SINGLE REVIEW: Superman (Acoustic) by Dalal ft. Robin De Lano

SupermanAcousticCover

 

Dalal is a singer/songwriter, composer and actress hailing originally from Austria. Interestingly, she is the direct descendant of Franz Seraph von Bruchmann, who was the lyricist for the great composer Franz Schubert. She moved to New York City and began her musical career, releasing the single Taste The Night and performing to acclaim at fashion shows.

This track, Superman, is an acoustic version of a song that was nominated for the Hollywood Music in Media Award. Dalal has an instantly distinctive and powerful voice with a large range that comes into play on the uplifting chorus, which is augmented by tasteful backing harmonies. Along with acoustic guitar, there is a striking classical influenced piano melody. It also features the vocals of singer and actress Robin De Lano.

Lyrically, its about self belief and overcoming adversity, as exemplified on the chorus: “I’m not a victim, baby I’m Superman…yeah I can save myself and never take off my cape…take a good look at me and never forget my face…”. As the track develops, subtle strings further add to the instrumental blend and give more of a classical feel.

Overall, this is a fine version of an excellent song. An acoustic version of any song shows whether it stands up without all the gloss of a full studio production. This one shows its quality with just a few instruments and Dalal’s superb vocals. In fact, this version would make a perfect single in itself and it is quite common for alternate versions to be preferred to the original, as often less is more.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.8 out of 10

ALBUM REVIEW: After Songdown by Voice In The Attic

After Songdownhttp://voiceintheattic.com

 

Voice In The Attic is essentially the artistic vision of singer/songwriter BC Bogey, who hails from Cologne in Germany. His musical path has been unusual, starting out in metal bands before entering a musical conservatory at 23, where he seemed destined for a career as an opera singer. He left to pursue his musical ambitions elsewhere, forming a progressive rock project called TIDE, who became critically acclaimed.

Since then he has developed his own unique style as a solo artist, releasing the album Earily Familiar in 2010 and a few singles and EPs since. This second album, After Songdown, he describes as his ‘unplugged album’ and though it could be described as acoustic, that would be over simplying his rather original sound. With a deep, expressive voice somewhere between Chris Rea and Tom Waits, he combines elements of folk, jazz, classical and rock into a refreshing hybrid.

Consisting of thirteen tracks, it contains both songs and instrumentals. Opening song Day introduces his organic, intimate approach which features picked acoustic guitar, dreamy female backing vocals and haunting strings interweaved throughout. Essentially, it’s a song of longing: “I’ve been waiting for the day to break since you went away…”.

Glass is a poignant two minute instrumental consisting of piano and strings, while On starts out simply, then builds into an intriguing song that stands on the verge of several genres. It explodes in a miasma of vocal harmonies towards the end, lyrically about the urge to “go where the wild things are…”. Reminisce is another fine instrumental track, similar to Glass and rather moving.

Ablaze starts out as acoustic folk before a funky, jazzy beat turns it into something else entirely, built around the potent hook “We’re ablaze with desire…”. The female vocals complement his in a perfect yin/yang kind of way, both sensual and romantic. Tear is a lovely, tender song with beautiful, poetic lyrics: “You are a tear…a drop of ink in the sky…”. The female harmonies are breathtaking on this one.

Over, the first single from the album, is another highlight. It appears to be about dying, but is in no way maudlin: “I cross the borders into the light, that’s where I’m going, that’s when I die…weightless, I’m soaring, this our goodbye…”. A very deep and meaningful song, this one alone deserves to be heard by a wide audience.

Rhinoceri is an experimental track, a Tom Waits-esque spoken monologue over quirky percussion, while Tribute pays intriguing homage to Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and Foo Fighters Everlong in the lyrics, but sounds nothing like either. Toll is another fine song, with xylophone added to the instrumental blend.

Fall is the last instrumental featuring some gorgeous guitar work and leads to the closing title track Songdown. It’s a perfect way to finish, an ode to his passion for life and music itself, the chorus running: “I don’t know what I’m living for, but that’s OK…at the end of the day, songdown leaves me wanting….”.

Overall, this is a highly accomplished and eclectic album both musically and lyrically. It’s the work of a genuine artist that will reveal its depths upon repeated listening, such is the level of detail and sophistication. A highly recommended listen.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

Verdict: 8.9 out of 10

E.P. REVIEW: Pompadour by Kenny Flame

KENNY

http://kennyfame.bandcamp.com/album/pompadour

Kenny Flame is an American alternative R&B musician from Harlem, New York. He is known for his eclectic sound mixing soul, spoken and folk. His career began in 2010 when he won the 10th Annual National Black Writers Conference Writing Contest for poetry. Since then, he has won various awards for his music and had five number ones on internet radio, including the smash hit Julie.

This five track EP was inspired by the 1950’s era and this is reflected in the music and such artists as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Chet Baker and Jackie Wilson, amongst others. There is a soul/jazz element to all the songs here which he wrote himself, except for a cover of Adele’s Hometown Glory.

Opening track Oh What A Night is built around a skeletal guitar lick that brought to mind Michael Jackson’s Black or White, though the musical similarities end there.
Kenny has a fine voice for this kind of material and this mellow song has a distinct charm and emotional warmth missing from much of modern music.

City Lights is more upbeat, a 50’s style rock n roll song with a swinging beat and a real feel good vibe. There is also a country element to the guitar lines that weave in and out throughout, and played in the way you’d hear on early Elvis records. The vocal melody is very catchy and makes for a very enjoyable listen.

Friends is absolutely lovely; just vocals, dreamy reverb drenched guitar and vibraphone, though my only slight criticism would be his voice is a little low in the mix on this one. He maintains a similar style for a nice reinterpretation of Adele’s Hometown Glory but the closing Stay (For Jazz) is a real highlight and perhaps the best song here. The lyrics are emotional and fiercely honest (“My awkwardness leaves me insecure…”) which adds to the touching poignancy, sung over a beautiful jazzy chord progression.

Overall, a very accomplished EP that showcases Kenny Fame’s versatile talents as a singer and songwriter and should enhance his reputation and fanbase further.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

Verdict: 8.3 out of 10

E.P. REVIEW: Madelyn Victoria by Madelyn Victoria

MAD

Madelyn Victoria is a country singer and songwriter hailing from Deep South Texas. She began singing and performing from an early age, entering talent competitions and earning awards. At thirteen, she became lead singer for her church and started writing songs. She now performs with her band around Texas and has shared the stage with Easton Corbin, Turnpike Troubadours, Clay Walker and many others.

This eponymous five track EP is a great representation of her talents. She writes country songs in the classic style but with modern production to bring it up to date. Opening track Hold On is a fine start, starting with a picked guitar intro and progressing into an upbeat country rock song aided by fiddle and slide guitar. She has an excellent voice, comparable to Shania Twain and Miranda Lambert, truly shining on the memorable chorus. This would make the perfect choice as a single.

Breaking My Heart has more of a swinging feel, with a nice rolling bassline and another fine vocal performance from Madelyn. The song is nicely constructed with some gorgeous flourishes of slide guitar, especially the solo towards the end. Lyrically, it’s about a relationship that is causing pain and needs to end despite the strong attraction and desire: “Oh no, now they’re playing our song, should we dance, take one last chance and let it burn all night long?”.

He Only Loves Me On The Dancefloor is slower paced and is again about the lure of a relationship based on not much more than physical attraction. The chorus to this song is particularly memorable, latching in your mind on the first listen, marking it out as another potential single.

Wild Ride is a great contrast, a fast paced country rocker that seems designed for a hoedown on the dancefloor. Madelyn gives a feisty performance on this party song that is guaranteed to uplift your mood. It’s another catchy chorus and the half time section works well. Final track Sand In A Bottle is a nice mellow song to close with, featuring both guitar and fiddle solos, plus lovely picked acoustic guitar as the song fades out.

Overall, this is an extremely impressive EP from a very gifted singer/songwriter who has everything it takes to hit the big time. With an excellent band behind her, flawless production and most importantly, great songs, her star is surely on the ascendance.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

Verdict: 9 out of 10

SINGLE REVIEW: Oblivion by Rome Alexander

OBLIVION_Cover_Art_Final_jpeg

Rome Alexander is a 22 year old singer, songwriter and producer who writes songs in the pop, RnB and jazz genres. Despite his youth, he has already achieved a lot in the music industry. As an independent artist, he managed to reach the Top Ten of the Itunes RnB chart, and has done so again twice now signed to a distribution deal with INGrooves/Universal. He is comparable to artists like Ne-Yo, Usher and John Legend, also citing Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Prince as major influences.

This track, Oblivion, is a good example of his songwriting and production. It’s a poignant piano ballad about a romantic relationship that is on the verge of ending. After a short piano introduction that sets a melancholy mood, Rome delivers a haunting vocal melody which is superbly sung. He has a smooth, clear voice that brings to mind Boyz II Men and is perfect for this kind of material.

Lyrically, it complements the tenderness of the music: “We’re going under, our nightmare has become reality…”. After a short bridge, it builds to the repeated memorable hook: “It’s like we’re fading into oblivion…”. A subtle beat enters on the second verse, with some lovely piano melodies interweaved throughout. My only criticism would be that it’s a bit long for a single at over five minutes, but a radio version fading out after around four minutes would solve that issue.

Overall, this is a high impressive track from someone whose various talents are comparable to someone like Pharrell Williams. Oblivion is a touching ballad that has been flawlessly performed and produced, and so is perfect to take to commercial radio. A definite star in the making.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

Verdict: 8.7 out of 10

 

 

E.P. REVIEW: Living In A World by Machine Modified

MACHINEhttp://www.machinemodified.com

Machine Modified are a three piece alternative hard rock/metal band hailing from Alberta, Calgary in Canada. They consist of vocalist/guitarist Matt M. Mattie, bassist Steve Dean and drummer/backing vocalist Jake Webb. They cite their influences as Nirvana, Breaking Benjamin, Silverchair and Bush amongst others. I would describe their sound as mixing 90’s style grunge rock with more metal elements, always with a focus on the song overall.

