Jarel Portman’s new track, Runaway Blues (from the album, Supersonic) is an awesome rock/blues song which has a psychedelic quality to it, particularly the backing instrumentals. The guitars have a late 60s-early 70s kind of tone, reminiscent of bands like The Pretty Things. Seriously, the vibrato on this jam is killer. The song features some solid vocals also, especially considering this kind of music is difficult to sing well. Performed with passion and impeccable timing, Runaway Blues comes off like the work of veteran musical pros. Expect to hear more stuff from this guy.
Fiesta is a new single from Canadian bass/house duo, Diemetic. It’s an upbeat, party jam that mixes elements of hip hop and dance. It kind of reminds me of a lot of those old 90′s dance mix cds like Club Mix 96. The music is just very fun and lively. It actually gives you energy and puts out a very positive and carefree vibe that’s lacking in so much of today’s artistry. The production on this track is impressive, pretty much major label quality. The song also isn’t overly repetitive. It’s fairly dynamic, with a lot frequent changes throughout the track to keep things fresh and keep the action going.
Singer-Songwriter Nina Söderquist has released a new ballad. It’s performed as a duet featuring Nina and fellow singer Björn Skifs. As you may be able to ascertain from the title, it’s a song about a couple breaking up, with the mistakes having made by each partner being too much for the relationship to overcome, and it’s time to call it quits or “see it through” (to its conclusion I imagine.) One great thing about this song, is that these are two very talented, professional singers. This type of music is not easy to perform unless you really know what you’re doing. You just can’t fake your way through these kinds of vocals, the way one can with other styles of music. The pacing of the song is mellow but not depressing (even with the song’s bleak theme.) This track reminds me of the great light rock classic duets of the 70′s and 80′s. Nina and Björn have done an excellent job with this.
Orange County based artist Luke Fox has a new album that drops today, January 9th, 2018. When I say album, I do mean full album, as The Art of Sound contains over 25 tracks. Are all of these on the final release I wonder? If so then score. He doesn’t cut any corners on quality either, with each jam having a comprehensive and mostly professional sound.
One pattern that emerges is the artist seems to focus on a number of recurring emotional themes in his songs. Loneliness, romance and dreams feature prominently in the lyrical content. It is tough to categorize this music as The Art of Sound doesn’t quite fit neatly into any one genre. It has elements of indie, piano driven coffeehouse music. The tone, pacing and overall ambiance seem to gravitate in that direction. The vocals however have a pop, or even lite hip hop quality to them, both in delivery style and effects selection. I couldn’t help but think that with different backing track instrumentation, this could be marketed as a completely different style of music. This is what makes Fox’s album interesting. He really does have a unique, recognizably distinctive sound.
Since there are so many tracks on this album, it seems appropriate that I should talk about some of them individually. My favorite song on this release is Spell, which sports a haunting, minimalistic melody and memorable hooks. It also has one of the best vocal performances. Not a Regular Guy is one of the catchier songs. It’s in the form of a peppy and fun, singsong format, almost like an updated, contemporary incarnation of 70′s pop sing along classics like those of The Partridge Family or The First Class. It may be a stretch, but it does reach. Rhythm Rhyme is a song you can dance to, despite it’s relatively measured pacing (these songs are all fairly mellow.) It has a bouncy feel to it, enough to play at a dance club in between EDM bpm blitzkriegs.
Ultimately, I have to say that The Art of Sound lives up to its ambitious title. Luke Fox provides an epic experience. There is just an incredible amount of musical content for one to sift though here. I can’t help but be astonished at the amount of work that must have gone into this project. It would be impressive enough for this reason alone, but the artistry itself is solid, too.
Gerard Edery’s descriptively titled double-album, Best of Gerard Edery is noteworthy in it’s versatility. Like a musical chameleon he manages to impressively switch back and forth from a wide variety of ethnic folk styles, seemingly at will. He demonstrates a mastery of these various styles rather than coming off as someone with merely a “jack of all trades” level of competency. What’s remarkable is how authentically he is able to incorporate folk sounds from throughout Europe and the Middle East. Some songs have a distinctly Arabic vibe, while others like Los Ejes provide a Spanish ambiance. There is a certain blend to many of these tracks where they transcend boundaries to form a Pan-European / Middle Eastern sound. Music is one of the few areas where people are able to set aside differences and discover mutual appreciation. Gerard Edery achieves this with his compilation, and the result is an eclectic masterpiece. The pacing on these songs is very relaxed and tempered, and much of this music has a meditative quality, almost New Age at times. I would certainly recommend this music to anyone who appreciates exotic and esoteric folk music, performed at a very high skill level and professionally produced.
