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Reverist – Dreaming Onward

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Reverist – Dreaming Onward

URL: http://www.reveristmusic.com/

The story of Reverist, to this point at least, is a tale about inspiration. Omar Qazi’s attended a Keane show as an undergraduate student and left so indelibly impressed by the live experience that he resolved to teach himself how to play music and began writing songs soon after. Unlike many, Qazi didn’t sublet his home, buy a car, and drive off for California seeking fame and fortune. Instead, he wisely hedged his bets and finished his medical education. Once he established his career as physician, Qazi’s eyes and, most importantly, ears turned back towards his musical dreams. After meeting drummer Steve Addington, Qazi began working in earnest on the songs making their debut effort. Dreaming Onward is a five song collection guided by Qazi and Addington’s musical presence, but the quartet’s remaining members’ bassist Matthew Walsh and violinist Cooper Johansen make their presence felt strongly on the EP.

The symphonic grandeur of their synthesizer based songs will impress many. It’s their apparent aim from the first song on. “Superhero” practically swells out of the speakers with its steady pulse and chiming melodic lines. The tempo is never rushed and creates a massive group mere seconds into the track. Qazi’s vocals have a similar swelling quality. He sings like a man with the proverbial something to say, taking his time with each line but fueling the syllables with such emphatic force that it sounds like the man is singing for his life. There’s an affirmative air surrounding Reverist’s music that comes through even on the more uniform approach displayed in “Machinery”, but there’s a ringing, melodic quality that comes through the song’s music not in ready supply on earlier or later tracks. Qazi’s lustrous, melodic vocals are an ideal match for the song’s mood.

The mood turns sharply on “About the Past” from a relaxed, laid back approach towards a romping electronic attack that never rests. Addington’s ultra-aggressive drumming never tumbles into total chaos. He keeps the tempo on an unwavering course and it allows the surrounding instruments a chance to move freely over such a secure base. “They Are Weak, But We Are Strong” sports the EP’s best overall groove and, once more, Addington holds things down with his muscular, but highly rhythmic style. Qazi’s vocals have a nice percussive quality that suggests he’s tailoring his vocals against and around the attention-grabbing tempo.

The EP’s title song ends Reverist’s debut on a strongly melodic note. It’s a welcome shift after the pressure packed approach of the two preceding songs. Qazi responds with one of his most stylized, yet emotionally moving performances on the release. Reverist promises to bring a number of moods to the surface through their music and they succeed on that score, among many others. Few new bands embody the body and intellect in their songwriting so well. Dreaming Onward moves with beauty and purpose that will impress young and old alike.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/iloveReverist/posts/1195431863804135?comment_id=1197783063569015&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R%22%7D

9 out of 10 stars.

Michael Saulman

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Ashley J – Dare Ya’

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Ashley J – Dare Ya’

URL: http://ashleyj.net/

Growing up in Orlando, the multi-talented singer/songwriter held her own with her four brothers and friends by achieving a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do at age 5, and First and Second Degree Black Belts not long after. When she wasn’t training with her brothers and father, she was off with her mom to ballet classes. In her spare time, she was found writing song lyrics on her bathroom wall that her parents had to continuously repaint. Later attending the Dr. Phillips High School of Performing Arts in Orlando, she scored leading roles in theatre, dance and musical productions.

This review is for her latest single, “Dare Ya.” Ashley J appears to be quite the person beyond the artist, with a long history in the arts, to put it ironically. She seems to be that ultimate over-achiever type, but hasn’t let it go to her head. You really can’t do that when you possess this much talent and have any way to get it to the people. She has qualities galore. Let’s just put it that way. I got into it right away and had to look as much into her after that as I could. Being new to her as I am, I just had to find out more. This is a track that takes it over and above “Cali,” of which I am also enjoying. But sticking to the subject at hand, she is a very confident artist with a lot going for her. And I find this new single to be more organic and naturally progressive from the last. I’d like to see it stay in this direction, but you never know where she will go. I think it has something for any age level, but then being flexible is part of what this song is trying to get across. But Ashley herself has her whole life ahead of hers, even though she’s come a long way. If I’m not describing the typical success story, then I’d probably not be writing this. But she even inspires me to get up and go, do everything it takes to get the picture across. It has a lot of effects, and that is just one of them. You can look at it to each their own, or you can just get it, regardless of music taste. It’s as good as anything you’ve heard in shopping malls, elevators, etc. And that is no insult because sometimes the catchiest tunes are heard in these areas. But I’m just saying it hangs in there with the best of them. And she’s just getting started, so this song comes highly recommended. Her whole attitude comes recommended, as well. If she keeps up this level of positivity in her lyrics, she will go all the way to the top. But I ask myself where is the top anymore. As you’re either there on one level or another, or not. The measure always lies in the material and performance. And although I have yet to see Ashley perform, she is a striking beauty who does not get by on that, by the sound of it. If it matters which it doesn’t, she seems to be the perfect pop singing package built for the big stage. So, that is where I think she should be. I’m just surprised to even be reviewing her, as I do usually review music a lot of less mainstream quality. It’s also not easy to wrap your head around just one track, but this goes a long way in rectifying that. This is a well-educated woman with a lot of musical influences and family mentors. The kind you don’t even get on the radio anymore. She’s modern, she’s fresh and as serious as she is playful. I could hear her fronting a band just as easily as herself. This song can be about a number of things but at the end of the day it’s about pushing the boundaries of life in general. It gets you up and rocking, tapping your toe and dancing even if you don’t dance. Music is supposed to move you one way or another, and this does.

