These Young Fools, an alternative rock/pop band from Seattle, have a new EP out titles “Awake.” The production quality is solid, and opts for clarity and precision rather than utilizing a lot of distracting filters and effects. It isn’t surprising to discover that the band was influenced by Jimmy Eat World and other similar groups, as I could detect a faint sort of late 90′s / early 2000 vibe to the music. This is particularly evident in the vocals, which have that distinctive, “elevated pitch” angst to them reminiscent of pop punk and screamo. However, what sets These Young Fools apart from those genres is that there is more of a synth element here. Also, the tone and pacing of the songs is more of a darker and brooding one, having more in common with classic alternative than something cheesy like pop punk. Probably my favorite song on this album is “Playing dead,” which is catchy and well constructed.
“Comes a Moment” is a brand new release from Jonathan Cavier’s new album, “Premier.” Both the video and the song itself are highly impressive. Cavier’s music reflect a contemporary sound, influenced by pop and rock of the 80s and 90s. Despite Jonathan’s 80′s influences, “Comes a Moment” doesn’t come off as retro or “gimmicky.” This is a polished and well put together track from a seasoned professional. The theme of the song seems to be how time flies, relayed through a story of two parents’ amazement at how fast their daughter has grown up. It deals with both the struggles of change and the promise of the future.
I’m always pretty stoked when I get the chance to review a metal band. In terms of contemporary music, metal sometimes seems like one of the only authentic genres. The artists tend to be less concerned with hype and superficiality and more passionate about music.
“Judgemetal” is a four piece metal band, based out of Essex, UK. Their new single, “Belong,” was just released on Hydrus Records. It’s a high quality, high energy track that doesn’t disappoint. It captures the ambiance of metal perfectly and the technical aspects of the song are all very solid. Wisely the band keeps with the traditional sound and doesn’t ruin the recording with a lot of obnoxious vocal effects (unlike so many newer artists.) What really impresses me though is the video for the song. It actually has the somewhat vintage aesthetic of a late 80′s-early 90s music video(whether intentional or not) and would not be out of place on an old episode of Headbanger’s Ball. “Belong” is a respectable release from an up and coming metal band. Expect to hear more from them in the future.
Gilbert Engle continues to display his music versatility and technical proficiency, the latest example to come across my desk being his 2016 “Piano Sonatas” release. These tunes maintain a feverish pace throughout and convey a lively, bright and upbeat mood. One can envision a scenario where crowds of people they are moving briskly through the sidewalks of a bustling metropolis, set to this music. “Piano Sonata 8,” one of the best tracks on the album, is an excellent example of this. All of the songs are simply numbered this way rather than given esoteric abstract titles. It gives a certain businesslike and perhaps modernist quality to the overall aesthetic. Engle delivers pure substance and never seems to rely on catchy titles or sloganeering in his work. His focus is entirely on creating the best piece of music possible. This is extremely refreshing when one considers that a good portion of contemporary music is almost entirely based around the marketing and image, with little attention paid to actual songwriting or even the music itself.
Engle’s piano handiwork is meticulously performed with an articulated precision. My favorite track is “Piano Sonata 4″ I listened to several times in a row. It gave off the vibe of a hypnotic roller coaster ride with it’s teeter-totter of highs and lows and ups and downs. Even though the piano is the only instrument being used, this is by no means a somber or light album. The fast forward pacing gives these songs all the heightened energy of a downtown afternoon. It’s a terrific collection of tunes which are yet another representation of both the prolific level of output and quality that Gilbert somehow manages to maintain.
Sunterra is a well known Austrian independent metal band that is making a comeback after a 10 year hiatus. On the surface their appearance resembles that of a standard metal band, but appearances can be deceiving. Their new album, “Reborn,” while retaining the ambiance and aesthetic of old school metal is actually an eclectic mix which incorporates gothic, industrial, electro, and even dubstep elements. These various elements are subtly and meticulously merged together, creating a distinct and cohesive sound (essentially metalstep) while not coming across as a stew of mush by combining all these different ingredients. A lot of metal bands look only to the purity and heroes of the past, so Sunterra’s creative approach and commitment to the future is refreshing.
You can listen to it here:
Charles Luck and Tino Red team up here to create the musical number, “One Love.” It’s one of those light and refreshing summertime pop songs, the kind with a little bit of hip hop flavor thrown in. This actually reminds me of the kind of jam you would hear in the fun romantic scenes of a late 90s or early 2000s teen movie. Or it would work well as music in a commercial for just about anything love oriented. It doesn’t come across as cheesy though, just straightforward and solid quality.
A lot of rappers can’t sing at all and simply rely on style, lyrical ability and flow, but Tino Red sings incredibly well. He shows his range and artistic versatility throughout. He could probably excel as a professional vocalist in almost any musical genre.
The audio quality once again is top notch. It actually sounds better than most of what you’d hear on the radio (from an artistic standpoint as well as content and production wise.) I don’t know how these guys can put out so much material. It’s really coming together for them.
Earthquakes is another new track from Charles Luck and his collective. They continue to crank out an impressive volume of work without sacrificing any quality. This particular jam is a mix of pop, light hip hop and EDM which is carried by the sparkling vocals of Addie, a female vocalist. Wisely, producer Ian Hanks and the rest of the crew kept effects to a minimum and didn’t ruin her vocals with a lot of unnecessary processing. The result is that Addie’s voice shines throughout the song with near crystal clarity, while Tino Red chimes in midway through the song with a well timed rap interlude.
The catchiest parts both musically and lyrically for me are the “starting earthquakes, moving mountains…” phrases which are repeated several times throughout the song as part of a lovely musical progression. It builds and rebuilds each time to an epic EDM chorus which delivers the payoff excitable types will be waiting for. As with the other songs associated with this collective, “Earthquakes” exudes a positive, energetic and upbeat tone throughout.
UK band “Magazine Gap” has produced a video for their new single “In Two Minds” (which they describe as a song about mixed feelings.) My first impression of their music is how incredibly well polished it is. This is a high quality professional production. More importantly, the great production values in this instance effectively reveal the band’s talents through clarity, rather than mask deficiencies with a lot of smoke and mirrors. All of the music fits together nicely to form a solid adult contemporary styled pop song. The vocals of James Keen in particular stand out as being quite remarkable. A lot of indie bands and artists have passable vocals, but I mean this guy can really sing. The video itself is clean and keeps it relatively light, adopting a somewhat minimalist aesthetic. The view alternates between the band performing in a studio and scenes of friends spending time together at what appear to be cafes, bowling alleys etc.
This is an up and coming band and with a few good breaks I could see some of their music charting given that it is already as good or better than 90% of what you’d hear on the radio. This song is available for pre-order on iTunes and is expected to be released officially on Jan 27.
Accomplished singer, composer, and lyricist, Pauline Frechette has released a magnificent new piece title “A Quiet Walk in the Snow.” It is an incredibly poignant song that maintains a consistently gentle pacing throughout. It seems to me that it evokes a range of emotions as a reflection of one’s current mindset. When one takes a quiet walk in the winter, it can be one of somber reflection or it can be a majestic experience of joy. Is this a walk of joy or one of sadness? Perhaps both. The context is open to interpretation.
Pauline seems to have roots in French Quebec. Though renowned composer David Campbell is credited with the arrangements, I can’t help but notice how distinctly European this composition comes across. It actually reminds me very much of the film scores of classic French and Italian films of the 1970′s. This would fit right in with the best of them.
“A Quiet Walk in the Snow” is a fine example of what gifted artists can achieve if they dedicate enough time and passion to mastering their craft. Pauline manages to combine meticulous instrumental precision with elevated abstract emotion. It all comes together quite impressively.
“Grieve the Astronaut” is exactly the kind of musical project I love to feature on here. Not too much is known about the band. As their name suggests, they seem focused artistically on a “re-birth of shattered dreams.” Their self-titled album is epic. It very much has the feel of a soundtrack to a space opera. While their style has been compared to groups like Pink Floyd, I must say the tracks on “Grieve The Astronaut” would have fit right in on the soundtrack of films like “Dune.” Everything about this release just oozes with talent, class and imagination. It’s crafted with professionalism and musiciansmanship. It’s like if you fused classical music with futuristic synthwave. This is a terrific release.