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Posts Tagged ‘rock’

Massy Ferguson – Hard Water
October 19, 2010

For those of you who enjoy the southern charm in music, a strong mix of ballsy southern rock and the gentle rootsy/americana influenced storytelling, from now on you can just as well find it in the Northwest. Massy Ferguson, hailing from Seattle is not the next grunge sensation, no, they don’t play grunge, but they might well be one of the newest sensations in country-rock music.

All through the past 6 decades there have been huge acts in this genre. The heydays may have been in the late 60s to mid 80s, but still the music has a huge following. And with their sophomore album, “Hard Water”, Massy Ferguson is bound to tap into that following. With an Eagles-like flair and sometimes the grit of Springsteen they release an album in the tradition of Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks. It doesn’t quite reach that level yet, but the band is starting to get awefully close.

“Hard Water” features 10 altcountry songs that are very pleasant to listen to and show a lot of musicality. There’s a certain honesty in this album that helps it flourish. Combined with the strong melodies and the passionate performance makes it a very strong release.

Standout songs are Freedom Country, Wenatchee Eyes & Dreams of St. Petersburg, but the whole album deserves a listen. Massy Ferguson is a band to watch. Their debut album may not have been top of the bill yet, but this second one surely belongs up there. And if they continue to evolve with this pace, there’s no telling where their story ends. One of the best albums in the genre in 2010.

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RevoltRevolt – Chordata
November 17, 2009

Even though this album was released in 2009 I was contacted recently with a request to shine my light over this album. I’ve been listening to it for some time now and while overall the album shows a certain promise it wasn’t able to grab me by the throat or thoroughly convince me of it’s power or ability to reach out to a wide audience.

There is a strong sense of songwriting and thinking outside the box in this band and some of the songs come off nicely. The opener reminds me a little of an old LA based band called Untyde, though I must say The Infection doesn’t sound quite as tight and doesn’t have the same vocal power Untyde could provide. There are a couple tracks that aren’t too memorable, but Golden Age is a very solid track. ReVoLtReVoLt shows more power and fire in this track and with the slightly funky approach to the song the vocals have more shine to them.

This middle part of the album is actually the strongest part. Songs like After The War and All Alone show this band can come up with songs that have some power and conviction to them. But on the whole “Chordata” isn’t the top album the band may have hoped for. On the whole take, the vocals aren’t very strong, the timing of the songs is off at times and the production is just so-so.

You have to give ReVoLtReVoLt an A+ for trying, but the end result doesn’t quite cut it. Not yet at least. They show they have a knack for songwriting and arrangements and they have some interesting ideas what to do with songs. But they need to work on the execution and production of their songs if they really want to grow out into a band of name and fame. Thusfar they managed to release an album that’s okay, but I doubt many people will take notice for long. “Chordata” is a first step, but a lot of work will need to be done to get higher up the food chain.

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Unknown Component – The Infinitive Definitive
October 12, 2010

Keith Lynch, better known as Unknown Component has been at it for nearly 10 years. This October marked the release of his 8th album “The Infinitive Definitive”, which you can get your hands on through his website, for a very sweet deal I might add.

As with his previous releases, Lynch did everything by himself. Singing, playing the instruments, creating the artwork, producing, recording, engineering. You name it, he did it. This is worthy of praise on itself. But he manages to release solid album after solid album. And while I don’t think “The Infinitive Definitive” is extremely imaginative it is another strong release. The album is filled with hooks and recognizable post-grunge arrangements.

Vocals aren’t Lynch’ strongest asset, but the clever use of instruments and knowing his limitations hides that very well. On songs like Collections of the State and Future Circles it actually sounds just right.

Overall the music is strong and the arrangements carry the songs to a higher level. But even though Lynch’ did a decent job when it comes to the engineering and producing of the album it wouldn’t have been such a bad idea if someone with more expertise and experience in that department had lend a helping hand. Because at times instruments get drowned out or snowed under cause of the production. However, in songs such as A Heavy Heart or an Empty Stomach, Foundation of Rebellion and This Machine (bonus track) you can hear that the arrangements and instrumental ingenuities are structurally sound.

On the one hand there’s a certain charm to it that Lynch does everything by himself but you might also say that he could be in his own way if he is looking for that illustrous breakthrough. There’s no question of Lynch’ talent as it is abundant, there’s also no questioning his ambition and discipline, because it is impressive what he manages to get done on his own. “The Infinitive Definitive” is a testament to his talent and his work ethic, and it’s an album that more than justifies recognition. And that may just be where things could start rolling for Unknown Component. With recognition comes attention and that could very well lead to other people lending a hand. With a touch of outside perspective and a little cooperation from other professionals, Unknown Component could very well grow out to be a force to be reckoned with on alternative and rock radio.

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Taylor Carson – Defending The Name
September 14, 2010

Taylor Carson is a storyteller. An old-fashioned balladeer. In the tradition of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, James Taylor, Josh Ritter and the likes. You may notice I refer to some of the very, very best in the history of storytelling music. I do this on purpose to accentuate how Taylor Carson steps up his game on “Defending The Name”. He’s been out there for awhile, releasing music every so often. But with this new release he takes a huge leap forward and this album is bound to give him some well-deserved recognition.

