Monday, 30 April 2018

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - AMBIENT ELECTRONICA ARTIST "JANUARY"

January (Thompson) is a singer/songwriter who makes a sound involving ambient and electronic sounds creating an atmospheric feel backing her pure harmonious vocals.  Her debut album in 2008 prompted critics to liken her sound to Tori Amos and Kate Bush.


I hear a lot of Sarah McLachlan in her music and her latest album, "Whelmed" is full of emotive, almost haunting music with beautifully sung heartfelt lyrics. "Careful What You Tell The Sky", the debut set included the Oriental sounding title track and the almost Medieval backing of "Beautiful Ache".


This lady obviously likes to experiment and push the boundaries when it comes to making music.  The way she uniquely combines mysterious harmonies, backing of different eras and times and her sweet, pure vocals that can switch to Classical is an intriguing mix!


The "Whelmed" album contains more of the same experimentation with the Evanescence style of "Too Soon" and "Delicate" which reminds me of a Goth/Punk vibe akin to Siouxsie And The Banshees.  The title track is just a beautiful song,  almost Classical but with an ambient soundtrack, this lady is going to be huge! January released a new single especially for Valentine's Day called "You For Me" in February 2018

 

 

Sunday, 29 April 2018

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - INDIE POP FOLK ARTIST "YUNA"

Yuna is a Malaysian singer songwriter who can also play guitar and ukulele.  Born Yunalis binti Mat Zara'ai in Kedak to a current legal advisor of Pahang father and a high school teacher mother, this lady is a major global world star.  Through word of mouth and an amazing online fan base, Yuna's self-titled debut Malaysian album and a handful of single releases, she achieved a Grammy equivalent award in her homeland and several high profile awards.


This lady has a lot to offer with her brand of Indie-Pop, Folk, Acoustic, Alternative R n' B style.  The first track I heard from Yuna was actually a cover of Nirvana's "Come As You Are" on Spotify.  It was a very light easy listening track with this stunning voice, similar to Norah Jones singing over a light Acoustic backdrop.  As I wasn't a fan of Nirvana, this was appreciating the song in a completely different more melodic way, a little like Tori Amos' version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit".  It got me interested and I wanted to seek out more from this interesting lady.


After two International E.P. releases, "Decorate" and "Sixth Street" she has also released three albums, the latest of which is "Chapters" released in 2016.  I first reviewed Yuna after the second album "Nocturnal" which contained the poppy Lily Allen styled "Comeback" and "Falling" which is a combination of Motown, 80s Electronica and 80s chanteuse Sade.


The current set "Chapters" also features an appearance by Usher on "Crush".  Two of my favourites on the album are the moving and emotive "Mannequin" and "Lanes".  The album achieved her highest placing on the US Heat chart at number 5 and reached number 16 on the R n' B chart.  Surprisingly Yuna has not been discovered here in the UK yet.  

 




Saturday, 28 April 2018

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - BLUES SOUL ARTIST "NIA WYN"

Nia is a Welsh singer-songwriter from Llandudno, with a hybrid voice that has the quirkiness and gutsy vocals of Paloma Faith with the pureness and honesty of Eva Cassidy.  Will be looking forward to a debut album from this talented lady.


A new style to old Blues and Soul influenced from records found in junk shops, she moulded her talent of songwriting to incorporate her own stories and experiences.  In "Northern No Soul Town" you can hear a little scratching, so slipping in a little Hip Hop to her guitar based songs with big vocals is quite unique to such a new talent and brave. 


I mentioned Eva Cassidy and Paloma Faith, but you can also add Imelda May and Amy Winehouse as Nia is all of those rolled into one amazing talent. Ironically enough, Nia is supporting Paloma Faith in Summer 2018!


Nia has had airplay of the single "Northern No Soul Town" by Gary Crowley on BBC Introducing in London.  Searching for more info on this young lady I found an interview where she stated her admiration for Paul Weller and The Jam.  A star on the rise for sure.  She has actually just been in the studio with The Modfather himself, Mr Weller!




CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - THE MISSION - "CARVED IN SAND"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

THE MISSION


"CARVED IN SAND"


The Mission are one of those bands I never thought I would like from perceptions of Gothic music I had witnessed around me.  Until I looked deeper into their catalogue I realised what a fantastic band they were and still are.  The big album was "Children" with the songs "Beyond The Pale" and "Tower Of Strength", after hearing more and more music I sought out every album before and after I could find and now have all the albums.  They developed into a great Arena Rock band full of anthemic tunes and driving guitars and percussion with memorable choruses.  I was lucky enough to witness the band live at a charity concert at The Royal Court, Liverpool for the Hillsborough Disaster fund.  Absolutely fantastic experience although my friends and I were a little out of place among the black dressed horde!

This album was, for me, the start of the great Rock music they have produced for years.  Criminally underrated songwriter and frontman Wayne Hussey and the musicianship of the band seem to be overlooked when so called Rock critics gave their opinions.  The album reached number 7 in the UK charts and spawned three Top 40 singles.  The first being the wonderful "Butterfly On A Wheel", a great lilting Rock ballad delivered in Wayne's haunting, passionate vocal.  Emotional and epic.  One of my favourites from the band and it reached number 12.  The second single, the Gothic Rock anthem “Deliverance” delivers, no pun intended, the melodious medieval guitars The Mission are famous for, and a huge thumping rhythmic beat throughout.  The chorus is one of those you sing at the top of your voice letting out all that frustration and angst.  Awesome track that peaked at 27.  The third single "Into The Blue" was the lowest reaching of the three released, reaching only number 32.  Similar to the songs on "God's Own Medicine", a stripped back mid tempo rocker making the most of Wayne's superb vocals and some Classic Rock guitars.  "Amelia" was released as a double A side to "Hands Across The Ocean" from the follow-up set "Grains Of Sand".


"Amelia" opens the album and is a great song albeit the subject matter is child abuse.  Superbly written lyrics about a Amelia being "daddy's favourite girl" and daddy telling her not to tell mummy about it.  Disturbing theme but brilliantly crafted to get the message across very bluntly.  Ends with the line "damn your daddy to hell".  Harsh lyrics but great song with a good message!

"Sea Of Love" starts with a very Eastern influence and merges into a similar vein to that of previous hit "Wasteland" with some Psychedelic and Classic Rock moments.

"Grapes Of Wrath" is a beautiful soft ballad and I assume it is about the novel by John Steinbeck as it mentions certain elements of the book in the lyrics.  A really lovely chillout song.

"Belief" is a brilliant rocker with some Progressive Rock, some Classic Rock and Heavy Rock elements.  A 7 and a half minute epic Rock song.  Great stuff!

"Paradise (Will Shine Like The Moon)" is an Acoustic uptempo almost Irish Folk style until just after 2 minutes it crashes into Iron Maiden territory with some real Heavy Metal leanings.  

"Hungry As The Hunter" is a little of a Punk Rock track with some Progressive Rock guitars thrown in for good measure.  Fast paced and bouncing all the way through! Superb track for the old Punks!

"Lovely" ends the album and is just under 2 minutes long.  Lots of atmospheric everyday life background noises while Wayne delivers some really nice lyrics with some Acoustics joining him.  Short and sweet end to a great album.


CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!


Thursday, 26 April 2018

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - THE ICICLE WORKS - "THE ICICLE WORKS"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

THE ICICLE WORKS


"THE ICICLE WORKS"


I remember hearing "Love Is A Wonderful Colour" by The Icicle Works in 1983 on the radio.  I had never heard anything like it before.  The lyrics were eloquent, they were sung in an unusual style and the music was big, orchestral like in its composition.  I recorded it off the radio (the in thing at the time!) and the cassette was on rewind and play on this song for weeks until I could sing along perfectly.  Always on the lookout for new bands to follow, this band were on my list.  Subsequent albums after this debut were also readily acquired!

This debut album only reached number 24 in the UK chart and only spawned two singles.  Sometimes I wonder if the UK just wasn't ready for Ian McNabb's smart and sophisticated songwriting.  The first single, "Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream)" only scraped to 90 in the chart before peaking at 53 on its re-release in 1984.  The lovely guitar melodies and the chug-a-chug drums almost like Bow Wow Wow but this song had a fabulous ambience about it.  There seemed to be a lot going on but the effect was mesmerising.  Ian's vocals were perfectly delivered on solo moments and harmonious vocals backed him.  Such a great song with a catchy chorus, its a crime it didn't become a big hit. However, as I said it did improve its chart placing after the success of the second singe, the aforementioned "Love Is A Wonderful Colour" which was just a masterpiece.  It reached number 15 on the chart here.  From the start it had that anthemic, almost gothic, medieval sound.  The lyrics just sounded so intelligent and as a lyricist I just thought it was brilliantly wrote.  The song was so powerful with an emotive background that just sounded so uplifting.  One of my all time favourite songs.


