Posts Tagged ‘debut album’

Who’s That Pack – Volume 1 (Performorgy)
January 2008

Who’s That Pack (Tim Blane, Syd, Chad Perrone, Todd Martin, & Patrick Thomas) is a group of interesting, original, creative singer/songwriters from New England. On this particular venture they are playing eachother’s songs and decided to record this.

The EP starts off with Tim Blane’s version of The Bottom (original by Syd). The excellently written song is bombastic and extravert and Blane delves into his own soul to bring out every ounce of effectiveness of the song. A strong start to this record. Then Todd Martin takes on Chad Perrone’s sensitive song Like Riding A Bike. It was on Perrone’s excellent full-length “Used To Dream”, where it served as a closer. It’s different hearing it with a different vocal color, but Martin really captures the essence of the song and is able to bring the same sense of urgent emotion to the surface.

Syd is up next, presenting us with his rendition of one of Patrick Thomas’ best songs, Trip. The groovy, edgy song fits with the slightly mysterious and loose performance. It leaves the listener to get into it more and more as the song progresses. Tim Blane’s Once And Future King is covered by Chad Perrone. The song pretty much evolves throughout the performance, it grows, so to speak. Perrone’s excellent vocals and Blane’s beautiful arrangement of the song go together very well.

That leaves us with the final song on “Performorgy”, where Patrick Thomas takes on Runaway by Todd Martin. And it’s exactly what you’d expect when two gifted musicians meet in the middle. A good song is a good song and a good performance is a good performance. What else need I say?

It’s obvious Who’s That Pack is a talented bunch with a good feel for the music they make themselves as well as for the music their colleagues make. Covering each other’s work gives the songs a new perspective and shows the variety and adaptability of these singer/songwriters. “Performorgy” is a more than successful experiment and I’d love to hear more.

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Little Kim & the Alley Apple 3 – Riding The Rails
March 1, 2010

From the moment you press play “Riding The Rails” takes you back to forgotten times. Combining western swing, hot jazz, bluegrass, a touch of blues and some very early rock & roll and you have a sound that hasn’t been popular for decades. Through the first half of the 20th century however, this was the proverbial ‘it’.

And while it all sounds very vintage it doesn’t sound outdated. Not for a second. It’s an hommage to an almost forgotten era in music and on top of that it’s a reminder. A reminder that this mix of rootsy genres isn’t dead at all. Little Kim & the Alley Apple 3 prove that throughout 15 very strong  songs.

You might not say it when you hear the music, but this band hails from the beautiful country of Belgium. Where, I hear you say. Yes, Belgium. There is a lot of musical talent in Belgium, but the better known names (K’s Choice, dEUS, Soulwax) are in a completely different genre. Even other acts like Jacques Brel, Hooverphonic and Vaya Con Dios aren’t close musical neighbours. If there’s one other well-known musician from Belgium that you could tie this band to it’s jazz musician Django Reinhardt who was popular in the thirties and fourties.

So yeah, that’s what you should know Belgium from. But lets get back to Little Kim & the Alley Apple 3. As I mentioned before, they bring an almost forgotten genre back to life. The combination of excellent songwriting, technically very strong musicians and a female lead singer that not just has that classic beautiful look but also a classic beautiful voice that gives this bands all the facets they need to be successful in this genre. “Riding The Rails” is only the band’s debut full-length but this world would be very unfair if there wouldn’t be many more albums to follow in the future.

It would be almost unfair to say certain songs are highlights because the level of the CD is extremely high. But if I’d have to pick a couple songs I would say the title track Riding The Rails, Who Walks In When I Walk Out, Before The Storm, Ballad of the Old Oak Tree and Lou Ella Brown are tracks that you should at the very, very least listen to. Tom de Poorter is a very skilled guitar player and his fingerpicking skills are quite astonishing, combined with the iconic lapsteel playing of Pat Cattoir, Slappin’ Slim’s impeccable timing on the double bass and Kimberly Claes’ pure, clear vocals (with excellent range), make Little Kim & the Alley Apple 3 one of the most surprising, intriguing and one of the most impressing bands I’ve come across in the last 5 years.

