Archive for songs

The Counteracts-‘The Curse Of The Counteracts’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2018 by TheManicBlogger

 

The Counteracts, the Kent, England duo of Simon Biscoe & Doug Smith, recently released ‘The Curse of The Counteracts‘. With 14 tracks of quirky, pop songs that deal with themes of love and love lost, the album is an incredibly fun listen. Coupled with solid melodies and cool changes, the album serves up a musically minimalist approach that is still able to deliver a surprisingly full and complete sound. The arrangements are wonderfully clever, adding the sound of strings and horns to a 1960s folk/pop vibe. There are elements of various musical styles, from the Calypso feel of  “If You Only Knew” to the singing cowboy theme running through “Here In My Arms“. I heard hand clapping, bells, trombone, some way cool organ, and great percussion. There are obvious Beatle references, evidenced by the ending of “I’ve Got A Crush On You”, the chord that lasts forever on “You Never Listen“, and the Let It Be piano intro of “And I Lost It All“.  The Counteracts have delivered their music their way, and the result is an insanely amount of fun. Favorite tracks: “The Post Bus“, with its circus/calliope feel; “And I Lost It All“, with the Let It Be piano intro, wonderful string sound, and the melodic, harmonized whistling; and “When You Were Mine“, which offers a carnival vibe, great percussion, and a trombone. A great album to take on any road trip. You can check it out and order yourself a copy on Bandcamp.

https://thecounteracts.bandcamp.com/album/the-curse-of-the-counteracts

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE WHIFFS-Take A Whiff

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2017 by TheManicBlogger

I recently had the opportunity to listen to ‘Take A Whiff‘,  the new release from Kansas City, MO.’s, The Whiffs. The power-pop/rock band showcases their knack for writing wonderful ‘pop’ songs, filled with memorable melodies and nice harmonies, nestled in 2-3 minutes of pop heaven. There are cool guitar riffs and solos, catchy hooks, and nice changes. At times, the album feels like a throwback to an era of fast cars and jukeboxes, yet the sound  is timeless. This is simple, well written music, with a raw edge. And we like it.  A fun time; a 60’s dance party that you’ll want to invite all of your friends to. Definitely worth  getting up to take a whiff. Favorite tracks: “Backseat“, “Out Of Mind“, “I Need You Here“.

Check it out for yourself here, and get yourself a copy.

Bruce Tunkel

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2017 by TheManicBlogger

 

I started off with the intention of writing a review of Bruce Tunkel‘s latest release. Another New Jersey musician, I thought. I was sent several cds, and after listening to them, over and over again, I have discovered that Bruce Tunkel is not just another New Jersey musician.

The most recent release, 2017’s ‘Bittersweet‘, is a poignant look into the artist, filled with songs that deal with emotional upheaval, love, hope, and depression. There are wonderful melodies, accompanied by beautiful piano and powerfully soulful vocal tracks. The simplicity of using only piano and vocals, adds to the mood of the album, and touches the listener. The songs are well written, and to be honest, I really didn’t miss any additional instrumentation. The exception, “So Many Ways“, uses acoustic guitar and mandolin to exact the same emotions I felt in the other tracks. A brilliant release, one which you should get your hands on. You can check it out here.

We’ll Make It Up As We Go‘, a double cd released in 2015, is insanely good. A very different sound than that on ‘Bittersweet’, this album is filled with melodic Jersey rock songs, with influences as diverse as power-pop, country and blues infused throughout. I heard very cool guitar, organ, strings, and powerful vocals. The arrangements are dynamite, and I was unable to find a track I didn’t like. At times there is a familiarity to the album, and I can hear bits of Bon Jovi drifting in, only to become part of something bigger in the track. Wonderfully done. I only wish I had been aware of this album in 2015. Favorite tracks: ‘Losing Kind‘, ‘Drive Me Sane‘, ‘Dream Big‘,  and ‘Birthday Girl‘.Check it out here.

There was 1 project I was able to listen to, the 2017 release of The Susan Rumors debut album. A pop-rock-blues album that would be a dynamite addition to any collection. You can check out The Susan Rumors here: https://thesusanrumors.bandcamp.com/.

