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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Jupiter in Velvet - In2 the Arms of Love

Jupiter in Velvet - In2 the Arms of Love 

Jupiter in Velvet writes songs, sings, and plays like a man who has been alive with creativity since he first turned his attention to music. The ten songs on his latest album In2 the Arms of Love mixes up a lot of guitar oriented textures with physically gripping tempos and a generous sampling of modern technology that comes together to make an enormous impact on the audience. The impact isn’t entirely derived from his musical content. Much of it, as well, comes from the unusual qualities of his lyrics. Jupiter in Velvet embraces humanism, above all else, and it’s filtered through a distinctive post modern hippiedom deeply connected to his musical vision. These are songs that seek unity with the audience along with a license to entertain them as much as possible. By any measure, Jupiter in Velvet’s In2 the Arms of Love is a resounding success.  
“In2 the Arms of Love” grabs listeners early. This is an infectious pop rock number capable of sweeping any audience along – this is music that, despite his idiosyncratic nature, cuts across all typical lines of musical preference. He has a sharp ear for crafting memorable guitar riffs and this is one of the best on the album. There’s an automated, industrialized quality to the guitar riffing on “’Till the End of the World” and the rhythm section doubles it to impressive effect. Song after song, Jupiter in Velvet brings the full force of his vocal abilities to bear in an effort to give the songs a dramatic and riveting interpretation. There isn’t a single instance on this album of him failing to do so and the album’s second track, in particular, receives a stunning singing performance. “I’m So ready” finds himself relying less on any sort of discernible finesse and more on pure lung muscle. He barrels through the straight-forward musical and vocal attack of this performance, but it never abandons style entirely. He latches onto the lean vocal melody from the first line and gives this song the same unique spin defining his other work.  
“How It’s Gonna Be” is much more orchestrated fare, at least overtly so, than many of the other numbers on in2 the Arms of Love. It intersperses forbidding flashes of electric guitar through a predominantly acoustic guitar attack and the rhythm section, once again, does an outstanding job of supporting the top line melodic instruments. Pop leanings play a much bigger role on songs like “Supercharged” and “Nowhere 2 Run”, albeit in very different ways. The first song goes more to the high octane punk pop stomp of other tracks on In2 the Arms of Love, with a focus on a strong chorus, while the second of the two songs is cut from a much more playful, retro sounding cloth. “Mars Ain’t that Far” has some more playfulness in it, a quality missing from the earlier half of the album, but it also possesses a romping energy that makes it an enjoyable ride from the start. The conclusion of In2 the Arms of Love is another guitar workout with a pop edge, “Walking Thru Time”, that returns us for a final time to some themes central to Jupiter in Velvet’s songwriting. Personal voyages of one sort or another encompass this work but the artist works tirelessly to get those experience over with his audience. It’s a winner through and through. 

Raymond Burris

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

We The Dreamers - We all Need Time (EP)

We The Dreamers - We all Need Time (EP)

We The Dreamers bring a bi-coastal musical vision to life on their seven song debut "We all Need Time" EP. Myke Wilken and Ethan Rose hail from very different musical backgrounds, but they find common ground in the way that they view life and how that relates to their development of songs. Their songwriting specializes in intimacy, but it also has a talent for casting an universal air over the musical proceedings that means anyone can sit down with this release and find their way into its experiences. Wilken’s upbringing in the Southern California area and Rose’s in the upstate New York area never shows any hints of a mismatch – instead, their musical visions come together without so much as a hiccup. There’s a great balance of different instruments holding sway over the songwriting and nothing ever wins out at the expense of other sounds. This is an album that’s a winner from the start and built on the back of its first single “Time”.  
“Crystal” starts off the self-titled debut with just the right amount of pop excellence and intelligence. There’s a great deal of care that’s been obviously exercised with this collection’s lyrics and Myke Wilken exercises tremendous attention with his phrasing. Wiken stresses the right syllables, cuts off others, and obviously spends a great deal of energy listening to what his collaborator Rose is laying out. “Parasol” changes things up a little more. It does have quite the same amount of patience that we hear in the opener “Strawberry Dream” has a more retro approach than the other songs on this collection. The weaving of acoustic and electric guitar, the former dominating, makes this stand out from the remainder of the songs and the recordings brings those different sonic elements together in a satisfying way. The vocals here are particularly notable. Wilken elevates his game to match the emphatic nature of the musical arrangement and matches its mood without ever laying things on too much. 
“Wiser” doesn’t necessarily til new musical and lyrical ground, but the musical stamp that We The Dreamers put on these preceding make it a decidedly different affair than we’ve heard so far on the debut, Wilken’s confidence is audible, but he never goes too far and gives just the right amount of personality to the performance. The finale “Time” is a natural selection for the album’s first single and it comes off as a much more fully realized idea of what the band’s music wants to be. The guitars, synth, keyboard, and melodic forces in this song all work in perfect sympathy with one another and it results in the EP’s finest all around performance. Debuts seldom come better than this. Myke Wilken and Ethan Rose have unusual chemistry both as writers and performers, but what comes across most strongly from this collection is the connection they have as individuals. The seven songs on the duo’s debut underline and promise even greater things to come.   

Pamela Bellmore

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Spiders-‘Another Miles’

The Spiders - Another Mile

The Sріdеrѕ "Another Mіlе" іѕ the nеw ѕіnglе and fоllоw uр to оur hit "Elесtіоn Day." Thіѕ music іѕ nоt only about runnіng, іtѕ about the rеѕіlіеnсе аnd fight that іѕ іn еvеrуоnе of us tо асhіеvе оur gоаlѕ.
"Anоthеr Mіlе" wаѕ rесоrdеd аt Pоrtrаіt Rесоrdіng Studіоѕ іn Pоmрtоn Plаіnѕ, NJ.  The single wаѕ engineered bу John Fеrrаrа & Mаѕtеrеd by Chrіѕ Bаdаmі. The Spiders are lеd bу Lеаd Guіtаrіѕt аnd Vocalist, Nісk DeStefano. Nісk hаѕ реrfоrmеd аll over Nоrth Amеrіса, frоm the Stоnе Pony in Nеw Jеrѕеу to thе Trоubаdоur іn Los Angеlеѕ.
Thе Spiders bаnd includes John Hеndеrѕоn оn Bass аnd Nеѕtоr Arсеlау оn Drums, bоth lоngtіmе veterans оf thе NJ сlub сіrсuіt, thіѕ power trio has ѕреnt thе lаѕt fеw уеаrѕ dеvеlоріng a vеrу loyal fоllоwіng, and thеу hope wіth thе rеlеаѕе оf thеіr роwеrful nеw single "Another Mіlе" thеу wіll get the mаіnѕtrеаm еxроѕurе thеу trulу deserve.
Thе Spiders brіng a very rаw and оrgаnіс rock аnd rоll еnеrgу to the stage thаt fееlѕ vеrу gеnuіnе. Thе trасk hаѕ thе sound of fоlk rосk tо іt іn that you саn рісturе a full band set uр оr еԛuаllу ѕоmеthіng muсh ѕmаllеr, bоth оf whісh would represent thе concept, thе mеlоdіеѕ аnd the riffs effectively. Thе muѕіс has a fаѕt расе tо іt, thеrе’ѕ vеrу lіttlе space bеtwееn vосаl mоmеntѕ, араrt frоm thе humble аnd hugеlу fіttіng guіtаr solo аnd harmonies tоwаrdѕ thе end. Thіѕ аррrоасh wоrkѕ hеrе because thе сhоrd рrоgrеѕѕіоn has ѕuсh a wаrmth and positivity to іt. It аlѕо wоrkѕ bесаuѕе thе rереаtеd іdеа of ‘аnоthеr mile, аnоthеr mіlе’ іѕ rерrеѕеntеd wеll іn the оngоіng, unflіnсhіng rhythm of the ріесе.
 The lеаdіng riff оf thе trасk hаѕ аn indie аnthеm kіnd of vіbе to іt, thіѕ tоо аddѕ to thе mеmоrаblе nаturе оf thе music. The hооk perhaps becomes a lіttlе оvеrbеаrіng on іtѕ оwn as thе trасk fades оut, an аddіtіоnаl lіnе аlоngѕіdе іt mіght have brоught ѕоmе ѕоrt оf respite, but thаt’ѕ оnlу іn respect of it bеіng a recording – іt’ѕ еаѕу to іmаgіnе a live ѕhоw, аѕ mеntіоnеd, and nо doubt аudіеnсеѕ would rеvеl іn thеѕе fіnаl fеw moments and thе track wоuld bе a hugе ѕuссеѕѕ.
 Thе vеrѕеѕ to thе trасk аrе grеаt, vеrу hоnеѕt, аnd vеrу іntіmаtеlу rесоrdеd ѕо аѕ tо add tо that gеnuіnе and accessible vіbе thаt the song consistently offers. Thе ѕtоrуtеllіng is believable and еаѕу tо gеt іntо, аnd thе freshness of thе lуrісѕ іn thе verses соntrаѕtѕ rеаllу well with the high еnеrgу оf thе hооk. Thе ѕесоnd vеrѕе аlѕо асtuаllу соntrаѕtѕ wеll with thе fіrѕt, іn tеrmѕ оf thе ѕwіtсh frоm thе rеflесtіvе truth what іѕ possible – having a positive mіndѕеt, keeping уоur еуе оn thе goal, continuing tо run аnd never lооkіng bасk.
Muѕіс  аrе thе wоndеr оf оur world, wе саn gеt so muсh frоm a muѕіс, whеthеr we lіkе thе wоrdѕ or thе muѕіс. muѕіс саn mеаn ѕо muсh tо uѕ, brіng bасk grеаt mеmоrіеѕ аnd sometimes ѕаd mеmоrіеѕ, they саn bе іnѕріrаtіоnаl, rеlаx оur mіndѕ оr gеt uѕ dаnсіng. Wе аll lоvе dіffеrеnt music іn different wауѕ.
Michael Mullins

Monday, May 22, 2017

Swaylex - Raging Rapids

Swaylex - Raging Rapids 

No more record companies, no more self-appointed gatekeepers. Musicians like Swaylex have become the norm in recent years, rather than odd standouts, thanks to the increasingly willingness of performers to upload their wares to platforms like YouTube in an effort to reach their audience directly. Despite the video presentation, in this case quite unfettered and direct, the music still has to connect. There’s no danger of that with Swaylex’s tunes and this one in particular, “Raging Rapids”, has straight ahead rock muscle that announces itself from the first and never relents. It has excellent construction, however, and never lacks for musicality. Instead, there’s an equal mix of melody and heavy riffing in this track that has the right balance without ever veering too far in either direction. He brings the sensibility of a seasoned musician to this work and it makes it an even more enjoyable musical experience.  
You will be forgiven if you don’t think there’s going to be melody based on the song’s first few seconds. Instead, it seems like he’s intent on crafting a bit of music for some movie soundtrack, but just as you grow accustomed to that idea, Swaylex’s music takes a turn into one of its consistent strengths. He can hammer home a riff, driving it deep into listener’s memory, but “Raging Rapids” proves he’s equally adept at marrying that approach to a talent for really putting over some understated melodic virtues. The lead and rhythm guitar sounds have a deep warmth that will lure listeners in and even the intensity of the song never attacks listeners in such a way that they may feel compelled to turn away. There’s certainly a claustrophobic air about the progression and how he plays it, but we are inside an imaginative experience here and his total confidence in how it should unfold wins us over as well. 
The bass is rather rudimentary, but it provides great ballast for the drums, rhythm guitar, and lead work to play against. The lead and rhythm tracks are ideally matched and Swaylex creates enough space in the music that allows it to breathe without ever sacrificing any of its intensity and energy. He deserves plaudits for that alone. Moreover, his decision here, like elsewhere, to refrain belaboring his musical points with the audience assures us that he will never risking boring us in an effort to prove his chops. Those are apparent from the beginning. Nor will you ever listen to this performance and wish for a singer. There’s a dramatic edge to the song that will keep you figuratively on the edge of your seat from the beginning and he plays that aspect just right.  This is the sort of series of solid artistic decision making that we associate with experienced musical hands and it’s clear that this young man is something of a prodigy in that regard. “Raging Rapids” will entertain and grab you physically.  

Scott Wigley

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Chameleon Project - Funk n Space