In a world of wash ups and country meets Tom Petty style Americana, this has more depth going for it. But that is obviously helped with touches of several other genres laced within it. You pretty much hear it all, and that is why it has it all, as does Ashley herself. This is always the result of hard work, education and following guidelines, principles and goals. If it doesn’t go that way, most don’t deserve a career in the arts.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/AshleyJeanMusic/videos/644575545691251/

M Martin

10/10

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Jeri Silverman – Leaflike

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Jeri Silverman – Leaflike 

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/jerisilvermanmusic/ 

The album cover for Jeri Silverman’s first EP, Leaflike, perfectly captures the title’s autumnal feel and features a smiling Silverman strolling through the fall day. It’s an excellent accompanying image for a six song collection that, in its own quiet and hard won fashion, celebrates endurance and continued open-heartedness in the face of personal struggle. These songs aren’t the clichéd coming of age chronicles we are often exposed to on debuts. Instead, these are tastefully presented musical landscapes inhabited by an individual voice full of poetry and passion. The South African native, now living in the New York Coty area, assembled an ace three piece band to tackle the material and recorded the album in the sunny climes of Southern California, but none of that Cali sunshine finds its way into these songs. These are songs about survival.  

“Anywhere But Here” plays like a quasi-classical piano ballad that can never quite assume final form. This isn’t to say that the song sounds unfinished; instead, there’s a fragmentary quality about the song reflective of its melancholy mood. There’s deep longing percolating in the heart of this song and Silverman’s vocal invokes that viscerally without ever overextending the song’s credibility. The backing music continues along similar lines on “G&A”, but the lyrics take a far grittier turn than heard in the opener. Silverman’s up to the challenge of conveying these raw emotions and does so without ever, once again, lapsing into melodrama. She dispenses with similar challenges on “The Fever”. This is a lyric of great poetic understatement and does an interesting job of juggling strongly imagistic passages with more widely resonant lines. Silverman’s guitar playing comes to the fore for the first time, but it takes on a supporting role to the electronica and percussion. 

Her acoustic guitar playing shares the spotlight with her voice on “Rabbit”. The metaphor that this lyric turns on is quite comprehensible and has a literary elegance that will surely surprise many. It’s more evidence of her well-rounded talent that seems impossibly developed for her age. Nevertheless, there’s no question listening to these songs that Silverman is a formidable talent destined to deepen and transform the scene. Her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” is far from a throwaway stab at mainstream attention. Many performers would have opted, firstly, to never cover the song at all and, if they did, follow the original to the letter. Silverman isn’t interested in that. This is a great re-imagining of a timeless soft rock classic and will surprise many. 

The title song ends the EP perfectly. It is the longest song, not by much, and has the distinct feel of an effort designed to tie up any remaining loose ends or instances of unexplored potential. Silverman’s vocal is particularly affecting here and finds a perfect fit with the music. There isn’t a better song that Silverman could have chosen for this slot and it closes her EP release with the same grace and uncluttered sophistication that defines Leaflike as a whole.  

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Leaflike-Jeri-Silverman/dp/B00JXJ7NQ8 

9 out of 10 stars. 

Bradley Johnson

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Chris Murphy – Surface To Air

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Chris Murphy – Surface To Air

URL: http://chrismurphymusic.com/music/

Chris Murphy’s twenty five plus year career as a professional musician has resulted in a lengthy list of credits and a number of critically lauded solo albums. The latest of these, Surface to Air, is a fourteen song platter naturally dominated by Murphy’s fluent violin but hoisting a large enough tent that a variety of musical strains find their way into the mix. Despite the abundance of talent on display, there isn’t a single second of Surface to Air that plays or feels like some vacant virtuoso trip. These are performances that seek, above all else, to serve their respective songs and little more. The production casts everything in clear relief and gives each of the many instruments their own definable bit of real estate within the final mix.

Jangling guitars open “Sailing the World Alone” but Murphy’s violin soon joins in with sweeping, winding violin lines. He provides the lead for the song’s entire battery of players, but never diminishes their contributions. His vocal talents are unassuming, but the lack of singing pyrotechnics focuses listener’s attention on the lyrics and musical textures. “That Just Might Do the Trick” is a rollicking bit of country swing with a playful sense of balancing light humor with the bittersweet. The light comedic touch never trivializes the track, however, and the tight playing retains a loose assurance that pleases the ear. The album’s title track has simmering, stripped down efficiency that Murphy’s vocal matches with convincing phrasing and just the right amount of restraint. “Vernon Tool & Die” is quite an idiosyncratic number on the album, a full on departure into the singer/songwriter mode. It may not be initially accessible to some listeners and, like many of the album’s songs, deserves repeated listening to comprehend it fully. The quasi-waltz tempo gives the track an easy-going amiability and the narrative thread sustaining its lyrics is quite strong.

