Posts Tagged ‘Alternative Rock’

The rock band The Blacklights creates rock music that is cool and just plain fun. The band has just released the song “Cowboy Weekend”. While the song title suggests a country flavor, the music from The Blacklights lies somewhere between garage rock, psychedelic rock and alternative rock. A very simple bass and drum part from bassist/keyboardist Oscar Ordiano and drummer Bryan Mudrick creates the bottom of the song to make a bed for guitarists Anthony Mudrick and Thomas Mudrick to play on top of. Singer/guitarist Anthony Mudrick sings about needing a break from the norm and talks about taking a “Cowboy Holiday”. The resulting track contains not only the band’s rock music but also some unusual elements such as Theremin and electronic noise. The most unusual part of the song is the last minute or so when the band slows the pace way down. The slow pace of the song suggests the band is running out of steam, which goes well with the lyrics of “One Summer Night, I died for real”. Altogether, the various elements of “Cowboy Weekend” by The Blacklights come together to help the band create a sound that definitely sets them apart from most of the bands out there. Having heard this song from The Blacklights, I am very interested to hear what else the band has in store. Until the band releases a new album, you can find some of the band’s previously-released music on the website for their record label Ten Dollar Recording Co. “Cowboy Weekend” will be released around Halloween of 2012. Something to look forward to.

Reviewed by Matheson Kamin

*****(Out of Five)

Discovering Gravity - EP by Steve D. WilsonDallas, Texas-based Steve D. Wilson made a name for himself with the band The Black Doves. With the band, Wilson created a style that alternated between Alternative Rock and ballads.
But with time, everything changes. And the same thing can be said for Wilson, as the singer-songwriter finds himself creating another release.
This time, however, Wilson is on his own as the band has gone its separate ways….at least, for now. So to fill in the sound of his music, Wilson has called on several people to create the sound and feel of a band. Together with Wilson, the rest of the musicians include: bassist Sam Hudson, guitarist Dan Conrad, keyboard player Theodore Allison, drummer Joe Varela, Keith Brown on strings and Becky Newman adding harmony vocals to the songs. These musicians have helped Steve Wilson create a new release called Discovering Gravity.
The new release from Steve D. Wilson begins with the song “Perfect”. The song contains Wilson’s signature acoustic/electric rock that was so much a part of the Moments of Clarity release from The Black Doves. The resulting song creates a bridge that seems to take the listener from the 2008 release from that band and brings them over to today without losing much of what fans of that band liked about their music. “Perfect” still contains the vocals from Wilson that feel so effortless and emotional.
It is on the song “Mess of Me” that the landscape seems to change. While there is still a little bit of The Black Doves in the music of the song that might simply be because of Steve D. Wilson’s vocals. The song contains a rock ballad approach to the music, and with the addition of Becky Newman on harmony vocals, the song ends up being one of the most commercial and radio-friendly tracks of the five songs on the release.
Listeners to Top 40 radio back in the early 80s will no doubt recognize the song “Bringing on the Heartbreak” that was originally done by the British band Def Leppard. For this version, it is Theodore Allison’s keyboards that help create the majority of the music for the song. The updated version of the song from Steve D. Wilson still contains much of the magic that came from the original single, while still containing some of the sound Black Doves fans are familiar with. The combination of the two styles on the new track shows what can happen when someone decides to do a cover of a single…..in their own style.
“Superstar” is another song on the new release Discovering Gravity from Steve D. Wilson that has a very commercial feel to it. With the addition of some electronic elements in the music, the song also has a slight feel that makes it seem like something from the 90s. While there is a slight “retro” feel to this track, it also feels fresh and would still fit right in with today’s radio formats.
Discovering Gravity from Steve D. Wilson comes to a close with “Cold Steel Rain”. “Cold Steel Rain” is yet another song that tugs at the heartstrings. The keyboard from Theodore Allison is the main part of the music of the track, creating the perfect background for the vocals from Wilson.
While it’s sort of sad another album from The Black Doves was never released, this new EP of Discovering Gravity from singer/songwriter Steve D. Wilson from that band makes up for that. And with each song being composed by Wilson with the help of guitarist Dan Conrad and keyboard player Theodore Allison, the five songs contained within the CD have enough familiarity to them while taking the music in a different that fans of Wilson’s music, new or old, will enjoy the new CD.

Click HERE for a review of Moments of Clarity for Wilson’s band The Black Doves.

