Track of the Week : Rabid Young's "Beautiful Things"

Here's the new track "Beautiful Things" off their new Ep that was releases October 2nd. From the ashes of his band Most Thieves, Rickey and Jackson Wilcox from A Crowd of Small Adventures recruited Most Thieves alum Bobby Lee Parker and Roky Erickson drummer Matthew Long to start working on what would become Rabid Young. They eventually added Alex Stopa from The Silver State and Big Talk. This was a step aways from their former work which was more atmospheric and high brow indie rock and a blatant stab at moving in a more pop direction under the new name, in an attempt to prove that pop doesn't have to be a bad word.

Rabid Young began tracking at Electric Animal, run by Eric who works the audio department for Cirque du Soleil. This gave them the time to come up with a formula to blend the organic elements of instruments into the now digital age of pop by sampling themselves playing and looping those moments. Thus was born their self-titled debut EP, which was mixed by Grammy winning engineer Adam J. Odor. In the vein of bands like Mute Math and Coldplay who were also able to adapt to commercial radio in a way that the music such as the denser art rock of Radiohead hasn't due to the fact it simply goes over the head of you average dial turner, where Cold Play keeps it simple thus connecting to todays add GOOGLE youth. Rabid Young does this without dumbing it down to the level of Cold Play but playing off similar melodic cues. Take a listen to their newest track off the ep below.

Album of the Week : Cashavelly Morrison 's "the Kingdom Belongs to a Child"

When it comes to country music I am pretty picky. I normally go for the classics, like George Jones, Hank sr, and Willie Nelson. Todays brand is caught between pop and a hard place, and seems to have more success when they go ahead and cross over all the way like Taylor Swift. But honest to god female country singers are far and few between and most are not melancholy enough to catch my ear. West Virginia's Cashavelly Morrison is an exception to that rule as her intimate approach to songwriting, explores her pain with a  beguiling voice float over the haunting Americana tinged folk . The country influence of Americana feels less forced than many of the indie artists who have tried dipping their toes into those waters. The banjo dominate "Emory" finds her tender voice more exposed. The songs float against one another, with similar longing that reminds me of the Cowboy Junkies, but Morrison's voice is lighter and more youthful.

"Made of Sand" is encircled by well crafted guitar melodies which compliment her voice that soars up into the over cast world her music paints.  while the songs have a similar dreamy tempo, "Iodine" finds her voice giving the song more of a sense of motion. The re-verb heavy guitar cries out in the back ground.The paces picks up more into a bluegrass like shuffle for " Jesus Dies Every Time" which is one of the few songs on the album you might describe as upbeat. "Breakwater" has some interesting interplay with a male vocal, that is similarly subdued as Morrison's voice, though it sounds like he comes from more of an indie rock background where she is more steeped in country.

 "Pink Dress"  finds her not going into a chest voice but singing with more focused intention as the music comprised of  you typical country  instrumentation minus say harmonica  ,  she created  more of a surreal tapestry for the vocals to sprawl out over , it makes me think if Explosionsinthesky ever used a female country singer the results might be similar. There is a more fragile banjo line to " May 5th" . Her voice feels like it moved forward in the mix.There is an emotive quality similar to early Jewel on " The Nobleman and the Queen".  The drums give it more of an indie rock quality, despite the country roots reflected in some of the intervals used. "29 Bells" doesn't really find Morrison going any where that has yet to be explored vocally , the big difference between the closing track and the rest of the album is the guitar seems to  be forward in the mix and the harmonic that I mentioned was missing earlier shows up. Overall this album impressed me and is vying with the likes of Chelsea Wolfe and Kate Bush for a coveted spot on my iPod. As you know I review hundreds of  artists every month, so there are an elite few who I consider allowing take up the cramped 16 gb of storage space on my iPod, so  the best compliment I can give an artist I never heard before clicking onto her Soundcloud.

Album Review :Lyndzie Taylor's "Phoenix"

Where is the line between pop and rock, is one of the questions asked by Lyndzie Taylor’s new album “Phoenix”. If you have distorted guitar does that qualify and if so how distorted does it have to be. This question has been raised on a few great albums, “Purple Rain” being the most notable. If you set “Lets Go Crazy” against “ Beat it” well “Let’s Go Crazy” would be rock, despite rocker Eddie Van Halen contributing guitar, but put “ Let’s Go Crazy” against “You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party” by the Beastie Boys, then “Let’s Go Crazy” doesn’t seem like such a rock song.A major factor that comes into play in this comparison with these songs and going into Taylor’s album is the production. Rick Rubin would go on to produce Slayer whose guitarist Kerry King plays on the Beastie’s classic and Prince is more at home blending a hybrid sound, sometimes diluting more of the rock elements for the sake of the songs.

 Fortunately for Taylor it is her powerhouse vocals that grab your attention right from the creeping pop groove of  ‘What Do I Know” that opens the album.  The chorus is more like pop era Gwen Stefani. Taylor's voice, which has an impressive upper range, is way up front. Just because the song has a guitar solo doesn't mean it's pop. The effect is more like En Vogue's "Free Your Mind".  "Supernatural" has more of a Katy Perry thing going with more of an urban swagger. The beat could stand to be right under the vocals, but she does have a knack for melodies and powerful voice that allows her to push through the songs. It depends I suppose what your definition of rock is, but " Rain" is more like Alanis Morrisette covering a slowed down version of "Roar”. The chorus has guitar coming in but the arena rock chords sit back behind her vocals diminishing their punch.

"She urges you to take a drink and not to start to think on "Turn It Up" . It cannot suppress its pop urges no matter how many guitar solos are wedged into the cracks. While her voice would be more than capable of singing rock due to its power, there are things like the one break that sounds like house music you might expect to find moving the dance floor of a gay bar at 2am on Sunday morning.  In fact there is more of a rock sensibility to the verses of the title track that closes the album, but once it gets to the chorus it crosses over into pop. I can hear a slight Amy Winehouse influence in her voice's inflections on this song. Overall Lyndzie possesses pipes that many of today’s radio divas would be jealous of. They are what is rightfully the spotlight of these songs. Much like Prince this forces her to dial back the rock and go with what comes out.  She shifts through her influences on this phase of her journey to find her self on the pulse of what is currently going on so I am interested in hearing where she goes from here.

Album Review : Jordan Okrend's "World Keeps Turnin'"

It’s time to meet Jordan Okrend. To call him a singer- songwriter is an oversimplification, as he has created his own path in the ever-thickening forest of popular folk music. You could compare him to the likes of John Mayer due to his often reserved vocal delivery, but Jordan is much more soulful than Mayer, when "World Keeps Turning" begins to roll, he proves he is not just limited to the blues as the song owes more to jazz fusion with slight funk undertones to its groove and some shade of r& b in the backing vocals. The guitar solo smoothly adds to the song and allows them to build when they come back into the bridge. The groove thickens on "Too Much to Love", which balances out rock drive with upbeat soul that is not overly reliant on the bass line. The mix is warm and organic like they are playing in your living room. At time this reminds me of Maroon 5, but with more of a jammy playfulness, than   an overt addiction to putting the hook in your face. "Never Alone With You " comes the closest to dipping into the blues, though it is more the angle of what it might sound like if Ray Lamontagne jammed with Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

"Keep Coming to You" is rambling  and light hearted against the impassioned metaphor love song lyrics. The guitar riff keeps the song moving and allows plenty of room for the  melody. This song has one of the album's most radio friendly choruses. “Go My Way” starts off with just strum of guitar and Jordan’s vocals and then build up into a similar brand of groove-oriented pop rock with a loose folk center. The acoustic version of the first, strips every thing down to vocals and guitar, giving you a clearer picture of Okrend's vocals. His strength is his phrasing and smooth delivery, he is by no means Robert Plant, but is capable enough, even with the moments of falsetto in the stripped version of "World Keeps Turning." The focus on the vocals here also puts a spotlight on his knack for creating harmonies.

He is not recreating the wheel when it comes to folk music and there are several elements of what he does which might have a sense of familiarity when you hear them, but he has his own identity. If you want more from your singer songwriters than just strumming a guitar over programmed beats, then Okrend’s live sound will be a welcome departure as he fills the canvas with the instruments he paints these songs with a grace that doesn’t lose sight of serving the song. While this album would have been best served for a few beers at the beach, his music works just as well around at an autumn bon fire or as rainy morning picks me up for those you want something more upbeat than say Damien Rice. Okrend’s new album is something you will find yourself returning to even as the seasons change.

Preview : We Are Ardent : "This Time is Now"

We are premiering a track "The Time is Now" from Canada’s We Are Ardent's upcoming album "Bright Shadows From Dark Lights". This album is being released on November 15th and features the sultry styling of their lead singer cat Kat, who often shares the mic with the huskier grunged out vocals of their guitarist.  Their moody rock sound is supplemented by the frequent use of a South African instrument called a kalimba. It has a xylophone like quality to it, the instrument proves to be more versatile than you might imagine as shown on "The Time is now”.  Sure it's an odd instrument to for them to have chosen but gives their sound a unique flavor, allowing them to stand out from the crowd.  How many other rock bands do you known breaking out ancient South African instruments?

“ The Time is now” also provides Kats a chance to switch thing up vocally as the lyrics roll off her tongue with a more staccato rap like quality with out turning back the clock to the 90s or drawing Limp Bizkit comparisons.  The song eventually builds into a big alternative metal arena rock sound with the hooks she uses on the chorus that set her apart from the Gwen Stefani’s. This song is one of the albums darker moments, which also explains why it is my favorite track off the album. Kat’s vocals are at their best here and while the album as a whole is fairly solid. The band would be wise to continue to move in this direction, rather than some of the songs the male vocals get more time at the mic.  Because with Kat singing they have a sound that is both different from anyone else on the radio, yet retains some similar influences to the rocks bands currently fighting for space on the airwaves. They manage to achieve the perfect balance with this song.

So check out the song below as it will provide a good taste of what to expect from the album as a whole, some parts come out swinging with a little more of an aggressive edge. Overall, if you are looking for hard rock that's different than what is playing on in today's bland radio and has female vocals that carry tons of personality and spunk then this is the band for you. They take you back to the last time period where rock music was a dominant force on the radio. 

Album of the Week Gideon King & City Blog's "City Blog"

All too often jazz fusion is too high brow for its own good and forgets music is about the songs not your Berklee Degree. In fact the average listener doesn't care if you are a high school drop out if you can write something that moves them. Gideon King hasn't thrown the baby out with the bath water here and knows he can no rely on chops alone. Not that this project doesn't show case some impressive chops as it pulls from New York's cream of the crop, even featuring members of Steely Dan. The fact that this album carries some thoughtful yet biting lyrics that you would expect from this brand of jazz fusion, proves how much King cares about the songs. However the chops were the first thing that caught my ear, as pianist Kevin Hays tears it up. But it's not about these embellishments alone even though Gideon King is certainly no slouch on the guitar, his over driven tone on the solos reminds me of Frank Zappa, who is in my top ten guitarists of all time, so if you can draw comparisons to him then you are doing something right. This album is one of the rare birds that still has something to say. It is said in many different colors as "See in Double" indulges in laid back jazz not be out of place in today's pop market, who finds blue eyed soul artists like Sam Smith dipping into more jazz based phrasing

So it's just the icing on the cake to have the shining performance Donny McCasslin's sax work brought to these sessions. "Down" is an ode to the lyrics "send in the clowns/ one direction down" is like hip-hop artists calling each other out , which as you now I am not afraid to call bull shit on music that is lacking so I can appreciate his thoughts on this though, the blanket statement that "music of today is like a cloud covering the earth" might be a polarized view, though I imagine King's taste doesn't find him cruising the same sites I do looking for European metal and New York's latest post-punk.But I get where he is coming from, even if I have developed a secret addiction to Taylor Swift.