After my weekend spinning Bruce Tunkel cds, I have realized just what a talented artist he is. Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, producer, songwriter, and arranger, able to pull several genres and fuse them into one cohesive album. Wonderful stuff.

THE TURNBACK-Are We There Yet?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

New York City area band, The Turnback, released their new album Are We There Yet? with very little fanfare. There should have been a parade!!

turnback2The album opens with ‘Faketown‘,  a wonderfully aggressive track with a cool shuffle feel, and them shifts into a wonderous blend of 1960s pop and 1980s power pop. The sound is addictive! The vocals are dynamite. Just listen to ‘Revolution Girl‘  which has an exceptional  harmonized vocal track, and pay attention to the riff on ‘July‘ and ‘If I Were God‘. The hooks on ‘A Place For Me‘ and ‘First Song Of Summer‘ are outstanding.  It was incredibly difficult to pull a favorite track off of this album, however we have 2: ‘Five Days A Week‘ brings a wonderful melody, a sweet riff, great harmonies, and some cool changes together, and finishes with an incredible Beatlesque ending. And while we are on the subject of The Beatles, Turnback have placed a cover of The Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows‘ on the album. Turns out to be one of the best covers of a Beatle song I have ever heard! The harmonies are to die for, and they even work in the riff from ‘Taxman’ for good measure. Exceptionally well done!

 

 

turnback1Are We There Yet is way cool Power Pop. I seem to be involved in a love affair with this album, It makes me happy, and asks for nothing in return. It has me singing around the house. The songs are exceptional, with great melodies, wonderful harmonies, dynamite bridges & choruses, and unforgettable hooks. The Turnback have delivered an incredibly great album, that I am referring to as Power Pop of the new millennium! The production is wonderful. There is a sweet balance here, with nothing over the top. A contender for The I Can’t Believe My Earz Top Indie Album of 2015!! It is pure power pop perfection!! Check it out here for yourself, and get a dozen or so copies. Give them to your family and friends. Or keep them all for yourself. I would. And if they ever hold a parade for this release, I will be there, front and centre, with a truckload of ticker tape.

 

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JEROME & THE PSYCHICS-Money Is Violence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

J&TPFrom Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the soul, rock, R & B, band, Jerome & The Psychics released their second full length album, ‘Money is Violence‘ in December 2014. Now living in Bloominton, Indiana, their influences include The Byrds, The Yardbirds, Pretty Things, Small Faces, and Otis Redding. With great melodies, horns, and organ, Jerome & The Psychics have delivered a wonderful collection of songs that can best be described as Brazilian garage rock. Worth several listens.

http://jeromeandthepsychics.bandcamp.com/album/money-is-violence

 

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THE HOT SPROCKETS-Brother Nature

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

hs6I have been following The Hot Sprockets since their 2011 release of ‘Honey Skippin. I was fortunate enough to catch this Dublin, Ireland band at Canada Indie Week, part of a North American Tour to promote the June, 2014 release of their latest album, ‘Brother Nature‘.

The album opens with “Quarter Roam“, with its powerful vocals, great changes, and choral harmonies. The combination of acoustic and electric guitars is wonderfully melodic, and I think I heard some slide guitar in this track. The melody rocks, the effects are cool, and I dig the drumming. The early rock and roll influences on “Boogie Woogie“, are almost Rockabilly. This song delivers a high energy tempo, with dynamite and unexpected changes, some dynamite harmonica, and a great vocal track. “Shake Me Off” brings great harmonies, cool changes, and wonderful hs3instrumentation. The country-blues sound of “Comin’ On‘ offers some sweet guitar picking, a dynamite bass line, and a great melody. A wonderfully lively track. “Lay Me Down“, a beautifully sweet song, with acoustic guitar, nice harmonies, wonderful vocals, and, as an added bonus, some way cool banjo. The western style of “El Torro“, an instrumental, comes across like a cowboy tune, a great song to listen to on a cattle drive! It brings wonderful guitar, and great harmonica. The powerfully “Show Me The Weight” gives up dynamite guitar and great harmonies.  “Women & Chile”  delivers some R & B vibes, incorporating great guitar effects, wonderful drumming, a cool melody, and perfectly placed harmonica. One great track! The melody of “Someday” joins the acoustic guitar picking to create a simply serene track. “Soul Brother” just plain rocks. A wonderful tempo brings this blues-rock track to life. There are great guitar riffs and a way cool solo, wonderful harmonies, dynamite changes and insanely good vocal effects. The bluesy, acid hs2rock sentiment of “Heavy On My Mind“,  reminds me of Steppenwolf. With a cool guitar riff that drives the great melody, and incredible drumming, what else could I ask for? Well, The Hot Sprockets thought that flute would be a good idea. They were right. Amazing! The incredibly wonderful “Homeslice” offers a great melody, coupled with sweet harmonies, over what sounds like strings and a mandolin. My favorite track on the album, “The Worried Kind“, brings a great melody delivered by a wicked vocal track. The changes and harmonies are wonderful, and I hear strings! The song has a John Lennon thing going on, both in melody and vocals, and I like it. A beautifully written and performed song!

