Wednesday, March 29, 2017

“Lefty” by Gallery 47 – A Song Review

     By itself, the arrangement of Gallery 47’s “Lefty” makes the song blogworthy. In addition, there is the vocalization, which has no difficulty with the pressure applied by the arrangement.
     It’s fair to describe the instrumentation as both varied and minimalist. For much of “Lefty,” the mixing emphasizes the steady-beat percussion over more intricate instrumental support. As a result, the listener’s attention is drawn to the vocals and their political message – “I see a bright light on the future, but it only shines brighter when we light it together; when we light it for each other.”
     One exception to the emphasis on minimalist percussion begins at 0:50, when the sounds of a string section enter. Still, the arrangement ensures that attention remains on the vocal tracks by introducing vocal layering. Vocal overdubbing is employed through most to “Lefty” to provide texturing and richness. But in the section that begins at 0:50, voices are lyrically unsynched. This layering is short term, yet decidedly effective.

     Gallery 47 is the performance name of singer/songwriter Jack Peachey, who is currently based in London. Originally from the city of Nottingham, Gallery 47 has released three studio albums: “Fate Is The Law” (2011), “All Will Be Well” (2014) and “Clean” (2016). “Lefty” is the first single from an upcoming EP release. The EP is scheduled to drop on May 5 via Bad Production Records.

     Quoting the information from A Badge of Friendship:
  "Potentially his most politically influenced release yet, Bad Production feels as though it couldn’t have arrived at a more appropriate time. Forthcoming singles 'Lefty,' 'Political Differences' and EP track ‘Overflow’ were written as a result of an alcohol-infused dispute between Peachey and some family members who commented negatively on today’s youth and their approach to finding work. This is an issue Jack has struggled with himself, making this release even more relatable and poignant. The other tracks on the EP follow in a similar vein, filled with Jack’s signature intricate guitar picking and a storytelling charm akin to the likes of Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley’s unique ability to create soft, bittersweet tales of melancholy."

     “Lefty” by Gallery 47 


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

“Woods” by A Choir of Ghosts – A Song Review

     It’s a cry for a sign from above. “Woods” is an admission that he has done wrong; forgiveness will put him back on track. The vehicle for the request is a disarmingly pleasant voice, rather than anguished vocals.

     The poetic imagery is striking. Being less skilled, I would be pleased with writing, “I am in moral disarray.” In comparison, the lyrics of “Woods” include the description, “Praying on my knees; trying to make a fire, so my soul don’t freeze.”  

     Fittingly, information about A Choir of Ghosts is ghost-like. The picture at the top of this post was taken during a performance in Strömsund, Sweden. The picture is found on the Facebook site with minimal help. After searching, we are confident this is the solo project of James Auger. But his decision to add the female backing vocals in “Woods” was a wise one. According to the submission:
  "A Choir of Ghosts from Vittangijärvi will release an A/B side on the 13th April, this is the A-side."

    “Woods” by A Choir of Ghosts 

Monday, March 27, 2017

“Happy” by Bullrider – A Song Review

     The message is simple, yet effective. I have places to go and people to see, but I’m happy being with you. The instrumental support reinforces the message, particularly the carefree rhythmic guitar. “Happy” establishes a lighthearted, all-is-good atmosphere in a Pop Rock environment.

     Bullrider is from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The five members are Bobby Desjarlais, Ben Ferguson, Tom Sinnott, Chris Peluk, and Erik Pescitelli. 
     “Happy” by Bullrider 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

“True Heroes” by Marlon Brando Island – A Song Review

     The genre strengths of this blog do not include Post Punk. And we’ve been told that we’re featuring a disproportionate number of songs originating from the London area. So, we hesitated to post “True Heroes.” But each time we heard the song, either an additional reason to move forward with the post emerged or an existing reason was strengthened.

     It’s risky, but we love the decision to use a celebrity’s name in the band name. It hasn’t worked for some bands. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. recently changed their name to JR JR, although not because of a demand from the NASCAR driver. It wasn’t a celebrity naming, but Chicago Transit Authority was forced to change its name by the city’s mass transit organization.
     Still, the song warrants the post, not the band name. The instrumentation is almost continuously in transition. At times, the texturing casts some doubt that "True Heroes" can be reproduced in a live setting by a band that is only three members strong. At other times, the instrumental support nearly falls away. The vocalization is also dynamic, moving between a melodic presentation and a controlled scream.

