REVIEW: Norine Braun – “Through Train Windows”

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Canadian singer/songwriter Norine Braun has graced the world with a new album titled “Through Train Windows” which was inspired by her cross-Canada Riding the Rails tour as Artist On Board with partner Alice Fraser last year. “Through Train Windows” gets off to a slow start with the opener track “Sleeping Buffalo” but picks up some steam with the catchy and cathartic “I’m Going Home” where she channels her inner-Joni Mitchell complete with jangly guitars and shimmering drums.

“Jerkwater Town” is a gritty jam that thumps in your eardrums while “Exhale” is a breath of fresh air musically and vocal wise that stand outs loud and proud on this album. Blues are alive and well on “Climbing Table Mountain” which casually strolls through your head for nearly four minutes. Other stand out tracks include “Moving On”, the smooth and sweet “Heaven Only Knows” and the voracious album closer/titular track.

I enjoyed the trip that “Through Train Windows” took me on and definitely think you should check out this album. Norine Braun’s “Through Train Windows” comes out December 7th on all major retailers.

Pre-save it on Spotify.

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REVIEW: DannyDosha – “Kelsey 2”

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DannyDosha of Baltimore, Maryland has brought the vibes with his song “Kelsey 2”. If ever you wanted to listen to a track that would put you deep in your feelings, this is the one. It begins with a lone electric guitar and auto-tuned vocals and blossoms into a full band track featuring a female vocalist backing Danny. It echoes the sentiments of unrequited love and a heart yearning for more and there honestly isn’t anything more relatable than that, in my opinion. I would honestly love to hear an acoustic version of this song and without the auto-tune so please Danny, entertain the idea. While just being a lone single, be sure to stay tuned for more from DannyDosha and stream “Kelsey 2” on Spotify.

REVIEW: Max Lee – “Colors of Noise”

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To say that Max Lee’s “Colors of Noise” is experimental is appropriate, however, it lacks the coherence and depth of successful experimental music. I had high hopes for this album after reading about Max Lee’s idols and influences so I was completely blind sighted by the lack of musicianship, murmuring spoken word, and off-pitch crooning that plagues this album. Max brags about doing this album entirely solo without outside help but honestly, he could’ve benefited from a few more cooks in the kitchen, or at least some kind souls to rope him in a bit.

The album opens with “Finder’s Keeper” and just kind of rambles on for another 17 more tracks never really finding it’s footing on solid ground. While it was a rough time having to listen to all 18 tracks, the upside is that they are all under three minutes with many being under two so the album isn’t a huge investment time-wise. There were the occasional tracks that had a glimmer of hope but cascading into an underwhelming sense of mediocrity despite a decent intro: “The Key” and “how i feel” are two prominent examples that come to mind.

While I didn’t enjoy this musical outing by Max Lee, I do believe he is a talented musician, however, I feel as if he should focus on the music aspect and maybe bring someone in for the vocal portion of his music. As it stands, however, “Colors of Noise” is largely a miss for me. You’d do best to avoid it but if you must listen to it, the link is provided below and the album is out now on his bandcamp and streaming services.

 

REVIEW: “Mah-Ze-Tar” by Mah-Ze-Tar

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The self-titled debut album of “Mah-Ze-Tar” is a sprawling fusion of Eastern and Western musical elements that takes you on a synesthetic journey through the Raga. While all of the 9 songs may not be stand outs, they all flow together incredibly well to give this album a nuanced cohesion to aid the experience.

The opening number “Maand” is nothing special sonically yet still manages to draw you in with it’s droning overtones. “Bhoopali” is beautifully ethereal in both voice and music, it’s essence dripping with soulfulness. The lead single “Liquid Lotus” is a good choice for a single, it combines the breath of experimentation of the album while still remaining grounded enough to be a catchy track. The drum line of “Cosmic Union” is hypnotizing when paired with the rhythm in Mah-Ze-Tar’s voice. “Yaman” is a dream-like trip through the void and leads perfectly into “Keshi” the longest song on the album, and in my opinion, a stand-out for it’s experimental bravado. “Folk Tune” is just as the name suggests, and is a bit of a miss for me but they can’t all be winners sometimes. “Hamsa” flows wonderfully into the closing number “Bilawal” which lets the album end on a lighter more joyous note.

