Gilbert Engle continues to demonstrate his musical versatility with this Jazz Reggae release, which has a mellow and sometimes loungy vibe. The light guitar work blends nicely with a Farfisa-like organ tone to give the tracks their reggae flavor. The more organ heavy songs almost have a 70′s psychedelic quality to them. The bass component definitely adds to this. With his detail attentive performance on the saxophone front and center, co-writer Peter Fraise helps deliver on the jazz end. Melody wise, the 9th track is probably my favorite. It’s just the most colorful tune. I’m also very fond of the first song, which at a 1:51 run time left me wanted more. Once I heard the organ, I was hooked.
The production quality is flawless, basically what I’ve come to expect from Engle, given the level of professionalism in his other recordings. What’s impressive about this release though, is that in the process of creating great jazz reggae jams, he manages to obtain some authentic vintage tones, without having to artificially sacrifice any of the recording quality to get them.
An Australian artist living in London, Jode Gannon has an album out called “3 Hours.” His style is mostly an indie acoustic, with the lyrics coming across as personal and heartfelt. The songs are mostly love songs but never venture into cheesy territory. Gannon maintains a slow and methodical pacing, and his voice seems to be tailor made for this genre of music. Even without drums, he manages to strum the guitar in a way that gives it a percussive quality that contrasts nicely with the softness of the songs. The best song on the album is probably “I Wanna Kiss You,” which is catchy and energetic.
We reviewed Gilbert Engle’s Odd Time Jazz Fusion songs recently, giving them a favorable write up. As polished as those songs were, I have to say that on a personal level I find his Supernatural Absence just as impressive, if not better. One thing I noticed immediately is how much more rocking the songs are than I expected. Jazz fusion? This is rock n’roll!
There’s also a good deal of stylistic and creative variance between the songs, which is really saying something given that there are 16 of them. Each one is distinct and unique. For example: The opening track is terrific late night city driving music and has a hypnotic, almost vaporwave quality to it. The second track though kicks into high gear immediately with some guitar distortion, then injecting in some energetic keyboard work that achieves an authentic 60′s combo organ sound. It all blends together nicely with the sax and other instruments.
A lot of these songs have a psychedelic vibe to them. They are fast paced and several of them incorporate retro synth sounds into the music, which I hadn’t been anticipating. Track 9 is representative of this and has one of the best intros. I could actually picture many of these songs being utilized on a video game soundtrack for an older console. Many of the tracks would work well for racing or driving type games, such as classics like Fzero. There’s a sense of action in this music, but still keeping enough mellow jazz flavor to keep from going off the rails. It’s not rugged action.
The guitar and keyboard combination manages to steal the show on many of the songs. Engle plays both, but Marc Capponi is also credited on keyboards as well. The saxophone (played by Peter Freize) accentuates and stabilizes the mood successfully, after the catchy intros grab your attention and draw you in. Engle doesn’t cut any corners either. Every single one of these songs is just as polished and professional as could be. Normally on an album, there will be some padding, a few filler songs thrown somewhere in the middle. Not here. There wasn’t a single track that I listened to and thought was shoddy or “B-side.” Having said that, my favorite song is probably the first one. I think it has a lot of crossover appeal across a wide spectrum of genres. My second choice would be the seventh song, which has a disco-like guitar intro that opens up to a surreal musical experience. Robert Fink on harmonica particularly shines on this song.
Gilbert Engle is an incredibly prolific musician, having released over 50 albums. This album is a fine example of his versatility and imagination as a songwriter and performer.
Recently we reviewed Cranky George’s song, “Nighttime” off of their brand new album titled “Fat Lot of Good.” Other memorable tracks include “Perfect Skin,” which has a terrific sort of brooding, almost haunting quality, reminiscent of artists like Chris Isaak. The full album is set for release tomorrow, October 14, and can be purchased here on CD as well as on a limited edition, signed, double vinyl record. The band’s CD release party will actually take place at Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 15th.
In addition to the release of the full album, Cranky George has also produced a video for the track “Nighttime,” and it definitely does the song justice. The video production and photography are high quality and tasteful, but the interspersed poignant scenes with the female and the fireworks displays help to retain an indie, artistic aesthetic and prevent the whole thing from coming across as “too slick.”
