Tuesday, April 30, 2013

CD Review: Keznamdi's 'Bridging The Gap'

Bridging The Gap
Higher Intelligence

Jamaican-based Keznamdi brings us a reggae-inflected album of six new songs on his latest release, Bridging The Gap. There are spacious, pop hooks, and R&B-tinged tunes with some jazzy, urban beats that are still reggae-based, but there enough grooves and arrangements that span several genres. The music is interrelated and rather free-flowing overall. "Darkness" contains a little reggae, hip-hop, jazz, pop, and electronic elements that are engaging and memorable. "I Don't Wanna" opens with a little reggae guitar work and island vocals that are laid-back and enticing. "Is This Love" begins with a little shout-out and some hip-hop hooks with swishy percussion and back-up vocals. "Just Vibe" is a more urban tune with lush guitar hooks and typical reggae beats. The final track, "The Weekend Oohs," opens with some spacious washes and twinkling piano sounds with an electronica-based groove. Overall, Keznamdi succeeds with an intriguing and unforgettable set of songs that should satisfy reggae fans, as well as contemporary Jamaican music aficionados. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Harmonic Blue's 'Villa Borghese'

Harmonic Blue
Villa Borghese

The Maryland-based quartet, Harmonic Blue, is an alt-pop, rock, folk, and classical group that is refreshing and amazing in the same vein. Lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist, Zach Field, is joined by Anthony Ajluni on guitars, Gabe Bustos on bass, keyboard, and harmonica, and Sam Balcom on drums and percussion. The breezy, "Silver Spoon," is slightly jazzy overall, but not too far removed from alt-pop and folk. Jake Balcom's trumpet solo at the end of the song finishes it off nicely. The jaunty, ambulating "Subreality" is anything but fiction. The lilting guitar and wavering harmonica tones set the stage for an alt-folk composition that opens up into a quasi-rock medley mid-song. "Villa Borghese" opens with a rumbling guitar tune and light percussion that would make Xavier Rudd jealous. The tune finishes with a nice trumpet display. The seven-track release is a heavenly rompy through the world of alt-folk, pop, and rock with a raw, organic performative nature. This is a very fine recording that will please the college crowd, as well as the refined audiophile. ~ Matthew Forss

Sunday, April 28, 2013

CD Review: Myloe's 'Empty Out Your Mind'

Empty Out Your Mind

The Boston-based alt-rock band, Myloe, is comprised of Fred Mubang on guitar, Alan Hokom on vocals/guitar, Tom Shani on bass, and Zach Mullings on drums. The new album is rather short with only six songs. However, the music is diverse with a solid repertoire of alt-rock vocals, lush guitar melodies, and punchy grooves that gritty, classic, and all-encompassing. There is a limited display of screaming guitar noises and vocals that are difficult to understand are nowhere to be found. "Empty Out Your Mind" is a punchy guitar song with a driving guitar melodies that are somewhat akin to the UK's McFly, but the vocals are more aligned with Incubus. "In Your Eyes" is a good rock tune with lush guitar sounds and vocal harmonies. "What Is Paradise" contains jingly guitar stylings and rock anthem-like choruses that are contemporary and guitar-driven. "Standstill City" opens with punchy bass, Latin-like percussion, powerful vocal lines, and giddy instrumental arrangements. There are punchy, classic, and melodic guitar arrangements that are difficult to describe with some Scandinavian or Celtic-like driven sounds. However, the rock guitar presence is still paramount here. Though, all in all, Myloe creates a short, but powerful release of guitar beauty, vocal prowess, and creative arrangements. ~ Matthew Forss    

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

CD Review: Roswitha's 'Destiny'


Austrian-born and New York-based, Roswitha dazzles crowds with genre-bending compositions with mixed rock, funk, classical, new age, world fusion, and experimental-folk explosions of sonic beauty. Roswitha's vocals are similar in tone to the UK's Katie Melua, but the compositions are more punchy and diverse. "Destiny" opens with a punchy guitar line that is slightly Spanish--almost Mediterranean--with a light folk-pop presence. "My Life" is a speed-folk composition with electronic vocals, symphonic accompaniment, and grungy guitar sounds. "Just Near To Me" is a piano ballad with back-up vocals throughout. The tune is vocally congruent with Adele, Leigh Nash, and Katie Melua, but the music is relatively low-key without any percussion or guitars. "Purpose" is a classical tune with piano, violin, and avant-garde vocals. "Desire" is a multi-faceted song with lush vocals, rich instrumentation, and diverse arrangements that span the entire European continent. At any rate, Roswitha is an innovative musician that showcases fourteen unique musical concoctions that are almost indefinable. Nothing is amiss here. ~ Matthew Forss 

CD Review: Uncle Devin Show's 'Drum Tales!'

