Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Son Lux - (SPECIAL POST) an artist worth your time & attention!

The artist is Son Lux, a New York songwriter, that's doing some pretty creative work! I can't believe I hadn't heard of this guy until recently...

Critics have said, "an epic, almost schizofrenic carousel of sounds that picks up where Radiohead's Kid A left off."

So without any further adieu, here is Son Lux...ENJOY!

(close your eyes and spend a few minutes escaping)


Monday, June 28, 2010

The Boy in the Well - Where's Lawrence

Where's Lawrence is a creative indie-rock act producing great tracks for your listening pleasures. They work in the vein of Death Cab For Cutie meets Arcade Fire meets The Decemberists.

Wokuk is a driving song layered with great instrumentation. Its like a beautiful onion, each layer perfectly placed to support the overall composition. On Beauty Fell, the acoustic strum meets yearning vocals. Its pure rawness and has an intense quality.

The Forest...You're Nothing Anyway, is a slower, more down-tempo track. It has a close, intimate quality and the stripped down intro draws the listener close. The band enters and nicely lifts the song without taking away the pure, simple qualities.

Where's Lawrence does a fantastic job of pulling various instruments into the mix and putting them precisely where they belong. These guys clearly know what it takes to compose true art!

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

Tomorrow is What it Used to Be - John Riccio

John Riccio's album, Tomorrow is What it Used to Be, is a nice summer listen. Its laden with hooky tracks, easy acoustic strums, and melodies you'll remember for days. Riccio's opener, One or Two is reminiscent of a pop/rock Bruce Springsteen. The production quality is stellar and the snare drum is especially perfect for the song.

On My Will, strings begin the song in a huge fashion. Its swelling and draws the listener in. The vocals excel and are perfectly set in the mix. In and Out has a fun two-step feel with a great circular-acoustic riff leading the song and propelling it forward - its one of those songs you'll crank the volume on as you drive down a country road.

Riccio is a talented writer, player, and arranger! This album is sure to please, so check it out ASAP!!!

Visit him on myspace: www.myspace.com/johnriccio

RATING: 5 of 5 stars

All Hearts - Troubaduo

Troubaduo is making a name for themselves as they write, record, and perform quality material. These golden state-ers write pop-rock with a rootys/americana bent.

Tracks like, What's Really You, feature Jill's vocals cutting a more soulful rug. On Houdini, the band works and succeeds in an almost big-band, 1940's era track. Houdini is a perfect track, mixed exceedingly well and instrumentally impressive - easily their best! On Show Me, Jill's vocals again take on a more clearly soulful attack. Its a hooky track with some great electric guitar tones.

Overall, Troubaduo writes well and displays a nice understanding of the genre.

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Alone or Lying - Christa Gniadek

From Massachusetts hails Christa Gniadek; a talented singer/songwriter writing anti-folk/arty/pop acoustic tracks. On her opening track, Adjust, Christa lilts in a beautiful free-floating melody over bouncing acoustic guitars. Her vocals are clearly her bread winner! Combine crystal clear vocals and catchy lyrics with the depth of her songwriting and you have a star in the making.

Her sound is reminiscent of an acoustic-driven Regina Spektor, but yields an honest and unique quality - close enough to the genre for easy listenership, but unique enough to hold her own.

I Do, is another catchy tune that immediately grabs your attention. It has the quality that begs an indie-movie soundtrack deal. Finally, on Late on Newbury, Christa closes her album like a late night conversation. Its as if she's strumming and singing on the couch across the room from you. Its a perfect ender to an album that's stripped down, easy to engage, and intimate.

Watch out Christa Gniadek and in the mean time, pick up her album, Alone or Lying!

RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Moons - Ekra

Ekra is a duo rock outfit from New York that's creating circular and layered music with ease. Songs like Intercourse fill the space between ambient Radiohead and dark U2. The track is instrumentally, dark and driving; while the vocal melody is more soothing, anthemic, and reverb-laden.

