Spotify Listen Link: Annalise Emerick – Starry-Eyed
This is a friend of mine from back at Belmont. She was always ridiculously talented, and it's been exciting to see her put her music really out there, and even book herself a tour up and down the coast. Let's get her music out there and listened to, shall we?
This is a shorter collection of songs, and we start things off with "You Win." I forgot how light her voice could be. The lyrics are just put out there as real words from a girl. The music itself plays behind her with a folk/country sound that is perfect for a warm September day like today. And the background vocals come in support in just the slightest way to give the right amount of support. Interesting end like to the choir - "Dear old Music City, you win." I couldn't tell you if this is a metaphor to a guy, but having been a college kid in Nashville, if this is a legit love song to that city, it absolutely makes sense.
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"Time of Day" comes in even more solemnly, so I invite you to take a serious listen to the words throughout this. She's a deeper writer for sure, who puts more words into her songs than we're all probably used to hearing. This is the real meaning of poetry through music.
Interesting rocking little number up next with "I Came Around." "Everyone changes with a chance." My guess it's about a lost love (btw, reviewing friend's music is tough - you don't want to mess up the interpretation of what they're trying to do). But it's also about learning and growing because of it, though reflecting on what could've been. I don't know, it's just a really well-crafted idea here, and her voice lends so much credence to that. The music picks up for this one, bordering more on rock than the gentle first two tracks did.
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"Round and Round" slows things back down. There's a breakup in there. There's the attempt to rekindle, but it's not happening, because as she says "it's just too much to begin again." Admit it, you've all been there. I love when the chorus comes in with this awesome power of emotion. That's something awesome and fulfilling in a song. The music throughout actually is pretty interesting. In the second verse, for instance, the beat is just a little off compared to the melody, but it almost sounds like a march. It's really different.
You know why we love folk songs, even though we probably would forget it if asked what our favorite genres are? The stories that they tell. "A Runner and a Singer" does just that, and even asks "what if?" It's a great listen to get that mini-movie playing in your head while you figure out why it's effecting you quite so much.
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"This Love Won't Break Your Heart" is the song I kept seeing across her Facebook page, so we'll qualify it as a single. It takes an old song with an interesting twist. Annalise remains light in her vocal approach, and it's lovely. There's just as much love and warmth wrapped in that voice and the light use of strings throughout the song as any singer belong out something loud and emotional.
We end this collection with Annalise's take on a classic, "Stand By Me." Again, her voice remains light and on the air in an easy, good way. It's the perfect mellow way to end out this album, showing off both her gentler nature and power as a singer.
| | Added to My Playlist:
- "You Win"
- "Round and Round"
- "This Love Won't Break Your Heart"
- "Stand By Me"
Annalise is something special in music. She has a very different voice and approach to music than almost anything you'll hear on mainstream radio. This is really music you need to concentrate on and delve into whole-heartedly - and trust me, you won't be disappointed when you do.
Spotify Listen Link: Rosin Coven – Sing Me Malaise
This one comes to us via Friend of the Hawke site, EveryoneQuestion.com (where you can see the original post of this review). The band and Jason had been in contact, and he brought me into the conversation, being the, eh, 'music' arm of the web projects we seem to find ourselves in. They graciously sent me a copy of the CD (along with an awesome bumper sticker that says "Make Martinis Not War!") and I'm thrilled to be asked - so let's see what we've got here!
Today we’re going to take a listen to the band’s third album, which apparently was in the works for about five years. The one page I got from their PR contact uses a lot of whimsical words – including whimsical – to draw you in. “Elegant,” “lush landscape,” and “cinematic chamber orchestra” are just three that stick out to me off of this page. It looks like, if nothing else, we’re in for a variety of sounds, all of them interesting.
“I Found the Gold” starts things off in a darker mode for sure. The vocals take us straight down this twisting path that leaves me thinking this will be nothing less than a fascinating listen. Then… okay, this jazz-like drum beat comes in and definitely brings about the lounge sound, but in such a different way than I think any of us could have expected. I mean it’s a bass drum – not a piano – that’s creating this mood. What??
And then… well then, we get “Magpies,” which you have to admit that, in title alone, will make you giggle a little bit. The song itself really does take in so many elements and somehow makes it all work. You’ve got a trumpet and xylophone-family instrument playing call-and-answer for a bit, and a group of singers who are clearly reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters of yester-year, doing it in a modern, beautiful, and unexpected way. THEN there’s a western-showdown-style guitar bringing you in to the final two minutes. Whatever notion I had of music that made sense is now probably gone.
Who is does this enchanting voice belong to? I haven’t heard skating this good since “The Fresh Prince” when the Phil and Viv are heading to the Jazz festival. “Notes and Dames” is a faster-paced, more mystery-based sounding song. It’s funny to me that I can classify some of these in terms of literary genres, instead of musical.
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“Stay” takes us back down that darker sounding path, with everything just a bit more deep and insane than the previous songs. It’s got a possessive tone to it, with the sound almost seemingly rooted in some kind of dark magic that, while frightening, is something you just can’t manage to stay away from.
I’m getting into “House of Roses” as I’m getting ready for bed, and the spoken words at the beginning, complete with old-victrola-quality-sounding recording, are probably going to keep me up for a little while. This one, if you couldn’t tell by the mood of the album and the song title itself, is like a ride through a haunted carnival. There’s something inherently beautiful in the sound though. Though the “I love you – do what I say” line strikes me as a little off-putting.
“Lo Que No Sera” comes in menacingly… well, a softer term for that, but you know what I mean, maybe. It actually sounds like the build up for a big Broadway number. Those background vocals are still blowing me away with their precision and pitch accuracy. I’m just unbelievable impressed. Then there’s the strings in this one, which are really what throw the most tension into the whole number, making your spine tingle just a little bit.