Uncle Devin Show
Drum Tales!

The Washington, DC-based educator, multi-instrumentalist, and composer, Uncle Devin, brings us a talented mix of ten songs that target younger viewers and listeners. As a children's album, the music is rather innovative and adult-oriented with occasional rap, spoken word, and helium-enriched vocals that get a message across without confusing listeners. The songs touch on social topics of Internet usage, healthy eating/living, days that don't go right, and doing what's right. Some of the songs, especially "Tell The Truth" and "Good Health Final," incorporate dance and electronic elements that stem from keyboard grooves of Eastern Africa. There are some vocal introductions to the percussion on "Drum Roll Call" that are engaging and performative. There are even scat vocals that mimic the percussive sounds. This is part African, South American, and North American. There are lessons in counting, language formation, and dance instruction. The quirky and comedic "I Like Onions" contains instructional learning about one of the most unlikely vegetables to make it in a song, but Uncle Devin succeeds with lead vocals, percussive tones, and munchkin-like vocals. Overall, the music is rather productive with varied vocals, spoken segments, varied percussion, multi-ethnic musical styles, and great lyrics. This one will be a favorite for parents, but the children will get a bigger kick out of the music. I give it five tiny fingers up! ~ Matthew Forss   

Friday, April 19, 2013

CD Review: Oh, Jeremiah's 'Tall Tales And Tiny Fables'

Oh, Jeremiah
Tall Tales And Tiny Fables

The lyrical wordplay of bluegrass-esque and folksy pop singer, composer, and guitarist, Oh, Jeremiah, dazzles audiences with sheer sincerity and catchy melodies on his new five-track release, Tall Tales And Tiny Fables. Based in Mississippi, Oh, Jeremiah brings carefree vocals to the mix with sweeping guitar tunes, wavering strings, and some percussion. "Better Man" is an uppity tune with a bluegrass or folk presence. "Circles" is an acoustic treasure with vocal similarities to Dave Matthews and Australia's Xavier Rudd. "Happy Now" brings a sort of new age pop presence to the forefront with a light rock beat without electric guitars and the usual angst-ridden characteristics. The choppy beat and punchy string accompaniment makes the song shine with elements of neo-classicism, folk, contemporary pop, and new age. "Mississippi, I'm Yours" opens with a jaunty acoustic guitar, lead and backup vocals, and a void of percussion. This a memorable tune with slow, string accompaniment. There is a good degree of melancholy throughout the album. "The Scariest Thing" contains some percussion and alt-rock ambiance with some strings and folk-pop charm with piano accompaniment. With vocals akin to Dave Matthews, Xavier Rudd, and R.E.M., Oh, Jeremiah promises to astound all who seek good folk music. ~ Matthew Forss

Friday, April 12, 2013

CD Review: CSC Funk Band's 'Funkincense'

CSC Funk Band
Electric Cowbell Records

Born out of Brooklyn, New York, CSC Funk Band continues to ignite the Afro-beat and funk music charts with scintillating beats, nostalgic horns, and rippling guitar grooves that are impossible to ignore. The sub-forty-minute romp through Afro-funk bliss contains eight tracks and some of them contain vocals. The heady mix of sax, trombone, guitar, percussion, bass, and keyboard provides a pulsating result that is catchy, psychedelic, infectious, and undeniably great. The grooves are layered with fine horns, fluid bass, and Afro-centric nostalgia that cannot be made any better by anyone else. These funkers are without a doubt the best in the biz right now. The whole album wreaks of funkincense from head to toe and track to track. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Andy Palmer's 'Hazard Of The Die'

