“Depression” figuratively gets the better of Jade Massentoff on the single of the same title, as she eloquently defines it in her own terms on this finely written, arranged and marvelously produced gem. The magnitude of emotions alone is off the charts on what is sure to be a hit song if I were to claim that about any this year. To say I was blown away by it wouldn’t do it enough justice, but you can only glow so bright about something, especially where the serious outweighs the playful for the most part and leaves the rest up to moving you. Continue reading ““Depression” by Jade Massentoff”
New York rockers Skyfactor hold nothing back from us in their new LP A Thousand Sounds, a record that encourages us to shed our inhibitions and follow the passionate groove of its cathartic lyrics. Hand claps give way to a percussive palm muted acoustic guitar that draws us into the majestic vocals of frontman Bob Ziegler; the acoustic sonic ribbonry wraps around us like a warm blanket and stays with us through the hauntingly contemplative “Long Way to Go” and the jagged riffing of “Better for the Moment.” As we work through the tracks it becomes clear that Skyfactor’s latest record is an engaging listening experience that will leave diehard fans of the group more than satisfied and unfamiliar listeners charmed by its simple yet inspiring narratives that touch on rock n’ roll’s more emotional side.
There’s a strong pop sensibility in this album that wasn’t present in Skyfactor’s last LP Signal Strength, but they haven’t sold out their DIY ethos at all. “What We Had” is a retrospective confessional that is as raw and visceral as they come, while “Lost At Sea” boasts an insular mix that magnifies the emotion in Ziegler’s voice. The cosmetics of this record are much more polished than what some might have been expecting, but I don’t think anyone who listens to “Hoboken Lullaby” would have the audacity to suggest that these songs didn’t come from a place of endearing vulnerability. The harmonies are hypnotizing and the verses earnestly hesitant. Slower tracks like “Stay Dear” keep the momentum going not through their tempo but in their utilization of space, which is something you don’t typically find outside of ambient music.
The tonality here is so opulent and magnetizing that it occasionally overshadows the actual play of the band. “Damn the Remote” has the swing of an old fashioned folk rock song with an updated structure to suit the palate of today’s audiences, but its elegant articulation is left untouched. There’s so much feeling and soul in the trickle of notes that we come in contact with during the opening bars of “Run Away” and the chorus of “Better for the Moment” that the familiarity of the lyrics becomes obscured by the experimental nature of the musicality. The minute intricacies in these songs don’t go unnoticed, and I think it’s overwhelmingly obvious that Skyfactor spent a lot of time perfecting the mix before finally clearing the record for release.
With a diverse collection of imagistic tracks that furiously press against the speakers and demand a reaction from listeners, A Thousand Sounds very well could be Skyfactor’s most well-rounded and mature full length album yet. The vitality of previous works is still alive and blossoming in songs like the moving “The Whole World’s Here” and the stylish firebomb “New Day,” but there’s no debating that this is the group at their most centered and agile in the studio. Skyfactor fans have been waiting for an album as grandiose as this one, and the band pulled out all the stops and delivered something that amplifies all of their best qualities and melds them into a single tour de force. I’ll admit that I fell for A Thousand Sounds because of its affectionate melodies, but I got hooked on it because of its cratering emotion, which runs much deeper than any of their quaking rhythms ever could.
Mu’Sonique Records present Dustyy Lane, a band and a duo in one, with a new single, “Now It’s Christmas.” The Dustyy Lane Band spell the name with two y’s, but that could just distinct them from other using the same name. But they’re not just a duo, as pointed out they are also a big stage band. This is a review of their original new hit single together, as they’ve travelled a long road to meet up for what is some of the best music you’ll hear on today’s scene, especially on the west coast where they play a lot. You won’t find Christmas music around that competes very strongly with theirs. Continue reading “Dustyy Lane drops Christmas Single”
Steeped in enigmatic lyrics that could double for riddles, romantic exchanges between two equally talented vocalists and haunting harmonies between both the players and the instruments, Timber deliver a watershed album in The Family that promises to satisfy the pair’s longtime fans and newcomers alike. The most sensational quality that this record has to offer is its riveting tonality, which triumphs in the face of discordant rhythm and impossibly cerebral grooves with little hardship. Will Stewart and Janet Simpson flaunt their aesthetical chops shamelessly in these eight songs and show us why they’ve garnered the buzz that they have as an act in the last three years since their debut, and I for one think that this latest release amplifies their already unique and thrilling style to a whole new level. Continue reading “Timber release LP”
I don’t care much for albums with an inordinate amount of polish. Too often musicians working in the Americana vein will opt for glossy over authentic, but you don’t get any of that with Molly Hanmer. Her vocal and musical skills are unquestionable, but she also clearly pushes herself to dig as deep into a song as she can and isn’t afraid to put herself on the line. The opener to her Stuck in a Daydream album with the Midnight Tokers, “Take a Walk with Me”, has an unexpectedly rugged edge, but it’s mucho convincing. You can hear Hanmer’s passion boiling over in every line and the interplay between her and the band is fantastic.