 

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Well, there you have it. Brother Nature. 13 tracks, and not a bad one to be found. I have listened to this album for the 4th time, and it just keeps getting better. The songs are insanely good. The production, wonderful. These guys can write. These guys can play. The album has a ‘live off the floor’ feel to it. I haven’t heard this much energy in an album in a long time. The Hot Sprockets refer to their music as ‘country dirt”. I prefer to call it Irish Soul! Brother Nature is one of the most powerful albums I have heard in 2014, filled with the unusual, and the unexpected.  A definite must have for your collection, and a definite contender for I Can’t Believe My Earz’  Album Of The Year. Don’t just take my word for it, listen here: http://thehotsprockets.bandcamp.com/album/brother-nature

 

 

 

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SURF KITTIES

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

skDuring one of my trips to music streaming sites, I came across Surf Kitties, a Calgary, Alberta band that released a self titled album in March 2013. As their name suggests, this trio is way into surf music.

The 7 track album is an instrumental journey back to the days of Frankie & Annette movies, and The Ventures.The songs are 2-3 minutes in duration, and are filled with way cool guitar riffs, dynamite bass lines, solid drumming, and tremolo. The band may be a little rough around the edges, but I am just so liking the Surf Kitties. The album is available as ‘pay any price’ on Bandcamp. Definitely worth checking out.

http://surfkitties.bandcamp.com/album/surf-kitties

 

 

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STAN SIMON AND THE HOTEL BIBLE/JJ AND THE PILLARS-Toronto Roots Music

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

So, I have discovered two  Toronto area bands who play an interesting blend of folk, pop, rock, and western. I suppose it is as close to Toronto folk/roots music as one could get. Both of these bands were on my “must see” list at Canada Indie Week, however  I was unable to catch either due to scheduling issues.Pretty excited by the sound, though.

sshbHailing from Toronto, Stan Simon and The Hotel Bible released an album in July 2013. ‘Escaping The Madhouse‘ shines with 10 wonderfully written songs with wonderful melodies. There are some cool guitar riffs, wonderful harmonica, clarinet, and violin thrown in with incredibly satisfying results. The vocals are soothing, coupled with sweet harmonies. The album comes off with a singer/songwriter focus, which Stan Simon clearly is. A very cool album, with great songs and creative instrumentation. A sort of alternative folk-pop-rock with a western bite. Check out the way cool guitar on “Into Nowhere“, and the clarinet on “My Drunk Heart“. Definitely one for the collection. You can have a listen here: http://stansimon.bandcamp.com/album/escaping-the-madhouse

 

 

jj1Another Toronto based band,  JJ & The Pillars are originally from Peterborough, Ontario. Winners of The Edge’s Next Big Thing competition, the band released their 7 track album, ‘Wolves“, in August 2014.  Each song is filled with wonderfully soothing acoustic guitar, exciting melodies, and exceptional harmonies. There are dynamic changes, some great drumming, and cool harmonica. The vocals are insanely good as they deliver poignant lyrics.   The songs are hypnotic, offering great melodies, wonderful harmonies, and way cool changes and transitions. Pay particular attention to “Ship Away“, “Gone With Me“, and “I’m On Fire“. A wonderful folk-pop sound, highlighted by amazing harmonies. A must have for your collection. Beautiful. Check it out here: http://jjandthepillars.bandcamp.com/album/wolves-2