They ended the last song singing about opening the window, then “Water, Don’t Talk to Me” starts with the same theme. Interesting transition. This one builds with many voices, creating a whole story through the sound. The lead is the girl in the story, but there are clearly voices around her that influence the decisions and outcomes. Vocally, this sounds like it could be a real challenge, especially with the builds and drops, not to mention extreme breath control in some spots. Just lots of ‘wows’ once again.
“Arrow” is sinister in its approach. The strings are going just quickly enough to build the anticipation, with the voice going up and down, taking you on the journey around and around. This is about it until the familiar lounge sound comes back in around the two minute mark. Voices begin to layer again and the beat picks up just enough to be entertaining and sweet. Granted, some of those chords they’re hitting are still a little crazy (I mean that in a good way), but this is a cooler sound.
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And we’re brought deeply into “Peacock Aria.” It really does have that slightly more classical sound to it, at least of something from another world that we, sadly, don’t know of here anymore. Of course, a lot of this album has that sort of way about it. It’s just something your ear isn’t accustomed to. This has a more minor sound throughout, like you can feel the singer swaying with her eyes closed during the instrumental moments.
“Sing Me Malaise” takes us to title track time. It comes in so low I can almost barely hear it. It’s almost entirely the lead vocalist, but I hear a hint of something backing her… somewhere. Wow, this song is over six minutes long. As hauntingly beautiful as this voice is, I’m hoping something picks up, because this is going to be hard to endure for that long. Oh, ask and you shall receive – there’s the strings and drums and beat picking up to a slow, steady lounge song. If you listen in to the song later on, you’d almost be surprised it’s the same number. But there we go again, slowing down, then picking it back up to the chorus. Really an impressively put-together song.
Are they singing “radiator, pour a drink?” Man, I need better speakers. Anywhos, “Salacious Claque” comes in like something right out of “Boardwalk Empire.” It’s slinky and swanky. The horns take on much more of a definite role on this one. And the male voices that drone in… well, they sound like they would be so cool and interesting on their own, but I have to say that mixed, the sound gets a little messy. The instrumental part is really interesting, and completely deserving of a dance number. I don’t know about this one as a whole though. It’s just not doing it for me and I’m a little ready to move on from the sideshow.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Water, Don't Talk to Me"
- "Peacock Aria"
Wow, what an album. I really would love to go back and re-listen to this, because it's some of the most interesting and intriguing music I've ever heard. The sound is different and elusive and such a cool way. The use of this variety of instruments is amazing, but even more noteworthy is the use and mix of voices. There are things happening here that… well, I can't even place my finger on where you'd hear them in another circumstance, that's how different they are. This is a band that is worth taken a listen to, because you are going to be blown away by how different and fascinating their music really is.
Let's learn a little bit about this singer-songwriter, shall we? She's only 21 years old, and has been compared as a blend of Laura Marling and Florence Welch, "combining roaring, powerful vocals with mellow guitar riffs and witty wordplay." She's played all over London, as well as the Edinburgh Fringe (hey, me too!) and a handful of various European cities.
While I don't see a full album available for listening, there's a nice little handful of videos to get a taste of her music from. So, we get a little sampling. Great!
"Primrose Hill" is the first on her music & video page (check out her site at marienaffah.co.uk). Anyone remember my buddy Annalise? Because that's who tho girl reminds me of. Her voice is kind of smokey, but the recording makes it pretty crisp. I like the vulnerability of the song because it makes you feel like you could just as easily sing this. That lack of pretentiousness is quite welcome.
Now, keeping in mind this is the acoustic version, or at least that's what the video label says on her site, up comes "Silver and Gold." Come in, right away, I'm a fan of the beat. I can't watch the video because it's making me a little dizzy, but her voice is so damn cool. The way she wraps herself around words is so impressive and interesting. I would love to try saying things her way. Her dynamics are also really crazy. The loud moments cut through you, but those softer moments are what rips to your soul.
| | Kind of interesting mix of studio recordings is up next. "Get Lucky/No Scrubs/Can't Hold Us" (by Daft Punk/TLC/Macklamore, respectively). It's sort of fascinating to hear these just based on the guitar. Sound-wise, I'm completely intrigued. I do wish for a little more expression in her face, but what can you do there? It's an impressive mix of music that I certainly would have never thought to throw together.
"Blindfold." is quote that. Marie sits there with a blindfold on her eyes and plays the guitar and sings this magnificent song that will just grip your heart. It's downright inspiring, giving the story of what a blind girl hears her whole life and how she 'sees' it all. Really, this is an amazing piece.
Marie is joined by Barny Scott for "The Busker" which I would have thought was "Falling Slowly" by those very beginning notes. But no, this is their own. You can hear her accent really clearly in this, which is always interesting with British artists. Think of the Beatles - you could barely ever hear their accents. I know that growing up I didn't realize they were from England for a while. Marie makes it very clear in this slow, stead number.
Songs I Want to Add to My Playlist:
I gotta say, I'm glad this lady's music came across my desk. She's witty and has got this really interesting voice. Already on the festival circuit, she's getting her work out there and I look forward to when she takes more of the world by storm.
It's so funny to me that I was just watching Elvis Costello show up on "The Colbert Report" and shortly after got offered the opportunity to hear his latest batch of (I'm sure) great hits. This is a re-posting from my original article on CultureBrats - so go give them some love!!
Let's face it, this guy really is a living legend. I don't know a single person who doesn't appreciate the talent. Since his debut album in 1976, music's been blessed by one of rock's greats. What's funny is that you rarely hear his name in a big way - he's not a huge, over-inflated superstar, yet ask anyone and they'll tell you he makes great music.
I love the description on Elvis' site for this album. It begins with: "the sacred tie between the Hollywood silver screen and music…" For Costello, these fifteen songs are 30 years of that sacred tie on one album.
