TOPIC: Final Critiques
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17828
REVIEW OF THE TYRANT LOVE - "THOUGHTS DIVIDE"
You are greeted by a brick wall and a stark acapella wondering "Could it Be" without really believing, yet hopeful - and guarded. Like The Animals sans instrumentation, or Penny Lane without Paul. A strong start.
"Flying Solo" is just what his profile page promised - a dark pop sensibility, a Motown for a modern-era Detroit in decline. Great undercurrent below the clouded sheen.
"Cafe Art" is a barista's double-take. A meandering wandering through some lighter sensibilities but still in a haze with a pointed stare if you take from the right angle. Tune out at your peril.
"I Wanted More" drives home more directly, pushing for a resolution that collapses into a calculated confusion. But the chorale at the end still holds out for promises.
"A Summer Aside" brings your Old Country back from reminiscence (and from a noted Decemberists?) resolving to a happy "I've got the world on a string" whistling...yet throughout will you really ignore the pleading continuing chorale?
"Mercy for Lies" is the most straightforward yet, almost a Neil Young favored influence here, or a lost weekend at the Big Pink. The hypnotic waltz underscoring this theme holds the pregnant pauses together, a coherency that is appreciated once the fiddle and double bass begin to trade thoughts. And nearing the end the energy spills, almost in a Camper Van Beethoven vein to powerful effect.
"Flit Away" is a precious harmonized pop jewel, smoothed to some more clarity than the other tracks, but not polished to the point of losing significance. This is the track that can live happily on the radio station you wish you had.
"You Had Me Blind" is the psychedelic folk rocker. Trip out, bend out, stretch out, honestly you could extend this to the full 35 and make an album of it, it has multiple themes running throughout, a very rich track to sink your teeth into.
"Sugar it" is the palate cleanser, a quick vault into a whistling dervish. Good fervent choice after going "Blind" for a while.
"Lover" could be written for Yoko. And I meant that in the best sense. Embrace it once in a while, won't you?
"A Note Beside the Bed" after the Bed-in. The covers are pulled back here at the end and the reveal is "Just for You." A great choice for the end of the album, but not a resolution - it just states the facts, almost helplessly.
And that's where the album can take you. Excellent musicianship, vocals and multi-instrumental use used judiciously. Slot this one in your Dark Twiggy folder and savor your divided thoughts repeatedly before the crocuses bloom.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17837
Review of Jahn's CD, "Beyond the Pale"
I've heard some artists I really like on RPM and others that I'm not very fond of.
I'm glad Jahn turned out to be one I could enjoy listening to or this 35 minutes would have been rough.
01) Cover Me
Nice crisp drum sound. (Is this sampled? The hits are very consistent, particularly the snare.) Either way the drums sound great.
If it were me (and this is just a personal bias) I'd take the vocal reverb down a bit and maybe pull a little of the low end off.
Overall it's nice though!
02) Fraternity Down
Again, nice opening drums and guitar.
Vocals are a bit low in the mix and guitar is perhaps a bit loud (maybe a little heavy in the mids).
Otherwise this song has a great vibe. Love the ending.
Love the synth sounds! Reminds me a lot of The Cure's album "Wish" - which is probably my favorite of theirs.
(Kind of like "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea" specifically.)
Nice whispery vocal effect.
Could do something a little more creative with the ending guitar slide/thing.
04) The Waiting Lair
Not normally a fan of heavy reverb on a guitar so I'd lower that a bit.
I'd actually lower the vocal reverb as well, but again... I'm biased against noticeable reverb.
I like the drum vibe, the toms part.
05) Fade Away
Guitar's a bit too loud in the mix, vocals seem to sit at the right volume though.
I think so far, this song has the best vocal mix (in my opinion) - reverb included. It just seems to work here.
Nice song actually, I like the darker verse and then the contrasting slightly happier sounding chorus.
Odd thing to mention maybe, but I'm glad to hear that your guitar is properly tuned before this kind of clean-channel picking part.
So many people don't properly do that, and it drives me crazy.
Vocal style (at least the higher pitched parts) remind me a little bit of old Corgan, like, Mellon Collie Corgan.
This is a nice calm interlude after the songs with drums.
I like these vocals, the melody and mixing. (They top my previous vocal-fav, "Fade Away".)
This is a pretty song in general. Kind of dark and haunting, I dig it.
It doesn't really sound like it, but the feel reminds me the tiniest bit of the acoustic version of Brand New's, "Luca".
08) Viand Euchalon
I really like this guitar. I think it's my favorite guitar part so far.
Not heavily reverbed (which I like) and has that same kind of pretty-yet-sad feeling that I liked about "Substrate".
This type of song seems to be your strongest point. Vocals and guitar go very well together.
Another pretty tune! I have to say, as a whole I'm enjoying the 2nd half of this album more than the first half.
Still reminds me a little bit of the softer Pumpkin's tunes, which I like.
Sounds like something I could enjoy listening to at a coffee shop.
I know I've said it before, but I like hearing your vocals better without reverb! They sound good. Don't hide them behind reverb.
10) Common Ground
Vocals are a little quiet during the chorus. Could boost 'em a tad but not much.
Also another generally pretty song.
All in all this was an enjoyable listen. A few things I'd change about the mixes but nothing major.
Thanks for sharing your music! Go play it out. It would work well in the coffee-house-setting.
Now my turn!
My RPM profile is...
If you like any of what you hear, download 'em all (for free) at my website:
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17847
Review of Gumbo Stu's "The Cat's Moustache"
I will preface this review by stating that I am extremely predisposed to appreciating Gumbo’s special brand of folk music. I was raised on Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie has been a bit of a legend in the Landry household since as long as I can remember. I will try to be as objective as possible, but coming from a folk music background and having an appreciation for humor and energy over execution, I ask that I am forgiven when I praise “The Cat’s Moustache,” and know that any points of criticism are given with the utmost respect for Gumbo’s twenty-eight day effort.
Keep Your Eyes on the Spot where Jesus Stands: Opening with Gumbo’s signature guitar, Gumbo’s clear vocals are augmented by some outstanding harmonies through the choruses. Just an outstanding step into the history of songwriting… And it truly feels like you’re in the room with the singer. First rate track all the way, right down to the final note.
Willie McTell: One of Gumbo’s greatest attributes is his ability to construct perfect simple arrangements, and this track is no different. Incredibly catchy… The perfect length to leave this listener wanting to hit play again immediately after the song’s conclusion. Not to be lost in the great environment is the clarity and precision of both vocals and guitar for a song that feels as if it were recorded in one perfect take on the porch on a sunny afternoon.
All I’m Gonna Say About That: Great arrangement, and once again with the feeling of a hundred-year-old recording… In all the best Woody Guthrie sort of ways. There is a loose bit of fuzz at around 2:08 or so that could be removed (from a technical standpoint), but all in all, a truly catchy and enjoyable track.
Chicken: If you listen to this song and don’t come away with a smile on your face (or just plain laughing), there’s something wrong with you and you need to seek medical attention immediately. The freedom to record healthy insanity is a positive trait not lost on this listener… And my daughter thinks this is one of the craziest fun songs she’s ever heard. She even commented, “I like it when people make fun kid’s songs that aren’t babyish.”
Take Yourself to Bed: So much like some of the tracks Pete Seeger would put on his albums, this unaccompanied vocal track is beautifully sung. I must admit that being partial to hearing instrumental accompaniment, my first reaction is that I wish Gumbo had put down a simple guitar or mandolin track along with it… Again, just a personal preference, but the fact that this track has me thinking about Pete is a testament to it’s purity.
Fires: Excellent musicianship for one who doesn’t tout his folk instrumental abilities, this track is tightly played and sung with great live-feeling harmonies… Some would complain that they are not as spot on as they could be, but to me the human-ness of the imperfections is what makes the music so purely good. A bit of fuzzy air at the opening could be removed, but again, this is no criticism to the song itself which is top notch.
Roll Those Dice: Love the voice piping in comments from the background! The scenes that Gumbo can paint in so short a song is astonishing. You had me at “kazoo solo”… You had me at “kazoo solo.”
Trouble: Personally, I’m not as partial to western sounding music as I am to the folk sound, but this song is an excellent change of pace, well performed with excellent harmonies and first rate simply arranged instruments. Very well done and good to listen to… definitely worth the listen… And at 2:21 an excellent length, it has something which Gumbo seems to have a knack at finding… the perfect length for each of his songs such that you hear them enough to get familiar and happy to have around, but never overstaying their welcome. Even as I write this stating that it isn’t my favorite on the CD, I just hit play again!
Where I was Grown: Love the higher vocals… And having just been down lower on the last track, I can truly appreciate the range in which Gumbo sings comfortably. Happy to hear a longer song as well (again that knack of picking perfect lengths for songs). I must say that this “one-string banjo” playing really does add to the sound.
One Thing: Gumbo states in his own words “this doesn’t fit with my rpm project AT ALL so I may not use it, but I like the way it came out.” This outstanding song (quite possible the best on the album) offers the perfect change of pace to the folk-driven album. I was actually about to comment that the up-tempo folk/Appalachian style needed something different, and then here’s this beautiful melody right on time.
The Wind Do Blow: Great melody, great harmonies, a song that has this listener truly tuning in for the words (which, being a folky, I love to be able to focus on). A few loose notes here and there with picked instrument(s) (as if it weren’t precisely tuned) and with the vocals near the end, but nothing so egregious that I wouldn’t hit play again... As I am doing right now.
Day of Rest: As if preparing for the end of the PRM experience, Gumbo prepares the listener for this end of his outstanding album. Great vocals (as usual), truly a lyrical feat to find excellent line after excellent line that rhymes with rest… Done so seemingly effortlessly and in the classic customs of great folk songwriters of the past. Take your day of rest, Gumbo… You’ve earned it with this magnificent album.
Gumbo, just an outstanding album, one that truly has me re-thinking my tendency to look for “that perfect take.” Listening to these songs has me realizing that if songs are played with energy and spirit, what people perceive as “imperfections” really are expressions of the humanity of the artist… And that humanity is what comes through on this incredible collection of outstanding songs.
Well done Gumbo, well done.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17857
kerstin hanson wrote:
evenin' ... I am interested in reviewing as well as getting a review - seems I should review an RPMer who has already posted to this thread but hasn't been reviewed/got 'dibs' from someone else.
before anyone calls dibs, here's a review of Kerstin's album,
Move on – fantastic vocal performance, I’m hearing the best that Motown ever produced here. The sax is great, too. I cannot believe it is a ‘synth’ anything. It breathes right along with Kerstin’s vocals.
Your Choice – Pop? Religious? Broadway? This tune transcends genres, and impeccably succeeds in any of them. Kerstin’s piano playing is sensitive and impeccable too. As I find throughout the album, Kerstin’s lyrics are thoughtful and pointed.
Only way home – Now, Kerstin warns the listener that she suffers from ‘multiple genre disorder’, and I believe her. This folk/protest song nails a late 60’s vibe. The engineering is a little rough, with some vocal noise (plosives) and the guitar would have sounded better recorded with a mic instead of direct with the piezo pickup. Add some crowd noise and it could be a ‘live’ cut.
Get what you give – mellow, with a message. Jeff Coleman’s guitar solo adds to the jazzy feel. This is not as ‘Motown’ as track 1, or maybe it’s a little later 70’s style; a call for new-age accountability.
