Category Archives: Albums

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Bright Fire (album) by The Honey Trees

 The magic continues! Here’s Becky Filip and Jacob Wick from The Honey Trees for a quick Q&A about Bright Fire, their very first full-length album.

-Mark

 

Bright Fire

There has always been a very magical, vintage feel to your music. How are you portraying that magic with this album? Or do you have a different direction/concept with Bright Fire?

We always love the type of music that kind of feels otherworldly and sweeps you away from where you are in the present moment, which is what is ‘magical’ to usWe were striving for that sort of thing with Bright Fire. Just something dreamy, maybe even a little cinematic, that you can listen to and close your eyes and imagine you’re somewhere beautiful and peaceful.

Since your first EP (Wake the Earth), when did you decide it was the right time to start working on your debut full length album?

We actually started working on a full-length not long after we released Wake the Earth. When we recorded Wake the Earth, we weren’t technically an official band yet, so after we released it, we took a few years to figure out what exactly it was we wanted to do. That’s when we started trying out sharing vocals, and writing songs together. Also, we had such an amazing experience recording Wake the Earth, and we really wanted to take our time and weigh our options as far what our next step would be.

The Honey Trees with Jeremy Larson

So you spent a month at Jeremy Larson’s studio in Springfield recording Bright Fire. Describe your daily experience, from the moment you wake up in the morning. And what was it like working with him?

Our daily routine was usually, get up early, go get coffee and/or breakfast, and then just head straight into the studio for basically the rest of the day. We would take lunch and dinner breaks, but for the most part we were just recording away in the studio. Working with Jeremy was one of the best experiences we’ve had with music! We all got along so well, and he understood exactly what we wanted for each song. We gave him a lot of free reign with this record because we completely trusted him, but he was always very respectful of us as musicians and was never controlling. We hope to work together again soon!

The Honey Trees has a very uniquely defined style. From your music, to the visuals. Even your clothing and accessories. Is this something that comes naturally? Or is there a conscious effort to remain consistent?

It all comes pretty naturally I think! What you see and hear is genuinely just us being us. We never sat down and tried to think of a way to brand our style, it just happened. I feel it does remain consistent because it’s just us being ourselves.

Becky Filip on the piano

Last but not least, any final words to your fans and readers of this blog?

As always, we’re truly grateful to anyone who cares about what we do. Everyone needs someone to believe in what they’re pursuing, so it really means so much. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Becky Filip & Jacob Wick, The Honey Trees

http://www.thehoneytrees.com

http://www.facebook.com/thehoneytrees

 

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Troublemaker (album) by Levi Cobb & The Big Smoke

It’s hard to find a good album of folk songs. Unfortunately these kind of songs are never heard of for a mainstream music listener like myself.

Thankfully, Levi Cobb & the Big Smoke’s upcoming new album would be a good start to the folk music scene, particularly folk rock.

Troublemaker is the Denton, Texas band’s debut album, featuring 10 songs with great guitar and banjo work and an interesting set of lyrics that give each song a narrative of their own. Kicking off with “Heartsick Man”, whose lyrics belie the song’s lively, upbeat rhythm (‘The hole I’m digging ain’t got room for two’), one can tell the rest of the album is something to look forward to.

While a folk rock band, Troublemaker has them incorporating other genres into their music that give it a very unique listening experience, while also infusing a storytelling edge to the whole album thanks to both Kim (she’s also a writer and editor “with a background in drama and poetry”) and lead singer and lead banjoist/guitarist Jesse Thompson, who has an interest in the American South and wrote many of the songs featured.

As guitarist and background vocalist Kim Nall puts it,

“While it is true that we place a strong emphasis on storytelling, we never want to lose the defiant, slightly drunken, freewheeling quality that makes being in this band and playing these songs so much fun.”

With Jessie lending his voice to good effect, and Kim adding harmonics in the background, it does leave this reviewer mesmerized and grooving along to the eclectic mix the band has to offer in Troublemaker. Apart from “Heartsick Man”, “Not My Time” also gives a laidback feel with the slow guitar-and-banjo rhythm. “Waiting for You to Fall” is another similar song, though giving a more melancholic tone as the band sings of unrequited love.

“Cloud O’er My Head” and “Cat & Bird” are far more melancholic tunes, but they really give an ambient feel with every second you spend listening – in the former, Jesse’s lilting voice is accompanied by an equally dreamy instrumental that could make you drift away (and wonder if that cloud really wants him dead); in the latter, it’s a different take of melancholia as Kim injects a sense of foreboding that runs a shiver down your spine.

Overall, Troublemaker is a good take on alternative folk rock and an extra reason for those first-time folk music listeners to go out there and listen to more folk songs. Given that folk music now comes in a wide range of music from its humble roots, Levi Cobb & the Big Smoke is one of many talented gems that really are worth the time supporting.

-Calvyn Ee, IndieVerse

 

http://levicobbandthebigsmoke.com

http://www.facebook.com/LeviCobbAndTheBigSmoke

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Tancred (self-titled album)

Now, Now singer and guitarist Jess Abbott continues to define herself through her most recent album, named after her solo act - Tancred

Released on the 15th of October, Tancred by Tancred features 11 tracks of wholesome garage-band rock.

With slight traces of the bittersweet melancholy of Now, Now – Jess Abbott’s music has a different intensity to it. More grit, coupled with emotive songwriting makes her album well worth listening to.

Even drummer Bradley Hale has his own personal project, experimenting with electronic-pop under the moniker of Sombear.

While Bradley breaks musical boundaries, Jess has opted for a more honest, organic sound.

-Mark

Check her out here:

http://tancredmusic.tumblr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tancredmusic

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New Release – Sun & Mirror (album) by Kaela Sinclair

Sun & Mirror – the debut LP from indie pop artist Kaela Sinclair will be released on the 8th of October

 

Truly a magnificent production, Sun & Mirror takes you on a journey through time and space.

 

By the end of the hour long album, you will have found yourself transported to the ballroom of an enchanted palace (Without), the back alleys of a futuristic dystopian city (Original Sin) and a sultry 70s nightclub (Coral Castles).

A masterful use of instrumentals set the tone and mood of each song, complimenting Kaela Sinclair’s expressive vocals. Each track is unique, and carries an important role in the overall experience. I was amazed at how much depth and diversity was packed into this album.

Special mention to McKenzie Smith, the main partner on Sun & Mirror, which was also recorded at his new studio - Redwood Studios in Denton.

Invaluable to this production is guitarist Joey McClellan. Credits also go to Scott Lee, Evan Smith, and Jesse Chandler who put in a lot of creative musicianship, as well as the people behind the string arrangements, Buffi Jacobs, Daniel Hart, and Fiona Brice.

“I think the album is really about introspection. I think introspection and working through your own psychology is what leads to empathy and compassion. The album title, Sun & Mirror, represents a need for warmth and comfort, but a drive for realness. The album is about wanting to embrace reality but understanding that reality doesn’t always make for the happiest perspective”

- Kaela Sinclair 

You can listen to Sun & Mirror (and then buy it) on her Bandcamp after the release date: http://kaelasinclair.bandcamp.com/

 

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Microlove (album) by Summa

Summa, the multi-instrumentalist outfit from Boulder, Colorado has finally released Microlove - their debut EP.

Produced by Jake O’Neal and Max Grossman in collaboration with Michael Kang of The String Cheese IncidentMicrolove features five tracks of honest down-to-earth music.

Each track in Microlove draws inspiration from different sources. When asked for the story behind the songs, Summa frontman Jake was more than happy to oblige:

Forces was inspired by my studies of Stoicism and specifically the text The Enchiridion. With Sex Gun I just wanted a raw, intense song about the the sexual power of that woman who just can’t get enough and drives you crazy. Love at 16 was about losing my virginity at 16 and the intense depression I suffered as a result…

Microlove was covered in our interview with Jake in February. You can check it out here . The EP also includes There There, a Radiohead cover from the album Hail to the Thief.

The Microlove EP was recorded at Mighty Fine Productions in Denver, CO with Colin Bricker as their engineer, while the album cover is a post-storm photograph taken by Megan McGrain from her second story apartment of the parking lot below – A mixture of water, pollen and oil.

-Mark-

Stay connected with Summa through their Facebook page: www.summamusic.com www.facebook.com/summamusic

and Instagram: http://instagram.com/summa_music

You can purchase Microlove on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/microlove-ep/id678469048

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New Release – Trophy Girl Part 2 (album) by Saucy Monky

Trophy Girl Part 2, the latest EP from the sexy LA based, alt-rock duo Saucy Monky dropped on the 25th of June.

Featuring the seductive anthem Do I Have Your Attention, followed by the heart-wrenching Sleepwalking and the tipsy sorority girl single My Girlfriend is Alcohol. Each of these tracks showcase the incredible diversity this band has to offer, together with their trademark attitude and powerful vocals.

 

Cynthia Catania of  Saucy Monky was also kind enough to shine some light on their latest release.

 

1) What inspired this particular EP? How did you decide on the name Trophy Girl?

We had a collection of songs that came together when we were working with our previous drummer, Megan Jane.  We were very excited to experiment with a particular set of sounds, instruments and amps to bring this body of work to life.  I had just moved into our former drummers (Karen Teperberg) house, which had a separate studio space (Karen’s a fantastic drummer. She returned to her native Israel).

I was thrilled to have my own, bonafide studio space, where I could record everything, including live drums.

Trophy Girl is a lyric in our song “Awkward.”  I thought it would be a perfect title for the album.  It’s such a layered phrase.  We asked around within the band, and also with our extended team, and everyone seemed to like it.

 

2) Is there a reason why Trophy Girl was broken into 2 parts?

It’s actually a 3-part collection.  Lastly we will release the full length at years end.  This part will have 4 new tracks, and all subsequent 6 tracks, which were released on Parts 1 & 2.  For Annmarie and me, it was a way to keep things interesting for ourselves, keep up with the new music market – which is a singles market, and also not delay releasing new product, as I’ve been working on the album (as a whole) in dribs and drabs.  We loved the idea of staggering, and keeping things fresh for our audience.

 

3) What were some of the struggles involved in the production of this EP?

In an effort to “serve the songs” we first recorded our live arrangements.  From that point, I whittled down the instrumentation to make the recordings as sparse and supportive as possible.  There’s also lots of experimenting that goes into finding the right guitar sounds, drum sounds, FX.  Then there’s the singing.

We always try to achieve a balance between telling the story and being emotive and sincere.  All this takes (a lot of) time.

 

4) And what do you hope to achieve with this new release?

We’d like the quality of these EP’s to improve our Pandora station!  We’d love a few major motion film placements.  We’d love to make new fans, based on the appreciation of this music.  That’s all one can really hope for – connection.

For more details, you can check them out at www.saucymonky.com

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We Are Not an Island (album) by Vib Gyor

First released on iTunes, We Are Not an Island is the debut album of unsigned English Alternative rock band Vib Gyor

We Are Not an Island displays polish and flair rarely seen in debut albums with a stunning unification of piano melodies, the heart-wrenching vocals of Dave Fendick and complimentary synth effects.

Although Vib Gyor is no longer in existence – Fendick and drummer Jonny Hooker have continued to make music under their new project, Fossil Collective.

-Mark

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Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (album) by M83

Named after the spiral galaxy Messier 83, French electronic and synthpop band M83 has produced their best album to date with Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

 

 

This double album (two CDs) features some of the best songs I’ve ever heard in this genre with memorable singles such as “Steve McQueen”, “Midnight City” and “Outro”.

The album’s closing single “Outro” alone has appeared in no less than seven different films and television series, including

  • Art Of Flight
  • Top Gear (season 17)
  • Gossip Girl (season 5)
  • Cloud Atlas (trailer)
  • Once Upon A Time (trailer)
  • The Feynman Series (part 4)
  • Africa by David Attenborough (Episode 2)

Where this album really stands out is at the climax of each song, especially the ones mentioned above. In an explosion of layered sounds and melodies, it completely overwhelms the senses.

Some critics however, are displeased with the lack of depth of the album, which also includes a number of repetitive themes and poorly conceived ideas to fill out the spaces. Although I can’t help but agree, I still feel that the overall impact of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming has not been completely diluted by some of its weaker singles.

The lyrics are also hard to decipher through listening alone, a minor problem attributed to the heavily accented English of lead vocalist and founder Anthony Gonzalez. Personally, I find it easier to treat his voice as just another instrument in the entire experience.

-Mark

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Flamingo (album) by Brandon Flowers

Following an announcement by The Killers that they would be taking a short break, frontman Brandon Flowers released his debut solo album entitled Flamingo.

 

Deviating from his typical alternative rock and post-punk styles as lead vocalist of The Killers,  Brandon demonstrates his versatility both as an artist and a musician through his new album.

The music video for his first single “Crossfire” featuring award winning actress Charlize Theron as his ninja killing girlfriend (I’m not even making this up) was truly amazing to watch.

-Mark

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The Glass Passenger (Album) by Jack’s Mannequin

Jack's Mannequin

The Glass Passenger was the second studio album produced by the recently retired (February 2, 2012) Alternative Rock band, Jack’s Mannequin.

For me, this is one of the very few albums out there which I genuinely enjoyed listening to from beginning to end.

What I enjoyed most was that each song in the album represents the different phases in the life journey of Andrew McMahon, the lead singer of the band who had been diagnosed with leukemia.

From struggling through adversity (Swim), to dealing with depression (Hammers and Strings), The Glass Passenger is a true musical storytelling masterpiece.

-Mark-

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