"Accidents Will Happen" is the first track selection. It's from The song was sung by Michael in "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial" when he comes home from school. I can't say I was terribly familiar with the song going into this, but Elvis still provides a familiar voice right from the get-go, gearing us up for a good album of music.
It goes then right in to "Lover's Walk," a really fun, almost samba-like tune. This is one I could totally get into dancing around the room to. Elvis brings a unique style to music, which is why I never could corner him in to a specific genre. But then again, it's Elvis Costello - can't corner that dude, clearly.
Now, "Godfather III" is the one in the trilogy I have never seen, mostly out of demand of a friend who said it'd just ruin the whole experience for me after having loved the first two. But apparently, "Miracle Man" was used in the seduction of Michael Corelone's daughter. Go figure - it doesn't sound like anything that would fit into those films to me, but that was the oddball one of the three.
Speaking of oddball, "Life Shrinks" is very out there vocally. Okay, admittedly I've heard stranger. But the melody is just strange. The way he manages to wrap his voice around words is weird. I think it grows on you throughout the song, though the military flute work is still kind of throwing me off.
"Americathon" included the song "Crawling to the U.S.A." It's much more along the lines of old rock, but something about the recording style makes it just out of the ordinary enough to still be Costello. It's definitely still one to get up and move to though, albeit awkwardly.
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The next one, "Seven-Day Weekend," is from "Club Paradise." Ah, what a nice sentiment. I've totally heard this song before, but it must have been as a cover or a later version, because this is completely an 80's-recorded number. It's like you want to do the twist to it, but with foot-high hair.
"Days" has this heartfelt sound to it right from the beginning. It comes to us from "Until the End of the World" and has, by far, the most mellow sound of any song on the album so far. Actually, it makes for a nice calming moment mid-album.
This feeling continues on with "I Want You" from the film by the same title. As the chorus started, I was thinking Beatles big time, but clearly this is a song all its own. It's slow and sultry.
"The Family Man" included the nest song, "You Stole My Bell." Now I'm starting to wonder why I've never heard of any of these movies. Anywhos, the song starts to pick things back up just a bit, but there's a nice easing in of it. This is compiled like a good concert flow. And damn, that guitar.
That guitar comes into play in the rocking number "My Mood Swings." There's a deep effect on the vocals in this one making it just a generally cool song along the lines of old twist songs. Finally, too, it's from a movie I'm familiar with - "The Big Lebowski" - even if I've never seen it (*dodges fruit*).
"Oh Well" is mellow once again. To be completely honest and un apologetic, this is one I was fine with walking out of the room during and not caring what was happening back at the computer. There's always at least one like that.
"God Give Me Strength" from "Grace of My Heart" is almost the same way, but at least here I'm trying to accept it as a good lounge-ish song to listen to. Sort of nice hearing the words of someone who's clearly not familiar enough with the artist's particular work make snarky comments on a collection of it, isn't it? Hi, I'm from Janelle, and I'm from New Jersey, and naturally too sarcastic for my own good.
I don't know much about "Sparkling Day" going in, but the sound is warped enough to remain interesting. Sounds like there's a bit of heart put into it as it moves through with such a classic sounding background instrumental arrangement.
The next one was in TWO movies, and a handful of TV shows. "Love and Other Disasters" and "Notting Hill" both contained "She." This one's a classic in its own right, let's face it. It's so beautiful and sad. And that is all.
"Town Called Big Nothing" is the final song in this collection, and it opens with the most beautiful Spanish guitar I've heard in a while. It's sort of a subdued track with a story all its own. It's a totally different and completely awesome way to close out the album.
Whew, what a journey. I'll end this the way I started: maybe I don't know the songs particularly well, but the Elvis Costello sound resonates through generations. This was just a lot of fun. I never have taken the time to listen through an entire collection of his work. Honestly, the most I got really into were probably his appearances on "Gilmore Girls." This was great though. I hope you get taken back to your favorite movie moments through these numbers, or even just find yourself enjoying something new like I did!
NEW MUSIC TUESDAY
Alex Storer contacted me a little while back and generously gave me music to hear. I have no way to find the music on iTunes, so no link available, but I'm always willing to take a chance on more music.
You can find more info on this artist on his site, www.thelightdream.net, because that's where I'm about to get lost in research. "Alex Storer is a digital artist, illustrator and electronic musician" is what we're welcomed with there, along with notes on his digital and science-fiction art. The music side has been happening since 2006, ever-growing in confidence and apparently giving us something to really think about here.
This particular album is described as "a journey through alien worlds, alternate worlds and future worlds." Who's ready to take this trip with me?
"Souvenir of Earth" takes us away. Looking at this track list, I'd bet I could make up a story of the journey. As in, now we're saying goodbye to Earth and heading off into the great unknown. This builds just every so lightly, for sure bringing along that cosmic sound. You can almost feel like you're floating as we go up and out.
So now we're out there. "To The Stars" brings in a tribal beat, with these little flickers of light throughout (eh, eh, get it?). The general musical theme that we heard in the first number continues on with a bit more intensity and speed is being picked up just slightly. It's kind of awesome to hear, as well as feel, this whole thing shape together.
"Utopia" is the first thing to creep me out a little. You almost expected it coming into this whole thing, but those ominous gongs at the start are what solidifies the moment. The music takes a turn from there, adding in some rhythms and sweet little melody, but everything is kind of wary. We're looking around, getting used to this feeling and this place, without knowing what might be around the next corner. There is discovery though, and it's beautiful in some way.
And now we're building things and making the world more complicated. "Colony" is the first track that I can say, right away, I can tell is an electronic track. Everything out of this is form a machine. It's also interesting to me that it's all just a little blurry, which takes the edge off of the electronic feel a bit. This is also the first track I've felt the desire to move around to. I have no idea if any sort of dance feel was being aimed for, but this has just enough to make you get into the groove.