No Exceptions – I’m in the groove with Kerstin now. This song about a person dealing with AIDS (?) seems right in line with the rest of the album. And I’m OK with that. Kerstin is showing me a view of her world. She’s not preachy or didactic.
Can I Get an Amen? – maybe it’s just the way I’m wired, but I’m hearing echoes of “The night the lights went out in Georgia” in this tune. An observation: The realization seems a bit ‘flat’. A re-recording of this with more energy might make the subject and the performance gel a little more.
Sometime Between Now and Tuesday – a refreshing breeze of a love song. The quirky lyric made me listen twice to this one, and enjoyably so. I think Kerstin had fun with this one, too.
Granny’s Eye Twitch – bluegrass! Another ‘fun’ song. ‘nuff said. Special guest Buck thrailkill on banjo.
Try to Understand – Kerstin is still singing her heart out with this melancholy tune. A simple arrangement of voice and piano underscores the plaintive story of a dissolved relationship. If she hasn’t personally experienced this, her vocal expression is otherwise convincing.
Longer – a love triangle? Kerstin’s ballads are deliciously ambiguous, and I think that increases their appeal and ‘listen-again-ness’.
Kerstin has a beautiful voice: mellow, but with a stage-presence dynamic range. Her piano is spot-on, too. I could be enthralled all night by just piano and voice, but this album treats the listener to some extremely genre-appropriate arrangements. If I had played the part of producer on this album, I would have broken up some of the 'serious' or 'melancholy' tunes with the lighter ones. Even so, the overall scope of the work shimmers; and it evokes the world as she sees/imagines it. I like.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17861
Review of Eschertron's 'F 7"
I hope that I did this right - it's not completely clear who I should be reviewing, but it seemed like I should review Eschertron - here goes.
1. Chrissy's Sleeping. Wow. Nice song, and the lyrics assume that the listener is smart - I like that. I also like the sparse use of percussion in this song, it fits.
2. Dream Sequence. Great lyrical imagery that is complimented by distance (closer then further, etc) from vocal mic. I don't know if this was intended, but it's a nice touch. Found myself wanting to hear vocals taking the song through the outro, not good or bad, just my opinion. This song has a good musical vibe for the subject matter.
3. Coin Of Gold. I like the story/message. On this song, I found myself wondering when you got to the chorus what it would feel like if the melody started on the 3rd of the chord rather than the 1st - a lift there seems like it would be kind of nice.
4. For Us To Fly. "love light shines"= nice breakdown musically. I also like the background guitar track with a bit of a 'wah wah' feel to it; it is placed nicely in the mix, too. There is a phrase towards the end of this song, "every thought stands up" - sounds like you might bottom out as far as range goes - I lost you there. Nice harmonies in the outro.
5. Keep Working on Me. I always like a praise song with an edgy feel to it( and I think God probably does too.) Nice. I found myself wondering what this would feel like if you either capoed/transposed and 1'2 step or a whole step up for this song?
6. Artemis (to friendship). Pretty picking! I really like the short lyric phrases and the energy you use in delivering "birds scatter red & brown" I could just imagine an entire flock lifting at once.
7. Feeding the Birds. Def. my favorite song. Randy-Newman-esqe with a great message inside of a a nice metaphor. I loved hearing keys on this - perfect, and a nice divergence musically.
8. My Old Coat. My foot was tapping to this song - I wished the vocal track was a bit more prominent... felt like the guitar and vocal were competing for the same place in the mix, which made it harder to discern the lyrics ( I like lyrics .
9. A Dove. So nice! Short, sweet and pretty - nice interlude.
10. Part of a Larger Dance. Great selection for a closing track. I felt that this took me back through all of you had talked about in tracks 1-9, yet stood on it's own lyrically and musically. I immediately liked the lyrical concept.
Nice job! I have a couple of general thoughts.. your album flows nicely, and stays pretty much 'on topic' as far as genre goes. My only feedback as far as how you might lift it a bit (if you want to) is getting vocals out there in front (are you a bit shy ? , and making sure that the key of any given songs is in your 'sweet spot' as far as range goes. Cheers!!!
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17863
OK, I quickly claimed "The Missed Connections" this morning, now here's my review:
The Missed Connections
“The Rumi Book”
She’s a solo artist featuring strong, immediate vocals with minimal accompaniment including acoustic guitar, piano, a (music box?), and harmony. First time listeners, expect impassioned singing, though at the same time intimate, with tight and interesting rhythms that bear a closer resemblance to the blues than the baroque her profile would lead you to believe. This isn’t a bad thing, and what comes across on your first few listens is that her musical sensibilities have fashioned a fairly unique sound.
Deep Water - The opening track, wisely, is the most catchy, and is an adequate portrait of what is to come. If, like me, you instantly like what you’re hearing, then expect it to continue. There’s a percussion instrument, a shaker, that’s used to good effect as well (and I wanted to hear it more throughout the album.) The vocals are very strong, as I mentioned, holding the tones firm in places and also breathing nicely in others. The lines are delivered with interesting rhythmic twists. My only criticism here is that it feels like only half a song; the speaker in the song is addressing a companion with a history, revealing something new with him or her (new feelings)… but it’s only left with an analogy: the revealed feelings are like “waves washing over me.”
Pray For Peace - Here’s the (what I will call a music box for the rest of the review) in full force, plucking out a dissonant backdrop for the speaker’s plea for peace. It’s unique, closely recorded (you can sometimes hear its mechanical parts), but most importantly, it works. The beat stutters, though you can tell it’s intentionally shifting, a natural feeling. Musically, an interesting augmentation of a scale.
Marry - You can picture this song being sung in a smoky lounge. Heavy blues and ragtime influences. The singer tells of an affair with possibly dangerous consequences. Good humor with a coy delivery, something that I think is very difficult for a singer to pull off, but she does. A complete and satisfying song.
All This Love - The Missed Connections’ song writing often combines personal lyrics with dissonant melodies, as evidenced here, and here what comes across most is a mood. There’s no catchy rhythms in this one, but an almost droning finger picking and breathy singing. The singer is introspective, and this quiet song invites the listener to be as well, a good follow up to the fun and bouncy “Marry.”
Like This - Similar in style to the last song, but there’s an edge in the singer’s voice, revealed in the repeated line “like this,” which is almost spoken, and it’s an extremely well done hook. The guitar isn’t doing much here except to provide an occasional slap on the body, and a few plucked chords. But that’s only because this song is all about her vocal delivery. All her singing is recorded close and nothing is ever sung very loudly, but here especially, the benefits of that style come across in the way words are held, sibilances stressed, and breaths are strung out to convey nuances of emotion. One of my favorite tracks.
Earthquakes - This song, like its subject, heaves a little with a loud guitar stressing the lower end. There’s no delicate singing here, either, it’s rather more like a folk song sung around a fire so everyone can hear, almost a little out of control. But that plays out on a thematic level with the subject.
Old Lady - Another song with old blues roots, telling the tale of a watchful old neighbor. This song could be on the soundtrack to “O brother where art thou?” with it’s simple, soulful crooning. A really delightful song, and another example of her humor finding it’s way into the songwriting.
Our Dreams - A song where the music box is the accompanied, which I always enjoy. It’s the most pared down and simplistic arrangement so far, which sort of goes contrary to the subject of musing about dreams, which could be whimsical or complex. Of all the songs on the album, I thought this one lacked a cohesion between style and subject.
Stay Together - A little swinging song with piano and clapping and some quiet background vocals. At less than a minute, and with only two identical verses, it’s pretty much a quick refrain. I like it’s energy though, and it picks up nicely after “Our Dreams.”
Little Brown Eyes - The most haunting track, and the most beautiful. The voice floats in and out of a pleasing dissonance. The best part is the way the music box interacts with the guitar. Just slightly out of tune with each other, the ear picks out harmonics; when that is the result, one wishes that the two instruments could have been paired together other a little more often in the album. This is another song that I think could have been expanded. It’s pretty, so give us more!
Always - A little tribute to the modern age of the internet, the singer is “always on line” and gives a nod to the way that allows people to connect. It’s sweet, but 40 seconds, and I just felt the end of the album could have used one of the longer songs that embodied all of her assets as a songwriter. Also, it’s the song that the Missed Connections said she didn’t master, which gives me an opportunity to mention how well the whole album sounds from a recording and engineering standpoint. The few instruments used are captured well and sit well in the mix, and more importantly, the vocals sound great in their variations.
I really like her album, the songwriting, the subtleties of her vocals, the occasional humor, and the spare instrumentals that lend it a nice intimacy. There’s a fairly wide range of moods accomplished with a limited number of tools, which is always rewarding as a listening experience. While her singing steals the show, it’s also a showcase of her musical sensibilities- making the most out of a little, writing the lyrics to be both personal and accessible, and her melodic choices which are sometimes traditional, sometimes unusual and intriguing.
As for criticism, I’d say the number one thing I would suggest is to take a second look at where some of the shorter songs could go. You can give us more, I believe, simply by lengthening your work. There’s a tight focus in the theme of each song, but perhaps that focus could be loosened just enough to let some expand. A second theme in a song, a counterpoint? Also, I’d like to hear some more of your harmonizing in a few places. And the songs where more emotion creeps into your vocal tracks are, I believe, the strongest (take that for what it’s worth.)
Overall, I loved listening to your album. Thanks for your work and your artistry.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17867
Gary hasn't asked to be reviewed, but I'm sure he won't mind.....
Sunday Morning Music
I've only been involved with RPM for a couple of years now, but one of the first things you learn if you are paying attention around these parts, is that Gary Fox is apparently somewhat of a legend round here..... and from listening to his album last year and sampling a few tracks from other years past, you quickly learn that Gary's reputation is well deserved. He has a lot of talent, and has obviously been doing this for awhile (insert joke about age here) and knows what the hell he is doing. I immediately felt a connection with Gary due to our similar approach in creating music.... start with guitar, add plenty more guitar, add some more cool sounding stuff, add a strong melody over the top, make it a bit retro and make it groove. Add that all up and you've got pure rock power. Or something like that.
Gary's music is always easy for me to get into, and so without further ado, here is my review of Gary's newest masterpiece for RPM 2011, Sunday Morning Music.
01. Sunday Morning Music
A crash and a tom groove start us off, before a Stones-y guitar kicks in with a riff quickly followed by the rest of the "band". A nice mid-paced groove, this song reminds me of a band called The Soundtrack Of Our Lives. Nice little Beatle melody lift for the verses (kind of a "Baby You're A Rich Man" thing...) Some nice strings kick in at the back end of the song to bring us home.
02. Whatcha Gonna
A loud guitar grabs our attention and quickly leads us into a nice T.Rex'ish/Stones 70's British thing, picking up the pace a bit from track 1. Awesome bass grooves, and lots of those nice suspended chords and changes. This song rocks along nicely and then some beautiful guitar lead harmonies kick in at the end of the song to give it a little boost. So far after two tracks, I like the habit Gary has gotten into of putting a little sonic treat at the end of the song as a reward for those who are doing more than skipping through and sampling.
03. Without Love
Man, this song slays me and deliveres the goosebumps/chills in a major way. Starting off sparse with drums and electric piano, twin guitar and vocal harmonies bring in the whole band shortly and the song starts right off with the chorus. The guitar harmonies repeating throughout give almost a subconscious nod to Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street, even though this is miles away stylistically.
NOTE - I am listening to this album at high volume in really nice expensive mixing cans. Production is immaculate and warm. It sounds fucking great.