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AM Taxi – We Don’t Stand A Chance
June 8, 2010

I’ve been listening to these guys for awhile now and they’re good. Formed a couple years ago, released a few EPs (both of which I also recommend!) and now they are starting to break through with an excellent full-length debut. “We Don’t Stand A Chance” is often described as a pop-punk album, but lets push that nifty little tag aside right away, it’s not. There are pop influences, yes, there are punk influences, yes, but it’s not pop-punk (stupid term anyway, even though I use it myself sometimes). This is current, modern rock & roll. Music evolves, and these kids really jumped on the bandwagon, changed the tires and are now pulling that same wagon.

On “We Don’t Stand A Chance” the band mixes energetic, sometimes angsty punk-influenced rock & roll songs with more a more gentle approach sometimes. Unlike many bands in a similar genre they don’t come out with crappy cliché’s. The lyrics are strong and sometimes even profound and they are very much in tune with the musical arrangements, which themselves are filled with variety, intensity and excitement. Adam Krier’s vocals remind me of Springsteen at times, with the same mature, experienced sound to them.

The band currently joined the Warped Tour and the might very well become THE revelation of this year’s edition. The songs are extremely fit for energetic, enthusiastic live performances and this band sure knows how to deliver it. You just can’t help but get pumped by songs like Dead Street, Fed Up and Paper Covers Rock. The duet with Company of Thieves singer Genevieve Schatz, Maydays & Rosaries is probably the strongest track on the album, but another song that you should point your attention to is Reckless Ways which would make a kickass live song, but the reason I mention this song is because of the perfect timing that the band showcases in this song.

“We Don’t Stand A Chance” may very well end up in my year’s end list as it is one of the most surprising, exciting releases of 2010 so far. It’s energetic and fast-paced for the most part and it never gets boring. It doesn’t drag along by doing the same thing over and over again, it doesn’t get into cliché’s (musically, lyrically or otherwise) and the progression of the songs throughout the album has a very natural flow. For a debut album, this is very, very well done.

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Lady Danville – Lady Danville [EP]
December 16, 2007

This is an EP from 2007, but I didn’t come across it until recently. Lady Danville is a pretty unknown pop group out of Los Angeles. In 2007 they released a 5-song EP with pleasant, radio-friendly pop songs.

Their songs are basically acoustic (either piano or guitar) based songs that may be quite simple, but at the same time very effective. It’s catchy and unlike many pop bands that crank out catchy songs, these songs don’t get annoying. The lead off track Anthem is not too much out of the ordinary, but the second track Tired Magician is a very good song. The band delivers on a strong track with good vocal harmonies and an excellent build-up. More layers and intensity are added to the song as it goes on. The progression of the song is very strong.

The EP has 3 more songs on it, including the radio-friendly Cast Away and laid-back Love To Love which just sounds like a bunch of musicians having fun making a song together. And that laid-back, fun loving feeling the song has, that is exactly what makes it such a strong track. The closer David is faster-paced and I imagine it could be a pretty interesting live track, but to me it didn’t really feel like a closing track. Very decent song, but wrong placement on the CD.

The self-titled “Lady Danville” EP is an early statement from a pop band that’s on the rise. Songwriting is pretty good, lyrically they don’t grab all the cliché’s out of the closet and musically everything’s pretty sound. Maybe a little more energy or intensity would make the songs stand out a little more, but this EP is a very good first step and as the band gains more recognition I would imagine they could become a pretty big hit in the US, and who knows what happens then.

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The Boy Who Trapped The Sun – Fireplace
July 12. 2010

I recently stumbled upon some early recordings by a young man from Scotland. Colin McLeod, better known under his artist moniker ‘The Boy Who Trapped The Sun’, is a promising singer/songwriter who creates music with a subtle, sometimes sentimental undertone without losing sight of the songs’ pop sensibility.

With his first official full-length release, “Fireplace”, he is likely to gain recognition and critical acclaim from many places. Especially for a debut album, it is well balanced and features several excellent songs.

The mellow, laidback feel of the album fits McLeod’s soothing vocals and his lyrics are accessible and relatable. With folky pop songs like Golden and the beautiful Walking In The Dark you hear the basis of this singer/songwriter whose style is similar to artists like Ben Howard, Ed Harcourt, Patrick Park and Joseph Arthur. I wouldn’t immediately compare The Boy.. to them, but just for a point of reference those fall into a similar musical category.

There’s a good balance between the more breezy tracks like Golden, Fireplace, I See You & Copper Down for example and more upbeat pop songs that are quite attractive to mainstream radio like Katy & Dreaming Like A Fool. While sometimes the songs are a little simple, that doesn’t make the album any less. McLeod puts the principle of less is more in practice on some tracks and I would argue it makes these tracks stronger instead of weaker. By keeping it simple on key moments he keeps the songs accessible and catchy. The best example of that may be lead single Katy.

The world is overcrowded with singer/songwriters trying to make a name for themselves. And while there is a lot of talent out there, even a lot of those talented musicians don’t stand out enough to break through. This may be a shame, but on the other hand, it wouldn’t be good for the music scene if only the same and similar would make it to the big stage. The Boy Who Trapped The Sun however does have something going for him. I won’t say that his music is totally new or there has never been anyone like him, but there is a sense of originality and freshness in his music and attitude that shines through on “Fireplace”. With key tracks like Golden, Katy, I See You, Thorn In Your Side & Copper Down, there is a lot of talented songwriting displayed on this album and McLeod knows how to deliver his songs with feeling and conviction. And to be honest, that is where it starts for a singer/songwriter.

“Fireplace” is a promise of talent, maybe even a promise of big things to come for McLeod, but he will have to keep at it and work hard to deliver on that promise. But for now I say chapeau for a job well done and some well-deserved attention for “Fireplace” as it is a more than solid debut that completely validates for The Boy Who Trapped The Sun to get a shot at breaking through to a bigger podium.

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Slave Called Shiver – Superlateral
April 20, 2010

This rock band from Austria released a few demos in the past, but they are now ready to present their debut album “Superlateral” to the world. The band underwent a couple changes in the recent past but the strong basis of the band is still standing strong.

“Superlateral” is a diverse and creative alternative rock record. Vocalist and primary songwriter Alicia Bankhofer is completely in touch with the songs she writes and the combination of strong songwriting and passionate vocals, excellently backed up by guitarist Philip Rechthaler and other musicians make for an album filled with powerful rock songs.

Songs that immediately stand out are Great Escape which is intense and powerful, the driven anthem Paint My Blues, and the creative Lies. But the whole album is full of surprisingly strong rock songs. I say surprisingly because it isn’t very often you see this kind of quality on a band’s debut album.

The drive and passion with which the songs are performed makes for an intense album that enables you to really get into the songs. If you’re into alternative rock or into melodic rock music with an edge, you will have to give this album a listen. Don’t be afraid to spend a few bucks on “Superlateral” because you will get your money’s worth all the way through this album.

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Allie Moss – Passerby [EP]
March 30, 2009

Last year, Allie Moss released a pretty impressive EP called “Passerby”. It contains 7 well written pop songs that have the ability to stick in your head for days on end. I don’t know how long the ‘la la las’ of Corner were resonating in my head.

It’s not just a matter of catchy pop songs, no, Allie Moss actually shows she’s a very promising singer/songwriter on songs like Let It Go and Days I Regret. Her vocals are heartfelt and comforting and her vocal color is quite special. It’s one of those voices that can speak to you directly.

The singer/songwriter genre is very crowded and one needs something special to even get noticed. Allie Moss has the conviction and the talent to be one of those singer/songwriters who can bring something more to the table. With well-written songs and strong vocals and a personal connection to the listener she is able to lay out her music for all to hear.

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The Great Valley – Wrecking Ball [EP]
April 20, 2010

The Great Valley, based in Delaware, debuts with “Wrecking Ball”, a 5-song EP that should be interesting for fans of Sherwood, Dashboard Confessional, The Rocket Summer, Waking Ashland, Mae, and the likes. Especially the first and last mentioned band’s fans might find something interesting here. The music is generally pretty slick, but rough around the edges which I see as a positive in this genre. It gives the song a little more balls and a little more energy, which is what you’d do when you play the songs live.

The Great Valley does that very well. The songs are catchy and have airplay potential but most of all they just sound nice. It’s not always the most creative songwriting, but the execution of the songs is very well done. And for a debut EP, this is good stuff.

Title track Wrecking Ball and the gutsy Get Up! are strong tracks and the closing track Where Do We Go shows the most promise. They maintain their alternative edge but incorporate some true rock & roll and musically they take a few chances.

“Wrecking Ball” is a good debut EP and The Great Valley’s music has everything it needs to be very popular in live renditions, which is a great way to get a loyal following. If they build on that and continue to grow in the songwriting department there is not much that can stand in the way of success for this band.

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Meese – Broadcast
June 30, 2009

There are many alternative pop bands, but only some of them have a certain quality or originality to them that makes them stand out. Meese is certainly one of those bands. With catchy, enthusiastic songs that have good radio potential they deliver on a very strong album with “Broadcast”.

From the fast-paced Forward Motion, which makes one heck of a live track, the album is interesting, and it easily stays interesting all through. Single candidates like Count Me Out, Tell Me It’s Over, Next In Line and Bonfire have great choruses and have a sound that you can easily recognize. The songs are played with energy and intensity and that only makes them stronger.

Meese also shows a softer side on songs like Taking The World On, The Medicine and Movie Screens. And they do that just as well. The songs all fit together well, which is both a strength and a weakness for this album. It really feels as one package, one album, but after many listens some of the songs are in risk of starting to sound quite similar. If you’re afraid of that, however, I would suggest you check out the live versions of these songs, which is where Meese shines even more. They are very good at getting the full potential out of the songs when they take them on stage.

“Broadcast” is a strong debut, and Meese shows they are making a play for the big leagues. With this enthusiasm and radio-friendly approach it will most definitely pave the way for a breakthrough in the near future. With top songs like Tell Me It’s Over, Taking The World On, Say You’re OK and Bonfire, Meese is ready to become a pretty big player in the mainstream and alternative pop scene.

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Elske DeWall – Balloon Over Paris
February 26, 2010

Hailing from the Frysian province of the Netherlands is singer/songwriter talent Elske DeWall. While she’s been quite popular in her native area, she is now breaking through all over the Netherlands. Her strengths are her excellent vocals, well-written lyrics and personal delivery of the songs. If you take all these things into account it should not come as a surprise that her debut album “Balloon Over Paris” is doing really well in the charts.

While maintaining a singer/songwriter image and sound, DeWall doesn’t constrain herself too much musically. She easily varies between a very current sound (Come See The End In Me, Sunny Day) and a more classic singer/songwriter sound (The Remedy, Too Much To Sing For). Sometimes she kicks it up a notch and you can hear a little uptempo americana/rock & roll influences come through, which makes Promise, for example, one of the best tracks on the album.

In the past few years many female singer/songwriters have surfaced, many of them very talented, but there are a few who can bring something extra to the plate. Elske DeWall falls in that category and ranks among top singer/songwriters like Stevie Ann, Ilse DeLange & Laura Jansen.

With “Balloon Over Paris” she announces her talent to the rest of the country and with the quality she brings to the table I have no doubts that Elske DeWall is here to stay. Her songwriting will likely grow even stronger as time passes and she already is a passionate performer, so it seems the future smiles upon Elske DeWall. Check out her strong debut at her website!

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