"The World Outside" is just that to me. It's so outside of what I was finally getting used to. It's a night sitting in the grass and looking at the stars and realizing how tiny we are and how much is out there. Talk about good movie soundtrack music.
I almost missed "Second Sun" because it just fade in so nicely. We're still not getting anything that particular sticks out, because this is where we notice something else in the sky. It's a little daunting and scary, hence those lower notes that hit, but if you get the realization that it's okay and beautiful (as, what I can only describe as the chorus, portrays) then you can breathe easy.
"Icefall" literally starts out with a cold wind sound. Thank go my windows aren't open, because I'd bet I'd get an automatic chill. Again, that theme is back again, which I admire in tying the entire album together. But if you've ever been on a snowfield, you can imagine what this sounds like musically. It's absolutely everything I would have expected from such a track, and hauntingly beautiful to get lost within.
So picking things up a bit, it seems like we get a taste of everything in "Beneath the Surface." It's dark and ominous, but there's a melody about all else that's carrying us through. It's a special track, in my view, that no one can totally put their finger on the brilliance of, but you just know there's something supremely special going on in the inner workings. This is also about the moment when I start to wonder if I'm making sense to absolutely anyone else out there other than myself.
"Cities in the Sky" is out of "Tron." Come on, it's got to be. Listen to that theme - something obviously bigger than ourselves is looming over in magnificence. God, please tell me someone else out there is hearing this. Wait, okay, at the three minute mark, you get a change completely. The heavier-hitting drums beat and knock any sense of normalcy I had out the window. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
And now we're flying. Quite possibly on a light path. Okay, okay, I'll knock off the "Tron" references. But for real, the beat here has go to have you up in the air, moving on a wing along the wind. "Flightpath" takes on this gentle but methodical breeze right up until the end where we seem to encounter something either horrible or awesome, or maybe both.
"Earthlight" is some kind of return, maybe? There's that ominous deep tone again, but I guess you could say it's been brought up a little bit, maybe revealing some kind of learning experience that's been had. I know this is an original movie soundtrack, made for an old movie much later than its time. That explains a lot, but I still think the beauty in a piece of work like this lies in the ability to think and create what you want out of it.
As if we're not going to be scared enough to plummet back down to Earth, we're greeted with a track labeled "Sea of Flames." Good to know it's so much better out there. This sound much the same as the rest of the album, so I won't bore you with details, except to say that I wish we were back amongst the stars.
"First Steps [Bonus Track]" is an interesting piece, and I wonder if it's meant to be a completely separate track, or if it is meant to fit in with our storyline at all. It seems like a prequel piece, if anything, and one just a little different from the themes and sounds we've been hearing throughout. This comes across as a bit more organic in nature and composition, and definitely has a tone of discovery to it. The melody plays simply up and down and becomes quickly familiar in repetition. There's a bigger sound in the backing, and it's really got this overwhelming sense of importance to the upper register of melody we're hearing.
The final track is "Origins [Bonus Track]." Go ahead and assume everything I just said about the last one holds for this, at least in the realm of how it fits in the story of the album. It may even comes before "First Steps." It has a highly similar sound though, leaving me wanting for just something a smidge different to end this one with. Oh, wait, there we go - there are quiet choral vocals and a louder muffled organ coming into play. That was unexpected power, and quite welcome.
Added To My Playlist:
Wow, what a journey. I'm impressed. I mean, the themes are constant, and the sound is seamless (minus the blank space between tracks, which I can absolutely forgive). The album is good, and the art is there for sure.
Sean, Bradley, Michael, Reese, Ryan, and Simon make up the band NO - from Los Angeles. While I'm not seeing a ton of background info to dig in to, I have to admit that these fellas seem to have something about their act together. They at the very least have contacts for a manager, press agent, and booking agent. Hey, I can respect a good backing team.
"Another Life" kicks things off for us with this anticipatory rock tone but just ever so lightly. The vocals are deep and meaningful, with words unexpectedly verbose. The chorus brings on harmonies (this Muse with less echo) and everything musically drops right back down afterwords. I keep waiting for this to pick up and be a huge powerful rock song, but things stay just so, almost like an intense heart beat getting into and letting go in the building. This feels like a concert - and that's a great thing.
The next one has a lighter timbre, with almost what sounds like a different set of vocals. But that's just how it is sometimes. "Theres A Glow" (according to Spotify there's a lack of apostrophe there…) has a scratchier feel to it, with more layer to the vocals. It honestly songs more like the instruments are rubbing against the speakers instead of playing naturally on their own turf. It's really a strange sensation to hear.
"The Long Haul" is a little more intense. That deeper voice is back and it's almost haunting against this slow, methodical music it's laid over. There's some elements of love there in the lyrics, but overall this song just leaves me with this creepy lingering feel that I would really appreciate being able to shake before I go to bed this evening.
And then we're back to sort of happy-go-lucky again! "Big Waves" is a pretty sweet little rock song. The vocals to the bridge are somewhat overpowering, and the morse code underneath is giving me a little bit of a headache. But overall, the song's got a much more pleasant tone than the last few, so who am I to really complain? Things are moving along really nicely in this one, so we'll just let them keep moving. It might be too loud at a show and too much to take, but for now, it's a got a glimmer of California rock and good times.
"Coming Down" brings in this whole electronic element that was completely unexpected. Things just don't sound like they naturally come out of an instrument here - everything sounds like it's out of a computer. I suppose it's okay, I'm just struggling to figure out this band. The vocal sound is the same, so there's some connection.
Okay, so is it me or do you hear playground sounds during "Stay With Me"? It's just back there somehow. The rest is simply strums and vocals keeping it going. The sounds eventually fade out… wait, maybe they're just the sound of nails going up or down a steel guitar string. Regardless, the song pulses on, doing that same sort of slight building without every really popping into a huge rock song. And the weird thing for me here is that it really does feel like an ending song - the placement on the EP is positively perfect.
Added To My Playlist:
- "Another Life"
- "Stay With Me"
So that went far quicker than I expected going in. I know, I know, it's an EP and they generally go fast. But that just flowed so well and right along. The music was up and down emotionally, which worked given the tone of this band. Definitely a unique situation happening here, and that could really work to their advantage.
This one came in as a request from one of my bat friends, Yatri. Now, let me start off by explaining the nature that is Yatz. He is wise - not just smart (though he's very intelligent). He's got a way of looking at things and discussing them with you that makes you angry and excited all at once. We don't argue - we discuss, and there's usually some really cool passion for whatever we're talking about. He asks good questions and doesn't judge if you don't know every detail.
That said, when Yatz and I start talking about music, my major passion in life, our discussions are incredible. When he tells me to give something new a chance, I do. Hence this post!
So, this band, The Tea Party, originates with Jeff Martin form Windsor, Ontario. He was influenced by the proto-punch and Motown sounds from across the Detroit River, as well as his blues-loving father. This band includes Stuart Chatwood and Jeff Burrows, and they are described as blending rock, "Middle Eastern, Celtic, and Mediterranean music."
Far out! Let's do this!
"Fire In The Head" is first up, and I'm a little taken aback right at the start. The guitar picking is intriguing from the opening notes, with a mysterious deep voice taking control as it moves in. There's a sweet creepy factor happening that's bone chilling. The different elements noted above are, in fact, all in the song, but you just sort of realize them piece by piece throughout. I can't put my finger on the total meld quite yet.
All right, there we go. "The Bazaar" has a much different sound than your in-American tracks. Here are the Middle Eastern influences, front and center on an electric guitar. It's sort of a wild combo of effects and sounds going on that I would have never expected to be done.
"Correspondences" is very long and very slow and very tough to stay awake to after such a long day as mine. It's a classing long, drawn-out rock song that you can imagine the musicians are just completely loosing themselves in, but I don't know that there's a regard here to what fans want. It's very hard for us, mentally, to sit through a song more than three minutes long, so just the idea of seven+ is very tough. Not impossible to enjoy, just not enticing enough to be willing at every moment.
Next up is "The Badger." Insert some witty remark about badgers here. The Celtic sound is afoot - those are distant pipe sounds if I'm not mistaken, at the beginning. The guitar picking that comes in to join them about a minute in it surprisingly beautiful, and the classical sound that it launches in to is completed unexpected. Where did THIS come from? This is absolutely gorgeous, and totally brings on a new respect for the band able to produce it. Here's an old live video of the song:
"Silence" is certainly anything but. We're back to a slightly twisted sounding vocal lead, and this time a very Indian-sounding rhythm throughout. The instrumentation in this can only be described in words as bazaar, but I don't mean that in the sense of weird. I literally mean that this should be the background music in a scene of a movie with a bazaar.
No lie, thought I was about to hear "Screaming Infidelities" at the start of "Sister Awake." Instead, we get a gentle sitar overcoming the strumming guitar with a low voice. It's the sound of a quiet opening, with a pick up about a minute and a half in. The dance gets crazy and hypnotic. The visions you could have while listening to this are so pretty; so cathartic. The, around 2:20, the drums kick in and the rock sound melds itself in. I'm totally confused by this sound and I am adoring every moment.
"Turn the Lamp Down Low" is a deep, more solemn song for the night. It definitely picks up around 2:45 with intensity. There's something so dark and hot and awesome about this - I love it. More please. Some kind of psychedelic rock is happening without being overly obvious about it. If I wasn't at work, I'd totally get my hippie dance on.
And we're back to something totally soft and sweet and sentimental sounding for "Shadows On The Mountainside." It's like if "Lord of the Rings" actually took on a folk sound. This is so incredibly quiet, I'm almost shocked. Sure, there's the deepness to it, creating an ominous feeling throughout, but it remains just on the edge of fascinating. Something weird and wonderful seems to be happening in this music.
"Drawing Down The Moon" brings on just a twinge more creepiness, as it really down feel like a sickening spiral downwards into darkness. I'd venture to say this is the darkest song on the album, but we till have three more tracks to prove otherwise. It's not bad, but it's nothing I'd be interested in getting farther in to. It's just a bit much to handle overall. Plus I'm working nights and it's not easy hearing tiring low much like this.
I'll be honest, I tuned out "Inanna" and I don't care. The bit my conscious seemed to catch played off as annoying and I just wasn't having it.
"Coming Home" seems to 'bring it home' with some rougher rock licks. Late nights at work suck for reviews as much as they rock (hey, when else am I going to have time? - A girl needs her sleep) because of exhaustion and distractions, this is no exception. Actually, I think I like the lyrics/story in this one a lot, or at least the bits I'm catching.
Okay, fully concentrating for this final song that's only… 14 minutes long!! Ah, there's a note - the full thing is: "Walk With Me (Contains Hidden Track "The Edges Of Twilight")." Makes more sense now. So technically, this second-to-last song is a slow build of electronic noise until the dark vocal sound and hard hitting drop. It doesn't really slow down from there for the remaining 6 minutes or so of the 7 minute long first song. The hidden track picks up somewhere around the 8/8:30 mark (I was busy trying to beat my family in Solitaire Blitz). The first bit is all spoke word about the Goddess drawing near, set to slow ominous metal guitar backing, and then it all goes silent again at about 10 minutes. At 12 minutes I'm uncomfortably still sitting in silence, alone in my office. 14 minutes! There's something! A quick little door slam and… that's it. Done.
Added to My Playlist:
- "The Badger"
- "Sister Awake"
- "Turn the Lamp Down Low"
Nice one Yatz, very nice one.
Spotify Listen Link: Volbeat – Live From Beyond Hell / Above Heaven
A request for this band came in over my main contact form. In thee kind of cases (because I feel the need to tell you my logic in these cases), I find the band on Spotify and listen to the first album I can find of theirs. In this case, we get a live album.
First off, Volbeat themselves. This is a Danish metal band, and the 'start-over' new project for leader Michael Poulsen after his band Dominus. He wanted a more traditional rock sound this time around. This was the result, and in this case there'll be a live spin on their 2010 release.
The crowd is already alive and ready as an epic "Intro" starts up full of strings. It launches almost immediately into "The Mirror And The Ripper," and I have to give credit where it's due - there is for sure an old school rock 'n roll, Elvis feel to the opening verse. It's damn impressive in this arena of music talent, and unexpected to say the least. I can't understand about half of it, especially when the chorus picks up, but the general sound is promising of something that may actually wind up enjoyable. Here's the opening song from the DVD:
"Maybellene I Hofteholder" is next up, and I realize, thankfully early, that I need to be fair - this is not a band singing in English, so of course I'm not going to be able to understand the words. That being said, despite the gibberish I'm getting an earful of, the song's really very good. The musical makeup overall is well constructed. The rhythm's perfect to bash your head to, with a seemingly good lyrical melody to actually get into.
Coming up next is "16 Dollars." Again, very old-school rock sound going on, yet with an interesting metal sound underlying it all. Oh shit, they're singing in English! That's fun. God, I could imagine the energy at this show just being incredible. Everyone's got this awesome rock beat to start dancing to, but with the excuse to go absolutely insane because it's a metal show.
"Heaven Nor Hell" launches up next, with a very steady lead in beat and a crowd already singing along. There's this odd element of Offspring I can't help but feel as it turns on, and then shifts into a more Blink 182 sound. Sorry, I know that makes next to know sense. The use of rock styles though is really odd and even odder - works. Maybe it's the instant movement I get into as it goes on, but this music is just fantastic. Every moment is sweet and unexpected from a genre band that clearly doesn't try to stay in the mould.
Then they launch into something that's clearly a crowd favorite, judging by the sound of the screams: "Who They Are." This one takes a much darker tone right from the start. The singing is actually even more fast paced, and the guitar is not showing any single moment of letting up. While it's not going to be up for one of my favorite songs on the album, it is much more fitting for the genre they were initially described in, so I suppose in some weird way it actually is more appropriate album material?
"Evelyn" is finally the stereotypical metal style song we've been looking for on the album. Don't get me wrong - loving the other music, but now I finally believe the bio write up. Low throated screaming for the verses, great intense singing for the choruses. It all makes sense now, sort of.
Next one starts like a folk song to some extent, with the same throaty singing as before - think Johnny Cash combined with KoRn. "Sad Man's Tongue" is sort of what you get. Seriously the melody sounds like an old Cash song, I can't get over humming the real thing in my head. If there was any sort of influence from the cowboy himself, I wouldn't be surprised, and remain truly impressed with just how deep these rock roots and influences go.
"7 Shots" is, again, dark. There's a weird sort of hope in the guitar, but all hell breaks loose just before the one minute mark, with the drums taking off on this awesome rampage and the guitar struggling to do its own thing. The sound works. The drums maintain that though underneath of a shredding electric guitar, and then the voice takes over. Okay, I'm giving you a play-by-play on a song, and that's sort of weird, but that's about all I've got for the movements in this one.
I'm now attempting to listen to the remainder of this album while at work. Let's see how this goes and how many weird looks I wind up getting. First up in the work portion of this listening session is "Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza." Eh, my boss just walked back in. Stand by. Okay, my PA's back. Boss is gone. I feel better about this crazy deep "singing" going on while I work. I have no idea what's going on here lyrically, but I'm not sure if it's due to the style or the words being in another language. Is this what people sound like when they swim in a pool of booze? Maybe that's the root of the title?
"A Warrior's Call" is apparently "fuck, fuck, fuck" - or at least, that's the only line in this whole thing I fully understand. I think the first portion of this album was, while outside of the genre sound, much more along the lines of rock 'n roll the way the singer intended. The rest is more metal. Oh shit, wait, maybe that line was "fight, fight fight." That would make more sense now, wouldn't it?
Did an entirely different singer take lead for this half of the album? "The Garden's Tale" keeps up this same deep throated singing sound, but that's not what was going on earlier. I don't hate it, as the melody on this one is a little clearly and more pleasant than it has been the past few, it's just disorienting when you have it in your head that they'll be screaming otherwise. Whatevs, right? Just taking what we can get here. Also, another song seems to be starting up around the five minute mark, or at least some little interlude, or maybe a continuation. It's got the same slight marching beat as the song did at the start… and there's the utter chaos breakdown - sweet.
"Fallen" moves on further, clearly giving the same good dance rhythm, but heavier on the voice. Like I said, second half of the album is just a little rougher than that first half. More typical, less interesting from the genre standpoint, but not bad at all.
Okay, so "Thanks" gives a little more of the best of both worlds. The atmosphere is fun, there's maybe some lines about the people jumping around, and the melody is fast paced but danceable. Overall, a really cool and interesting method of throwing everything they stand for together into one track. I like it. Just a cool, good time, and you if you close your eyes, you can see the insanely fun mosh pit going at it in your mind.
"The Human Instrument" basically seems to get the crowd singing along, er, yelling I suppose. The beat on this one is awesome. It's steady and the head banging has got to be at its best here. Granted, the other language mixed in makes it sound like lots of gibberish, silly little words, but whatever - this crowd seems to get what's going on, and that's what important for the time being. Us here in English-ville can just imagine it and trying to enjoy it for music and insanity's sake.
