REVIEW: La Chat’s “Murder She Spoke II”

La Chat photo LaChat_cover_zpseft2ry3t.jpg La Chat’s voice is quite good, I have no complaints about it but the songs on Murder She Spoke II (Select-O-Hits/Phixieous Entertainment) doesn’t motivate me to want to listen to it again. One time was enough and even during the listening session I was thinking “do I have to continue listening to this?” It could’ve been a snippet file with 15 seconds excerpts of the 17-song album and I probably would’ve been happier. I just found some of her lyrics to be boring and because of it, the songs are lackluster. When you make an album and the people who guest star on it outdo you, you need to tell your producers or executive producers “sharpen this, please”. If you want a better La Chat project, get the album she did with Gangsta Boo, Witch. I didn’t hate Murder She Spoke II at all but it’s just not for me.

REVIEW: Simon Toldam Trio’s “Kig Op 15″

Simon Toldam Trio photo SimonToldam_cover_zpsrmnphozr.jpg Upon first listen to Kig Op 15 (ILK) the music by the Simon Toldam Trio sounded like something I expected to hear on Sesame Street or some kind of program on PBS, very friendly in a Dave Brubeck sort of way. However, “Hop” is just the first track. Once the album gets to song #2 with “Propel 15″, that’s when the friendliness gets a bit peculiar. The music throughout is centered around the piano work of Simon Toldam, but he is complimented by collaborators Knut Finsrud (drums) and Nils Davidsen (bass), and one of the great things about this is that even when things sound smooth and coordinated, they’re not afraid to adjust themselves at unexpected moments, then throw themselves out somewhere else to keep people on their metaphorical toes. The press release album calls this “the second album of an Autumn-Spring duology” but regardless of what season you’re meant to interpret this as, it’s the kind of music that lets you know that these musicians are not only talented, but they’re doing it to test themselves and one another. The press release also states the music is similar to looking up at the sky to see lightning bolts, air-light gliders, a crescent moon, trees and other random things that are placed in your viewing space. In other words, it’s like life itself, unsure of what you’re seeing, where they came from or why and even with repeat listens, you want to enjoy that spontaneity. The music was recorded about a year ago and released about eleven months later, but it could be heard ten to twenty years from now and it’s still going to feel like the first time in whatever way. European jazz can be very testy but it knows when the test is over, you will be rewarded.

REVIEW: ANCST/AST split album

ANCST/AST photo ANCSTAST_cover_zpslrcscrpj.jpg If you’re looking for some solid death metal and black metal, you may already seek the warmth of the music scene from Germany. If so, you may already know of the bands ANCST and AST. With similar names, perhaps it was inevitable they worked together, which they have with a brand split effort.

ANCST sounds like brutality and the end of humanity as we know it, mixed loudly but with a sense of clarity that will make everything distinct and to the point. AST sound like something straight out of the 1980’s, as if the guys in Bathory, OLD, and Dark Angel joined for one hellish brew. The music sounds beautifully crusty and mixed in a way that comes off like Alex Perialas was there to oversee everything. Together, the four songs they each contribute to the album may make you argue to yourself which is better than the other, but then again, you’re not there to play tag team with your musical interests, you are there to simply love the metal offered and consume it like poison entering your pores. No poisons here though, this is just darkness and blackness slowly immersing into your mind.

(500 copies of this is being pressed on vinyl on Vendetta Racords, 400 black copies, 100 pressed on silver. Digital fiends can stream and purchase the files by heading to Bandcamp.)

REVIEW: Jeremy Bass’ “New York In Spring”