That earlier mentioned authenticity comes through most strongly in the album’s third song “Fool’s Run (Different Song)”, but she expands its possibilities hitting a note of heartache any listener will appreciate. The payoff lines for this tune are just dandy and she never overplays them, just stressing the right emotional key to bring listeners deeper into the experience. “Old Number Seven” returns to territory she attacked so successfully with the album opener and she brings an additional amount of kick ass to this verging on rock. She pulls back the reins with the tender track “Love Song”, but dismiss any leanings towards cliché out of your mind – this is first class adult material with a hard won perspective and the musical acumen to back it up.
John Bird’s organ work really sets the track “Come Back” on fire and the near blues shuffle push engages you physically while the lyrics are equally potent. She conjures up a strong Dylan cover with the little known “Outlaw Blues” from his Bringing It All Back Home album and deserves major props for renovating it to her style rather than lapsing into a tired Dylan imitation. The production is a particular strong suit here as well. “Drag You Along” affected me deeply – her unflinching look at life’s hardest questions is accompanied by first class musical backing and she gives herself totally over to the lyric.
“Worker’s Lament” has a lovely retro sound thanks to its accordion, but never sounds too removed from our modern experience. The lyrics have a number of surprising turns, as well, and Hanmer embraces them from the first line, throwing herself unreservedly into even the harmony vocal parts. It’s a great track to precede the clear musical fun of “Dead Happy” and the staccato guitar work counterpoints her melodic strengths very well. We are treated to a final surprise with the last song “Mama’s in the Spirit World Now”, a song that alternates between regret and truth, and has a lean arrangement clearly fitting her emotive talents as a singer. Molly Hanmer ends Stuck in a Daydream on a graceful, challenging note and it makes for one of the more involving listening experiences I’ve enjoyed this year. Let’s hope she collaborates more with The Midnight Tokers in the near future because I’m sure they could produce more works on par or bettering this outstanding full length album.
Barry Abernathy and Darrell Webb present Appalachian Road Show, the first joint musical effort between Abernathy, Webb and guest star Jim VanCleve on fiddle, is a multidimensional foray into the realm of bluegrass and its southern relatives constructed out of the trio’s love of the Appalachian landscape, and it doesn’t waste any time dispensing the rich melodies that the region is synonymous with. Abernathy commands our heart-strings with his lightning-fast banjo play, while Webb dictates the soulful harmonies with his mandolin and VanCleve manages the space in between the two. Each one of the songs we find on Appalachian Road Show’s debut affair is styled in a different element of southern comfort, but one thing that they all have in common is their authentic exemplification of country musicianship.
Though “Milwaukee Blues” and “Piney Mountains” are designed on different ends of the bluegrass spectrum, the emotional vortex created by their magnetic lyrics makes them instantly recognizable as being cut from the same musical cloth. Their shared tonality is what makes them the so similar, not their execution of melody. A common theme in this album is togetherness in spite of differences, something that has been holding Appalachia together through thick and thin for centuries, and a fine example would be the eloquently arranged three tracks that we start off with in this record. “Little Black Train” is the darkness of a laboring south personified; “Dance, Dance, Dance” is the bit of joyousness that the culture’s communal unity is known for; and “Broken Bones” beckons a period of discord, pain and suffering that shaped what the whole of our country looks like today. They couldn’t be more different, yet they’re able to affectionately share this album together.