04. It's Not Enough
After a couple of high energy tracks, we settle into a slightly more laid-back groove for a minute, but then the chorus kicks in and we're taking right back off again. Handclaps and "whoo whoo"'s and some synths that are stealing my heart take this song into the stratosphere. This song reminds me of Sweet a little bit...but better.
05. Trading My Bones
Doubled acoustic and electric guitars introduce a slightly sinister riff that settles into a relaxed groove that gets even more relaxed as some vibrato guitar and electric piano add to the aural palette. The song then kicks in and brings the energy level back up a bit. A twin harmony guitar lead adds another twist to the arrangement as this song continues to slither around, new sounds being added at every turn, rewarding the attentive (and stoned) listener.
06. Broken At The Stalk
A bit of a mellower more laid back number, the bass drum seems slightly busy here and takes away from the breezy relaxed feeling that the rest of the instruments suggest. I might also humbly suggest some EQ tweaks on the vocals or maybe just turn them down a tiny bit. They sound great and the harmonies are perfect, but they just seem kind of loud, and the music for this song was slightly quieter than the backing tracks on the other songs, which when listening at a steady somewhat amplified volume, pushes the vocals into the slightly painful treble regions. This is an extremely minute criticism though, and possibly just some additional mastering could balance out the volume issues between music/vocals that is likely only noticeable to someone listening from start to finish with full attention and intense scrutiny.
07. What You Believe In
A simple but effective electric piano groove introduces this song and carries it along, and it's not just the refrain of "day after day" that brings Badfinger to mind here. Univibe guitar and layered harmonies give us a beautifully psychedelic gateway to a smokin' guitar solo. Guitar joins with the electric piano to give the last verse and chorus a lift.
08. Can't Find The
A slinky shuffle and a slide guitar introduce a new feel to the album, though the rock solid and consistent production throughout really give the entire collection an "album" feel and sound, uniting and tying the whole thing together. This song could be a long lost Lynne/Wood composition sounding at times both like The Move and later ELO.
09. All Dressed Up
This song is weird. It rocks, but it's also kind of an adventure, and you're not really sure where it's going to go next. Lots of awesome and spacy synths, bongo breakdowns, heavy guitars, a huge chorus hook, lots of sounds jumping out at you here and there. The song isn't even over and I already want to listen to it again. I have to take slight issue with the snare drum sound which seems out of place in this song, but not enough to detract from my enjoyment.
10. Give Thanks
Vibraslap! Yeah buddy.... a Sunshine Of Your Love inspired riff drives this song that is littered with lots of sonic goodies.... tambourines, synth strings (or is it brass?), a relentless groove. Multiple guitar solos... a huge uplifiting chorus. This is a cool song towards the end of an album.... sort of a "we're travelling home, and we're almost there, and we can start to see the light" kind of thing....
11. Don't Fade To Black
Acoustic guitar and a quiet melody and lyrics questioning the nature of death equals obvious and perfectly fitting album closer. Vocal harmonies and what I think is a cello and some other string section type instruments add to the atmosphere. I was kind of hoping this song would kick in and get really super epic to take us out, but there's nothing wrong with leaving things slightly understated.
This album is awesome, and I will certainly give it repeated spins as well as further explore Gary's back catalog. This is an album that sounds like an album, the songs flow well from one to the next and the production unifies it from start to finish. My only slight criticism would be that one song seems louder than the rest and one song seems to be slighly quieter than the rest in overall volume (i think it was track #8 that was slightly quieter than the others). There were also a couple of fade outs that didn't fade all the way out, they started to fade, mostly faded and then just stopped. Which makes me think that what I listened to on the jukebox might be a final mix but maybe not a final mastering job. Even if this is a final master, my criticisms are really tiny in the scope of the whole thing, none of it takes away from my full and complete enjoyment of some really great well-written and well-produced material that has a real 70's British feel. Bravo, Gary! You have done well, sir.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17894
Brian Vaughn - RPM 2011
I don't do track by track reviews, I do em like the big boys do, so if you're looking for miniscule notes on what i think about each track, tough luck.
First off, DUDE, BRIAN, quit your stupid software job and get your ass on the road, you are a super star and you aughta know it. I have never really been blown away from an RPM album like yours ever and I've been around. I'm not saying this is my favorite music, but you've got the sound, you've got the hooks, you've got the voice, there isn't any reason why you shouldn't be selling millions of records, charting on the radios and playing sold out venues across the world. If Fall Out Boy never gets back together, you could step right in and nobody would even miss those EMO fools.
Second, the album, I don't know your recording style, but these are some seriously produced songs. The levels are consistent from song to song, the volume levels of everything are spot on and the vocals are tight, laying on the mix nicely, and easy to understand. I like your lyrics and I like the drums, which sound played and not programed? there were parts when the electronic sound of the drums was a bit distracting, but being a drummer and knowing you were using electronic drums probably had something to do with that.
Third, where the hell is the bass? With such a stellar sound from everything, i was missing the low end something fierce. I'm not listening through studio monitors, so it could just be my headphones, but the bass frequencies are almost completely void, and if there's bass guitar on there at all, i didn't hear it. Maybe that's your bag, maybe you intended it that way, but even the EMO boys need some bass, seriously.
Over all, since you didn't even join until the 12, this is an incredible accomplishment if all of these songs were written between then and the 28th. The structures are tight, the playing is phenom, the songs themselves are each and every one a single ready for the radio, the vocal harmonies are spot on, the lyrics are good and wow, i mean, wow. I think that most RPMers could only dream of doing something that sounds this good in such a short period of time. and I'll say it again, quit your job and get a band and get on the road, because you've got the talent to be HUGE and I should know because I'm not. The parts that reminded me of Perfect Circle were really my favorite moments, but there were so many good riffs, it was really hard to pick one standout.
the AFC rating of this album is 7/10, mostly because the getup kids are friends of mine and they're very jealous that you rock more than them.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17942
Steeling Flames (A Brutal Romance) by ilovejen
First thing I'll say is that if you're going to offer a zip for download, please, PLEASE, fill in the ID3 tags. iTunes imported them in the wrong order and given that this is a concept album I had to sort that out first before listening. Pain in the arse…
On the subject of concept albums, I've never been a huge fan, so it will be interesting whether it can maintain my interest. I read the concept outline on Google docs that was linked in ilovejen's blog - effectively a robot is given sentience, this is deactivated so it can be used in a war, robot is shot down, rogue scientist reactivates sentience, robot returns in search of its creator. It's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the gist of it. Anyway, on with the music:-
Born Of Machines
Starts off with a harpsichord style keyboard sound that sounds a bit like Love era Foetus in style, then a really fast disco beat with off beat hats kicks in. But then it turns all 80s complete with partially talked verse. The chorus is total 80s pop. Oh, and then there's a 70s style keyboard solo (MIDI guitar?). I like it, but there isn't really enough variation to make it a killer track. Apart from the solo, there's no real break in the relentlessly pounding backing track.
The Human Touch
Now this is a better track already. Far less cliched. Total Flaming Lips sound here, think Yoshimi - including the Lips' distinctive NY slammed drum compression. Really, really good song. I like it a lot. (I did give the album a second spin, and I think this is definitely my favourite track)
Hah, Jeff Lynne!! That keyboard sound is straight out of War Of The Worlds. The verse is quite Elton John like and we're back to an early 80s style pop chorus. There's enough variation to keep the track interesting. I like this one as well.
Into The Black
Slow piano starts off the track. It initially reminds me of Us And Them, but once the song gets going, there's something quite Queen about it. The vocals are obviously not Freddie Mercury, but they fit the song nicely. Perhaps they're a bit loud in the verses, but that would my only criticism. Then, just as I'm beginning to enjoy the song, it ends. A shame, it was building into a really strong song but didn't seem to get the chance.
OMG. This is an R&B song. And not in the Rolling Stones way. I hate it just out of principle. Sorry. There aren't many genres of music that give me that reaction, R&B is one of them though.
An instrumental. Well, that's stretching it. 1:52 of spacy noises. Not much more to say about it really.
Born Of Planets
Initial impressions are that this song is a bit cheesy. But the tune is good. Kind of reminds me of something from Kimono My House by Sparks especially the chorus. It's a grower. I like it a lot.
I Will Release You
Another song that starts with slow piano. This one moves in more of a Hey Jude direction rather than a Queen direction though. It could be a show song. Something from Lloyd Webber perhaps. This is a really well constructed song. From a technical standpoint, this is very accomplished songwriting.
The Bright, Bright Empty
Another fast disco blaster. In fact the synth sounds, beat and chords sound like a reprise of the first song. (I just tested this and jumped back into the middle of the first song and I think it is - don't know if this is intentional or not given that this is a concept album). The only big difference is the distorted vocals. I'm guessing that this is because we're at a point in the story where the protagonist is now angry, rather than hopeful.
Blow It Up
Yep, the anger in the lyrics is definitely represented by the distorted vocals as this song follows on from the previous in terms of subject. This one is pretty catchy. I like this one a lot.
Above And Beyond
We're at the finale of the album now. And this is a real Hollywood ending. Of course the hero of the story comes out on top and gets the girl. Quite a sentimental song, but still kind of back to the Flaming Lips style. The vocals even sound a bit like Wayne Coyne. Big and bombastic, but on solo piano - if that makes sense. A fitting end to the album.
On re-reading this review it looks like I'm being quite negative. I guess its just not really my kind of thing as a whole.
However, I can still appreciate it for what it is, and ilovejen can be very proud of the achievement. The production is very good, the songwriting is very good and the performance is excellent. As a concept album it flows nicely, the story can be easily followed, and the lyrics don't sound forced - as can often be the case when following a concept for a full album.
If you're a fan of Jeff Lynne, Yoshimi style Flaming Lips, Flash Gordon era Queen, or even Lloyd Webber, you'll love this album and you should definitely give it a spin.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17948
Primakova - Inside The Institution
I'm definitely getting a later-era Rush vibe, I think it's the vox & guitar effects (chorus maybe). Listening on my crappy laptop speakers from work, so I can't really pick out the lower frequencies, but from what I can tell the mix is solid. Love the clavinet? in None Of It Was Real. Very funky.
One thing I might say is to add a little variety to the drum samples. Some stuff, especially the ride hits sound canned. I know there's ways to make small adjustments in volume and other characteristics that mimics the imperfections of an actual drummer. Might just be the drummer in me being too critical though.
For My Time Again is really rollicking. It has that kind of Richard Thompson/Irish rock sound. Love the fiddles. Definitely a neat change of pace.
Behold The Man has some rocking guitar work.
Organ on Leaders of the World sounds great. Has a kind of 90's alt-rock feel. Tasty drum programming.
Bad Times does a good job setting a different mood. Has a lot of emotion to it. I like some of the dramatic chord changes. Wish I had a glass to raise right now. Awesome lyrics.
Fashion is a lot of fun. I wish there was a lyrics sheet to go along with it. Has an XTC feel.
Vox on Brave New World are awesome. Love the chorus. The only thing that bugs me is that ride cymbal. Doesn't take away from the song, just one of those musical pet peeves I have.
Overall I though it was a solid, well-mixed, well put together album. There's a good variety of material and it's ordered in such a way that the listener doesn't get fatigued by back to back similar sounding songs. Strong guitar work and solid vocals, good lyrics from what I could make out (I'm not much of a lyric listener). I definitely like the dystopian themes going on. Only qualm I have is with the drum programming, but that's just because they offend my mighty elitist drummer sensibilities.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17957
Andy Samford – Love And Magic.