Right from the opener, Moonshiner, this (sort of) autobiographic album starts to paint he picture of Carson’s family tree. He continues this trend down throughout the album, which features 16 songs of the highest quality. And through the classic mold of balladeering Carson doesn’t lose sight of the pop sensibility in his songs. Listen to Five, Freight Train or Smoke for example to hear what I mean.

“Defending The Name” is an album that is versatile. You may think that is a bold statement, but some of the songs tell a story that you just want to hear until the end, some of the songs are so endearing you can’t let go and there are songs that are simply beautiful in their simplicity.

Carson uses the lyrics as an additional instrument and enriches his songs by interweaving the music, the lyrics, the story, the feel, the message, the rhythm, the melody, everything to a collection of songs that breathe life, that breathe emotion. “Defending The Name” is by all means a modern-day masterpiece and Taylor Carson shows he’s ready to take the step into the spotlight that he now more than deserves.

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null paradox – the onion and the ants: gertrude and grace
July 21, 2010

To be honest, I had never heard of Null Paradox until recently. So I went into this album with a blank mind. “The Onion And The Ants: Gertrude And Grace” is music that belongs with the book of the same name.

Crystal Sherry’s lead vocals are strong and clear and the music has a certain sweep to it that creates a bit of an edge. Starting with opener Valentine’s Day, which is an okay track. The vocals are strong, but the arrangement isn’t too imaginative. Yet because of that it seems to work as the opener for this ‘soundtrack’ as I’ve come to see this album.

But going through the rest of the album I find that the songs aren’t really challenging or surprising. Musically it’s all tight and the vocals are actually quite strong. The over all feel and mood of the album probably fits with the book but for an album it seems to be stuck. It doesn’t get out of the shell it is placed in. Which is too bad, because if a song like Black And White (which is one of the better songs on there) had a bit more guts it could’ve been a killer song (in the tradition of heyday Incubus).

The most impressive part of the album are track 6 and 7 (Freedom / The Cell). Freedom has a lot of focus on the vocals and has a bit more guts to it when it works towards a climax. You can feel the song more than you can the other tracks. The Cell has a bit of an Evanescence vibe to it, but with a darker edge that seems to suit Null Paradox very well.

“The Onion and The Ants…” is an interesting album. It’s done pretty well but it doesn’t stand out much as a regular album. But because I’ve come to see it as a sort of soundtrack it seems to serve its purpose. I haven’t yet read the book that it accompanies but I imagine the music gets a lot more dimension once I do. So if you’re just looking for an album in this genre I don’t think this is the first one you’d grab on to, but if you are able to see the album in its context it seems to live up to what it was meant to do.

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Hillstomp – Darker The Night
July 20, 2010

Hillstomp is a very interesting band. This duo consists of musicians playing a bucket-drumkit and several string instruments (mainly guitars and banjos). It makes for a musical experience rather than just an album. This music hits you right in the chest. This mix of blues, rock & roll, roots, country and other styles is that powerful.

It’s hard to really pinpoint what “Darker The Night” is or represents. It’s energetic and it’s raw. It’s filled with emotion. It’s the music of the common people as they might’ve said back in the days of yore. From pounding songs like Cardiac Arrest in D and Satan Is Real (S.I.R.) to jangly banjo songs like Banjo Song #1, Banjo Song #2, Blue Tick, etc. it’s all real, it’s all straight to the point.

“Darker The Night” is an album of high quality. It highlights a brand of music we haven’t been hearing much in the past years (or even decades) and it brings it back with conviction and honesty that makes it stand out even more. Hillstomp is a band that is unique in this time and day. The music may not be what is commercially acceptable but it sure is damn good.

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The Quick & Easy Boys – Red Light Rabbit
June 8, 2010

The mix of funk, folk, roots, rock & roll, and whatever else is in there makes for an album full of energy, fun and refreshment. The Quick & Easy Boys may just have struck gold with “Red Light Rabbit”. Lyrically it may not be too challenging, but hey, that’s not the main focus of this album anyway.

I’ve seen references to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and while understandable, I would not draw that comparison. The jumpy guitars and the fun attitude of the songs instantly reminded me of The Craze while at the same time I seem to hear influences from bands like The Strokes, Band of Gypsies and Less Than Jake.

Right from the get-go “Red Light Rabbit” is off to set the mood. The opener is fun and leads into the album nicely. And the mix and fusion of styles throughout the album is fun. It doesn’t really get chaotic, which is a trap many similar bands fall into, but The Quick & Easy Boys easily switch between genres and mash them together with ease.

Highlights are Breakin’ Love, The Letter and Sweet Anticipation. But the rest of the album is worth listening to as well. No doubt about it. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it one of the best albums of the year, but it is one of the more surprising albums of the year. It’s refreshing, convincing and it leaves you with a feeling of free-spirited fun. And lets be honest, we all want that sometimes, right. Check out “Red Light Rabbit” as it is bound to be worth your time!

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