"Chop The Tree" opened the album with a fast tempo drumbeat with lots going on in the background.  Guitar chops, electronic whirrs and atmospheric leanings which actually give you the feeling of being in a forest.  A very emotive song again hidden in the uptempo music, clever composition.

"Reaping The Richest Harvest" is a kind of Gothic Rock love song.  This is almost like what The Mission would be doing in another five years time.  A beautiful emotional chorus that gives a good feeling inside.

"As The Dragonfly Flies" has a funky beginning and then goes into Progressive Rock mode, with a Tears For Fears like chorus.  Searing guitars and stomping drums throughout.  Great song.

"Lover's Day" is a soft, gently sung Rock ballad.  It bangs into a massive Gothic Rock chorus and then comes back down.  Nice vocal harmonies help the ambience and it has a segment of sounds like a Rain Forest before bursting into the huge repeated chorus and ending.  

"In The Cauldron Of Love" is similar in style to "Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream)",soft lyrics sung in storylike fashion before hitting an echo style big chorus.  Touch of class.

"Out Of Season" reminds me of later Tears For Fears once again.  A big ballad with tons of emotion but sounding quite orchestral and also has moments where the backing is minimal.  

"A Factory In The Desert" is a great Rock track, lots of elements of Classic Rock and Progressive Rock of the 60s and 70s.  

"Nirvana" ends the album and it is like a recap of what's included in the previous tracks.  It has everything The Icicle Works is about, searing guitars, vocal harmonies, slow teasing verses, big chorus, Gothic Rock, Classic Rock, Progressive Rock.  Superb ending to a fine album.


CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - INDIE ELECTRONIC POP ROCK BAND "WHOWho"

WHOWho are an Indie Rock/Electronic Dance hybrid band who hail from Seoul in South Korea.  Their music is an eclectic mix of Funk, Dance, guitar Pop-Rock and Electronica.  The group formed in 2012 and have been touring extensively spreading their music across Asia and surely the rest of the world will take them to their hearts soon!


Jun Yong (vocals/guitar), Yohan (bass), Jin Chul (drums) and Young Kwang (synths) are a quartet of musical imagination.  I first reviewed the band after only a couple of E.P.'s and hoped they would go on to make an album as the music was so unusual I wanted to hear more.  Their motto at the time was "dance silly, play sexy", I just knew this group were destined for bigger things!


The track "Her" got me researching this band.  The song kicked off with an Electronic beat and synths followed by some Daft Punk-esque vocals.  It then changed into a soft English vocal to kick into an 80s power pop riff which is verging on Punk.  On top of all this it's damn catchy and very danceable! Their music consists of almost every genre, with the Hendrix inspired "Dance In The Rain" and Punk/New Romantic style "Bye Bye".


The band finally released their debut album in 2015, "Oh Yeah".  I found this album after a lot of searching and it is a great album.  Featuring the funky "Meteorite", The Jam-esque "Your Eyes" and "Sincerely Yours" which is similar to Franz Ferdinand or Razorlight.  Big things are coming for WHOWho but they need to make their music more widely available, although I love their music it is hard to find for us in the UK.  With the UK loving the 80s I think WHOWho would be massive here.




Saturday, 21 April 2018

GUEST BLOGGER - "TOP TIPS FOR ASPIRING COMPOSERS - FROM THE MAKERS OF MUSIC NOTATION SOFTWARE DORICO"

ARE YOU IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS IN SOME WAY AND WOULD LIKE TO GUEST BLOG AN ARTICLE ON NEW MUSIC EAR LIKE THIS ONE?  OPEN TO RECORD COMPANIES, MUSIC SELLERS, JOURNALISTS OR ANYONE WITHIN MUSIC.  CONTACT ME FOR DETAILS! :)

TOP TIPS FOR ASPIRING COMPOSERS - FROM THE MAKERS OF MUSIC NOTATION SOFTWARE DORICO


BY DANIEL SPREADBURY, DORICO PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER

For young musicians, finding a way to break into the world of classical music and build a career as a composer can be difficult.