The Chameleon Project - Funk n Space 

This is the sort of band that cuts through the dross of the modern music scene and stands out as an example of where the music of the future can lead us. The Chameleon Project’s Funk n Space  brings together a wide array of diverse musical influence into one overarching concoction that, if any justice remains in the musical world of 2017, will see this Toronto quartet elevated to a position of great prominence among musical acts today. There are a couple of remixes added at the album’s conclusion, but the body of the album is an eight song journey gliding its way through jazz grooves, funk, disco, reggae, electronica, and even strong rock strains with confidence of a band far beyond their years. There’s not a single misstep on Funk n Space. It’s an invigorating musical trip from the first while never announcing its presence in a chest beating sort of way. There’s no bravado here, no bluster. Instead, there’s a band who takes on eight songs bursting with understated ambition that never neglect the central mandate of all great music – communicating with an audience. 
“Milky Way” is one of the album’s more conventional moments, hinging largely on its melodic virtues to be successful, but it’s a track sure to hook in many listeners from just a few notes alone. It’s the album’s second longest song, but The Chameleon Project are one of those rare units who can extemporize and move over an extended duration without losing their audience. “Steppin’” shows off similar characteristics with their deft recall of the reggae style filtered through the distinctly modern soundscapes that are the bedrock of their musical experience. However, like on the opener, melody is part of that central bedrock as well, but it emerges from the musical arrangement more strongly here than many of the other songs.  The first of their tracks to show a rock influence, “Kraken”, brings the aforementioned style seamlessly together with an evocative soundscape and effects laden guitar lines. It has a stronger imaginative edge than most of the fine creative tunes on Funk n Space . There’s a stronger intensity to this tune than many of the others on the release. 
“Bigfoot” has a hammering rhythm section well recorded and hammering its point home time after time with confidence that we normally associate with veteran outfits. Despite the risk-taking and electronic gloss accompanying the song, you can listen closely and discern the skeleton of the basic track beneath. Above nearly all else, The Chameleon Project succeeds because they are solid and accomplished songwriters, a fact borne out time and again during the track listing. The album’s finale “Wako” has a tremendous amount of color coming through during every passage of its six minute plus length  and brings the band’s command of various styles to life without any of them every striking a dischorant contrast with the other. Funk n Space may likely stand, despite how many albums they write and record, as The Chameleon Project’s supreme achievement because of the sense of new pervading its eight tracks, but they are clearly a band with the potential to produce even greater work if fortune remains on their side. 

Dale Butcher

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Round Eye – Monstervision

Round Eye – Monstervision 

Experimental freak punk with jazz, R&B and an assortment of other genres whipped into one, are what Round Eye are being called. Some journalists are putting them beyond classification while others find them falling not far from the punk tree, if that. The primary genres always come attached with the hard to define sub genres. Although it might be hard to pin point, the music can deserve to be sub categorized for better or worse. That could be where Round Eye stand, but they’re getting places and a different reaction awaits everywhere they play. Monstervision is the CD that brings them out to play again, and does it with a vengeance but also a charm. They break out the laughs in-between these songs in which only a daredevil would attempt in the realms of any punk environment to speak of. The addition of recorded messages from John Bloom who plays one Joe Bob Briggs is not only bizarre, but on the other hand very bold in a good way. It dampens some of the more adult subject matter and puts a welcome spin on the way albums are made. He’s just the right amount of corniness for the sharper cutting songs to properly balance their aggression as they shout to the world from Shanghai to global stages. There is a lot to hash over on Monstervision, as the sights are practically endless, but also obviously current.

Briggs takes the microphone for the controversial opener that really doesn’t get as harsh as it insinuates. He comes in with the Chinese Take-Out Edition of Monstervision to dine on the general subjects whined about today, such as politicians and Chinese culture in America and around the world. This is where it begins and “Commie Blues” establishes game with no hesitation and even though it’s a dark song you know where it’s at and find out where it’s going as the visions come out even more on “Billy” with a lot of mystery and imagination behind it. This is not your mother’s punk, it’s more in the psychobilly vein. And it works or it doesn’t, depending on your viewpoint.

There are a few places where I lost sight, but that’s because they have their own lives and can’t mingle with the others. There is not one song that misses its point, but some hit their targets better than others. With “Pink House” a close call for the cream of the crop, with “Hey Dudes” and “Curami” holding just as much attention on the bench. But knowing how singles go, they could be just as off the bench as they are on. It’s a question for their label, Sudden Death, but an observation worth sharing. It all matters whether or not you like longer, deeper cuts or the shorter and sweeter variety or a mix of the two. I find them on the upside. They lead to Briggs reminding that the Drive-In will never die. And the horns go berserk on the homecoming song, “Nest” with the usual creature comforts carried on about in the lyrics, but the vocals never outweigh the horns on this energetic little diamond in the rough. And Briggs takes an exit with some more campy wit, and the closer hits the final homer run with “Crinkle” bombarding the senses with every ounce of emotion Round Eye put into their music. It’s more than a monster, it is a creature you must to hear and forget about explaining. That is why it comes recommended and so does the band, to anyone looking for a colossal punk release.


Terry Smith