Archive for strings

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.

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FRACTAL REVERB-Songs To Overcome The Ego Mind

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

FR3I discovered Fractal Reverb in the spring of 2014, after listening to their ‘How To Overcome The Ego Mind‘ release. Recently, this trio from Lodi, Italy released a 15 track, 2 CD album entitled ‘Songs To Overcome The Ego Mind‘.

The album is filled with songs that deliver wonderful melodies, great guitar, cool effects, and dynamite sounds of strings. There are changes in time signatures that blow my mind, and I swear I heard cello!! The off beat drumming is reminiscent of Bill Bruford, and the use of effects such as feedback, echo and fuzz conjure up a psychedelic vibe. The songs are wonderfully crafted and arranged, with music that FR2transitions in and out of various movements, and lyrics that are both  introspective and socially relevant. The vocal tracks are dynamite, with incredibly sweet harmonies. Some of the tracks appeared on the 2014 release, but I had no problem listening to them on this album. I was particularly impressed with ‘Song Of Something‘, with its off beat drumming, wonderful harmonic guitar, and great changes. ‘Hidden Places‘ excited with its multiple movements, and way cool effects, while ‘Song Of Everything‘ offered a dynamite instrumental melody, and a very cool bass line. My favorite track, ‘20th January 2013‘  is simply a beautiful piece of music, while being incredibly powerful at the same time. The sound of strings is an added bonus.

 

 

Songs To Overcome The Ego Mind is an incredible journey. Progressive Psychedelic Rock, a sort of FR1fusion of Yes, King Crimson, and Rush. The sound is wonderfully full, and complex, incorporating different orchestral themes within each track. A progressive free for all that is perfectly executed, and often unexpected. The album drives forward, taking you places that you never imagined existed. A brilliant piece of work! This is the kind of album you put on and just let it play, allowing the music to envelop you, and hold you within it. An epic sound. An epic album. Certainly one of the most incredible collections of music I have heard in a long time, and definitely on the shortlist for the I Can’t Believe My Earz Indie Album of The Year 2015!! Check it out for yourself, and then purchase at least 1.  http://fractalreverb.bandcamp.com/

 

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THE CREEKSIDE STRAYS-Blacklisted

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

It has been long time since The Creekside Strays released an album. Almost 2 years. After listening to their January, 2015 release, ‘Blacklisted‘, it was worth the wait. Which ever one of the Strays came up with the idea to release an album with an acoustic side, I am eternally grateful. Brilliant idea.

cs6The ‘A’ side is the electric side . The cool jazz-funk beat of “Ms. Hunter” is overshadowed only by the wonderful melody. The blues-rock “Hey, Grave Digger“, has an amazing fuzz bass line, and a little Stevie Ray Vaughan  thing going on. “Guilty Parties” delivers way cool vocals, and some double tracking. The changes in “Live This Down” rock, and “Begin To Heal” offers a dynamite melody. “Sucker Boy Blues” gives up great blues riffs, and exciting changes.

 

cs22The acoustic ‘B’ side surprised and impressed me. I heard strings, and a cello in “Blacklisted Interlude“, and maracas and possibly bongos in “Wet Palms“. The wonderful change of key in “Took A While“, and the cool effects in “Let Him Go“, amazing. “Once Again” offers sweet harmonies, and a great riff and solo in an incredibly beautiful song. “Recycled Man” gives us some of the best female vocals I have heard in a long, long time, while”Unfold” has a way cool 1980’s folk-pop-rock, sort of Sugar Ray feel. Stand out track.

 

 

cs2I am trying to figure out why The Creekside Strays are not a household name. They should be!! Blacklisted is an eclectic collection of incredible songs, with blues, jazz, funk, pop, rock, and folk elements. And they just keep getting better. This album demonstrates their maturity as songwriters, arrangers, and producers, and highlights the sophisticated simplicity of their songs. A dynamite album, and a wonderful time. A definite early contender for the I Can’t Believe My Earz 2015 Indie Album Of The Year. I suggested you grab yourself a copy, or 2. You should also check earlier The Creekside Strays releases.

