REVIEW: Timothy Nelson & The Infidels – “Sleeping Alone”

It’s undeniable that Timothy Nelson & The Infidels have a sound influenced by country music. There. I said it and it’s out in the open. Now get all of those possible misconceptions out of your system, because these guys are a bit different.

Mixing folk, country, and rock, Timothy Nelson & The Infidels have been building up their fan base in Western Australia for a couple of years now. Timothy has two WAMi awards under his belt already, one of which is for “Sleeping Alone”. These guys are a solid act.

But what about the song? Well, “Sleeping Alone” begins slowly with a bendy lead guitar line over a softly strummed acoustic, but once the full band kicks in, all sorts of musical textures come into play. For a song over 6 minutes long, has its highs and lows, and moves between them effortlessly.

For a group so influenced by a genre I generally disregard, Timothy Nelson & The Infidels sure know their stuff. Lyrically strong and different from your average folk band, they won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But with the guts to write they kind of music they want to, and with a debut LP on the way, this is gonna be a band to watch out for.

Verdict: Positive.

Listen to some of their stuff on their Myspace page.

Also; grab what I understand will soon be an exclusive download of “Sleeping Alone”, HERE.

VIDEO: Goodnight Owl – “Maps & Compasses”

The brilliant Aussie electro-folksters Goodnight Owl have premiered a new video clip! It’s for their single “Maps & Compasses”, from their debut self-titled EP. For a first clip, it’s pretty well made, and should be commended for being interesting and inventive. Check it out. If you’ve never heard of these guys you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Grab some of their tracks for free here and give them a listen while you’re at it. I feel these guys have the potential to move onto big things.

REVIEW: Elgen and Johnny Utah – “The Welcoming Party” EP

Do you like your Aussie hip-hop? If you do, this will be perfect for you! If not, you should listen anyway, because these guys are pretty damn good. Elgen and Johnny Utah are two Australian brothers who make hip-hop together. Elgen produces the music and Johnny raps, and it’s the combination of these talents in “The Welcoming Party” that landed them a spot at the Maitland Groovin’ The Moo festival, courtesy of triple j Unearthed.

If I’m bluntly honest, I never used to listen to hip-hop at all. Years ago, I had the misguided and incorrect view (cultivated by living in a town where most people get their musical education from mainstream commercial radio) that all rap was boring, repetitive, lyrically shallow, and arrogant. Luckily these days I know exactly how wrong I was.

Despite my realisation, I can’t say I constantly listen to hip-hop now either. It’s not one of my largest influences. But being a fan of triple j, I’ve been exposed to some great hip-hop that makes use of interesting and catchy instrumentation which I absolutely love (Hilltop Hoods, Bliss N Eso, etc.). So when I first heard “When The Rain Hits” by Elgen and Johnny Utah, I was excited to say the least. On top of that I was stunned that they were unsigned.

Lyrically, Elgen and Johnny Utah don’t sing about “how dope their bitches are”, or about how rich they are, or about how they can afford 3 private jets. It’s quite refreshing, and it sure beats the stagnant, ego-inflating material some other artists produce.

“Matchbox”’s chorus contrasts brilliantly with the rapping verses, and it’s this contrast that helps set this song apart. The sampled riff is a bit out-there too, but it’s got personality and it’s catchy.

“It’s A Little Bit Funny (But That’s How I’m Living)” begins with a great quote from The Shining, but unfortunately it’s let down a little by the over-use of a laughing sample. It’s not a bad effect, but it’s used to the extent that it becomes mildy irritating. This is the only real complaint I can procure, to be completely honest.

“When The Rain Hits” is the standout track, and it’s the simplicity of the piano chords throughout which help emphasise the rapping. The chorus shines, it’s brilliant and catchy, and it almost feels like something you could get up and dance to. It’s definitely something you want to sing along with, and I can already see this song going off at festivals and gigs.

