Category Archives: Reviews

Nega Blast X – We Want to Rock

negablast

Nega Blast X describes itself as “a trance techno industrial music project formed in 2010 by Burbank music arranger and author Dominic R Daniels. Music is inspired by Daft Punk, Orbital, The Mutaytor and Eisenfunk. Sound is similar to New Order.”

The influence of New Order is apparent right off the bat in the first track of their latest album “We Want to Rock.” The opening song though, is simply titled “Want to Rock.” It very authentically captures the kind of darker, 80s electronic sound (unlike the cheesy 80s teen movie music.) The synths in “Want to Rock” bring to mind bleak, yet energetic cyberpunk action sequences or club scenes in films like Blade Runner or the original Terminator.

Other songs like Centipede (perhaps named after the classic arcade game?) seem to have a heavier, less bouncy vibe. Some have a very full and almost industrial sound. Interestingly, the band Orgy covered New Order’s song “Blue Monday,” and at times…Nega Blast X’s sound seems like a cross between the two bands.

There is quite a bit of variety in the music though. Just when I though I had “Nega Blast X” pinned down, the 6th track “For Angels That Weep” comes along and displays some added versatility. It’s very ambient and slower paced than other tracks. In there are cathedrals or other religious institutions in the future, “For Angels That Weep” is what I would imagine futuristic church music to sound like. It is very well positioned at this part of the album, to act as a kind of intermission.

The song “Technotronic” (presumably no relation to the late 80′s / early 90′s group with the hit songs “Pump Up the Jam” and “Get Up!”…or is there?) is another kind of lite-heavy-duty industrial dance jam.)

My favorite song on the album though is the final track, “Black Journey” which almost seems like it was tailor made for an 80s sci-fi/horror film soundtrack, or even as an intro to some “Tales From the Darkside” type show. It is complex, elaborate, dark and just an extremely well composed piece of music. I kind of wish it was earlier in the album because most people typically don’t listen to an entire album, so they’ll probably miss out on it. However, those that do stick around for the last track will be rewarded.

All in all, I feel like “We Want to Rock” is a solid and coherent album that knows what it wants to be and accomplishes what it sets out to do.

For more info:
http://www.reverbnation.com/negablastx
http://www.cdbaby.com/negablastx

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Liar’s Lantern – 3 Albums

liarslantern

Based out of Oak Creek, CO, Liar’s Lantern is a recording project founded by Robert Fitzhugh (a rather prolific artist.) Liar’s Lantern has already released three albums of original musical compositions: Aphelion in July of 2016, Walk This Road With Me in March of 2017, and most recently…Petrichor in September of 2017. Normally, I would chronicle the artists musical and artistic progression through the different albums, but this represents a difficult task with Liar’s Lantern, because all three of the albums are very good.

Let’s take them one at a time. Aphelion is a groovy, indie alternative effort. The music is particularly soulful, which seems appropriate with the song titles referencing things like “metempsychosis” and “anamnesis.” I was quite fond of the tone on the guitars on this album, which offer a delicate balance of subtle twang and mild crunch. I know how difficult it can be to achieve the desired guitar tone one is looking for. It can take years of experimenting and buying, selling and trading different gear. On Aphelion, Liar’s Lantern has gotten the right sound and makes it looks easy and effortless. The lyrics often seem melancholy, but the songs still manage to be bright and uplifting somehow.

The middle child album is “Walk This Road With Me.” As the title suggests, it is less meditative reflection and takes the listener on more of a mental journey. Songs like Autumn Mountain and Mariner’s Curse connect with the listener and offer such a vivid experience, that you almost feel like you’re part of a remote viewing experiment. Another thing I noticed was the guitars have less of the rhythmic groove style on this album and slightly more of a “chimey” tone, seeming to emanate from a passionately well played acoustic guitar. Just when I thought I had picked what would be my favorite song on the album, I’d listen to another one and think, “Well gee, that’s a pretty great jam, too.” I have to say that i was most impressed by the track “Aokigahara – Three Apologies,” as it seemed the most epic and was creatively structured.

