Archive for December, 2014

PictureAll The Roses

Ben Kramer
Independent release

“All The Roses” is a little inconsistent but it delivers on the promise Kramer gave us with “Let Go”. Especially All The Roses and Colder Tonight are really good songs. Ben Kramer writes and sings what he feels. Because his sounds and stories come from within they come across as authentic and believable and shy away from becoming cliché. With this EP he won’t necessarily garner a massive following but he takes a step towards establishing his name and shows he is honing his craft as a singer-songwriter as we can see him step it up a few notches compared to “Let Go”. I’m convinced there’s a bright future for this kid if he gets the chance to develop his talent and work with experienced people that can guide him along the way. And here’s to hoping he will get that chance because it would be a shame to waste a talent like Ben Kramer.

Read the full review here

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For those of you who frequent Inner Ear Media it should come as no surprise that I regard Chad Perrone as an iconic example of what a singer-songwriter (regardless of genre) should encompass. From his solo debut “Used To Dream” through “Wake” and “Release” he’s always been able to make his songs resonate with me on an emotional level in a way that knows few equals. Perrone’s ability to reach across space and time with his words and powerful vocals is a force to reckon with. Now that the year 2014 comes to a close, he brings us “Kaleidoscope”. A bold, new record that may speak even louder than before.

The new album is the most personal record Perrone has delivered to date. As he explained in his latest interview with Inner Ear Media, Perrone doesn’t necessarily wants to pour out his heart but it’s the only way it feels right for him. And this is exactly why I hold Chad Perrone in such high regard. Because everything he lays on us in his songs is real and genuine. He allows us to feel with him. Whether you take on the original interpretation of the songs or one you reflect on your own situation, the emotion within it strikes a chord with you because it was penned and performed from the heart and soul of someone who felt it himself.

On “Kaleidoscope” this is more true than ever. The nature of the music is still the singer-songwriter that writes pop tunes with an edge. But if you are familiar with Chad Perrone’s catalogue you will hear things you haven’t yet heard him do before. The pain and hopelessness that infuses some of the songs is tangible, the usage of beats, drum loops, synths enriches the bare essence of the songs and stories on the album. Sonically, this is a whole new Chad Perrone and because it was done with purpose, you will find that it only enhances his natural talent and doesn’t distract from it as is so often the case with other records.

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This years winners of the Inner Ear Media ‘awards’ are:

Albums of the Year

  • Inside Outside
  • Post-Tropical
    James Vincent McMorrow

Song of the Year

  • The Ballad of Jesse James
    North Country Gentlemen

Discovery of the Year

  • The Contenders

To see previous winners, check here

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Hi Chad, how have you been?

I’ve been well, thanks for asking.

You just released your new album, Kaleidoscope. Congratulations! Where does the title come from? And how does it represent the album?

My good friends at Pilot Studios here in Boston did the artwork for the album, and they also came up with the title.  I thought I was going to name the album “I’ll Leave You With This,” but during one of our initial viewings of cover art concepts, one of the designs had the title Kaleidoscope on it, which stuck out for me.  When we discussed the title they said they thought the album and its songs took on different meanings depending on where you are at in life when you viewed it (similar to viewing the colored glass in a kaleidoscope).  I loved the concept and so we kept it.

Would you say the album has a central theme? If so, what would that theme be and what made you want to write / sing about it?

As with every record I’ve put together, most of the songs I write have something to do with loss and moving on from that, and Kaleidoscope follows suit.  With the exception of a couple of songs, a lot of the album is centered on the different stages of moving on from a passionate and loving, but ultimately unsuccessful romantic relationship.

Your previous albums (Used To Dream, Wake & Release) were generally well-received and personally I consider them highlights in my collection. How would you say ‘Kaleidoscope’ provides continuity from your previous releases and what did you do differently on this release when it comes to the conception and crafting of the songs?

Sonically, I don’t think Kaleidoscope sounds like anything I’ve ever put out there before.  The continuity would be in the songs themselves.  I think if you listened to the acoustic version of the album, you’ll feel the continuity better.  At the end of the day I’m just a singer/songwriter who writes little pop songs because it’s what I do (and the process is also like “free therapy.”)

Like on your previous albums I noticed there are several songs that portray the highs and lows of personal relationships. Do these reflect personal experiences or are they based on other people’s stories (as well)? And if (some of) the songs are of an autobiographical nature, isn’t it hard for you to bare your soul like that? What makes you want to pour out your heart like that?

