While on the subject of more calm and peaceful music, here is another one for ya. Probably new to many, Riverland is the combination of singer Mikko Heino (Minutian, Montage) and Roni Seppänen (Tracedawn, Devil I Know, Montage) on guitars. But it is not new to them, as they have been playing folk festivals, coffee-houses and bars in Finland since 2008.
The idea of this album is the concept of people helping each other, taking care, and falling in love. And while the music was written by the duo, they brought in Aki Väkevä for the programming of drums and the mix of the final results.
Style wise this is a hybrid of sorts. Modern pop, some folk, and some progressive and psychedelia to balance it all. And if that sounds strange, the music is not. With 7 tracks clocking in at just over 21 minutes it might not be a full album by nowadays standards. But they surely succeeded in creating a very moody and atmospheric album. Surprisingly there are a lot of keyboards present as well, something not mentioned in the biography. All in all a nice way to get to know the band, and if you are into relaxing music, this is surely something to hunt down. Pleasant!
After a hectic period in his life, renowned Dutch bass player Peter van Straten (Street) decides to leave his life as a touring player with Nina Hagen, Herman Brood, Billy Preston and many others behind and leaves for the peace of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Together with Alex Ayuli he writes many songs there and after Gary Rafferty´s advice to record them himself he starts the Street & Stone recordings. With help from many trusted friends like Wouter Planteijdt (Sjako!) on guitar, Leon Klaasse on drums, Rene van Barneveld on acoustic guitar and pedal steel and Nico Brandsen on Wurlitzer and other keyboards 12 songs are recorded and now see the light of day in the form of this CD, called Turn.
I think anyone who is into the Beatles and their countless spin-offs will find much to like on this album. It has a wonderful organic sound and the songs are overall mainly calm and just plain beautiful. It takes a lot of confidence to play in this style and still sound authentic, and this one is executed to perfection. Lovely songs, heartfelt melodies and an album that is a joy to listen to from start to finish. Great stuff to chill out to! It has just become available and I recommend it to anyone that is into any of the names mentioned. Very pleasant and atmospheric!
A while back I described the second album Vanderlism by VanderLinde as a promising classic rock album. I thought at the time that if the band raised their game on a couple of things, future would really be bright. So now this fourth album Perfect Sadness has landed (I sadly missed the 2011 release Wind And Rain) and it is quite hard to fathom this is the same band. Or actually the same singer and principal songwriter, as I understand it.
At the time I thought that Arjan Van der Linde should work on his lead vocals a bit more. Man, I am pretty stunned at his development. He sure raised the bar, and more than a couple of notches! While it may be a bit of a pity that the rock days are gone for the most part, in return we get a very sophisticated, open and, by lack of a better word, mature album. Again recorded with help of famed producer Erwin Musper and recorded in his Cincinnati studio. A lot of songs have HIT written al over them, so it is no wonder that a beautiful track like Little Things will air alongside the pilot of a new American reality soap.
The press info describes this as a mix of Crowded House and Jason Mraz. That is not quite the way I hear it, but I can´t really pinpoint a more striking resemblance. Still I think that anyone into quality pop / rock should grab a bite of this pronto. It is that good and no wonder that they are really taking off in The Netherlands and Germany.
This is the second album from this Belgian project consisting of William Beckers (keyboards and percussion) and Frank van Bogaert (keyboards, acoustic guitars and vocals) and their band. Their first one I described as a mix of new wave and progressive rock and that worked out great.
On this new album, they not only welcome some more guest (of which Nick Beggs is to be considered as a known musician), but also I hear a change of style. And the best reference is probably the Alan Parsons Project, resulting in what I would like to describe as intelligent pop music with some rock touches here and there. And is that a bad thing?
Well let me start with saying it is another album that is great to listen to. Impeccable production, good songs, varied and easy to get into. For me, it is on par with APP, and that is a big compliment to all involved.
Nothing to complain then? Well, I struggle a bit with this move. While I do like to listen to the album, I still tend to think their first one had a more original edge to it. But at the end of the day I dó still like this, so how big of a deal that is? And again packaged with stunning eye for detail, so if you are into this music, grab it pronto!
Richard Page, best known from his work with 80´s band Mr. Mister, has released another solo album. Or more accurate, a collection of songs mostly written for other artists, which for some reason never were recorded by the intended artist. The cool thing is he explains extensively how this all came about. Like he also discusses the circumstances under which these versions were recorded, with whom and when.
And if you know Page writes songs for quite a diverse bunch or artists, it will come as no surprise the material on here is diverse as well. Yet, as all is sung by him, it still sounds coherent. His voice still shines, but then, I have always loved his singing. The first track Falling Into Place is a Mr. Mister leftover and is one of the most rocking tracks. From then one it is more of that balanced smooth stuff his solo work is known for. And I think these are beautiful tunes and can understand why he got lost as to why they were never chosen.
Hesitant as he may be about releasing these demo’s, there is absolutely no quality issue here. And even with just an acoustic guitar and that voice, I am captured in the moment. So if you want to check what he has been up to, if you love his voice, or maybe only because you are curious, definitely a CD to add to your collection.
From where I stand I hope many regular visitors of the site recognize the name Doris Brendel. Not so long ago I featured the new pretty funny video for one of the tracks from this album (Going Out), but also her previous album The Last Adventure as well as the classic The Violet Hour got some space. So yes, you can bet your a** I love her gruff and grainy vocals!
This time partnering with Lee Dunham (vocals, guitars, bass, producer, etc.) Doris came up with another 12 tracks who, as she describes it, are “her”. And without knowing her personally, me thinks that her is wonderful. An eclectic mix of rock, pop and more progressive tinged music, this album is another journey to musical depths. Full of soul, witty lyrics (I put my soul on Ebay, won´t you bid a little higher), dynamic arrangements and for sure one of the most beautiful tracks in a long time, the astounding Without Words (should you need a reason to buy this CD, this track is worth the price alone).
Yes variety is key and yes, probably some people will say it lacks identity. But to me, that is bull, every song on here deserves your undivided attention and is testament of a talent that, would there be any justice in the world, deserves to be bigger than Lady Gaga or who ever. So come on, head on over to your favourite retailer and get this baby. Shockingly awesome.
Okay, this one I did not see coming. I did a review on the previous album from Rich Batsford, Valentine Court, which I still remember for the boldness of creating a solo piano album (as in piano being the sole thing you hear). On this new effort however, Rich hooked up a microphone and added his vocals. Not only lead, but also phenomenal harmonies. After reading he once was a member of a Beach Boys tribute band, I knew where those were coming from…
Another cool thing are the small rhythmic variations in the songs. Quite sure many drummers would really hate to play along to those. Yet they are not important in the way that they dominate. It is more of a small arrangement aspect to spice the songs up. Talking of songs, prepare to be blown away with the total package. I would go as far as to suggest that if Rich recruited a band (in Coldplay style) he would have hit appeal. Top X-factor material for sure.
Because if anything, this album is a joy from beginning to end. His vocals have great charm and, coupled with his impeccable piano playing, create moods that I cannot resist. In fact I think anyone with even the littlest interest in music will fall in love with this. It may be a mindfulmess (yeah, took me a while to figure out), but that mind sure creates beautiful things. BUY!
PS: To Rich, album 1: piano, album 2: piano and vocals, if album 3 needs guitars, give me a call
A new year, a new Reincarnatus album, a New Life and a new wardrobe for the ladies (or so I have heard)… If you read my post about the first Reincarnatus album, you will remember I was quite fond of the musical quality on offer. The combination of medieval instruments like hurdy gurdy, key-fiddle, recorder etc. with a modern rock ensemble of drums, bass, guitars and keyboards just works.
On this record they updated their sound a little without straying too far from the folk and classical infused pop rock they delivered earlier. Maybe a little more guitars and keyboards, but still focussing on (vocal) melodies. No need to repeat the technical abilities of this full female band, they have proven to be professional musicians on every level.
Opening with the very strong couple of Festival Day and Orléans I am immediately caught by the catchy grooves. Ideal single candidates the both of them. But them comes Als Cathars. The Gregorian sounding choir sends shivers down my spine and I think this is one of the best songs on the album. If I recall correct, they already played it last year. The combination of the choir and the band is simple awesome and in itself a reason to buy this album. Yes it is that good!
Another good development is that more of the members bring in songs. I am sure that is another reason the bar is raised as it gives them more material to choose from. They also do a convincing cover of Anastacia’s Left Outside Alone, which fits seamlessly because of the Reincarnatus treatment. Another step forwards and a joy from beginning to end. Support them as I am sure that open minded rockers will dig this as well. (There are guitar solos on board…)
One of the fun things about the Classic series is the diving into my CD collection and revisiting old favourites. Always a trip down memory lane, bringing back wonderful feelings for things long gone.
Today I picked up my copy of the second Paul Young album The Secret Of Association. Probably best known for the hits Everytime You Go Away (Daryl Hall), Tomb Of Memories or Everything Must Change. To me there are other tracks on here that are of the same level, if not better.
Opening with the groove of Bite The Hand That Feeds, we hear that fabulous bass of Pino Palladino at work. Combined with Paul´s immense voice and the oh so clever arrangements, both from the other instrumentalists as from the backing vocals of the Fabulous Wealthy Tarts, cumulating into a track that has staying power. Third track I´m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down is another contender. The bass line is unforgettable, and the sum of all parts greatly exceeds that, turning it into the monster it is.
Paul covered some interesting tunes in his career, and here there are quite a few surprises. His rendition of Tom Waits´ Soldier’s Things is impressive in delivery and arrangement. Another chilling track is G. Sutherlands I Was In Chains. Goosebumps! Thumbs up for the tracks that were his own writing as well. All this beauty led to the criminally overlooked third album Between Two Fires. But that is another story…
When discussing their hit album Drops Of Jupiter, I asked myself if they would have made more albums. So when I stumbled upon this one I did not hesitate and bought it. I already mentioned they can write beautiful songs that ooze melancholy, but did I mention they can rock as well? Well they do! Just check tracks like Parachute, If It’s Love, You Already Know or the title track. A track like I Got You has a fun groove, with a funky bass line in the verses. This Ain’t Goodbye is a quieter piece, with fitting orchestrations. A feature also familiar from that 2001 album and found on more parts.
It will be hard to resist the vocal melodies on this album, great delivery by Pat Monahan.
And with Hey Soul Sister they have another hit song. Not that this is the way to measure a CD by, but it just goes to show they have staying power.
Again an album that took me by surprise. So if you are not afraid of some quality pop music with the occasional rocking moments, than go check this out. Worth it!