If you’re looking for an intriguing album I highly recommend checking out Mah-Ze-Tar’s self-titled album. You can watch the music video for the single “Liquid Lotus” now below and look out for the album on all major outlets on October 19th:

REVIEW: Jared Weiss – “Isolated Thunderstorms”

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Jared Weiss’ “Isolated Thunderstorms” is a decent album that is dealing with an identity crisis of sorts – Jared appears to think he’s a hard rocker but clearly functions more effectively as a pop rocker.

It starts off very poorly with it’s underwhelming titular track but immediately picks up with two addictive pop-infused tracks titled “Annalu” and “Get Out of My Head”. It hits another confusing lull with the folksy and awkwardly titled “Not Everything That Dies Grows Old” and struggles to regain footing with a song called “Can’t Remember Your Name” that sounds like it was ripped-off from a trashed Jack White recording session. It finds it’s place once again with the second part of the titular track, this time packaged as an acoustic piece of power-pop perfection evoking hints of Ludo and My Chemical Romance. The next track, “Julia” is a more defiant alternative rock song, at this point, the first self-described rock song on the album I can fully appreciate with its catty demeanor and haunting lyrics.

“Almost All of Me” is a poppy piano balled that fits in easily with pretty much anything on Broadway, and that theatrical niche seems to be the most fitting for Jared Weiss. “Saving Tomorrow” continues in the previously established show tunes direction and contains some brilliant aspects but on the whole feels like a filler track. “Reni” is pretty painful to listen to as Jared attempts a country drawl in this wistful acoustic track laced with harmonica. However, the last minutes of the album are saved by capitalizing on it’s closing track “Elusive Particle”, an elegantly devised alternative rock song with an electrifying epic energy.

Based on my observations, Jared would do well to eschew his traditional rock roots and really work to develop his more theatrical and power-pop tendencies upon moving forward with his career. All-in-all, it was a mostly enjoyable album but struggled with too many moving parts that happened to be pulling it apart in different directions creating a cacophony of content instead of combining to create one wholly cohesive album.

“Isolated Thunderstorms” is available now on Jared Weiss’ website:

https://www.jared-weiss.com/store

 

REVIEW: Deb Montgomery – “All the Water”

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Deb Montgomery showcases an electric evolution on her new EP titled “All the Water”. The Seattle folk-rocker channels the virtue of Neil Young, the bravado of Patti Smith and the vulnerability of Conor Oberst on this tender yet triumphant five song EP.

Opening with the titular track, “All the Water” is an incredibly entrancing first song, echoing some grungy elements and a brooding acoustic melody with pulsating percussions overlapped by Deb’s soaring vocals. “Dig for Diamonds” is a wistful almost-ballad of a person yearning to stand on solid ground and Deb’s delivery has a Cranberries vibe to it. “Wake Me” veers the EP towards a more increasingly somber direction while “Hold On” turns up the heat with it’s triumphant sound and message. “Mend”, the closing track, is a tender bare-all piece that ends the EP on a subtle and sweet note.

If you are a fan of raw sounding folk music with beautifully composed lyrics you will find your match in “All the Water” by Deb Montgomery. I highly recommend checking this EP out. You can listen to and pre-order the EP ahead of it’s October 13th release date at the embedded link below:

REVIEW: DDLO – “Sueños de Luna y Mar”

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I’m an easy sell when it comes to latin jazz, I grew up in a Latino household immersed in it’s grand folklore and my musical roots extend greatly into my motherland of Mexico. Jazz became a musical influenced I picked up along the way realizing that salsa, flamenco and cumbia worked beautifully together with it. It’s safe to say, DDLO’s “Sueños de Luna y Mar” did not have to do much to earn a listen from me with all that it encompassed.

While only being four tracks long, each track is bathed in impervious and organic rhythms that beg you to move with them. Each of the four tracks is brimming with inventiveness and magic that was worked into each instrumental layer from the ground up. My personal favorite of the four is “El Pulpo y La Luna” which opens up in a very mystical fashion continuing to remain silky smooth as the percussion and other instruments debut. My favorite thing about this album has got to be the intricate guitar work that has the feel and flavor of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez-esque playing throughout. So much of this album is shrouded in a defiant mysticism that only latin jazz can effectively and consistently deliver and these songs drip with the passion and power they were drenched in.

