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Vienna Ditto, Circle, 2015

vienna ditto - circlesThis has been playing a lot lately here at the office,  and I must say, this is a very intriguing album. Again a duo, consisting of Hatty Taylor (vocals) and Nigel Firth (instruments). The press sheets talks of trip hop, but I think calling this a combination of pop and rock, enhanced with electronica, comes pretty close. Even if only because I don’t happen to know what trip hop is 😉

There is no denying that opening song Oh Josephine has that instant hook that popular radio wants. And taking less than 4 minutes to deliver its catchy melodies makes for an ideal single candidate. Next up is This Is Normal and this also has a brooding electronic sphere over a pop rock format with guitars. A bit “fucked up” indeed. Hatty’s voice is suited well for this sound, she sounds so innocent at times, yet manages to creep under your skin. Wintertime is a slow song with a more vintage sound, something like a Rhodes or so is playing a major part but again it is hard to not listen.

I could go on about this album, but I will just say this, if you want to make sure you do not miss the birth of something special and pretty unique, you need to get up and make sure you discover this band and album. Compliments for delivering such a confident and catchy work that still sounds fresh!


Huminoita, All Is Two, 2015

huminoita - all is twoWell this Finnish band has managed to surprise me with their brand of music. Huminoita is a progressive post-rock band with elements  from shoegaze, stoner rock, jazz and metal. The album is purely instrumental with some shamanistic vocals. Another reviewer called it  “a missing link between Sigur Rós and Ash Ra Tempel.” Don’t know about you, but I had little clue as to what to expect…

And the thing is, this is actually quite enjoyable. Yes it is instrumental (the voice is used as an instrument here, not to sing words), but I feel the songs have enough depth. This because of the use of dynamics. Never ultra heavy, but it does go from whisper soft to rocking out. And everything in between. A lot is based on repeating melodic lines.
So the six songs on the album (clocking in at almost 40 minutes) hold your attention with ease. And while some instrumentalists try to captivate audiences with impeccable technique, Huminoita go for feel, groove and moods. Quite psychedelic at times, so I can imagine some people getting sucked in and wandering off to far away places in their mind.

One of the first releases on the new Luova label, this is a promise for things to come.


Oneironaught, Enlist Today, 2013

oneironaught - enlist todayAnd back to instrumental music. That is, for the most part. Oneironaught are a quartet hailing from the USA, probably New York area. If I translate the booklet correctly (all is done as if you were reading a flight manifesto) Nathan Lincoln plays guitar, David Mieloch drums, Damon Pelletier bass, and Robert Pena guitars and keyboards.

Together they wrote and recorded 7 songs ranging from 4 to 11 minutes, resulting in an album that clocks in at almost 50 minutes. Some tongue in cheek in the song titles. Like opener The Schillinger Escape Plan, or Your Body Is Responding Incredibly Well (To The Pregnancy). I always have a problem pinpointing genre tags, but I guess this is best described as a mixture of progressive metal with alternative rock. So we go from unisono riffing to melting solos over various meter changes, to much lighter pieces that focus more on subtlety and or groove. Of course this makes it an album to grow into, as it is often busy and demands your undivided attention. I like the boldness of going for a fairly honest and transparent production, that is not completely flattened by compression. Which also makes clear the guys can play!
There is a little singing in Emerald City and that isn´t half bad either, so something to try a bit more next time guys?



Red, Release The Panic, 2013

red - release the panicAlas it is almost impossible to keep up with all the music that is being released today. Still there is always time to add a new discovery. Well, new is relative here, because as it turns out, Red already have released a couple of albums. Yet it was the video of the title track that got me interested. It is a sort of mini movie by the way, worth checking out.

So on that basis alone I bought this and I must say, I like their brand of post grunge alternative metal (what´s in a name?) very much. It is aggressive yet melodic, and the energy that pours from it is just awesome. I admit, the screaming vocals will not be everybody´s cup of tea, but I think they are balanced well by the normal vocals. This is riff heavy music with very recognisable hooks and melodies. A bonus is the subtle use of keyboards. That really adds atmosphere and depth I think. And if you are only in it for the guitars and groove, rest assured as this really is kicking ass. So anyone who is not tapping their feet or banging their head while listening to this, is probably not into metal music at all. And a song like Hold Me Now also proves the band can chill as well. Very convincing, and I am surely delving into their back catalogue!


Biffy Clyro, Opposites, 2013

biffy clyro - oppositesDespite them having quite a history (as I found out later), my first encounter with this band was the video for the track Black Chandelier. I found that a very intriguing mix of alternative rock with progressive twists and pop rock melodies (besides being a really cool video). So I figured I take a delve in and acquaintance myself. And my first reaction was, I have been missing a lot apparently. So much in fact that I am now busy tracking all their albums down….

But first this CD. Opening song is Different People, and that starts with keyboards before voice and guitar are added. After a minute or two the song suddenly explodes with a high octane riff and frantic drumming. Still the melodic sense is kept alive and the chorus proves that the band is way beyond standard formats and to me that is a huge attraction point. And to strengthen that claim, please do yourself a favour and look up the already mentioned Black Chandelier on YouTube. I find the intensity of this track just magnificent. From the opening lines of `Drip Drip` to the calm verses and the rocking chorus, this song proves the vivid imagination of the band and the ability to create memorable songs and still have musical credibility. Yes that is a clear winning formula to these ears and should have crossover appeal to anyone into various genres within the rock department. So alternative, progressive, melodic, hard, etc. Remind you, these 2 songs are just examples, the band delivers throughout!