“The Oscar Wilde Waltz” is, arguably, the album’s finest instrumental. It’s an exquisitely written piece played with superb timing and moves with smooth control throughout its duration. As the song title indicates, this is an outright waltz that Murphy and his band lock onto and never lose. “Elmira Prison Camp” has rootsy aims and approximates the feel of early 20th century blues and early country classics without ever seeming too imitative. These are intelligent lyrics that do more than invoke the past through obvious images and, instead, try to plumb deep into actual experience. “Wish You Well” strikes a complicated but ultimately conciliatory note. It’s set to a cozy, uptempo folk backing centered on acoustic guitars and Murphy’s melancholy vocal. The album’s concluding song, “The Hunter and the Fox”, is a final instrumental pastoral invoking a variety of moods. The instrumentation remains founded on the marriage of Murphy’s violin with guitars, but the bass lays down a solid groove that allows everything on top to flourish.

It’s a fantastic end to a rich, melodically strong album. Chris Murphy has learned his lessons well from influences like Dylan, Richard Thompson, and countless others. Surface to Air is a deep collection of songs and instrumentals that plays coherently from first song to last and never lapses into self indulgence.

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/989wclz/chris-murphy-surface-to-air

9 out of 10 stars.

Aaron Ellis

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The Energy – “When We Were Young”

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The Energy – “When We Were Young”

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCswB0b79No

Brooklyn four-piece The Energy has returned with their fifth studio album, When We Were Young, their first release in over two years. The long-awaited album marks a revival of the momentum that is not only their namesake, but that has defined their sound through the years and with each preceding release. Though this fresh album only spans nine tracks, each one completely polished and borderline incendiary that The Energy would almost be doing themselves and their listeners an injustice by trying to jam any more material into this one. Trust me, the nine tracks on When We Were Young will more than satisfy you when it comes to receiving the adrenaline injection that comes while listening to an album from The Energy.

On the album opener, “Losing Myself,” they sing, “I’m losing myself, and I’m falling…right back down to where you want me,” setting the tone for a manipulative love that threads its way throughout the whole album. Freedom is desired, but it couldn’t be further from their grasp.

The Energy’s technical prowess is always at work on When We Were Young, more evident at some places than at others. The second track, “You Can Follow,” goes through some highly technical shifts that would leave a lesser band pulling their long, greasy hair out. The Energy handle it flawlessly, in a similar way to the likes of highly skilled rock bands like, say, a Rush back in their day.

The third track, “When We Were Young,” shares its name with the album, and it’s undoubtedly the one that’s the most focused on the past—or, rather, reflection on where we are in the present, and how we’ve gotten here. Two people, formerly deeply in love, have now, years later and no longer mired in their youth, have grown apart and it seems inevitable that the end is nigh. Alas, the chorus waxes nostalgic: “Oh when we were young, oh we could not fight it our life had just begun…when we were young.”

But is there hope? The following track, “Wait for Me,” surely gives the impression that the veil is lifting and that there may be hope for reconciliation. “Will you wait for me tomorrow?” they sing. “I’ll turn to you once more.” It’s now up to the other member of the relationship to either take the hand, or push away eternally into the ether.

The biggest standout on When We Were Young emerges on the track “Don’t Come Around,” where the basslines thump like late-era Jimi Hendrix Experience licks, and the tone is cocky and confident. Whoever she is, after listening to this song, she knows to not come around anymore—it’s completely over.

The album ends on a high note with concluding track, “The Constant,” which features G4SHI. The song reverberates loudly and proudly, as they ask, “Would you be my constant, and set me free?” Subsequently, a slow, open hi-hat drum beat complements twangy electric licks to create an addictive and catchy flow. G4SHI’s flows at the end of the track show The Energy’s ability to incorporate broad themes cohesively into one song.

The Energy have put together an album here that, if not flawless, certainly shows significant growth from the perspective of instrumentation and lyricism. Diehard fans will be pleased with the new material, and those new to the band who stumble upon this album will become fans for life. Get your copy of When We Were Young now.

I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/when-we-were-young/id1104692098

Review by Charles Thomas

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Broke Royals – The Luxury of Time Part Three

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Broke Royals – The Luxury of Time Part Three 

URL: http://brokeroyals.com/ 

Duos don’t often pack the punch that Broke Royals harbors. Colin Cross and Phillip Basnight are adept at conjuring a thrilling sonic storm despite their status as a duo and appropriate a grandeur many listeners are used to hear from five and six piece bands. They have been rather prolific since their 2014 debut – the duo has traveled along the East Coast serving up well-received live performances while writing and recording three conceptually themed EP’s. The third and latest, The Luxury of Time Part Three, might sound like the title to a sci fi movie sequel, but it’s a substantive and often moving musical work that illustrates how Broke Royals might be one of America’s best indie bands and flying just a little under the radar.  

The six song release begins with “On My Way”. The synthesizer lines and pleasing harmony vocals give the song a cloud-reaching buoyancy. The upbeat sheen is no act, but it isn’t about soft emotions and sentiment. This is a glorious track about self-determination and the drive to realize your own future; Basnight and Cross convey equally convey that message as songwriters and performers. “New Suns” gives them the chance to concentrate more on their rock chops and the results are an intense, hard hitting workout that burns with every bit of the fire implied by its title. They hit the EP’s sole lull with “Young Tigers”, but the lull is more about missed opportunities than any inherent weakness in the songwriting. Instead, the track never feels like it fully realizes its dramatic potential and its curious restraint cuts into the momentum generated by the first two songs. 