Jeremy Bass photo JeremyBass_cover_zpss4g2ylw8.jpg The music of Jeremy Bass sounds ready made for any and all different projects, and when I say “projects”, I mean in something like television shows, motion pictures, video games, anything that has to do with media, Bass wouldbe the guy you’d want to rely on to create some positive music because his work sounds positive. If you like the work of Jack Johnson but without sounding like the spokesperson for Sleepytime tea, you may enjoy the vibe of New York In Spring, where you’ll here someone with the kind of spontaneity-yet-strict-arrangements not unlike some of the best music Elton John has created in the last 45 years. As the photos on the covers show, he could easily be just your friend, hanging out on the couch in his living room and playing whatever he feels at any given time, but what comes forth is someone who knows how to execute it and how to make it work with structure from beginning to end. Yet would someone who is ready made for any and all different projects be someone you’d want to listen to? I guess at times, I view at how pop music is structured these days and Bass doesn’t necessarily fit in. But if you cater to that younger, more impressionable audience, you may limit yourself to what’s popular. Bass creates the music that you not only desire but becomes what you need. Hearing his version of The Beatles’ “Julia” can easily be one of the best moments of New York In Spring for if we are to speak about what New York represents for some, it is where John Lennon moved to and lived with Yoko Ono, and thus his spirit lives on during the spring, or any time of the year. Does the music represent what New York is today, or what it was? Or does it matter? Find a way to interpret these songs the way you want and you may discover why what he makes is for any and all because interpretation can lead to good things. So you can hear some songs of love for New York, be it at the park, on thesidewalk, or in a cafe, multi-seasonally speaking.

(Bass’ New York In Spring will be released in June.)

REVIEW: Cameron Siegal & Friends’ “World Junk”

Cameron Siegal & Friends photo CameronSiegal_cover_zpsrtqslpee.jpg The back cover for World Junk (self-release) states thetmusic “synthesizes world styles, jazz, and funk to create music that can only be categorized as Strong in Spirit”. That’s one way of saying it, for if music isn’t spirited in some fashion, what good is it? But you can say there is a very good vibe in the music by drummer, percussionist, and composer Cameron Siegal, who conducts his friends to create the kind of jazz that isn’t drowsy or redundant. What I do like are the “world sounds”, which comes from different cultural references where you may hear a bit of Brazil here, a pinch of Klezmer perhaps over there, and sometimes progressive rock influences where you might not expect it, but here it is. I was going to use the world “seasonal” to describe some of these songs as a way to say that it sounds like these guys applied the seasoning to make this something quite sacred. I don’t mean spiritual or religious, but there is a sense of devotion to their playing that comes off like musicians who know and understand the recipes of the songs and want to contribute their own to make this a wonderful musical melting pot. There’s a little bit of something for everyone, World Junk is the perfect title but in a very nice way. One persons junk is another persons treasure, this one is made for musical diggers.

REVIEW: The Wheel Workers’ “Citizens”

The Wheel Workers photo WheelWorkers_cover_zpsc2qlrkpq.jpg Eight songs at 32 minutes may sound like a short album but sometimes it’s all you’ll need to get by, especially with a new group As The Wheel Workers say in the opening song “Yodel”, they have a story or two to tell us and they begin in a fashion that has someone playing what sounds like a Farfisa organ, but doing that with the kind of swagger Rev. Horton Heat or Fleshtone fans will appreciate. What I speak of is a garage rock passion, which then leads into a bit of electronic trippiness with “Burglar”, which could be Devo, could be Gary Numan, or it might be Franz Ferdinand, perhaps Ben Folds or Brent Bourgeois. These guys, lead by Steven Higginbotham, like to twist things up to where people are unable to specifically say what makes them work. They work but cover a number of different territories, so some songs may have a lot of pop craftsmanship, other songs may incorporate different textures to where you eventually forget what you were trying to compare them to. The Citizens may be the people on the illustrated cover they’re trying to perform/convert to, or maybe it’s you as a potential fan. Either way, consider The Wheel Workers a community of greatness that want to convert you into someone devoted to their cross. Whether it’s 90’s alternative/indie rock and pop or something caught in the twists of 80’s new wave, you’ll hear all of it and more right here.

(Citizens will be out on May 26th, pre-order a copy below via Amazon.)

REVIEW: Julie C Myers’ “Rock On: Fearless Journey”

Julie C Myers photo JulieCMyers_cover_zpsrpkjjebv.jpg Julie C Myers is someone who has a deep love for blues and rock’n’roll, and it sounds like it throughout her latest album but the truth behind her voice is that she can simply sing, regardless of genre, However, if you love your blues and rock as well, have a listen to Rock On: Fearless Journey (Wild Heart). The covers she does are quite nice, there’s even a country twist in her rendition of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Destination Unknown”, but says she does it in a Robert Palmer fashion. If you know Palmer’s love of rock and soul, then you know this approach can’t be anything but good, and it is. She also does a cover of “”Dancing In The Moonlight” and David Essex’s “Rock On” but the originals are satisfying to the point where you want to take her music home with you. What I like in a good voice is the richness of it, not being fearful, and there’s a lack of fear in each and every song. You may not hear her on the radio as much as other artists but she could easily outshine anyone today. Take this one to the bank, the supermarket, the bakery, and anywhere else that comforts you.

