It is difficult to put your own fingerprints on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, but Gregory Harrington is able to do so. This is because of the tremendous close-knit and touching woodwinds that establish the song’s narrative. The richness of Harrington’s Hallelujah continues as additional elements are included in the mix. With nods to classical, jazz, and blues weaved in here, Harrington is able to make something that absolutely soars. The careful care-taking of the different instrumental elements makes a Herculean chore into child’s play. Few non-vocal tracks are able to express the same gravity as what is present here. Check out Harrington’s cover of Hallelujah below.
On Beaming Right Up, Makes My Blood Dance are able to tie orchestral metal, angular indie-rock and mid-oughts emo into something that will appease fans of Guns ‘N Roses and AFI alike. Taut instrumentation and a dense, thrushy layering ensure that listeners will have to play this cut many times before hearing everything that has been placed within. The charismatic vocals of Beaming Right Up is matched quite nicely by guitars that whip together Joe Perry and André Olbrich. While touching upon numerous styles with their latest single, Makes My Blood Dance keeps things intense and memorable throughout.
On Cupid, Juliana Hale is able to build upon the strong singer-songwriter style of Pink and Lady Gaga. For much of this single, a piano represents the sole force establishing the instrumental side of things. Hale’s inclusion of strings at opportune points puts a highlight on the track, especially when her vocals go silent. Each part of Cupid is able to contribute mightily to a cohesive sound. Fans of early Tori Amos or Bjork will be able to dig what Hale is laying down here, but she is able to bring in just enough of a nod to current pop music to make Cupid something special.
On Waiting For This, Kelly Padrick is able to refresh the sound of The Bangles and Bananarama. Equal amounts of alternative rock and electronic pop are blended to create something that hits the same mark as Madonna’s Ray of Light or Blondie’s Heart of Glass. Padrick is able to do more than tell a story on her latest single; she is able to build upon the harmonies achieved by the synths, guitars, and drums. As a result, Waiting For This is extraordinarily constant from onset until the single’s last notes. Sultry, intense, and musically fulfilling, Waiting For This is an effort that we’ll be playing at NeuFutur throughout the spring.
Kelly Padrick “Waiting For This” / Domain /
On The F-Word, John Paciga is able to create a song that could easily slot into a Broadway musical. The talent, a driving piano line, and oodles of allure ensure that the melodies crafted on this single will bury themselves deep into the minds and hearts of listeners. With the dynamic between the piano and Paciga’s vocals ensuring each are on the top of their game, it’s not surprising that The F-Word is one of our favorite tracks of the month. One should take particular care to focus in to John’s vocals at around the 2:20 mark, as the speed he reaches here is impressive. More impressive is how he is able to keep everything working perfectly during this period of chaos.
We have previously covered Paciga’s duet with Charlotte MacMurray, The Prayer.
John Paciga “The F-Word” / Domain /
On Never Let You Down, Chase The Jaguar is able to link together pop, synth-funk, and indie rock in a wholly unique fashion. The multiple layers of Never Let You Down ensure that listeners will have to play the single multiple times before hearing each nuance that has been peppered through the single. The raw charisma of the vocals are a stand-out part of the isngle, but listeners should not sleep on the lush synths and the taut instrumentation that establishes the background for the cut. When CtJ brings a bit of falsetto into the mix, the song is able to reach a higher plateau. We’re in love with Never Let You Down; let us know what you think about the single below the jump.
Long before the band Foreigner became lazy, shorthand slang for bloated, stadium dinosaurs (often and likely unfairly lumped in alongside era peers like Journey, Styx and REO Speedwagon), they were an upcoming band of British and American rockers with a knack for writing catchy, timeless songs with wildly memorable guitar riffs. In 1978, just two years into their existence and still boasting their classic line up, they played a blistering set inside London’s Rainbow Theatre and the hour-plus long show is captured beautifully here on Live at the Rainbow ‘78.
Touring behind the songs off of their 1976 self-titled debut and the ’78 follow up Double Vision (easily two of their best three records), the Lou Graham-led band tear through a hits-laden set that included “Hot Blooded,” “Double Vision,” “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold As Ice”. The band is tight and was taking nothing for granted at this point in their career, still working to earn the audience’s favor. There are marks here that reek of a late ‘70s rock show (a flute solo for one; smoke machines, band-led clap alongs), but there is no denying that this concert film captures a classic band at one of the peak performances of their career.
Francine Honey is an Ontario-based singer/songwriter that has a familiar, rustic tonality in her sound but consistently delivers heartfelt, inspired original lyrics that are relatable to all walks of life, and in her new album To Be Continued…, we witness her breakout moment transpire over the course of eleven sumptuous songs. We open with the rustling strings of “Snowflakes on My Eyelashes,” which features Honey collaborating with the equally talented Beth Nielsen Chapman, and slowly work our way through bouts of bluesy swagger ala “Stay,” “Honey” and the hit single “Shacked-up Sweetie;” plaintive folk ballads in “To Be Continued,” “Marilyn” and “Mamas Take Bad Dreams Away;” and experimentally structured country pop via “Open Road,” “I Wish” and “Can’t Break Through to You,” all the while sticking to a bucolic narrative that is as cohesive as what you’d expect to find in a straight concept piece. You don’t have to be particularly big on acoustic music to really appreciate the grandeur of her artistry, but for those of us who have been keeping up with Francine Honey since her career’s inception, this is without a doubt the album that we’ve been waiting for her to give us.
The music video for “Shacked-up Sweetie” stars Honey and a huge cast of extras portraying the attendees of a wedding in a country church, with the rhythm of the track inspiring the whole lot to get up and dance before we ever reach the customary “I do” portion of the ceremony. It’s a fairly simple concept for a video that isn’t overstimulating visually and gives the bulk of its limelight over to Honey above everyone else, but at the same time it’s so cleanly produced and imaginatively shot that it’s hard not to get lost in the hypnotizing mesh of unending melodies and dance-riddled disorder. This is a rare instance of a music video not only embodying the spirit of its source material but moreover the design of the album it was cut from; in a lot of ways, all of what we hear in To Be Continued…, including the more lumbering balladry, is as freewheeling and full of life as “Shacked-up Sweetie” and it’s video’s band of uncaged party-goers are.
Unlike most of the country albums that I’ve reviewed in the last year, Francine Honey’s latest LP sports a texture within its deeper tracks that is amplified by the physicality of the master mix and really emphasizes how brooding her style of songwriting can be. I found “Marilyn” and “Open Road” to be just as single-worthy as “Shacked-up Sweetie” is, and it isn’t because of their boldly multifaceted tonality nor their admittedly contagious grooves alone. All of the songs on To Be Continued… are mixed with such an attention to detail that it’s as if we’re sitting front row for an intimate concert with Honey, instead of just listening to studio-recorded material from the comforts of our own home. In this sense, she’s come a long way from the black and white melodies of the surreal Re-Drawn, but still remains the soulful, honest singer/songwriter who won our hearts from the get-go.
The Bobbleheads dish out an electrifying slab of authentic indie rock in their latest single “I Really See You,” and it’s really got both critics and fans abuzz from one side of the country to the next at the moment. In the colorful and surreal music video for the song, viewers become as entranced by the kaleidoscopic visuals as they are by the cerebral quality of the music, which much like previous efforts, is exquisitely produced with a keen eye to subtle details often ignored by the band’s peers. “I Really See You” is, without a doubt, some of their sharpest stuff yet.
Rhythmically, this track sports a really swinging beat that demands a physical reaction out of anyone within earshot. The chorus is riddled with a super-addicted hook that is melodically woven into the violent beats in an ode to the stop/start dynamic made famous by the Pixies. The drums are stylishly appointed with a muscular finish in the master mix, echoing the cratering thrust of the main riff, but they never intrude upon the vocal track. For as much action as “I Really See You” boasts in its instrumental content, it’s very meticulously arranged as to allow us the chance to fully appreciate its complexities.
The video for the song is cinematically chic and vividly shot in high definition clarity, but its neo-psychedelic treatment of the narrative here is perhaps its most alluring feature. Frame by frame, we’re overwhelmed with imagery that is almost as textured and surreal as the music playing in the background is, and even in more conventional scenes where we’re simply watching the band play, it feels as if we’re experiencing a dream instead of merely watching a music video. It’s postmodern and quite engaging from beginning to end, and better yet, it’s not even moderately pretentious in nature.
There’s as much emotion in the instrumentation of this song as there is in the lyrics themselves and, in many ways, the video captures the zany energy that unites the two brilliantly. The Bobbleheads aren’t afraid to embrace humility and explore the depth of their songcraft from every angle, and their dedication to the music is more than evident in this single. 2019 is gearing up to be a pretty big year for these guys, and even a cursory listen of “I Really See You” makes it clear as to why they’re garnering as much attention as they have been recently.
If you’re looking for some smart alternative rock to soundtrack your spring with, I would highly recommend checking out both the single and the music video for The Bobbleheads’ “I Really See you,” as it not only encapsulates the mammoth talent that this exciting band brings to the table, but it further exploits their incredible tonality for all that it’s worth. This group possesses the melodic sting of Overwhelming Colorfast and the sublime intensity of The Ramones, but their sound is truly their own. Mainstream alternative rock has been producing some hit or miss results in the last few years, but in the gilded underground, The Bobbleheads are dispensing the exact type of unpolluted riffage that we need to get by right now.
On Middle of the Night, Norway’s Annprincess creates a bouncy dance track that draws upon the 1990s sound of Amber and Alice Deejay while whipping in hints of electrofunk and mid-1980s dance (Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode). When Annprincess moves into the chorus of Middle of the Night, the crowd will be whipped up considerably. A tremendous amount of charisma bleeds through the track, ensuring listeners are energized. The thick, bassy beat that starts off this cut draws fans in, while a slower, calmer section keeps them locked in. View the video for Middle of the Night below the jump.