THE PABLOS EP (Self-released)
Wow, what a gem! The opening track, ‘Lose Control” had me hooked from the first beat. Brilliant, faultless production! Great jangly guitars, lovely, creamy bass tone that is appropriately smooth or aggressive when necessary, very solid grooving drums and great, dirty rock-and-roll vocals that have been sorely absent from popular music for far too long. X-factor oozes from every song, everything is exquisitely, tastefully done and comes together beautifully with lots of raw energy. Dancy, upbeat and totally appropriate for a Victoria Secret’s Fashion Show- which is one of the best compliments I can think of for this sort of music. You simply can’t help but start nodding your head and tapping your feet.
The music is well written, genuine, convincing, catchy and immersive. Lots of great dynamics which keep the songs interesting and make them feel like they ought to go on forever. Would love to catch these guys live- so much infectious energy! Would be incredibly well received at a music festival, in a small club, anywhere really! Their songs needs to be in movies and advertisements already. This is the sort of musicianship that makes other musicians sit up and pay attention.
A total pick-me-up. Love it. Very rarely does a band excite a music reviewer this much. People need to hear this! It must be shared! These guys really need to be famous, three songs are enough for me to say that this is Grade A classic rock right here. I honestly can’t think of any way that this music could be any better. More, more! If they had an album out I would buy it immediately!
MY LOST YOUTH Take the Stage EP (Self-released)
Take The Stage is the debut EP of My Lost Youth, a young band from the UK. (Not the most imaginative of band names, but I’m just nitpicking here.)
The EP opens energetically with The Aftermath- wide expanses of guitars, and strong, emotive vocals. On record it sounds somewhat disjointed because of the timing changes, from verse to chorus, but I imagine it might be a good live song (and a quick search on YouTube proves it!) The music could be described as stylish pop-rock that is technically complex with interesting beats, dynamics and variation.
Dave Muir’s vocals are emotive but slightly pitchy and muffled, sounding like a unique and very distinguishable mix of Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara and Anberlin’s Stephen Christian, with a significantly deeper timbre. The guitar work is immersive and very well done, giving the EP a much more polished and refined sound than it would otherwise have. The rhythm section is unfortunately compromised by the production quality- the drums are overly-compressed, sounding stiff and unnatural.
There is certainly room for improvement- the band is still a little wet around the ears in the recording studio, which is to be expected of any new, young band. Their live show is passionate and shows potential. I would love to hear a full length LP with the guidance of an experienced producer, and I’d be willing to wager that they could make it pretty far if they make the right decisions.
(On an unrelated note, My Lost Youth actually quite remind me strongly of Singaporean band Trella, which is amusing because I’m certain neither band has ever heard of each other.)
BELLA No One Will Know (Mint)
Fuzzy synthesizer and guitar-driven pop! Bella’s No One Will Know will either be your guilty pleasure or a cliche turn-off. Made with cheese, cheese, lyrics like “They don’t know us” and even more cheese, this record is perfect for the listener who just wants to dance away without listening too deep or thinking too much. Much of the music sounds like the prepackaged pop you’d expect to hear in the background during a the scenes of a feel-good teenage movie where the protagonist gets dressed before a party, or heads on a road trip to nowhere.
The groove is the strong point of the record, and you will find yourself bobbing along and tapping your foot to the beat, whether the lyrics make you cringe or have you singing along. The music and lyrics are corny and forgettable, but still worth hanging on to for the Retro themed party that you’ve always wanted to throw. No One Will Know, almost prophetically titled, is one of those dance records that you’re going to be embarrassed to own. Personally, I’m probably going to hang on to my copy.
Check out Bella’s myspace page.
THE CRUXSHADOWS Immortal (Dancing Ferrett Discs)
Oh my. I’m not sure what exactly this genre is called, but I’d venture a guess to say it’s some sort of mix of trip-hop or techno/industrial/gothic music. The heavy synth, violins and club beats make for quite an acquired taste, which the casual listener may find terribly annoying. One imagines that they play underground rave parties with people in masks, heavy makeup and leather. Lyrics like “I do not know the mind of God and I cannot guess his thoughts, but I have searched for you across the void when my sense of self was lost” remind me of the sort of poetry you’d expect from an angsty 13 year old girl.
