Thursday, August 10, 2017

John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas!

John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! - The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! 

You won’t hear another release like this in 2017. John Elderkin has surrounded himself with a cadre of top shelf of North Carolina indie musicians, a virtual all-star roster of regional talent, in order to pull off this sprawling seventeen song collection entitled The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! and they are more than capable of aiding him in realizing his wild ambitions. This is a tribute of sorts and testament to the effect David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust exerted over Elderkin’s imagination, but it is also a monumental riff on that classic album that finds Elderkin re-envisioning its impact on him with a distinctive individual artistic point of view that moves this far away from mere imitation. It’s a collection rich with characterizations, a love for the musician’s life coupled with some jaundiced humor at its pratfalls, and undeniably intelligent from first note to last. 
The first full song on the album, “We Waited Five Years”, is one of the album’s direct references to Ziggy Stardust and embodies the aforementioned wont of Elderkin’s songwriting to mix pathos with dashes of smirking humor. A truly singular voice comes from this recording – it bears some marks of modern influences, but everything is so seamlessly transmuted through Elderkin’s personality that it renders such observations mute or meaningless. “Song for David Bowie” might prompt some listeners to believe it’s another in a long line of heavy handed, but well meant, tributes to the Thin White Duke, but this song takes on a much larger scope beyond merely paying Bowie his due and patiently unfolds into something quite memorable. It confines itself to acoustic guitar and vocals for much of its duration before expanding in the second half to include electric guitars and forceful, slightly uptempo drumming. “Gather Your Strength” has some gritty electric guitar and a steady march tempo with Elderkin’s relatively sweet, clean vocals offsetting the dissonance from the instruments.  
“Don’t Look Straight Into the Sun” is, arguably, the most guitar heavy song on the album and features some particularly blazing axe work in the second half. It has an ambitious scope that finds Elderkin and his collaborators moving through an assortment of textures and tempos as well as including more of the evocative lyrical content that contributes to this being such a memorable release. “Get Back in the Van” is a band on the road song quite unlike you’ve likely heard before and has one of the best opening lines of any track on the album. Elderkin’s vocal gets over the storytelling aspects of the song in a gripping way that ensures even listeners who have never been in a band will relate to its sentiments. There are two instrumentals, “Teletar” and “A Trip to the Moon”, that set up the album’s climatic number “Give Me Your Hands”. It’s a surprisingly low-fi conclusion to a grandiose album and has the same hazy, dream-like ambiance defining many of the other tracks. It ends the release on a satisfying note and ties everything in quite nicely. This is, as the review began, a truly unique release unlike anything else you’ve heard in recent history and well worth your time and money.  

Joshua Stryde 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Suntrodden III – a Mood-Pop Experience

Suntrodden III – a Mood-Pop Experience  

Suntrodden III, the latest EP from Atlanta, Georgia based musician and songwriter Erik Stephansson, is a delightful experimental journey through mood and sensation using the vehicle of lo-fi recording and minimalistic composition. The collection opens with “There’s a Place,” which is a melodic and optimistic song, with a bit of a somber edge, reminiscent of some early R.E.M. tracks crossed with deep cuts from the latter years of the Monkees. The layering of instrumental movement and lyrical musing mesh beautifully to create a song that captures the very essence of a bittersweet attempt to exist encompassed with another person. It’s a truly beautiful tune that is inspiring while still being a bit sad.        

The next track in this collection, “Pure,” is musically reminiscent of Radiohead’s commercially successful, critically acclaimed, and some might argue, cornerstone hit, “Creep.” However, Stephansson takes a very similar series of notes and arrangement and drains it of all bile-self-loathing, and pain, instead infusing it with an infectious joy, which is guaranteed to bring a smile to any listener’s face. Where, “Creep,” is a declaration of degradation, “Pure,” seeks a brighter answer to similar existential doubt and fear. This is possibly the most radio-friendly tune in the entire collection, but still manages to communicate some interesting ideas above and beyond the basic pop formulae, despite its eminently familiar feel.          

“Moonflower,” the next track in this collection, takes a more somber turn. Though retaining the smooth and relentlessly airy melodic nature of the earlier tracks, “Moonflower,” seems to be the first track in the collection that dwells in the darker end of the emotional spectrum. The opening half of the song dwells in the darkness, relying on a deep piano melody to drive the song forward through a murky and reflective place. The vocal quality of this song remains in a more upbeat, poppy sort of register, but lyrically the song owns its reflective nature, making for a beautiful juxtaposition of sound and meaning. After the breakdown, the song evolves into a repeated, anthemic declaration.         

Track four, “Never Again,” brings the collection back to an upbeat place, and definitely owns a clear Beatles/Monkees trip-pop feel.  Musically, it is easily the most complex track thus far, but retains a memorable melody that will stay with you and keep your head bobbing.          

