SINGLE REVIEW: Limericks by Young A.G.

YOUNG

Young A.G. is a hip hop artist/rapper who is only sixteen years old, though you wouldn’t know it from listening to him at first. He has already developed as a rapper and whilst Eminem is obviously a huge influence, he has his own lyrical style as evident on this track Limericks, which he produced himself also.

Starting with a haunting piano melody, then building into a simple but effective beat augmented by subtle strings and a music box style sound, Young A.G. lays down the verse with a breathtaking rapid fire delivery that rivals Eminem for vocal dexterity and rhythmic complexity.

The chorus hook acts as the perfect contrast to the low voiced verses, as he can sing too, delivering the catchy lines: “I’m a move right to the top, and I really ain’t gone’ stop/ Just until everyone knows my name/ I’ve got some illogical thoughts that I don’t wanna bottle up so bottoms up, lemme here you scream/ (go sang)…..”.

Overall, this is a highly impressive track from a young artist who already sounds like the finished article, which is remarkable considering his age. With continued experience and further material he will expand his musical and lyrical horizons and shouldn’t be too worried if he finds himself compared to Eminem too much, as his own style will develop over time.

 

Alex Faulkner (The Faulkner Review)

 

VERDICT: 8.8 out of 10

 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Innocent Sin by Billy Dechand

BILLY http://www.cdbaby.com/dechand7

Billy Dechand is a singer/songwriter hailing from Missouri in the United States. His genre is essentially alternative pop/rock and he has been releasing material since 1998. This album, Innocent Sin, consists of sixteen tracks and is his seventh release on CD.

Starting with the title track, its a fine opener; a smoky, funky track with lashings of wah wah guitar, vibes and brass that give it a 70’s vibe, in a good way. Billy has a strong voice, a smooth croon that is almost Bowie-esque at times and that influence in manifest throughout the album. He also cites The Beatles, Beck and The Flaming Lips as influences.

Hungry For More is brief but very catchy, while When The Satellite Drops is an excellent song about our possibly over reliant relationship with technology. It’s set to a Beatles/Bowie style chord progression and builds to a memorable chorus. His sense of humour shows on Reproduce, a reggae tinged track that takes a sardonic look at male/female relations. The organ and bouncy bassline work well.

Keepin’ It Real is another funny song set to a lilting Kinks style melody, with bitingly satirical lyrics: “Every day when I wake yup I’ve been keeping it real…I’m so f—–g authentic, I’ve got my own cat food commercial…”. Kick Ass has one of the catchiest hooks on the album while You Do It is slower and more poignant: “He can teach you all the rules and never learn the game…”. The excellent chorus is pure Bowie musically but infused with Billy’s quirky style, so he makes it his own. A real highlight.

Spilled The Water and Little Miss Muffler are both deliciously offbeat and quirky acoustic pop songs, the latter replete with scatological sound effects, the more base end of Billy’s humour! Take Me Now is a fun song about getting amorous, while the infectious Booya rejects a negative outlook on life: “You can dress in black, cool like Cash… but me, I wanna live in colour…”.

Sell Out Is a justifiably cynical satire on those who will do anything to get ahead “Pretty beauty goin’ straight to your head…give it all away to the folks at the mall, cashing out your max for replaceable trash….”. She Has Work is one of the more moving and serious songs here; a poignant piece of characters study, showing his deeper side as a songwriter. The cute closing Chihuahua returns to his more familiar quirky style.

Overall, this is a very good album that showcases Billy’s musical and emotional range as a songwriter. All sides of life are here, from the poignant to the humorous, from the personal to societal concerns. He has a strong sense of craftsmanship and a gift for consistently memorable melodies and hooks. He has melded his influences into a style very much his own. Highly recommend for fans of left field pop/rock.

 

Alex Faulkner

VERDICT: 8.6 out of 10

 

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