“Love, Youth, & Glory” recovers any lost ground and makes bold new advances. The song will strike many as hitting all the targets that the preceding song aimed at and the difference in their success seems, superficially, owed to inspiration alone. While “Young Tigers” never really takes off, this track can hardly contain itself and has an all-around imaginative flair that makes it play in a spontaneous rather than studied fashion. By this point on the EP, attentive listeners will perhaps notice how the track listing evolves, like a duo distilling and simplifying their artistic vision down to its purest essence from song to song. We are literally listening to a band evolving at breakneck speed.  

Their evolution reaches full flourish on “Heartless Come Around”. Broke Royals never, surprisingly perhaps, take a swing for the Big Statement with this concluding full length song. The track plays as a final affirmation of the EP’s merits and doesn’t command in an inordinate amount of the songwriting spotlight, but closer listen reveals a wildly ambitious number in some ways that hints at the duo’s potential greater gifts. The relative modesty of the song in and its placement in a conceptual work shows evidence of a band concerned with form and balance. Imposing some arbitrary construction on the tail end of their EP would have upset the delicate balance they’ve achieved, so instead, Broke Royals emerge with a final song that plays as one of the same with those preceding it while still ending things quite eloquently.

8 out of 10 stars. 

FACEBOOK: http://facebook.com/brokeroyals 

Lance Wright

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Secret Season – Love is the Only Game in Town

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Secret Season – Love is the Only Game in Town 

URL: http://www.secret-season.com/boutique/ 

Looking at the album cover can sometimes give you some vague idea of what to expect within. The hazy, retro-themed cover of Secret Season’s fourth full length release Love is the Only Game in Town takes our imaginations straight into a tense world where everything is deeply felt, doubt is common, and nothing feels stable. There’s a desperation implied by the album title that pervades the musical mood – many of the album’s 12 cuts are downbeat excursions or infused with credible bluesy gravitas. Singer/guitarist Mark Moogalian and his creative cohort Isabelle Risacher create their own musical universe on this latest album, as they have done for the three preceding it, and it’s accessible to anyone who cares to listen.  

“Love is the Only Game in Town” starts things up in a memorable fashion. This is an all-around superb song with tight, stripped back musical lines and a lyric that neatly dovetails with the accompaniment. This is one of the album’s primary approaches and it never changes despite how the duo utilizes their songwriting tools. An early and ideal example of this is the album’s second song, “She’s So Mysterious”. It obviously has some commercial potential, but likewise runs along a very particular track with compositionally minded guitars and an emphasis on establishing melody and atmosphere over adhering to formula. Things take a light turn towards the industrial on “Show Me What You’ve Got”, but the song’s true allure lies more in its juxtaposition of Risacher’s voice and the powerful drumming. “When I Saw Jesus” moves along similar lines, but it’s much more of a conventional noisy alt rocker and eschews some of the darker shades heard in the earlier song. There’s certainly an added element of satire driving the song as well. “Linen White” has a lot of interesting spacing and a strong melodic quality despite another healthy dose of Moogalian’s hallucinatory guitar fills.  

“Mean Streak” is vaguely reminiscent of “When I Saw Jesus” due to its shared wry sense of humor, but they share a further undercurrent of seriousness that works appealingly with the light comedy. Secret Season moves towards a much poppier angle than many of the earlier tracks with “I Wanna Be With You” and Moogalian’s spirited vocal is the icing on its musical cake. “She’s a Spy” finds Moogalian contending with another witchy woman that he can’t pull himself away from and the song has much of the style distinguishing similarly themed earlier songs. The album’s closing song “Shine On” is a moody finale that brings the album to a satisfying, but ambivalent conclusion. 

Secret Season’s fourth album is strong enough to establish them as one of the best style driven alt rock bands working today. There’s an easy confidence filling each of these songs that never swaggers too much, but instead takes a number of chances that much more conventional outfits avoid. Love is the Only Game in Town recalls a number of influences and synthesizes them with personal flair.  

CD BABY: https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/secretseason4 

9 out of 10 stars. 

William Elgin

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Jackpot Luck featuring Gary Bonanni

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Jackpot Luck featuring Gary Bonanni

BANDCAMP: https://jackpotluck.bandcamp.com/

You make a successful career with your band, travel around the world and widely appreciated. But you have a collection of songs made in the most testing of times that has never seen the light of the day. And when Alon Lotringer sees its raw potential what happens is – JackPot Luck happens. A mix of songs from Bonnani’s early years that reflect those dark musician days is just that – dark and cold. With the strumming guitar which takes the limelight making the lyrics take the back seat, the songs are true to its genre: rock music.

‘A clown around here’ touches on the loneliness of an artist and the trials faced when he is trying to find a path in music-dom. The music is somber that resonates with every ‘down in the dumps’ moments. His voice seems constricted and it takes time to fall in tune with the music. However, it does get better as it progresses. ‘The saddle’ is an even better effort. This stands out from the rest as it takes a positive note although it still is in the gloomy side of the continuum. Moving at a steady pace, it culminates in a beautiful end where the instrumentals weave magic and the listener is left in a melodic high. Bonnani puts his anger and sorrow at the hypocrisy of the world – vigilante institutions in particular – into words in ‘Ugly garden’. He renders it in his mellow voice that is like a balm on the festering wound. A perfect song for those endless, troubling nights.