On some of the more inconspicuous moments like "New York is " things like those blazing sax solos come in handy to add some fire to things.Despite the relaxed almost James Taylor like cadence of the melody "Friendship Cliche" continues the streak of blunt lyrics, here he looks at friends that only call him once a year and are smiles for hire. Two of the albums best vocal performance come from Carolyn Leonhart and Grace Weber. These girls are old souls giving the songs another layer of soul and elegance to the album.You have to listen closely to their altos in order to hear how Leonhart comes from more of a traditional jazz background and Weber's benefits from a more sultry croon. There is a touch of western Eagles like rock to the strum of "Glide" with the vocals poured over the guitars groove like syrup. "Dirty Bastard" is largely dominated by the piano, with the guitar fills color in the blank spaces. The dirty bastard is declared ok by King, before he rips into one of the album's best solos.Here the solos really add a lot to the songs rather than the songs being vehicles for him to shred over.

The harmonies Leonhart chimes in on "Just Play", bring a Norah Jones feel to song. Here the band finds a perfect balance with no one instrument taking up the spot light, even when the guitar takes a solo at the end. They end the album with an interesting medley that looks back on the journey they have taken you on, "Broken Noise" reprises the song "Down" but is mainly a vocal take on it with piano and bass building back into it at the midway point before it transitions into a different take on the opener , giving the album a full circle feeling.This album stands alone in many ways. This an album of thought provoking music with some pristine playing and vocal performances. Even if you don't share King's thoughts on the cloud new music has brought onto the world, the ray of sun shine he brings to cut through it will make you a believer.

Album Review: Electric Parlor

This LA based takes on a 70s rock groove on their debut album. What puts the band ahead of the pack is their singer Monique  who wants to get wrecked with you, has a blues drenched voice that has obviously taken a few cues from Janis Joplin. There is a very straight forward almost more Rolling Stones moment in "Rage" . Which I suppose it might come from playing the bar scene in LA but so far they are two for two on lyrics about partying.  This is not quiet stoner rock, though fans of proto-doom bands like say Pentagram will find this to be in the same zip code as some of the other stuff you more than likely take bong tokes to. I can also hear traces of old ZZ Top mixed in with the shuffling boogie of songs like " Frisco High Line". Tonally the guitar is less metal and more in line with say the Black Crowes first album.

"Back Woods" keeps things in a groovey mid tempo. The drummer rolls of the guitar lines with ease as they keep the song churning under Alvarez's vocals. She exclaims on this one that she is not going to live her life on her knees. While it works with the song , I am not sure what that has to do with backwoods , until I hear that is part of her exit plan. It is also on this song I begin to hear some Led Zeppelin influence, who is felt on this album much more than someone like Black Sabbath.  The guitar on "Bitter" further points this fact out, though there is some slight Hendrix phrasing to it and some of her baby, baby, babies have a dash of Robert Plant to them. "Young Blood" finds the band wisely switching it up as it gives Monique room to flex her pipes and provides a wider scope of dynamics, which is what made a band like Led Zeppelin so great is that they could hit you with high energy blues rock or they could back off into folk or funk or metal.

They put more of the British rock stomp into "Promise Land" though Alvarez stays the course in pursuit of the blues. "Hazy Daisy" is one of the albums best songs, it has more Kings of Leon feel in the guitar phrasing and lyrically implies there is at least an air of curiosity in her sexual exploration if it is not a metaphor. The bass starts of "Last Battle" that goes for a darker almost grunge like take on the blues. While it's easy for any band in LA to smoke a joint,  put on bell-bottoms and pretend it's 1970, it's a different story to write songs as an old soul who gets the magic that was being made during that time and tap into that energy . Electric Parlor doesn't have to play dress up, there music speaks for it's self so if you are a fan of the days when real rock stars ruled the radio then you will get where these kids are coming from.

The Weingartner Phonogram Company are prepping for their first vinyl release. Presale of the vinyl is found here:

You can check them out below