Monday, November 12, 2012

John Cathal O'Brien's "life of transience"

    John Cathal O'Brien's opus Acid Week is a visceral journey through the tangled and beautiful thoughts of a troubled troubadour. It is wrought with descending folk melodies and poetically condensed experiences of which the protagonist describes as a "life of transience". The songs feel as if they have been written over years, packed with elated evenings with friends and somber mornings all alone. The melancholy sound paired with a cover image that echoes Vincent van Gogh self-portrait gives an overwhelming feeling of being in the presence of a brilliant but estranged artist.
    The opener "Leeches" sets the album up perfectly with it's expansive suburban imagery and drifting chords. Johns voice hovers in an strange octave high above the grounded instrumentation, conjuring up Antony and the Johnsons, while the song navigates the backroads and cafe's of a somewhat distant apocalyptic land.
    Things never quite pick up after the initial blast of originality, which is indeed a powerful dose, but John has plenty of lovely tools to keep the listener entranced under his spell; namely his incredible lyrics. The title track "Acid Week" has a wonderful wilting quality, sown together by Leonard Cohen influenced finger picking.
    The Closer "War Song" is another strong example of this singer-songwriters unique craftsmanship. Touching on terrorism and traveling, the song never seizes to lose that warm personal perspective that seems to be his trademark. A track that could put a smile on your face and a tear in your eye, simultaneously. 
         John definitely has a gift and a natural knack for storytelling and compelling songwriting. You couldn't ask for a whole lot more from a man with his guitar… there is the sweet tinge of irony and humor, complete with some very serious self directed questions and statements about the nature of life.  

Mr. O'Brien was born in Dublin, Ireland and currently resides in New York, promoting "Acid Week". Check out his BANDCAMP to hear/purchase the album.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Minor Sounds presents 'The Humming'

"The Humming" by Brighton based Minor Sounds is one of the most original and compelling releases of 2012. It seems to play off musical opposites while retaining a rich tapestry of folk and electrons. It is both dark and warm, stark and fluid, atmospheric and concise.

We enter the world with the eerie swarm of bees opener "Different Kind". The track trickles out of the speakers cloaked in reverb tremolo guitar, making way for the Foxy vocals of Mirna Stanic; A native of Croatia who found herself collaborating with UK producer Martin Zietek.

Before we feel to comfortable in trippy Portishead territory, enter track two "Everything You Need" which skips along on an Americana brush kit beat and climaxes with warm harmonies and banjo. "Three Legged Dog" is grounded in acoustic pop territory which works wonderfully well, building into "Hail Storm" which had a similar cinematic ambiance as the opener, with a touch of quirky Canadian folk and a lovely decaying snare.

Next is the evocative and emotional "Behind the Scenes" which weaves a tale of comfort in insecurity into a ballad of yearning and healing. "Gravity" starts with some fuzzed out grunge guitar chords, with Mirna Stanic following the banging drums in true PJ Harvey grace. "Crooked Feet" has a blooming quality which helps sooth the listener deeper into it's indie dream.

The title track rounds out the album, bringing it full circle. It's combination of lyrics and atmosphere works in a mysteriously beautiful way, solidifying it as the most original work on the album. It is a pretty bare bones arraignment punctuated by the static pop of a kick drum and wondering melody line. This particular song has received quite a bit of love from the BBC and was also featured on the Fat Cat Records Demo Compilation of 2012.

I'm sure this is just a sign of the great things to come from Minor Sounds, as this release is one of the most accessible studies in the stunning beauty of the human condition ever put to tape.

Check out Minor Sounds and buy "The Humming" HERE.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gone for Days – Revisit the hay day 90’s Rock

Gone for Days brings back memories of 1990’s rock groups such as Puddle of Mud and Stone Temple Pilots.  Their throwback sound is very well executed and holds interest with powerful melodies and heavy guitar riffs.  The groups power lies in their ability to create a sound that does echo these 90’s greats yet give a fresh and newer take on alternative rock.

The dynamics of the group are held together by the talent of their drummer Justin Pacy and the strong lead vocals of Chris Taylor.  On the song “Money”, all the players come together to create a catchy song that is sure to be a standout track off their self-titled album, set to release soon.  “Money’s” verses echo influences from harder Beatles material while the chorus hints at Pink Floyd’s own track of same name.

They sure are making a name for themselves with heavy play on Sirius/XM’s Octane as well as opening for Filter and Stone Temple Pilots.  Fans of these bands definitely will find something to love with Gone for Days – so it is a great move to play with these groups.  I could see a band like this holding court in the Sunset Strip and creating quite a buzz with the rocker crowd. 

Check them out and find out more here:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Victory Garden - Whats Left Behind

Crown Point Indiana is home to the acoustic experimenters Victory Garden. Formed in 2005 by Michael Finney who plays a variety of electro/acoustic instruments and sings gritty, straight forward melodies that come off as both unique and powerful. Their newest offering Whats Left Behind reveals a strong, creative musicality and evolving dynamics.

The record starts with the bouncing Appalachian instrumentation of "As a Ghost". This wonderful hybrid of rock and folk continues through the album with a flavor of 90's grunge and Gothic whispers sprinkled in. The subject matter is of the broken hearted nature, though there is an transcendent quality to a good deal of songs. The Midwestern poetry is visceral and astute while walking a thin line between the highly personal and the esoteric.

There are some lucid Sigur Ros synth changes on the cinematic track "Tides" and some cut throat Modest Mouse cynicism on "Snake Charmer". The charged up riffs and guitar lines are all on point, executed with laser precision and taste while the vocals mix punk rock delivery with melodic changes and harmonies.

Victory Garden has shown itself to be a cream of the crop indie band with a very defined and interesting sound. The overall feel is fresh and definitely well worth checking out. Support this artist by clicking the album cover and purchasing the music.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Night Owl - by Willie Ames

Willie Ames "Nigh Owl" LP is a smart combination of folk picking, rich storytelling and driven beats. The melodies sound familiar but as the songs begin to unfold, they weave away from four chord folk picking, finding very interesting pockets of color and innovation.