Take A Bow

Take A Bow – By the Reveurs*

The Reveurs

 “The Reveurs” is French for “the Dreamers”, and this band fittingly presents songs that are nostalgic and sensitive without being too corny.  Check out their edgy black-and-white website for gorgeous photos (www.thereveurs.co.uk), and the whole Take a Bow 4-song release – available for listening right online.   You can easily order the CD from here, or digitally download it from Google Play.

The lead singer has a familiar voice, yet it was hard for me to pin this down for a good comparison – the closest I could determine is that this sounds like the guy from Incubus – when he sings in a slower, mellower way without screaming.  Mix that with a little Gavin Rossdale, and you’ve got the idea!

In their press pack, the Reveurs are described as “a four piece Manchester based rock/indie band who are committed to writing and performing intense, unique and lyrically engaging indie-rock anthems.”  I’m no expert on the lyrically engaging part, the songs seem straightforward and singable enough; but I can attest to the indie-rock part – these guys have got the beat!

“Take A Bow” is the opening track of this little 4-song collection, demonstrating a solid sound that is reminiscent of Kings of Leon, and Toad the Wet Sprocket all at the same time – with the aforementioned Bush vocals to keep things going.  If this sounds like an unexpected combination, it actually works perfectly!  I really enjoyed the second song, called “Harriet” – quick and poppy, like the Strokes with a little old-school Lit which is really fun.

Next comes “Control”, a song that turns things to a more serious note in a minor key, with sensitive harmonies and heavy guitars.  Here the Reveurs channel some Depeche Mode to appeal to the 80s enthusiasts among us, as they chant “reach out and touch faith” through the intense end of this song.

The CD ends with “Saint Marie”; starting with a great bass opening and lots of hi-hat drums, before sliding into awesome rock guitar then quieting down to feature the singer again.  Good vocal harmonies lend depth and texture to the determined, repeating lyrics – “Saint Marie I’ve got to run my way; I don’t know what I’ve been told…” that repeat over and over.

You could hear this album in a sports bar, in an indie record store, or your own hip car – and the Reveurs wouldn’t be out of place anywhere.  I think they are a solid act with some general appeal that could really make it big.  Now, we’ve got to get them to play some live shows outside of the UK!

Link to Preview Tracks on Google Play:

https://play.google.com/store/music/artist/The_Reveurs?id=Aspv7rlc4zszsb5mp3gfsktwv3q&hl=en

Link to Band Website with Online Album:

www.thereveurs.co.uk

*Please note:  This piece was originally posted on EarToTheGroundMusic.co on May 3, 2015 – the image shown was captured from that website.  The article itself was written by rockmycommute and is subject to my copyright notice as detailed in the About link.

Break The Cycle

Sisters and Brothers – by the Vespers*

The Vespers

Not overly poppy, upbeat, or sweet – you may find yourself considering the Vespers more seriously, and you will not be disappointed!  They really hit hard in the opening of this album, making sure you know what their sound is and that they aren’t afraid to rock and wail. Sisters and Brothers is a full-length, full-production release; with twelve tracks on the album, it is the third album for the Vespers.

I confirmed on Wikipedia that the band is actually made up of two real brothers, Taylor and Bruno Jones; and two sisters, Callie and Phoebe Cryar – Callie and Phoebe both sing on the album, but it’s not always clear who is taking the lead.  The vocals blend beautifully with the country-ish instrumentation – the first descriptive comparisons that came to mind were that the lead vocals sound like the singer from the Sundays, over a band that is reminiscent of good ol’ Whiskeytown (if some of their alt-country songs had even more edge, and feisty female vocals).

The album begins almost exactly like “Ohio” by Neil Young, with a plunking banjo that seems to speed up as the lead singer brandishes a voice like an indie Gretchen Wilson.  The words “Everybody looks like someone else, we all just wanna look like ourselves” encourage one to “break the cycle” – in line with the band’s website admission that this album is inherently about growth and discovery.  With that said, nothing about this feels adolescent or naïve, and the music on Sisters and Brothers should appeal to almost everyone.

The second song is more lilting, with almost whiny lyrics over solidly building rock and roll drums.  “We Win” is really an anthem – definitely the kind of song you can raise your lighters to!  The following track features a vintage reverb microphone sound on the vox, with lots of country twang on a song that is otherwise a little eerie and taunting.  Next comes the title track, featuring a simple strummy guitar, with 90s backing vocals on this classic song – the feel-good piano on the bridge will remind you of Joan Osborne.  I appreciated the plain openness of the lyrics here –“We already know the ending of the story, we don’t have to worry about the little things… gotta take care of eachother.”