You bring up an interesting dilemma that I have endured since I started writing and performing, both for myself and for those that have influenced the music I’ve written.  Everything I write is extremely personal in nature.  While it’s always a bit unnerving to put those things out into the world, I think I would feel more uncomfortable writing songs that were anything but personal.  As I said for the last question, I can’t say that I “want” to pour my heart out and reveal a lot of personal information, but it doesn’t feel genuine doing it any other way.  Songwriting hasn’t always been something that I’ve done for “fun,” as much as something I’ve done for introspection and healing.

The album came together after an extensive crowd funding campaign. Why did you decide to go down that route and would you consider doing more albums this way?

It was something I saw a lot of other musicians and friends do to fund their musical efforts, so I thought I would give it a try.  Overall, it was a great success, granted it’s a lot more work on the backend to fulfill pledges, etc.

Can you tell us a little more about how such a process (with crowd funding) works and how it progresses? And how different is it from a more ‘traditional’ way of going about things?

You start off with a goal/target…essentially a budget for what it will cost to record and piece together the project.  Then you start to price out different incentives/pledges (CD, signed CD, acoustic version of the record etc.)  Until you get to the end, it’s business as usual.  Now at the end of the process it’s a matter of tying up the loose ends, and making sure all of the incentives/pledges are fulfilled.

During the writing and recording, did you ever think certain songs would never get done? And if you deal with setbacks or when you get stuck on a song, how do you deal with that? Can you just move on from a ‘stuck song’ or is it more complicated than that?

Sure, that happens all the time.  We actually set out to record 13 tracks (while only 11 made the record).  In most instances, you shelve a song and come back to it.  Much like anything else, sometimes it just takes some fresh ears or a fresh start to work through a block or setback.  In the case of the two songs that were left off the record, I just didn’t think they fit in the context of the album as a whole.  With that said, one song (“Life In the Past”) made it onto the “Unreleased” album, which was an incentive/pledge item.

On the cover, which is really cool by the way, it says “Chad Perrone presents Kaleidoscope: The music of Chad Perrone, Dennis Carroll & Steve Belleville”. Can you tell us a little more about these collaborators and what their roles were in making this record?

This was another idea that the designers (Pilot Studio) helped me to flesh out.  Dennis and Steve are longtime friends and have been integral pieces to every solo record I have done to-date (with the exception of Black Friday).  When I set out to do this album, I had a very specific idea of how I wanted things to sound, and what I wanted the process to be, and how that process would be different than other ways we had gone about doing a record before.  For the first time since I started making music (even since my time with Averi), I felt comfortable collaborating on every aspect of the production and arrangement with other people.  There were instances where Dennis and Steve would do a lot of the instrumentation of a song without me, and even when there were times when I didn’t love 100% of an idea , we would go with it if it was something they both thought worked best.

Also, in the past, we’ve had many different musicians and friends come in and contribute to an album, which while it’s been a wonderfully fulfilling and enriching process, I really wanted to do things differently with Kaleidoscope. For the first time on one of my studio albums, Dennis, Steve and I were the only people to play and sing on the album.

On Kaleidoscope there’s an increased usage of discernible beats and effects compared to your previous work. ‘Feel Everything’, ‘First Move’, ‘If Only for a Weekend’, and ‘Recovery is a Long Road’ for example are somewhat different than previous songs. What was the reason for implementing these techniques?

I had a really bad writer’s block for a long time.  One of the large reasons was that everything sounded the same to me when I would sit down to write on an acoustic guitar.  I was having a hard time coming up with new melodies and phrasings.  So, I started looping drum beats in GarageBand, followed by recording a chord progression on the keyboard/synth.  I would then just sit there and try to come up with as many different melodies as I could to a simple progression.  The result was half of the songs on the album.

The other large reason for the “beats” on the album was that I felt it actually let us be more creative.  We had a lot more control over the sounds and textures on the album, allowing us to experiment with things in ways we hadn’t been able to on other albums.

What lessons have you learned in creating Kaleidoscope and how would you put those lessons to use in the future?

Steve and Dennis understand me musically better than I could explain to you in words.  That is what I learned through this process.  I can’t say for certain that I wouldn’t entertain doing a record differently in the future, but it would be difficult to imagine recording something without them.

Is there a song on the album you are particularly proud of? If so, which one and why?

I couldn’t begin to pick just one.  I have something I’m proud of for each song, and for each little thing each one of us contributed.

Which of these songs is the most exciting to play live and why?

Good question.  I’ll let you know when we attempt to play these live as a band (which could be a while).

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Chad. Last but not least, can you tell people why they might enjoy your new record and where they can go to listen to it and purchase it if they like what they hear?

One of my weaknesses as a singer/songwriter is my inability to promote my own music, so I’ll leave the former part of your question to those that have listened to my music and like what they have heard.  I have always said that word of mouth works better than any other promotion out there.

As for the latter half, www.chadperronemusic.com and chadperrone.bandcamp.com.

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