E.P. REVIEW: Coming Back Stronger by Patrick Carpenter

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Official website HERE

Patrick Carpenter is a singer/songwriter and guitarist from Jackson, Mississippi. He started out in music by wanting to emulate his guitar playing heroes such as Richie Sambora, Eddie Van Halen and Brad Paisley, picking up the guitar himself at just eleven. He has since developed into a singer/songwriter and launched himself as a solo artist in 2018. His music is essentially a combination of traditional country, mainstream pop, blues and 80’s-style arena-rock as personified by bands like Bon Jovi.

This EP, Coming Back Stronger, consists of six tracks and has already reached #13 in the ITunes chart, which is truly impressive for a debut release. It begins with the title track, an instantly memorable and enjoyable country rock track with an 80’s-esque stadium-rock drum sound.

Patrick is gifted with a strong and recognizable voice that’s easy on the ear and perfectly suited to the material. Featuring an anthemic chorus augmented by fine backing harmonies, it’s an uplifting song about fighting back against adversity. Towards the end, we get to hear his superb lead guitar skills which finishes off an excellent track nicely.

Second track Chance on Me is a more sensitive side to his songwriting, an epic six-minute country rock ballad in 6/8. It works as a showcase for his first rate lead vocals and musically, it’s enriched by warm organ and tasteful, controlled bursts of lead guitar, although he does allow himself to let rip a little towards the end. I Wish She Knew is another fine ballad based on a musical bedrock of piano and strummed acoustic guitar. This one is a more melancholy song about being unable to tell someone how they feel, a subject many will relate to.

Back Again is quite a contrast, a demo version of a song that combines country rock with a more electronic influence in the drums which gives it a modern sound. It’s another strong piece of songwriting and I’d be interested to hear the song in its complete production form.

The following Drink of You is my personal favourite on the EP, an infectious and up tempo country pop/rock track and perhaps the one with the most commercial potential of the songs here. Lyrically, it’s a twist on the current fad for country songs celebrating drinking, this time being a metaphor for being intoxicated by the effect of a desired woman. If this hasn’t been released as a single yet, it should be!

The final track Controlled Madness shows the influence of late 80’s stadium-rock with its use of a talk box, first made famous by Peter Frampton and employed on the Bon Jovi classic Livin’ On A Prayer. It gives the song a quirky edge that is unexpected, set to a great rock backing that brought to mind Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World. A great way to finish.

Overall, this is a very strong set of songs that show the versatility of Patrick Carpenter as a songwriter, singer and lead guitarist. Taking country-rock and combining it with the classic stadium-rock sound isn’t an easy trick to pull of, but Patrick makes it seem natural and the result is a musical style that is both vintage and modern. With further material as good as this, the sky’s the limit for Patrick Carpenter.

 

VERDICT = 8.7 out of 10             

Alex Faulkner

 

Listen here:

 

 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Montauk by Montauk

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www.takemetomontauk.com

Montauk are a British pop/rock band and the musical brainchild of songwriter and lead vocalist Drew Richardson. He has been writing music from an early age and Montauk is the culmination of a lifelong dream. The band is much a product of the internet era; on this album Drew worked face to face with producer/guitarist Tom Jobling, vocalist Rebecca Chambers and drummer  Sam West, however fellow members Jon Wright and Max Saudi (guitar and drums respectively) recorded their parts online, a method used by many artists and producers today.

This self-titled album, and the band name itself, was inspired by the classic film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, about a couple who have their memories of each other erased to get over their relationship. This theme recurs on certain songs on the album. Musically, while they can be essentially described as commercial pop/rock, there’s an eclecticism within the songs and you can hear similarities to bands like The Killers, U2, Bon Jovi, The War On Drugs, Snow Patrol and Red Hot Chili Peppers, along with solo artists like George Ezra, Ed Sheeran and the more mature solo work of Gary Barlow.

Opening track Doom Dust is a superb start to this twelve track album. Beginning with echo-drenched guitars, it builds into an anthemic, uplifting song about trying to realize your full potential. You can tell quite quickly that Richardson is an experienced and accomplished craftsman. There’s a firm understanding of dynamics in how he keeps the verse and chorus cohesive, yet contrasting.