The fifth song opens with bright piano chords, creating a rhythmic background for the second leading vocalist to pop through with an equally lovely yet grittier voice of her own.  There is enough energy on the repeating chorus at the end to evoke Bonnie Tyler herself (“It’s not enough!”).   And track #6 “Out West” is just a big ol’ moody country song, like something performed by Carrie Underwood – brimming with a heavy molasses feeling of deep and sorrowful secrets.

“Signs” is one of my favorites – super-upbeat and danceable, with funky organ instrumentation that creates a vibe like Dolly Parton-meets-Tony Basil.  Given the somewhat somber mood of some other songs on this album, this is a refreshing change to something lighter.  The next song opens with fresh banjo picking, and great harmonies on this delicate track about a “churchgoing girl” with “perfect attendance”.  Beautiful piano fills in like little rain drops, building a full wave of instrumentation.  “The Curtain” is a stripped-down contrast to some of the big, rocking openers on this album – but as always, the singing is fantastic on every track.

Track #10 “Please” is a little slow for my liking, but it is also the kind of song that will eventually grow into a favorite.  There is no shortage of emotion coming from the desperately pleading lyrics and angsty vocals.  And just when you think the album has turned into a soft collection of lullabies, “You Leave Me” breaks out with a ton of vintage soul and raucous attitude.  I think I’ve heard this track before on some Public Radio show – it definitely could be considered the “hit single”!  Finally comes “Thirst No More”, the hymn-like closing song with gorgeous violins and tribal drums beneath.  This song is less country, and more Innocence Mission – at once gentle, and ethereal.

There is enough variety from track to track that you won’t ever get bored.  I think the Vespers would be an amazing band to see live, and if you check out their website you’ll find they have PLENTY of upcoming shows in their lineup across the US.  What impressed me the most about this group is that while their sound is not necessarily new, the variety of song styles they are willing to try on a single album is ambitious yet effective – somehow this diversity of content is unified by the awesomely unique, almost hauntingly elfin vocals that allow the group to leave its own mark.

Link to Google Play to preview tracks:

https://play.google.com/store/music/album/The_Vespers_Sisters_and_Brothers?id=Bq6uto2go62445czyndq6dnqyc4&hl=en

Link to Amazon to purchase album:

http://www.amazon.com/Sisters-Brothers-Vespers/dp/B00L92DBTK/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1430183160&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Vespers

*Please note: This piece was originally posted on EarToTheGroundMusic.co on April 26, 2015 – the image shown was captured from that website.  The article itself was written by rockmycommute and is subject to my copyright notice as detailed in the About link.

Sky’s The Limit

Future Self – By Silas Fermoy*

Album Review Silas Fermoy – Future Self – Sky’s the limit for this talented ind_2015-04-20_21-22-20

Now this is the kind of album I have been waiting for!  Clouds That Dropped You is something that sounds new enough to be exciting, but familiar enough to be instantly appreciated.  His picture may look a bit like Justin Timberlake, but according to his bio just five years ago Joshua Mash was playing gigs in NYC under the name Shilo Andrews – now he is Silas Fermoy and the sky is the limit.  I foresee great things for this talented, fresh and innovative artist.

On the first track – “Passed Time” – the Hammond Organ sound starts simply enough, with a little choral reverb and static-y sound featuring prominently within the clearly sung lyrics.  You’ll notice this sounds a little bit like the Killers, but more upbeat and lighter – with a great indie whine on the guitar solo.  The song is catchy and pleasant, with a message about how “you never grow but you feel safe anyway” that breaks into a call-and-response-chorus with a great complexity of sound effects.  It finishes with that cool, retro fade effect that I adore.

I think the second song is my favorite – it is both romantic and poetic, while being edgy at the same time.  Then it just bursts into a full blown chorus with rolling drums that call to mind the days of 311 from the 90s (remember “Down”, “Amber” and all of those great sounds?).  The vocals are ultra-echoey here, with a lower register twin on the backing vox – think Temper Trap on “Sweet Disposition” and you’ll know exactly what I mean!  I think the downtime break in the middle is really good, and there is also an ethereal and dreamy bridge with great guitar that drops back to remind you of some of those emo bands you used to love, as Josh croons (“In this boy’s world, in these green eyes, in these cruel skies”)…

If I had to choose a least favorite, it is probably the title track (#4), as it is definitely the slower and more lyrical song on the album – like a carefully crafted Guster song.  I have to admit, there are eventually great drums here, just like on the whole album – it really moves into a driving piano-based beat on the chorus.  I can also see a little Arcade Fire influence here, with a great rocking guitar under delicate vocals.  However, I do feel like sometimes the songs on this album move through too many elements and exploratory phases in a short time span –  personally I think it is OK for a piece to just sound like itself.  With that said, there are absolutely no moments when the music is stagnant; when the songs do not feel full of movement.  Change can be good!