Sometimes your calling really isn’t your calling. It may take some time to realize that you should be doing something else. That’s what Commodities Trader-turned-musician Bob Pressner discovered and is now on his way to making a name for himself in the music industry.

The musical path that Bob Pressner has taken led him to create music that incorporates a lot of styles and genres into his style. It is this style of Americana that Pressner has included on his new release called King of Nothing.

Bob Pressner begins his new release King of Nothing with the song “iGirl”. A song about trying to find real love in a world of information where you have no contact with anyone real (“We found the future but forgot each other”), the singer sings about a woman who would be great to know if he could actually meet her. The song has a very catchy rock sound that will definitely have you singing along.

The pace slows down on the title track of Bob Pressner’s new release. “King of Nothing” is a pop song that features a beautiful instrumental background complete with strings. The pop/folk feel to the music works well when paired up with lyrics about a man who feels that he has nothing to show for himself and cannot even stake claim to anything of importance. The sad lyrics and the beautiful music combine to make a very moving song.

One of the best tracks on the album is probably the most infectious, as well. “Next Summer Never Came” is one of those well-written pop songs that have an unbelievably catchy hook as well as lyrics that will, once again, tear at your heart with their powerful feeling of sadness. The mostly acoustic song is very strong in its music. This song about unfulfilled love is strangely beautiful, give the meaning of the lyrics. It is also one track that will have you reaching for “repeat”.

And then, for the first time on the King of Nothing release, Bob Pressner releases his rock side. With the song “Renaissance Man,” Pressner creates a song that brings to mind the music of bands like The White Stripes or The Black Stripes. The guitar and drums of the song create the main part of the music to the track. If you are a fan of bands like The White Stripes, The Black Keys or even Mr. Gnome, this song would really feed your hunger for that type of rock music.

The pace slows down once again with the next track called “The Blue Has Left your Eyes”. In a song that sounds more like Alt-Country than Rock music, the words of this song sound as if Pressner is channeling songwriters like James Taylor or even Jim Croce. The meaning behind the lyrics to this song has greater depth than the vast majority of the songs being written by today’s artists or songwriters.

“Thinking Man” seems to find Pressner taking on the role of singer-songwriter. With words that seem to be more important to the song than creating a hard-rockin’ track, Bob Pressner seems to, once again, channel the likes of James Taylor. The relaxed feel of the track even has Taylor’s style to it.

The twang of the guitar on “Water Water” along with Bob Pressner’s smoky vocals brings to mind the music from Bob Dylan. The roots rock base to the music mixed with a more modern and soulful approach to the song make for a song that could find an audience almost anywhere.

The King of Nothing release from Bob Pressner features a lot of twists and turns throughout the length of the album: The Alternate Rock style of the song “Renaissance Man” mixed with the Alt-Country sound of “The Blue Has Left Your Eyes” and the Pop feel of the song “Next Summer Never Came” along with the “pop culture” references found in the song “iGirl” all help to shape the new album. Each song on the King of Nothing release gives the listener a different take on the talent of Bob Pressner; and each song on the new release from Bob Pressner gives the listener plenty of variety in the music.

Click the song title for the video to “King of Nothing“.

Let me introduce you to a five-piece band from Tennessee- the Nashville and Jackson areas to be precise. The band in question is none other than Vulpine.
Vulpine is a quintet made up of Sean Alexander on guitar, Rum Brown on bass, Sean Fuller on drums, Hatch on vocals, and Billy Lupino on guitar.

Vulpine has only been around since 2004; however, the hard rock/alternative band is well on their way to the top of the music industry. Since their CD release earlier this year when their album Channels came out on Cordova, Tennessee based Brutal One Records, the band has started getting their name out there for the entire world to see.

The album Channels from Vulpine begins with the track “My Addiction”. This song along with “Wasted and Broken,” “Dilate” and “Stabilize” all have similar lyrical concepts, all of which seeming to take the listener on a different kind of “trip,” one of both pleasure AND pain due to the emotions running through the singer’s heart at the time and NOT because of certain substances meant to artificially change the way the person is feeling. The album’s first track of “My Addiction” starts the album off with a lot of energy as the band creates a strong alternative rock song that is perfect for the emotion in Hatch’s voice as he sings about how much he needs more of her love “to balance me out”. “My Addiction” is one of the strongest tracks on Channels and seems to have been the best way to start off this release.