The chorus itself is huge, augmented by the fine backing vocals of Rebecca Chambers, whose voice complements Drew’s nicely. Lyrically, it expresses something many will relate to, feeling things block you from truly being yourself: “I want to shake this world to the core and let the people know that I’ve got so much more“. It’s the kind of music you can imagine thousands singing along to in sold out arenas, and the mellifluous guitar solo fits perfectly. A perfect balance between rock and pop.

Fall in Love is one of the album’s more romantic moments, and another very finely crafted song. It’s one which wears its heart on its sleeve, lyrically: “Could you be the missing link, the mixer for the bitter drink that is my life?“. It’s another lighters-in-the-air epic chorus and the subtle combination of male and female vocals made me think of one of Britain’s great unsung pop groups The Beautiful South (early era).

Hanging Baskets has the most beautiful intro on the album, crystal-clear picked acoustic guitar setting the tone for an intimate lead vocal from Richardson. It’s a song about wanting to just enjoy being in love without letting anything else intrude: “I don’t know if its wrong, don’t know if its right….I don’t know what has gone, I don’t care what’s to come…”. This is a very touching song that should win him many fans.

Welcome To You is an interesting song, with shades of later period Mumford and Sons in the folk-inflected melodies and rolling drum patterns. The vocal melody is very modern sounding to go with the production, and the instantly memorable vocal melody makes it very suitable for radio. After the second chorus, it breaks out into a gorgeous symphonic section; the album is full of these nuanced touches that add richness to the sound. A potential single.

Heart Attack takes things in another direction entirely – an upbeat funk/blues track driven by rhythmic piano and bursts of organ, featuring some slick harmonies. Drew gives an excellent vocal performance here and this different style shows the versatility of his songwriting. Lyrically, its a classic tale of falling for someone where the passion burns so much that it makes for a tempestuous relationship. Well written, high quality pop .

The intriguingly named Osidius (Just A Girl) returns to epic rockier style of the opening song though this one leans more heavily to the rock side. Alongside another massive, memorable chorus (an area where Richardson excels), it features some gorgeous, plaintive strings and a blistering stood-on-a-cliff-edge lead guitar solo. The following Love For Sale maintains the Bon Jovi vocal and guitar style, with the riffs and harmonies on this one really showing the more classic rock side of his oeuvre.

Eternal Sunshine is the first of two consecutive songs based on the film mentioned earlier. Here, Richardson effectively captures the emotional torment the lead characters go through in the film. Musically, it’s one of the more sparse tracks and it’s a proper duet with Rebecca Chambers, who depicts the character played by Kate Winslet. It works so well, that you could imagine it as part of a musical based on the film. Their voices combine and harmonize beautifully on the tender chorus, a real album highlight.

Take Him To Montauk is essentially the title track and it’s a good one. It starts with a vocal ‘dum-de-dum’ section that brought to mind George Ezra, whilst the gorgeous high end acoustic guitar and vocal delivery recall the lighter moments of Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s clearly about the main character of Eternal Sunshine (played by Jim Carrey) and how he’s missing his lover despite having had all memories of her erased. The title hook (“Take him to Montauk, driver….”) is very effective and latches in the mind upon the first listen. Another potential single.

Tell The Fool is another moody epic ballad in the Bon Jovi mould and stands out for a particularly good lead vocal. It should be said that his singing voice is as good as anything you’ll come across in the upper reaches of the charts, and this song is one crowds will love to sway along to.

I Won’t Want To Wake Up With You is a return to the toe-tapping pop funk style of Heart Attack, propelled by an irresistible groove and Chic-style funky high-end electric guitar chords. Special mention should go to the restlessly inventive bassline (including a superb bass solo!) and the smoky Rhodes piano. Richardson’s falsetto vocals in parts of the track sounded like Justin Timberlake, and this ability to switch genres gives massive potential to his fanbase.

Closing track Dance With The Devil is essentially his signature pop/rock sound, though with an intriguing arrangement. It starts out sounding like The Police with reggae-infused quarter note guitars then unexpectedly switches into an almost punky full-on rock style. The rich organ gives the song a 70’s Deep Purple vibe, and it works. There’s a tremendous brooding energy that seems to explode in the orgasmic guitar solo, then leads into the penultimate choruses. Lyrically, it’s by far the most raw and edgy he gets on this album, with a few words at the end I can’t repeat here! A blazing way to finish.

Overall, this is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, one that runs the gamut in terms of both genre and emotional range. Drew Richardson has honed his songwriting craft to a fine pitch and can go from sensitive balladry to headbanging rock n’ roll with consummate ease, throwing in funk, soul and even a little reggae influence along the way. Though this is far from an easy era to break through to the ‘big time’, if any band deserves to it’s undoubtedly Montauk.

 

VERDICT = 9.3 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

You can purchase a CD or download the album from the official website HERE

2 bonus tracks are available only for those who download or purchase through the website!

Listen here:

 

 

 

E.P. REVIEW: No Flight nor Fear by MajorTommy

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MajorTommy is a pop singer/songwriter who admirably prefers to let his music do the talking. All we know about him so far is that Major is a nickname he has had for a long time. His music is best described as sophisticated pop akin to Coldplay and Sam Smith, though vocally he sounds more similar to a cross between OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and the throaty vocal style of Jon Bon Jovi..

This EP, No Flight nor Fear, consists of four tracks, all produced to a very high standard. The opening song Honey begins with pulsing Viva La Vida-style low end strings (a 60 piece orchestra recorded in London) which sets the tone for the entry of Tommy’s distinctive and captivating lead vocals. The lyrics are inventive and slightly ‘off the wall’ for mainstream pop: “We made another funny home made video, we keep on laughing at the story even though it ain’t that funny and our jokes, they kind of blow….”.

It’s an original way of approaching a love song, and leads to a strong, anthemic chorus. The tracks builds up in the second verse and truly explodes during the second chorus, the sound as big as Coldplay or U2 at their most epic. It’s an excellent song and an obvious choice as the lead single from the EP.

The high standard continues with second track Tell Me, a more mellow and melancholy ballad that starts with a tapped bass guitar arpeggio. Tommy’s vocals here are more gentle and sensitively delivered, showing his artistic versatility. The languid pace and sparse arrangement allows the vocals to shine and the emotional resonance of the lyrics to be conveyed: “I know that it’s certain we won’t stay the same if you won’t tell me anything…”. A touching song that many people will relate to, with some fine extemporizations towards the end.

The following Slow Motion is another ballad but this one takes us back into the realms of the epic. It’s a huge emotive love song that wears its heart on its sleeve, Tommy giving a stellar vocal performance comparable to Bon Jovi’s wedding song classic Always. The strings again play a strong supportive role, with a swirling Toxic-esque arrangement. Another potential single, undoubtedly.

I Don’t Wanna Go is another very well written that sits halfway between the previous tracks. Starting with flowing classical-influenced piano and strident use of strings, it gradually develops into a powerful pop track that brought to mind the Will Young classic Your Game, with another standout vocal performance. Lyrically, it’s a hugely emotive and honest depiction of the internal conflicts that many relationships encounter. Remarkably, for the last song on an EP, this is again a potential single.

Overall, this is an extremely impressive four songs from a currently enigmatic artist whose music can stand on his own merits. As a songwriter, he has emerged fully developed and is blessed with a charismatic and recognizable voice. With a radio friendly sound and flawless production, he has everything it takes to compete with the mainstream pop luminaries of this era.

 

VERDICT: 8.6 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

Listen here:

 

SINGLE REVIEW: A Heartbreak In The Making by Randall Lee Richards

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http://www.RandallLeeRichards.com

Randall Lee Richards is a country singer and songwriter hailing from Birmingham, Alabama. He was musically precocious as a child, learning guitar and drums from age ten. Remarkably, at twelve he recorded his first song and headed for Nashville, where he signed a deal and recorded his first single within a month. Since then, he has played on some of the world’s biggest stages like The Roxy and The Troubadour, and been mentored by legends like Neil Diamond and Elton John.

As a songwriter, he has been hugely successful, having had over a hundred songs recorded, with millions of copies sold worldwide. In 2017, he released A Paradise Life which climbed high on the Billboard Indicator chart and was played on over 2,000 stations worldwide.

This song, A Heartbreak In The Making, is one end result of a highly prolific year for Richards’ songwriting, which has seen him influenced by writers like Keith Urban and Thomas Rhett. It’s a country rock song not unlike the more country-influenced power ballads of Bon Jovi. Randall is blessed with a strong, authentic voice that carries conviction and emotion, with the song being a twist on the “boy meets girl” theme.

You can hear the experience and highly developed craftsmanship in the songwriting and the well structured arrangement. Although the style is fairly traditional, it has been produced in a very modern way, with the drums sounds particularly cutting edge. The vocals are cleverly layered with subtle harmonies on certain lines, especially apparent on the huge chorus which soon latches in the memory.

Lyrically, it’s about a powerful attraction to a femme fatale who will break your heart: “Baby, I can see through your disguise, no, you can’t fool me with those eyes, girl you know I’ve seen it all before….”. After the second chorus, there’s a concisely constructed lead guitar solo, leading to the middle eight and one last blast of the chorus with some nice vocal extemporizations.

Overall, this is a great single from a professional singer and songwriter at the height of his artistic powers. Showing his wealth of experience as a writer combined with the kind of distinctive lead vocals and slick modern production that radio loves, this song will be popular with his already existing fans and it should make him a whole lot more.

 

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

Listen here:

ALBUM REVIEW: Dark Days and Bright Nights by Luna Rise

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Luna Rise are a five piece rock band hailing from Enns in Austria. Their music incorporates and blends many genres of rock, essentially combining the melodic stadium rock style of Bon Jovi with the hard rock/metal elements of bands like Iron Maiden/Metallica such as low end guitar riffs and dark lyrical themes.

Their EP Smoking Kills But Love Can Break a Heart was released to acclaim, with the video for Dead Alley entering rotation on GOTV, Austria’s no.1 music channel. This album consists of twelve tracks and the themes of darkness/light and yin/yang on the album cover are very apt. The music consistently has an uplifting, anthemic quality which is contrasted by the emotional, often dark lyrics.

This is exemplified by opening track Demons Inside, which has a fine vocal performance from Chris Divine and a monumental chorus: “Where was your love when I needed it most? You’ve left me with demons inside…”. It also contains a blistering guitar solo from the brilliantly named Clarance Hell.

Next track RZRKT is also very good, and features a blazing metal-influenced low end guitar riff while third song Valentine shows more of their 80’s melodic rock influences, with piano and synth melodies expanding their sound. I loved the guitar harmonies, chiming riff and epic chorus, completing a strong opening trifera.

This style continues with the catchy Dancing With Tears In My Eyes, while For A Reason is slower, alternating between half time and full time. We then encounter the epic, gradually building The Secret In You before Silent Screams brings back the exciting energy of the first few songs.

Worshippin’ Shadows keeps up the energy and momentum, taken to a higher level with the superb Until The Stars Have Come, which is a male/female duet featuring the fantastic voice of Melanie Himer. In Your Arms stands out with a very quirky keyboard solo, while The Storm and the five-minute epic The Anthem Of The Night brings the album to a strong close.

Overall, a very fine rock/pop album that combines the best aspects of classic/melodic rock songwriting with the more commercial elements of metal. With a strongly commercial sound, there are several potential hits and global success should be just a matter of time.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.4 out of 10

 

Luna Rise – Official Website : http://www.lunarisemusic.com
Listen To Luna Rise @ Spotify : https://play.spotify.com/artist/2gOyUqu0HAnxk3neoxqXud
Listen To Luna Rise @ Deezer : http://www.deezer.com/artist/4649884
Luna Rise @ Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/lunarise
Luna Rise @ Bandcamp : http://luna-rise.bandcamp.com
Luna Rise @ ITunes : https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/luna-rise/id482267037
Luna Rise @ Google Play : https://play.google.com/store/music/artist/Luna_Rise?id=Autah5gh7tbygcweyu7xfawim4u
Luna Rise @ NRT-Records : http://www.nrt-records.com/luna_rise_eng.html