Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Conceptz “Splash” feat. Bennie Blanco


Conceptz “Splash” feat. Bennie Blanco

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2ghN53a_wQ

The clock strikes midnight, and Conceptz wants to know where you’re at. In this life, only a couple of things are certain; we’re all going to die someday, we’ve all got to eat, and we’re all compelled to be drawn towards each other in the most primal ways possible. Conceptz is confident that sexual sparks can be ignited if you open yourself up to the idea, and “Splash” saturates us in an aphrodisiac that is one part mammoth bassline and another part cocky self-awareness. It doesn’t matter if we used to be together and it didn’t work out. We made a connection and it fizzled? It’s back on tonight. We’re going for a dip in the ocean of sensuous sonic grooves that Conceptz is unleashing at us with ease.

“Splash” isn’t as vulgar as some of you might infer by its humorously literal title, instead letting us paint our own imagery of two becoming one inside our own dirty minds, although it should be said that Conceptz gives us a healthy nudge in the right direction from the jump. The backing track sparkles and drones on in the foreground, powerless to dull the sharp rhymes that Conceptz and Benny Blanco are trading back and forth. There’s nothing to stop the anticipation from building to a fever pitch and finally releasing in an elegantly appointed chorus that fades in and out of the ethers like steam rising from hot springs in the dead of winter. Does Conceptz realize the imaginative supremacy they wield? My guess is yes, considering how relaxed and composed they remain in the grit and grind of “Splash.”

The music starts to blend into the lyrics towards the latter half of this song, and if you’re not moving to the churning descent of its patterned beat by this point, I seriously have to question whether or not you have a pulse. “Splash” is as intoxicating as a designer drug and has a high that lasts ten times as long, demanding repeated listens from even the most hardcore of anti-rap music fan. We’re spellbound by the glittering tones and melodies lingering in the rearview mirror as we blaze through verse after verse, and trying to resist the glamour of “Splash” soon becomes understandably pointless.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of hip-hop. I like a lot of classic rap ala late 80’s political hip-hop and early 90’s G-funk, but most of the output from 21st century rappers usually leaves a lot to be desired for my personal pedigree of taste. 

Conceptz has made me reconsider whether or not its modern hip-hop that I dislike or just the artists that major labels have chosen to highlight above all others. If a song like “Splash” can stay on permanent rotation in my head for well over a week after first listening to it preparation for writing this review, then maybe there’s a chance that my perception has been askew this entire time. Whatever the case may be, anyone who digs hardcore beat should do themselves a favor and check out Conceptz at the soonest opportunity made available to them. “Splash” is the best rap song I’ve heard in a long time, and my money says that it’s probably better than anything most of you have listened to this year.

SHAZAM: https://www.shazam.com/track/431374861/splash-main-versionexplicit

Scottie Carlito

Thursday, September 6, 2018

AV Super Sunshine - Time Bomb


AV Super Sunshine - Time Bomb

URL: https://www.avsupersunshine.com/

Dubbed as “New American Rock”, the latest single from Wisconsin’s AV Super Sunshine “Time Bomb” makes that case without ever sounding too ambitious or hyped too hard. Instead, the two mixes coming with this release, a club and radio DJ version respectively, each offer something unique for both casual listeners and more serious music fans. It’s frequently said there is something for everyone when you read music reviews and sometimes it’s true, but rarely is it more substantiated than it is in the hands of AV Super Sunshine than we’ve heard from similar acts. The club mix of “Time Bomb” is full of fury and energy, but there’s more musical strength we hear in this song than we might expect. It begins with a blast of synthesizer gradually intensifying until it erupts into a full on reflection of Michael Bradford’s contributions to the song. This famous DJ and producer has worked with AV Super Sunshine before and discerning listeners will hear why; the two artists possess a clear chemistry perks you up from the first.



The more customary elements of a track are subverted to the electronic instrumentation, but never so much so that they come off as afterthoughts. AV’s lead vocal comes roaring out of the thick, yet bright, mix with assertiveness that commands your attention and the song’s backing vocals merge with the primary vocal in a raucous mashup that will get listeners involved. Other instruments are all but hidden, but they come through at important moments – both melody and guitar make their presence felt in flashes and those points in this five minute+ song tie the track to a needed musical foundation that keeps this mix from being just a ferocious electronic driven number.

The radio DJ mix of the song is bare bones, but equally effective in its own way. It has a lot more focus placed on the lead and backing vocals than we ever hear in the club mix, but it works especially well when placed in a clearer musical landscape like it is here. The synthesizers, of course, do have a strong presence in this version, but the guitar, piano, and drums gives the song a more natural feel than we ever hear in the earlier take on the song. It is, also, much shorter and features the sane fixed gaze on its musical goals. This is, nominally, more closer to the aforementioned label of “New American Rock”, but it still has a lot of the same daring we hear with the earlier mix. AV Super Sunshine’s “Time Bomb” definitely blows up in a big way during both versions and ranks as the best single yet from this exponentially improving rock/EDM master It’s one of the best songs in this style that’s been released in recent years and opens the door to an even more brilliant future
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INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/avsupersunshine/

Michael Crowder

Monday, August 27, 2018

Crack of Dawn – Spotlight



Crack of Dawn – Spotlight


When Crack of Dawn released their debut album back in 1976, they weren’t just cutting another slab of funky vinyl meant to get people shaking to a disco beat. They were essentially creating the foundation of the modern Canadian R&B scene, and today their influence can still be felt from one corner of the country to the next. After an extended hiatus away from the recording industry, the legends of northern funk – guitarists Carl and Rupert Harvey, vocalist Michael Dunston, Bela Hajmann on keys, trumpeter Alexis Baro, trombonist Trevor Darley, sax man Alvin Jones, bassist Charles Sinclair and, of course, drummer Carl Otway – have reunited with only one intention; reigniting the rhythm for a new generation. In their brand new album Spotlight, fans of all ages will discover that Crack of Dawn hasn’t surrendered an ounce of their unparalleled talent in the years that have passed, but in fact they’ve got even better with time. This collection of songs are a fantastic addition to the storied history of both a band and a scene that have never received the attention that they truly deserved.

Opening the album with the song “Crack of Dawn” quickly seems like a no-brainer and they’ve crafted a song worthy of bearing the band’s name. One of the best parts of this song, for me, is how adeptly they straddle the line between tasteful, artistic restraint and conveying joyful energy you hear in every bar of the song. Michael Dunston, the band’s singer, sounds freed in particularly and unleashes a performance potentially capable of waking coma patients. The opener has a stronger R&B influence than the two numbers that follow – both “Somebody’s Watching” and “Booby Ruby” are dyed in the wool funk gems, though the former softens the approach more than the latter. “Booby Ruby” is an unabashed romp and Charles Sinclair’s bass pumps in a masterful way throughout the song, yet never gets self-indulgent or overzealous. “Keep the Faith” flirts with some of the weaker influences in the band’s wheelhouse, gospel, but never comes across as religious. Instead, the songwriting uses the musical and lyrical language of the style for a soulful R&B tune that gives Dunston ample room to explore his talents.

“Ol’ Skool” has a cool, relaxed R&B slant and a nice melody largely carried by the keyboards, but Michael Dunston gives listeners another empathic vocal certainly showing his mastery of singing R&B material. The funk influences we hear in earlier songs like “Booby Ruby” are scarcely in evidence on “Ol’ Skool” and the band shows themselves to be every bit as skilled with R&B trappings. I find “Seasons’ Change” to be the album’s best song, a note perfect realization of the band’s R&B sound with meaningful lyrical content Dunston gets across with feeling. The luxurious unfolding of the song is never rushed and has quite an effect on listeners. Crack of Dawn closes the album with “Changes”, a lively R&B tune with an understated funk sound and complimentary backing vocals. Carl Harvey’s salvos of fiery lead guitar put a bold exclamation point on the song and it makes for a potent closer. Crack of Dawn’s Spotlight knocks it out of the park and seems certain to win over a new generation of fans for the band.


Brian Deppert

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Lauria releases “Losing Me” single


Lauria releases “Losing Me” single


Montreal based Florie-Laure “Lauria” Zadigue DubĂ© is a bit of a mystery with only one single out, but “Losing Me” is quite the substantial number, but that’s only tipping the iceberg. She has a voice that sings like an angel and only so many are coming along that it’s a stand out track which puts you in touch with her soul, and that’s only part of what makes this single cook. It sizzles to the brim and shows why the art of studio performance is so important to the longevity of a song, especially in the Pop world where everything comes in to go out. And Lauria has the power to stay and go a long way. 

The memories of growing up watching local artists in her uncle’s Montreal studio and singing in the church choir since an early age are two things that led to this single, as well as playing briefly in a band with her cousin, not to mention her uncle now being her manager. The rest is unknown until more about Lauria and more content comes out. It’s a non-genre attitude she has and that’s where the song might fall but it’s still rooted in Pop and anything slow-danceable for the masses to which it is clearly aimed. 

Being that it’s a vocally driven song, Lauria stands out the most throughout the entire track, but there’s more to meats the ear going on behind her with a beautiful string arrangement. The lyrics deal with being hurt and not forgiving someone who’s gone so far, they’re going to lose her love. She even goes out of her way to be mildly explicit to get the point of the words across. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the melody as well as her voice and the track itself as the total package that it is. The rest is hard to detail without hearing it for yourself, but it’s suggested to do so at first chance. 

It’s not every day something this good comes along, so it’s helping 2018 look better as the less than spectacular year it has been so far on music on my radar, so much that I am glad I heard “Losing Me.” And with Lauria coming on so strong already it’s worth anticipating what comes next for her. It’s a good question but for now this single is showing where the heart is, and she’s got all the time in the world from here but hopefully not too long before we hear more from her. Make no mistake, Lauria is already star in her own way. 

In closing, this is not only a fine debut single for Lauria, it’s a superior production and her songwriting is premiere in todays musical landscape where more-often than not electronics and other frills keep the soul out of Pop music. It’s also one of the best single releases of 2018 by all standards by an unknown artist with all the potential in the world to reach the most appreciative ears with an honestly great song that competes without even having to.

GOOGLE PLAY: https://play.google.com/music/preview/Tvrpi4xhrewdqovmwllm3zlecza?play=1

Randy Jones

Monday, July 16, 2018

Edenn – “Thinking”



Edenn – “Thinking”


His birth name is Edem Kodjo Azuma and he hails from Lome, Togo. Edenn is now a European-based singer, songwriter, fashion designer and screenwriter. It’s no doubt then, that his artistic stamp on the spellbinding debut single “Thinking” leaves its mark on the listener.

Trapped between an electronic pop and neo soul fusion, “Thinking” has its place in the modern music soundscape. Edenn’s lyrics are simple and straight-forward (“I’ve been thinking about ya”) of which he repeats quite a few times. He’s not so much so lazy in his delivery in as much as his vibe is laid back and reflective. He’s genuine without being overbearing. This song is very modern and is going to sound very computerized to some. Some might call it more style than substance. Maybe it is overproduced? That’s okay, Edenn still creates a lasting image and sound gifts for the listener. I think Edenn’s style is unique and his substance is growing.

Besides, do you really want to think too much when you’re listening to a song called “Thinking”? Probably not!

What I liked most about “Thinking” was the actual music bed. Edenn’s beats have a wavering sound and seem to tag team off of each other after each measure. I think there’s a fine balance of the back and forth between the vocals and the simple lyrics. This song is never boring, that’s for sure. Some dance-pop songs can sound over aggressive or even abrasive; Edenn doesn’t fall into this trap. It’s as if he’s protecting the listener and lifting them up on a pedestal. I think some pop songs can sound too sacronistic or even too cutesy. He doesn’t follow this path. Thank goodness.

I was surprised not to hear other African or West African influences in the music. Maybe that’s Edenn’s reflection on the past – and he’s looking brightly into the future. Or, maybe that breezy, oceanic feel is how he remembers Togo. One could easily get lost imagining these things. That’s another reason I really dug the song – it kept my mind churning out several scenarios.

As mentioned above, his style is being carved out before our ears and I think his background in journalism, screenwriting and certainly fashion are incredible tools in achieving his goals. He really connected with me as a listener.

If’ you’re looking for a sensory explosion, you won’t find it in “Thinking.” Rather, it’s a slow build, but a solid and persistent build at that. I liken this song to many of the pop music’s top hits right now – it fills a spot and a need that people are really craving. And, Edenn does it very well. He’s not showy. He’s humble and it shows.