     The members of Marlon Brando Island are Marcus Fulcher (vocals, guitar), Edd Thrope (bass), and Marco Testa-Ryan (drums, backing vocals). 
     “True Heroes” by Marlon Brando Island

Friday, March 24, 2017

Free Friday (“FL&R”) – March 24

     Free and Legal Downloads? Yes, at least temporarily. Bands often temporarily permit free downloads of their releases.  The end of an offer may be based on the expiration of a set period of time or on a limited number of downloads.  But at least for now, here are songs that qualify as Free, Legal and Recommended (FL&R) downloads.
     Finding songs that can be legally downloaded is easy. The difficult task is to find legally downloadable music that we recommend. Our plan is to post at least one FL&R song each Friday.
     The Calm Fiasco generates its Indie Punk Pop in Glasgow, Scotland. The members are Del Morin (lead vocals, guitar), Harry Fleming (vocals, bass, keys), Andy McInnes (vocals drums), and Greg Totten (guitar).
     “Just Don't Care Anymore” by The Calm Fiasco

      For the second week in succession, we thank KEXP for gems among its “Song of the Day” series. On March 20, the offer of a free download was “Colour of Water” by London's Rose Elinor Dougall. The opportunity is still available, just scroll to March 20 at the site

Thursday, March 23, 2017

“I Try So Hard” by Slowlights – A Song Review

     Slowlights just fired an anthem at the Indie universe, but the message is camouflaged within artfully arranged Rock. It’s a more energetically presented, modified message from the 1969 anthem by the Rolling Stones. The song “I Try So Hard” tells us, “You can’t always get what you want; but if you open up your mind sometime, you’ll find you’ve got what you need.”

     Two features in particular stand out for us. One occurs during the chorus, when the two anguished cries of “I try so hard” alternate with the forceful guitar riff. The other occurs at the end of the instrumental bridge (around 1:47), when the song transitions from featuring the guitar to featuring percussion with a trailing off guitar. 

     “I Try So Hard” by Slowlights, a quartet from London.

Lyrics of “I Try So Hard” by Slowlights
When you want something
But you know you're not enough
When you get somewhere
But you know you're miles off

Well I said
I don't need this
Lost all feeling
Something isn't right

When you see something
And it leaves you wanting more
But I won't get drawn in
I've been down that road before

And I said
I don't need this
Feel defeated
Something deep inside

But I try so hard
I try so hard

If you open up your mind
Let a little light inside
Makes you feel like you're alive again

All the things you try to hide
Ironed out and pushed aside
Makes you feel like you're alright again

But I try so hard
I try so hard

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

“New Rock City“ by Luc – A Song Review

    Very little surfaces during a search for information about Luc (pronounced “Luke”). They don’t show their full faces in their Facebook photos section. And we don’t grasp the message of their single “New Rock City.” So, we aren’t much help to others who are fans of the song.
     What we can tell others is that we played “New Rock City” at least 25 times yesterday, and that number will be surpassed today. And we note that the determination in the voice and the questioning in the lyrics invite reflection, but not necessarily about the lyrics themselves. The song fits well within a playlist for times when decisions must be made. There is a quiet resolve at its start and end, while the center has a percussive thunder.   

     “New Rock City“ by Luc 

Lyrics of “New Rock City" by Luc
Let’s take the proverbial subway to the end of the line
And continue on foot to leave the city by the wayside
Let’s turn this proverbial party into the real kind
And continue to play, until the coming of the sunlight

Cause those kids can rock, but they can’t dance for shit
Those kids can talk, but they never just do it
Yeah, those girls were fly and the boys just as fit
But what’s the point of beauty, if you never just lose it?

Let’s meet unpredictable people in the dead of the night
And be careless enough to offer homage to the wrong kind
We’ll be an untouchable city and an unstoppable fight
And we’ll grow to forget from where we rode here on the city line

Cause those kids can rock, but they can’t dance for shit
Those kids can talk, but they never just do it
Yeah, those girls were fly and the boys just as fit
But what’s the point of beauty, if you never just lose it?

