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

Jeff Young, Choose Your Own Unknown, 2016

jeff-young-choose-your-own-unknownSeems not so long ago I wrote about Jeff Young, but that was in fact an international release of an album out a few years before. And here is his fresh new album. Reading through the press info, one cannot help but be impressed with all the name dropping there; side man to Jackson Browne, Donald Fagen, Curtis Stigers, Bonnie Raitt and Sting. Guest like Kirk Fletcher and Michael (oh wow) Landau! A crew used to work for names like Tori Amos, John Mayer or Gov’t Mule… We must be in for a treat!

And you would be right with that guess. Young is a scene veteran and it shows in every aspect of his songwriting, the sound, and his performance as a keyboard player and a (very soulful) vocalist. Whether it is the East- meets West coast of The Beauty Of A Woman (based on words from Audrey Hepburn), the reggae cover of James Brown’s Cold Sweat, The Steely Dan typed blues in The Art Of Conversation, or what ever song out of the ten on offer here, this is class.
And where perfect produced music sometimes leads to clinical, heartless music, here that is not the case at all. This is warm and personal and invites you to play it repeatedly.

So another job well done, and another album that will be revisited from time to time. Comes recommended!

Website

Holly Montgomery, Leaving Eden, 2016

Holly Montgomery - Leaving EdenSometimes it is hard to fathom how the music business works. Take for example this independent album from singer, bass player (and yes, that is a 5 string!) and even piano player Holly Montgomery. Compare this to for instance one Sheryl Crow and tell me there is justice in the world… Anyway, Holly probably is more concerned about getting the music out there and make a living playing live, then chase A&R guys in suit and tie. So let’s take a look at the album itself.

Moods between the songs range from pop rock in songs like Drunk On The Power and Waterworks, to psychedelic groovy in Go Mellow, a bit of balladry in Beyond The Veil (beautiful moody song!), and a tad of Country in Don’t Want To Fall. Still the best songs are not even mentioned yet! Because for me that are Jump The Gun, the stunning title track and the funny tongue in cheek of Morning Glory.
Listening to this it becomes clear that Holly likes lyrics with substance and overall her performance is very authentic, pure and honest.  This is someone who lives and breathes her music.

And don’t be afraid of all the genres mentioned, the band and Holly keep it all together and the whole of the album flows from start to finish and leaves you wanting more. Excellent stuff, get it!

Website

Last Hologram, Brave New World, 2016

last hologram - brave new universeOn to something a little different now; Last Hologram and their independently released Brave New World album. The band is the reincarnation of Lickpenny Loafer, a band that seemingly was very successful in winning over the public in Canada. But I must confess I like the new name better 🙂 And fantastic artwork by the way.

But this blog is about music, so let’s take a look at that. Singer and fearless leader of Last Hologram is Arunachal Subramanian, born in India, lived in South Africa and now a Canadian resident. With such a history it is of little wonder that the musical background is quite diverse. Yet the thing that struck me most about the music is that it sounds like a mix of rock and eighties new wave, embedded in pop structures. So you get the clever choruses, but still enough adventure to attract the people that actually still pay attention as to what they are listening to. Thinking of it, sometimes the music reminded me a bit of obscure band Freur (Doot Doot), whose album I still like to listen to from time to time.
All in all this album is highly enjoyable, and my only problem with it is that I would have wanted it to last longer. But then again, now we have 11 tracks and 40 minutes of quality.

In short, they deserve to be picked up and get an international release!

Website

David Huff, Born For This, 2016

david huff - born for thisWell, this is released on Giant Records, and I also read Nashville somewhere. So I bet some of you are now making the same mistake as I did when I saw the last name, Huff. Yes, as it turns out, the Huff name is carried by more people 🙂 (For those not getting it, check for instance this link). David Huff has a long history in the world of music. First as part of David And The Giants, later as a solo artist. And this is effort 6. But in all honesty, I was only aware of one Dann Huff and so far never heard anything from David.

Maybe a word of warning up front, if you cannot stand lyrical content that is strongly referencing the Christian beliefs of David, this is probably not for you. But if you do not mind that, or even enjoy it, or if you like quality pop – rock music, with emphasis on instant melodies, great playing and a state of the art production, then this album is surely something to check out.
From the start with Come On Down, we are treated with the songs of a guy that knows what works. This is class stuff, played and sung from the heart. And even when my press version holds several edits, the album flows and just never tires.

Very worth tracking down, I love it!

Website

Ellis Williams, Call to Battle, 2016

ellis williams - call to battleThis is the sophomore album by singer and trumpeter Ellis Williams. And before you click away, I urge you to stick around and continue reading. Self described as a jazz funk album, to me this is much more than that. In fact I am tempted to say that any lover of music will find something to his liking on it.

Yes, in a lot of songs the trumpet rules, but in all honesty you completely forget about that. Not because it is tucked away on a few spots. No, the trumpet is used to maximum effect here. It can be the vocalist singing nice melodies. It can be a player soloing away. Often parts are doubled or even tripled, with counter melodies and all.
And talking of vocals, Ellis sings too, and not half bad either. In fact I love his voice, a lot of soul in it, and he really reaches out.
The songs are very varied, exploring many genres in between them. Jazz and funk yes, but also rock, pop, soul, the list goes on. And the good thing is, it never sounds far fetched or in-cohesive.

For me an album that deserves a huge audience. Real music from a guy that puts his heart and soul in it. I am very impressed, so please go check him out!

Website