Check out The Creekside Strays here: http://www.thecreeksidestrays.com/home

and here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Creekside-Strays/107927665959639

 

 

 

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THE SOLE PURSUIT

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2015 by TheManicBlogger

solepursuit2It seems that there are times when you just can’t catch everything. A great band often slips by whilst searching for great Indie Music. The Sole Pursuit, from right here in Toronto, are a band that I missed. It was my good fortune to have links to their albums forwarded to me, and so, I can breathe easy. Better late than never.

I started by listening to 4 track EP, ‘Ocean Floor’, released in May, 2014. “The Approaching Wavesolepursuit1offered great riffs, cool changes, and a dynamite bridge. I enjoyed the guitar solo, and the double guitar sound. and adored the harmonies. The sweet melody of “Ocean Floor” is accentuated by some way cool guitar effects, and a wonderful vocal track. The acoustic “Light Overhead” delivers incredible harmonies throughout a beautiful melody. A powerful song. The last track, a way cool cover of Springsteen‘s “Dancing In The Dark“, blew me away. They nailed it! The kick ass harmonies help make this a wonderfully original cover. These guys punched it up, and delivered a driving, heavier version, that is the best best cover of this song you will ever hear!

 

 

Moving on, I listened to the 7 track ‘Opposing Force’, released in 2013.  The opening track, “Unabashedly Unafraid”  begins with a wonderful military drum roll. The vocals and harmonies are great, and the melody is catchy as hell. And check out those piercing guitars! “Sedan” offers some cool solepursuit3effects, a great melody, and dynamite changes. The drumming rocks, the acoustic intro is sweet, and I really like the simple guitar solo. There is an almost Zydeco feel to “Tunnel Metaphysics“, and it works. The acoustic guitar & mandolin serve as a wonderful backdrop to an amazing melody, and I know I heard piano. “The Second Renaissance” has some amazing effects, which demonstrates the band’s willingness to play with sounds. This is so cool! The melody, and changes are amazing, and I really enjoyed the sound of strings. The funkified “It Waves” delivers amazing keys, and a dynamite bass line, wrapped up with sweet vocals, great changes, nice harmonies, and tambourine. There are 2 stand out tracks. “I Devised A Plan” has a wonderfully sweet melody, carried by acoustic guitar and mandolin. Paired with electronics and strings, the sound is simply beautiful. An Amazing track! My favorite track on the album is “A Post Modern Blue“. Cool drumming, a wonderful guitar solo, and great effects highlight this track. The harmonies are sweet, and the double guitar sound, rocks. An incredibly beautiful composition and arrangement.

 

 

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The Sole Pursuit deliver the goods with a wonderfully original and creative take on power-pop. There are shades of progressive rock, noticeable in the intricate changes that  fuse several musical themes together. The result is incredibly melodic and moving music. The songs are musical journeys, taking me places I did not expect to go, and then bringing me back to where I started. Like being on a road trip. They are well crafted, filled with honesty and depth. Listen carefully to the lyrics. Very clever. Very cool! I am a fan, patiently waiting for a 2015 release.

You can check out The Sole Pursuit here: http://thesolepursuit.bandcamp.com/album/ocean-floor

https://www.facebook.com/thesolepursuit

 

 

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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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STUPIDITY-Move

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

stupidity3Sometime in the mid to late 1970s, I spent 2 or 3 months in Sweden. All I knew about this vastly blonde country: Abba, Volvo, and Ikea. My image of Sweden changed with my discovery of Stupidity. This garage rock band from Stockholm, formed in 2005 out of the ashes of  Eager Beaver, and The Cool Jerks.  Taking their name from the classic Solomon Burke song, they released their latest album, Move in 2011. Where the hell was I when this came out?