Let’s turn this interminable rhythm into common time
And be careless enough to throw our worries by the wayside
This will be the dance of a nation, and the chant of a tribe
And we’ll know to be wrong for as long as it feels right

Cause those kids can rock, but they can’t dance for shit
Those kids will never ever ever ever ever do it
Those girls were fine and the boys just as fit
But what’s the point of beauty, if you never just lose it?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

“Wolves Or Foxes” by Edwin Raphael – A Song Review

     There are guitar outputs that immediately have our attention, regardless of the tune being played. The guitar of The Cure (Robert Smith’s) is the guitar output that provides our easiest example. It’s a combination of the characteristics of the instrument, the processing of the signals from the instrument, and the style of the guitarist.
      We are fans of the song ”1904” by The Tallest Man on Earth. The electric guitar takes a backseat to the acoustic guitar, so our enjoyment is disproportionately large for its limited role. Perhaps that is the reason the track “Wolves Or Foxes” immediately grabbed our attention. Melodically, the low profile electric guitars are fundamentally different during the two tracks. But the characteristics of the two guitar outputs have much in common. We wondered if the two songs shared a guitarist. It’s unlikely, since The Tallest Man on Earth (aka, Kristian Matsson) is based in Sweden, while Edwin Raphael claims Canada as his homeland. The Facebook page of Raphael reads, ”Edwin Raphael; an emerging Montreal-based artist just started making waves with his uniquely detuned sounding guitars.” Detuned sounding guitars?

     The Facebook page identifies the band members as the Edwin Raphael (vocals, guitar), Jacob Liutkus (backing vocals, guitar, keys, synth), Charles Desroches (guitar, synth), and Marc Desjardins (sound engineer).
     “Wolves Or Foxes” by Edwin Raphael 

     “1904” by The Tallest Man on Earth

“Nothing” by Turan – A Song Review

     “Nothing” discretely steps through different intensities and features an energetically pulsating synth. But the church bell chimes qualify as our favorite aspect of the song, particularly during the final appearance of the chimes (starting at 3:20), when they provide a spacer between the repeated exclamations of “back into nothing.”

     Turan is based in London. He has two singles available via Soundcloud. The other is “Fear.” Yep, Fear Nothing.
     “Nothing” by Turan 

Monday, March 20, 2017

“Smithereens” by Cloud Hands – A Song Review

     The first thirteen notes of “Smithereens” discloses much about the song. Then, Cloud Hands shows there is more to learn.
     A listener quickly recognizes that “Smithereens” is a catching, hook-powered melody of low-or-no-distortion guitar. Almost as quickly, it becomes clear that Cloud Hands can vocally deliver. Significantly later (around 1:21), the fast twitch drumming (against a metallic drum rim?) provides notification of the percussion skills.
     Cloud Hands is from Elon, North Carolina. The members are Zane Walsh (vocals), Jacob Gordner (guitar), Connor Hanson (guitar), Dylan Malugen (bass), and Brian Dylla (drums). 
     “Smithereens” by Cloud Hands 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

“All My Friends” by Dermot Kennedy – A Song Review

     It’s a song that reinforces the appreciation of the coordination of instruments with vocals in order to establish an emotion. When Dermot Kennedy addresses his friends during the chorus of “All My Friends,” he is calmly confident that the friends will find their way and is quietly hopeful that he will see them again. Gentle piano is the only support. At other times, the vocals are far more emotive and the instrumentation is in aligned.

     There are three occurrences of the piano-supported chorus. It’s between the second and third that the dynamic nature of “All My Friends” is most apparent. The chorus ends at 2:09, when the piano becomes forceful. What is probably a synth-generated horn section enters a short time later. “Melodic speak” starts at 2:44 and its intensity ramps in synch with the instruments, until the chorus approaches for its final visit.

     “All My Friends is a track from the EP “Doves & Ravens,” which is scheduled for release on April 14. Dermot Kennedy is based in Dublin, Ireland. The song was co-written with Charlie Hugall (Halsey, Låpsley, Florence + the Machine). 

Lyrics of “All My Friends” by Dermot Kennedy
A thief in the night came
Took everything you gave for her
This song isn’t low, lady
It’s remembering love made in the summer

But I think of the things that it taught me
I learned that there’s beauty I can’t keep
Learned that there’s demons in stories
So letting her down, no I won’t be

Whenever she’s calling, she’ll call me
Angry and seething as the sea
Songs in cathedrals in month three
Promise you’ll smile off a memory

And I, I couldn’t stop smiling, like the whole way home
Yea, it should feel like something you were missing

To all my friends, you’ll find your way
Some summer night I hope I see you again
All my friends, I’d love to stay
Some summer night I hope I see you again

Looking up lately
The moon doesn’t chase me no more
Before it was childlike
Lost in the soft light, and so on

