Category: Album Reviews
By Alex Teitz
Edison is a 3 piece indie folk rock band from Denver. Sarah Slaton is on vox and guitar. Dustin Morris is on mandolin, trumpet, vox and drums. Chris Cash is on bass, vox and keys. All the songs were written and performed by Edison. The EP was mastered by Mark Downie. It was engineered and the intial mix was done by Robert Skelton. The final mix was done by Taylor Mesple. Ghosts is a 4 song EP.
Ghosts is a passionate longing collection of music. In four songs the listener is drawn into a world of why’s and how’s. It is also one of the best expressions of why simpler is honest and heartfelt. “San Jose” is a ballad that begins with a gentle guitar and vocalization. “Ghosts” is a stirring arrangement that brings in trumpet and mandolin. “Be Someone” is the most upbeat bringing in mandolin and guitar. “Simple As Sleep” ends with multiple horns.
What drives Ghosts is the lyrics. These are taken from Sarah Slaton’s life. They are painful and reveal a life searching for meaning and place. The songs ask questions and give answers in a direct theme throughout the EP. Many of the most meaningful and memorable songs from the best songwriters (James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Melissa Etheridge) involve the most painful and heartbreaking times of their lives. Slaton has a lock on this and is destined to join that group soon.
Ghosts is a testament to simplicity in honesty. The arrangements are beautiful and haunting. The lyrics speak directly to the soul, and the music lives on afterward. Ghosts should be a lesson to other musicians on how to strip everything to the core, and let it shine. It should be in every collection for 2015. For info visit www.facebook.com/listentoEdison
Posted in Album Reviews
By Alex Teitz
I recently saw an exhibit of an old master painter. In his youth he would pile on paint as if to make paintings sculptures in oil. As he grew older he applied a lighter touch knowing that it is not the quantity of oil, but how & where it is applied that makes a masterwork. The same can be said of Jessie Kilguss with Devastate Me. This is Kilguss’ fourth album and it reflects a lighter & more precise touch.
Kilguss works with a skilled band. On guitar, keyboard and vocals is Jason Loughlin. On bass, keyboard and vocals is John Kengla. On drums, percussion and vocals is Bob Heath. All the songs were written by Kilguss and John Kengla. The arrangements were done by Kilguss and the band. Devastate Me was produced, engineered and mixed by Joe Rogers and mastered by Joe Lambert.
Devastate Me is a lyric driven album. The overriding them is love lost either through time or physical distance. Kilguss’ vocals recall Emmylou Harris or Allison Krauss. The eight tracks in the album evoke a lush emotional landscape. The strongest arrangements are found in “A Safe Distance From You” & “You Didn’t Do Right By Me” with the former being guitar driven and the latter keyboard based. The strongest songs are “Red Moon”, “I’m You Prey” – which screams as an album single, and “City Map.” These songs wrap the listener in a world of lyrics that is poetical and familiar. “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight” is a reflection of Kilguss’ childhood on a farm and makes the memories fresh and golden.
Jessie Kilguss is not a household name and that is a crime. Devastate Me
is the work of an artist coming into her peak. Overproduction is not a problem here. A light but firm touch is evident throughout. For info visit www.JessieKilguss.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Jessie Kilguss – Devastate Me
By Alex Teitz
Ex Cops sophomore album is a pop dance explosion. Every song is filled with hooks that catch the ear and don’t let go. Hidden behind the danceable music are complex lyrics that make this a songwriter’s dream.
Ex Cops is the duo of Amalie Bruun & Brian Harding. The album was produced by Billy Corgan and Justin Raisen. The album features Ariel Pink and L.P.