Boomerang is a new album from Itamar Borochov, a world renowned jazz trumpet player. The listener will immediate recognize aura of professionality that is apparent immediately with the poignant first track, Tangerines. The sound is incredibly smooth and soft while maintaining a lively pulse. The pacing is more fevered and animated in later pieces like Jaffa Tune. Part of what Itamar celebrates in his music is the eclectic blend of different cultural influences and fashions which give take a little bit of the best of everything. The tracks are a musical representation and culmination of his experiences and absorptions. The result of this is an incredibly radiant recording, which is excellent at all levels of production and performance. Usually I can find something in a musical release to criticize, but every composition on Boomerang is top tier for this genre of music, in which there is little margin for error. These songs are meticulously constructed and performed with style.
Caterpillars(from the album “No Mud in Joyville“) is a new track from Boulder, CO based indie folk rocker J.W. Schuller. It should be mentioned also that a host of other artists are credited with contributing backing vocals, drums and other instruments. J.W. Schuller’s everything but the kitchen sink approach gives the song a much fuller sound than one would get from an ordinary “guy with an acoustic guitar” project. Somehow he manages to juggle all these sounds to keep the song tight, organized and impressively coherent. Caterpillars is delightful, peppy and brimming with positive energy. I really like the vocals on this track. The singer is originally from Minneapolis, and his vocal style has a similar quality to other notable bands from the Minneapolis indie / punk scene like The Siren Six. Something has to be said for the guitars too, which are terrific both in terms of tone and performance. J.W. Schuller plays volunteer gigs at retirement homes, and I could see people of all ages tapping along to this jam and gaining a bit of vitality in the process.
Rainy Day Crush, a veteran midwestern band that falls somewhere in between indie, pop, punk and alternative rock has a new EP out titled, I’m Still Alive. It’s an appropriate title, given that the band has appeared, disappeared and reappeared in many incarnations an forms over the years, going back to the 90′s when they were known as “The Other Side.” It’s great to see musicians displaying such tenacity and continuing to come back to what they love and do well.
The band features good clean guitars and a solid vocalist. One of their newest songs, Heartbreak (or How to Get Over It) could almost be described as “adult pop punk” but without whiny vocals. The singer is very good in fact, giving the track a dynamic and full quality which enhances the melody of the song rather than merely going through the motions. The tracks on this EP could very well qualify as potential pop hits, if we were still living slightly in another time when bands like Third Eye Blind were in high demand and before we entered the terrible era of garbage pop music we’re mired in now. I”m Still Alive is essentially indie music that’s produced at radio quality, released at a rather unfortunate time. There is always room somewhere for high quality music made by professionals, though. I’m pleased to say that Rainy Day Crush is operating in that space, filling the void with these catchy and coherent jams. They also have a cool album cover imo.
Well well well, what a pleasant surprise this is. It’s not every day that I’m fortunate enough get to review something that I personally would listen to, but this is just one of those days. hERON is a collaborative effort between Progeny of Chisme/Ghost Palace (MPC, guitar, records) and Rob Castro of Grayskul/Chisme/Ghost Palace (bass.) It is also long distance musical project between Seattle and San Antonio.
hERON has released a self titled album,(12 songs) and it’s damn good. It has a very authentic 60s-70s psychedelic vibe. The sound and production give it a very retro aesthetic but not in a tryhard way. It’s like if someone recorded an album on an old analog 4-track, but they really knew what they were doing so it came out better than 99% of major label releases.
The opening track is titled “chillmode,” a nice little scratchy instrumental jam that would not seem out of place on practically any 1970s Japanese film soundtrack. I thought for a minute that maybe the whole album would be instrumental only, but some tracks like “Kissed Dreams” include vocals, which have a nice warm “AM radio” tone. My favorite song on the album is probably “Flipout,” which could best be described as elevator muzak you might imagine yourself hearing while wandering through a haunted dead mall, and I like elevator muzak.
Anyway, there’s a lot of good stuff in here, so I recommend you check out hERON if you have good taste. This bad boy is available on cassette and vinyl as well as digitally.
Chapter X is a new release from Audiobreeze, an artist based in Sofia, Bulgaria. The song bills itself a “melancholic piano piece,” but really it is so much more. The tone may be evoke emotions of sadness, yet it comes in the form of a lovely and elaborate musical composition. Chapter X is pure ambiance. The slow piano pacing, deep space sounds and rain (yes, the song actually has rain,) provide the track with a brooding atmosphere. It all has a very “cinematic” feel to it. While I listened to it, I actually pictured sad, contemplative scenes from various films I have seen. Though it’s only one track, this is a very professional release, and hopefully we’ll see more from this artist.