The emotional tug at the heart makes up the concepts on the vast majority of the tracks on the songs on this album. One particular song that is meant to stir up your emotions is the track “Persona”. The lyrics on this song about what you feel when you run into an “ex” some time after the two of you break up is well matched with a ‘rock ballad’ type of melody. While one of the less energetic songs on the release, “Persona” is one of the best tracks on the Channels album.

One of the tracks that truly show off the talent of all of the musicians in the band (including singer Hatch, who adds acoustic guitar to this track) is “Clench”. Yet another song that focuses on the pain in relationships, “Clench” takes that pain and translates it into energy, helping to create a track that has both an emotional side to the lyrics and a strong melody that will keep the listener wanting more.

Like “Clench,” the aforementioned “Wasted and Broken” takes the sadness of the relationship and pairs it with a more energetic feel to the music of the song. The resulting emotional rock song ends up being one of the strongest tracks on the CD.

Channels from Vulpine ends with the so-called “bonus track” entitled “After You’re Gone”. The track features some of the strongest musical writing of any song on the release. With a style that fits with the rest of the release and an energy level that does the same, it is almost impossible to guess WHY the band would have only included the song on the album as an afterthought as the “bonus track”. The entire album of Channels from Vulpine, including this track of “After You’re Gone,” is more than worthy of becoming part of your musical library.

Vulpine’s singer Hatch has produced a very radio friendly album with many if not all of the tracks ready for immediate airplay. The single “My Addiction” and other standout tracks including “Wasted and Broken” and the “bonus track” “After You’re Gone” can be previewed by going to www.myspace.com/vulpine. You can check out the band’s YouTube account and check out some videos from a really good up-and-coming band as they make their way from indie band to superstars.

Click HERE for a live version of “Persona”.

Back in 2005, I wrote this review on Channels from Vulpine. As I was writing for a Cleveland-based publication, I wasn’t able to give the album the space I wanted to give it. Today, I have updated this entry to be a longer, more complete review of this album. Though the band is no loner active as the various members have gone their seperate ways, the album is still up on the internet where it is available for purchase. Listen to the various tracks included in the review and then go to the Amazon.com profile for the band that is also included in the review.

ImageAdam Gilbert’s A Generation of Forgotten Kings is one of those rare finds- an alternative pop/rock album created using the piano as the main instrument that all of the songs are based around. The piano helps make the album different from the vast majority of the alternative rock albums out there….and that difference is what makes A Generation of Forgotten Kings so refreshing.

The newest release from Adam Gilbert starts with the title track,“A Generation of Forgotten Kings”. The 10-second a’capella chant that begins the track gives the listener some indication that this release may be just a little different. And when Jonathan Lamb’s electric guitar leads the instruments for the next few seconds, you get the impression of a straight-out alternative release. It isn’t until Gilbert’s piano shows up 40 seconds into the track that you get a real sense of what to expect. In fact, with the addition of Gilbert’s piano, the track feels like an alternative rock song with a large orchestral influence. The rock band, Gilbert’s piano and the return of the chant from the beginning of the track all combine to create a track that captures the listener and refuses to let them go. The decision to make “A Generation of Forgotten Kings” the lead-off track to the album (and consequently, the title track of the release, as well) was a very bold move that pays off in a large way.

“How Do We Respond,” the second track off the release, also begins with a’capella: The first couple of seconds of the track start with just Adam Gilbert’s strong tenor voice and gradually transitions into something that might remind you of a song by Marc Cohn. The pop/rock feel of the song alternates between Gilbert’s piano and the guitar playing of Jonathan Lamb, creating a tune that goes well with the lyrics written by Gilbert about not knowing exactly what to say when things happen.

With the track “On a Hill,” you really get a chance to hear the talent of Adam Gilbert as a piano player: For most of the five minutes of the track, it is just Gilbert on the piano being backed up by bassist Jason Fraticelli and Mark Guiliana on the drums. The three musicians create a track that sounds a lot like something that Billy Joel might have written. When the rest of the musicians come in to fill out the sound of the song, the band once again creates a track that has an orchestral feel, kind of like seeing Gilbert live on stage in concert.

One of the most powerful tracks on the latest release from Adam Gilbert is the song “A Little Emotion”. Along with the strong lyrics from Gilbert on this track, the rest of the musicians help Adam create a song that contains the right amount of feeling to pull at the heart. This track features Nathan Goehen on bass as well as Leena Gilbert on violin. In fact, it is Leena Gilbert’s playing that truly brings the “emotion” in this song.

You can tell that an album is very strong when a song as strong as Adam Gilbert’s “Better” comes late in the album’s playlist. “Better” is a song about looking forward to times that aren’t so hopeless and trying. The music is very upbeat and helps to boost the positive message of the lyrics. And when the song finally builds to the big crescendo, the listener gets to experience some of the best playing from all of the musicians involved with the song. This could easily be the best track on the album.

While Adam Gilbert is the writer/singer/piano player and the main point of interest on his release, his album of A Generation of Forgotten Kings was created in such a way to allow all musicians involved the chance to shine as much as Gilbert himself, and the musicians that helped are a major reason why the album is so strong. Guitarists Jonathan Lamb, Matt Jaworski and Steve Berstein all help shape the music, while bassists Jason Fraticelli and Nathan Goehen along with drummers Mark Guiliana (who also helped produce the album) and Shawn Baltazor give the song their strength to help make the release so solid.

Taking Adam Gilbert’s talent as a piano player, his strong yet charming voice, his talent as a songwriter and the talented musicians who helped create this release, you end up with an album that is strong from the first note until it ends one hour later. A Generation of Forgotten Kings leaves you wanting more, a sure sign of how solid an album can be.

The Essex Lights is a band composed of singer/guitarist/songwriter Michael Brawer, guitarist Grady Axton Davis and drummer Ben Nelson. Together, these three musicians create a band that makes rock music that is hard rockin’ and passionate. This powerful combination comes together in the music that is found on the band’s new release entitled Fast Love California.
Fast Love California from The Essex Lights begins with the song “Pride of Worchester”. Featuring lyrics of “Head west, child,” the song is sort of autobiographical for Michael Brawer as he did just that to follow his dreams of working in the entertainment industry. The song features a strong acoustic sound, as the track is built around the acoustic guitar of Brawer with Grady Axton Davis adding just enough electric guitar to give the song real depth and create an anthem-like feel to the track.
The combination of acoustic guitar and harmonica on the album’s second track of “Belle of the Ball” gives this track a sort of folk music flavor to the track. Add to that the energetic vocals of Brawer and you get a part folk/part punk combination, an interesting sound that may have some people pondering which direction the band wants to go. Somehow, the band makes that musical mixture work and that mixture makes “Belle of the Ball” one of the strongest tracks on the album.
The Essex Lights take a very different approach to the song “Forever a Contender”. Gone away is the acoustic guitar as both Michael Brawer and Grady Axton Davis create this song with two electric guitars. The background vocals to the track might remind some of the type of harmonies created by The Beach Boys on their songs. The harmonies and the stronger electrified sound of this track set this song apart from the first two songs and add a nice variety to the music of this album.
For the song “Angel City Ghosts,” the energy level is taken back up a notch. This track is the first real time that the listener gets the chance to hear the ability of the band members to play some all-out rock music. Michael Brawer, Grady Axton Davis and Ben Nelson prove on this track that there are still some people out in the music industry who want to create that “good old-fashioned rock sound”.
Just as you get used to the upbeat style of “Angel City Ghosts,” the band pulls the musical rug out from under the listener and slows the pace down. With the song “Stay Gold,” The Essex Lights return to an acoustic sound and slower pace in their music. The band picks up the pace just a little about half way through the song to ensure that the tune doesn’t drag you down. “Life in the Time of the Crow” is probably the best song of the release from the Fast Love California release. The Essex Lights once again kick up the energy level and Brawer adds that same amount of energy to his lyrics as he sings. The resulting track is easily the hardest rockin’ song on the album, and just like “Angel City Ghosts,” the track allows the listener the chance to hear the band let loose with some good rock ’n’ roll.
After once again slowing the pace of the music down for the track “Postcards from Rio,” The Essex Lights return to their rockin’ ways on the song “Chelsea Smile”.The sound of “Chelsea Smile” might remind you a lot of the rock music that was played on college radio a few years before the term “Alternative Rock” was coined. The rock sound of this track brings back that sound and does it in a very strong way.
The final track of Fast Love California, “El Pistolero,” seems to contain the most production value as the music of the song was created using the most tracking of any of the songs on the release. The resulting song contains a lot of depth and really shows off the talent of the band. The song also brings the album to a close in a gentle way.
Throughout the nine tracks of Fast Love California from The Essex Lights, you get to experience the passion of the lyrics of the songs, the energy in the all-out rock songs contained within the release, and the passion of singer/guitarist Michael Brawer, guitarist Grady Axton Davis and drummer Ben Nelson. These elements help to create a very solid release from a trio of musicians who prove, from track to track, that there are still people out there who care about making good music.