The final track, “The End (Haunt Me)” is an emotional and musical tour de force, revisiting the various instrumental, emotional, and lyrical destinations previously touched on in the album. Through the entirety of this track, Stephansson displays his unique prowess in acting as an emotional tour guide, bringing the listener on a brief, but enjoyable musical journey reminiscent of some of Lou Reed’s finest work.  

All told, Suntrodden III is a deft display of songwriting prowess from Erik Stephansson. The use of lo-fi recording techniques, extant, real-world instrumentation, and a limited number of takes per performance show through in the final product as a raw, emotional piece of art. The effort was well worth it, and the care taken in the crafting of this EP is clear in the final result. I give Suntrodden III an enthusiastic 8 out of 10 stars, and highly recommend it!  

Travis Legge 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sam Green and the Time Machine

Sam Green and the Time Machine 

The Time Machine is Sam Green’s chosen way to get his music to the world, to be found at CD Baby and at his own web address. Which Way Left? is the new release and it gives a little hope to those looking to sooth their heels into some fresh streams of his words of wisdom, backed with some instrumentation that comes off clumsy at times, but serves his vocal prowess well enough to dismiss as a development wrinkle. The music isn’t produced with any gloss to speak of, so it shows a weakness in that respect, but everything else is in satisfactory order and on the level that he’s currently at.

“Dendeong Ranges” is more of a ditty than a song approach, but there are tracks of both structures throughout the CD. This is about the hills of his surroundings, but the music doesn’t pick up enough to show what’s to come. It falls short of good song but it tells a story his own can relate to, so it works for that purpose anyway. The following track “Eli” isn’t the shining point either, but it’s the opposite as far as a song goes. This is a very good piece that proves Sam Green is a good musician and songwriter. But that could already be evident to those who know and have consumed his work, of which there is much to be found. “Financial Year” doesn’t resonate as much as the first two, but that’s because of its obvious political and economic subject matters, but it keeps the personal side of his work in check. Anyone with a mission can understand where he’s coming from. On “Google Me” he makes some sense of humor pay off on relating to the cyberworld’s role in relationships. And the humor stays in-tact with his take on “Harry Ginagin” which also keeps the energy upright. Not that it’s all low energy, but even pop-folk, which he is tagged, can be dreadfully soft sometimes. Most get a little of both in to stay balanced, as he does.

On “Part Of The Corporate” it might get a little politically overboard, but he speaks anyway, and does get heard, but are the masses listening is always the question. If you’re into folk and looking for the usual stuff ragged upon by every folk singer/songwriter imaginable, then it suits you right down to the heels. “Round And Around” is high on the list of pleasers and so is “Mist Of The Desert” and “Lightning Never Strikes.” Both of which he turns in some of his finest musical offerings. In fact all three of these tracks are in the top of the whole 14 of them if I were to rate them that way. But I would also call the sound mix uneven in places. It also sounds like Sam Green improvises a lot, and that’s just about the best thing you can say about a piece of music, but there are some well thought out, superbly-crafted tracks on this CD. If anything, it makes you want to hear more from the artist, which keeps to outdoorsy vibes more than tackles every day issues. This is for rolling up your pant legs and wading your feet in the cold water, while listening to some relaxing music to end a long day, or just shooting the breeze on the headphones to. Life isn’t that serious, and Sam Green reminds of that and how to let it all hang out.

Elvin Graham

Paul Kloschinsky

Paul Kloschinsky

Paul Kloschinsky was born in Saskatchewan in 1963. He attended the University of British Columbia in the 1980’s and received a BSc in Computer Science and an MD. After living and working across Canada he has returned to his hometown of Delta, BC, Canada. He has played in a few rock bands in the Vancouver area since High School. He is now a Folk-Rock Singer Songwriter. He won the 2007 MusicAid Award for Best Canadian Songwriter for his original song Wearin’ Blue. He released his first album, Woodlands, February 24, 2009 on Prism/Universal in Canada. In addition to being a songwriter, he is also an avid poet and photographer. Paul has lived as he’s so desired and gets to tell all about it on Crime Of Passion. An album that comes with some excellent folk tracks to its credit, which verge on rock and country style as much as folk, if you hear it for what it really is. The 8 songs on the album go far in telling his stories to the world, but it might also help to start before this to get his point and not judge him only by his latest record. You can do that like everyone used to, or you can opine about it with a broader perspective in support of anyone in today’s musical landscape. The structure of these tracks are-rock based, but ultimately folk dominated.