And I, I couldn’t stop smiling, like the whole way home
Yea, it should be when she read out all she’d written

To all my friends, you’ll find your way
Some summer night I hope I see you again
All my friends, I’d love to stay
Some summer night I hope I see you again

The smell of rain and streetlight thrown
A love, a lantern in the snow
But when she feels it taking hold
She finds it so hard letting go

How can I tell her that we’ll shine?
She dreads the devils yet to show
So damn reluctant to expose it to me so

So I think of the things that she taught me
She starts to think, “Evil has lost me.”
I walked with the wolves, and it haunts me
She steps with intention to run free
So stunner don’t ever move softly
You’ve been on a journey they can’t see
When dancing in ballrooms, you will lead
Promise you’ll smile off a memory

And I, I couldn’t stop smiling, like the whole way home
Yea, it should feel like something you were missing

To all my friends, you’ll find your way
Some summer night I hope I see you again
All my friends, I’d love to stay
Some summer night I hope I see you again

The smell of rain and streetlight thrown
A love, a lantern in the snow
But when she feels it taking hold
She finds it so hard letting go

How can I tell her that we’ll shine?
She dreads the devils yet to show

Friday, March 17, 2017

An Album Review - “Blossom” by Milky Chance

     The sophomore album of Milky Chance was released today. The fourteen-track “Blossom” is more diverse than the debut album of the band. Here are comments on some (most) of the songs. 

     The album begins with its title track. “Blossom” is a strong choice for the lead because of its upper-to-lower (and back) energy transitions and its ability to function as a signal that the sound of the band is linked, but not locked, to what was presented in the first album (“Sadnecessary”). “Blossom” hints at the sampling of Folk instruments (e.g., the banjo), particularly in the final 30 seconds. But our favorite feature is the low-frequency bursts that sound like a bass guitar but are likely samplings, such as heard first at 1:46 and again at 1:54.

     “Ego” is ready for the festival scene, with its steady-pace infectious rhythm and its lyrics that invite audience participation.

     “Firebird” might become the favorite of fans looking for close matches to the sound of first album of Milky Chance. The song takes advantage of the producer/DJ skills of the band. The vocals are processed, particular during the closing of the song.

    “Clouds” is distinguishable from the other tracks by the Reggae vibe that surfaces during portions of the song. That “vibe” is strongest starting at 1:48 and is more sustained at 3:24.

     “Cold Blue Rain” and “Stay” are both downtempo tracks, evidencing the diversity of Milky Chance. While first hearing “Cold Blue Rain,” it was marked as a song to discuss. However, we didn’t fully appreciate the melody until seeing the harmonica-featured song in a live setting. The harmonica is not the dominate feature of the song, but it isn't a mere support sound either. When the harmonica is present, the Bluesy sensibility of "Cold Blue Rain" is in full force.

     “Alive” – Instrumentally, this song lives in the lower frequencies. And “Piano Song” is true to its name.

     “Cocoon” is the track that is currently hitting the radio, at least the satellite radio stations in the U.S. Like “Ego,” it is a song that will do very well in any concert setting.

     The guitar during the chorus of “Peripeteia” brings a movie Western approach. The song has the best instrumental bridge on the album, starting at 2:30 and continuing to 3:04.

     “Heartless” – Begins low energy, but the tempo increases after a couple of minutes and after the third minute of the melody. The harmonica again makes its presence felt. This time it has the slow-play style of a “Spaghetti Western,” such as found in songs of the 1968 film “Once Upon a Time in the West” (if interested, CLICK HERE for the Spaghetti Western style). In “Heartless,” the best example is the segment from 4:06 to 5:00, as the harmonica travels in and out of the instrumentation. The important difference between the song and the Spaghetti Westerns is that Milky Chance uses the style with spirited percussion that is difficult to ignore.

 This is the setlist performed by Milky Chance during their San Francisco visit (March 10 at The Independent). In terms of energy, the setlist is “front loaded.”
1. “Clouds”
2. "Ego”
3. “Blossom”
4. “Doing Good”
5. “Firebird”
6. “Flashed Junk Mind”
7. “Peripeteia”
8. “Cold Blue Rain”
9. “Fairytale”
10. “Down By the River”
11. “Sadnecessary”
12. “Alive”
13. “Bad Things”
14. “Loveland”
15. “Cocoon”

16. “Stolen Dance”
17. “Sweet Sun”