Gilbert Engle is an established painter and musician who is impressively proficient in multiple instruments as well as a variety of musical genres. Recently he and a number of other talented individuals have completed some jazz fusion recordings. Gilbert plays guitar on the songs which instantly resonate as being of professional caliber. Performances are just incredible all around and the tracks are brimming with emotion and a smooth energy. Peter Fraize in particular stands out, with his tenor saxophone taking charge and setting the mood. The best way to describe the feeling Engle’s songs invoke, is that they feel as though they would fit well on a soundtrack to a 1980′s film set in New York(something like Arthur,) perhaps during a high society party scene. The music is too classy and upbeat for something like Zalman King’s Red Shoe Diaries or a 90′s erotic thriller.
It would actually be great if Gilbert were to release this on vinyl, as I get the sense this music would sound even better on some classic HiFi stereo. In fact, if I had a high end audio listening room at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I would consider using these recordings to demo my high end audio amplifiers to prospective buyers. The music is that good.
Described as having folk influences, Cranky George is an indie rock band from Los Angeles. The band actually features famous actor Dermot Mulroney, (known from contemporary classic movies like Young Guns and My Best Friend’s Wedding.) They have a new single out called “Nighttime,” which will also be part of their upcoming full length album, “Fat Lot of Good.”
Nighttime is a well polished release, that doesn’t show any of the lo-fi, abrasive, acoustic quality production that’s often associated with the indie folk genre. The music is reminiscent of a late 90′s, early 2000s flavor of indie music, but blending in some newer twists. The tone comes across as striking an even balance between melancholy and uplifting, reaching a comfortable and elegant middle. The vocals and overall sound are easy to listen to, and I found the melody to be one that stuck in my head after only two listens. I predict that their full length album will worth checking out.
Notable Detroit rock band, “Morrow’s Memory,” has a new EP out called “Take Control,” which features several solid tracks. They describe their music as a “mix of rock, alternative, and progressive. ” That seems about right. The songs do have a very alternative pacing and tone but don’t come off as 90′s “retro styled” alternative throwback. They have more of a contemporary sound with some diverse influences. While songs like Bloodlust have a heavy vibe to them, they retain their melodic appeal and never morph into simple noise. It’s a great balance. The band has managed to get these recordings to sound very polished and of radio quality, without being ruined with unnecessary effects and excessive processing. My favorite song on the EP was Sapphire, a catchy tune which struck me as having potential to be a mild hit.
The first thing that stands out with Kate Brown’s new single, “6 Shots” is the energy. It has a faster pacing than what I normally expect from the folk/rock genre, and it really engages you from the first second. It also isn’t depressing or bleak. The musical tone feels much more upbeat, even though the difficult subject matter deals with a caustic love and the sensationalism of violence in the media.
The singing is terrific and fits the style rather well. Kate has just the right amount of angst in her vocal delivery of these lyrics, and she doesn’t overdo it. She has a lot to be proud of with “6 Shots,” and I hope it is successful.
Pop singer Holly Elle’s new single “Flip that Script” is a catchy song about a girl reclaiming herself from a lover that presumably has treated her badly in the past. She’s a classically trained singer, and it’s apparent in her music, where her voice seems to direct all the action. She seems to be heavily influenced by Mariah Carey, but her style comes off slightly more European, and this is better in my opinion.
My favorite component of the song is the accordion in the background which is played by her father. In addition to giving it a little bit of Eastern European identity, it also provides another a layer of authenticity that most of these types of songs lack.
Top quality production here from Aiym Almas, an alternative pop artist from Kazakhstan. A good way to describe her sound is that it has elements of pop but without any of the cheapness or characteristiz sleazy vibe. Aiym has an incredible voice, which carries the songs in such a way that one would listen to them even if there were no other instruments. Her third single, “You Must Be True” has kind of a mysterious quality to it as it slowly builds to the main message. My favorite of her songs is “The Other Side,” which is like a blast of energy when the song kicks into high gear/dance party mode with the payoff.