At a faster pace, ‘Head full of stone’ is placed to bring back the jive in the melancholic pace of the songs. It is groovy and starts with a ‘boom’, but once again it meanders to his frustration at the world. As the song goes one wonders what happened to Bonnani to feel the way he feels. ‘Careless talking’ is another track on the woes of the world. The song brings continuity when the album is heard at one go. It is like Bonnani is yet to get closure on the themes already visited. You definitely are engaged, and curious after this track. His hand at the guitar makes the song what it is. The instrumentals, more than anything, make the song worth listening.

‘The feeling’ does nothing to alleviate the despair one feels by the end. However, the instrumentals at the end of the track is worth mentioning and it brings the album to a peaceful close.

On the whole Bonnani’s hand work with the guitar is really a piece of art. It gives a rush, though it takes a seasoned listener to feel at home with his lyrics. Playing the guitar, though, is definitely his forte. His tryst with writing songs puts raw emotions into words in a way that sometimes makes you feel just as lost, and at other times in awe of how cogently he hits the nail on the head. Bonnani’s songs recorded over the past decade was thankfully, not left behind with his past!

Purchase Link: https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/garybonanni

Overall rating: 7/10

Jodi Crane

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Version 5 (v5) – “Take You There EP”

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Version 5 (v5) – “Take You There EP”

URL: http://version5music.com/main

Why don’t we drop the formalities? Let’s get straight to the point. From the first seconds of the first song alone that I have heard from this EP, I already knew that the next 7 minutes of my time is literally going to rock! Version 5 really nailed it with their songs in this album. Although, right off the bat, it’s pretty certain that I’ve to say this – despite their great songs, the EP’s way too short.

But first, you may now be asking yourselves: “Who in the heck is Version 5?” Well, Version 5 happens to be a somewhat new, really cool Rock band that’s made up two brothers, Andy and Spencer Olson. The two-man band specializes on Rock as its main genre, more specifically, Electronic and Industrial rock like Linkin Park or Nine-Inch Nails. That’s what is also written in their bio, and I cannot agree more.

Without a doubt, these guys are rocking it as an Electronic/Industrial Rock duo. As a result, these guys have been spotted by a Multi-Platinum record producer, Jeff Blue, in 2013. Since then, they have recorded three different singles that have they have decided to make them into an EP. Fast forward to the present, they’ve made enough noise to be reviewed. Here’s what I truly think about their album.

This album is really great. But on the other hand, I have never seen a shorter EP in my life. I got hooked upon listening to their first song, but after 6 minutes later, I was abruptly stopped from listening when I found out that the whole EP was only 9 minutes in total. To be completely fair, a thrill doesn’t have to be longer than a couple of minutes.

However, if these guys really want to make it into the genre that they’re trying to get into, they seriously have to get their heads into the game and record more of their great songs.

But we can live with their 3 songs for now. We could even talk about them one-by-one; I mean, the whole EP is literally made up of 3 songs.

‘Why Don’t You Drop’ is an awesome piece with lyrics that are surprisingly meaningful yet angsty as hell. It’s the first song on the EP and rightfully so – as the potential of this song really goes a long way. It had a Linkin Park feel to it that would make all the thirteen-year-olds in us jam like there’s no tomorrow (and I mean this in the best way possible).

The other two songs were okay to my taste. ‘Bury You’ was really heavy for its genre, but it worked as the song somehow got me to roll along with it. The chorus was the only point where they lost me, but it’s probably just me. ‘Take You There’ was really creative with its heavy Synths and futuristic rock theme. The lyrics were more generic, however, the beat definitely delivered for the song.

Overall, still a great EP. If they manage to create more songs to follow up their existing ones, then I’m sure that they’ll get their share of the spotlight.

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/version5video

Review by Cameron Catiltil

 

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Barton – Simple Songs

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Barton – Simple Songs

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/kenneth.barton.52?fref=nf

No matter what it is in life it is important to approach everything with an open mind, to give everything a chance and to give everyone the respect they deserve. Everything is coming from a different place and there is no right and no wrong way to think, live or express yourself in a creative way. For some reason this is what this album encapsulates for me, as if it has helped me remember this. The music is tuneful, melodic and well-crafted yet it is a bit left of centre to what most people would listen to, myself included, on a daily basis but this is where the beauty of it lies. It is expressive, unique, and kooky and follows its own path down the yellow brick road, creating its own set of rules.

Barton is a well-known songwriter in the North West of America who played guitar in bands Suntribe and Petal throughout the 1990’s. After been on hiatus from the music scene since 2001 he returned with his solo album “Falling Out” in 2012.

“Simple Songs”, the latest release from Barton is an album made up of 16 tracks featuring six guest lead singers, Paul Kane, Jennifer Nau, Mari Lane, Jessica Spiegel, Katie McNeely and Tara Walker. It is filled with an array of styles and ideas from trippy psychedelic tunes to shimmering sunshine pop songs that bring with it all the bright colours of the rainbow. The record packs in variety and choice and just has this overall aroma of self-belief, honesty and good fun. All of the tracks seem to have an identity and character of their own, like each song is in a world of its own, all brimming with life and positivity.