Mr Averell, Gridlock, 2013

mr averell - GridlockDescribing my thoughts about this album proved very hard. So while I ponder some more about that, let me introduce this to you. Mr. Averell is a guise for René van Commenée, a Dutch visual sound artist who has worked with Van Der Graaf´s Judge Smith and David Jackson (who both guest in this), John Ellis and a whole bunch of other people and bands. This is his vehicle for more song based material. Gridlock is the second album under this banner, and other guests include Lene Lovich, Mike Garson, Hugh Banton, and Stuart Gordon.

Van Commenée is well known for his sound art objects, theatrical performances and soundtracks for film, fireworks spectacles and theatre. With that in mind it is of little wonder that the press information talks about avant garde. Because this is not your average album. In fact I found it pretty hard to get into it. Some of that is due to the fact that part of the material on it still reminisces sound design. That I found Van Commenée´s lead vocals to be an acquired taste was not helping me either. Sometimes he reminded me of Tom Waits, but to my ears they are sometimes off, both melodically as rhythmically. But then again, maybe that is avant garde and am I just not getting it.

What I respect most is the originality. Nothing I have ever heard before, and for that it is intriguing. No doubt over time I will connect to it, as some of the tracks are songs in a more traditional way. So for the adventurous!


Bizar Bazar, Circus Metal Maniac, 2013

bizar bazar - circus metal maniacOkay, on to something completely different, even if again from Italy! Bizar Bazar are a metal band that describe their style as “alternative freak metal”. And you know what, that just hits the mark pretty well! I must admit I am not very much into this type of metal and that is mainly because of the vocals. Or vocals is not always the correct term, often it is more of a performance styled delivery. Very dramatic and theatrical.

But I can understand the band for doing this. After all, the title is Circus Metal Maniac, and they sure did their best to create an album that reflects that title well. Sometimes it is a bit thrashy, and was I reminded of Megadeth. And the songs where actual singing is most important, I could handle pretty well.
Still I totally respect Bizar Bazar for creating this freaky metal album. I am also sure a lot of people will find this heavily entertaining. Or heavy and entertaining, you choose.
I mean, it sounds like one would expect, I do feel they know what they are doing, and somehow it all makes sense. You just have to keep in mind the intention is to express metal in a maniacal circus environment and make sure it is all covered under that alternative freak metal banner. Expect the unexpected, the strange and the weird.

And if that is what you dig, then grab your shovel and make it off to over yonder. Prepare to be amazed…


Ladiscordia, Orizzonti Di Cartone, 2012

ladiscordia - orizzonti di cartoneOn offer for your reading pleasure is another album presented by Fabrizio from Coral Riff. The band is called Ladiscordia and the album Orrizonte di Cartone.  As I said before my Italian is far from brilliant, yet I am quite sure the title translates into Cardboard Horizon.

In my humble opinion the music on this album is quite different from other outings from Coral Riff. I would describe this as rock with strong alternative touches. And still, the first name that popped up in my mind when I started listening was the Golden Earring. Go figure ;-). With 10 songs and a total running time of just under 30 minutes this isn´t a very long album. In fact, I know of single songs that top that. But music is not a competition, and if the band believe this to be the best they have to offer at this moment, then this is what we deserve to get.

Again I had no problems with the vocals being in their native tongue. The guitar driven rock works well and I quite like the way they infused the alternative touches into the songs. Mostly by adding some strange sounds here and there and by utilizing guitar themes that create an alienating feeling. And sometimes a piano can be heard. It is always hard for me to throw names at you. A song like L´Organo Di Vetro has some The Cure references, but rocks a lot harder.
So if the names mentioned strike a chord, or if you´d like to try something new, check this out. I like it.


Coheed And Cambria, The Afterman: Ascension, 2012

coheed and cambria - the afterman ascensionEver since I first started listening to Coheed And Cambria, I have been caught. Not only with the music, but also with the fact that a guy (Claudio Sanchez) comes up with a storyline, and is able to fill a whole bunch of albums based on that. And even adding a comic to go with that. As it also is a kind of SciFi theme, there is a faint resemblance to the Star Wars Saga in terms of conceiving a story and start telling it. Yeah I am a bit of a geek.

So now the band is back with The Afterman Saga. In between getting this and writing the post, the successor has already been released, so no rest for the wicked I guess. What I don´t understand is the emo tag C&C sometimes get. To me this is progressive music with some alternative touches. Okay, some people might find it hard to get into Claudio´s voice, but I am loving this. Be it on the more explosive tracks like Mothers Of Men or Holy Wood The Cracked, or the more contemplative stuff like The Hollow, The Afterman or Substraction, I always enjoy the musicianship on offer. Good songs, good melodies and especially in the lighter stuff some chilling moments due to the beautiful arrangements.

So no doubt that new album will find it’s way into the collection as well. Great stuff as always!


Staton, Mapped: Sins, 2013

staton - mapped sinsIn my mailbox landed this introduction to Dutch alternative rock hopefuls Staton. Introduction, as this is a 4 song EP to get things into gear. And from the looks and sound of it, tempo will raise surely!  Coming across as the bastard children of Muse, the mighty Pure Reason Revolution, and some other names that I am too lazy to look up right now. But what I do know is that bonus points are earned by the performance of singer Lara Mol. Here we have a girl that, while having a timbre that reminds me a bit of No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani, (in my humble opinion) is able to maximise her delivery by using every trick in the book. And her book is lengthy and she knows it by heart. Really impressive! But it is a quintet, and with 3 of the guys adding backing vocals, there is more to the band.

Judging from the people involved I am not alone in thinking this. Not only has the band been on a tight touring schedule, they also managed to pull producers Ken Stringfellow (REM, Posies) and JB Meijers (de Dijk) on board. So on to a full release then, but first head on over to their website and get to know them!