Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Knitting Songs - Savannah Jo Lack

Its a great feeling when one of your last reviews of the year hits home in such nicety that all you want to do is play it over and over again. Savannah Jo Lack's, Knitting Songs, is exactly that album! Its a pure mix of pop, americana, folk, and authenticity that's lacking in today's scene.

The opening Track, Blank Page Day, is a great testament to her writing and song sculpture. It's simple and fun, but has an anthemic quality like something you'd expect from the likes of Elbow. Little Girl is a beautifully sad story dealing with race, abuse, fear, and more. It takes critical talent to mix beauty like this one with cringing lyrics/story. Her writing is poignant and powerful!

On Old Man Perry, her violin loop provides an excellent backdrop for the folksy-alterna-newgrass tune. She really displays an exquisite fresh talent with this instrumentation. Finally, Ocean Dreams escapes the speakers like a dark composition by the Kronos String Quartet. Its rich with pizzicato and honesty.

All in all, her album is top notch. The writing, instrumentation, and production are all stellar. I'd be very interested to see the live show - to witness these songs take shape, layer after layer.

(Truly one of the top 3 albums I've reviewed all year long!)

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Strange Part of the Country - Conil

Coming at us from the UK is a great rock-singer/songwriter, Conil. On his debut album, Strange Part of the Country, he's worked with an all star engineer and mixer, Tchad Blake (Tom Waits, Pearl Jam). Conil's voice has an interesting quality to it that's hard to label. Its not overly raspy, not overly pop, and has the ability to go from scream to lilting falsetto in one or two bars.

Strange Part of the Country is an acoustic rock piece with great instrumentation. Imagine Alice in Chains and Elbow writing a song together - that's what you get here. Years Between is a light track with easy percussion and instrumentation that surrounds his passionate voice.

On a later track, Grapevine, the verses are reminiscent of Depeche Mode (minus the layered synths), and the chorus' pull out the stops and really deliver. But perhaps his best track is Bonediggers. Its go great instrumental work - tasty use of perc and bass and just enough axillary to really sell the song. Overall, the writing and production are working well together. Its by no surprise that Conil has been receiving stellar reviews throughout the UK.

RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

Down Home Girl - Kathryn Caine

Sometimes the only cure for a bland road trip is great bluegrass music. So it is with Kathryn Caine's, Down Home Girl. Appropriate for the road trip is her first track, Wheels. Its full of tinny acoustic strum (guitars and mandolins) and sassy harmonies.

On Far Away, there's a stellar fiddle lead line that runs throughout the song - a great complement to Caine's vocals, and a perfect showcase of the albums talent. A slower track, For You gives more highlight to Caine's voice as there's not much else to cover it up. Her voice is clear when need be, and has just enough edge to make a Sheryl Crow comparison.

Finally her track, Honey Hill does a fantastic job blending pop with bluegrass. Its a full drum kit, bass, electric guitars outfit; but all the while still has a bluegrass quality. This may be a more accessible track for people not totally sold on the more pure genre, but I think her best writings and recordings are in the more pure bluegrass tracks.

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Please Interstellar Policeman - Poland

Poland is the Seattle, pop-rock outfit that's writing some great tunes! Their sounds resonate with the listener as it harnesses parts of the Brit-invasion qualities of early Beatles, while also lending a hint of respect worthy of Jellyfish meets The Doors.

The album is recorded with space and has a very warm touch. There's instrumentation galore. In songs like Your Sunday Book, there's synths, vocals, guitars, and percussive work, blended nicely with strings and pizzicato work - all the while nothing stepping on any toes.

My favorite arrangement is the opening of Terrapin Lane. The string and vocal arrangement really excel.

The next time you're in Seattle, find out where Poland is performing and catch a live show.

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Shipwrecked! - Chris Volpe

Nashville's, Chris Volpe is just what music needs. He's uniquely gifted and sits in a great place - to the side of the bland singer/songwriter sect. Its accessible, but much more artsy than the general vibe coming from the genre. His music is part folk, jazz, bluegrass, and acoustic singer/songwriter. But its the undeniable roosty-Americana sounds that really make his album, Shipwrecked! truly soar!

Songs like Don't Go and Salvation's Round the Bend, make this unique blend work. Ice Upon the Ocean is one of his best. There's a beautiful lilting violin that accompanies Volpe's voice in a dramatic way.

So if you're a fan of the genre, and like artists ranging from Johnny Cash to Griffin House, Nickel Creek to Thad Cockrell, you'll fall in love with this record. This is truly one of the best albums I've heard in a very long time. I honestly hope to meet Volpe in concert and write a live review while in Nashville in the near future!

RATING: 6 of 5 stars!
(this is a first)

GO BACK - Joey Davila

Joey Davila's album, GO BACK, is a step in the right direction. Davila combines a nice blend of pop and rock to create his signature sound.

Go Back, the album opener is hooky and drives. Its recorded with stellar accuracy. On, Your Always on My Mind, he slows things down and brings in a groovier element. There's a good amount of vocal loops and help to showcase Davila's voice. The chorus has a very corporate worship element to it. Its simple and singable.

My Ninety One is more of a spoken song with an acoustic strum to carry it. Its reminiscent of a Bon Jovi record - a nice blend of anthem rock with accessible pop.

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Scraping for Change

It is my pleasure to preview the upcoming 2010 E.P. from Scraping For Change. First off, the recording quality and production value is very top-notch! These guys clearly have spent the time necessary to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb to ensure everything is in its appropriate place.

The drums and bass click together like a machine, the guitar work is edgy, progressive, and forward-thinking, and the vocals are performed with pure intensity and emotion. All in all, the recording moves in and out of intense art that I think anyone of the alternative rock genre will come to love. If you're a fan of Incubus, Queens of the Stone Age, and Story of the Year; then you'll love Scraping For Change.


RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

Trio - Ironwood Rain

Colorado's acoustic trio, Ironwood Rain, releases their album Trio with ease and confidence. The album is one beautiful track after another. Its simplicity at its best that makes these guys fit together so nicely.

Songs like, Until the End of Time, shows this acoustic interplay working for them. The vocals are sparse and simple. There's complementary harmonies and melodies. On, '39, they bring out a real gospel/bluegrass element that works well in this arrangement (there's even a whistle solo).

If you happen to be in Colorado, check the music of Ironwood Rain.

RATING: 3 of 5 stars

Monday, November 2, 2009

Death to god - deVries

deVries is the music musings of Travis DeVries, Sean Gibbons, Dan Ollvo, and Marco Echanove. The 4-piece band writes well and produces even better.

Girl In The Fur-Skin Rug is an epic/ambient sounding tune that sounds like NIN playing the Beatles. Black Thursday Repeat is extremely catchy. They're able to write very poppy music with a dark harness placed over it.

On Shoulder to Shoulder, the band becomes more anthemic, reminiscent of The Who. Finally, on Slowing Down, the band goes tribal with its percussion and instrumentation. Its a perfect blend of ambient drone and texture.

The overall production value is high and the writing is mature. This band is something to watch!

RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

Without Wax - Harley Jay

Harley Jay is pure talent. He's an LA native and has a resume that most would die for. Hearing 30 seconds of his record Without Wax, its obvious this guy has a background in musical theatre. Opener, And She Said, features catchy rhythms, hooks, and vocals - falsetto galore and guitar riffs to boot.

On Lipstick Letter, Jay employs his unique country/rock blend more clearly. Its got some extremely tasty acoustic guitar interplay and fantastic harmonies. The Fall is even more Nashville, but the twang is replaced with feedback (that's a good thing), probably his best song.

Maybe I'm Crazy slows things down with a nice finger picked acoustic guitar sound. By the second verse the band starts a groove and you'll be humming along. This is one of his catchier ballads.

It's a pop-perfected album with lots of great stuff going on. If you're a fan of music spanning from Keith Urban to Maroon5, then you'll love this CD!

RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Morning Birds - Inspiration Point

Hollywood's, The Morning Birds, are a polished and professional band spouting art at every turn. Its part folk, part rock, and all accessible. Their 2009 release, Inspiration Point is an impressive work of music - 16 tracks (so i'll try and focus on my favorite songs).

Seed of Life comes at you like a folk piece reminiscent of a commune experience. Its easy with layered vocals and smoky with emotion. Bag Full of Emotion is in the same vein. Its a bit more atmospheric as it lends itself to a true psychedelic quality. If the Doors were still releasing albums, this song would be on it.

Heart Connection is a Dylan-esque song that uses their strong asset of layered vocals and simplified percussive grooves. The focus clearly being the vocal melody lines, this one rises.

It's great to hear varied production tactics, and these guys employ them nicely. Catch a show the next time you're in California!

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Long Live the Viscounts - Vacant Stairs

Vacant Stairs is a solo musical endeavor that wins! Its simplicity and rawness compel the listener. Window of Opportunity is longing and enables various musical elements. From the distant vocals, simple percussion, to the almost circus-like breakdown, it all works.

Dead Can Dance comes off like a perfect independent film score tune. Its all encompassing themes can be used and liked by many - plus there's a whistle solo. Brother Where Art Thou is the ep closer, and a rougher track. It takes on an almost live quality. The vocals seemed a bit buried and could use some more polish.

Long Live the Viscounts is a solid ep from Vacant Stairs though. Canada did it again.

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars


Washington's SEACATS are a throwback to vintage party music. Their sound is cool and upbeat. Its garage rock meets the pool party. Album opener, Don't Get What You Want, will have you screaming along with the whimsical melodies before it hits the second chorus.

On, We Don't Sleep, they put their best foot forward. Falsetto vocals glide nicely with an easily strummed electric guitar. Its a quick, in your face, tune that excels. Yield is a three minute poppy/grunge tune, I could imagine a less dark Cobain writing.

All in all, the SEACATS please. Watch for upcoming shows in your area!

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Thursday, October 22, 2009


If you're looking for a way to jazz up and give your life soul, I'd suggest checking the musical efforts of Iolite. From the first notes hitting my ears, it was obvious that this CD is mature and the art is real.

On Night, the soulful vocals soothe whatever is not right in the world. The instrumentation is peaceful and perfect. The trumpet solo is just right. On Be Wise, they embark into a more world music feel and genre. Its full of percussion and muted trumpets. The vocals are put nicely in their place and the piano excels.

On later track, Rooms, they bring in some good old fashioned soul to the mix. The warble of the guitars are a nice touch.

There seems to be a real sense of production and gloss with Iolite. They know how to compose and turn art in to something the masses can enjoy and be moved by.

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pligrimage - Haakon's Fault

From the Big Apple hails the up and coming rock outfit, Haakon's Fault. They're a 5-piece, unique blend of progressive pop-rock that combines varied elements to create a sound only you can experience by listening to the CD (or seeing them live, i would imagine).

On their album, Pilgrimage, they open with the title track and unleash great drum grooves and musical interplay that hasn't been heard on the music scene in far too long. Its part JellyFish, part Alice in Chains, part Incubus, and part Phish. So, you do the math!

On Star Gazing they kick it off in more of a jam-band vein that is reminiscent of Pseudopod. Its got all of the jam elements with a more gentle bent. Siren brings in more intense guitar work. Its all in all grittier which is an interesting contrast to the low vocals.

The album's closer, Glory, is a nice acoustic track with a very live feel that ends well. All in all, the record is produced with pristine quality. You can obviously tell that these guys are all extremely talented players in their own rights, and they make it work as they play together in a band.

If you don't own Pilgrimage, go get a copy!

RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

Monday, September 28, 2009

To Kiss You - Tahni Handal

Tahni Handal is a smooth singing songwriter from Texas that has the gift of putting story to song and delivering with excellence. She's removed from the status quo of female acoustic singer/songwriters, and does a great job on her album, To Kiss You.

Her album opener, Shooting for the Moon, is a catchy pop-rock tune that's a perfect road trip song. Well blended backing vocals surround her lead, and the band performs with zeal. On a later track, To Kiss You, she slows things down to pose statements like, "I wish I would have known you were the one." She's got just enough grit in her voice, you know she's real.

On her final track, In The End, Handal softly plays the piano as she eloquently sings of leaving worries behind. Its perhaps her best song on the entire album.

Handal does a fantastic job writing and executing her songs. Be sure to look for her!
RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

MetemPsychosis - Malnack

Omaha's band, Malnack released their album MetemPhychosis, and it seemed the accolades poured in. It seems that Malnack can't escape people's love for the record. Perhaps its the prog-rock, perhaps its the throwback to Rush. But whatever it is, people are talking.

Late Night is a great example of setting Booth's vocals out to give any Geddy Lee fan a rise. It later features some very tasty synth/organ leads that combines to complete a very nice album opener.

On One Man's Ghost, the dance floor might as well be lit, because this track will bring out the grooves. Its sonically recorded, and captures sounds from classic rock to euro-synth-power-pop. Finally, on tracks like, Lost Again, they surprise again with a more melodic, pop-rock sound. I can imagine it as a television theme song - not in a condescending way - but its just that catchy.

All in all, Malnack knows what goes into the recording process. They've recorded and produced a very nice album.

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Almost One - Live @ The Sidewalk

Sitting inside New York's, Side Walk is somewhat entrancing, even without anyone on stage - that is, if you are impressed being in a venue that helped kindle talents of Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, and Regina Spektor.

So it was in late August when I caught a performance by the acoustic-trio, Almost One. The band, with an a-typical roster Marissa Brozier (vocals), Mike Macagnone (percussion), and Steve Carrea (guitars/writing) took stage and performed a short 30 minute set that delivered.

With a standing-room only crowd, Almost One began their set paying homage to Green Day via a simple acoustic strum and lilting vocal on Time of Your Life. They quickly launched into an original tune, The Line, which at times combined the pop influenced writings of Vanessa Carlton and Lisa Loeb. The Line was an easy listening pop-rock tune, featuring harmonies and Carrea's double-strum.

Later they embarked into a haunting rendition of MJ's Billy Jean. Chris Cornel would be proud of Brozier's vocals. This was clearly their highlight - as the crowds response was truly heightened.

Finally, they closed with Standing Still, a smooth piano driven song, that could have been a Coldplay or Fray lullaby, until the pulsing ending, which left the crowd driving and pleased.

In only 30 minutes, Almost One took us on a ride and pleased everyone attending!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Televolution - The Spies

The Spies, encompass the musical collaborations of Leo Francis and Mark Matkevich - both hailing from the LA music scene. On their most recent muscial endeavor, Televolution, they open their album with Bang Bang, a fun, choppy and bluesy track I might imagine from a fun loving Ben Folds.

On Radio Caller, they utilize a mid-tempo melody to drive home a simple Wilco-esque anthem. Paper Trail opens up with overdriven guitars blaring and a rhythm section keeping things simple. It continues to tell a singable story that is workable - giving highlight to multiple vocal lines and harmonies. Its part rant, part exegesis, all truth.

On a later track, Modern Oceans, The Spies unveil a very live sounding track with very solid work under their belts. But perhaps their most solid and best work comes out in Lavender, a softer ballad with a nice lo-fi bent.

The album is complete and I imagine will please fans of rootsy-rockers like, Wilco and Elvis Costello.
RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Austin's, Defender (Dustin Spillman), is an electro-ambient-rock culmination that sounds like purity and chaos colliding. Its a beautiful mess! Its what music should be. Its emotive, honest, and exploratory.

On songs like, Everytime I Fall, Spillman utilizes beautiful space, electronic beats, and a haunting female vocal that is reminiscent of My Brightest Diamond. A couple tracks later on, The Last Memory of Man, Spillman uses a midtempo soundscape and electronics to drive home a sound ready for any post-apocylaptic scene. Danger on the Bridge has a darker, more ominous sound to it. With distorted spoken words mixed amongst the heavy beat-driven song, Danger on the Bridge succeeds in every way, with a sound much like AptCore.

Spillman clearly has what it takes. He's forward thinking in every way and composes truly chaotic beauty!

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Man + Water - The Orchid Riot

The Orchid Riot is a tight alternative/rock band from Colorado, spanning from ambiance to euro-pop-rock. On their E.P.'s opener, The Scene, it gives the listener plenty of space to get into the voice before being lifted by the simple grooves that come later. Its reminiscent of Jeff Buckley mixed with a sense of My Morning Jacket.

On Grace in Room 101, an infusion of euro-pop flows over a raw indie style. Its an angular song that comes out chaotic and looming. Get Out While You Can! is more straight-forward indie rock in the feel of Franz Ferdinand whereas Mother, Will You Be Okay?, begins like a child's music box. Its quite possibly their best effort. Quiet and ambient - a vivid story!

Check them out if you find yourself in the Colorado area...

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

I'm Not Goin' Nowhere - Leah

It's no surprise that Leah keeps climbing the musical ladder with song placement on hit tv shows and licensing deals to make aspiring musicians jealous. Her e.p., I'm Not Goin' Nowhere, jumps from the first beat of Runaway. The driving energy of drums and guitars explode as her gritty pop-voice is brought to the forefront. Her singing is believable as she screams "lets lose ourselves."

On Stay Here, she shows off a bit more of her vocals. There's more space, but the chunky guitars continue the drive. On Here's To You My Friend, the band grooves around her vocals, setting Leah in the proper place - out front. The chorus excels with percussive hooks and crushing lead-guitar lines.

This album has everything you'd expect from a national pop-rock release. These songs are executed with pop perfect hooks and instrumentation I would imagine Butch Walker becoming jealous. Pick the album up if you get a chance!
RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

Monday, August 17, 2009

Staffer...in the rain

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dianna Cristaldi

Kick your shoes off, ease back in a comfy chair, and turn the stereo up to experience a throwback to easier times. You'll be singing along soon enough as you ride through a rootsy/folk record timed perfectly with homage being paid to those that came before.

Dianna Cristaldi's self-titled album are a culmination of 15 truths she transcribes into song. Her songs are both sassy and accurate; combining folk, bluegrass, motown, and bluesy elements that rise and fall with ease.

Songs like Why Can't We Love Each Other and Radiant Love have a pulsing drive and a true and seamless Nashville sound, while Temptations holds on more tightly to a bluegrass genre while bringing in seductive backing vocals to bridge fans of Motown.

On Far Away and Mountains Majesty, Dianna would put a huge grin on the likes of Joni Mitchell and Allison Krauss. Both are honest stories woven into soundscapes to match.

All in all, Dianna Cristaldi does a fantastic job writing with emotion and translating her emotions into songs. The recordings and production are stellar. If you're in New York, be sure to catch a performance!

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Monday, July 27, 2009

Arrival - Nadia

Canadian artist, Nadia is doing something very special on her record, Arrival. She's got a soulful blend of pop and singer/songwriter that eases the world around you. Songs like Mother, are nicely written, recorded, and produced. It's not a stereotypical track you might expect from a pop-rock female artist. Its part Adelea, part Feist, and part Norah Jones; but unique enough to be its own.

Arrival takes on a neat Motown quality. Simply defined percussion and beats, with a vintage pop vocal sound and backing vocals give the album some real throwback. Tyranny of the Heart then gets raw and more rock. Nadia unleashes her chords in a real and provocative way. Imagine Lenny Kravitz as a woman and you have Nadia on this track!

Nadia has the promise to be another Canadian gold mine.

RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Blackout Project EP

An eclectic sound that a list of cross-genres won't do justice...that's The Blackout Project. To limit these guys to rock, hip hop, alternative, and funk, you'll imagine nothing more that Kid Rock, and The Blackout Project is so much more than the status quo. Opener, Sew the Seams, rocks an acoustic strum with tight beats and lyrical flow that will have you rolling the windows down, turning the stereo up and wailing with the vocals on the chorus - and the honkey tonk piano is just an added perk!

Future Celebrity was the song that first turned me onto these guys. Its a catchy rap tune with tight rock/r&b electric guitar riffs complements of Maroon5 or Pomeroy. They also pose some noteworthy questions, "how am I supposed to get with Jessica Alba?" Songs like this just don't happen every day. The instrumental interplay is impressive and the vocal quality is pristine.

To understand the next track, What We've Become, close your eyes and imagine acoustic instrumentation reminiscent of a Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds jam tune. Mix that with groove and angst rap and you have it. Its unique and perfectly mixed!

All in all, this EP is one of the best I've heard in a good while. Do yourself a huge favor and pickup a copy of this EP in the very near future!

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Americaville - The Bludlows

The Bludlows 2009 CD release, Americaville, jumps at you from the very first track. The opener and title track is reminiscent of early Pearl Jam mixed with a raw punk edge - its gritty and real. The CD immediately takes on a more garage/punk feel with Command Her Boogie. The guitars clearly hold this song with catchy grooves and hooks, while the vocals take a more bluesy approach.

On a more poppy track, Blockade combines sounds of contemporaries, Cold War Kids and mixes melodies I could imagine Adam Duritz writing. Perhaps their most well crafted song however is the album closer, Point of Reference. Its a grungy/atmospheric tune held together with wailing guitar lines and jams, tight grooves (bass and drums), and growling vocals.

The band seems to work together the best in their final track, but all in all, the CD is a success in combining competing genres of grunge, garage rock, pop, and punk, while not seeming too angular and indecisive. Watch for these guys!

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Simple Things EP - Ross Riskin

Ross Riskin, 18 year old singer/songwriter from CT easily strums his guitar as his voice lulls you into a dream-state. On his Simple Things EP, he begins with an easy listening song, The City. There's not a whole lot of movement to it melodically, but somehow its just involved enough to work. Break Me Down begins again with the acoustic strum and his vocals beg your echo, "I've been moving at the speed of sound."

Perhaps his best song is My Mind. Its a catchy acoustic riff working a vocal pattern that will please any Dashboard or Plain White T's fan. The EP is extremely minimal; but done in a way that gives you the feel of a home performance. I think the sound will continue to mature with age - its well under way!
RATING: 4 of 5 stars

magik+mayhem - Area27

If Adam Levine became a woman, this is the sexy voice and sound he'd be creating. Area27 is the California based electro-pop-rock outfit that tours the west coast.

Songs like Black Sun and Circles bring the groove based rock while lifting Shalien's vocals in the mix to its proper place. Other works like Wild Card play out like a Radiohead track mixed with breathy and haunting vocals.

All in all, the production quality of magik+mayhem is stellar. The seductive vocals are magical and work seamlessly in their writing. Two big thumbs up!

RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hostages EP - Attack the City

If you're into hard-hitting rock in the vein of Coheed and Cambria or Story of the Year, you'll love Attack the City. ATC is an incredible 5-some of rockers from Boston, MA. Their newest EP, Hostages is a 5 track rock-fest featuring tight grooves, climbing instrumentation, and wailing vocals. Songs like Rediscovering Letters gives plenty of room for Melanson to yell, "it won't last," and drummer Olivares to deliver some extremely tight beats.

On Castaway, it begins like a bad version of cheesy 70's video games (a la Galaga), but quickly unleashes real power and talent. The entire band is working together increasingly well to create perfect rock songs.

The overall production is seamless and these guys clearly have what it takes to make it in the scene. Be on the lookout!

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

A Scary Kind of Love - Witches in Bikinis

Witches in Bikini's may sound like a late night Cinemax special, but instead its the theatrical/musical experience of 7 Brooklyn artists. The music is an experience all its own - like a musical circus that I'd imagine complements the live show quite well.

Their album, A Scary Kind of Love, is a 12 track joy ride. Layers of 60's music and synth-pop, combined with the intensity of a dance troupe is what you can expect on tracks like Video Vixen Vampire, O.O.B.E., and Party Like A Chimpanzee. Its titles like these that fill out the album. Its fun, very live, and I can only imagine what the show might be like...

Check them out live in concert for a real ride!
RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Funky Poetz - Eggshell Egoz

Imagine Primus doing a pop-funk project...there yet? Now you have Eggshell Egoz. Their album, Funky Poetz is that slap happy album of pop-perfected funk with a tinge of obscurity riding the fringes, all soothed with the vocal performance and comfort of Jack Johnson.

Album opener, Funky Poetz rides like a quirky party out of Bonaroo. Simple Toys is the jam-oriented song grasping to the bands ability to groove in tight sync. Then to cap off the album is an acoustic nicety, Manic Peaches. Whitton's vocals surprise in this folksy lullaby quality. Its a move from funk-pop-obscurity to soothing acoustic rock in the vein of The Counting Crows.

Production is something these guys do amazingly well. The album has a stellar gloss about it!

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Single Serving Friend

New York's, Single Serving Friend, is a mixture of raw energy, excitement, and throwback to influence. Listening through the self-titled e.p. you'll hear homage paid to the likes of 311, Sublime, and Cake.

On Lolita, the band works off of a catchy rhythm and delivers enthusiastic lyrics to boot. Rock Radio works with more intensity and belongs on the video game Road Rash circa early Sublime. This track adds more drive than most - its not for family listening.

Forever utilizes ambiance and space to communicate. Then at 2:26, enters the drive and force you're used to with these guys.

Overall, the production captures energy in its live quality. I think more time and care in the studio could bring these songs up to their potential.

RATING: 3 of 5 stars

The Voodoo Fix

Funky good times is what you'll experience with The Voodoo Fix. Their self-titled e.p. is like the funkier cousin to The Black Keys. Wrought with catchy electric guitar riffs and a bass/drum combo to get any room dancing, The Voodoo Fix works!

On songs like, Walk on By, they employ a more R&B/rock/Maroon5 sound to broaden their genre and pop-appeal. On Don't Come Home, they add another element of euro-indie sounds to their already successful sound. It culminates in you being in a good mood.

Catch these guys live in concert or read more at their website: www.thevoodoofix.com

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pianocentric - Sharon Kenny

New York singer/songwriter, Sharon Kenny is a vibrant musical force. Her vocal clarity excels while her piano work swirls around her in a circular and unique fashion.

The first track, So Soon, begins with single piano notes and her vocals beckoning your attention. All will stop in the world around you. As the song continues and builds, she sings, "let me catch my breath," and the arrangement swirls around her perfectly.

Clockwork continues the ride with projected ease. She works in and out of a tight band sound. The story is a ride! Calendar Song is total free-form. Its angular and plays like musical theatre. If you're a straight music lover and true art scares you, stay away from this one. If you're in for some adventure and are will to take chances, join Kenny on this one and hold on tight.

Kenny's album, Pianocentric is a musical and artistic trip!

RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

Only Too Well - Jacob Carver

Jacob Carver delivers true Americana on his album, Only Too Well. Songs like Bitterhanded, have an early Tom Petty quality. At times you'll feel like you're sitting around a campfire - jumping to join in on the chorus, grabbing a harmonica, or beat some percussion. It's just that welcoming.

On the slower ballad Come Crawling, Carver croons a tune about the "human stain." Again, running to that communal sound of the saloon scene, Carver ends with a soaring vocal line.

All in all, his production and writing is simple and lends itself nicely to the genre.

RATING: 3 of 5 stars

Nive Nielsen & The Deer People

If you've ever wondered what eskimo music sounded like, Nive Nielsen & The Deer Children, is it. Nive is an Inuk from Greenland and her compositions are breathtaking!

Her song, Room, is a simple track plucked and plinked along with great accompaniment to surround her cooing vocals. Its a truly fresh sound.

Good for You, is a more quirky-folksy tune that needs a Mac commercial to support. Its a pop-perfected folk song that you'll be singing along to by the first chorus. On My Coffee Boy, her voice lilts along with a jazzy bass and percussive undertone.

Nive clearly has it. She combines talent, creativity, and successful writing to work for her and her band. I can only imagine it a matter of time before she's an international success.

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Alternates

The Alternates have something special. Its a combination of confidence, musical drive, and sincerity. Together it culminates into a fresh euro-pop/rock sound (that spans several sub-genres). Should Have shows this immediately with its melody and instrumentation - a singable track from the get-go.

Changing Course does the same, but grabs hold of Seattle's grunge to add a nuanced element not present in the euro/rock "sound." The Alternates make it work - so much so, that you'll be clapping along by the last chorus.

Later track, Who Can You Trust, places a grittier acoustic strum in the forefront to add a euro-folksy element to the verse. And caps the song off with a beautifully recorded blues solo. All in all, their sound is honed and carefully in place. Recorded with passion, I imagine you'll be hearing more from The Alternates.

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Royal Greens

Southern rockabilly is alive in Virginia folks! The Royal Greens release their self-titled, 7 track e.p. and really deliver that great sound we all know. Tracks like Mason Jar Baby combine the raw instrumentation of the south with the vocal growl that would make Eddie Vedder smile.

On Hold Slow, the song grooves along with a riff reminiscent of My Morning Jacket. And its in that vein that their sound has its strongest hold. Its a step away from classic southern rock, to a more glam/jam/groove sub-category.

The overall recording sheds a light on what I imagine their live set is like - sincere with a non-glossy rawness to it. If you find yourself in VA, be sure to check out these guys!

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Where You Move Me - Nathan Brumley

Close your eyes and think of the Nashville music scene...you probably thought of Country and Christian - two genres that call it home. Nathan Brumley is a Christian music sensation writing melodies with pop-perfected hooks and instrumentation. In the vein of other piano driven artists, such as Michael W. Smith and Shaun Groves, Brumley gives us Where You Move Me.

Track one, Something Real, hits the ears with such ease and familiarity that you're singing along from the get go - no prior listening required. On Love Outside the Lines, Brumley's voice lilts back and forth between full voice and falsetto to tell the redemptive story of love. On Only My Heart, he switches from more performance oriented writing to a more corporate worshipful tone.

Brumley has honed the recording process and delivers a real glossy, Nashville-style, Christian record with Where You Move Me.

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Arms Are Falling - Keith Cornella and Broken City

Keith Cornella and Broken City, other than being a mouthful, is the rock project coming from Massachusetts and making some noise. In their album, Arms are Falling, they bring about a rock element that sits nicely on the ear. Its part classic rock; a very straight forward sound that will have fists pumping and energy enough to get you standing, folk/rootsy enough to bring in the Wilco fans, but it also has an element of newness that would make Dave Grohl smile.

Tracks like Energy embark on that classic vibe while later track, Loaded Lovers slow things down to a nice Beatles-esque ride. All in all, their writing is unique and doesn't fall prey to a singular sound or genre, while also not being so completely disjointed that the listener can't get into it either.

Its been nicely recorded and produced with care and musical intelligence. Even musical snobbery will love this one!
RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

Give - Randy Stern

Randy Stern, New York indie-rock staple, releases his first solo album in 2009 with Give. Its an Americana delight with scores of layers and a choir of vocal support. Opener, Deeper and Deeper, is an indie-folk by-product of what Stern clearly has built much of his success. Like an Elvis Costello roots rocker, it will have you singing along by the second chorus.

Better Days, an early track, groove along with the same emotion of any Bruce Springsteen anthem. Better Days is delivered and you can sense the trueness of a better horizon and future.

A later track, In the Midnite, is sung like a lullaby. It harnesses space and stillness in the first verse only to erupt at the chorus. Its a darker tune, "I can't feel your lovin' touch no more," but Stern succeeds as this might be one of his better tracks.

Give seems like an accurate portrait of Stern and his vision of life/culture. Its been crafted with care and attention to detail - a solid album.

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

For Full Stimulation - glamourKings

New York based, glamourKings are a modern mix of NIN and Depeche Mode. Their unique blend of industrial rock and electronic euro-pop, dance together with ease in their recent album release, For Full Stimulation.

Tracks like, Addiction, One and Only, and A Bitch, prove their writing skills and ability to transcribe singable melody. The vocals seem properly mixed and performed - full of self and confidence, while accompanied by driving guitars and percussive beats, all the while, thrown into the mix of electronic chaos - and they pull it off with ease!

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Blossoms of Armageddon - Sean Renner

St. Louis' Sean Renner, is proof that one is enough. Renner is a solo artist that combines loops, ambiance, electronic sampling and more to develop and master beautiful pieces that are musically in-depth and lyrically satisfying. I kept finding myself saying throughout my several listens, "this is beautiful!"

Renner's newest album, The Blossoms of Armageddon is just what I needed to hear when I heard it. Songs like The Plain of Two Mists, sets incredible visual scenes through the complex layers Renner puts forth. The Deccan Traps continues the scene with a pulsing undertone of synthetic percussive loops and swirling vocals.

You'll quickly conclude that Renner is quite a mature writer that fans of Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky, and Radiohead will adore.

Find out more at: www.myspace.com/seanrenner

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Siva Noir

Melodic clarity and beauty intermingle with epic electro-pop/rock in Siva Noir's self-titled album. In early track, The Hunger, Newman's vocals soar and swell with enough intoxication to give a rise to any Annie Lennox fan. She is accompanied with tight power and raw energy from the band.

In a later track, End Times, pulls out all the stops in a very Muse (Absolution) manner. Its an interesting combination; whereas Newman's vocals come across like a power rock theater - wailed with a Queen-esque fullness, the band drives with layers upon layers and powerful hits.

Imagine Muse and Jellyfish birthing a band, and you get Siva Noir.

Find them online at: http://www.myspace.com/sivanoir

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Breaking - Brian Larsen

Maryland native Brian Larsen, works his craft on his debut solo album, Breaking. Set to release in August later this year, Larsen writes of life with lines like, "I'm living in a world of fear; But you can make it all just disappear" from Frozen - an acoustic rock track resembling The Bare Naked Ladies.

Later in Hold Me Down, he says, "How can I belabor this life?; I'm ripped apart inside;" showing a darker side written in the vein of REM. Its in this track that Larsen utilizes thicker harmonies to deliver the melody.

Story after short-story describing what can only be imagined as his emotions and points of view as an onlooker of life, he solidifies his "sound" and approach at writing - mostly waltzing the REM, acoustic alt/rock genre.

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Monday, April 27, 2009

Should It End - The Additives

If you've not yet heard of The Additives, I imagine its just a matter of time before you do. The Chicago band takes a successful step back to easier and simpler times with a sound comfortable in Americana and roots rock. Its the spawn of Elvis Costello, Cake, and Wiclo.

The opener and title track, Should It End, grips you from the first acoustic strum and holds you to its last utterance. And in the next track The Additives give you just what you need with Blood Red Diamonds. Later in the album, Lookin Out slows things down with a song that sounds more singer/songwriter than the rest; but the departure is a nice one.

The Additives are about to embark on a national tour from Illinois to California, Indiana to Tennessee - so make sure you check out their site and go see them if they're in your area.


RATING: 4 of 5 stars

The Brooklyn What For Borough President

Don't sit down in a comfy chair for this one...its unfiltered and unrelenting indie-punk-rock with a euro twist. As a matter of fact, I can't imagine listening to this CD alone - it needs the group/gang atmosphere to fully appreciate it. The Brooklyn What For Borough President is the cumulative force of 6 New York natives.

The album opener, I Don't Wanna Go To Willimasburg, grabs you quick with lines like, "I just wanna' play with the cool kids," and doesn't let go until its over. And in tracks like For The Best, The Brooklyn What uses catchy-riffs to drive home the song and mood with success.

Overall, the production could use a bit more delicacy and focus, but their intensity will be hard to be matched by just about anyone. I would imagine that the live show is even more intense. Check The Brooklyn What out and enjoy the find: www.thebrooklynwhat.com

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Good Night, Good Riddance - What Bird

Nashville duo What Bird, is the musical expression of Julia and Winston Harrison. Together they compose dark transient simplicity. Their debut album Good Night, Good Riddance is an expressive ride that capitalizes on emotion through ambiance and the beautiful clarity of Julia's voice.

Clearly students of Nashville, their pop-sensible tracks come across with a natural Allison Krauss element, giving the listener just enough to want more and yearn for their next recording. Songs like Home To You, Under the Milky Way, and Perfect Faith, strip things back just enough to unleash Julia's vocals in their richest way possible - working with warm ambience and texture to create memorable pieces of art.

The overall record is a complete success! Excellently blended instrumentation and the care put into each vocal line comes across with real brilliance. I think anyone a fan of excellent music will appreciate What Bird; but if you find Allison Krauss, Nichole Nordeman, the Cranberries, and the like in your CD or ipod rotations, you'll especially take the duo to heart.

Its two thumbs way up. Take care of yourself and check their tour calendar for a concert in your area, and while you're at it, and pick up a copy of the album: www.myspace.com/whatbird

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Things We Would Rather Lose - Paper Arrows

The Paper Arrows are a fresh alt/rock band from Chicago doing things right! Telling stories with clarity and using the instrumentation to evoke rich emotion is their strong suit (and when it comes to writing music, is there really anything else?)

Song like Things We Would Rather Lose capture the vibe of roots rock and singable americana, whereas Til I Couldn't Cry slows things down in a perfect piano led gospel rock track. Its an intimate track that's polished enough for pop-appeal, but raw enough that Goodkin's vocals rip to the heart, and when he jumps to falsetto all is well in the world.

On One More Quiet Song, the band brings in The Cosmic Unity for horn support and adds a totally different element to the band's sound - a sort of Mighty Mighty Boss Tones meets Counting Crows feel. And as the album comes to rest with Explosions Below, they again create an acoustic Adam Duritzy vibe as Goodkin's vocals passionately paint vivid imagery as he wails..."the last thing that she gave me!"

Buy this album, see them live, thank me later.

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Momento - Theresa Flaminio

Theresa Flaminio is a fresh voice and writer that combines jazzy nuances with a sexy singer/songwriter vocal on her album, Momento. Pop tracks like Good Thoughts and Run contrast nicely against more soulful tracks, Coulda Woulda Shoulda and Green Cadillac; exposing Flaminio's true ability to compose varied emotion, style, and genre, all the while not losing her eye on the overall product.

I'm finding myself hesitant to bring any artist comparisons to name because it's just that refreshing. It may not be your cup of tea, but its unique and I believe Flaminio is being 100% true to who she is as an artist.

The overall production is seamless and the instrumentation is very well written and crafted. If you're in the mood for something different and uplifting, get a copy of Theresa Flaminio's, Momento.

RATING: 4 of 5 stars