To be fair I did a little research about the band because it’s not really my forte or cup of tea, and learnt they’re actually pretty mild and listener-friendly for their genre. They make a good starting point for newbies so check out their MySpace (www.myspace.com/cruxshadows) if you’re curious. They actually have a strong following of supportive fans, who take them very seriously. Whatever you might think or say about their music, culture and lifestyle, they’re certainly doing well for themselves.
ADRIAN WHITEHEAD One Small Stepping Man (Popboomerang)
Adrian Whitehead’s One Small Stepping Man feels and sounds like a Beatles’ record with a modern, clean production. It opens with Caitlin’s 60’s Pop Song, with an upbeat piano and perfect vocal harmonies. The late-Beatles influence is unmistakable in the songwriting, arrangement and vocals and Adrian manages to do them justice while establishing his own personality and style.
The seeming simplicity of the songs’ arrangements highlight the powerful melodies perfectly. The songs are infectiously cheery and fun; the vocals and arrangement float and shimmer like a pleasant summer’s day. A great pop record, and we’re talking about good ol’ pop that’s made just how it used to be done. With a more polished sound too, courtesy of some great production from Jak Housden. This is a keeper. Highly recommended!
Check out Adrian Whitehead’s Myspace page.
JOSH REICHMANN ORACLE BAND Life is Legal EP (Paper Bag Records)
Josh Reichmann Oracle Band’s Life Is Legal EP consists of simple, short songs with driving beats and instrumentation that punch and swallow the listener at the same time. No lengthy, self-indulgent musicianship here- the entire EP of 5 songs lasts barely 14 minutes.
While the songs are different, it’s hard to tell where one begins and another ends- they almost transition like different movements in an actual orchestra piece.The vocals in the songs are always accompanied by horns and harmonies, making for a powerful, large sound. One might feel like they’re listening to a lounge band injected with purpose and urgency.
Consise and potent, Life Is Legal delivers an effective pick-me-up in a shot glass- shaken, not stirred.
Check out Reichmann’s Myspace page.
CUT OFF YOUR HANDS Happy As Can Be Ep (Frenchkiss)
Energetic, heartfelt, primal and intense, Cut Off Your Hands sounds like The Cure mashed up with U2.The vocals are a bit of an aquired taste- they’re almost whiny and drony. They are urgent and desperate, like the drums. The background vocals are distant and longing. The music certainly lives up to the name of the band- there is an air of helplessness about the songs, as if the band has no choice but to do what they’re doing.
Nostalgia, the third track, has a building intensity, with dissonant keyboards and strange noises that are rather reminscent of Radiohead. The ambient sounds feature throughout the EP, giving it a slightly other-worldy vibe.
While the songs themselves are happy and positive, there is a melancholic beauty about them. Happy As You Can Be is not amazingly original but rather well delivered- much like the desperation of sunshine on the last day of the world.
Check out Cut Off Your Hand’s Myspace page.
I’m a very loud, extroverted person who enjoys good company, conversation and style. I’m full of energy, love to face life head-on, and believe that rules are guidelines meant to be challenged. While I’m a big-picture person, I also tend to be sensitive to how small things make a big difference- be it in art, music, or life itself.
To me, music is about expression. It’s created by the artist to be experienced by the listener- be it on record, or live performance. A successful musician, to me, is able to effectively connect with his audience. As a musician and songwriter, it is my ultimate aim to share with you how I feel, and have you take something away from it. As a music lover, I enjoy experiencing this from other musicians as well, whether they are touring professionals or weekend warriors.
So why do we do it? Why do musicians write, play, perform and share music? Why do ordinary people pay money to listen to records or go to shows? I believe it is because that at the end of the day, no matter how mundane and meaningless life seems to get, music allows us to share something special with other people. It reminds us that deep down, we’re all the same, and that it is a privilege to be alive.
Visa also plays bass and sings in a power trio called Armchair Critic. Check out their Myspace page.