REVIEW: Tree Machines’ self-titled EP

Tree Machines photo TreeMachines_cover_zps7cv84gmq.jpg To call any new artist victorious may be a very bold move but when it comes to using that word when applied to their music, it couldn’t be any better. That’s what Tree Machines have done with their brand new self-titled EP, their debut release. Douglas Wooldridge and Patric Aubry know about the tricks of the trade, which means being able to pull up elements to emphasize on how to create auras and mysteries to make their songs efgective. It is pop music, no doubt, but they do so in a manner that’ll make you smile, smirk in laughter, and just make you go “wow, I can’t believe someone still makes music like this”. In a song like “Misunderstood” the lyrics may be about a relationship that went to a place you did not intend, but hearing it will make you feel it may be the opposite, or at least have fun while telling that story. As far as groups that are duos, Tree Machine may be as creative as the guys in Qui, even though they sound nothing like one another. I just like the fact that people are making music like this that are not only good if not great, but are a necessity that makes me want to say more people need this in their lives. The lyrics can be serious but are also not afraid in using humor in a subtle manner or sarcasm that may not be obvious at first. Everything on their EP evens out, let the songs take you in and then listen to it again. The seven songs here will have to hold until they decide to come out with another EP, or are ready for a full length LP.

(Tree Machine’s debut EP will be released on March 31st.)

REVIEW: Hidden In The Sun’s “Seven Seasons”

Hidden In The Sun photo HiddenSun_cover_zpsncudc3f2.jpg IF you love pop along the lines of Ben Folds, you will love Hidden In The Sun. If you love the kind of bluesy rock that The Black Crowes became known for, Hidden In The Sun are your band. If you love your country with a bit of pop or rock attitude, Seven Seasons (self-released) will be one of your favorite albums of the year, and there are many reasons why. Hidden In The Sun, who are Lizzie Clapper (vocals), Scott Rouse (drums), Jason Vivrette (bass), Ciara McAllister (keyboards), and Sean Alexander (guitar), are a band who enjoy being a sponge and taking out their influences into their music, showing how it can be going from place to place while showing a level of consistently throughout. In a song like “Waiting On The Storm” it may make one reminisce about a powerful soul song heard years ago, but then they may turn into a blues rock dirge a in “My Magdeline” and keep it in the ground until it grows into something new. McAllister comes off like a bit of a John Medeski, Booker T. Jones, or Norah Jones with how she plays, where it can be anything from jazz to rock to blues and everywhere in between, she may become the group’s secret weapon, if she isn’t already. She isn’t the only one that stands out in this group, for being a tight group is all about interactivity with one another, a feeling where you know where your band mate will go to next or taking a risk by playing something to find out where they’ll head to. They sound like that type of band that could take off in that direction in the future, especially in “Waiting On The Storm”, where it seems they could get locked in a jam and stay there until they unfold somewhere that’ll surprise them, all while knowing when the conclusions are about to hit. With a group like Hidden In The Sun, you’re going to find them to sound like a number of your favorite groups, players, and singers, but in time they will become their own and you will not know where you were until they arrived in your life. Seven Seasons may not change the game in a cliched manner, but they have enough games to make you want to play your own with them as the soundtrack.

REVIEW: Nick Lutsko’s “Etc.”

Nick Lutsko photo NickLutsko_cover_zpsrjpmv9wz.jpg The last time you heard from Nick Lutsko, he came out with a folk debut that caused people to say he is an artist worth keeping track of. So what to make of a new album that may initially sound nothing like folk, at least at first? That is the nature of Etc. (self-released), as we are now being allowed to hear his et cetera, his “other things”.

He does get on the folk side with “Okay” but otherwise, he’s getting into rock and its different variations, a bit of groove in his style of funk, a bluesy vine where you might think John Mayer was in the room, or a bit of electronic inspiration. Despite the variations he is doing and undoing in these songs, his lyrical and songwriting inspiration remains the song, or at least what tempts him to write is still there, it just happens to be placed in new containers. I like it when someone twists things to fool with people’s perception, all while showing the heart Lutsko shows remains the same.

(Etc. will be released on March 17th.)