In an… um… interesting titling, we get "Angelfuck." (Sorry mom, just typing the name of the song.) This one is led in by a bunch of talking to the audience - I think there's something about it being a cover, but I might be wrong. The just of it is a metal song gone haywire. Biggest thing I noticed was that this one was recorded at a different venue - at the House of Blues in Anaheim.
You can sort of hear the differences in venues, this one sounding much smaller, for "Still Counting." Seems like he's calling himself an asshole and counting the rest of them in the room, noticing he's certainly not alone. Sort of a good ol' rock song with some instrumental craziness in-between verses. I sort of like it, I think, even though I may not be listening closely enough to get the whole thing. Eh, give me a break - we just wrapped and I may not be focused entirely.
"I Only Wanna Be With You" is another cover, and the FINAL SONG ON THE ALBUM!!! Heh. In the screaming mood for one reason or another. Really curious to know if this is what I think it is… and if I'm not mistaken, it's a really awesome version of what I think it is. What a freaking awesome way to end this thing!!
Added to My Playlist:
- "Maybellene I Hofteholder"
- "16 Dollars"
- "Heaven Nor Hell"
- "I Only Wanna Be With You"
Can we take a second to realize the volume of songs I added to my playlist from this album for a moment? I mean, it's not Yellowcard or Van Morrison album listing, but for this genre and situation, it's a rarity for me to be this interested in this many songs. Says something, in my opinion. And hell, this is my blog, so my opinion matters.
By request of one of the people I respect more than almost anyone else in the world, my high school drama teacher. And yes, I'm being completely serious.
So we know Mr. Hugh Laurie from his hit role as Dr. House on... "House." The guy who still amazes me in that he can go from British (his native accent) to American in no time. I know it's very ethnocentric of me to think that way, but it's really a cool skill! Of course, the man does it all - even performs the blues. There are collaborations here, as well as Laurie talking on the piano and guitar. It topped the blues charts here in the US, and peaked at #16 on Billbooard's 200. We were actually the last to get it - the album was released in France, Germany, and the UK a good 5 months before here!
Follow along on your own copy or Spotify with me and let's see what all the talk is about.
The immediate start off is Hugh's hands across the piano - and damn, he's been hiding this talent. "St. James Infirmary" isn't like the blues and jazz we've been hearing from these instrumental groups of late. It's is smoky and passion filled in a way only musicians can give justice to. It's not until the vocals kick in that the entire song takes a turn, and we're introduced to Mr. Laurie's crying voice, much like a muted trumpet. Again, this is something unexpected for someone who's only heard him on house, yet welcomed for its difference.
"You Don't Know My Mind" just seems so damn appropriate to this guy, for some odd reason. And looky there, he's got BGVs too. The beat's kind of great, and this time we've moved into more prominent use of guitar than the piano that we hear before. It's less elegant, but honest just as much in a different way.
Whoa, and all right, we take a very dark, deep turn for "Six Cold Feet." Good god. These kind of blues songs are tough - they are classic beyond all else, but give this incredible dragging feeling that can only be truly enjoyed in a live settings. It's just tough otherwise, as the whole thing just makes you need to put your head down and drown for a moment.
You get more of the same with even more horns for "Buddy Bolden's Blues." It's another dragging number that's getting harder to hear on a regular basis, but I do have a growing love for this man's voice. It's just got this rawness throughout the songs that is shockingly appealing.
"Battle of Jericho" re-defines what we've considered classic in this blog since our December start. This is a song we used to sing in Sunday School way back in the day, and many had before us. This is a real old Negro spiritual, and is based out of the Bible. Want to get more classic than that? Yeah, I think until I hit some of the old Gregorian chants on my Ancient World albums, we've about reached the pinnacle.
We're back to the blues and done with the spirituals for a few moments, with "After You've Gone." It's a pretty simple piano and bass song, and Dr. John is featured, with Hugh just letting it all go I suppose. It's a song of making them realize what they had when it's over, with an entirely classic sound.
Where he really lets go? "Swanee River." Just when you think it's going to be more of the same, the back picks up and we're thrown into an instrumental party of good times with all. They let loose and jam up until the end where it seems Hugh remembers he actually had a vocal part to this songs, sings it once more, and closes things out. You rock brother.
"The Whale Has Swallowed Me" has inklings of Jonah and the Whale all over it, as though this is his song from within, waiting for when the whale gets sick and lets him go. I may be saying that simply from the biblical allusions from earlier, and this could totally be about something else - like escape from hard times. But he, to each their own, right?
That glorious piano is back for "John Henry," which also features Irma Thomas. As harsh as some of the lyrics are (death, hammers, etc. - eh, it makes sense if you listen) - the voices are divine together. They flow brilliantly and make for a fantastic listen to a smoke little old folk song.
"Police Dog Blues" is simple - a man and his guitar singing of his nomadic life. The guitar plays its own part as his companion throughout, almost like a dog being our best friend as you go. Perfect campfire chill song, kind of lousy studio song late at night when you're laying around trying to find interesting things to say about an album. It's an easy one though - nice and easy.
The same can't totally be said for "Tipitina," a song that does bring, seemingly, the whole band on for the jam. Oh, and there he in on piano again. This is actually a cover from the 70s, hence the bit of funk involvement throughout the song. I could probably ignore every single vocal line in here (sorry Hugh) and be completely satisfied with this song on an instrumental leve alone. The horns provide this awesome time travel technique that just makes the entire thing whole. Here's a little background on the number:
"Winin' Boy Blues" takes on a little more light-hearted feel, if that's possible with blues songs. Don't deny him his chance to bitch about things going on, because that's who he is - there you go, message in one neat little package.
Seriously, the tone here does not mesh with any other time I've heard this guy's voice. It's driving me a little crazy, but I don't know if it's for the good or bad side of crazy. The song's only about a minute long, and based off of the old charleston chord progressions. It's a cute little filler number overall, right before we launch into the final few songs!