Geoffrey Chamness 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Patiently Awaiting the Machine – Electrified




Patiently Awaiting the Machine – Electrified


Dee and the Grand Brothers are partnering for an album together at just the right time. The former’s massive YouTube success, two solo releases (the second produced by his current creative partners), and “Miles and Miles (Living on the Edge)” placing with a highly visible Ford Super Bowl commercial. Their collaboration, dubbed Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite, has completed recording its first studio release entitled Canyon Diablo and the first single from the forthcoming disc, “Electrified”, is a powerful piece of pop song craft with considerable musical muscle. “Electrified” owes much of its success, naturally, to the Grand Brothers’ contributions, but Dee is clearly a key part in the success of the song as well and the chemistry this musical partnership generates isn’t quite like anything you’ve heard in recent memory. You can feel the confidence they have in this effort coming through in every passage, no matter what slant it takes with a listener.

They pull all this off without ever sounding obnoxious about it. Instead, there’s a near anthemic quality to this song complete with an uplifting chorus that drives one of the song’s central points home without ever browbeating listeners with too many words. Everything is very purposeful with this track and nothing feels extraneous. Instead, “Electrified” comes off as a single where the principles involved cut the song with a clear idea of what they wanted to do with this song from the outset and realized it thanks to a combination of inspiration and skill.

“Electrified” bristles from the beginning with barely suppressed energy and the sense of an explosion barely held in throughout the entirety of the song gives it an air of tension that makes this an even more delectable listening experience. Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite’s single never sounds forced or rushed and the consistent push behind its tempo has a grab you by the lapels and shake you around quality that makes this an intensely physical listen from the outset.

It has a ton of personality, as well, thanks to the vocal presence in the song’s mix. Dee and the female backing vocals running throughout the song are never obscured by the boisterous arrangement and, instead, exhibit many of the same qualities and mood we hear from the music. Dee’s voice exhibits the same instant likability we heard in his earlier and very successful singles like “Miles and Miles (Living on the Edge)” and “Filter Factory” while also stretching his talents for dramatization in a new and exciting direction. He clearly benefits from working with the Grand Brothers because they intuitively understand how to best utilize his voice, but Dee is a considerable talent in his own right who obviously inspires the brothers to pursue higher peaks with this release than they’ve had the opportunity to reach for in their earlier work for other artists. Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite clearly has the talent to be a major player on the pop scene, so we can only hope that “Electrified” and the upcoming Canyon Diablo are more than just a thrilling one off project for these performers, producers, and writers.


Glenn Farnsworth

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jiggley Jones - Not Your Typical day Out



Jiggley Jones - Not Your Typical Day Out


Jiggley Jones returns to the forefront of modern Americana with his new full-length feature, Not Your Typical Day Out, which carries on the tried and true tradition of uncut artistic expression through the medium of music that was started by countryside minstrels so many generations ago. In the ten songs offered here, Jiggley presents us ten uniquely individual tales of love, mystery and the never ending journey towards self-awareness.

Our album opens with the majestic “Danger Island.” Bluegrass-stained strings invite us deeper into a cozy scene of two people sitting beside one another. Jones’ vocal penetrates the pastureland with a Dylanesque disdain; “Cannibals are everywhere,” he tells us, as if to warn of the many greedy eyes that surround a lustful heart so easily taken advantage of. Suddenly an alarm clock breaks in, and “Wide Awake” kicks into gear, stylishly reading what feels like a love letter to a femme fatale. Here we view the concept of love as being a wild and free energy that is uncontainable, contagious even. “Vibrant” takes us careening through a flood of childhood memories and emotional turning points in the maturation of a young adult. The things that make us who we are, we end up experiencing them all over when we have children of our own, and reliving the same incorruptibility that youth provides us. The meticulously arranged ballad “Del Alma” brings a cool harmonica melody into the fold and evokes images of a dark nighttime sky that sometimes seems to be the only thing we’ve got to count on in this crazy world. The gathering crowd of voices and harmonious band-play assembles before our ears, as if to affirm to us that Jones is speaking for countless people when he proclaims his message of love and proud eccentricities.

The second half of Not Your Typical Day Out doesn’t let down, either. “That Pearl,” the sixth song on the record, opens with a piano striking aggressively into melodic acoustic guitars. Suddenly we find ourselves drifting down a river of contemplation. Our joy and our spirit are all there is in the world in this place Jones is creating for us. There is no stress or anxiety to bother us, only a desire to conquer our own hearts so we can truly understand what love means; what the grand prize of life is. “Warm” adds a dose of rhythm to Not Your Typical Day Out that definitely feels danceable, and its swagger is almost along the lines of a mid-period Beatles track. It might be the most interesting song on the album in that it truly exemplifies Jiggley Jones’ incredible versatility as a composer.

"Gray” follows in a mist of grungy dissonance and ponders whether or not love can grow in a place where a heart has grown cold. “Flow” and “Restless” pick us back up in a blast of rock n’ roll twang, as though Jones needed to make a point towards the close of the album that above all, he worships the six-string. We end on the gentle “Rain,” which acts as a sort of cool down to the poetic and compositional calisthenics we’ve just participated in. As an artist, Jiggley Jones poses a lot of compelling questions on Not Your Typical Day Out. As listeners, we’re left with just one – when can we get more, Mr. Jiggley Jones


Gwen Waggoner

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Monsieur Job - Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow


Monsieur Job - Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Chow-Eyyy-Pow/dp/B07416MPBK

“Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow” is a revelatory single from Latin and urban pop masters in the making Monsieur Job, a four piece unit fronted for this effort by the vocal talents of No Mercy lead singer Martin Citron. This union of talents has produced one of the most notable cross-genre blends in recent years and Monsieur Job has paired the single with a “B-side” remix that will appeal to many as well. 

They’ve definitely captured a thoroughly modern sound while never betraying the fundamentals that make songs great in any genre – in this case, the performance never forsakes a live aesthetic that, despite the electronic nature of the music, suggests anything can happen in this song and unexpected twists will come. It definitely isn’t a paint by numbers EDM track in either incarnation – instead, songwriters Toby Holguin and Stan Kolev have crafted a winning formula for Monsieur Jobs’ music that’s full of color, physicality, and imagination. 

Kolev’s remix is a blistering, punchy EDM track with Citron’s vocal chopped up in a very staccato, percussive way. It’s much more streamlined and to the point than the quite direct radio edit and works like a clenched fist compared to the more expansive, relaxed attitude of the radio edit. It’s ideally suited for a club setting. The radio edit, on the other hand, falls into more traditional territory despite its glaring modernity. It opens with varied percussion that the song adds to as it progresses deeper into the track and the prominent bass and other instrumentation key themselves around the song’s drumming. There’s an impressive mix of sounds surrounding the percussion. Some of it is quite conclusively pre-programmed in origin while other drumming sounds strike me as much more natural, if not entirely live. It speaks to the backgrounds of the band members – to a man, Monsieur Job is well versed in both electronic and live, traditional music performance and their ability to unite those two aesthetics in “Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow” is one of their more notable achievements.

Martin Citron’s vocal in the radio edit is Spanish language from first word to last, but exclusively English speakers will pick up on the emotion and spirit he infuses into the lyric and enjoy it despite not quite understanding the content. They will, likewise, respond to the confidence he conveys with his performance and appreciate his efforts to tailor the vocal to the musical needs of the song. The coupling of Toby Holguin and Stan Kolev’s songwriting with his experienced singing are the primary ingredients making “Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow” one of the more memorable singles from the Latino and EDM genres in quite some time. Monsieur Job are poised to be one of the powerhouses in this scene for years to come and we may soon point back to this track as the moment their musical journey first traveled into the stratosphere of public notice.  


Raymond Burris

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sule - Love Me (Country Swing)


Sule - Love Me (Country Swing) 


Sule’s new single “Love Me” is the next logical step in a career that’s seen this great Quebec based singer move from being a valued collaborator with some of pop music’s best performers, a high profile appearance on Canadian tv’s equivalent of The Voice, La Voix, and now another important peak in his solo career with the release of this latest single. 

The single recalls a clear strand of Americana influenced by classic country, particularly the once wildly popular swing style, while still manifesting aspects of jazz and blues throughout the entirety of the song. There’s palpable confidence coming off this tune and it never strains for its effects – instead, it’s tailored to a perfect length and there isn’t a single false musical or vocally note struck throughout the song. “Love Me” is a wonderful single for Sule to open 2018 and promises his year will be a big one in his burgeoning solo career.  
The song, on the whole, seems a little unassuming, but that’s part of its charm. Sule definitely occupies a big chunk of the song’s imaginative and emotional space, but his vocal performance is definitely delivered with an ear towards complementing the track rather than leading the way and bending the sonic elements to his singing will. It’s really pleasing to hear his voice bob and weave through the emotional terrain generated by the arrangement and he sounds sure of himself throughout rather than relying on over-cooked theatrical moments to earn the listener’s attention. His voice is obviously very powerful and certainly capable of showstopper moments, but he never falls into the trap of laying on the histrionics and obscuring the rich instrumental backing he benefits from. Few singles, ever, are as well rounded as “Love Me” while still touching on an universal theme and narrative that anyone can relate to. 