This six track EP Living In A World is their debut release and a great introduction to their music. Opening track Kingdom Under Fire gets this off to a blistering start, one of the heavier, more metal tracks on the EP. After a powerful intro, the music is propelled forward by a diamond cutter metal riff which turns into pure power chords guaranteed to get your head banging.

Matt M. Mattie has the right voice for this kind of material, somewhere between Kurt Cobain and Josh Homme from Queens of The Stone Age. As with any self respecting metal track, there is a lengthy scream towards the end which adds to the impact. I Am Gone maintains the same metal elements but has more focus on the vocal melody plus Jake Webb’s aggressive and exciting drumming is also more to the fore.

Earthquake is a great highlight of the EP with apocalyptic, other worldly lyrics and a powerful chorus: “This earthquake, this volcano, this planet Earth world as they know…”. It is particularly strong when backed up by harmonies, reminiscent of how Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl combined for Nirvana. This track also brought to mind the similarly epic Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden, more in terms of vibe than musical similarity.

Shook The Pain is a distinct contrast and a fine track, the lightest track in terms of sound. It features acoustic guitar and showing their ability to craft well structured songs. It’s about dealing with suffering, captured by the melodic memorable chorus which effectively switches to their heavier sound: “I shook the pain, and I took the blame and I watched as it faded all away….”. A nice showcase for Mattie’s expressive vocals and the concise solo works well.
She’s My again balances metal and rock structure to great effect, the rolling guitar chords slightly reminiscent of Blew from Nirvana’s first album Bleach. As the title implies, it’s about a girl, though this is lyrically probably the simplest here. Last but not least is the title track, which is much more profound. Starting out with a heavy vocal sample, the lyrics explore the overall effects of religion and intolerance in society: “Living in a world, hate is the way…we tend to tell lies, what the devil taught them to say…”. It ends with a haunting string outro to close an excellent EP.

Overall, this is a very impressive debut release from a band who have clearly honed their craft and forged their own style through the combination of various metal and rock influences.  There’s room for a higher quality of production that might help them commercially, but there’s no arguing with the quality of the songs. It’s great to know that good rock music is still being made and I look forward to hearing their first full album.

Alex Faulkner

 

Verdict: 8.4 out of 10

ALBUM REVIEW: Adventures Of The Sound by Alby Sound

ALBYhttps://albysoundoff.bandcamp.com/album/adventures-of-the-sound

 

Alby Sound is a rap/hip hop artist hailing from Rodeo, California. Previously known as Oktayne, he rose through the ranks of the indie hip hop charts and is now back with a new moniker. He cites Kanye West as a major influence and his talents have been described as a cross between Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper.

This album, Adventures Of The Sound, consists of sixteen hip hop tracks that show his musical diversity. Opening track Origins of Alby acts as a good introduction to him as an artist, starting with a haunting piano intro then progressing into a mellow groove, with Alby delivering some fine verses about his past. His laid back rapping style helps you get into his lyrical flow.

WLGYL ft. Takticz is based around the super catchy hook of “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade….”, while Clap Your Hands is a real highlight featuring a superb sax break towards the end. Lyrically, he distances himself from the violence in the culture surrounding hip hop: “Keep them bullets away from us….”. The hook sticks in your memory instantly and this is a potential single.

Prison Of The Mind ft. Kareless MF’ah is another excellent track and full of lyrical wisdom (“Racism is a prison for the mind….) while Friends is a poignant track about not knowing who to trust, built around a powerful synth melody (“Got a knife in my back, and I might get stabbed…”)

Vibe N’ Ride is a more feel good track about the ladies which lightens the mood after a few ‘heavy’ tracks, lyrically speaking. Unlock Ft. El-Merow is another highlight with some slick vocoder vocals and a slinky, addictive beat. Situation is the super laid back epic of the album at five minutes, and shows Alby at his most explicit and amorous, shall we say. A track for an intimate evening, the ideal mood setter. The tight, rhythmic acoustic guitar really grooves this one along.

Grow Up is one of the most powerful tracks on the album, an inspirational message about staying positive and having high expectations for the future: “When I grow up, I wanna go far…when I grow up, I wanna reach the stars….”. Musically, its excellent too with piano and sax providing the perfect backdrop.

It’s aimed at his younger audience (“The children are the future… they always have been…staying in school is the motto to live by…”) and its nice to see a rapper putting out a good example when so many are led astray by the ‘bad boys’ of hip hop who glamorize violence and greed.

Final track Racing Division also has a powerful message, this one focussing on all that’s wrong in society: “All we talk about is race and religion…”. These are the things that divide us, along with greed: “Sell your soul for a motherf—– loan…”. Two great tracks with something important to say to finish a fine piece of work.

Overall, this album stands up to any hip hop out there currently being made. While Alby has his ‘good times’ tracks, he also has plenty to say about the big issues in life and suggests a positive, more spiritual approach which is refreshing. With several stand outs, this album should help Alby Sound make a name for himself.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10