Archive for songwriter

CLARA ENGEL-Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2016 by TheManicBlogger

The 5 track album, Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss, released by Clara Engel in April 2016, has captivated and fascinated me. The Toronto cesinger/songwriter/musician has delivered an exciting, and yes, eccentric, collection of songs that I have not been able to stop listening to. There are hauntingly beautiful melodies, enhanced by a minimalist approach, that is  both soothing and exciting, and serene, yet intoxicating. The simplistic complexity of the avant-garde folk-blues, creates powerful emotions and images. There are wonderfully cool instruments being played; bowed baritone guitar, auto harp, vibes, theremin, as well as  violin, saxophone, and xylophone. The vocals tracks are exceptional, while the sound is uniquely original, fusing Delta Blues, Folk, and Alternative. There is so much going on in here, that it requires numerous listens to integrate the essence of what has been created. I could listen to this all day. Could very well contend for I Can’t Believe My Earz Indie Album Of The Year for 2016. Highly recommended that you check out this, and all of Clara Engel’s other releases out on her bandcamp page.

 

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MUTANT BIRD-Sugar Voodoo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

mutant bird2Multi instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter, Johnny Rock, an American now hanging out in London, recently released an EP as Mutant Bird. The 5 track ‘Sugar Voodoo‘ incorporates several genres, merging them into a sound thatcan only be called Psychedelic Rock Hop.

The album opens with ‘Muzzle Dust‘, a wonderfully rhythmic track with amazing guitar, some way cool effects, and a dynamite vocal track. ‘Shoot Up“, offers beautiful acoustic guitar, sweet keyboards, and interesting changes. I am almost certain I heard a cello on this track!! The cool riff on ‘Sugar Voodoo‘ acts as the perfect counterbalance to the primitive beat, and I dig the backing vocals. The horn sounds and hand clapping enhance the wonderful Middle Eastern vibe of ‘The Return‘, and ‘Space Junk‘ rocks with its way cool effects and great rhythm tracks.  Favorite track: ‘Shoot Up’.

 

 

mutant birdSugar Voodoo delivers a powerfully full sound, which embraces and infects my senses. The effects are tasteful, never overpowering the myriad of insanely incredible things going on in each track. The music is exciting, with an original sound that reminds me of what creativity is about. A wonderful time. You can check the EP out here, and then I suggest you purchase it, and show your friends something amazing that you have uncovered.

 

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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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PETER MURRAY-On Druckfarben, And More

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

pm4I set out to do an interview on the progressive-rock band, Druckfarben. As I sat down with Peter Murray, bassist, I instead found myself immersed in his story. Not a bad afternoon at all.

We began by comparing notes about progressive-rock bands, from Yes, King Crimson, and Flash, to Rush and Kansas. We taked about Gentle Giant. We talked about music. We discussed the lack of airplay progressive-rock received in the 1980s and 1990s and how it could be considered underground. We talked.

Peter is an easy interview. Ask a question and he will talk. He has stories to tell. Stories from his days with Surrender Dorothy and the major label deal; stories of his singer/songwriter solo album; stories of his pm3learning the bass line to Yes’ Close To The Edge, for the first Druckfarben gig . He is animated, and energetic. He has strong opinions on music, and the music industry. He is a musician, but foremost, he is a music fan. His interests cross all genres. If it is good, Peter appreciates and enjoys it.

We discussed The Beatles influence on progressive-rock, and queried whether Sgt. Pepper could have been the 1st progressive-rock album. As Peter sees it, progressive-rock is not so much a genre of music, pm5but an attitude. An attitude that encourages experimentation. An attitude to do something that is not usually done. An attitude that impacts not only the song writing, but the instrumentation and arrangements as well.

We delved into bass players, and I asked about his favorite. In true Peter Murray style, he couldn’t or wouldn’t identify one. Instead, names started swirling around the table: Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, Mark King, Robbie Shakespeare, Stanley Clarke, to name a few. Paul McCartney came up, and it was agreed that he is perhaps the most under rated bassist around. It was here that I saw the true passion for music in this man. He told a story of how, as a writer for Bass Player magazine, he traveled to England to interview Colin Moulding and Mark King. With his face ‘lit up’, he spoke of spending an afternoon at Moulding’s farm house, drinking tea, and listening to the as yet unreleased ‘Apple Venus’.  Very cool.

pm6We talked about Druckfarben, which grew out of  Classic Album’s Live. All of the band members have a love for progressive-rock. They enjoy playing and performing. Peter looks like a man who is having the time of his life. Bassist, song writer, teacher, author,  producer. This is an accomplished man, a Renaissance man, who shows no signs of slowing down.  Despite his impressive resume, there was no name dropping. An incredibly talented guy, who is kind, humble, and grateful.  Peter Murray is simply, a nice guy. A nice guy who just loves music. Hard not to like him.

 

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BONGO BOY RECORDS-The Singles

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

There seems to be a whack of incredibly cool music coming out of New Jersey, and Bongo Boy Records seem to have their hand on most of it. Aside from the 2013  Mark Lindsay release, Life Out Loud, and the Gar Francis EP, Shine On, this Indie label out of Belvidere, New Jersey has a truck load of singles that they are about to release on a “Singles” album. Being quite fond of Bongo Boy Monique and Garage Guru Gar-the coolest musician to come out of Jersey since Frank Sinatra– I agreed to listen and wax poetic about this soon to be released compilation.

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Jana Peri, the New York City rocker with power pop and punk influences, delivers a knock out tune with “Ballerina Of The Bowery“. Written by Gar Francis, the song has a great surf-pop groove, great harmonies and a wonderful bridge and chorus. The choppy guitar  rocks and the riff, subtly great. Terrific opening track on any album.