On Sagittarius A, a dirty trumpet opens the song before a catchy drum sequence drives the song and takes it to something you might expect from Thom Yorke. I love the way they mixed this song. Its spacious and capitalizes on the hooky vocals, while still giving support and tribute to some stellar instrumental musicianship.

Album closer, 49 Days is a mid-tempo piece featuring tight bass and drum work. It has elements as contrasting as NIN and The Postal Service, but seems to pull the angularity off.

If creative ambient-rock is your genre, you'll love Ekra. If not, you'll still appreciate the ride! I would love to see a live show to experience how they pull off the soundscapes as a duo group.

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Naked - Steve Baskin

If its textured Americana alt/pop-rock that you're into, then you'll dig Naked, by Atlanta-based, Steve Baskin. Surrounded by a stellar band, they create soundscapes that accurately articulate each song and Baskin's vocals.

Album opener, Catch Me If You Can, is overly poppy, and lends itself to all listeners. It comes across like a blend of Counting Crows and Blue October. Later track, A Day in My Shoes seductively explodes with a great, soaring lead guitar riff. The melodies aren't quite as singable, but the hooks come at you one after another.

Something Smells Fishy belongs main stage at Bonnaroo. Its jammy and catchy all the same. Clearly, these guys know their way inside a studio. Their sounds are solid, and they all complement each other song after song.

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Recurring Dream - BARDO

BARDO is the culmination of some of LA's finest, doing what they do best - rock! BARDO is part punk, part pop, part rock/alternative; but all attitude. Their album opener, GP Boulevard begins with a simple clean guitar riff and King's vocals, sung clearly and flowing. The drive kicks in at the first chorus and remains throughout the rest of the song.

On track 3, Beautiful, BARDO begins with a tight, in the pocket, groove that complements King's voice perfectly. The pre-chorus gives you layers and drives you into the hooky chorus, singing "you're beautiful."

Run, exposes some of the inner grit within the bands songwriting. Its all drive from the beginning to end. The guitar solo is thought provoking and poignant. Its angular from the straightforward punk-rock tune, but its just the art the song needs.

Finally, on Free To Go, King lilts her voice from almost spoken-word to floating falsetto. The band works thoughtfully throughout the song and plays just what is needed; nothing more, nothing less.

BARDO clearly exhibits recording prowess and songwriting critique.

LA'ers...check them out if you haven't already!

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Only Ride You Can Get - Keith Moody

From the first listen, Keith Moody reminded me of a nice blend of Americana roots-rock and country. There are moments of Tom Petty, Gin Blossoms, and Keith Urban. Moody has a pop appealing ear that truly shows in his writing and production.

His album, The Only Ride You Can Get, was produced by Moody and Jason Elgin. Album opener, Think, does a great job of implementing a mandolin into the forefront. The two-step drum groove keeps the pace up and Moody's vocals are stellar.

Press Gas and Go have all of the components of a pop-rock/county tune. There's catchy guitar riffs mixed with vocal hooks that will have you humming along by the second chorus. On Love Drunk, Moody again utilizes the mandolin as lead rhythm instrument. This song falls more into the vein of roots rock a la a more southern Bob Dylan.

Finally on his title track, Moody writes a country ballad. The verses are almost spoken, and draw in the listener. The choruses are full of great harmonies and backing vocals that make this a great cap on the album!

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vermillon - Ryan David Orr

You know that feeling you get in when you're driving a scenic highway in the summer? There's a feeling of renewal, freshness, ease, and simplicity. That's the feeling you get from Ryan David Orr's album, Vermillon. Its a simple album, easily performed and finds its place to your heart the same way.

Right In Tow has an incredibly singable chorus. Its falsetto glides into pop perfection. On Right in Tow, the syncopated acoustic guitar strum and tambourine backs clear vocals met with harmonies.

