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