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I didn’t know who The Easy Outs were, but  the New Jersey rock-punk-garage band’s “Come On, Come On” is up there on my list of coolest songs I have heard lately. The track has a great 1960s feel, delivered through wonderful keys and an amazing melody. There are great horns, beautiful transitions, and a dynamite bass line. I can hear Gar Francis all over this song. The riff, clean and crisp, and the solo, as always, class, not flash. Consider this a hit.

 

gr2The wonderfully multi talented Genya Ravan contributes a Gar Francis song, “I Won’t Cry Anymore” with a powerful voice and a delivery that made me shiver.  This rock-blues tune reminds me of something that should be on Janis Joplin album, and hands out great choral harmonies in the bridge and a wonderfully R & B harmonized “whoo hoo hoo”. This woman can sing.  Powerful and pleasurable.

 

 

rk3I don’t know where he finds the time, but Rockids is another Gar Francis project. Originally formed in 1973 by Gar and Wayne Olivieri, this garage band recorded Eddie Cochran‘s “C’mon Everybody” in 2012. I love this song. I dig Rockids cover of it. The guitar layered underneath, the amazing Jerry Lee Lewis piano, and the great hook, deliver an incredible track. Might as well stand when you listen, ’cause it will get you dancing.

kcBorn Dainty“, a country-rock song, was written and produced by, you guessed it, Gar Francis. Recorded by New Jersey’s Kelly Caruso, daughter of The Doughboys bass player, Mike Caruso, this track offers some amazing banjo, cool drumming, and a great chorus. The transitions are wonderful and the guitar riff, great. Kelly delivers a wonderful vocal track. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this song covered by Kelly Clarkson.

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The Swinging Iggies,  with one of the coolest band names around, offer up “Lady Gaga“. This New Jersey garage-rock band is another one of Gar Francis’ projects. The song,  humorous and up tempo, has a dynamite power start. There are great transitions and I dig the guitar riff. Great song. Still, what a wonderful name for a band.

gfrocketOne of the most meaningful songs I have ever heard, Gar Francis’ “Rocket” touches me. This heartfelt tribute to American soldiers, raises powerful emotions as an acoustic number. The vocals are something out of Bowie’s Hunky Dory, and this is not the first time I have made a Bowie reference about Gar. The beautifully played strings set the tone and mood amid the haunting melody. Wonderful lyric like, “rest my faith against my gun”, drive home the message. I like Gar Francis unplugged.

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New Jersey singer, songwriter Gigi, contributes one way cool tune. “Put Your Freakin’ Hands Up” a  pop-dance track, in the Carly Rae JepsenCall Me Maybe” style,  has a great guitar intro and some amazing double tracked vocals. The melody, pure pop and the guitar riff in the bridge/chorus, wonderfully cool. The minimized instrumentation during the verses highlights the vocals that come with some great effects. Wonderful song with an incredible hook.

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Plainfield Slim, Gar Francis’ alter ego, offers 2 blues tunes. “Dirty Girl” has wonderful southern blues-rock guitar and sweet, double time drumming. The slide guitar rocks within a cool vocal track and nice harmonies. I swear I hear a train in there. “Let Go My Hand“, delivers a wonderful blues riff and a great rock beat. I love the guitar solo and the muted effect to the entire track. Jersey blues are way cool.

mark-lindsay_life-out-loudMy choice for coolest song of the year, “Merry Go Round (Christian’s Song)” by Mark Lindsay is a definite bonus. What can I say about this song that I haven’t said in my review of the Life Out Loud album? Way cool 60s organ, great harmonies, exciting guitar, wonderful changes, and I really dig the “less is more” drumming style. The vocals rock, the melody, dynamite and well, this is my favorite Mark Lindsay song since “Kicks“. Coolest song of the year for sure.

Well, there you have it. The Bongo Boy Records singles compilation. The genres are varied, with something to please everyone.  11 tracks destined to amaze and entertain. This album will rock you, and  it will surprise you. An amazingly eclectic collection of songs by incredibly talented artists. I would liked to have seen Gar Francis’ “Back In 1985”  included on this record.  Check it out for yourself and see what’s really going on in New Jersey. Its not just Snooki and The Sopranos. A must have for every collection.

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MESSES AND MIRACLES-The Captain Surely Drowns

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

M&M1On the heels of their 2012 debut Ep, A Place To Hang Our Heads, London, Ontario band Messes & Miracles released the 5 track EP The Captain Surely Drowns in August of this year.

This Folk-Rock band has matured since the release of their debut EP. Their acoustic rock sound, influenced by folk music is evident in the melody of “All We Are“,which features choral harmonies, and great transitions. The simple yet melodic guitar riff, makes this song. The title track, with its great changes and strong harmonies, serves as a wonderful lead in to the rockier “Dead Eyes” which uses power chords within a softer, acoustic theme. The vocals, coming in short bursts, are interesting and unique. “Daggers has the signature harmonies, a nice riff, and a fun melody. I like the piano used here and the changes in tempo are an added bonus. My favorite track on the album, “Angry World”, is an incredibly well crafted song. The ballad has a beautiful melody, framed by lush harmonies and a soft and easy guitar riff, making this song warm and infectious.

M&MMesses And Miracles are  a remarkable band.  They have a unique sound, and write songs that tell stories.  The album is filled with light songs that have heavy themes. It is beautifully  simple, subtle with complex textures. There is not much missing here, except perhaps another 5 or 6 tracks to listen to. This EP has been put into my regular listening rotation.

To listen to Messes And Miracles, click here:  http://messesmiracles.bandcamp.com/

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