Anyone will relate to this musical arrangement despite the rarity of the style in modern pop, Americana, or country. It has an affability that you don’t often hear from any form and, thus, makes it instantly relatable on a variety of levels and, despite its Americana influenced pedigree, this is a solid pop song as well that happens to utilize an unusual style. Much of the musical value for this song is built around its melodic strengths and the acoustic guitar that’s a constant presence in the song from the first, but there are other elements as well that make it an even more appealing listen. While the players are obviously top shelf talents, they are working for the song from the first rather than trying to garner the listeners attention with misplaced skill and everything they do enhances and play off well against Sule’s vocal. Few songs you hear in 2018 will present such a complete experience like Sule’s “Love Me” and its revisiting of the country swing style is wholly credible and entertaining.  


Dale Butcher

Monday, February 5, 2018

Universal Dice - birth, love, hate, death


Universal Dice - birth, love, hate, death


The latest album from Gerry Dantone’s Universal Dice project is extravagantly titled birth, love, hate, death, but Dantone’s songwriting and conceptual ideas more than live up to the album title’s grandiose implications. Dantone, a man of many talents, is a songwriting talent clearly cut from a traditional cloth, but he nonetheless knows how to bring those foundational influences into perfect accord with a modern sound an audience of today will enthusiastically respond to. It’s accessible, but never achieves that accessibility at the expense of an intelligent presentation. This is music that doesn’t take short cuts and never cheats the listener will still ably depicting Dantone’s storyline for the rock opera. The story advances through songs structured as voiced by particular characters and, while things are never quite told in a A-Z sort of way, attentive listeners will be able to follow along without straining their attention. 
 
“Welcome to the World” is a note perfect vehicle for bringing audiences into Universal Dice’s imaginative world and it comes across with loose-limbed confidence and sharpened musical instincts. It’s hard to not enjoy how well Universal Dice weaves a lot of musical activity into an unified whole while it never seems unduly cluttered. This is particularly apparent on the second song “I Wish I Could Tell You This”, one of the album’s best ballad-like songs. There’s some real musical drama in the jangling line of musical attack Universal Dice takes with “Your Son” and it puts a bright early spotlight on some of Dantone’s best work writing “In character”.  One of the album’s best moments in a rock vein comes with the track “The Prophet” and it’s largely thanks to hammering drums that maintain an impressive pattern throughout. There’s a lot of vocal harmonies making birth, love, hate, death’s songwriting extra memorable but few, if any, songs present that so well as the track “My Hands Are Tied “ and, despite the obvious studio construction behind such parts, they come across like they’d be convincing in a live setting.
 
“Take Me Home”, befitting its status as the album’s lengthiest track, likewise has a constructed feel that, thankfully, never comes off ultimately sounding like a put on. Dantone doesn’t have a classically schooled voice, but the production almost always frames his singing quite well on birth, love, hate, death and this song is probably the best example of the nuance he’s capable of bringing into a piece. “Danielle” is about as classic as rock and roll songwriting gets while still sporting a distinctly modern flair that’ few of Universal Dice’s contemporaries could hope to pull off. “Better Man” brings out the guitars bigger and brasher than before on the album and the punishing drumming characterizing a couple of the earlier songs returns here with dizzying authority. “I’m No Good for You” is another track where the drumming makes a big difference, but the most significant musical relationship in this song is established between the percussion and acoustic guitar. The start-stop nature of the arrangement provides a perfect framework for the tune. birth, love, hate, death comes to a refreshingly hopeful, yet intelligent and clear-eyed, ending with the songs “One Day at a Time” and “Forever” that underline, without ever becoming heavy handed, the essentially personal nature of these songs for Gerry Dantone. It never comes off as a solo effort though. Universal Dice definitely come across as a band and their fourth album is their finest recording yet.  


Scott Wigley