Volume 1 (tracks 1 -11)
Volume 2 (tracks 12 -20)
This epic undertaking of an album has been split into two halves, I am not sure whether it is intended to be viewed as a double album with a Vol 1 and Vol 2 or if it was purely a practical thing to allow it to be uploaded.
It is huge, sprawling, and psychedelic - but not entirely homogenous. If the rest of the review is tl;dr, then the headline is ... if mid-tempo slightly psychedelic stoner guitar rock, with a hint of funk that is well played and produced is your thing... you are in for a treat.
On with the nitty gritty...
“There is no beginning”, ironically does have a beginning… with a drum pattern, that then gets enveloped by guitars, synthes and basses with delayed vocals. This sound is returned to again and again across the album – a psychedelic soothing swimming-pool-full-of-honey sound that envelops and drowns the listener in a rather sweet sticky way. The instrumental breaks are pleasing, and Andy obviously is skilled at playing and producing – something that is evident throughout all of these tracks.
“Electric Ball” starts off as a great riff based funk rock thing – and I liked the drumming (although found the snare sound a little weedy for my liking). The bv’s are great, and the guitar playing is excellent, feeling like there are ideas to spare and not descending into ‘noodling’. Fun.
This leads into “Anything But Love” with a classic ‘stompy-rock’ kind of feel. I was reminded of Alice Cooper, or something a bit glam. The delay on the end of the vocal lines is good, but perhaps a bit over done – (especially with the panning). The bass could have been louder, but I am splitting hairs.
“Love and Magic” the ‘favourite’ and title track is a little bit lovely. A psychedelic mellotron drives this midtempo number, some suitably spacey chord changes and appropriate lyric create a very effective piece indeed. I liked this one very much. Minor quibble - perhaps the delay is overcooked again though. I get the impression Andy enjoys delay.
“Navigator” – a sexy bass driven / unison guitar riff – with a (yes you guessed it) delayed vocal. Some good guitar (I assume) textures in this one. The verse melody is rather forgettable, which is a shame – ‘cos the chordal drop between verse one and two is really great. I hoped that was going to return, often. The guitar solo is fine. Things get quite interesting with a (heavily panned) instrumental section, which was a nice section, and rather more interesting than the verses.
Delayed vocal again, for the almost bluesy verse for “She’s So High” – which could have been clichéd and uninspiring, but is saved by an interesting prechorus – that has a ‘she’s so young, she’s so high’ that sounds great fun to chant along to. The chords are rather ‘indie’ here – evoking the 90s band Suede in my mind (coupled with lyric I think).
“Lost Sunshine” – interesting vocal texture, and rather sweet song here. Good change in vocal sound into the chorus. Pretty instrumental break. It made me listen twice. Does this remind me of Pink Floyd? Not a bad thing, whatever it makes me think of.
Another riff based one “Silent Mind” – with a straight up rock sound in the guitars for the verse. Perhaps the vocal could be a bit more aggressive to compete here – the first time I have really thought that in the album. Andy doesn’t have a ‘rawk’ voice particularly – preferring layers and harmonies (and delays). Had Chris Cornell been free this would have suited his style of strong rock voice. An abrupt end leads into…
… “Dancing Happily”. I am reminded, interestingly, of Luke Haines here. With effects and distortion hiding /providing interest in the vocal. Perfectly nice, but – for me at least – not aided by a slightly directionless guitar solo, and a snare drum sound that annoys me slightly. I like the ‘megaphone’ style vocal that has a chromatic, almost drunken quality (or lack of quality) to it. It’s rather endearing.
“Ash & Memory”. Quite deliberately steady arpeggiated guitar chords for verse make this one of more straightforward sounding songs on the album. It consequently has a rather 1950s vibe to it in the verse. No less appealing for that, and actually quite a relief after the rather dense textures so far. The chorus again evokes a less snarling Alice Cooper for me.
“Love’s Green Truth” closes volume 1, and is a percussion-less, but sound effect laden piece with interesting textures of guitars, synths and bass lines with processed vocals. The vocal lyric is tricky to discern through the effect, but as a mood piece it is very effective. I like the vocal sibilance being used.
The only criticism I have is that this is a very long mood piece – before the relief of the ‘aah’ section – although with such a long overall project as a percentage it makes perfect sense for an epic soundscape such as this to exist. As a closing piece for Volume 1? Perhaps.
Time for a cup of tea, and on to Voulme 2.
“Spin Cycle” starts with a processed drum loops, and rather old fashioned guitars, contrasting nicely with the modern percussion. Or clashing terribly, depending on your viewpoint. Flanged vocaled with delay return, and the contrast between the urgency of the percussion and the pedestrian vocal with it’s ‘spin cycle’ lyric repeated over and over makes for an unusual listen. I’d like to hear Aphex Twin style glitch editing take over, rather than the fade. But I am odd that way.
A more straight up rock song next in “The Peak”. Although not groundbreaking the riff and melodic idea for the verse is reassuringly ‘classic’, with a 70s rock pentatonic guitar lick and solo that tells you everything you need to know about this song. It’s not big, not clever – but very likable. I imagine this would be fun to play live.
“Transformation” has a nice octave vocal in the verse, recalling Ozzie Osbourne (or some such scary snarly rocker). The guitar lines in this are interesting, and the textures in the chorus appeal. A simple sing along ‘Let it go’ chorus again suggest this might be a blast to play live.
“Casting Spells” has thin guitars at the start that reminded me of Kiss’s ‘God gave rock and roll to you’. The vocal is more convincingly threatening in this song. I liked that. There is an extended break that unfortunately has chosen a slightly vile synth sound, that is really missed when it stops (as it is soooo in your face during the solo). Given the amount of better synth sounds on this album, it’s a shame this one is here. The instrumental guitar outro is particularly great on this song.
“The Midget In Me” is a title that conjours up all sorts of images in my mind. The lyric appears to be figurative – which is a relief. If I were criticizing harshly then I’d point out that the drums in this are a little weedy – although the tambourine lift is fun. But they sound unnaturally dry next to the guitars – perhaps they are mixed a bit loud to make up for their weediness. Good sound effect, and record scratch ending.
“Make love to you” has a dry, sexy funk feel, and the vocal is exposed in it’s falsetto for the verse – which is just shy of great. There are just too many slightly weak notes in verse one. The chorus, is great though. It is difficult not to think of ‘Flight of the conchords’ with this – (Specifically Jermaine’s falsetto in ‘The most beautiful girl in the room’). For this reviewer, this then makes the song appear comedic. I don’t think it is though. Oops. If it is comedic, maybe it should be more obvious – if it is in sincere, then perhaps look at the verse again. I should also note: This song is damned catchy.
“Everywhere” is back in more familiar psychedelic territory – with flanged guitars, slightly busy drums and sections swimming in effects. It’s a nice example of the style, and works very effectively – it has a strange instrumental tune in the outro played on guitar that fades.
Penultimate track “Lobster Man” takes the prize for my favourite title, and I have no idea what a lobster man is, but he has inspired a pretty little tune. The instrumental section with the harmony guitar made me smile. I hope Andy has a ‘lobster man’ who delivers shellfish door to door. (Like a milkman, or postman). The ending has some rather unnecessary drum hits and a bass guitar. I think it’s intentional – but could be trimmed without detriment to the song.
“Lift Up The Veils” closes this epic undertaking, and I think it is one of the better compositions on the record, having a melody and chord sequence that would stand up to being just an acoustic guitar and vocal if so desired. The mellotron strings sound in the instrumental section is quite achingly pretty, and altogether this makes for a good closing song, with interesting sections – a good guitar solo, and a suitably epic feel.
Andy Samford’s efforts here should be applauded – there are 20 songs for heavens sake! And whilst some of them are rather … I loathe to say ‘formulaic’ … but over this number of songs it is easy to see similarities between some … the riff based ones, or the ones with the chord sequences that jump to non-family chords. I think the album would benefit with pruning. Picking the best and most varied ten would make for a stronger album, but Andy’s intention – as noted on his profile – was to use all 28 days to make lots of music. And he has. His description “psychedelic stoner guitar rock” does give a flavor of what to expect – but there are hints of 70s glam rock, and slabs of funk to contend with too. With editing, this could have felt like a much more varied album … but is that what psychedelic stoners want? Maybe Andy just knows his audience.
As a footnote – the production and playing is very good on this album. Although I occasionally heard drum, guitar and vocal sounds I would not have chosen myself they are certainly not ‘wrong’ – I just suspect my preferences lean in a drier direction than Andy’s. Well done, on what must have been a massive effort in such a short period of time.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17958
Here's my review of:
Lieutenant Dance - While Supplies Last
1) Critiquing Your Child's Shitty, Shitty Artwork
Nice funky guitar, bass... then.. slam... a little distortion -- gratuitous sax -- an eclectic mix with lots of moves and changes. This is very well produced.
2) Dr. Mengele's Twitter Feed
A big change of pace, as we've now entered into Suicidal Tendencies terrotory (not that that's a BAD thing) - I'm reminded of "Institutionalized" -then, unexpected Moogish synth line comes in to throw my ears off their game. Works surprisingly well. Entropy will take the path of least resistance indefinitely, indeed.
3) Wait's Waltz
An accordion based piece, almost like a dark, sinister carnival, complete with spooky theramin sounds... or is that a voice? Hmm.
I'd hate to run into this clown car in a dark alley at night.
Vocoder - Dance Beats - it's like Kraftwerk and Gary Numan in a breakdance battle with Devo. The music fits the lyrics wonderfully - so far, I'm enjoying this one the best, it appeals to my computer/synthesizer/futuristic leanings in music.
5) I Survived the Armenian Genocide and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
Guitar-lead track with more potential theramin or warped voices. Otherworldly feel to it, with lots of changes. I'm also reminded of some of Rush's jam sessions when I hear this track... and I mean that in a good way. Solid musicianship.
6) How Tesla Got His Groove Back
Rockin' guitar number - catchy bassline. A short song, in comparison to the others.
7) Leaving David Carradine Breathless
Well, you've gotta love a song title like that. Lone guitar picking starts it out, subtle percussion as the song builds up. Another well produced track, this is a sparse one but sounds like it should be. A few other sounds wander in and out toward the latter half of the track, to good effect.
8) Next Stop Willoughby
This is a catchy number, nice bass and guitar work here, as well as solid drums - again, the production is great. This track reminds me of some of the better 80's artists, like The Smiths and The House Martins, just without lyrics. I have a soft spot for this style, and it's nailed here. I feel like this track could do well with vocals, but could also stand on its own.
9) My Son Is Also Named Bort
This one is certainly throwing my brain for a loop - on one hand, it sounded like a potential distorted reggae tune, but then wanders in a different direction and back again a few times. Lots of changes, it's like this is a ska/reggae/jazz jam session... and then a big rock ending, how about that? Ha. Cool.
10) Can't Take You Anywhere
I'm at first reminded of "Disarm" by Smashing Pumpkins, mostly for the guitar intro - then it wanders out of the pumpkin patch with accordion and a catchy bassline, with more horns. Normally, I don't like horns in music, but these aren't grating like I find in a lot of things (this is, of course, my OPINION, I know some will strongly disagree with my stance on horns) - The lyrics are simple, but the background vox are well done and it all of it sounds good together. Either an upright bass or cello near the end (bowed, certainly) - adds a nice contrast at just the right time.
Overall, my thoughts are that this is very well produced from an obviously talented musician, very eclectic range of instruments and styles represented.
Certainly worthy of giving a listen... and the song titles are good for a few laughs.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Lieutenant Dance
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17981
Kevin Emmrich - Thunderbird Motel
Ok, so i just randomly click on the image of this man with white hair holding a guitar, and after the first 5 seconds of the first song, I knew it was going to be good music or better.
My first initial thought and comparison, was, "man this sound a lot like John Hiatt, especially the Master of Disaster album", Check it out great album, if you don't know about John Hiatt! it could have been that both albums have a song call thunderbird.
also, first thoughts, was that it was clear this man was an experienced musician, and lots of craftsmanship showed up upon further listen.
soo, the goods:
- the craftsmanship, all instruments that are involved and well played
- The singing is good, and on key
- The lyrics are good, and once again show craftsmanship
Things that i think would make this better:
- The mixing ... theirs some crazy panning this album. its kind of off-putting.
Vocals on the left, and bass on the right, at times... i just think you had a bit too much fun with panning stuff,
And just think if you center vocals/bass/drums, for the most part, might sound better. with just panning and hard panning embeleshments ...
- The mastering, the album is heavy on the mid range. With some bass. but very little high frequencies, to make it punchy.. i really wish, the songs would pop more, and be more bright, punchy and colorful. After a couple of songs... the tones just sound like a long wash.. and drone like. (Banjo/mandolin? for example, should really pop and be bright, to counter balance your bass, in my opinion)
- the signing style, now this is just my personal preference, but your vocals are just too smooth to sing weathered folky songs... i wish there was a bit more dirt/gravel in your voice, to really drive home the sense that the singer has been around, and weather, as some of the lyrics reflect. the smooth vocals make you sound too happy. Plus it would add character.
- giving the guitar more rest. Am amazed on how many instruments are being in this album, and not just that but played very well! i think their 1-2 songs that my ears wanted a rest from the guitar, and just wanted the piano.
so yeah, 2 piano songs would have been great.
Quick Song Breakdown
1- Hey, Hey: here you voice works, as it’s a happy upbeat song, and the handclaps are a good touch. great lead guitar/banjo playing.. and it’s all centered panned for the most part. it works! some vocal harmonies on this would have been swweeeett!
2- Thunderbird motel - seriously this all John Hiatt to me. Good lyrics, and the duet its a good touch. Again, wished the harmonica would pop more,
it all just blends too much in the mid tones. lead guitar again, just blends too much. Great song i like this.
3- We chose the road - like the lyrics, lots of craftsmanship. Voice too smooth to sound like you lived this song. Panning on this is good. Ok the hard panning of the banjo works! Gets it away from blending too much. Slide guitar is just a bit too soft.
4- Back home to the rain - great song! Specially since am typing this from North Seattle, and its been sunny, with rain on and off all day. and I love it here. anyways, the music is on my left channel, while you sing on my right.. doesn’t work for me. Also i really want to hear that lead guitar(the one that sounds like a train, after "back"....) really come from the background to the foreground to wake up the listener, and break the song from being a long drone...
5- This is here weekend - is this a country song parody? Sounds like it. Again a lot of bass on my right, while you sing on the left... doesn’t work.
6- Something wrong with - ok, so this is the song, that i think could be just piano, strings, and other instruments. Put the guitar down, we been listening to it for the pass 5 songs, piano is a good change up! more bass notes on the piano would be good. good panning. nice touch on the harmonica, again wished it was more punchy.
7- you start things - mmmmmm, what about resting the guitar here again? and letting it be just mostly a sweet banjo song? Fiddle. Nice.
8-Hey Yeah - is this is follow-up to song 1? Wish the vocals where different, too smooth. Great instrumentation. The bass and the drums on the right channel? again good songwriting.
9 - i wanna go - yes, a more rocking tune is a welcome change. i really like the tempo/ beat to this, its choppy, and bluesy. Like a lot. Panning is a bit weird on this as well, but not as off-putting as on some other songs. Great piano playing.
10- blow your life away - lyrically, this is my favorite song of the album. less guitar more piano? i like this song a lot, the lazy vibe, the soaring chorus, the piano, oh and no crazy panning. Great. My favorite.
11 -Girl can i be your - i think you should close the album with the previous song, and move this one to the first 5. It will offer a good musical change up. The bass / banjo work on this is great.
12 - 30 years ago - still think you should close with Blow your life.. this could blend in well anywhere in 7-10. Panning is good. Getting some hisses though i think.
my favorite songs: Blow your life away, Back home to Seattle!, Girl can i be you lover.
another thing i notice is the songwriting on this, sounds like they are coming from a 30+ year old man, something you don't expect coming from the white haired man in the picture. the writting on this has a young outlook on life.
oh yeah, the drumming throughout all this is really good, almost to the point you forget it's there. it’s a compliment.
so yeah, less guitar, better panning, more punchy mix, i think would turn your songs from good or great, to ear candy.
our concept Album with Lyrics can be found here.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17992
Well I went ahead and listened without getting a PM back. So hope this is what you are looking for Mr. Ghostly Grant. Of course I recognize the time constraints we are all under while engaging in this crazy challenge.
Under the Sea
Interesting mood set with the opener. The bubbling atmospheric sounds made me feel like I needed to hold my breath as we descend into the drink. Very hypnotic pace. Strong delivery of both vocals and strumming. I was a little confused as to the setting at times. Bird sounds would be above the surface bubbling under. Nice mood piece.
Reminds me a little of Chumbawamba with the musique concrete collage of sound on an electronic bed.
Nice mix of percussion and strings to open. Interesting mix on the guitar with echoes moving across the stage. Maybe a tempo track on the ritard at the end to slow the percussion tracks. The piece is nice and relaxing.
End of days
The deep voiced narration lends spooky darkness to this track. The vocal track and backing vocals are nicely interleaved and well performed. Too bad the narration steps on them. A little fade on the narration to bring the vocals up front might put the focus on a good performance.
the pleading vocals on this put a raw melancholy up front. Nice use of the violins at a good level in the mix. I like the way the violins had a little extra at a break instead of a simple steady pad. The piano is a nice touch too. Restrained accompaniment.
The whole town is on fire
Nice crisp guitar tone. Great vocal delivery. Classic folkie style. The sparse lyrics paint a picture that the listener is led to fill in the details.
horror show at twelve
The carnival like affected guitar and organ give this a dreamlike feel. Had trouble understanding the lyrics. Even so the vocals are good. I like the back and forth of the background vocals responding.
The Organ? Pokes in with what sounds like a car horn squawk.
Quiet on the inside
Another chumbawamba feel for me. Combination of audio clip and electronic beat slipping into the folky spiraling round style vocals. Another nice mood is set. I was hoping to hear another leg of the journey and perhaps a return to singing the round. The beat draws you in.
i'm on a challenge
Nice complete package of a song. The gradual introduction of distinct “singers” and instrumental parts is well done. Each part is presented and given focus and are then all drawn together to share the stage. The vocals overlaid and intertwined is a nice effect. Pleasant vocal tones from the lowest to the highest pitches. All the parts mesh very nicely. Wanted to hear more. I might have led with this song.
There's a pickle in my burger
Nice little ditty. A lighter counterpoint to many of the darker tracks. Whimsical subject. Again, the mood is set and darn it the track is over.
On the whole it has the feel of sitting around the kitchen table passing a guitar around. An intimate gathering of friends for a jam on a Friday night. The songs are a little short. I think each has a distinct character. Another verse or another go round on the chorus or even a little more of an extended break on piano or the upright bass would let the listener enjoy the mood a bit longer. It seems the mood gets set but then it's time to go. The vocal recording is universally well done. Mostly dry tracks lend a very intimate feel. Your voice has a nice sound and your delivery is very good, very confident. Was assuming the bass was midi but reading your blog maybe real acoustic. If acoustic then very well done. I think given another week each of these tracks would likely have grown. Nice work.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #17993
Oh yeah, THIS guy.....
Last year, I realized that if listening to my OWN RPM project didn't succeed in making me feel like throwing in the musical towel, then listening to Peters RPM project WILL.
IF I could find (or imagine) a production flaw in this album, it wouldn't matter in the slightest. The songs are SO strong, you really can only HEAR the song, rather any of the production techniques. Which is EXACTLY what one should be aiming for when producing your own or ANYones project.
The production techniques, parenthetically, ARE either spot on, or so overshadowed by the song that you may never notice them.
Granted, I only JUST listened to this (between my 'dibs' post and this), but I didn't hear any bad micing,anything off or low in the mix, EQd poorly.
Every instrument fits exactly right, as he used it (INCLUDING the UKE). If a 'wrong' note was sung, he's probably got at his house, 'cause it's not in the mix.
To have written/recorded/released this in ANY case is a great accomplishment in and of itself. To have 'merely' recorded it in 28 days (regardless of what may or may not have been WRITTEN in that time frame), is NO LESS of an accomplishment.
Jerk, JERK jerk!
This is SO good. If you like Ben Folds, or heavily Beach Boyed harmonies, or masterful nods towards the eclectic side of the Beatles, go here and listen.
BTW, I only listened to the RPM page player. Peter did link an Alonetone or Bandcamp or something. The MP3s on the profile player sounded great enough for me (but I do have some good playback gear)
This isn't my 'everyday' cup o tea, as far genres go. But I DO own some Moxy Fruvous, Ben Folds, The Shins and some others that I may normally call 'guilty' pleasures. And I would own this as well (AND even listen to it)
As I'm typing this overview, I'm in my second listen through. Here are some song specific thoughts I jotted down during the first listen:
~It’s Always Raining~
Love the 'hidden guitar' in there. This riff is Sooo.......
OMG! I remember!!!
My little girl (two years olds) watches Jacks Big Music Show on Nick Jr, and one the songs that has always caught my ear is Andrew Bird, Dr Strings( youtube it). Never heard of Andrew Bird before, but I like that one, and by extension, THIS one too ( although it has it's own many merits)
~Working on from the small divide~
LOVE the piano
~Now you know~
AH! More piano! NICE ‘dark’ turn at the bridge/ gentle organ. Is that a tiny hiding accordian, or harmonica?
~Out of the loop~
Unfortunate Mr KITE cadence. ALMOST too direct. Then happy piano is back, making you smile
~In the Corner of the Room~
Brian Wilson wants his muse back.
AND his “ooooh OOOOOH hooo”s
Vocals are SO nicely done.
Awe, Pink Floyd…. WAIT! NO… whats happening? Where is this going? Oh, OK. As a matter of fact, I WILL ‘..enjoy this while it lasts..’
BEAUTIFUL use of a fuzzy guitar.
Love the brittle doubled voice. Really cool over the pretty piano(damn piano! It’s EVERYwhere)
OH, there it is, Fuzzy Voice Caressing.
Hey, it’s Scott Joplin. Except calmer. And he brought Ben Folds and Mike Love with him….
~A Tear and a Smile~
OOhhh, a near Moxy Fruvous harmony. Awesome!
Even when it’s JUST piano, it STILL sounds like a full band.
SUCH an nice piano riff towards the end. This is so good
Ah HA!! The long threatened Uke.
DAMN! That piano is just COMPETENT!! Always says the right thing, always says it so well.