The fact is, I have found it, and this is an amazing album. A sort of neo-punk/garage sound going on here. The album contains great melodies, wonderful changes and transitions, and some very cool harmonies. The vocals are perfectly suited, the bass lines are dynamite, and the guitar riffs and solos, well, just plain rock. The inclusion of harmonica and organ put this album over the top.

stupidity1There are 3 standout tracks. “Linda’s Eyes“, with a great solo, cool drumming and spectacular chorus, is a must listen to. Over and over again. The changes are nice and the hook still plays in my head. The great guitar effects of “Reflections” are insanely cool. The song has a great pop melody, and I hear horns and choppy strings. The vocal track and the heavy drums give this a Lou Reed feel. Amazing track. The guitar into to “You“, the organ, the way cool riff and effects, help provide a 1960’s feel to the music and melody. Another stellar song.

stupidity2Stupidity have mastered the marriage of punk, rock, and pop. This album serves up incredible songs with interesting instumentation. and a few very cool surprises. This is definitely not Ikea. This album is boundless energy. This is one for the collection. And the car.  Catch them live, whenever you can. As often as you can. Incredible band.

To check out Move:  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/stupidity3

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THE MINNOWS-Live At The Belfast Barge

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

minnows1There are Irish bands I like, and Irish bands I really like. I like U2, The Pogues, and The Cranberries. I really like Them, Thin Lizzy,  The Boomtown Rats, and The Minnows. Originally called Tiberius Minnows, which I like to believe is in homage to the captain of the USS Enterprise, James Tiberius Kirk, this band released several singles and EPs from the late 80s and into 2007. In 2008, now called The Minnows, they released their full length album, Leonard Cohen’s Happy Compared To Me.. It was a great surprise and thrill to find Live At The Belfast Barge. This 10 track album contains songs both old and new.

The album opens with “Roonkin“, filled with great guitar, a wonderful bass line and cool vocals. The effects add another dimension to this pop-rock song, with stellar vocals that be-cry “Oh no, I forgot my guitar. I don’t know how I got this far“. The melody and harmonies are dynamite and the changes rock. One of those songs I wish was 3 minutes longer. The previously unreleased “What Was I Supposed To Do” contains incredible horns and strings sounds and opens with bongo playing. An amazing melody, powerful vocals and a way cool guitar riff, make this one of my favorite ballads of all time.”The Steepest Hill” has great harmonies, and nice electronic effects. The transitions and changes add to the melancholy feel that underlies this track. With cello and bells, “Baby Blue” displays unique instrumentation within a great melody. The way cool guitar solo doesn’t hurt. minnows2September 25” opens with acoustic guitar, and demonstrates amazing song construction. The melody and changes are great, and there is another very cool guitar solo. The Leonard Cohen vocal style of “Why Don’t You Phone Me Anymore“, adds to the great strings effect and wonderful bridge. The melody rocks, and the reference to Sinatra‘s  “My Way“, perfectly suits the male chorus ending. The pop song with an 80’s feel, “Another Rainy Day“, offers a sweet melody, nice harmonies, and wonderful changes and transitions. The harmonized vocals are exceptional.  “Free Man Freeman“, a folky song, has a great melody. The harmonies again, dynamite and the guitar riff, sweet. The synthesizer and great “chain gang” vocalization as the song ends, kill. “Sailing On” has cool synthesizer effects, a sweet melody, and great changes and transitions. The vocals and harmonies are wonderful, and the guitar riff rocks. Add an outstanding chorus and  wonderful strings at the end, and you have a great rock song. Not often does a 20 year old song still kick ass, unless you’re The Beatles. However, “Time Flies” is still an incredible pop song with a rock edge. The amazing melody drifts over great synthesizer. The wonderful harmonies, great bridge, and dynamite hook, nail it. This should  have been an anthem for that generation of disenfranchised youth, or at least, an Irish Football fight song.

photoAside from Yessongs, Waiting For Columbus and The Last Waltz, I have never been a big fan of live albums but I have to add Live At The Belfast Barge to the list of great live albums. The songs are as wonderful as I remember them, and they stand up to the passage of time. The band is insanely cohesive, and the musicianship, extraordinary. I have spent the past week immersed in The Minnows and I can tell you that swimming with the fishes is not a bad thing. This is a must for your collection.

Check out The Minnows:  http://https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Minnows/131768390195614, and get this album. You have until March 15/2014 to go to the band’s facebook page, click LIKE and download the album for FREE.

 

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