The album opens with the track “We Are the Ones”, a song that represents the record very well as a whole. “The big dream is bullshit because we are the ones”, the track is telling us that we are in control of our destiny and gives off a feeling of get up, get out and do it. The song provides a big message and the music which accompanies it is bright, cheerful and energetic with guitars that groove along nicely and compliment perfectly. The theme and feeling continues throughout the record with well-crafted love songs like, “Way about Her” and “Some Day”.

Although “Simple Songs” features six different lead singers it does not cause any confusion, nor does the album drag or waver in anyway. All of the vocalist gel nicely together and add something different to what makes a complete record. The album is called, “Simple Songs” but some of the intrinsic musicianship on the LP are anything but simple. There is some wonderful, guitar and bass playing on display with a tightly spun rhythm section. Where the simplicity lies is in the overall positive good vibe of the album. Other highlights include songs, “The Healer”, “For a While” and closing track “The Big Dig”.

As “Simple Songs” is released Barton is still busy with new recordings and with gigging live with a semi-acoustic version of Petal he calls Petal-Lite.

SPOTIFY: https://play.spotify.com/album/7KOjTMWHviupaccxMr4A4C?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open

Review by Darragh O’Dea

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/kenneth.barton.52?fref=nf

No matter what it is in life it is important to approach everything with an open mind, to give everything a chance and to give everyone the respect they deserve. Everything is coming from a different place and there is no right and no wrong way to think, live or express yourself in a creative way. For some reason this is what this album encapsulates for me, as if it has helped me remember this. The music is tuneful, melodic and well-crafted yet it is a bit left of centre to what most people would listen to, myself included, on a daily basis but this is where the beauty of it lies. It is expressive, unique, and kooky and follows its own path down the yellow brick road, creating its own set of rules.

Barton is a well-known songwriter in the North West of America who played guitar in bands Suntribe and Petal throughout the 1990’s. After been on hiatus from the music scene since 2001 he returned with his solo album “Falling Out” in 2012.

“Simple Songs”, the latest release from Barton is an album made up of 16 tracks featuring six guest lead singers, Paul Kane, Jennifer Nau, Mari Lane, Jessica Spiegel, Katie McNeely and Tara Walker. It is filled with an array of styles and ideas from trippy psychedelic tunes to shimmering sunshine pop songs that bring with it all the bright colours of the rainbow. The record packs in variety and choice and just has this overall aroma of self-belief, honesty and good fun. All of the tracks seem to have an identity and character of their own, like each song is in a world of its own, all brimming with life and positivity.

The album opens with the track “We Are the Ones”, a song that represents the record very well as a whole. “The big dream is bullshit because we are the ones”, the track is telling us that we are in control of our destiny and gives off a feeling of get up, get out and do it. The song provides a big message and the music which accompanies it is bright, cheerful and energetic with guitars that groove along nicely and compliment perfectly. The theme and feeling continues throughout the record with well-crafted love songs like, “Way about Her” and “Some Day”.

Although “Simple Songs” features six different lead singers it does not cause any confusion, nor does the album drag or waver in anyway. All of the vocalist gel nicely together and add something different to what makes a complete record. The album is called, “Simple Songs” but some of the intrinsic musicianship on the LP are anything but simple. There is some wonderful, guitar and bass playing on display with a tightly spun rhythm section. Where the simplicity lies is in the overall positive good vibe of the album. Other highlights include songs, “The Healer”, “For a While” and closing track “The Big Dig”.

As “Simple Songs” is released Barton is still busy with new recordings and with gigging live with a semi-acoustic version of Petal he calls Petal-Lite.

SPOTIFY: https://play.spotify.com/album/7KOjTMWHviupaccxMr4A4C?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open

Review by Darragh O’Dea

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Cody Webb – More Than A Little

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Cody Webb – More Than A Little

URL: http://codywebbcountry.com/

Cody Webb, an aspiring musician from a small town in South Carolina, has definitely put conspicuous effort in his new single More Than A Little. The singer first started learning how to play the guitar when he was three years old, and went on to start writing songs. He was been in and out of the studio since the age of thirteen. In his single for his new EP that is out this summer, he goes in a different direction. This love song has an emotional touch. The song begins with a whimsical guitar intro, and slowly eases into Cody Webb’s ardent vocals and romantic lyrics. His incredible vocal potential and efficiency is demonstrated.

As a child, Cody Webb was inspired by his father, Eddie Webb, an accomplished singer/ songwriter. He now resides in Nashville, Tennessee, and has performed in hundreds of tours nation-wide. His previous original songs have helped him gain a steady fan base. His passionate tenor and proficient guitar work has made him well known. Webb’s music style can be described as Tim McGraw meets The Eagles.

The track, More Than A Little, has a very romantic tone to it. The passion and emotion of the track is well highlighted through the heartfelt song writing. The song has more of a southern rock vibe. The track is laced with beautiful lyrics, a guitar melody and a stunning guitar solo at the end. The audience can easily connect to the song and relate to the lyrics.

The country music industry is in need of more singer/ songwriters such as Cody Webb. His talent is not to be overlooked. Many of his fans are anticipating the release of his acoustic version of More Than A Little. Cody Webb is certainly a thriving musician and his work is gaining more and more recognition.

In conclusion, this is one song that will bring back memories of a not so distant age where good folk-Pop-Country stirred the airwaves and the as a result the souls and hearts of millions. “More than a Little” by Cody Webb possesses a more simplistic feel but is brilliant nonetheless. All the while inspiring people with amazing musical energy to get people singing, dancing, loving each other again. Isn’t that what music is all about?

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/codywebbcountry/

Adrian Watkins

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Corvaa – Zipper

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Corvaa – Zipper 

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/corvaa 

A fairly classic start to a house music track, with the addition of a bit of breathing, on first listen I did wonder if the breathing would continue for the whole track. In keeping with the breathing theme, I find Corvaa’s voice kind of breathy too, and if I am completely honest I didn’t like it first time round. Almost too breathy, I like a voice to sound like it knows it should be there. (Her vocals are quite different on her other tracks earning her the tag ‘musical chameleon’) After the sighing intro the pianos come in, and you know you can be prepared for some possibly quite generic house music. Was that the sound of a zipper I heard there too? I think it was, and I cannot decide if that is comical or subtle enough to be clever, the song being entitled Zipper. See what they did there? Zzzzip! Definitely a zipper noise which sets me off on an utter tangent wondering about sound effects and how big the zip was. I shouldn’t have mentioned that, and left it, like one of those meme photos declaring ‘you won’t believe what happens next’. Darn I wish I hadn’t heard it now. As they say once heard it cannot be unheard, so I will leave it up to you to decide. Let’s not get too hung up on a zipper. 

As a house track it is indeed well constructed and produced, the producers being Mark J and Steve K. Mark J is also her business partner. New York based, born in Greece, Corvaa herself is pretty ambitious, having started out by recording songs on her phone and uploading them directly onto SoundCloud. She has over 50 thousand plays on SoundCloud and 10,000 plus Instagram followers. This stuff all counts, and has made the music industry sit up and listen. Corvaa has declared she wants to create an empire, and from anything I have read about her she is very determined and driven and will get to where she wants to be. 

I do really like the break at about 2.50 in the track, where the music is pared right back, and there’s a guitar break, slight change of beat and yes more breathing but a little variation it. Listening the second time to Zipper I can see that I have been drawn in. 

But you know what, context means a lot. Corvaa name drops Remy Martin cognac in the lyrics (nice choice) and you know what, sitting listening to this track on SoundCloud on my phone reminds me of long car journeys. This song is not made to be listened to at home on small speakers. It requires a big club, strobe lights, slightly sweaty bodies dancing, that kind of thing. 

For me this is not a ‘rush out to buy it’ track, more of a wouldn’t switch off the radio kind of song. More importantly if it were on in a club I would dance and I think a lot of other people would too. 

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/corvaamusic/posts/1734238073454431 

Review by Sarah Eaton

 

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Bobgoblin – Love Lost For Blood Lust

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Bobgoblin – Love Lost For Blood Lust

BANDCAMP: https://bobgoblin.bandcamp.com/album/love-lost-for-blood-lust

In a time where so many bands last as long as a TV Commercial, few musical groups and artists have found the way to stay active for a long time or split and comeback again, in both cases they either archive the success they found back in their early days or for those who haven’t been so lucky- still struggling to breakthrough and find a spot on this tough industry, that even with the advent of technology and social medias, because of their lack of marketing knowledge, haven’t found the way to exploit those tools to their own advantage.

Even though family tear them apart for a few years, Bobgoblin are back with Love Lost For Blood Lust to reclaim the Iron throne (pun intended) and please both their old and new fans with new music that recalls their old sound, that way remaining truth to themselves and instead of “evolving” as other 90s Pop-punk have been doing lately, their music still has that poppy touch with a punk angst attitude in tracks such as “Feel No Pain” while adding other musical layers in songs like “Danger” where the band goes on an Alternative direction that resembles Fountain of Wayne and Marcy Playground. On “Waiting For The Sun”, the New Wave’s playful synth effects that we found on “Feel No Pain” is still present but instead of moving towards another genre like Punk, the song has this really cool 80s vibe that would get you up on your feet and dance along. Proving they can be a pretty eclectic band, we stumble upon the track 5 “White Lines” that blends David Bowie’s glam rock with a strong Foo Fighter’s Alt. Rock, making it one of the hardest and most “aggressive” songs on this album.

There’s no constructive or negative criticism about this record, while some tracks kinda sounds pretty similar to another on the same album, the band finds the way to add a new twist. The contrast between the upbeat and happy melodies with the dark and crude lyrics shows their songwriting skills, something sadly we don’t see every day, especially on the mainstream scene where they all deal with the same topics in a very generic way that seems like they were written by heartless Robots or a dumb machine. The band pours their heart and ideology on every single making them unique, always telling a different story yet the theme never changes.

Wrapping up, this is an album that all those who miss the cool 80s/90s cool and catchy melodies from back in the days should listen to and grab a copy immediately. For all those fans worried that they might had changed during the 10+ years they were on hiatus, do not as they still the awesome band they used to be back them, perhaps even better. I’m telling you all, don’t be surprised if you get to see them playing some big stages soon and stealing the spotlight.