SWEET, just got hit with the low harmony. In case things were getting ‘un-interesting’ BOOM. WINNING!
So there you go. The Haywain, an album by Peter Fedofsky (NOT the Hieronymus Bosch or John Constable paintings)
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #18000
Review: Late December / Keith Landry
I confess this sort of album is a little out of usual element - I normally would steer clear from this genre.
Keith's music is best described as acoustic folk - it's predominantly vocals and acoustic guitar [along with some additional embellishment in places - I thought I heard an electric guitar on one track, and there's a slide guitar utilized as well.] You can make comparisons to Jimmy Buffet or Jackson Browne. (Perhaps even Hootie And The Blowfish.)
You can tell that Keith a very productive outing in February - "Late December" runs a full 46 minutes in length, and it doesn't sound like filler either. The production on the tracks is impressive - the acoustic guitar sounds alive, and the vocals are also very well-mixed.
My personal favorite tracks are You Need To See The Sky, The Showers Of December, A Little Playing, Pass On Love, and Any Landing.
I only have a few minor criticisms - while each song individually sounds good, there isn't a lot of variation from one track to the next. However, the guest vocalists on a few of the tracks do help to change things up a little bit. (The lyrical dueling on A Little Playing and Any Landing make for some of the most interesting tracks.)
Lyrically, this is also a very strong outing. While not every track lyrically held my attention, I found there were far more hits than misses. "You Need To See The Sky", "Pass On Love", and "Any Landing" are the best of the bunch in this regard.
Overall: 8 out of 10 -- if this can hold my attention nearly 45 minutes, I'm willing to bet somebody really into this genre would absolutely love it.
Addendum: I'd love to try my hand at covering "A Little Playing" - I'm thinking I could come up with a truly demented bastardization of it. [insert maniacal laughter here]
☼☻☼ Alternate Modes Of Underwater Consciousness ☼☺☼ : alonetone.com/AMUC
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #18002
Penance (in 15 movements)
by Angie Fights Crime
You are at your local punk dive watering whole, or maybe the gritty vegan pizza shop, and what are they playing on their too-small-for-the-space, abused, cassette only stereo? They are blasting Angie Fights Crime’s Penance with abandon. Penance is fifteen minutes of in your face, no frills punk rock. The attitude in the lyrics and the simple raw sound takes me back to the time when I was first exposed to Black Flag as a young teenager hanging out with friends in their parents van. Each song is a minute or less, but they are all well constructed with many having simple ABAB forms that propel the album forward from one track to the next. If you are not a careful listener you might not catch the reflection on aging taking place in many of these youthful sounding songs - and you might miss a song completely as they all fly at you at a blazing 240 beats per minute. These miniatures will have you nodding your head, laughing, and will leave wanting to take the man behind the music out for a beer on his birthday. This album is definitely going on to my iPod and should be heard by everyone who is a fan of raw energetic punk.
My only complaint is that there isn’t more of a tail at the end of songs; the fade out from wet stereo sound to silence is too quick and jarring for me. Maybe on CD the songs can crossfade into each other with no time between tracks instead of a brief moment of silence between the tracks. Otherwise the songs are all well recorded and mixed sounding as punk should sound.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #18020
PART I: Night Driving’s RPM 2011 album: So It Is (Steve Gintz)
OK, here's the first half of the review -- I had to go to a sport's banquet last night that I didn't know about and it lasted forever! I'll do the 2nd half later today (or at the latest by this evening).
30 second test: The first thing I like to do is just scan through the CD to get an overall view of the album. In some genres (pop, country, dance...) this approach really does yield an accurate picture of what the CD is all about. Sometimes it doesn’t. Plus, if I pick an album that I really won’t like or is not a genre I care for, then this 30 second test will help me bail (ha, ha). It really would be unfair to review a CD that I had no hope of liking. With Night Driving’s CD there was a lot of variety and quite a few acoustic guitar based tunes. The album flowed along nicely – nothing stood out as “out-of-place” and the volume levels from song to song seemed to work OK to my ears. There were a couple of more “electronica” type tunes that helped break up the album nicely. OK, on to the CD.
Note: I realize I am not doing much discussion on the mixing and recording aspect – but if you have seen the review of my CD, you’ll know why (ha, ha). At the end, I’ll discuss that a little more.
1. Footbridge (Instrumental)
Nice little sweet two guitar instrumental to kick the whole thing off. (The player doesn’t show the length so I don’t know how long it is.) We had quite the conversation on album order and first songs here: rpmchallenge.com/index.php?option=com_ku...95&Itemid=100013 , so I know that Steve at least thought about it a lot. The good news is that it is a clean, well played tune that does give a decent fore-shadowing of quite a few songs on the CD. Nice mix, good use of panning and good contrast between the picking and strumming. Had a “little martha” feel to it – completely different, but just reminded me of it. Anyway, good way to start the disc.
2. Write What’s Left
You know, these lyrics are pretty good – I read them first without listening the song (I won’t do it for all the songs, but I did it here) and I found it to be a very clear, nice little self-contained story of someone (or all of us) having trouble sometimes seeing what we really are – or seeing ourselves how other see us.
if only you could be removed
far enough to see the truth
I did chuckle at this line -- if only god would place you softly on her shelf -- The Judeo-Christian world is so dominated by male references to God – no problems for me, though.
The hook/refrain/chorus lines:
its not gone it never rests
its not too late to write what’s left
don't seem particularly supported by the verse. I am not sure what the it is in it never rests and I am not sure how the write what’s left fits in. I know what you mean, but I would have expected something in the verse to set up that “writing” metaphor. Of course, the line “it’s not too late to write what’s left” with the write (right) / left thing is cool. Would have been nice to work “wrong” into the thought somehow.
OK, I’m going too deep and it’s only song #2. Let’s get to the music!
Nice acoustic guitar chord progression joined by the bass and electric guitar makes a nice little introduction. The singing throughout was really strong with a lot of emotion – good stuff. You were really killing (in a good way) it on that second chorus. I can’t tell for 100% sure, but the first line (“you” ?) might had been a trifle off, so you may want to look at that., I listened 4 or 5 times, but I could be wrong. I am the king of off-pitch, so who am I to say anything.
I was thinking how full just the guitars, bass and vocals sounded – but it did need some percussion and poof, it came in. I would consider using the drums or some percussion much earlier and then use other instruments as the add-in later on. Good addition on the ending vocals and little lead break there.
3. How I learned to Start Worrying
OK, nice change a pace with the more distorted guitar driving rhythm to lead the song off. I must say I impressed with your vocal performance here. I just can’t really belt it out or yell in a song without hurting myself, losing pitch – or both! You seem to do it with a lot of character on the choruses, for sure.
One thing I don’t do enough of is finding that “signature riff” for a song – mainly because it is hard to!. This one would be improved with a signature riff. You add one there at the end, but having that one (or some recurring riff) at the beginning and middle would add to the cohesiveness of the song.
Lyrically, this one sounds like the ups and downs (or mostly the down part) of a relationship. This style of music is often built around metaphors and lyrics that can be interpreted lots of different ways. However, you are throwing that “it” word at me again in the first verse (ha, ha). I like a lot of the lyrics here and I like the way they “sing”, but I am in the camp that more “literal” lyrics at first sets the song/story up better (like the “couch”, and “changed locks” stuff) and then you can delve in to metaphors that can be interpreted differently.
I liked the ending riff and I think the instrumentation was interesting and supported the song well throughout.
4. Sight Or Touch Or Sound
The beginning lyrics are such that anyone listening or reading along can say “yeah, that’s happened to me” and can really relate. When you do that, you almost get carte blanche to go where ever you want to – and you sort of did (ha, ha). I really liked the images the flow of the words, the jarring image of patting the wooden box (sort of took me a second to get that, though).
Probably the one thing I would consider, lyrically, is the first chorus line: “but now things have changed” -- what has really changed? Verse 1 shows helplessness of a sort, verse 2 does shows normal emotional response and then the chorus is showing extreme emotional weakness (“the thought of breeze can blow me down”).
I haven’t figured out what the “land of gold” thing means yet or how it fits in – but I might sooner or later. ... and I can’t figure out the last tag verse at all.
Musically, I like the gentle start and the vocal delivery is really good – and I loved those trumpets. They really added a lot. I am hoping there is more trumpet type stuff in the future. Good job on the backing vocal, also.
5. This Is Why You Stay Around (Instrumental)
You know, having an instrumental to break up the album is a really good idea. Especially the nice electronic type beginning and the “beat” percussion being used. I like how you teased us with the percussion for a while. How did you do the drums where you made them seem to “go behind a wall” a couple of times. I wish the player had a time counter on it, so I could point out things like at 1:47 this happened or that happened. Over at a song-writing forum I belong to, the question always comes up whether or not a tune without words is a “song” or a “composition”. Well, this one is a song (ha, ha). I know that it is a meaningless distinction, but this one sounds complete without words.
OK, this is a good place to take a break – I don’t want to run out of steam and start saying things like “Great song, cool stuff – next!” It takes a lot of time to do this stuff for me – I probably end up listening to each tune 3 or 4 times. That sports banquet really threw a wrench into my reviewing plans!
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #18024
A review of Uglifruit: A Fistful Of Jenkinsongs
For those of you who will scan this quickly, let me save you time. Go listen to this album, it's fantastic. Now for the details...
Acts as an intro to the album, almost like the fanfare before the curtain rises on the Uglifruit spectacular. There are multiple voices harmonizing, drenched in reverb, a chorus of oohs and ahhs and a few bomps just for good measure.
I won’t waste anyone’s time talking about who Andy may sound like, it’s irrelevant. His sound may recall certain sounds, bands or eras, but this song is pure, original Uglifruit. It has a great beat, luscious melodies and great instrumentation. Perfect is, in fact, a perfect blend of Mellotron, Harmonized guitars, Harpsichord, Harmonies, Backwards guitars, and Horns. I am particularly fond of excellent bridge into the chorus. The chorus itself has a great tension to it with some excellent backing vox. Near the end there is this great break with the oohs and harpsichord and horns that then turn into a great solo.
Lyrically this song has some fun twists, with lines like “…within her hands I’m butter – melting putty, but in another hard and strong – pretty Nancy’s Vicious” Great stuff.
This is a “Perfect” song for a sunny afternoon, whether in an English park or a convertible in downtown L.A. It puts me in a good mode.
Stuff and Nonsense:
This song sounds like a lazy afternoon in the California summertime. It has this languishing sound to it, adorned in all sorts of stuff (and nonsense). It’s a great number, scored with acoustic, some glockenspiel (or some sort of tinkling instrument) some great keys (may be a Rhodes, not sure), electric gtr and other things. The song shifts from slow vox in the verses to this change up of an almost percussive vocal that double times the feel of the song. It’s great part and keeps this listener’s ear wondering what is coming next.
Lyrically there is more fun, with the song being subtitled a Fairy Tale, complete with lines about knights and shields. I am not sure here, but there may also be a subtle reference to the purple one, aka, Prince. Andy, please clear that up for us. Thanks. One of the best lines is “For the kingdom’s economy you’d sleep with your enemy.” Give this one a few listens, it keeps surprising you with the background parts.
Over Your Baby. And Moving On.
