Baskery, Coyote & Sirens, 2018

baskery - coyote & sirensTalking about never judge a book, ehr CD by the cover. Don’t know about you, but when I put this CD in the player I was kinda expecting some sleazy garage type punk hardcore or something like that. Turns out this is anything but!

Reading up a bit, I found that this is a trio of sisters from Sweden that, on the promise of a record contract, moved to the US. After some ups and downs they did record an album worth of songs, but things got complicated once more. In the end they managed to get a large part of the songs of this album back in their hands and decided to release them themselves.

So now we are treated to the pop rock that is Baskery. Alas I do not know anything from the musicians, but at least my guess is that the sisters are singing. And they glue well together too. A song like Cactus Baby is a fine example of how they combine their vocal prowess with a pop rock backing.
It must be said, music like this ought to be heard by many more people. This sounds like real people making real music. And making it sound “commercial” without adding way to much sugar…

Pretty good effort, worth checking!

Website

Ljungblut, Villa Carlotta 5959, 2018

ljungblut - villa carlotta 5959When the first song was playing, I was suddenly thinking “have U2 gone new wave?” But then I remembered I was listening to the latest album by Norwegian band Ljungblut, with the mysterious name Villa Carlotta 5959 and it is the sixth release.

From the press sheet I found that Ljungblut started as an outlet for the musical ideas of Kim Ljung (Seigmen / Zeromancer) and this has slowly developed into a 5 man band. This album is sung in Norwegian and closes a trio of albums. And I guess a remarkable thing about it is that, while I do not understand one word, I still connect to the music. Yes, more prove that music is THE universal language.

Overall the songs are melancholic of nature. Varying in tempo and dynamics, but melancholic. Imagine travelling alone along the coastal fjords in Norway: you will enjoy the beautiful and changing scenery, but it is still cold. Not that these tracks will leave you cold mind you. With it’s organic sound and the feelings pouring through, this will warm your heart and soul.
In the opening I referred to U2, this because the voice of the singer and a bit of the guitar sound. Yet the music is in general far more keyboard heavy, hence the new wave reference. However, there are still guitars used throughout, so it remains a bit in the rock genre.

Pretty sure this is an album that many people would dig, so give it a listen!

Website

Peak, Electric Bouquet, 2018

peak - electric bouquetAnother album that has been playing for quite a while here at YMB HQ, is the debut from NYC band Peak. Consisting of Jeremy Hilliard on guitar/ vocals, Otis Williams on keys/ vocals, Eric Thachuck on bass and on drums Dale Paddyfote, who is replaced by John Venezia for live shows. Hilliard is the main songwriter.

What is really nice about the album, is that it is an obvious melting pot of influences that may seem far fetched, yet the band make them work. Think of funk, blues, fusion, dance music and rock. Or as Jimi Hendrix, Steely Dan and Chic having a coming together, wooing the crowd with a vibrant mix of songs, sounds and beats.
Yes the album moves around with the various tracks. But when it is over, I cannot help but think that it was a damn fine listen that just made me feel good. And upon listening closer, it is also clear that underneath all those positive vibes, is a band that knows how to play and treats you with little musical accents and arrangements that show their ability.

So if you should need more prove that it is possible to create independent music that is easy on the ears, sounds good, is suited for a large audience, and is still filled to the brim with class musicianship, look no further.

Website

Maks, 3FT No Diving, 2017

maks - 3ft no divingMaks are a Dutch rock band, initiated by singer and multi-instrumentalist Maks A. Assisting him are Peter Bernauw (guitars), Claudio Guliker (bass), Andy Kockelkoren (synths), and Jeroen van Tuijl and Tommy Stillwell (guitars).
Coming from a punk background as a drummer, Maks also played in cover- and later new wave bands. Eventually to end up in a blues rock band. So I guess it is little wonder all these influences somehow sip through in the music on this album. Although, when pressed to describe the music, I would go for pop rock with some wave accents (because of the synths).

While listening to this it is clear there is experience behind this. For instance, adding a little flute solo to The Gods In My Head, steers the song away from a fairly standard pop song. Clever. Most of the songs are carried by not too complex rhythms and chord progressions. Yet adding little things here and there gives them a bit of sizzle. The songs have hooks and melodies that will quickly sound familiar. Even when in Critical Mess there is a synth melody that made me think of Kraftwerk…

The result is an album that aims to be a pleasant listen and delivers just that. It never outstays its welcome, and will not shock the world for ground breaking new additions to the world of music. But it does not need to be.

Time will tell if this sparks the intended career as a professional musician.

Website

 

Hello Stranger, Long Division, 2018

Hello Stranger - Long DivisionHello Stranger are a fairly new band, who met in LA around 2015. Sam Deffenbaugh is the singer / guitarist, Daniel Rodriguez the drummer, Sam Plotkin also plays guitar and sings the harmonies and the band is rounded out by Doug Slohm on bass.

Listening to the album I cannot deny there is some massive appeal here. The songs are catchy (often damn catchy in fact), and Sam D has a voice that ought to make many a young girl take note. Well, I am not a young girl and and I still like the singing 🙂 . But there is more to this album: there are enough distorted guitars and variation at work throughout the album to keep me interested.
Still the band prove many times they are not a one trick pony. Where a song like Victorious has hit written all over it, The Flood is a riff monster waiting to explode. All The Things I’m Not sounds powerful, yet is carried by groove and a lighter sphere that works like a charm.

Most of the songs clock between 3 to 4 minutes, so will work in a radio format. I hope the band will get picked up, because they write quality songs that stick in your head and still manage to avoid the overly used clichés.

Nice one!

Website

 

Gregory M. Hurley, Seafoam, 2018

gregory m hurley, seafoamHow fitting to name your album seafoam, and put a strat in that colour on the cover. Nice touch! What is also nice, is what Greg Hurley is offering us on this debut.

Well debut, it might be his debut album, but in his young days, Hurley spent a lot of time honing his skills on every stage that gave him a home. And now, after years of being inactive (life sometimes gets in the way), he has built a studio and unleashes his work to the unaware public.

And I must say, the man knows how to play and write a decent tune! I guess the songs are a reflection of his influences. And I am confident that The Beatles rank high there. A song like You’re You clearly fits well in the Beatles songbook, and Hold On Tight would sit comfortably on any mid career ELO album (and no, it is not a cover from them).  Other influences seem early Santana on songs Where You’re At and Pick It Up or Steely Dan on WiggleRoom.
The title track is a wonderful moody instrumental, but actually every track on the album is tasty and well done. Especially considering he played everything himself if I understand correctly.

Bottom line, this release deserves a big audience because the songs will appeal to everyone who appreciates quality pop / rock songs.

Website

Ted & Majella, Better Together, 2017

ted & majella - better togetherThe Ted in this release is famed guitarist Ted Turner, whom you might know from his days in Wishbone Ash, or the couple of tracks he played on John Lennon’s Imagine album. Majella is not only his wife, but also a singer and together they invented a new genre called new age soul.

Well I will be honest as always, to me this sounds like a singer songwriter album with lots of pop sensibilities and with heartfelt guitar playing (imagine a bit more rocking version of Mark Knopfler). Yes, there is lots of soul present in the songs, but coming from inside, not akin to the musical genre. And I guess the new age bit refers to their look at the world we live in today. “Everything has a relationship, we are nature, and systems only exist through collaboration. And are bigger than us.”

Nothing wrong with that of course and despite my critique about the genre tagging, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the music. It might be more light-footed compared to the stuff I usually listen to, but everything, from the playing, to the sound, and to the delivery oozes class.  Majella has a pleasant voice and her melodies work. The result of all this, is that the album radiates a passion. For life, for each other, and for nature.

So this is beautiful from start to finish and in my opinion suited for the majority of the people. Dreamy and sometimes intense!

Website

Sule, Hold On, 2018

sule - hold onTo be honest I cannot remember how I got this, and since there was no additional info included, I know next to nothing of the artist in question, except that he goes by the name of Sule. And probably is from Canada.

What I do know is that this album contains 16 tracks (and not 15 as it says on the art). The first 11 form the actual album, and the remaining 5 are bonus tracks. Often regular tracks in a different form, or sung in French. What I also know is that Sule is not set on a specific genre. Most of the album (at least in my ears) falls in the pop category, although a bit of rock elements are added here and there. But you will also find traces of country, rap, and R&B in the mix.
So what does that leave us with? Well actually, since it is sunny here, this will lighten up your BBQ with ease. It is feel good, melodic and nothing complex. It radiates the positive energy to really get the party going.
His singing shows traces of Seal, so it is warm and soulful. Combine that with songs that still feel authentic, despite probably not winning any originality contest, and the result is something that I would rather hear instead of 95% that gets played on mainstream radio. Not bad at all!

Website

Ghostly Beard, Inward, 2018

ghostly beard - inwardWell, not sure if I can add anything to what has already been said about Ghostly Beard. But of course I am still trying just that 🙂
Because there is a lot to like about the music of Patrick Talbot, the bearded one himself. After the Infinite EP, with it’s magnificent prog leanings, came first full length Invisible, which proved a treat with it’s sophisticated, sometimes fusion like approach. And in what seems only a few months after, we are now treated with the third release, titled Inward. Seems the guy loves words that start with I.

And to be clear, I love the music of this man. Not because he is the best singer in the world. He isn’t but can deliver his tunes with an inspiring honesty and clever use of backing vocals. Also not because he is an awesome instrumentalist who seems to handle every instrument with an ease that could make people jealous. He does not play to impress, he shines because he serves the song in the best possible way.
No, it is because of the feel good nature of his songs!

Yes, on this album some tracks are melancholic, but they do not make me sad at all. Ever since getting the album I have been listening I don’t know how many times, and the album always picks me up. From the slow burning How Does It Feel, (great chorus and heartfelt guitar solo) to the full on happy Going Away, every song enchants me.

In his words this album defines his style as an artist. To me the only thing that is important is that I hope he releases many more songs. Treat yourself and pick this up!

Website

Dawson Rutledge, Monsters, 2017

dawson rutledge - MonstersOne of the best things about doing this is that you get to hear a wide variety of music. And since variety is the spice of life, this album is been making quite a few rounds in my CD player lately.
The 19 year young Dawson Routledge is a fairly new name on the scene, delivering his first official album here, the 9 track album Monsters.

Probably best described as a mix of soft rock, pop, jazz and folk, Monsters has turned out to be quite the laid back affair. But of the kind that grabs you with an unique voice, clever lyrics and a delivery that is beyond Rutledge’s years.
Sometimes a song starts with a hook that makes you wonder if you have heard it before, but in the end this is all original. The overall sound is warm and does justice to the songs that are carried by their pop sensibilities and folky arrangements. It is clear that he is serious about his craft, especially since his picking skills are on par with his vocals. And the subtle rhythmic changes are often the icing on the cake.

Personal favourites are When Life Gives You Monsters and Heavy Heart, but there are enough choices to please many.

Website