The performace put on by Steve Hollins, who features on a couple of tracks (“Matchbox” and “When The Rain Hits”), should really be commended. As should the work from other guests, including Phatchance, Drake MC, and Doctor Freud. Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of these guys prior to listening to “The Welcoming Party”, but their contributions to the EP really help make it what it is.

It’s a solid release, and “Close The Door” really completes it. The off-beat drums are great, and like most of their other songs, the samples really make the songs more appealing and interesting. It’s a fitting closer, and lyrically it’s emotionally moving:

If you listen, please take notice that I’m not upset / There’s not a thing we could’ve done and I have no regrets / I won’t be left to wonder, wait for change and false hope / When it rains, it pours, I keep the door closed. I’ll keep that door closed.

These songs feel like they really showcase Elgen and Johnny Utah’s talents. And if this is the base that they build upon in the future, we can safely look forward to what is hopefully an amazing debut album.

Verdict: Positive.

Grab some of their tracks for free here. Do it.

REVIEW: Tyrian Dawn – “A Mosaic of Memories and Musings”

Tyrian Dawn are a 5-piece from Melbourne, Australia, and considering “A Mosaic of Memories and Musings” was created completely by the band themselves (recording, mixing, and mastering) it’s really quite good.

I’m not going to go into some extensive description of every song. Instead, I’m going to tell you what this band is like as a whole. Tyrian Dawn make use of what seem like typical (yet at times effective) alternative rock guitar rhythms, but occasionally these seem to be burdened by an overly keen lead guitar. In moderation it works well, but some songs would be better without. This aside, the area they really excel in is the building up of atmospheric tension. Instrumental opener “Transient Daydream” is simply brilliant, it’s only fault being the fact it’s too short. I understand Tyrian Dawn aren’t a post-rock band, and that anything longer may be straying outside of their territory, but it’s really these moments that stand out.

Some songs see the band taking a different route, with the acoustic “A Ballad for Dubiety”, which contrasts excellently with the rest of the album. Other moments like the beginning of “Three Short Words” seem like they’re going to develop this aforementioned contrast, but then seem to swerve away entirely from any initial direction back to the typical alternative/punk rock style, which is a shame.

I’m not all whinging on this. Personally I might find the lead guitar a bit overwhelming, but I know plenty of people who wouldn’t. What remains to be said is that while they do these things that might not be entirely my cup of tea sometimes, they do them in a solid and consistent fashion. Which is more than can be said for a lot of other bands.

The material that Tyrian Dawn have managed to produce and create here, all by themselves, shows a few things. Firstly, it shows that Tyrian Dawn have the technical skills to do things on their own that a lot of other DIY bands can’t. Secondly, this material shows that they have the skills to craft songs to a level that gives them room to move, ensuing that provided they push their boundaries, their sound won’t stagnate or bore. Lastly, it shows that these guys are motivated. Without the pressure of a label, they worked at “A Mosaic…” till they were happy with it. And then gave it away for free.

I think what this album does seem to lack is a bit of direction and focus. Whilst the effort put into these songs shows, I get the feeling that Tyrian Dawn are yet to musically find their feet. They’re yet to find that creative niche, that instead of confining them will differentiate them from the pack and really help them break out and develop a larger fan base. I think a combination of time and experience, and the right producer for their next recorded effort, will set Tyrian Dawn on the path to finding a sound that will define them as musicians and artists.

Personally, for a record that runs close to an hour, I don’t think there’s enough diversity to keep it interesting and to warrant whole listens through. A shorter and more contrasting release will really see this band shine, and once they refine their sound and carve their own path musically (whether it’s by making more use of their brilliant atmospheric instrumentation or not) there’s every chance that they’ll get a lot of people talking.

Score: 6/10

You can download “A Mosaic of Memories and Musings” for free here.

If you feel like checking out some of the more stand-out tracks, try “Transient Daydream”, “Colours to the Mast”, “A Ballad for Dubiety”, “Shield of Lies”, “A Bittersweet Muse”, and “Of Grey and Sunset Skies”. They’re a pretty good indication of what Tyrian Dawn can do, so give them a go and make your own mind up.