Starting this next song is an insistent beat with handclaps, acoustic, electric and what sounds like an accordion, or perhaps a harmonium. Evoking nights at the beach, the song is about the pain of love. What is striking is how beautifully the pain is captured by the sound of the song. The longing and pain gets wonderfully portrayed by some very clean slide guitar and background vox, which comes after a great mid-section that departs from the main beat of the song. Again, without playing the “This song sounds like so-and-so” game, this song would fit nicely in the Phil Spector catalog.
Lyrically, Andy manages to stay away from the standard lines about lost love; instead he uses phrases like this: “You only said you’d take me, not take my hand darling.” Good twist on a timeless topic…
Lessons We Learned:
A duet with Sarah Marshall. This song must be listened to from beginning to end. It has some surprises waiting for you.
The song starts quietly with Uglifruit’s harmonies, but this time with the voice of Sarah Marshall laid over it all. It’s a very sweet blend. Once I ribbed Andy a bit and said that every time I listen to his songs my dentist gets excited. It really is a compliment, and this song is the proof. There is some flute work, some strings, and glockenspiel work. Hidden in this are some room sounds of clapping and stomping, and some backwards acoustic guitar swells. Then quietly, hi-hats start building and take this song into a new realm. I will save the end for you to listen to. Personally, I listened to this song (and all of the others too) about 8-10 times while writing this, and I found myself saying “What is that going on there?” and hitting rewind over and over. It was like an Easter Egg hunt, and equally fun. This song is a lesson in layering and subtle dynamics.
Lyrically the song is a story, and progresses from that perspective. One of my favorite lines is “The lessons we learned still feel like Chinese burns.” I have no idea what that means, but it’s cool.
This is a big beat, jazz style, swing song. It fits perfectly in the song flow of this album. It has some great bass playing on it, and is one tight-sounding song. The vocals are rock solid, locked in tight with the small guitar stabs, keys and other instruments. Burn-up is hip, with telephone vocal parts, and also a display of some guitar prowess from Andy. The drums are killer, great fills and changes. I remember reading Andy’s blog about putting it all together, and to this listener’s ears, it’s a bigger success than he thought. There are some tasty musical punctuation parts to keep the song from getting repetitive, interspersed all over the place.
The lyrics are sardonic; the thrust of the song is captured with lines like this: “We’re never gonna dance like we wanted to dance, we’re never gonna own that holiday home in France.” The entire song is politely mocking of that life, and is perfect in contrast to the sound of the song itself.
She Dreams Of Simple Things:
This song is the first single off the album, and it went straight up to number one. This is how you write a hit. Played against a simple backbeat, the song has lush harmonies, catchy lyrics and excellent parts all woven into a song about a girl dreaming away the day in her bedroom.
Musically Andy has some great twists in chord structures, coupled with a hook played on an acoustic throughout the song. The solo is a delicate blend of some keys with other instruments that I can’t quite figure out. I can’t really say much more here, this song speaks for itself. You need to listen to this song if you ever want to write a perfect pop number.
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Ok, so this one starts with this line: “Here we are again, exchanging fluids and exchanging made up numbers…” SO, how to take this song? Well, the song has some of the sounds that Uglifruit is known for, but is coupled with some fuzz gtr stabs and lines plus heavily phased/flanged vocals in the choruses. The lyrics are actually quite dark, which, as mentioned before, offer a nice counterpoint to the overall tone of the music. There is quite a breakdown in the middle of the song, which then launches into some cool fuzz guitar solos, and more warped vocals from the phasing. The effect creates a funhouse mirror feel to the voice, in other words, you get the sonic version of “What’s Wrong With This Picture”. It’s very, very clever, and a cool song.
Andy manages to make the following lyrics fit perfectly in the song; they are typical of the thrust of the whole song.
Here we go again, jumping whenever the phone rings
And dreading an unkown number
Secretly hoping but admitting to no one
We’re stronger than that, aren’t we?
We’d never expose that much frailty
We watch our own backs, using two mirrors
This is very, very hard to do, trust me, and he pulls it off without effort.
Mistress Calamity and Mister Kaleidoscope:
Oh, the sound of the Mellotron flute, against the opening backdrop of some electronic noise. Add a droning low note and some tambourine, all in a minor key, and you get this song. Is it psychedelic? Sure. Does it draw you in? Oh yeah. The vocals soar in spots, dive in others. Sliding in and out, literally, is some slide guitar adding even more fluidity to this song. Sitting quietly in the back ground is what sounds like some simple guitar lines that help to pin the song down. This song started oozing out of my speakers and I knew it would be a favorite.
Lyrically the song is clever without being too clever. It has some psychedelic tinges, but it isn’t over the top. In other words, it doesn’t sound like Andy was trying to be psychedelic, the lines are more natural. Here is an example: “Lips taste like sips of tea, Pour me .. she makes me sweet internally.” If you didn’t know the song, you wouldn’t think psychedelic. This type of writing is one of Andy’s strong suits, and is evident all over the record, not just here.
Andy gets funny on this song, while keeping the music serious. Focusing the song around some honky-tonk blues(ish) piano to start plus some vibrato gtr give this song a bit of a swirling effect. Andy voice is usually as smooth as cream, but on this song he plays it up a bit, including some semi-inebriated sounding parts, and other bits which made me laugh. The song is laden with harmonies and counterpoints, mainly done with vox. What makes this song is how breathes. Andy uses reverb very effectively, which gives the song an upfront sound, but with significant space throughout each part. It’s hard to describe with words, since this is really something auditory. Take a listen and you will hear what I mean. In general, this is one of Andy’s skills, the ability to give every instrument some prominence in the mix, but still keep it sounding spacious and uncluttered.
Kissing Goodbye starts off sounding like a song from an old record, complete with record sounds. It sounds like the beach at night, and then voila, I read the lyrics and in fact, that’s what part of it is about. The song lyrically focuses on the end of a holiday night and a kiss. It’s quite beautiful both lyrically and structurally. There is a significant building through the song, but it’s done in a very subtle way. The vox is tight, with a large amount of harmonies throughout. The piano has this clunky feel to it, like out of the Jay Gatsby era, and to further it’s distinction slapback echo is added to it. It’s a perfect close to what is a great record.
Andy’s music, aka, Uglifruit speaks for itself. This is a record you should listen to for it’s craftsmanship, it’s songs and it’s performances. It was well worth my time, it will be well worth yours.
The following user(s) said Thank You: uglifruit
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #18025
carrier signal - mean muggin (rpm 2011) review
mean muggin - nice dark start...reminded me of early electro (bambaata style)....nice choice of sounds.....could only listen on headphones, but found that the mix worked well to keep these low-end elements distinct....good opener
hopslam - really diggin’ this....did you clear the samples with microsoft ?? don’t worry, i wont tell.....great d’n’b feel...lovely bassline....love the little microbeats, after the breakdown...another strong choon
circle circle - boy, did i luck out on my album to review....i absolutely love this choon...the editing on the beats is spot on, and all the other elements hold their own....love when the deep, pulsing bass hits....this choon holds its own against any of the best idm (hate that term) out there....the only criticism is that it ends too soon
brimstone villain - nice choice of sounds, again...dark, ominous, brooding....there seems to be a constant feeling of a build, though no real apex is reached....i like that it holds back
jungle gym - what a choon....seriously, man, you’ve got the fuckin’ chops...balls-out beats....great ideas, perfectly upheld by the, highly polished, production
filter the madness - wow, this caught me off-guard...i’d felt i’d heard it somewhere, before...thought you’d remixed a famous choon...did a google search and it brought me right back to ‘rpm’ lolz....enjoyed this.....i need to follow the lead back to the original artist
whysithurt - not bad, by any means, just hasn’t grabbed me as much....guess that’s the problem with reviewing after just one playthrough (a point that doesn’t feel well made, given the immediacy of enjoyment of the previous choons)
hoover assault on precinct 11 - YESSS !!!!!! Come my SELEEEECTOR...watch your bass bins !!!....this made my day pure madness, pure manic indulgence...speed/death metal meets electronic...love the breakdown
miles to go before i sleep - the perfect balm to soothe the weeping wounds left by the previous choon....great ambience...really appreciate it sticking to a simpler affair...great close to the album
again; so glad my timing led me to discover this gem...really enjoyed it...fantastic production and , from what i can tell, great overall mix quality (will give a listen through the duet/grado combo, later today, to confirm my suspicions)
perhaps, it is unfair to review something upon first hearing, but it’s a testament to how good this is that they were all so, immediately, good (with the exception, perhaps, of one which is not close to being bad)
the only thing that remains is for me to check out his other submissions
also, i’d maybe like to revisit this review and flesh it out after a few more listens (if it needs)...watch this space
great job...i’m a fan
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #18042
The Crown Fires - Stuffs
1. Grabsies!!! You grabbed me from the start with a Belle & Sebasitan opening (gentle reverb-y guitar behind a loping bass line), followed by an explosive, yet very poppy chorus (whoa-oh-oh!). A nice way to start the album.
2. Wise monkey is all like 'I don't thinks so..." An acoustic slowdown with a rich, full sound. Nice use of vocal doubling. I had a little trouble understanding some of the lyrics the first time through, particulalry in the chorus, but I think I'll pick them up after a few more listens. The droning guitar at the end makes me think of David Bowie's "Heroes". That's a good thing.
3. goilz The 80's punk asthetic hits here and it hit hard. Again, I can't quite make out the words, but the voice is more like an instrument. I really like the guitar solo and tone, but I do wish it sat back a wee bit in the mix, or that the other guitars were up a tad more to match it.
4. Keepers: Another acoustic-based song with a wonderful sing-song chorus. The verses are sung with a vibrato effect, while the chorus is cleaner and straightforward. The acoustic guitar solo brings back memories of "When The Shit Hits The Fan" by The Circle Jerks from the Repo Man soundtrack.
5.Burtations And back to the loud, but not punk this time. Electronic! This is a definite change in directions, but not so different as to alienate the listener. I love breaking things up with tunes like this. The echoed guitars remind me of The Police in all the best ways. Nice change of pace.
6.Spasechip The big electronic bass is still here. I wasn't expecting that. I think we've really shifted gears into a different kind of album all of a sudden. It's noisy and full of chirp and blips, then the guitars kick in. The vocals are a bit dissonant for me, but they fit the effect of the song. It makes me think of the noise surrounding a space launch.
7. Kazoolean I was right. We've shifted to an electronic album now. There's a weird robotic voice over a growing beat, and then.... spacy? I'm starting to wonder if this was meant as part of a concept record.
8. Hog Heaven A return to the quiet, acoustic song. There's a really lovely vocal tone here. Nicely done.
9. Fitesies Finger snaps and open chords. You're playing striaght to me now. Unfortunately, the vocal is buried. Ooh - then the bass and delayed guitar line kicks in. I could listen to this riff for hours. Lovely!
10. Moperz Another quiet tune to close things out. Echoes (ha!) of Cocteau Twins with a very nice doubled vocal.
Things I'd change:
- I'd like to hear the drums a bit more, particularly the kick.
- The vocals tend to be buried. I'd like to hear them a bit more.
- On my earbuds, it seems like the bass frequencies are missing from the mix on the non-electronic songs. I'd like more low end on the guitars and the bass.
That being said, this is a very enjoyable album with a number of throwback elements to 80's punk, but with a really strong pop sensibility. The acoustic numbers are really nice and contain a number of varied sonic elements to keep things interesting. The middle of the album turns electronic and perhaps gets a little noisy for my tastes, but I know that plenty of others will really enjoy this record.
This album will make its way onto my ipod. Nicely done.