 

 

 

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GAR FRANCIS-The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

I am not sure if there is anything Gar Francis cannot do. The Guru Of Garage has swung his guitar into The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same. Released in 2010 to the European market only, the 12 track album of Americana has finally hit North American shores and has been released by New Jersey’s Bongo Boy Records.

gf3The opening track, “Midnight In Rome“, delivers a great melody, with wonderful changes. The guitar picking is cool as hell, while the keys smolder under a hot vocal track. “How Its Supposed To Be” has an insanely powerful chorus but it takes nothing away from the licks and riff, and the dynamite organ. The Latin feel of “Palaces”  is wonderfully created by bongos, acoustic guitar, strings and organ. The effects on the harmonies are brilliant, and I dig the ‘Mexicali” themed guitar solo! “Down At The Ocean Gate” offers a great acoustic guitar solo, and way cool harmonies amid multi-tracked guitars. I like the mandolin and bongos on “Bank Of The River“, the way cool reverb of the almost rockabilly “Ole Tom’s River“, and the wonderfully Dylanesque feel to “Another Cowboy Rides” , with its great organ, guitar solo, cool riffs, and a dynamite vocal track.

 

 

The jug band vibe of “She’s Still Blue” proves once and for all that Gar Francis can write and play anything! The washboard and concertina are amazing, and the melody, so sweet. Gar’s vocals are spectacular on “Raise A Hand“, and the song’s socio-political gf4message resonates, at least,with me. The melody and harmonies highlight some way cool changes and incredibly melodic instrumentation. “The Sun Will Never Go Down” offers cool changes, a great chorus, a wonderful bass run, and beautiful choral style harmonies. I like this track. The acoustic guitar solo in “Adeline” shines amid the mandolin and bongos. The song is beautifully simple yet manages a great bridge, a dynamite chorus, and a wonderful ending. And, that leaves “Oh Annie“, my favorite track on the album. The wonderful chorus, dynamite guitar, including a way cool riff, an amazing melody, and some great organ, make this the standout track. A wonderful song with a way cool blues-rock-folk-country thing going on, that is reminiscent of Levon Helm and The Band. “Oh Annie, someone’s got to settle you down“. Indeed.

gf54This album demonstrates just how talented Gar Francis is. As a song writer; as a producer; as a musician, and a performer. I hear rockabilly, jug band, Latin, roots, blues, folk, and rock. I listened to bongos, banjo, mandolin, and organ. I heard a washboard, a concertina, and I think an upright bass. There are vocal and guitar effects. But most importantly, there are 12 incredible tracks that will hold you from beginning to end. I have been a Gar Francis fan for years, and this album has me wondering, why isn’t everybody? Get it as soon as you can. Then, put on your cowboy boots, grab your honey and have a blast. The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same is a must have album. Get yours here:  http://www.bongoboyrecords.com/Albums.html.  You can stream some of Gar’s other music here:  

 

 

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WHISKER KISS

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

wk1Somewhere in Western Canada, between Edmonton and Vancouver, there lives Whisker Kiss. In my travels through the internet, I stumbled upon their 2010 self titled EP. I could find nothing more recent. After listening, I was quite disappointed that I could find nothing else from this band.

The album is filled with wonderfully written songs, fueled by beautiful melodies, and harmonies. There are great changes, and a simplicity that draws you in. There are chimes, or xylophone, and concertina, or it is all synthetic.  Either way it really doesn’t matter. It sounds great. I heard way cool guitar riffs, and amazing vocals.I heard acoustic guitar, and some great arrangements. I particularly liked “House“, with its amazing bridge, and wonderful transitions, that transforms this acoustic folk track into a powerful pop song.

 

 

The album rises above instrumentation, and puts the focus on the songs. With a style that is reminiscent of Paul Simon, the themes focus on man’s relationship with his environment. Talented and topical! This is one of those albums that could be overlooked, and possibly forgotten. A musical masterpiece lost amid the noise. Check it out for yourself. Head to Bandcamp and buy at least 1 for yourself. I suggest you get another 1 for someone you care about. It is that good.

Check it out here:   http://whiskerkiss.bandcamp.com/

 

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