If you’re in Melbourne on the 30th of June and can get yourself to The Ferntree Gully Hotel, I strongly recommend you do so. After winning a Battle of the Bands in late 2009 in Victoria, Tyrian Dawn landed a spot playing alongside The Butterfly Effect and Calling All Cars, so they clearly know what they’re doing as a live act. Go and check all 3 of them out and give them some support.

Other upcoming gigs include:

– ROOM six eight zero in Hawthorn, VIC, 7th May 2010 – doors at 9pm – $15 presale

– Ruby’s in Belgrave, VIC, 14th May 2010 – doors at 8pm – $10 presale

If you’re interested in either, contact: 0417 380 926 or band@tyriandawn.com.au

REVIEW: Dead Letter Circus – "Disconnect And Apply"

Dead Letter Circus’s debut album, "This Is The Warning", is going to be released on May the 14th, and on the announcement of their album launch tour (through late May to early June) I thought it seemed appropriate to introduce them to those of you who haven’t heard of this excellent band. It’s been a long wait for many fans for their first LP, but when it’s in the hands of Forrester Savell (who’s worked with Karnivool and The Butterfly Effect, the former for which he produced a brilliant sophomore album) I’m sure they needn’t worry too much.

After a small exploration of their work, it’s evident that Dead Letter Circus are heavily influenced by the growing number of quality Australian hard rock and progressive acts that are emerging. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. So if you’re a fan of Cog or Karnivool, this might just be your kinda band.

"Disconnect And Apply" opens with a flying guitar riff and pounding drums. Right off the blocks and the song seems to be going at 100 miles an hour. Building up to an expansive chorus, there is a great deal of talent evident in the vocal melodies, which lift the song up. Moving between the rushing verses, the song leaves you hanging just for a moment, before one last explosive chorus. Tying it all up, Kim Benzie yells "See you at work on Monday", before fading out. It might come in at just over 3 minutes, but it’s enough. The song doesn’t feel like it’s cut short. This is 3 minutes of quality music.

Whether they’re touring near you or not, I urge you to give Dead Letter Circus a go. Even though "Disconnect And Apply" won’t be on it, I really think (and am hoping that) "This Is The Warning" could be a landmark point in another great Australian band’s career.

Score: 9/10

Grab a free download of "Disconnect And Apply" here.

Worth checking out are both their new song, "Here We Divide", which you can stream on their website (just scroll down a little bit for the post), and "The Space on the Wall", which you can watch here. Watching Luke Williams play the drums with bread rolls and what appear to be leeks is kinda funny. It’s a good song too.

NEWS: Noel Gallagher makes an idiot of himself, again + Fall Out Boy finished.

It just had to happen, didn’t it?

‘No, I’m not having someone with ginger hair making music’, he said regarding Florence from Florence + The Machine. ‘I’m not going down that road. I’m sure she’s a nice girl, but she sounds like someone’s stood on her fucking foot’.

Has this tool even listened to any of her music before? Noel Gallagher is a terrible representation of the modern musician, every single time his arrogant attention-seeking comments make the media it makes me sad to be part of the human race.

He also commented on the quality of the musicians around these days.

‘People are far off being the best band in England or the best band in the world. There’s some good bands out there but there’s no one claiming that mantle’.

I have a sneaking suspicion he believes that mantle is reserved for himself. Oh how wrong he would be.

I’m aware that although this blog has a small readership I’m clearly not helping the media attention surrounding his obnoxious statement by posting about it, but my disdain is so strong that I need to express it somewhere.

~

On another note, pop punk band Fall Out Boy have unofficially broken up. Whilst on hiatus, numerous tweet’s from bassist Pete Wentz regarding his feelings about the band indicated the unlikeliness of him playing with them again. This sparked tweets and statements from other members regarding a break-up, and it seems evident that they won’t be doing anything together again, at least for a while. Nothing official has been confirmed as of yet.

