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Posts Tagged ‘rock’

John Taglieri – Southern Paradise
2013
John Taglieri Southern Paradise CoverIt was only last year when we last heard from John Taglieri. He released the Lucky #9 EP containing upbeat rock songs. After touring the east coast and spending a lot of time in Florida entertaining the masses he now releases his next effort called “Southern Paradise”. The disc contains 6 songs that have that typical Taglieri signature though they steer away from his previous work slightly.

The EP opens with a positive attitude. The ‘nananana nananana hey hey hey’ jumps in right away on the title track. Southern Paradise is a testament to living with intent as the man himself would say. Where Taglieri was always known for his upbeat mix of powerpop and rock, or at least songs with a little bit of an edge, this song is smoother and more contemporary and the vocals provide most of the edge. With its tempo and summer holiday feel Southern Paradise is a perfect feel good song.

Then we hear When I Think About, which has a bit of a rootsy spice woven through its fabric. The rhythm in the verses builds up to the chorus perfectly and the chorus is pure gold. If only a couple of radio DJs would get their hands on this, it could take off quickly. The lyrics paint a picture of the good life, taking in all it has to offer and who doesn’t like that picture? And listen to the guitar solo roughly two thirds through the song!

On Down The Road Taglieri takes down the pace a little bit. This midtempo song has a very laidback feel and would probably appeal to fans of early Nine Days, Better Than Ezra and Matchbox Twenty. It wasn’t the song that stood out to me immediately but after a few listens I noticed the guitar work and the arrangement held a lot more to it than I noticed early on. Down The Road is a grower.

It’s You is another song where the pace is down a little bit. The lyrics are hommage to love, whether it is for a lover, a friend, a higher power or a family member. To me, it personifies the feeling that someone can mean the world to you and whatever happens or wherever you go, you will always be able to hold on to that anchor. And lets be honest, aren’t we all suckers for a good love song?

Days of Night is a perfect example of John Taglieri’s songwriting style. Listen to the song and how it builds up and finds power in the exact right moments. The honesty and emotion just spring out of it. There are few artists as convincing as John Taglieri is in that department. The song is rootsier than we’re used from Taglieri, but the song doesn’t lose any of its power because of it.

The EP ends with Turn Around which is a bit of a departure in style. It really has a sort of americana taste to it. Toned down, with an acoustic basis and a campfire song feel to it, Turn Around fits as a closer for this record. Slowly, Taglieri builds up the song to a more intense chorus that tones down as it leads towards the next verse. It has the right mix of introspect and energy and leaves the listener satisfied.

“Southern Paradise” is an interesting new record by John Taglieri. The departure towards a more rootsy style doesn’t stand in the way of Taglieri’s passion and energy and therefore it will appeal to his fans immediately. It might also opens up his catalogue for new fans who haven’t yet heard of his infectious songs. Because the songs come off a little smoother and less edgy than before, radio stations might be quicker to pick up on them and who knows what that could lead to. When I Think About and Days of Night would make excellent radio singles and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear one of these songs in a movie one day. John Taglieri keeps doing what he’s best at, writing infectious songs with strong choruses and a real joie de vivre.

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John Taglieri – Lucky #9
(April 17, 2012 – Leap Dog Music)

Everyone probably knows the feeling that music can be so familiar, so safe, that it almost feels like a home to you. A place you can hide in or that can take you away from the world. I’m sure everyone has at least one artist or band, or at least an album or a song that has that effect on them. For me that is true with John Taglieri’s music.

Because of all the honest passion and endless energy John weaves in his songs it always gets me going again. After I listen to his songs I have the energy to get on my feet and do all those things that I’ve been putting off. And I feel like there is nothing I cannot do. To quote the legendary Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try!” This music is my Yoda.

On Lucky #9 Taglieri spins tales of love and frustration, anger and commitment. He takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and issues that range from anger in the edgy rocker ‘Losing Me‘ to betrayal in the cleverly composed ‘Never Knew‘ to absolute commitment in ‘Without You‘ which starts out acoustic and evolves into an powerful pop anthem testament to love.

On ‘Dying Alive‘ John Taglieri pulls out all the stops to describe how much love can mean and how much it can hurt if you feel like it’s slipping away. Listen to the powerful emotion in the bridge. That is classic John Taglieri who can wear a song like other people wear clothes. The EP continues with an uptempo semi-acoustic song called ‘Make Me Believe‘ which is somewhere in the middle of what Sister Hazel, Gin Blossoms and Nine Days used to send into the world, yet Taglieri still manages to make it sound like John Taglieri in the first place. And since we all need someone to make us believe in love, this song is for everyone. When we near the end of this EP we hear an intro that is reminiscent of Tracy Chapman’s self-titled album. The uplifting melody combined with the message of taking action after realizing you don’t have to put your life on halt for someone else is inspiring.

John Taglieri is an honest musician who writes songs that everyone can relate to. The music isn’t pretentious, instead it is full of passion, energy and honesty. The songs on Lucky #9, at times are a little rough around the edges and the EP doesn’t have a fancy production, but that’s exactly what these songs need. Taglieri is a pure artist that writes pure and honest songs and we need them to sound that way too. Which is exactly what we got. Lucky #9 is yet another admirable release by an independent musician who knows what he does best. And trust me, when he visits a town nearby you, don’t hesitate, go to his show. It’s a ton of fun and you get to hear these songs really come to life.

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Cutback – Patriotism Is Not A Dirty Word
January 24, 2011

Awhile ago we reviewed Cutback’s single release “Audio Suicide”. The rock band from the UK now returns with a full-length album called “Patriotism Is Not A Dirty Word”.

The band has grown since the release of “Audio Suicide”. While they already portrayed a lot of energy the energy is now more channeled and the songs sound smoother and slicker and therefore come off more convincing.

The songs are powerful and entertaining and get your juices flowing. The opener Fix is like a plane’s turbo engines blasting the energy right through you and sets the tone for the album quite well. They follow with the radio-friendly One Last Time, which is a familiar song for those who already listened to the single last year. The infectious tempo and the strong work on the drums by Karl Jagger gives this song a powerful and energetic feel that works really well for this band.

Other songs that should be mentioned are the power anthem Breathe which is more paced down and is a good example of the increased vocal control of vocalist Chris Sammacicci, but also the punky 17 and the indie-rocker Fire, which may very well be the band’s breakout song. Good vocals, excellent guitar work and pounding drums. And with the heavy infusion of indie bands into mainstream radio in the past 5 years it’s hard to find new talent, but with that song, Cutback may have very well found justification to have their name known by a much, much wider audience. The rest of the album is of a good quality as well, with another impressive track (Sunrise) to close out the disc.

I was intrigued when I heard “Audio Suicide” but with the new release, “Patriotism Is Not A Dirty Word”, Cutback delivers on their promise. In less than a year, they show real growth and improvement and with a solid album and a few excellent songs (Fire in particular) they are ready to take it to the next level!

 

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South of Heaven – ..a beautiful winter..
December 28, 2010

This relatively unknown band from Arnhem in the Netherlands recently released a new album called “..a beautiful winter..” The band describes the CD as a collection of songs influenced by different styles in rock, blues, soul and punk. And that’s only the start of it.

First of all the songs are all written very well and the band is able to change in tempo, in loudness and by that they manage to keep the songs to sound fresh and exciting. Together with a slick production, the album doesn’t fall together like one big blur, but all the songs get a chance to stand out. From the more paced down opener Room In Your Life to the pointy Internet Pornography, the alternative rock song Love and the radio-friendly Blue Dress to the beautiful melodic closer Amsterdam, every song is convincing and impressive.

The vocals are very present throughout the album and on every song they are of the highest quality. Vocalist Richard Huijzer (ex-Fedchenka) is able to change in pitch and intensity seemingly without ease and Chris Gerretsen’s (also ex-Fedchenka) guitar work is outstanding. Together with a perfectly balanced rhythm section this collective of musicians has the talent and experience to figure out what they want and execute it in a way that deserves recognition and applause.

“..a beautiful winter..” is a very good album and begs the question how long it will take for this band to break through. Cause that just has to be a matter of time. The quality and talent is there, the album’s produced well, the musicians have performance experience and many of the songs are fit for radio. All I see is pluses. Audiences of the world, listen up, South of Heaven is ready to rock your eardrums.

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Kasey Anderson & The Honkies – Heart of a Dog
February 15, 2011

With “Heart of a Dog”, Kasey Anderson & The Honkies deliver an album that combines the flair of southern rock & roll with the honesty and careful songwriting of roots music.

The gritty opener The Wrong Light immediately sets the tone for an album that offers energy, honesty, raw emotion and a whole lot of music. Sometimes the song are raw and gritty like the opener, but that ‘s not all the band has to offer, though I must say there’s a certain rawness to the whole thing, also production-wise. And this time, that’s a good thing, it’s a keep-it-real thing.

Mercy is more melodic and has a real rock & roll thing going on with some decent riffs and a classic rhythm basis. But there’s also a powerful uptempo anthem (Exit Ghost), an impressive, more ballad-like song (Your Side of Town) on the album.

But when this band shines brightest is on the uptempo alt-country/rock & roll songs like Sirens And Thunder, My Baby’s A Wrecking Ball and Save It For Later which is honest, down-to-earth American rock & roll in the likes of which The Boss himself once started out.

“Heart of a Dog” is a complete, versatile and impressive album. Kasey Anderson & The Honkies don’t try to do something revolutionary, they just stay true to themselves, making honest music and delivering it with passion and conviction. And they do it very well. Therefore this album is a must listen for fans of honest rock & roll, alt-country and rootsrock.

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Sara Jackson-Holman – A Very Merry EP
December 2010

First heard of Sara Jackson-Holman while listening to her song Into The Blue on Castle’s season finale in may. Later on I get an e-mail on if I’m interested in reviewing her album an holiday EP. Obviously I am. Sometimes you come across raw talent that you don’t need any convincing for to listen to.

Sara Jackson-Holman is such a talent. Influences like Damien Rice and Feist easily come to mind and other reviewers have drawn comparisons with Adele and Amy Winehouse. Not unsurprisingly, even though I still think Damien Rice may be one of the strongest influences in her songwriting, which is why I draw a comparison to aspiring artist Amy Kuney. Both have a clear, high voice with a smooth, almost jazzy undertone.

Jackson-Holman’s vocals make the songs vibrant and current. She breathes new life into old Christmas classics like Carol of the Bells and Angels We Have Heard On High. You will all recognize the songs yet they will sound anew and fresh. It’s worth your buck, especially as you support a good cause. Go to her bandcamp page to listen and purchase.

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John Hill – John Hill [EP]
October 25, 2010

Meet John Hill, an acoustic folk/rock act from the Netherlands. If you have never heard of him until now, there’s a good reason for it. The “John Hill” EP is his first release. The feel of his music has been compared to masters like Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens for example.

Inner Ear Media was approached to shine its light over this debut EP. And after a good number of listens I came to the conclusion that this is very solid singer/songwriter material. I wouldn’t go as far as to compare it to Dylan or Stevens right off the bat, but I do admit there’s a genuinity to the music that reminds you of forgotten musical eras. Hilgenkamp’s vocals are pure and honest and they envoke emotion, not only in himself and his music, but also in the imagination of the listener.

This is quite an accomplishment, because for singer/songwriters it is essential to make that personal connection with the listener, one way or another. Hannes Hilgenkamp, under the John Hill moniker does this in its purest, most honest way and, in a way, he invites the listener to accompany him in his music.

On the opener Does It Still Hurt the empathic vocals reach across, right into your heart. The storytelling presentation of the song gives the song even more credit. The more uptempo Sailin Home is a track that is pleasant to listen to and would have a decent chance on the regional and smaller radio stations in the country. Easy Prey is a little edgier and is just an extremely well-executed song. The final two songs, Hidin From Me and Decency are also of a very high quality. Especially the closer (Decency) is very subtle and comes across very personal. Additions from Florien Hilgenkamp (classical vocals) and Serge Bredewold (former bass player for Twarres and 16Down) shows he selects musical partners that can meet the high standard he set with his tracks.

Hilgenkamp proves to be not only a very accomplished songwriter as his songs are musically and lyrically relevant and accessible. He doesn’t dabble into easily available rhymes and shameless variations on melodies that have been used a million times, no he truly writes songs that don’t just sound fresh and original, they actually are fresh and original. He also proves he’s a true balladeer in the way he personalizes the song and enables the listener to do exactly the same. He brings across the story and makes an actual connection to those who open their hearts to these songs. It may only be a debut EP but it sounds like this man has been writing and performing songs for decades. He surely knows his stuff.

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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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