Here, we outline our top tips for aspiring composers – from familiarising yourself with music composition software to learning how to promote your music. 

PERFECT YOUR PORTFOLIO

 
A solid body of work, presented in a professional portfolio, can work wonders in a field as fiercely competitive as the world of professional music. Assembling your portfolio should be something that you put time and consideration into. This, after all, is the demonstration of your work so far, but also of your potential and talents as a composer.

The quality of your scores, especially their engraving, is crucial, as is your ability to carefully curate your selection. Rather than trying to include every piece of amateur juvenilia you have lying around, select a handful of your best work.  

HONE YOUR TECH SKILLS

While some elements of the composer’s skillsetremain constant and largely unchanged, others are very different from those that would been required in previous eras. In particular, technology has revolutionised the way we create and experience music, making fluency with these tools a necessity.

This is particularly important for musicians just starting out, especially when they’re attempting to forge a career composing for media, such as video games or film. At this stage of your career, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have access to live performers and instrumentalists to help you create your work.

While larger scale projects may have a full-scale symphony orchestra at their disposal, smaller ones may require a composer to familiarise themselves with a range of tools for producing a finished soundtrack – from MIDI keyboards to music writing software and the post-production features of a DAW. 

Fortunately, these tools are becoming more sophisticated, and more intelligent, with every passing day. One the one hand, a simple app like ScoreCleaner Notes can note down basic melodies that are hummed into it, making it ideal to capture ideas while on the go. Further down the line, Dorico is the first music notation software to have been built with integrated AI functions – making it the first program of its kind that you can compose directly into.

SUPPLEMENTING YOUR INCOME

The simple and honest truth of breaking into the world of professional composing is that it takes a lot of effort, and more often than not, a lot of time. Without a supplementary source of income, you’re likely to see your bank account dipping dangerously low before you can see your musical ambitions coming to fruition. This may involve taking another role within the music sphere, such as a composer’s assistant, or a professional engraver. The benefits of a role such as these is twofold – first, it provides you with a source of income, and secondly, it allows you to be honing your skills and building your musical awareness, even when you’re not composing yourself.

DON'T BE AFRAID TO PROMOTE YOURSELF

From putting together a network of contacts within the music world to taking to social media and creating your own website, taking the time to put yourself out there and promote your work is now essential. Plenty of people may roll their eyes at that over-used buzzword ‘networking’, and many young composers may feel self-conscious about creating their own dedicated websites, but the benefits of these simple steps can be significant.

Additionally, it is worth considering entering your music into competitions. Most have an extremely easy submission process and offer everything ranging from cash prizes, to the signal boost it will give your profile – making the cost of entry minimal in comparison to the benefits of a potential win.

Entering the world of professional music as an aspiring composer can be a daunting prospect – but it is also not beyond all reach, and these tips can help you to improve your chances of achieving your musical ambitions.



Friday, 20 April 2018

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - ACOUSTIC POP BAND "HUDSON TAYLOR"

Hudson Taylor are Irish brothers Harry and Alfie and hail from Dublin.  I first reviewed this band in 2013 after only a couple of E.P.'s.  The article was published on the website of California's Music Insider Magazine.  Their sound of Simon And Garfunkel and Everly Brothers harmonies and melodies captured my ears.


Within a year of moving to London they signed a record deal wth Polydor.  They released a 3 E.P.'s which included songs such as the brilliant "Chasing Rubies", "Care" and "Holly".  The duo released their debut album, "Singing For Strangers" in 2015 which is inspired by their busking days.  The two young lads I reviewed a few years ago have matured both in musical ability and songwriting.  


The album is a mastery of 60s, 70s and Rock Pop with a distinctive Irish Folk vibe.  There are classic tracks such as the positive message of "Weapons" and the almost anthemic "Battles" which reminds me of Wall Of Voodoo's Stan Ridgeway.  It is a massive collection of fabulous upbeat, emotive and uplifting tracks.  


The band have since signed with Rubyworks Records, an independent record label based in Dublin, who have worked with Sinead O'Connor and Hothouse Flowers and currently have Hozier on their books.  Hudson Taylor are working on their second album and have just release their 4th E.P. "Feel It Again".  This band deserve to be huge, give these determined, hard working lads a listen, you won't regret it.  The song to "Run With Me" moved me greatly as we had lost our dog in December 2017 and it was so nice with the dogs in the video.  Good job lads.





Tuesday, 17 April 2018

NEW MUSIC SINGLE REVIEW - ALEXIS - "SWEET ANGEL"& "HOLD ME CLOSE"

MUSIC ARTISTS? WANT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE(S) REVIEWED TRACK BY TRACK PLUS FREE PROMOTION ON NEW MUSIC EAR AND SHARED TO TWITTER, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK? IF YOU LIKE THIS REVIEW, PLEASE CONTACT ME :)

ALEXIS


"SWEET ANGEL"
&
"HOLD ME CLOSE"


By Andrew Goodwin for NEW MUSIC EAR www.newmusicear.com.

SUMMARY - Alexis Gerred has been around the music business for over 10 years and has appeared on stage in various musical theatre.  American Idiot and Dreamboats & Petticoats are two of the notable productions he has appeared in as well as being semi finalist in the Let It Shine TV programme and runner-up in Eurovision-Your Country Needs You.  Now Alexis is going it alone and becoming the star turn as he plans to release his debut album later this year.  Some of his influences include Goo Goo Dolls, Rod Stewart and Queen and you can certainly hear elements of those in the single "Sweet Angel" and the as yet unreleased second single "Hold Me Close".


"SWEET ANGEL" - This track opens like a soft ballad but builds into a Bon Jovi style crescendo after the one minute mark.  It quickly changes into being great Rock Pop with a little U2-esque instrumental break in the middle.  I can definitely hear a Goo Goo Dolls influence, being a fan of the band, especially the track "Iris", I really love this track and it should be a big hit.  Its about unconditional support and love from his parents throughout his life, everybody needs a sweet angel to stop them from falling.


"HOLD ME CLOSE" - The second single that will be released later in the year is Alexis' promise to his own children that he will never break and hopefully give the same support and guidance his parents gave to him.  A lovely sentiment.  This track is a sweet, lilting Acoustic Pop ballad with a Country twang.  Alexis' soulful voice reminds me of George Michael a little.  The song is filled with emotion and says "don't let anyone take your dreams, stay true to you".  A message we all should take heed from.


Monday, 16 April 2018

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - INDIE ROCK BAND "SHEPPARD"

Sheppard are an Indie Rock band from Brisbane, Australia which consists of siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard.   Added to the sextet are Jason Bovino, Michael Butler and Dean Gordon.  The family were raised in Papua New Guinea but once they relocated to Australia they flourished with incredible musical talenst.


I actually wrote a mini review on the band in 2015 just after the release of their debut album, "Bombs Away" featuring the blistering single "Geronimo".  They were the first overseas band to actually take the time to thank me on Twitter for a great review.  I absolutely love this band, hearing the preview singles from the forthcoming second album, "Watching The Sky" they have blown me away.  This band are one of the reasons I do this blog, finding outstanding new talent but also finding new favourite artists that I actually play often.


Sheppard can move you to tears with their ballads and make you sing and shout and look at life in a positive way with their brand of chanted, sing-a-long melodious anthems.  They are a unique band and my wife and I were listening to their new songs and she hit the nail on the head when she said, "there is nobody that sounds like them".  They are unique, talented and I just can't believe they are not megastars globally amidst such mediocrity in the music industry at the moment.


As well as the fantastic tracks they compose themselves, I also pointed out in the last review that I found their Acoustic cover of "Say Something" which was incredible.  The new songs including "Coming Home" and "Keep Me Crazy" are just inspiring, outstanding Pop Rock.  Great band and the album is coming June 8th, 2018.   This band are just what we need in these dark times, uplifting songs that give you a muscial buzz!