I will admit, normally the bands that rabid 14-year-old fangirls drool over are not my thing musically anyway, but From Under The Cork Tree is a really catchy album. The others have their moments, but I guess any hope of them moving back into those kinda days is gone now anyway.

FEATURE: Albums Of The Year – 2009

1. Karnivool – Sound Awake:

An experimental outing relative to their debut, Karnivool have crafted nothing short of a masterpiece with this album. Put simply, this album is a grower. It’s one of those seemingly magical works that transcends logic by becoming more intriguing and enjoyable after every single listen. Rhythmically, Karnivool work on a level superior to most other bands I’ve heard. I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate how great this album is. Ian Kenny’s vocals are really something to behold. However if I was to recommend this band to someone, I would tell them to try their debut album “Themata” first. It’s more accessible and easy to get into, though it has many of the elements of “Sound Awake” in a slightly less experimental form. It’s a great stepping stone for approaching this amazing album.

Link to full review.


2. The Antlers – Hospice:

Hospice evokes a great deal of emotion in observant listeners through it’s tales of death, cancer, and relationships. A very moving album, it makes use of simplistic piano chords that resonate through low levels of ambient electronic noise, that contribute to the songs tonally. Lyrically it’s thematically similar throughout, though it’s incredibly well crafted. With lines like:

With the bite of the teeth of that ring on my finger,
I’m bound to your bedside, your eulogy singer.
I’d happily take all those bullets inside you and put them inside of myself,”

you just might wanna sit down and listen to this one carefully. It’s well worth the effort.


3. Taking Back Sunday – New Again:

Though nothing fancy and special, it’s a great catchy album full of typical pop-rock/punk songs. Nothing revolutionary, but it’s strong and fun, and I liked it. It’s as simple as that.

Link to full review.

~

Other honourary mentions, in no particular order of importance or worth:

The Temper Trap – Conditions:

A blend of catchy pop hooks and stylistically distinct vocals made “Conditions” the strong album that helped The Temper Trap achieve a moderate level of mainstream exposure across Australian commercial radio stations. Though this point is often associated as the beginning of a band’s downfall in terms of originality and livelihood – the fall into being controlled by industry giants in terms of creativity and sound – “Conditions” builds the foundations through which The Temper Trap can continue to grow and explore music. Hopefully they will.

Metric – Fantasies:

The electro-pop synths of Metric merge together with agile guitar hooks, all overlayed by Emily Haines’ entrancing vocal lines, to portray the confident sense of maturity inherent on this album. Moving from the dominating songs like “Sick Muse” to songs like “Twilight Galaxy”, which show a more delicate side of the album, helps display the diverse range of moods that are explored over the course of the LP. An engaging album that is an exciting look at what seemed like – to me – a stagnating style of music.

Passion Pit – Manners:

Infectious pop melodies dominate the debut from Passion Pit. The first 4 tracks are very good indeed. After that, it drops a bit, but manages to pick up before the end. “Sleepyhead” is short, but very catchy. Not a bad effort for their first album. I like it for the most part.

Future of the Left – Travels with Myself and Another:

Taking a raw, alternative rock sound, Future of the Left created an album full of simple and strong riffs, interspersed between harsh and powerful vocal lines. Stripping songs down to what seems like the essential qualities of fast, angry rock music, the album has it’s moments, with fills in-between that leave just a little to be satisfied. Despite giving it a score of 6.5/10 (maybe I was a tad harsh), it’s well built, and it’s just plain fun.

Link to full review.

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix:

Catchy french pop/rock with distinctive vocals. This album really propelled Phoenix into a musical limelight. It’s quite good, but hasn’t caught on with me as much as I’d have liked it to. It’s one of those odd times when I can recognise how good something is, yet still not feel compelled to listen to it for some reason. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty good album.