Bottle Rocket does a nice job of harnessing what's hot in pop-mainstream, but remains true to the acoustic/americana sound Orr has established. If you could imagine a band like Snow Patrol composing a rootsy acoustic track, you have Bottle Rocket.

Finally, on Snow Globe Ballerina, his voice lilts and rises to a beautifully simple lullaby. Its lyrics succinct and instrumentation perfectly in place - not overdone, but everything in its right place.

Ryan David Orr understands his genre and succeeds within it!

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Phoenix Rising - Double Helix

If you're a fan of tasty jazz, then Canada's Double Helix will please. Album opener, Bluesoph, is an easy listen with a great tremolo lead line. It pans back and forth and really keeps your attention. On Silver Mountain Temple, the acoustic guitar plays lead role in a more new age piece. Its complete with woodblocks and rain sticks (you can't go wrong there).

Zoloph Spaceman kicks off the track with harmonics galore. The guitar work is impressive and angular. Its songs like these that show an artists ability to play what's needed and leave out the extra. John Scofield would have a smile on this one - its truly a great work.

But perhaps their best work is on River Song. The acoustic interplay is intoxicating and is reminiscent of Tim Reynolds. The tones and playability earn serious bragging rights!

Pick up a copy of Phoenix Rising by Double Helix!

RATING: 4 of 5 stars

The Grass is Always Greener - Max and the Wild Things

Max and the Wild Things weave a sonic quality of raw textured sounds that brings you to the front of the stage. Their groove oriented and open mixing gives the feel of a live show. On Without A Sound, the band accompanies a free floating vocal lead line that feels like its leading everyone in a rockin' party. Its full and showcases a belting trumpet.

The next track, Saturday in May, steps back from the in your face party groove and acts as a more subtle track altogether. The vocals again harness a leadership quality and call the listener to attention. On You Got Your, the band steps back in time to a sound more reminiscent of the past (think oldies circa 50's & 60's).

All in all, I would have a hard time believing anyone not enjoying themselves with this album. The instrumentation harnesses a nice live quality. I would prefer more attention to the vocals, but to each their own.

RATING: 3 of 5 stars

Monday, January 4, 2010

Voice in the Dark

Voice in the Dark is the San Diego pop/rock band that writes, writes, and writes some more. They have a huge catalog of songs that are selective and poignant to certain topics and issues. I've chosen to focus my review on their 2009 release, Gaia.

Voice in the Dark says this about Gaia, "The inspiration driving the creation of Gaia comes from a calling to love our mother earth, remember that it is our responsibility to help others in need, and how vital it is for us to believe in ourselves."

It has elements of Depeche Mode and Morrissey combined with edgy, New Age, instrumentation. It comes out strong on Let's not Forget. Layers of synths and groove to ambient vocals, sets the mood.

On Stop, they employ the acoustic guitar to shine through the mix, as they sing of getting home. Its more angular, but works well. The band is longing and convincing; and it shows in the performance.

Finally on, Can You Believe, the band really shines. The song is set in a clearer and stronger vocal range. The band excels as it works in tandem to create a soundscape any fan of Euro-pop would grab hold of quickly.

To hear more from Voice in the Dark, check out their webiste: www.voiceinthedarkmusic.com

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Dreams That Aren't Mine - David Forest

David Forest is a fresh sound. This LA songwriter has some talent and I imagine i'm not the first to notice it. His album's opener, Dreams That Aren't Mine spans piano pop, rock alternative, and vocal perfection. Forest can go from a strong lead to soft floating falsetto in a note or two - a real success.

Just as Satisfied begins like a dream; eerie music boxes swirling, and abruptly moves to a more pulsing tune. On this song, Forest utilizes a lower voicing on the verses and offers more dynamic on the chorus. Its reminiscent of David Gray.

Keep on Climbing is a more layered song. It begins with strings oozing from the corners. The acoustic strum combines with a tasty ambient-percussion loop and sits in between his softer vocals nicely.

David Forest is an uber-solid talent, writer, and performer!
RATING: 5 of 5 stars