The latest release is the third album, “Petrichor.” (Note: I listened to each of these albums in the order they were created to get a sense of the artist’s progression and direction.) It would be a tall order to improve on the first two albums, which strike me as polished and professional, but one thing Petrichor does demonstrate is some added complexity to the songs. They are just slightly fuller and richer than those on the first two albums. Additionally, the melodies and instrumental combinations are much more intricate and detailed. A good example of this is “Little North Mountain,” a beautifully composed production that would seem right at home on the soundtrack of an academy award winning nature film. The tracks on Petrichor often synergistically combine the best musical elements of Aphelion and Walk This Road With Me. One thing I haven’t talked about much are the vocals. I haven’t had much to say for them, because they speak for themselves. The singer is highly capable and performs emotively. He doesn’t overwhelm you with his singing either and often chooses to let his voice take a backseat in the mix to the other instruments.

Having released three high quality albums within the timespan of less than two years, I fully expect Liar’s Lantern to keep producing new music, and I hope they do.

For more info:
http://www.liarslantern.com/
http://www.facebook.com/LiarsLanternMusic/
https://soundcloud.com/user-104166932

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Timi Alexander

timi

London based Finnish artist Timi Alexander has a new self-titled album available. His songs have an ambient, avant garde indie quality to them. His 90′s alternative influences are evident with the tone and pacing of the music, along with the melancholy mood and poignant aesthetic of the video for the lead track, “The Ballad of a Keg Heart.” Visually, the video would not seem out of place in 1994-1995 (he is even rocking a flannel shirt for part of it.)

This album is a particularly creative effort, with some very well chosen synths strategically utilized for the musical backing (in addition to piano and other instruments.) Timi is actually decent singer, much better than one typically expects in the indie alternative genre (which is not known for caring about great vocals.) The songs would still be enjoyable even if he was just half as good. London is a pretty difficult place to succeed in music, but this is an artist who at least deserves some more recognition. It is kind of a shame, because this artist is more interesting and talented that those you’d typically hear on the radio.

Album on Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/album/4ys9BjTqYEcplBhKgjH3rA

For more info:

https://www.facebook.com/timialexandermusic
https://www.instagram.com/timialexander/

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Phillip Broussard – Just Wanna Believe

Phillip Broussard

Veteran Seattle musician Phillip Broussard has released a new single titled “Just Wanna Believe.” Normally when we refer to someone as a “veteran musician” we just mean they have some experience under their belt and have been playing the circuit for a while. This is true in Broussard’s case, but he’s also an actual military veteran, having served in both Operation Enduring Freedomand Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of the US Navy.

For simply being guitar and vocals, “Just Wanna Believe” is a remarkably full sounding song. Broussard’s guitar playing is crisp and precise. His technique lends itself to a percussive sound, almost managing to get a “two for one instrument” sound out of the guitar. His vocals are soft spoken and authentic. He has a good natural singing voice and his attitude is unassuming. He never comes off as trying too hard. “Just Wanna Believe” is a quality song from an artist who deserves more recognition.

https://soundcloud.com/phillip-broussard

https://www.facebook.com/phillipbroussard86/

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Elizabeth Anne Mall – Vivre

anne

In what’s been described as her sophomore effort (her first album, “Belle Laide” can be found here) San Francisco based singer-songwriter Elizabeth Anne Mall has a new EP out, titled “Vivre.”

Elizabeth is a classically trained cellist and
pianist, and this allows for her to have a little more substantive and advanced musical backing to her tracks, unlike many other indie pop acts which rely on mediocre acoustic guitar playing or preset synth beats. She has definitely made the most of this advantage on “Vivre,” where her piano-driven songs set the pace for an sensitive and sincere album.

Her singing really is what brings the songs home though. She has one of those voices that’s just naturally pleasant to listen to and would be good enough even if there were just a “spoken word” album recorded on a vintage tape recorder. The production and mixing on Vivre though are high quality. At times during the choruses her vocals kind of reminded me of The Cranberries, in that her voice is able to bend adaptively with the music in real time. Her song “Take Me Away” offers one of the best examples of this.

My own takeaway from listening to Vivre is that Elizabeth Anne Mall’s music is legit, and she has all the pieces in place for her to continue to succeed further. It’s only a matter of time and luck.

On Spotify:

Official Website:
https://elizabethannemall.com/

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The Singer and The Songwriter – Directions EP

directions

The aptly titled “Directions” is a new EP from “The Singer and the Songwriter,” (a rather accurate band name for a singer/songwriter duo that spends a lot of time traveling and making music about their journeys.) As best as I can tell, their songs would be categorized as indie folk or a variant thereof. The tracks have a uniquely innocent quality to them. There’s no posturing, attempt to be slick or even preachy. This is just good quality, authentic music that reflects well on the creators. While watching the video for “Anywhere, Everywhere” one can’t help but share in the joy of their experiences on the road. It provides a perfect visualization of the song, which seems to have a message about indispensable partners and kind strangers that guide our travels and make them worthwhile (whether on a road trip or just in everyday life at home.) Vocalist Rachel Garcia lives up to her title and is indeed an excellent singer. You won’t hear any autotune or pitch correction on these recordings. The production quality on this album hits the sweet spot, where it is professional but not over processed or ruined with a lot of unnecessary effects. I recommend going to check out this group when they inevitably cruise into your city or town if you enjoy good music and friendly company.