“I’m Still Waiting” makes one of the most resonating musical statements as both the album content and Paul himself call for. This gets everything underway with the high standard any folk artist should approach their songwriting and studio performance qualities with. That being-said, it doesn’t mean it always works. This track somehow does make all the right moves to entice you henceforth with enough force to pull you right into “Crime Of Passion” with an ease like no other. And I like both songs with the same amount of relish. They go far in selling the whole title.

This rebel in the night comes out within the second track and you know he’s for real. You just have-to let it keep playing from there or you already have you mind made up in the polar-opposite direction. But the title track reminds of everyone from Roy Orbison to competing with Chris Isaak himself for some limelight in the vocal department. The same qualities come out in the next track “Sooth Me” but with more of a mid-tempo pace going for it. This is another shining moment on the album as the tracks consistently improve as they go. You can’t deny the groove of this one, it’s vibrant and infectious like most of the album.

It’s nice to hear him get his feeling out about what people say about him, it makes for some fun subject matter, the latter track is full of that and more. It also has an island presence about it, which changes up the attitude of the album. “A Poignant Point In Time” is where just about anyone can get lost if they don’t take it all in within a fast enough time frame, and that’s just one jeopardizing about albums as opposed to singles these days when people have much more time for singles. It’s a good thing this was not chosen as a single. I’d stay away from doing that. “Gates Of Heaven” would be my next choice, if that doesn’t hint enough. It should’ve been the first single. 

Todd Bauer

Kayzyak – 'Happy Camping''

Kayzyak – 'Happy Camping''
The Kazyak is one of those rare bands that overflow your soul with amazement once you open your doors to their stream of beautiful sounds and rhythm. The Minneapolis-based band’s new album ‘Happy Camping’ is set to be released on the 20th of July 2017, which is forecasted to be a beautiful sunny day in Minneapolis. As well as choosing a beautiful weather to release their second Ep, Kazyak presents us with warm string arrangements composed of soothing electric guitars, drums and violins that is guaranteed to lift you into the musical paradise. 
The band leader, Peter Frey is a creative indie rock Songwriter and Guitarist based in Northeast Minneapolis, the band also consist of Lana Bolin (Bass), Pat Hayes (synth, piano), Nick Grewe (drums). The previous Band Ep, “See the Forest, See the Trees” released in May 14, 2013 was well received by music critics. Mr Frey and the band succeeded in delivering a well-written and composed 6-track masterpiece.  
“See the Forest, See the Trees” was a beautifully written piece that displayed Peter Frey’s passion for fairy tales and fables. This musical group clearly does not have a problem connecting entirely to nature as evident from their beautiful melodies.  Frey’s new creation is not the kind of song you would want to rock your body to, I would say it is the perfect company for creative tasks like painting, drawing, when you want to go out with family, friends, loved ones or you are on a nature-driven soul-searching drive. 
Before I wrote this review, I was on an 8 hours’ drive to see mum and girlfriend back home in Indianapolis. I was quickly serenaded by the first track on the album, ‘Sacred Cow’. The song infused me with soft and heartfelt rhythms as I connected the lyrics of the song to my memories of finding myself in our world. I applaud the choice of this song as the opener to the album because it sets the mood for the rest of the album.  
Following Sacred cow is ‘Sundial’. Sundial channelled the energy I attained from Sacred cow into a more realistic dimension in which you would be able to connect to the story being told. Reassuring me of who I was and where I was coming from. Next was ‘Basin’, which I would describe as a voice telling me that "you are not superman, but that is ok".  
The roller-coaster of songs went on and on till the last track ‘Happy Camping’ which encouraged you to continue in that quest for happiness, I personally interpreted Frey’s last part of the song as you should always remember your success when you are thinking about all the time you have failed in life. So, I would like to thank Frey for accompanying me on that long trip and the romantic date I was inspired to take my girlfriend on later that night. 
The Happy Camping is heartfelt and soulful. The delivery is precise and each song transcends into the next so naturally. The narration is very expressive, as Frey’s famous fables takes the listener to a world of his or her own.  
We’re rating Kazyak - Happy camping a solid 5-star. It’s a beautiful continuation from their previous ‘See the Forest, See the Trees’. I am looking forward to seeing one of their shows whenever they are in town.
Tom Simpson

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Elle Casazza

Elle Casazza  

Do you want to transfer yourself to the period of an early 20th century? Do you like the track and vocals of that period? If yes then Elle Casazza’s new single “Too Bad” from the album “Proof” is something that would draw your attention immediately.
This flavorful song has a terrific and aesthetic feel of the late 80s and early 90s summertime. The song written by Elle Casazza herself has an amazing charm and a distinguished fascination attached to it. Appearing in the video, created by Bummer Camp Media, is the singer herself along with her girl squad that includes Alexandra Olsavsky and Sofia Porter-Castro. Xavier Galdon (Trombone), Caleb Mitchell (Trumpet) and Kyle Madsen (Saxophone) did a wonderful job with their instruments to touch your heart and soul.  
With a beach party vibe, the song is filled with an extraordinary energy, which will lead you to tap your foot and shake your head in its tune as it rings in your ear.  
Exploring the early 20th century’s music and sound, from its opening verse itself, the style presented in the accompanying video adds to the confidence of Elle Casazza’s voice, which gives an additional high-point for you to get hooked on the song. You can’t call her retro because of the livelihood and fresh touch that it provides you with. The playful nature and the bouncy element of the music will attract you tremendously.  
Together with the instrumentalists and musicians, the singer was able to create a familiar yet a unique piece of music to touch everyone’s heart and soul. The classic look and the energetic summertime feel of “Too Bad” add freshness to your playlist. The sweet and reminiscent style adopted by the singer will never miss a chance to blow your mind. 
The rhythm and the melody of the song replicate its simplicity and take you step by step in the world of addictive tunes. The artist’s voice excellently complements the music that sounds soothing to your ears and would attract positive vibes to you. 
Music has always served as the mind-booster for everybody. It has always helped people to fill themselves with positive energies and exotic feel. With “Too Bad”, you get to experience the same kind of freshness and vibrancy in your playlist that allures you always. The clean music and the explicit charm attached with the song is a splendid Proof of the artist’s marvel and excellence.
Creatively, the entire element of the song, be it the video, the effects, the voice or the music, everything combined together, presents an awesome piece of music, which stands tall in the music industry. Playing with all your senses, this piece of music is unadulterated and musically sounds an apt partner of you for every beach party. If you love to add vividness to your playlist, then you can never go wrong with the choice of Elle Casazza’s Too Bad! Enjoy a loving time with this piece of music and dive in the ocean of melodies with this one-of-its-kind artist’s musical creation.  

Meta Description: Elle Casazza's new single, Too Bad from the album Proof, reflects the vividness and class of the artist's voice and her poignant style. 

9/10 Stars 

Henry Robbins 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Paul Childers - Naked Poetry

Paul Childers - Naked Poetry

Paul Childers hails from the Nashville area, but no one will ever confuse him with Music City’s typically country performers. His approach and style is urbane and deeply musical with style to burn., but there’s a lot of substance paired with the obvious stylishness. Childers displays all the finesse and musical acumen of a much older singer – the phrasing he serves up through the album’s run of thirteen songs is next to unforgettable and it’s filled with an emotive beauty that never overstates its case. Childers, instead, imposes an inviting but commanding air over these songs and molds his voice quite nicely around the rich musical arrangements. Naked Poetry is just that – an expression of self completely stripped of pretense, yet shaped by technique and inspiration for maximum effect. The sparkling performances comprising this release are among the year’s most memorable.  
Naked Poetry begins with the song “Music Pulls You Through”. If this were anyone else, it probably wouldn’t come off as sincere. The redemptive power of music to get you through a bad time doesn’t exactly rate as an inventive or particularly revelatory lyrical subject, but Childers’ songwriting has a real knack for specific and meaningful details that help listeners’ better experience the song. It’s a recurring strength. “The Art of Being Twenty” benefits from the same across the board excellence and authoritative songwriting voice that makes the first song such a memorable track. His lyrical turns in this one are particularly strong and showcase a writer with impressive wisdom in someone so young. “Why Don’t You Stay” hits a bluesy note that Childers shows a later willingness to revisit and the use of horns in this song are particularly effective. He never wastes listeners time with the album’s thirteen song s and their focus plays an enormous role in their final impact on the audience.  
“My Love of the Rain” could single-handedly carry this album. It’s stark evidence of his skills that Childers can take this deceptively simple arrangement and performance to such stratospheric heights. This sounds like the living beating heart of his music, but there’s no excitability to ruin his performance. Instead, Childers take it careful and slow, fixed on a goal of investing each line with almost religious importance. The effect is sensational. “No One Goes Dancing Anymore” is going to be a favorite for a lot of people. This invokes of the opener’s best attributes, namely Childers’ willingness to tell a story, and rolls out at just the right pace to hook listeners into its story. “Perfect Man” is a slightly rueful tune that, nevertheless, provides Childers’ audience with a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.  He’s learned a helpful lesson early on about working in the ranks of popular song – your audience will let you brood over more serious fare, but you have to give them a little bit of the sweet to help chase the taste of sour. “Throwing Shade” is an excellent final example of that. It’s delightful how he gives this rueful lyric the blessing of an almost buoyant musical backing quite at odds with the lyrical temper. Paul Childers is full of surprises and there are sure more to come, but he’s also one of the brightest talents to debut in recent memory.  

Ed Price