The xx – xx:

The xx make slow, relaxing, and dare I say minimalistic music, that gives off an aura of spaciousness, while still seeming defined and not coming off as some band’s attempt at improvisation. Though the songs do seem to lag a bit in the middle, and the first half of the album does seem great deal stronger, they’re worth checking out. Plus the first track, “Intro”, is actually a very good introduction, which sets them apart from those bands who have introductions that seem to contribute absolutely nothing to the album.

REVIEW: You, Me, and Everyone We Know – double review

Okay, so I like pop-rock/pop-punk music in the same style as Fall Out Boy (some of their stuff anyway), Taking Back Sunday, etc. Phew, it’s out there. I don’t care, I think simple power-chords are catchy.

Anyway, here’s a quick review of two EP’s by a band I found on Last FM and another site one day, before I go off to do my Extension English assessment.

You, Me, and Everyone We Know are pretty catchy, and some of their songs use some pretty stock-standard techniques and sound similar to other stuff I’ve heard. There’s a few differences however.

1. Both discs I’m reviewing actually have some varying styles of songs, they aren’t all the same. They manage to develop nice hooks and create songs with different vibes.

2. Both of these discs have been released for free. Which is very nice of the band.

I highly recommend checking out these guys. Seriously. Even if you hate bands like Fall Out Boy because they’re the idols of screaming scene kids everywhere, these guys have a relatively small following, and they sound just as good, if not better. And considering it’s all for free, what’ve you got to lose?

Download "Party For The Grown And Sexy" here.

Download "So Young, So Insane" here. Scroll down a bit for the Mediafire link.

Overall score for both EP’s: 7/10

REVIEW: Future of the Left – "Travels with Myself and Another"

Gravelly guitars hooks, simple, yet addictive drum beats, and strong and harsh vocals, combine in the form of Future of the Left, to deliver a mixed sophomore effort with “Travels with Myself and Another”. But personally, I think they still have potential for further musical development.

The album opens with the brilliant “Arming Eritrea”, the appeal of which lies in the rhythms of the verse, and the somewhat higher chorus.

Unfortunately, after the strong start, any now established expectations concerning the rest of the album are left to wither. Not completely though. Don’t take that the wrong way. There are other good songs on “Travels…”. But after the amazing start it’s hard to hide the disappointment that nothing else really holds up to “Arming Eritrea”. Hardly unsurprising considering how good the song is, but I’m just saying it how I hear it. “Drink Nike” and “That Damned Fly” both reach highly however.

Overall “Travels with Myself and Another” has a few standout songs, but the others just seem to fit in-between. A few great songs around a bunch of merely okay ones. Mostly stable in regards to it’s overall feeling, it will please some immensely, but I think Future of the Left have the potential to really create a more consistently good album.

Score: 5/10

~

Edit: It’s November 23, 2012, and reading this back I cringe. It’s a poorly written review (everyone starts somewhere though and it was one of my first), but I just want to say, my opinion of this album has drastically changed since. It’s worth much more than a 5. Check it out.

REVIEW: She Said I Said – "Stand And Deliver"

Firstly, thanks again for being sent this track. It certainly makes blogging a lot more exciting to be given stuff to put up for download and to review.

For me, this is one of those songs where it’s almost better to just zone out and listen to it, maybe while you’re doing something or just lazing around. Not unconsciously, but in one of those states where you just kinda let the music occupy your mind in the background. It’s got one of those infectious beats that kinda takes you over if you just let it sit there. The bass line in particular.

The lyrics are sung in a loose way, but it’s not like talking. It’s hard to describe. The varied guitar work throughout the song is definitely a pro too.

All in all I like this song. It’s good for just something that’s not invasive or aggressive, and it has a solid overall sound. To be honest I haven’t really heard anything else in this style either, which is a plus too.

I think I could listen to an album or EP from She Said I Said, especially if it has the kind of feeling as this. I’m one of those album people, and albums with overall feelings and senses to them, albums with personality, are always the ones I enjoy the most.

Grab a free download here!

Score: 6/10