Available on Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/album/0fR7un8WusxlTU1nR13spq

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Man From Object: R525L – First Contact

manfromobjectr525l

A mysterious and thought provoking album arrived on the scene this week. MFO, aka “Man From Object: R525L,” has an EP out titled “First Contact” (released through the label of Diac Immortal Records.) Much of it the artist classifies as being “Electronic deep house music,”) but it could also be described as futuristic dance music, since it features a deep space oriented aesthetic and atmosphere. In fact, this is the kind of music I would envision actual space travelers and perhaps alien lifeforms to listen to on their Walkmans, while cruising from galaxy to galaxy, just chilling out. The songs are pristine and laid back, but still energetic and dynamic enough that you can dance to them. “Galactic Tomorrow” reminds me of the kind of music that would feature in early 80′s scifi films set in the future, like “Saturn 3.” It would not seem out of place at all on one of these soundtracks. This EP has a refreshing, “escapist’s timelessness” to it, as it is essentially stripped of contemporary pop culture references. The video for the title track, “First Contact” showcases some extensive CGI animation skill and provides some imaginative context for a song which otherwise has no lyrics. My favorite songs on the album are probably “Galactic Tomorrow” and “Love Dreams Love,” (the latter being a casually flavorful yet memorable jam.) All in all this a very professional and worthy production at all levels.

On iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/first-contact-ep/id1295749365?app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

On Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/album/1eeaG77sx73kdQeuCf4TUy

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The Wyatt Act – Hong

hong

Based in San Francisco, The Wyatt Act describes themselves as a high energy, experimental SlamRock band. Their latest track, “Hong” has elements of funk and lounge music. Vocalist and bassist Guinevere Q carries the song with her chic and swanky vocals. The song also features some terrific trumpet playing and even a keytar. Ultimately the trumpet and Keytar melodies work in tandem to provide an almost psychedelic atmosphere and set the darkly contemplative mood. I was hooked in by them within the first few seconds. This is just excellent music all the way around.

https://thewyattact.bandcamp.com
http://thewyattact.com/

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Untitled Art – Philly to Long Branch (part 2)

untitledart

Dark, fast, and retro-futuristic is how I would describe Untitled Art’s new single, “Philly to Long Branch (Part 2.)” It has elements of synth, psychedelia, punk, and new wave and is just oozing with aesthetic.  Listening to this jam makes you feel like you’re in a club scene of an 80′s vampire movie, and who wouldn’t want to be there? One thing I hate about most contemporary dance music and the “EDM scene” is just how nauseatingly  happy and uplifting it pretends to be all the time. It’s here where Untitled Art really find its niche in the underbelly of the Miami, Florida music landscape , feeding  a healthy range of emotions back into dance music. There’s hate, sadness, love, regret, bitterness… a whole kaleidoscope of sensations out there to experience.

Untitled Art achieves an authentic avant garde sound without coming across as tryhard. If I were DJing a night somewhere I would play this track.  The part of the song which gets me fired up is the line  “I watch the sun go down. I watch the sun.” That’s where it really feels like it hits home, and you get that feeling where it’s like “Oh yeah this song is legit.” I’m really impressed by this recording,  the material these guys are putting out and how they’re presenting it.

Available on Bandcamp:
https://untitledart.bandcamp.com/track/philly-to-long-branch-part-2

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KAIYA – GAMES

kaiya

KAIYA, an electronic-indie-pop artist based in NYC, originally was born in the Ukraine and grew up in the European fashion world. Recently, in a collaboration effort with Brooklyn-based songwriter/producer ÅMBE, she released “GAMES,” a debut single. I especially liked the intro which had the feel of a crowd cheering at a sports event. Then the song kicks in and it’s a beautifully playful electronic tune. The backing track almost has a kind of early 90′s, carefree summertime vibe. If I had to describe this music in colors it would be pastels. KAIYA’s vocal presence is just right for this style of music. Really this is a beautiful song, and it really does relax you.

kaiyamusic.com

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