Daggers is 11 diverse tracks. “Black Soap” & “White Noise” open the album. Both are dance pop songs including “White Noise” which is ironically about wanting to be alone and quiet. “Daggers” & “Burnt Out Love” are powerful ballads. “Daggers” has a sublime drum bridge while “Burnt Out Love” has heartbreaking lyrics on the dead feeling when a relationship is done. The two guest tracks are ballads. “Wanna Be featuring L.P.” is a love song about the love that sneaks up on you. “Tragically Alright Featuring Ariel Pink” has a faint 60’s feel in overlapping vocals and keyboard dominance. “Teenagers” and “Pretty Shitty” are dance songs on different subjects. “Teenagers” is about being as wild as a teenager. “Pretty Shitty” is about being treated wrong in a relationship. “Rooms” could practically be a hidden track because it is simply magnificent. It is about growing out of a relationship and alternates between male & female vocals. It is one of the strongest tracks on Daggers.
It would be a mistake to typecast Ex Cops as synth pop dance band. Most of Daggers could easily be found at a dance club but the real gems are the ballads. The influence of 90’s alternative rock is found in Daggers but it is not confined to it. Hints of the 60s & 70s music eek in. This is neither Smashing Pumpkins nor Chvrches. It is the wild blending of both and much more. Daggers
demonstrates the range of Ex Cops as a band. Hearing that range means the boundaries of what is possible in the future are limitless. For info visit http://excopsmusic.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Ex Cops – Daggers
By Alex Teitz
Pale Hands are a dreampop couple out of Massachusetts. Jen Johnson is on lead vocals and takes a different course from her previous projects of Velah and Static of the Gods. She is joined by her husband Mike Latulippe. Dreampop is a wide genre filled with everyone from Cocteau Twins to CHVRCHES. Pale Hands carves out their place in it their full length debut Spirit Lines.
Spirit Lines is a nine track album. It has the required elements of dreampop with keyboard, distort, synth, percussion and a range of beats. What sets it apart is Pale Hands haunting lyrics and Johnson’s woven vocals. Lead single “Under Over” is about a couple fighting mental illness and goes from subtle melodies to echoey vocals. “Juventud” has a strong beat and background vocals layered with keys. It is about a relationship in trouble. “No Stars” is the strongest song on the album and has a danceable beat mixed with percussion and rattle. The lyrics are sublime and beautiful. “Elemental” is the weakest track on the album. The arrangement is overproduced with layering vocals that are overwhelmed by too much instrumentation. The lyrics are strong and empowering but are not working in the mix. The best songs on the album are “Locusts”, “Juventud”, “Seismic” and “No Stars.”
Spirit Lines will not be for everybody. One hopes the lyrics are not autobiographical since most of the songs are about fighting in bad relationships or situations. Johnson’s vocals bring to mind young Aimee Mann. Pale Hands are a bold entry into dreampop. Their beats and synths are danceable and hide heart retching lyrics. Lyrically Pale Hands stands alone. For info visit www.facebook.com/wearepalehands
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Pale Hands, Spirit Lines
By Alex Teitz
It is hard to put labels on the Jane Thatcher Band. They exhibit a wealth of styles and techniques in very subtle ways. The band is Jane Thatcher on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Andrew Hoyle on drums and percussion, Frank Pryor on bass, Mike Hyland on electric guitar, and Tom Gershwin on trumpet and keyboard. All four men also do vocals. The EP was written and produced by Thatcher. All songs were written and recorded by Tim Gerak except for the live recording of “New Year’s Day” which was recorded by Nick Velharticky and mixed by Shawn Hertel. The mastering was done by Tim Gerak.
Hunter’s Loneliest Fool is a seven song EP that gives a taste of the talent within the Jane Thatcher Band. Almost all of the songs are love songs. They tend to have Thatcher’s distinct repetitive chorus but are filled with arrangements uncommon to the folk/rock form. Thatcher also gives her band a lot of breathing space and they thrive in it. This noticeably stands out with Tom Gershwin’s trumpet solos in “Hunter’s Loneliest Fool”, “Remind Me”, and “Are You Mine?” Thatcher has pleading vocals that make her songs of questions heartfelt confessions. “Are You Mine?” lists all the professions that can’t tell two loves if they are together. “Remind Me” asks for assurance in love. “Yellow Wood” is a statement that time may last longer than a relationship. The strongest songs are “Twister In The Dark” a ballad offering up love in the chaos of life, and “Settle Down” which mixes a 50’s ballad core with almost Mexican percussion.