“Georgia Buck” is a great bluegrass shootout that gives “Lovin’ Babe” and “Old Greasy Coat” a run for their money on the sheer strength of harmony, but the latter two are much more sophisticated in their compositional layout. The last song on the record, “I Am Just a Pilgrim,” is much less a bluegrass song and more of a folk ballad, but it also features a classically refined arrangement that is magnified by the slick production. Whoever was in charge of operating the levels behind the glass with this album made sure that none of the instrumentals ever get smashed together, which makes these otherwise elaborately designed songs much more accessible to the typical music enthusiast.
You really get an idea about what matters most to both Abernathy and Webb in this record, and their relationship with Appalachia is portrayed not only through the pointed lyrics and their textured delivery, but also via the unpredictable rhythms that they’re driven by. A song as dexterously gripping as “Little Black Train,” which grows out of the spoken word in track one, is meant to get our adrenaline flowing through its combustible pace, but it’s malevolent lyrics are what really make it as hot a track as a burning ember in the fireplace. I’m impressed with what they’ve accomplished in this initial outing and am definitely curious as to where Appalachian Road Show goes next with this intriguing take on traditional bluegrass music.
EKP ON VIMEO: https://vimeo.com/280578224
The second single from Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite’s album Canyon Diablo, “Strange Intuition”, accelerates the momentum the collaboration between producers/writers The Grand Brothers and singer/songwriter Dee generated with the album’s first single “Electrified”. The band cites a variety of influences for their material, but the latest single demonstrates no clear pedigree while still working well within the realm of electro-influenced rock. The hard-hitting, yet immensely stylish, approach to this single moves them further afield of the cookie cutter approach lesser outfits seize on as their entrance into the popular musical world, but Dee’s previous success with singles like “Miles and Miles (Living on the Edge)” and “Filter Factory” and the Grand Brothers’ track record as successful writers and producers proves to be a potent recipe for the outfit’s current and growing success. Continue reading “Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite – Strange Intuition”
Kazyak’s Reflection is the sort of album I think you’ll be able to keep returning for years to come and never fully exhaust its appeal. The band complied eight demos, b-sides, and outtakes to form this album, but this unlikely method for structuring anything more than a hodgepodge collection lacking rhyme or reason pays off, instead, for Kazyak in a big way. Patterns and connections aren’t always apparent in an artist’s work – a seemingly unrelated batch of songs may, long after their initial composition, assume different significance later on. There’s no question the songs included on this release share an over-arching consistency despite exploring wildly different styles. The uniting element is their daring. Kazyak excel at fundamentals, but they use that bedrock musical command to marry seemingly disparate styles into a cohesive whole. Continue reading “Kazyak release Reflection (LP)”
The smoldering reverse echo of a guitar rises from the ethers in the opening bars of Opposite Day’s “Day of the Triffids” as if to warn us that there’s an ocean of chaotic discord just waiting to be unleashed behind this fragile dam. A bass with the legs of a spider dexterously wanders between the strut of the riffs that are literally growing around us, and before we know it we’re smashed dead center between a crunchy modulation in the tempo and the focused assault of the band. Opposite Day’s Divide By Nothing gets off to a furious start, but it doesn’t let up in any of the five tracks it dispatches at listeners who are bold enough to embark on the group’s latest progressive adventure. Continue reading “Opposite Day release new Music”
In an era when dirge and depression seem to dominate the pop charts to the point of leaving no room for anything other than music celebrating the bleakness of society, folkie singer/songwriter Abby Zotz offers up a piece of pure optimism in her new album Local Honey, and it couldn’t be coming at a more significant time. In all of the gloom and doom of modern music, a record as remarkably uplifting as Local Honey shines as bright as a shooting star and get us excited about the vibrancy of pop once more. Divided into eleven tracks that each contain a different element of Zotz’ sterling creative persona, this album is a must listen for anyone who has been feeling down and out about life and could use a little musical pick-me-up to get through the day. She might not be a household name yet, but if given the right platform I have a feeling that audiences from Canada and beyond are going to have a tough time resisting the charming harmonies and relatable lyrics of this up and coming pop sensation. Continue reading “Abby Zotz – Local Honey”