Rating: 8.5/10

CD BABY: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bobgoblin

by Rafael Jovine

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Lena Fayre – “Cry”

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Lena Fayre – “Cry” 

VIMEO: https://vimeo.com/163996978 

Pop performers, by nature, are ephemeral figures. The genre isn’t historically concerned with making lasting musical and lyrical statements, though there are notable exceptions, and as such the flavor of the moment commercially is often out of the business a few short years later or else working with a much lower profile than before. No such fate will ever befall Lena Fayre if she continues writing and recording songs with the quality of “Cry”. This is five star electropop with entertainment value and intelligence to burn. Fayre has proven herself, since her 2013 debut, to be an outstanding and dexterous vocalist and writer alike who never panders to her audiences and moves between musical styles with impressive fluency. An outstanding full length album, two solid EPs and an assortment of top shelf singles have earned her a stellar reputation and frequent plaudits. The latest release is certain to continue that tradition.  

It is musically lean and unsparing. Fayre doesn’t overburden the song with needless instrumentation and meaningless effects but, instead, pares things back to their elemental needs and concentrates on laying a particularly fierce vocal over the top. The bass controls the song’s rhythm section attack but the persistent, restless beat maintained by the preprogrammed percussion is an important cog in the song’s success. The keyboards and other electronica flourish most brightly during the song’s chorus and Fayre matches their sonic power with her marvelous voice. 

It is a voice with wide reaching powers of expression. Unlike many similar singers in the field, Fayre doesn’t have some sickly sweet tone or strain outside her range to approximate some dimwitted idea of pop appeal. Instead, she moves from moments of real sensitivity to darker, more nuanced measures without sounding forced or straining for effect. Her phrasing is equally top notch and shows a real attentiveness to the text. 

The lyrics of “Cry” won’t surprise Fayre’s existing fans, but experienced music fans hearing her for the first time will be happily shocked. Fayre doesn’t turn her lyrics into some hollow parade of clichés and expecting her vocal alone to convey any sense of depth – instead, Fayre writes clearly and often wrenchingly about the experience of personal woe and it gives her and the song alike added firepower to mark their mark on potential listeners.  

With luck, hard work, and the right promotion, a single like “Cry” could prove to be a pivotal moment in Fayre’s young career. The all around quality of this song sets her apart from the pack and is huge evidence that Fayre is a mammoth talent in the making. She throws herself into her music with the sort of passion that we hear all too rarely today. This latest entry in her blossoming career carries her closer to the stratosphere where she belongs. Few pop singles this year are better and few to come will likely match the merit of this song.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/LenaFayre

TWITER: https://twitter.com/lenafayre 

Brad Johnson

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Justin DiFebbo – Skin and Bones

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Justin DiFebbo – Skin and Bones 

URL: http://www.justindifebbo.com/ 

Americans have an aversion to revisiting the past that most of the world does not share. We talk about the past, in this context, not as a place to hide from progress, but rather a shared history all may draw inspiration from if so moved. Many of our musical traditions are deep reservoirs for self-expression that we’ve only skimmed the surface of and share connections with other traditions. DiFebbo’s fidelity to past musical styles isn’t a limitation. It would be if he were a shameless imitator or demonstrated little to no grasp about how to use those musical elements. It isn’t the case. Instead, DiFebbo clearly understands the music traditions he’s chosen to align himself with and crafts songs that illustrate his influences while still bearing distinctive, idiosyncratic marks of the individual. The ten songs on his second album Skin and Bones are the best evidence for these claims – varied, consistent, familiar, yet crackling with youthful confidence and a distinctive voice. 

He doesn’t start small. “Adrift” opens Skin and Bones with an enormously cinematic, highly melodic track. It’s an ambitious mini pop symphony barely clocking in over three minutes in length but seemingly much longer. It’s amazing how DiFebbo can often pack the experience of three songs into one without ever overwhelming his listeners or exhausting their focus. This is a wonderfully condensed epic that, single-handedly, demonstrates DiFebbo’s songwriting prowess. If “Back and Forth” rocked any harder than it does, the riff alone could give listeners whiplash trying to follow it. It’s a tight guitar figure with the fewest possible notes and wastes no time at all. DiFebbo guts out an intense, gritty rock vocal that puts the song over as much as possible. “Do What You Like” explores one of the album’s more popular approaches. DiFebbor dispenses with percussion and, instead, gives us an acoustic guitar led track with keyboards and post-production effects wielding considerable influence over the atmosphere. Ultimately, this song is like others – intelligent and upscale pop with a definite “voice”. 

The title track has a similar approach, but achieves its goals with different instruments. The introduction of pedal steel guitar is an important moment and recalls David Gilmour’s use of the instrument on early Pink Floyd albums. “Good Intent” is a free-floating guitar work out of sorts lacking percussion and carried aloft by the power of its melodies – particularly the vocal melody and DiFebbo’s stunning delivery. “Too Much”, the album’s penultimate song, has the same relaxed take that fuels so many of the songs. The drumming has been an important factor in the album’s quality and this is a final reminder of that – the understated percussion and high hat work gives the song a lift it would otherwise lack. The final song on Skin and Bones, “Be My Star”, has one of DiFebbo’s best yearning vocals and the sensitive musical accompaniment, most of all from the guitar, finishes the album on a deeply satisfying note. 

Perhaps DiFebbo could have varied the tempos some, much of the album seems set at the same sleepy meter, but there’s little question that DiFebbo is an artist of boundless promise not content to merely rework shopworn formulas. He plumbs deep into the traditions he works within, instead, and challenges himself to find something uniquely his own in each soundscape. Skin and Bones is an impressive release.  

8 out of 10 stars. 

I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/skin-and-bones/id1085493974 

Shannon Cowden

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