If you are looking to by serenaded, seclude yourself from the world for about 20 minutes and experience DDLO’s “Sueños de Luna y Mar” privately and then go share it with the world. The embedded link to the album on their soundcloud is below:

REVIEW: Alien Country – “Like My Life Depends On It”

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I’ll be upfront with you all, I don’t think I’m Alien Country’s target demographic. While I love all things sci-fi, I cannot wrap my head around a large portion of country music. I tell you this because if your opinion on country music differs from mine then you should take the following review with a grain of salt. That being said, “Like My Life Depends On It” was pretty tedious for me to listen to because everything from the rhythms, music and vocal style didn’t sit well with me.

It opens with the sheepishly sung “So-Called Friends” and plops around in mediocre country fashion for the next almost hour while never relenting in its mediocrity. The lazy vocals of songs like “Reality Check”, “Desire” and “Remedy” would probably drive Americana crooners like Neil Young insane. The music across the board sounds like sloppily put together generic country you would find in the background of a B-movie set in the south being listened to by the film’s more annoying characters. Everything on this album sounds like a rip off of something more famous and better while still maintaining being an album of purely filler with not much to grasp onto thematically or sonically.

I really don’t recommend listening to this album but if you don’t feel like listening to me instead you can listen to “Like My Life Depends On It” at the embedded link below:

 

REVIEW: Patrick Grant – “FIELDS AMAZE and other sTRANGE music”

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I absolutely jumped at the opportunity to review this Patrick Grant album. I’m a huge fan of Tilted Axes and A Sequence of Waves, his last two albums. When I found out this was a remixed re-release of his very first release recorded at Phillip Glass’ Looking Glass Studios, I was even more ecstatic. “FIELDS AMAZE and other sTRANGE music” contains a hodgepodge of intricate rhythms played in unconventional and experimental ways using a variety of instruments and methods.

Over the course of the hour and change of run time you are treated to an eclectic variety of sounds. From the shuffling rhythms of the album opener “Keeping Still” to the chaotic piano and percussion concerto of “Everything Distinct:Everything the Same” to the prog-rock of “The Weight of Numbers” and album closer “If One Should Happen to Fall” to the distinctly spooky renditions of Part 1 & 2 of “Imaginary Horror Film”, there is ear candy for any educated listener brave enough to spend the time with it.

Music is most successful when it’s not a stationary endeavor. Songs have to grow, evolve, and transform and transcend their formulas to really have a profound effect on our mind. I can honestly say that Patrick Grant has accomplished that feat with “FIELDS AMAZE” and if you are a fan of experimental music you should give it a chance.

You can pre-order “FIELDS AMAZE and other sTRANGE music” by Patrick Grant prior to it’s release on October 1, 2018 at his bandcamp link below:

https://tiltedaxes.bandcamp.com/album/fields-amaze-and-other-strange-music

Review: B. Mills – “The Life & Times of an Eternal Optimist”

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On B. Mills album “The Life & Times of an Eternal Optimist” we are treated to a medley of soulful R&B and hip-hop in the vein of John Legend, Lauryn Hill, and Childish Gambino. However, I feel as if I’m doing those three artists a disservice mentioning them alongside B. Mills as his homage to their styles is largely boring and lackluster. I vibe with the socially conscious messages he has across this album however I feel the production and lyrical choices were too derivative and didn’t come off nearly as inspiring as the artist intended for them to be.

From the opening strumming of “And We Rise” kicking off with the spelling of his artist name which is largely overrated and completely overdone throughout hip-hop’s history I could feel the mess that this album was brewing. Everything from the lightly auto-tuned vocals, variation of four similar beats across the entire album, that synth you hear in every 90’s R&B and hip-hop track, to the cliche lyrics just meshed together into one big unoriginal mess.

With that said, I was able to find some decent enough moments in this album. While the waltz rhythm of “Slow Motion” has been beaten to a pulp from every R&B/Soul artist starting with Marvin Gaye and forward, B. Mills manages to turn it into a highlight on this album. The piano melody of “Life is Beautiful” coinciding with it’s clearly-displayed message work together very well to make for a good closing song. I just wish I could have felt this type of energy and experienced this synergy between the lyrics and music throughout the entire album as I would have really enjoyed the album much more. The plus side of this album is that it is only 8 songs long so it won’t take up too much of your time but do yourself a favor and at least listen to the last two songs if you’re having trouble with the first few tracks.

Check out “The Life & Times of an Eternal Optimist” by B. Mills at the embedded link below or on Spotify as well: