Posts Tagged ‘keyboard-based’

Everett Young found himself looking for a new direction in life over a decade ago. Wanting that new direction, he became motivated to learn to play the guitar, an instrument that he had picked up and put down several times before. However, this time was the charm and he added the ability to play the guitar to other talents including playing the keyboards. Now able to play the guitar, Everett Young turned his focus to being a musician full time. Both a music teacher and a musician in his own right now, Young took that talent and created a musical outfit called Kicklighter.

In Kicklighter, Everett Young has created music that has a truly timeless sound and feel. That timeless feel is mainly because the music created by Everett Young exists somewhere in the late seventies, early eighties between the Glam Rock and New Wave eras of music, an era where the music was still evolving before it started catching the ear of the music-buying people at the time. To help bring the music of Kicklighter alive, guitarist/keyboardist/singer Everett Young is joined by album producer/bassist Tim DeLaney, drummer Sam Owens and several others who add a few musical contributions to the album to help flesh out the music.

Because of their sound, if there was one person that you could compare Everett Young and Kicklighter to, it would probably be English New Wave musician John Foxx. The two musicians have much in common: Neither seem to follow the norm, both are multi-talented musicians, and their respective songs are written not for the everyday music buyer but for those who want something more substantial than the cookie cutter pop music that exists in the music industry.

Kicklighter’s music can be found on the album entitled The Fascinating Thinking Machine. The 2014 album begins with the track “Until You See the Sun”. The track features a strong guitar-based feel to the music that easily falls into the New Wave era of music. The gentle driving feel pace to the rock music and the background noise bring to mind the feel of the Thomas Dolby while the sound of the music also brings to mind John Foxx. The track truly brings back the sound of the early eighties.

While the first track had a guitar-driven feel, the second track of “Says a Tender Mind” finds Everett Young and the rest of the band creating a track that features a sound that is equal parts guitar and keyboards. This track is the perfect track to show off Young’s ability as a lyricist. Lyrics like “it is a world without any right angles” and “I think too much, drive myself mad” bring into focus the fact that Everett Young was, at one point, a political psychologist. While lyrics like those do seem a little unusual for today’s pop music; they are not so unusual that they would put the listener off. “Says a Tender Mind” is a good spot to enjoy Young’s playing on both the keyboard and the guitar. The track allows for both instruments to shine.

Tackling a subject like robotics and making it work as a song is very difficult. But somehow, Everett Young has managed to create lyrics about a robot and makes them work in the song “Making a Robot”. The lyrics about making a robot that thinks and behaves just like a human creates a moment on the release that will make people stop and think. Along with the thought provoking lyrics, the song has a much more commercial feel to it than the first two tracks on The Fascinating Thinking Machine. The guitar-driven song features Young creating the track with both electric and acoustic guitars. That combination helps to create the commercial sound featured on the track.

With the track “The Sultan of Brunei,” Kicklighter goes away from the rock music that came before and they take the music in a slightly jazzy feel. The music from Young, bassist Tim DeLaney and drummer Sam Owens creates a smooth groove. With the inclusion of Joe Gransden on horn, the combo sounds as good as if it were an actual jazz combo. The light vocal delivery from Young adds to the jazzy feel of the track. The jazzy track makes for a nice break from the rock music that came before.

Staying with a slower, lighter feel to the music, The Fascinating Thinking Machine continues with the song “After the Healing”. While “The Sultan of Brunei” has a jazzy feel to it, “After the Healing” finds Everett Young and the rest of Kicklighter moving towards a “lite rock” feel to the music. The lyrics of the song help add emotion to the song.

The Fascinating Thinking Machine from Kicklighter is an interesting album of music that features music that could be from almost any decade. The music on the release is nicely varied and that keeps the album interesting. And while some of the topics covered in the lyrics by Everett Young may seem a bit outside of the norm, the songs never stray too far. The result of that is an album that is listener friendly while still being unique.

Reviewer: Matheson Kamin
Rating: **** (four stars)

A is for Atom A is for Atom is a New York-based Alternative Rock outfit formed by New York transplant Mike Cykoski when he decided that he had had enough playing behind other people. Once Cykoski decided to go in his own direction as far as music was concerned, he started creating songs that featured an Alternative Rock sound with a lot of orchestral feeling to it. To help promote his music, Mike Cykoski released two EPs worth of music. The latest of those releases is called Song for You.
The new release from A is for Atom begins with the track “Load up on Guns”. The track has a fun, light feel to the music as it contains a rather unusual mix of both acoustic guitars that help to build the main body of the song and electronic keyboards that add a slightly spacey feel to the track. In fact, the keyboards come in near the middle of the song and the resulting keyboard solo feels like something that might have come from a New Wave song from the 1980s. The song then changes directions near the end of the track when an electric guitar comes in and adds a little depth to the music. While the song’s title might sound like some kind of statement, the track is just a fun listening experience that happens to be very catchy.
Song for You from A is for Atom continues with the title track of the release. While “Load up on Guns” has a fun, easy feel to it, “Song for You” changes the emotional feel of the EP. As the song title was inspired by something Cykoski’s ex-girlfriend once said to him, the lyrics of this song play on the statement “you never wrote a song for me”. The track features a slow-paced, yet steady feel to it while the music itself falls somewhere between pop-rock and smooth jazz in a style that might remind some of music from a band like Steely Dan. If Elton John’s “Your Song” is the ultimate statement on love, maybe “Song for You” by A is for Atom can be seen as its antithesis.
While the first two tracks of Song for You from A is for Atom contain a style that could easily fit into today’s musical formats, Mike Cykoski takes the song “Bombs Away” in a completely different direction. The keyboard-driven track brings to mind many of the songs from the New Wave era of music. The track brings the listener back to a time when musicians were not only unafraid to try something new with their music; they wanted to push music as far as they could. The resulting track of “Bombs Away” from A is for Atom is one of those tracks that may feel a bit dated because of the use of drum loops and the particular keyboard sound produced on the track, but it can also feel just as fresh because it really doesn’t make you think of anyone else in the music industry today.
Mike Cykoski describes A is for Atom as a “melodic driven alt band”. Nowhere is that more evident than on the track “The White Dress”. In a track that may instrumentally bring to mind “The Fool on the Hill” by The Beatles, the piano-driven track builds as many different elements come together in such a manner that the track feels almost orchestrated. The track also features fine vocals that create a nice harmony to the lyrics of the song. Once the horns appear, the listener experiences a beauty in the song’s music that rarely appears in today’s music industry.
Song for You from A is for Atom comes to an end with the track “India”. The track is a strong pop-rock track that features a very strong keyboard-driven feel. While the song has a relatively timeless feel, the keyboard solo at the end of the track once again brings the music back to a more New Wave feel.
The new release from A is for Atom called Song for You is a pop-rock fan’s dream as Mike Cykoski creates music that can be very appealing to people who like a lot of different styles of rock and roll. The five songs contained within the release are a nice mix of sounds and there’s not a bad track on the release.
Reviewer: Matheson Kamin
Rating: **** (four stars)

New Jersey-born Jodelle Boorady has started to make a name for herself as an Indie Rock musician. The singer-songwriter has created music that has a very commercial crossover appeal that will satisfy fans of pop and rock music alike. Along with her own CDs, Jodelle’s music can be found on several compilation releases. Currently, Jodelle is promoting her newest release entitled Better than Ok.

Better than Ok from Jodelle begins with the track “Queen of Crazy”. With this track, the music has been features a large amount of keyboard in it. The main instrument on the track is the piano while Jodelle also adds in a great deal of keyboard-based sounds that help to give the song even more commercial quality to it. The resulting track is a synth-heavy song that could easily find its way onto the radio airwaves on a station that features Top 40 or Adult Contemporary music. With the song “Queen of Crazy,” fans of piano-based music will find a track that will appeal to them in a large way. “Queen of Crazy” is one of those tracks that have a sound that will immediately connect with the listener and have them singing along with the song.

While “Queen of Crazy” has a very heavy piano-based sound, the next track of “Skirt” has a more balanced feel to it as the song features more than the piano that was such a big part of the previous song. On “Skirt,” the song begins with Jodelle playing the ukulele that helps give the song a light feel to it. The song then segues into a slightly heavier track that brings back the piano feel from the first track of the release. The inclusion of the trumpet from Taylor Mandel takes the song in a more orchestrated direction. That direction helps separate the two tracks and gives the release some variety to it.

On the song “Self Portrait,” the music once again has a different feel to it. The track begins with a strong guitar part. That guitar helps set up the song to end up going in a more rock and roll-like direction than the first tracks on the album. The guitar from Nick Pierro on this song is as strong as the piano from Jodelle and the two instruments blend well together to create a track that is one of the strongest moments on the release. “Self Portrait” could easily find its way onto commercial radio where it would fit alongside songs from the likes of Tori Amos, Five for Fighting, even Goo Goo Dolls.

The tempo of the music slows down on the title track of the release. “Better than Ok” once again finds Jodelle creating a song that has a strong piano-based feel to the music of the track. The track is one of the strongest songs on the EP as the music of the song comes complete with a background that features a strong orchestrated feel to it. The easy tempo of the song and the orchestrated background creates a track that, once again, feels as if the song could fit in with other songs on a Top 40 radio format. With the powerful message of getting on with your life and putting the past behind you also makes the track right for crossover possibilities on the radio.

With “The Other Shoe,” the final track of Better than Ok from Jodelle, the song has the same style and feeling as the title track of “Better than Ok”. But “The Other Shoe” is much more based around the piano of Jodelle and the guitar of Nick Pierro as the two instruments come together to create a simple musical background. The electric guitar and piano fill out the sound of the song but still contain a certain amount of simplicity to the music. The simple song brings the release to a close with an easy pace.

The new release from Jodelle of Better than Ok features several songs that are piano-based pop and some that are more rock oriented. The combination of the two styles on the release gives the EP an interesting contrast. Whichever style you like better, the release of Better than Ok from Jodelle leaves you wanting for more.

Review by Matheson Kamin
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)