Overall, I have to say that this release has so much energy, and attitude!  I love Josh’s expressive voice, with the unique and extra-wobbly vibrato on the sustained notes.  The music is definitely danceable on almost every track, without losing substance or becoming too “bubblegum”.  And there is nothing distracting about the quality of the recording – it is truly a well-planned and well-produced piece of work.  You will really enjoy this!

Link To Full Review (Commentary on All Tracks) at ETTG:

http://www.eartothegroundmusic.co/2015/04/19/album-review-silas-fermoy-future-self-skys-the-limit-for-this-talented-indie-rocker/

Link to Preview Tracks on Google Play:

https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Silas_Fermoy_Clouds_That_Dropped_You?id=B3oaof4s7mnhh4rw767ufmlpkue&hl=en

Link to Purchase Album on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Clouds-That-Dropped-Silas-Fermoy/dp/B00TK8WYG6/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1429579870&sr=8-15&keywords=Silas+Fermoy

*Originally published as full-length review with commentary on all tracks; published on the ETTG blog (www.eartothegroundmusic.co) on April 19.  Image captured from ETTG website.

Calm and Confident

Into The Light – By Erin Kay*

Erin Kay - Image from ETTG Music Site

Looking at the cover art of Erin’s recent 2014 release Into the Light, you see a woman with nothing to prove – fully confident and rejoicing in the light and natural splendor that surrounds her.  It is a really good image that fits with the style and tone of her enjoyable music.  Her bandcamp profile compares her to Joni Mitchell (well-known of course) and also Serena Ryder and Brandi Carlile (you may be slightly less familiar with these two). At first listen, Erin’s voice takes me back to the great angsty female singer-songwriters of the 90s à la Paula Cole – and even good ol’ Alanis Morissette.

What I like about Erin initially is that her voice is aggressive, emotional and deliberate – this type of music can often feature a breathy vocalist that can’t convey much intention.  But Erin’s voice comes across very strong and full of conviction. She plays guitar and sings, and she is also the primary pianist for the album.  In this respect she is similar to Sarah Bareilles who is also a piano-based artist with an amazing voice and poignant songs.

The opening song – “Into the Light” – starts out with a bare structure of simple piano, but then opens up to pull you in with richer instrumentation. It is really a promising and solid first track that will make you want to hear the whole album.  The music on the second track (“Let You Down”) is gorgeous and strummy – reminds me of music from Cranberries or Sixpence None the Richer that just puts you into a beautiful frame of mind.  The song is slow, but brimming with energy that does not drag.

Track #3 (“Come On Home”) has the driving, upbeat rhythms that I always look for on a good album – you can’t have just one quiet song after another or the collection just falls flat.  This piece shows that Erin is capable of writing a variety of songs that don’t all sound the same.  Her voice rings especially raw, confident, and true on this track.   “Peace of Mind” is next – a little slower, and a little sadder.  But even this track eventually blooms with a little bit of country guitar that will have you swaying along.  This is music that you can really feel – perfect for an autumn afternoon or a rainy morning when you are alone with your thoughts.  The song doesn’t actually close, but has a fade-out-ending – remember when that used to be done all the time?  Sometimes it is still really nice to keep the mood going in that way.

“The Right Direction” is basically a duet with a country-ish male partner vocalist, resulting in something along the lines of a mellow song from a Lady Antebellum album.  Whining grand-ol-opry organ and wailing guitar throw caution to the wind on this emotionally expressive song.  This might be my favorite one for singing along to in the car – it is almost cathartic!  The next song “All These Years” is a sentimental song about past and future.  On this track, Erin sounds very like Natalie Merchant – the style is similar too.  The short, 7-track album ends with “High and Dry” which starts as the darkest and saddest yet.  But it then releases into a hopeful and forgiving chorus – “I will never leave you high, I will never leave you dry, you are where I call my home.”

Overall, I have to say I love Erin’s voice.  I love her ability to infuse each track with so much emotion, with these piano chords that reverb right into your gut.  I just wish she ended the album on a more upbeat note with another one of her more energetic songs that would pull all of this great work together – to remind us of how strong and versatile she is.  Regardless, if you like some of the comparable artists that I have referenced here, with touching lyrics and heartfelt melodies; then you will enjoy Erin Kay. She is from Edmonton, Alberta – so you might not be able to catch her in a live show locally anytime soon.  But in the meantime I heartily encourage you to check out her sweet, sunny website and enjoy her well-crafted album.

Link to Erin Kay’s Album on BandCamp:

http://erinkay.bandcamp.com/releases

*Please note: This piece was originally posted on EarToTheGroundMusic.co on March 29, 2015 – the image shown was captured from that website.  The article itself was written by rockmycommute and is subject to my copyright notice as detailed in the About link.

Simple Name, Simple Pleasure

Audrey and Chris – By Audrey and Chris*

Audrey & Chris

(*Image pulled from https://audreyandchris.bandcamp.com/ – not taken by RMC)

Looking for something folky but not too bluegrass or country?  This is the perfect album.  I loved every precious second of the seven short tracks on this self-titled debut from charming duo Audrey Snow and Chris Gillin-Schwartz, known simply as Audrey and Chris.  I couldn’t find a ton of information about them, but apparently they are from Cape May, New Jersey – which is also extremely charming.

They open with one of their strongest songs – “Dissipate”.  I love the beautiful lyrics, and slow but simple guitar.  Apparently Audrey can really sing! She has a mellow, low, soulful voice that reminds me of Susan Tedeschi and Fiona Apple.  She really belts it out on the heartfelt chorus when the banjo kicks in.  Did I mention that I love this song?  In fact, there really isn’t a bad one on this album.

The second track reminds me of the excellent Ryan Bingham songs from the “Crazy Heart” soundtrack, complete with the gravely whiskey dude voice that totally fits a song called “Down the Line” – it is perfect!  It has a bright, open guitar sound and lots of harmonica.

Track #3 is called “Elliot” and is pretty depressing if you think about it.  I would describe it as a cross between Nirvana and Eliot Smith, in terms of both content and sound.  Well done, but dark.  I suggest that you experience it fully, then continue on to something lighter!  You can move on to the next track that again showcases Audrey’s amazing voice.  The vocal style of “Hold Out” is reminiscent of Shawn Colvin with a little Sheryl Crow mixed in – but this track is more upbeat in tempo (if not in tone) than the opening Audrey song.

Track #5 “Maybe” perhaps is the best example of Audrey’s Fiona style because it highlights just her voice roaming over a basic guitar.  And then there is “Late Night” – A sultry and rhythmic duet between Audrey and Chris, with a standard format but unpredictable harmonies; and of course plenty of tambourine (this is a folk album, after all).

The last wonderful song is called “Moon Man”.   This actually seems like it could belong on another album I recently reviewed by The Hand and the Heart, in terms of style and caliber.  Chris takes the lead on this melancholy indie-folk ballad (that is loosely trying to run with the spaceman theme first carried by David Bowie and Elton John…).  Really a very short song (like tracks 3 and 5) but a sweet little number and a great way to wrap things up.  A+ for effort, execution, and heart!  I really hope they come out with more music very soon.

Link to Album on Reverbnation:

http://www.reverbnation.com/audreyandchris

Link to Album on BandCamp:

https://audreyandchris.bandcamp.com/

New Songbird in Town

Tales of A Songbird – By Shivon Coelho

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The cover of Shivon Coelho’s 2014 Release is charming with pink text and a photo of Shivon in a frilly dress (check out the links below to see!).  The title Tales of a Songbird is also lighthearted, and this whimsy carries through to the music.  Shivon’s voice is clear and pleasant, with a gentle Australian accent peeking through.  At times she sounds almost elfin – although not quite as eerie as Joanna Newsom or Cindi Lauper.  She is backed by professional musicians, with a range of featured sounds from upright bass on the opening song, to military-style snare drums and trombones on other tracks. The musicianship is good and never distracts from Shivon as the feature; even when providing harmony to her own voice the result is well-blended for a beautiful effect.

The music is enjoyable – but I can’t figure out who the target audience would be, since all of the songs seem hyper-feminine in a fairytale castle-and-princess kind of way.  There are mentions of garden gates, cupcakes, queens, horses, and of course – songbirds.  Still this doesn’t mean the lyrics are trite, as Shivon finds a way to pull these elements into thoughtful stories about life expectations, and being “just a girl, twenty-two with no tattoo”.  I can imagine this album playing in the background of a tea shop or bookstore, or maybe you’d have it on while studying for a Modern Poetry exam in your college dorm.  All of the songs are very different from one another, so the result is flexible and fun.

The album opens with “Just a Girl” – a 90s-style coffeehouse song, with appealing acoustic guitar chords and upright bass.  Shivon sings kind of like KT Tunstall here, with upbeat, bouncy vocalizations and “doot doot doots”.  The second song incorporates a vocal effect that makes her voice more alien and ethereal on this track.  Also included is a brass section lending musical interest and a carnival-esque mood.  Track #3 (“Kings & Queens”) is slow and ultra-romantic.  Some of the lyrics are a little predictable and lovey-dovey (such as “I can be your queen and you can be my king”, or “love is like a flower, more precious than gold”), however you will enjoy the lilting guitar punctuated by a strong drumline that keeps the song moving.  Sugar-coated themes aside, this reminds me of something by Natalie Merchant or the Cranberries from back in the day.

“Tales of a Songbird” is probably my favorite; this again has the echoey vocal effects that give a vintage appeal to this song – also not unlike some of the popular hits by the Cardigans.  The song is upbeat, catchy, and confident.  Next is “The Reason” featuring beautiful, deep, strings invoking plenty of emotion.  Although the whole song is reminiscent of a slower version of the chorus from Nina Gordon’s “Tonight and the Rest of My Life”; it is not bad at all.

Shivon closes the short album with a folky number: “Call Me When You Laugh Again”.  This is my 2nd favorite track – it really sounds like something by Shawn Colvin à la “Sunny Came Home” or the early acoustic days of Jewel Kilcher.  She is smart to end on a strong note (without too much princess-y stuff) that will make people remember her as an appealing new artist they will check out again. We’ll undoubtedly hear more from Shivon in the future, since she has made a strong start, and it’s clear that she is both dedicated and aptly talented for a career in the music industry.

Link to Google Play to Preview Tracks:

https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Shivon_Coelho_Tales_of_a_Songbird?id=Bfb7vvp45bqnmwb6g2ewklazm3a&hl=en

Link to Amazon to Purchase Album:

http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Songbird-Shivon-Coelho/dp/B00NR43K7Q

Special Feature for Friday!

“Disco Cowboy” – by Without A Net

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Disco Cowboy is a new release by the Hudson Valley’s very own Without A Net (let’s call them WAN).  Usually a classic rock cover band, WAN has been writing original songs, warming up the keyboard, and rehearsing guitar solos to bring you this colorful mini-album.  With just seven tracks, “Disco Cowboy” presents a style variety ranging from funk guitar to rap.

Fun wah pedals, an upbeat 60s feel and catchy lyrics make “Disco Cowboy” the right choice for the opening/title track – you might even sing along!  Phrases like “with the boys in the band, we work the hits of man” demonstrate that WAN don’t take themselves too seriously to have fun.  After all, there’s nothing wrong with being a popular cover band that specializes in classic rock with a particular inclination towards the Grateful Dead.  This song ends with a referee whistle refrain that has been known to turn into an audience participation moment at their events.

If you get the chance to see this band perform live, I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself.  While their sound is not particularly innovative and their catalogue is mostly covers, there is something for everyone to tap their toe along to.  The drummer keeps things tightly together, the bass is loud enough to give the songs some soul, and the guitar solos are awesome.

WAN is fronted by their very own disco cowboy.  Frank is one of the primary songwriters, and also lead vocalist and keyboard player.  He throws a lot of energy into each performance, with a voice that is sometimes reminiscent of Roger Daltrey. I’m not sure if he is the founder of the band, but he is certainly becoming the recognizable mascot – he earned the disco cowboy moniker at his work, for being a free spirit willing to flaunt his own style in the sea of financial industry fashion.

Getting back to the album, I’ll say that “Hard to Understand” is my favorite song here. It has the 60s organ sound à la the Zombies, but also the vein of more raw early Beatles hits, and with a little more twang.  “Overtime” is smooth and sassy; it could be loosely influenced by Steely Dan and even includes some female backing vox to complete the sound.  The jazzy guitar steals the show on this track!

“Peggy O” is a slow and sweet love song – the melody is reminiscent of Townes Van Zandt, Cat Stephens, or Bob Dylan, with additional female vocals providing call-and-response style singing.  It is traditional and pleasant, although the mixing on the CD doesn’t do it justice – would probably sound better in person at a show.  And for track #5 it seems that that “Cold, Rain and Snow” is more than just a good song title – but also great number with a grainy, Clapton feel.

The album also features bonus versions of Disco Cowboy (the rap, as performed live by Frank; and an extended version).  As a special treat, you can catch WAN this Saturday, at Tenapa restaurant in Croton, NY.  You can easily check out their album online – then go see the show!  Disco Cowboy is available for free on Reverbnation, but for $8 you can order the CD and show some support.  Have a great weekend!

Link to Album on Reverbnation:

http://www.reverbnation.com/playlist/view_playlist/-4?page_object=artist_3975759

Link to Merchandise Site:

http://withoutanet.bigcartel.com/