a bit of a Bon Jovi thing going on at least in the beginning. Either way this style works for the band and I think this should be an angle they continue to pursue. Last up is “King Of The Mountain” which has its moments and felt like a more straight hard rock song.
99 and One half day is a solid band but there's no denying they have a sound that saw its peak years ago. In this day and age I don’t think that matters as much as it used to. I think this release shows some potential as well as talent.
Nuno Henry Silva is a singer/songwriter who recently released his second release Agora!. Agora! Is unlike his first in that it consists of just vocals and guitar. His first album entitled Beautiful Corruption revolved around drum loops, electric guitar and was more influenced by New Wave.
The album was recorded in one take on an iPhone. It’s a very lo-fi album and even though there is only guitar and vocals I often had trouble understanding the lyrics. There is almost no separation between the guitar and the vocals.
The songs have a very similar feel to them. Silva sticks to a similar strumming style throughout the album. The album starts with “Sideways” and it should give you a good idea as to what you can expect going forward. I was somewhat reminded of Kurt Vile on “Superficial Love” and “Letters in Red.” “Running on Ice” has its moments but “Pulled Away” sounded like a highlight.
As the album progresses “Angel Voice,” “Falling Apart” and “Lovesick” feel almost interchangeable. “Basically Gone” and “Too True” has some of the more memorable melodies.
Silva’s guitar playing sticks to very basic type of tools. He utilizes mostly major and minor chords and doesn't’ implement picking. Although there nothing wrong with this simple approach I found myself wanting something a little more advanced after the fourth track to break things up a bit. It may behoove Silva to check out an album like The Wild Hunt by The Tallest Man on Earth and try and replicate some of the guitar picking patterns.
As an engineer I have to say even an incremental increase in recording capabilities could benefit him. One SM57 with an audio interface would be much better in terms of audio quality while two microphones used to create a stereo channel would be significant.
Silva has some talent and has improved since his first effort but I think a little more experimentation with guitar work and a boost in the recording quality would be a solid next step for him. I look forward to hearing him evolve.
These days I have become a sucker for dreamy indie-pop music that brings glittering rays of iridescence into a global climate of yuck. Enter Took, an act from Helsinki, Finland with a technicolor sampling of songs in his debut album Captain Says. I like this album best for its ability to be grounded in reality while unafraid to stretch out its electronic wings of samples and oddities. Took is looking to call attention to an international gaze and I would say this album has that potential. Music like this may not exactly be mainstream, but it has the redeeming quality of transportation. As an often black-hearted individual, Took is very good at coaxing me into his world, which is anything but bleak.
A big part of what makes this album such a feel good piece is the subject matter. The album centers itself around self exploration and finding one's unique path. It also deals a lot of with being honest with yourself and those around you. This is what gives the songs weight and elevate them beyond something that would be categorized as light and fluffy. Each song houses its own reflection of a conversation or life lesson. I get the sense that the album was a great source of therapy and growth for the artist. There's a sense of freedom; this album is unapologetic about its natural glow.
The way in which this album was sculpted in terms of mixing and mastering is almost invisible. Now I know it's easy to fly under the radar when it comes to producing something so heavily in electronic influence, but the good work done here was not lost on me. Choices were made that made a big difference. Usually when artists go dreamy, they have this instinct to bury the lyrics. There was a clear choice made against that aesthetic and I appreciate it. Took has fantastic lyrics that shouldn't be hidden away in a fog. If I could have one criticism, I would say a tad more diversity in terms of samples and instrumental sounds. Each song has fantastic structure and layering, but there was heavy leaning on certain sounds that had some of the songs coming off a bit too mundane. I feel like even a slight tweaking of an existing sample into another key or pitch may have been enough to avoid this. Otherwise, I love this album for its curiosities and oddities littered in the tracks.
So, who would be into this album? Like I said, I do genuinely believe this album has potential for international success. If it can melt my cold black heart, it can certainly do the same for others of my make which means this album has great potential for well adjusted human beings as well. This album is not only a feel good, it's a bright eyed motivational speech. Anyone loving the explosion of heavy electronic indie-pop can probably sink their teeth into this one with minimal effort.
Lou Richards is a folk singer from the UK who recently released Good Woman. Her music has been compared to artists like Joni Mitchell and Vashti Bunyan. That’s a good starting point. Her music is robust with melancholy but also very beautiful. Richards also mentions Bonnie Prince Billy and Joanna Newsom and I feel like her music fits very well into that strain of music,
There is a sort of stillness this music creates. It feels a bit like the feeling you might get after having successfully meditated. Warm, content and peaceful.
The instrumentation is soft and delicate. In fact everything feels rather delicate. You can hear this on the opener “Glastonbury Tor.” The guitars are gentle and the picking pattern itself sounds melodic and hypnotic. Richards’ voice fits perfectly with the music. Although the music is melancholy in the end it subtly makes you feel a sense of hope and solace.
Up next is the title track “Good Woman” which is another track that pours out emotion. The instrumentation is borderline ambient. It’s lush and blooms like a flower. Richards’ vocals are just as delicate as on the first track and feel a bit like a hymn at times.
“Only Human” is just gorgeous. The music reminded me a bit of Joanna Newsom on this track. There was this mystical and fantasy based feel that I heard but is hard to pinpoint. I’m pretty sure I heard a harp in there. The orchestral strings are really well done and meld perfectly with the guitars.
“Weary as a Dog” is next another track that has my attention. The fantastic guitar work, whispered vocals and other elements tug at your emotions. It’s hard to pick out a highlight amongst so many great songs but I felt “Begin Again” was probably the catchiest song. The melodies from the instrumentation as well as the vocals were memorable the first time I heard them. She sings, “And how I sing, I sing just to begin again.” The album ends with “My Lady.” I think the last minute or so of this song is pure magic.
A lot of credit needs to go to the production team. These recordings are captured by people who really knew what they were doing in the studio. The right reverbs were used, the right amount of compression and so forth to really give these songs the aesthetics they needed.
Good Woman is one of the most gorgeous albums I have heard in recent memory. Highly recommended.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook