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:

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:

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:

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

Once In Time - True Witness

True Witness is an adult contemporary christian band from New York that poses questions, discusses faith, and sings of a greater love. Songs like, How Love Lit the Full Moon, and Not Too Late, describe the beauty of creation through metaphor and experience - the tangible essence of God's creation at work here and now.

Their music teeters back and forth between Americana and Adult Contemporary. From tracks like On High utilizing tight harmonies and more driving guitars, to Bridge, a piano led track.

If your a fan of artists such as Amy Grant, FFH, Ray Boltz, 4Him, and Michael W. Smith, you'll appreciate True Witnesses sophomore attempt, Once in Time.

RATING: 3 of 5 stars

Monday, April 13, 2009

Blue Shout Blind - Brent Jordan

Brent Jordan sets the scene of an American traveler on the road, easily telling his story through acoustic strum and weathered vocal melodies. His album, Blue Shout Blind, is the seamless musical trip you'll get and will quickly embrace.

Songs like Pretty Little Thief, Everything Changing, and John's Song are easy access songwriter tunes that will give any fan of The Wallflowers, Marc Broussard , and the like, another solid artist to add to the ipod.

Perhaps his best work is American Morning. Here, Jordan brings all of the instrumentation to its fullest working potential(s); leaving nothing undone, and still no toes being stepped on either.

Brent Jordan sounds as passionate as one could and has a natural talent for musical storytelling. If you happen to be in the San Fransisco area, check out and plan to catch him live.

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Electric Sorcery

From the album opener, Mother Sea, it becomes apparent the guys of Electric Sorcery know what it takes to write a good song. It comes across the speakers like freedom and passion mixed up in a song. Directly following is Wisher, a riff driven track that is reminiscent of The Black Keys, North Mississippi Allstars, and Lenny Kravitz.

Later tracks like A Stitch in 9 Saves Time is a well crafted jam band tune - very very true to the genre. Its tracks like these that prove these guys can play and work off of each other. It also begs for LIVE APPEARANCE, so be sure to check out their website for future tour dates. If they can execute with the energy present on this album, a good time is in order.

RATING: 4.5 stars of 5

Look at the Fish - Citizen Icon

The boys from Georgia are edgy and doing something slightly non-mainstream that i'm sitting in my office intrigued. Their album, Look at the Fish begs your listening ear. On Lift it Up, you'll be surrounded with part euro-rock, part psychedelic-rock, part grunge, but two thumbs up!

Shotgun starts with a single voice and acoustic guitar. Singer and frontman, Chris Cummings growls his thoughts and angst. The band joins in a few bars later and drives the listener in a nice early Pearl Jam fashion. Later tracks like High Life use hard hitting beats and tight harmonies to carry the song. I believe this one is their strongest on the album. By the last chorus, you'll be singing along.

If you're in the Atlanta area, be sure to check out their tour schedule.
RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Strangers Pass

This New Jersey band is rough, raw, and seemingly passionate. Their first track Alone, rips through the speakers like a live recording and Sadowski's vocals growl with truest sincerity. Its nicely accompanied by tasty lead guitar work.

400 Monroe steps back and more easily glides. Its a solid pop-rock ballad. But perhaps their strongest song on the 5 track e.p. is See Them All. Again, its a more reserved pop-rock tune in the vein of Tonic or Toad the Wet Sprocket. Mikkelsen also soars on the bass on this particular track.

All in all, Strangers Pass writes well, but a heftier recording budget and more intense production would serve them and their art strongly.

RATING: 3 of 5 stars

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Family Album - Lucibel Crater

Begs for your soul and liking.

I can't begin to express how rare and nice it is to hear a band doing something angular and different! Lucibel Crater's, The Family Album is just that - angular and clearly unique.

I'm not sure the mainstream will be able to fully appreciate their art, but I appreciate their unabashed writing and combination of instrumentation from song to song. They are truly a talented group of creative artists.

Stand out tracks include, Where You Are, There was a Time, and Threadbare Funeral; excellently executed and produced with passion.

As long as they don't cave to the mainstream, I see a promising future for Lucibel Crater!

RATING: 5 of 5 stars.

Now We're Here - Frances Ancheta

Frances Ancheta's, Now We're Here is a soothing easy-listening album. Its a textured and simplified acoustic album fitted with her breathy vocals. From the album opener, Coming Home, to tracks like Nothing Really Matters, you'll be transported to an island landscape musically.

Frances' sound is a combination of Calypso and Hawaiian tropical goodness - its nice.

RATING: 3 of 5 stars.