I wrote 5 songs in 25 years. Thanks to RPM 2010, I wrote 13 more in 15 days and used 11 of them for my album. My wife had heard me sing maybe 3 times in 17 years. Then I released an album. So I basically went from zero to 60 in a month.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #18051
Yikes! 35 minute opus! Mine are all less than 5 minutes. Possibly the best is less than 2.
Okay. Let's start with this. I love the sound of rain. I've lived in a bunch of places - some with deluges, others with nothing (Australian - it works that way) So A + for an entrance ..
I like the Pink Floyd-ish morse codey bits (listen to track 1 off Piper at the gates of Dawn, you'll know what I mean.)
I like how the drums kick in. But I wonder if the Bass Drum couldn't be a bit heavier? Perhaps using a little compressor. I don't know how you're recording this, but with electronic drums, I tend to record two of them, hard pan them and then take a tiny chunk out of the wave form on one side, so the stereo effect is more pronounced. This could be a totally useless idea for you. Maybe not.
hey. There's that Morse codey bit again. (around the 8 minute mark)
Liking the fadey - choiry bit around 11:25 - 12: whatever it is.
The 14:50ish bit - where the bass kicks in sounds really good. But, then it gets a bit 80s film sound-trackish. I'm picturing Ralph Macchio kicking some blond bully in the nuts in Slo Mo. A lovely sight, I know. But not musically what I want, neccesarily.
18 to 20 - or thereabouts is a little Yanni. We have fuzz pedals - plugins for a reason. Use them. But I like the way the snare kicks in.
And then you lose me again ... around the late 21s with the breathy keyboard bits.
Mid 24s. Koto sounds are good. If it were me, I would put really distorted but quiet DnB drums underneath. Maybe raise them at some point. But I am not you. So feel free to disregard.
Okay. So the excitement bit starts around the 26 mark. Again. Bass drums should be a lot heavier and stereo-ish.
Oh. there you go. Around the 2 mark. You do know how to use the fuzz drums. Do it a little more often, I think.
Okay. I'm now not liking the succubus singers. 30 minute mark.
31:24 Drums kicking in. No. Not my cup of tea at all. It all sounds a bit Casiotone. Atmospheric sounds on keyboards are usually the worst ones.
I dunno. You have drum n' bass tendencies at points. I suspect you need a deeper, fartier, more analog sounding keyboard. Less fake choir-ish stuff. Seriously - fake voxies are hard to pull off.
By the way, some of this may sound a bit harsh, but I mean it with the utmost respect. This album is not really my scene. But have any of your friends written and recr0ded an album in a month? No.. No they have not. Dunno. Download a Moog VST plugin or something similar. And put more bass into what you do. And more skittery drums? Go crazy.
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #18075
Review of Letter Seventeen's "Snowbound"
His second year of the challenge, Tim of Letter Seventeen has again produced a well-crafted and enjoyable album entitled, “Snowbound”.
Noticeable upon listening to the album as a whole is the excellent pacing throughout. Upbeat rock and pop tracks (Night Terrors; Mr. Flashy Pants; Graduation Donkey) are spread amongst folk inspired songs (Chester Arthur, Monagabee) and ballads (Head On; Wonder). The variation in pace, style and dynamics keep the album fresh from track to track and not at all exhausting.
Besides pacing, one will notice consistent and quality songwriting and arranging. Some of the more upbeat tracks seem to be driven more by the groove of the song rather than the melody, which I believe works considering the many catchy melodies found elsewhere on the album (i.e. Chester Arthur, Monagabee, Graduation Donkey). The grooves and beats established on “Gas Can”, “HEMANTIS” and “Service Machine” are pretty killer, although I wish he had expanded upon the opening groove of “HEMANTIS” a bit more.
Stand out tracks for me are “Chester Arthur”, “Graduation Donkey” (believe it or not), and “Wonder”. “Arthur” and “Donkey” are incredibly catchy in melody and feel as noted before and “Wonder” is the perfect way to finish off the album – simple and acoustic, fully featuring Tim’s voice and strong songwriting.
If you’ve had a chance to listen to Letter Seventeen’s 2010 album, “Backstage Stories”, one thing is clear about this year’s album – this is no sophomore slump. The writing, production and pacing is stronger. On the production side of things, it’s obvious that time and care was put into the general “sound” of “Snowbound”. The instrumentation and grooves are tighter, the vocals are clearer and more refined and the songs are mixed and mastered well. But as we all know, production alone can’t make a great song/album, and “Snowbound” proves that Tim’s songwriting and musicianship is only getting better with time. Check it out – I’m sure you will enjoy it. And, come on – who can resist a kazoo and a donkey on the same album?
Re: 2011 Critiques/Reviews 3 years, 7 months ago #18091
Clever things is the duo of Jeremy Camp (NOT the Christian singer, even though his initials are "JC"), drinker of Red Blue Vodkas, signer of ....uuhh... And our very own Sam, providing lyrics and vocals. He does the music she does the singing. This is their second run at this.
The music starts off hesitant in the mids and then brings a straight melody that interweaves. A thumpy bass comes along about the time the vocals start up. The vocals seem a bit unattached to the song and Sam has harmonized without herself in the chorus. The music has a very untimed feel giving us the title I believe. Though this is well done, something about it doesn't hit me. I don't feel a hook in the music or vocals but overall it is nicely put together. It just doesn't have a solid feel to it. I know a signature of this group is the reverb on the vocals but it's hard to understand the lyrics on this one (call me old). Pardon me, but not their best work.
Rolling the Top Down
I'm hooked by the bass line on this immediately. Very interesting music with an Aged Machine feel. "So your jingling your keys like maybe you've got something there" is the opening line setting the stage for a road trip tune. There's a lot of great vocal work here too. This is very much the style I would expect from a clever things production with Sam on the lushly layer vocals and Jeremy's signature sound. Vocals fit into the music nicely but still seem somehow detached. I still get the feeling of two songs, one from Jeremy and one from Sam that been melded but not quite cohesive.
Perfect Coded Angel
We're getting better. This is definitely the JC sound with the throbbing bass bump and layers of sounds. This one is perfect clever things. The music is lush, changing, and very interesting. Sam's vocals fit into perfectly with the music. The music has changes that establish sort of structure but nothing seems to repeat. There's a vocal break with Sam laying a swelling vocal that is mixed in down deep in the music and it's a great hook. I love this song. The first two were obvious warm-ups. Cohesion is getting better.
This one has a little more rhythm than the others. I like the vocals on this and Sam's lyric still have a "time and distance" feel to them, kind of like Symphony of Science sort of take but no Sagan. This is outer space but it's a comparison to a person. This is a fun song, little sparse in vocal as compared to the rest but tenuous solidity in both feeling and lyrics. Very nice.
What We Kept
Opening guitar riff starts what sounds to be a ballad. Sam's vocal entry is stellar good. A short while in, JC has woven in the clever things electronica, kind of snuck it in behind while we're distracted by Sam's excellent delivery This one is EXCELLENT. The lyrics are great. "They will follow all our footsteps, fill in all our fossils. What went wrong?". A very somber feel with melancholy vocals. My new favorite and I think the best co-lab effort between these two so far. The first two tracks felt like a music track with lyrics added but this one completely feels like it was written with lyrics in mind and then tweaked after they were down. The best CT song yet, IMO.
This starts with a great rhythm, develops into some harmonic style from Sam and after the slow and gentle delivery on "What We Kept" she's stepping up to the mic her with a solid strong delivery. "Gonna burn this city down to the ground. Gonna start fresh from the ashes starting now". Are you talking a relationship or a city? I think we know. I found a little too much of the kick in the mix here, but I know CT was mired in sickness this year and put things together pretty late, so I'd rather concentrate on bigger picture. I love these lyrics and the simpler music underneath the vocals allows Sam to deliver. I liked it a lot. The lyrics and Sam's vocals tend to seem to be getting angrier as the song progress and I'd love to see this build up both musically and vocally until the rage here is absolutely apparent with Sam delivering loudly and hardshly and Jeremy bringing so of those strong punchy bass sounds he does. Only thing I would change, but this is a great song as is.
Okay this is Jeremy's chance to shine. The music in this one is superb. The sound goes back to the Aged Machine days sonically but doesn't have he Aged Machine industrial grit. Jeremy is bringing it with absolutely excellent instrumentation with a BIG sound that modulates through the song to something in the same motif. This is where I wonder about his song writing process if it's by feel or plan. I think we've lost Jeremy's signature and we're hearing for the first time the clever things musical signature. When the big bass drops out leaving the sweep square fuzz for Sam to sing over, I got goose bumps. And then the subtle backbeat thin snare and hat work that reintroduces the main motif is a magical moment. Only on the third time through this song did I remember Sam was singing too (sorry, Sam); add her into this, and the middle part of this song is thaumaturgic and ends the same way. Like a side-band passion, it's like fireworks on a cool moonless night with the "shissh" of the rockets, the boom of the mortars, and crackle of the showers but instead of looking up, you watch the ever changing red green blue glow on your lover's face. Make that orange glow. This is what these two would do if they had a week per song instead of the pressures of RPM. I'm in awe.
Lightning in a Bottle
Again, I think Jeremy is stretching out of his normal zone here. This again is a subtle musical track that is less ambient then most of his work. This is tightly written and allowed the duo to tightly couple their work together. This is an orchestrated song that is close and concise with light sonic variations creating a panoptic soundscape to which Sam has glued every syllable firmly in time and space. Another completely outstanding piece. It has the same "Electric Orange" feel where Jeremy has peeled back the layers and left us with something that is more horizontally deep then vertically. This allows Sam's singing and her glissandic style to fill the empty spectrum. What is so good here is it is the clever things style distilled and matured into a fine a song that highlights both the main ingredients.
Variations on a Girl
Okay, I might be overstepping my bounds here a bit, but I'm going just toss this out there. Filler track! Okay, that said I think what happened here is the opposite of the way these two work. I think normally Jeremy does a proof of concept or nearly complete work and give s it to Sam. Sam does her thing and they put together the final. I think in this case, Sam went first and let Jeremy use her voice as an instrument. And it's good and interesting but after the last four this one says "filler". A great experiment and that's what RPM is for.
Oh my. I get it now. This is one of those albums where the best one is the last one, they entered the stage a little weak, but left with cosmic glow of the iconically charged plasma of a great geomagnetic storm. This so subtle piece gave me waves of goose bumps. It is thin, it is subtle, at the very bottom is the pulsing bass line you barely notice and as Sam sings "In the tiny spae above" you realize this thing is stretches out as far as you can hear and if you concentrate just a little harder you realize there's more than four dimensions. It is simple. It is delicately finespun. The lyrics are empyrean and as the lyrics state, this song is such a dichotomy of smallness of sound being bigness of perception. Really, just listen to this one. Hey mom, no autotune.
Not much summary needed. Sam and Jeremy are learning to work together and as this album progress I think it is a gradient of their abilities to see each other's vision. The first few are definitely two different musicians putting their individual songs together. But as we progress through "Burn", "Electric Orange" and end with "Space" separateness of vision and execution is becoming oneness. I wish it was next year already.
The following user(s) said Thank You: agedmachine
Final Critiques 3 years, 7 months ago #18093
I'll be moving the final reviews here after a small stay in the other thread. This should hopefully end the coughing.
You can always post a link t your forum entry in your profile if you want them coupled together. *cough*
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