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B.D. Gottfried, Through The Dog’s Eyes, 2017

bd gottfried - through the dogs eyesA couple of years have past since the previous album from B.D. Gottfried (vocals, drums, keyboards) landed on my desk. And that was quite an enjoyable affair. And now Through The Dog’s Eyes has been released. Even when you might not be familiar with the name, Gottfried is a seasoned pro who has been around. His writing style is probably best described as pop / rock combined with often witty lyrics. In fact, I guess production wise this album rocks a tad more than before. But that extra bite only adds to the charm.

And charm this has in spades. Every song owns the ability to nest itself in your brain for you to hum along to. And while that might make you think that the songs are predictable and simple, they are not. Every track has an edge to it. A break, a non standard bridge, you name it. But the combination of all the used elements is just working. At least for me they are. From the opening track Something You Weren’t, to the should be a hit Blame It On The Money, to the suspense of Frequencies. Any of the 10 tracks on offer brings something to the table.

So it is safe to say that this is another album that the world should hear. Fingers crossed it is listening…

Website

Michael Malarkey – Mongrels, 2017

michael malarkey - mongrelsAccording to the press sheet Michael Malarkey is an actor, known from The Vampire Diaries. But since I hardly watch TV, I must say I wouldn’t know. So I guess the good thing about that is, being able to listen to this without any prejudice.

First thing I noticed about the album that it is pretty eclectic. Site regulars will probably understand that this counts for bonus points in my book. Second thing is that I think Malarkey can really sing. His dark and fairly low voice has presence and grabs you while delivering his lines. And last but not least; he writes quality songs too and lights them with thoughtful lyrics! And as a bonus; this is a musician not afraid to keep it sparse. Because when all you need to get the massage across is a guitar and a voice, there really is no need to expand in the arrangement.
Don’t worry though, variety is key on the album. Clearly a lot of thought went into the dressing up of the songs on the album. But all songs create an impact. Be it because of the vocal delivery, the sometimes chilling contributions on violin, or because the whole of the instruments just reaches out to touch you.

So the title might refer to a bastard dog, this is far from whimsical. Very moody and beautiful. Music that a lot of people will like if they take the time to soak it in. If you do; make sure to hear Uncomfortably Numb and the title track. Or even better, listen to it as a whole.

Website

Todd Rundgren, White Knight, 2017

todd rundgren - white knightThe career of Todd Rundgren spans generations and genres, so this iconic songwriter, artist, producer and innovator probably has a rolodex with a lot of names… And he used quite a few of these on this, his newest album. To drop a few: Trent Reznor, Donald Fagen, Joe Walsh, Daryl Hall, Joe Satriani and Robyn are among the guest on White Knight. And those names also give a clue as to how diverse this album is.

Now diversity is often a good thing, at least in my book, and in this case I am bound to listen to styles I would normally not take the time for. Knowing Rundgren’s work, it is not always instant, so I try to keep and open mind and listen without prejudice. Even to raps and stuff like that. And this album requires a lot of willingness to listen properly. After all, you get to hear hip-hopped funk, synth rock, ballads and power pop. All in one go.
It is probably unavoidable that this will turn some people off. But I don’t think Rundgren for one second will reconsider his choices. This is the what he wants to say and he will say it no matter what. Something I admire, but that won’t come as a surprise either.

So, after a couple of spins, what did I think? To me this is a Rundgren record, period. Clever songs, diverse arrangements, and all done in a focused and mature matter. Of course some songs speak more easy to me than others. But I am also certain that over time, all will sink in and share an equal love.

Not sure this will gain him new fans, but those into his amazing body of work do not need to hesitate. And before I forget; I already love his stab at the current political climate with Tin Foil Hat 😉

Website

Lost Lakes, Self Titled, 2016

Lost-LakesAlas I cannot remember for the life of me how I got this. And unfortunately I did not receive any info with it either. So with the help of internet I have found Lost Lakes to be a four piece band. Central is the collaboration between Corey Mathew Hart and Paul Mitch, who met at a songwriting competition and just clicked. The style is described as pop infused folk rock, which I believe to be pretty accurate.

So in general this is a lot more mellow as most of the stuff I have been listening to off late. But that takes nothing away from it feeling authentic and heartfelt. The 12 songs all clock around 3 minutes and sometimes even have a hint of Country, or Americana if you will. All arranged with the song in mind, so no room for musical indulgence. Lots of vocals and melodies that want your attention.
So while this isn’t something I would usually pick up, I must confess that it is no punishment to listen to the album. At all! No, it is very well done and sounds honest and pure. In a time where fake music seems the standard, this is something to applaud.

All songs are of the same calibre so if you have a listen and still like it after Digital Tears and slight personal favourite Can’t It Wait, just buy it. Very enjoyable.

Website

The Sighs Of Monsters, Lie, 2017

the sighs of monsters - lieOh yeah, I cannot help but like a band who clearly state they love albums and respect the album as an art form. That’s the spirit boys! So hailing from London UK we have this quartet and their second album (after 2014’s Ground).  On it you will find 12 songs with a total running time of 46 minutes. In a way one could consider this as an art-rock or prog band. But actually that would be selling them short as the songs vary too much to put into one category. On the other hand, that might just be a very progressive thing…

Listening to the album I was hooked from the first bars of I Hear Drums. Call it infectious, call it catchy, call it what you like, it is a damn clever way to start. From a bit of distance it is quite remarkable how 4 guys can deliver music so diverse and still sound spot on in every second of it. Whether it is a more elaborate track like Superman In The Silence, the almost Johnny Cash sounding Fight or the almost New Wave sounding song like Hello. And if you now think this is a patchy work, forget it. Don’t know how they do it,  but nothing seems out of place here.

So there you go, the album as an art form and The Sighs Of Monsters as the advocate, I love it.

Website

Songsbury, Self Titled, 2016

songsburyMhm, not sure how this ended up on my desk. But anyway, I got it, so I listened to it. This is clearly very much in the pop genre, with a dash of dance influenced beats added. Not something I would usually listen to.

But to be honest, Songsbury, which is in essence Mat Teofilo handling everything except for guitars in last track Last Goodbye, knows a thing or two about writing songs. Opener Till The Day I Die is carried by his vocals, and they are good. Next track Common is also very enjoyable. I Think I’m In Love did not do that much for me, but Beautiful is just that. Very nice vocals again, and the piano playing here fits the mood to the tee. In this genre I will prove even worse in referencing other artists, but to me She Made Me Do It sounds a bit like one Bruno Mars. Which also means it is a track that does not work for me. Last Goodbye ends the EP and yeah, a little guitars added here indeed. Immediately gave it a bit of extra sizzle with for instance a great solo. And again Mat proves to be able to write commercial songs that can appeal to many.

So this one is a bit out of my zone, but some songs proved quite good.

Website

Sir Rana, Expectations, 2016

sir rana - expectationsSir Rana are a new band from Sweden and Expectation is their first EP release. You will find 6 songs on it, totalling almost 20 minutes of music. Which of course means the songs are fairly short.
Well quality for quantity I guess, because the band deliver a batch of songs that will lighten up any mood. Tagged as indie, whatever that means, as for me this is joyful pop music that is done very well. Clever arrangements, beautiful vocals and harmonies, you name it. This is the perfect soundtrack for a sunny barbecue with friends, or maybe even a romantic evening with the love of your life.
So the last 3 years spent in the studio writing and recording has not lead to a dead beat lifeless yet pristine sounding first offering. No, this serves as the perfect introduction to a fresh band that will turn some heads.

So fresh, you can only find them on Facebook. But there are worse ways to start life as a band. Check this!

Website

Update: the band let me know that so far only the title track is available. Follow this link to hear it.

Tribe Royal, Colours Of The Sun, 2016

tribe royal - colours of the sunFrom Canada come Tribe Royal. After their formation in 2014, they have been ploughing towards earning a reputation as a professional, hard working and ambitious group. Their style is described as a modern and stylistically pleasing blend of Americana, 60’s British Rock and 90’s Alternative Rock. Colours Of The Sun is already their second album.

The pleasing part of that can largely be contributed to the 3 singing voices and the 3 part harmonies with some imaginative counterpoints. And listening to the album, it quickly becomes clear that anyone interested in the days of The Beatles and Crosby Stills Nash & Young, with added rock elements, will have a ball with this.
The 13 songs and over 43 minutes fly by. Okay, not so sure this is as unique as the press sheet claims, but it sure is very enjoyable. Whether it is in the pop structures of Wasting Time or I’m Not Gonna Wait, or the slightly more rocking My Kinda Girl, the songs have heads and tails and there is no denying that the vocals impress. Partake In A Dream is more introspective and nostalgic. Another plus is that the arrangements are here and there spiced up with other instruments and or some effective soloing that fit the mood of the song.

So definitely not a one trick pony, but an entertaining album that will please anyone into this type of material.

Website

Brandon White, Crow Black Smoke, 2016

brandon-white-crow-black-smokeThis must be one of the fastest posts ever. Released today and already my thoughts are going online 🙂
Well, some of you might recall an earlier post about Brandon. And since I absolutely love his voice and his songwriting, I just could not pass up on the opportunity to give it a few spins and start typing.

Going completely independent, this EP should find a good home with everybody into the music from Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, or maybe even U2. The songs are fresh and that voice pulls you inside in seconds. All 5 tracks are testament of a great talent that deserves so much more.

And here is your chance to make a little of that happen. The EP is available for free, but you are encouraged to leave him some money. And if you can, be generous! But whatever you do, give it a listen and tell all your friends. And for Brandon: I want it on CD…!

Website

The Fast Camels, Tales Of The Expected, 2016

the-fast-camels-tales of the expectedOh, all ye people with a never ending love for the music of the sixties… your wishes have been fulfilled! Yes, here are Glasgow 5 piece The Fast Camels and they will use their musical time machine to bring you back to the days of flower power, make love not war, and those sticky melodies with songs you keep humming for days.

In fact they do this so good, I had to check a few times if this was not a lost album from that decade. But no, this is recorded in our time, by 5 guys with an obvious love for psychedelic power pop. And they have it nailed down to a tee. Okay, sometimes the guitars may sound a little bit more like “now”, but the overall projection is just very convincing. Even the album length with 10 songs in just under 40 minutes hits the mark. And the best thing about it all is, I never ever once thought, this sounds like this or that. No this is all originals, but man, they have you fooled.

So fans of The Beatles, The Move, The Byrds and such, this third album from the band will be right up your alley. Make sure you have a listen.

Website

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