Andy Palmer
Hazard Of The Die

Coming out of Colorado, Andy Palmer presents us with an alt-folk-rock EP of quirky, edgy, bluesy, and poetic odes of human brilliance. The eight songs are diverse with a classy feel overall. For instance, the guitars reverberate on a few songs, which add a slight psychedelic tone to the songs. There are a few other instruments that add to the rootsy, folksy, and alternative-inspired tunes. The violin, harmonica, drums, and bass add to the repertoire. Andy's acrobatic vocals traverse high registers and throaty, low sounds--both of which are showcased on "The Monk." There are bluesy leanings on "Heart Of Colfax." There are slow guitar meanderings on "Broke Down In Bellevue." A hint of blues and jazz emanates from some of the tunes. The nostalgic, bluesy, Spanish-titled tune, "Hay Algo Muy Mal," contains rippling guitars, edgy percussion, and diverse vocalizations. Andy's rough vocals are appropriate throughout and are vocally similar to Xavier Rudd, The Devlins, Jace Everett, and Douglas September. The guitar stylings are similar to The Devlins and Jace Everett with limited rock arrangements overall. The mature vocals and quirky instrumental arrangements make for an interesting musical journey that is anything but boring. Andy is not lucky here; it's all talent. ~ Matthew Forss      

Friday, April 5, 2013

CD Review: Gift Of Tongues' 'Songs Of My People'

Gift Of Tongues
Songs Of My People

The theatrical and performative antics of electronica and dark music magnate, Gift Of Tongues, is not your usual music group. There are a mix of gruesome anthems with comedic, ironic, and thought-provoking lyrics about some of America's most provocative killers, including Manson and Dahmer. That is only one aspect of the recording, as the rest of the tracks contain darkly-brooding electronica with metallic and industrial beats, noises, and sounds that are rather light overall. The vocals are rather robotic, but the melodies are particularly catching, including the piano-based, Chopsticks-like portion of "Dahmeresque," as well as "What's Mommy Getting Up To," "Long Way Home," and "Home." More techno-focused tunes, such as "Big Bad Wolf," "Glory Hole," and "I Am A Large Man" showcase some poetic wordplay and blurby percussion. There are swishy sounds, blurby electronics, static vocals, robotic vocals, and piano melodies that meld the past with the future. There are enought sounds to evoke an enthusiastic response of enjoyment. There is a dark sense of humanity that permeates each song, but that is not a bad thing. When poetic lyrics, enticing rhythms and melodies, and theatrical displays of sound come together unabashed, Songs Of My People results. Think of Enigma crossed with Rob Zombie and Squonk Opera. Simply amazing. ~ Matthew Forss     

CD Review: Optic Yellow Felt's Self-Titled Release

Optic Yellow Felt
Optic Yellow Felt

The Brazilian sextet consisting of Victor Nader (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Nando Morsani (back-up vocals, piano), Ricardo Pires (back-up vocals, sax), Eduardo Marson (back-up vocals, guitar), Tiago B. (back-up vocals, drums), and Lino Nader (back-up vocals, bass), create enthralling music that is eclectic, classy, quirky, and avant-garde. The lead vocals are quite akin to Dave Matthews. Moreover, the light drum percussion, sax embellishments, airy flute sounds, and oveall arrangements are not too far off from the instrumental repertoire of the Dave Matthews Band. The jazzy and plaintive guitar stylings of "Close To Sadness" is especially avant-garde. The light and wispy vocals ambulate along with quirky effervescence. There are piano moments and accordion-like embellishments that appear. "Let You Wonder" is an uppity tune with jaunty guitar work and punchy percussion with a slight Soweto lean via Rio de Janeiro. "So Complex" is a soulful piano ballad with vocals nearly out of breath, but the entire song is under one-minute in length.     
"Don't Bend" is an anthemic tune with lush guitar work, punchy sax, and quirky noises. There are glistening sounds and catchy melodies on this somewhat avant-garde release. Despite the unusual band name, the group comes out ahead without any missteps. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Lisa Bell's 'The Italian Project'

Lisa Bell
The Italian Project

The Colorado-based blues-stress and alt-rock guitarist, Lisa Bell, brings us a thrilling set of blues, folk, and rock-influenced tunes on the latest release, The Italian Project. The heady opener, "Bring The Love," is an alt-rock anthem with bluesy ambiance and rootsy appeal. "Come My Way" is still alt-rock, but much more reduced in tone. The vocals are akin to Melissa Etheridge, but not as throaty or loud. "One Face, One Race" opens with a laid-back percussion set and a breezy--almost jazzy--set-up. "A Brighter Day" begins with a few guitar strums, light hand drum sounds, and heart-felt vocals amidst a jazzy melody with lively bass and piano. "From The Outside Looking In" opens with strings, piano, vocals, and percussion. The chorus is more classic and majestic than most other songs on the album. The tune is bluesy, classic rock, and roots music. Overall, the eleven tunes represent a mix of blues, jazz, alt-rock, roots, and classic pop with a mature element that signals an invaluable recording. Fans will find some endearing tunes that are not to be missed. ~ Matthew Forss