What labels do you put on the Jane Thatcher Band? Her vocals are reminiscent of Sheryl Crow and Ani DiFranco. Her music is folk rock with jazz arrangements and a deep respect for her fellow musicians. Her songs are filled with heartbreaking lyrics on the search for love that are both questioning and melancholy. What Jane Thatcher could do with a symphony orchestra or a full length album stretches the mind. The best label to put on the Jane Thatcher Band is a masterpiece in progress. Hunter’s Loneliest Fool is a panel of the Sistine Chapel. The full work is yet to come. For info visit www.janethatchermusic.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Hunter’s Loneliest Fool, Jane Thatcher Band
By Alex Teitz
Little Jackie is a ball of energy that grooves to a beat found in the early 70’s. Little Jackie is Imani Coppola and Adam Pallin. All vocals were recorded and produced by Coppola at The Oven. All songs were mixed by Eber Pinheiro and mastered by Fred Kevorkian. There are some exceptions: “Sweet” was produced and mixed by Tim Myers. “Hater’s Club” was produced by Adrian Harpham, Richard Maheux and Coppola. All other songs were produced by Pallin.
Queen of Prospect Park is a quick moving album that keeps the toes tapping and is hard not to dance to. It captures a style and feel that is close to Diana Ross. The slowest of the ballads on the album are still quick paced. It is hard not to grin, and laugh to some surprising lyrics. The entire album is filled with horns, backup singers, bells, chimes and keyboard beats.
Queen of Prospect Park is 12 treasures of songs. “Sweet” has a slight tropical flare to its repetitive swooning love song. “Hater’s Club” has some lyrics naming names of popular villains in a song that is about missing someone. “Oprah Winfrey” is a comment on celebrity that is as funny as it is quick. “Move to the Beat” is a dance ballad with imaginative ways to describe that nervousness on the dance floor. There is also the gem of a cover, “Dream A Little Dream.” The strongest songs are “Sweet”, “Oprah Winfrey”, “Big Bad” and “Move to the Beat.” “Sweet” being the lead single.
Queen of Prospect Park
puts Little Jackie in a new place. It is a strange mix of Diana Ross, Rene Marie and backup vocals mixed with creative lyrics and a fast pace. It feels like it could be played on a turntable in the 60’s or 70’s. Above all the album is fun. It is filled with music that pictures a larger band with a larger sound. For info visit www.facebook.com/littlejackie
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Little Jackie, Queen of Prospect Park
By Alex Teitz
Describing Namma Kates music is difficult. She has the dream pop style of Tori Amos. The jazz stylings of Norah Jones or Nina Simone. Her vocals hide a wonder from close to Iris Dement to Avril Lavigne. Her arrangements are clever and unexpected. Naama Kates comes back to one word: unique.
Souled, Naama Kates third album, is filled with talent. Kates is all vocals, piano and synthesizer. Cyrus Melcher is the producer of the album, and also plays bass, guitar, synthesizer as well as engineering and arranging. Joseph Harvey is on cello. GE Stinson is on guitars. Rich West is on drums. Danny Levin is the horn section playing trumpet, trombone, and French horn. Scott Fraser does engineering. The album is mastered by Alexander DeYoung.
Souled is filled with excitement. Kates varies between ethereal dream vocals in “Hurricane” to traditional jazz in “Chime.” She has fast paces lyrics in “Waves.” She contrasts vocals in the playful “Growl” with effects. “On My Love” is a traditional love song with cello arrangements. One of the strongest songs on the album is “Wait Until Bright” that emotes that moment of the night’s last breath before sunrise. “Windows” is a fast paced dance song with background vocals and synthesizer effects. The title song “Souled” is an arrangement filled with horns, drums, piano and lyrics that surprise the listener.
When an artist comes to the third album they’ve discovered who they are and what their sound is. Kates has found a place of excitement and fun that everyone should come to. Her songs are emotive and immerse the listener in the mood of the song, not only the lyrics. Kates may draw comparison to many artists but her style and expression, found in Souled
, can’t be duplicated. For info visit www.naamakates.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Naama Kates, Souled
By Alex Teitz
Facing West is another name for two sisters, Caitlin and Sidney Powell. They go under the name, Two Girls With Guitars, but soon only will be known as Facing West. Caitlin is 15. Sidney is 12 and plays a 12 string guitar. “One for every year” in the words of her sister. Facing West plays a variety of material in Skyline. Their primary genre is country pop but elements of blues and some folk bleed in.
The eight tracks on Skyline showcase both sisters’ talents. Caitlin has a bluesy soulful singing voice. Sidney has a high voice. Each song has one sister on lead vocals while the other plays throughout and may add as background vocals and harmony. “Breakthrough” is an upbeat song about being ignored and not heard. It has a strong beat and a quick pace. “Rain”, sung by Sidney, is a song about the benefits of bad weather. It is a country song that deserves multiple listens. “You’re Gonna Hear Me” is a song about asserting yourself and has a natural rhythm to it. Both “Journey of Life” and “Disguise” sound the oldest and least developed on the album. “Disguise” has the most blues sound of all the tracks.
Facing West has all the benefits and obstacles of starting early. Skyline is a good first album. It does have songs that are catchy, memorable and do have longevity. It also has songs that will fade from memory when the next album comes out, and the next. The road to stardom begins with a first step andSkyline is it. For info visit www.twogirlswithguitars.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Facing West, Skyline
By Alex Teitz
Ambitious, bold and maybe a bit crazy is one way to describe Hammers & Strings. An album is a slice of an artist’s life. It is a description of a period of time. Where most artists give you the intro to the story, Paone gives you the beginning to the end in fifteen songs. The songs are almost entirely about love and could easily be a soundtrack to a movie by themselves.
Paone’s opus was made by many people. The core band is Paone on piano and vocals, Samm Bahman on guitars (electric, acoustic, 12 string), mandolin, and glockenspiel, Kevin Connelly on bass, Hammond Organ, percussion and backing vocals, and Jon Francis on drums. There is also a string group and horn section which are too many names to put here but must be acknowledged. All the songs were written by Paone. The album is produced by Kevin Connelly and Paone.
Hammers & Strings is nearly a novel. The first five songs are love as imagined and as it should be. “The Dance” is a hit single. It is a fast paced pop song. From there “Prove It”, “Sweetest Sound” and “The Whole Night Long” caress the soul in blissful love. These are not sappy love songs but lyrical marvels that describe the feelings not just the words. They also bring in string arrangements that elevate the feeling. By the time of “I’m Still Smiling” the saccharin sweet has disappeared. The body of the album is a rollercoaster of lost love found in songs “Late”, “So Long” and “Not So Sad.” In these songs are horn arrangements and other special gifts.
The end of the album is slightly different. The title track is about a piano and gives it both voice in sound and meaning to the artist. “Got Myself A Gun” is a bold warning to past loves in a catchy song. “My Perfect Life” is not a happy ending to album on love, but a realistic one. The strongest songs are “The Dance”, “I’m Still Smiling”, “Got Myself a Gun” and “My Perfect Life.” These songs are pop songs with catchy lyrics and strong hooks.
Paone should be applauded for doing such a complete work. Where most albums end at nine or ten tracks, Paone delivers more. Heard in its entirety it is an adventurous painting of relationships. There are a few blemishes and the paint fades on some songs. Overall it is bright colors and stark emotions that should be heard as a whole, not in pieces. For info visit www.jennapaone.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Hammers & Strings, Jenna Paone
By Alex Teitz
Kaia Nutting is a young Colorado singer-songwriter. Her EP was produced by Pete Buchwald and Nutting. It features Daren Hahn on drums.,Brian Monroney on electric guitar, Bijoux Barbosa on bass, Karissa Chiaris on accordion, Damon Dupont on violin and Aaron Wolfe on cello.
Come Running Back is filled with love and wanting. “Without You” starts with a guitar intro and grows into keys and drum beat. “Autumn Song” is a love song couched in a seasonal metaphor. It has a hidden gem of Nutting’s vocals where they switch tempo. “Evermore True” is the lead single. It is an inspirational searching song with background vocals and a guitar bridge. “Come Running Back” is dominated by strings including the accordion, cello and violin. It is another love lost song and is one of the strongest arrangements on the EP. “I Won’t Give Up” is a ballad with gentler vocals and heartbreaking lyrics. “Glass Jar” is a ballad with violin and cello embedded in it. It is about universal love.
Nutting is a rock, pop singer-songwriter along the lines of Sara Barielles and Ingrid Michealson. Her vocals are honest and true. What makes Nutting different is her songwriting. Her lyrics are woven together that they make a clear and often painful picture. Lyrics like “Never stopped watching me”, “I will always find you there…”, “I can’t help but love you more…”, “What I found kept me close to you…”, etc… The theme of lost and regret fills the EP. Knowing Nutting is a religious songwriter transforms these songs of pain into songs of discovery within. Nutting has a broad power in music. Her songs speak directly to the listener and can be related to the greats of Joan Baez and Carole King. For more information visit www.facebook.com/kaianutting
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Come Running Back, Kaia Nutting
By Alex Teitz
Where to begin? The sound of the next revolution is music has been recorded. It has a familiar voice that compares to Bjork, Kate Bush, Haelstorm and a multitude of others. It is lyrical and theatrical. It is the sound of pain, anger and fury that every lost soul feels. It is Nostalghia.
Nostalghia is a band but its namesake is Ciscandra Nostalghia. All songs are written by Ciscandra and Roy Gnan. Gnan is also keyboardist, drummer and programmer. Cellist Adele Stein and drummer Glen Sobel are also on the album. The album was mixed by Dave Fortman and produced by Nostalghia.
Chrysalis isn’t an album. It is poetry weaved into a snarling, violent, emotional mix. There are two things that strike the listener immediately when hearing the album: Nostalghia’s vocals and the overwhelming lyrics she sings. Nostalghia sounds like Kate Bush, Tori Amos but with a tinged foreign accent that curls around certain words and phrases. The lyrics are mindblowing. Listening to the album is a transforming experience. Unlike the hordes of mediocre label artists, Nostalghia holds nothing back. The stand out songs are “Naked As A Hand” which has a ghostly narrator describing love. “Cool For Chaos” which is violent reaction to a relationship. “I Am A Robot (Hear Me Glitch)” which is a song of leaving. “I’d Still Kill You” which is a ballad of resentment. The entire album is a masterpiece and to say too much is to give it away, and to say too little is to not give it credit.
Nostalghia is a mind game. Hearing the album is a battle that strikes heart and soul so hard it is impossible to be untouched. Nostalghia will be on tour this summer with Riot Fest. FEMMUSIC hopes a headlining tour will follow. Get Chrysalis
and be transformed. Then make sure all your friends hear it. The sound of the next revolution is music has been recorded. It is www.nostalghiamusic.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Chrysalis, Nostalghia
By Alex Teitz
What is music? What is noise? What is vision? These questions come up when listening to Pharmakon. There was once a style of music called Industrial which involved the heavy pounding, striking of metal on metal info something that had a beat and hit you in the face to listen. If Industrial has a successor it is Pharmakon.
Abandon is a live recording. It was made in 2013. It was recorded and mixed by Sean Ragon. It was mastered by Josh Bonati. Pharmakon is Margaret Chardiet. The album cover is a woman covered in maggots. That is still not enough warning for the four tracks inside.
Abandon suckerpunches the listener. It begins with a scream and with a slammed door. In-between the sounds of drumbeats, screams, cymbals, chords, vibrations assault the senses. The lyrics are incomprehensible. The beats are steady and the music is violently alive. Listeners will either instantly love or hate Pharmakon. It is not heavy metal. It is not alternative. It is not punk, rock, pop or EDM. It has its own place in the genres very near to industrial.
Margaret Chardiet is a sorceress. She needs more than four tracks to make the world hear her. She is violently tearing apart the perception of what is expected or exceeded. Be awestruck as we were at www.sacredbonesrecords.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Abandon, Pharmakon
By Alex Teitz
Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds is a large blues funk band. The band consists of Arleigh Kincheloe on vocals, Jackson Kincheloe on harmonica, Bram Kincheloe on drums, Sasha Brown on guitar, Josh Myers on bass, Phil Rodriguez on trumpet, Ryan Snow on trombone and Brian Graham on Saxophones. The EP is produced by Randy Jackson and all the arrangements are original.
Fight is blues funk done grand with style. “The Long Way” is the lead single and is filled with high energy. It has a call and repeat and horns dominate throughout. “Fight” is a gospel love song ballad. Kincheloe’s vocals soar in this slower piece. “Boogie Man” is a classic blues piece giving the entire band long solos in the bridge. It has low steam vs the fire of “The Long Way.” “Crawdaddies” is a march party song.
There are many things that make up Fight. The EP has powerful passionate vocals. It has a brass section that dominates. Jackson Kincheloe’s harmonicas sneak in the last two songs and give them a heightened flavor. Sister Sparrow is a cohesive unit. They are filled with energy and spirit that makes it hard not to want to dance. It would be easy to compare Sister Sparrow to the greats of blues funk like Earth, Wind and Fire and Sly and The Family Stone but Sister Sparrow stands alone. They’ve chiseled a niche that is their own and a bright fire burns there. For more info visit www.sistersparrow.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Fight, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds
By Alex Teitz
Bria Skonberg is not traditional jazz. There is a playful spirit in Into Your Own that draws the listener in. The album features Skonberg on vocals, trumpet & flugelhorn. Dalton Ridenhour is on piano, Sean Cronin on bass, Darrian Douglas on drums, Adrian Cunningham on saxophones and clarinet and Mino Cinelu on percussion. The album is produced by Scott Elias who is also president of Random Act Records. Ten percent of the proceeds from the album are going to the Human Rights Campaign, an organization dedicated to achieving gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual equality.
Into Your Own is a combination of light, danceable tracks mixed with some covers. “Come Into Your Own” is more than just the title track. It is a statement and theme of the album. “Share The Wealth” and “All My Life” are also uplifting light songs. The album also features covers of The Beatles “Julia”, “Three Little Words” and “Winin’ Boy Blues.” Skonberg is a trumpet affectation ado but the trumpet does not dominate the album. Instead the entire band is given presence and style that, at times, sounds more like a jazz trio, than a six piece band. Skonberg’s vocals are more pop than jazz. She sings in a buoyant, playful and silky manner that sounds more like Colbie Caillet than Norah Jones.
Jazz can be heavy in form. Skonberg brings a new light to jazz in her album. Skonberg is confident and masterful with the classics. She does not insult the style but making it truly her own. In a similar way to Norah Jones, Skonberg makes jazz a pop adventure open to everyone. For more info visitwww.briaskonberg.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Bria Skonberg, Into Your Own
By Alex Teitz
Nashville via Alaska artist Rachele Lynae brings a great deal to her self-titled CD. Lynae teams up with friend and producer Jamie O’Neal to bring an album filled with hook filled party songs and tender ballads. Lynae’s album has a line of songwriters involved including Luke Sheets, Josh Holiday, Patricia Conway, Jimmy Murphy to name a few. The album has a line of pop country party songs including “Fishin’ For Something”, “Out On the Floor”, “Two for One Special” and “Party ‘Til the Cows Come Home.” The ballads on the album are not as sturdy. The strongest is “Clean” in which Lynae teamed up with Justin Halpin to write.
The album has a number of themes including coming of age, revenge, regret, falling in love and, of course, partying. Lynae’s backing back is strong on all songs and the production is clean. Lynae’s vocals recall a younger Martina McBride or Lorrie Morgan. One gets the impression that the coming of age songs in the album truly are a reflection of Lynae’s maturity in the business. This is powerful debut with songs that linger after listening. It does feel slightly lacking. Although Lynae’s vocals are strong, they do not feel powerful. It is a strong breeze but not a tornado. The true power will come with time and we look forward to seeing Lynae grow. For more info visit www.rachelelynae.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Rachele Lynae