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:

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