Duddeeeee Tom Jones. And Irma is back! This track's like a little gathering of the greats from this album and, obviously, a special guest, just to show off a bit. "Baby Please Make A Change" is not as upbeat as one (like me) might hope from such a compilation song, but it's a good and different one, utilizing strings and certainly giving Mr. Jones a whole new sound unlike anything I've ever heard before.
We end things out with the title track, "Let Them Talk." It's just this sweet lovely piano-based song, with the guitar taking care of the blues element so it's in line with the album's genre. It's beautiful and complete, and a prefect ending to this album. Excuse me while I drift off to love for a minute or so.Added To My Playlist:
Not the best cross-over into music I've heard from an actor, but really not a bad album at all. There's heart to the blue that's hard to always hit right, but he did a nice job of putting it into this one. It's just a lovely album as a whole, and a great venture into the blues.
- "You Don't Know My Mind"
- "John Henry"
- "Let Them Talk"
Set 'em up and knock 'em down - this one was a request from a little bit ago, as well as a Bonnaroo artist this yeah!
So Fitz is an American Soul group, and this is their debut album. There was a home-recorded EP beforehand, which got them onto an indi label to start with. The group came together after Michael Fitzpatrick's rough breakup and his need to release creatively and just as a general distraction. Piece built on over time in weird ways, such as inheriting a church organ from a neighbor. Apparently they melded so well together, they could have played a show right after their first rehearsal. This whole album wound up being recorded in a non-sound-proofed living room.Check it out on Spotify, or watch the videos provided - because there's a pretty decent quality one for each!And here's we go back to the 60's y'all! "Breakin' The Chains of Love" opens up the album I can't say I love it all around, but the sound is fantastic. There's a slight echo used on the main vocal to give a really interesting ambiance sound. The horns really do round out the band really well entertainment-wise. And, finally, the female backing voice gives this just-right funk and soul touch that makes the song's overall sound great. There's a little turn-off because of the older sound, but it's not necessarily a bad thing as you get into it.
"Dear Mr. President" continues on this sound that I only vaguely remember when learning about reverb in Rech Tech class in college. It almost does sound like a 60's protest song, maybe 70's. Bonnaroo could be interesting, given this Woodstock-esq sound they've got going on. It's got a call to action sound though, keeping it raw and relatable overall.
Title track time! "Pickin' Up The Pieces" starts using the flute in a much more prominent way, and now the hippie within me is in love. Flower children, unite in the field for a good dance about. The voices mesh together so well, remaining totally light and pretty enough to drift away to. And we now get the female voice with some solo work, which brings an element of back-and-forth to the song we didn't have. Sure, it's a song based in heartbreak, but it's about at least trying to move on as a person after it all.
"MoneyGrabber" hits with that harshness you have post-breakup, and I guess is what I would consider a darker 60's song. Oh, it's just a good kiss-off song. The reverb's getting to a little much, but you all know by now how i feel about vocal effects through machines. This one's probably one of the lesser-enjoyed Motown songs (and you know they existed). It's good to input onto an album, but not something you'd want to sing around all the time.
Anyone ever seen the movie Sweetwater, about the band? The one Amy Jo Johnson (who played the Pink Power Ranger in the original series) starred in? Sorry, this music's just taking me back to that feeling. "L.O.V." has so many elements that scream that era. Fitzpatrick said he wanted to make a Motown album, but this is a hippie one if I've ever heard it. The organ in there just makes you want to skip around in the fields. And the whole song is an anthem for love and kindness amongst each other. Throw up those peace signs!!
"News 4 U" has a very haunting sound, and I mean that because of the ghost-like sounds coming through my speakers right now. It's not a bad song, just a little over-done in some ways because of those recording effects. On one hand, it's a little too much. On the other hand, at least everything has a similar sound so it melds together a little more naturally. There's also this oddly cool live element given to the recording, probably because of that setup.
There's something completely familiar about "Don't Gotta Work it Out." I think it's in the chorus, where the singing out happens so significantly. I like it. This is one of those instances that the old-school charm of the music makes the most sense and is the most enjoyable. Their use of what I can only assume it today's technology to make a newer sound is wonderfully fun. The combo of horns and organ and maybe even some bells is just a really cool thing that I doubt you hear much now regularly played.
"Rich Girls" will hurt you, and poor girls will take your money. Or something like that. This is like a less-polished version of a Cee Lo song. Not that that's a bad thing, but it's just how it is. Apparently, you can't win with any of these girls. Let's keep in mind that this group was formed, and I'm sure the songs were written, in a time of heartache.
In a more light-hearted manner, but with a very real message, we get "Winds of Change." It's one of those songs that maybe you need to hear at just the right moment, as life is throwing it all at you at once. The song's lighter, but just so much more relatable than the rest in this bizarre way. I don't even know if it's the musical treatment to it, or maybe (much more likely) the lyrical content and mood - and need for that. Whatever it may be, the song's a good one.
The final song is "Tighter." It's probably got the most psychedelic feel to it out of any of the tracks. It's also a little more slowed down, providing a funkier mood in that softer kind of way. It's also probably the saddest song on the album of all, lamenting on what he probably did wrong throughout the relationship. Ah, poor guy.
Added to My Playlist:
What's funny is that I added almost every even-numbered track, with exception of the last pairing. It was a really cool album though, unlike anything I've heard outside of those 60's tracks. It felt like we had additional soundtrack songs for movies on the 60's and Woodstock, honestly. But this has been a lost form for a while now, and seeing a bad take a leap and do this the way they see fit is really cool.
- "Breakin' The Chains of Love"
- "Pickin' Up The Pieces"
- "Don't Gotta Work It Out"
- "Winds of Change"