Saturday, 14 April 2018

NEW MUSIC ALBUM REVIEW - JEFF McCALL - "NIGHT LIFE"

MUSIC ARTISTS? WANT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE(S) REVIEWED TRACK BY TRACK PLUS FREE PROMOTION ON NEW MUSIC EAR AND SHARED TO TWITTER, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK? IF YOU LIKE THIS REVIEW, PLEASE CONTACT ME :)

JEFF McCALL


 "NIGHT LIFE"


By Andrew Goodwin for NEW MUSIC EAR www.newmusicear.com.

ALBUM SUMMARY - "Night Life" is a great album for those who love the 80s Electronica and Synth Pop bands.  Jeff has made an album that takes you back to those great musical times.  With every song, every listener will find something new that reminds them of a certain artist of that era.  There are elements of Erasure, Human League, Heaven 17, Thompson Twins, Kraftwerk, New Order and many more.  Jeff has used his vast knowledge of the genres to create something very special.  It is like an 80s time capsule in musical form.  Jeff is a great singer as well as a songwriter and this perfect retro album will have you reliving those nostalgic memories of the best music decade. "Night Life" is 80s life!

01 "NIGHT LIFE" -  This opening track reminds me of Heaven 17 with a hint of Krafwerk's electronic vocal backing on the chorus.  Bright and breezy with a great vocal, a pumping electronic beat and catchy chorus.  Sets you up nicely for the nostalgic glimpse into your 80s past that is to come.

02 "HAVEN'T I TRIED" - Starts with a person walking and whistling before the footsteps change into a throbbing electrobeat, synths and handclap sounds.  The verses are clearly Erasure-like but the chorus somehow changes into Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys! Great song, the chorus is sing-a-long catchy and the vocals and composition are perfect Electro Pop.

03 "WHEN YOU FALL" - A powerful and emotive Electro Rock ballad with an eerie atmospheric style.  As a big fan of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet it reminds me a little of their very early albums.  The chorus is akin to David Sylvian of Japan, with that low, almost monotone dark vocal which adds to the track's ambience.  Great track.

04 "NEW HORIZONS" - The vocals on this track remind me of Midge Ure (of Ultravox fame) intertwined with a musical style of The Thompson Twins.  Really nice emotional vocals in what sounds like a positive song of hope.  Proves that Jeff isn't just a one trick pony, he can throw out a moving ballad as well as catchy Pop.

05 "SEE THE TEARS" - With a pumping Electro Disco beat and full of Electronic effects this is a mash of New Order and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.  The quickfire non stop vocals keep the track ticking over, Has elements that make it sound like a superb remix which could have been a hit in the clubs at the time.

06 "AM I DREAMING" - This track is the one most sounding like Human League.  My favourite on the album by far.  Jeff gives us his best Philip Oakey vocal and its so good it takes me back to 1981 when I first bought the "Dare" album.  The biggest compliment I can give, is that this could be ON that album! 

07 "CAN YOU FEEL" - A New Romantic sounding track which is atmospheric in style.  Trying to pin down a sound that it reminds me of and I had to pick three! So it is one part Gary Numan, one part A-Ha and one part Visage.  Jeff has great 80s knowledge and knows how to create special songs that just instil memories of your favourite 80s artists.

08 "LOVE LOST" - Perfect Synth Pop at its best, emotive with a lovely chorus.  Could be Vince Clarke and Andy Bell at their peak Erasure moments.  As good as one of my favourite songs by the band, "Ship Of Fools".  Top song!

09 "LIFE DRAMA" - Just when you think you have pinned the artist Jeff is thinking of, he slaps you in the face with another one in an instant! Alphaville, Blancmange, Erasure, Heaven 17 and Yello all came in my head on listening to this.  A great uptempo Electronic Pop song.

10 "HIDEAWAY" - This final song on the album didn't grab me instantly as the previous nine tracks.  Maybe its because it is an album rich in excellence and full of "hit" songs in my opinion that this one maybe falls short.  It is still a good song, imagine the scenario, Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17 meets Thomas Dolby who then both agree to create a song with Kraftwerk.  







 

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - BILLY JOEL - "AN INNOCENT MAN"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

BILLY JOEL


 "AN INNOCENT MAN"
 

I had heard a lot of Billy Joel songs, "Piano Man", "It's Still Rock And Roll To Me", "Just The Way You Are" and a few more so I knew about him.  Upon research I gained more respect for the man, from humble beginnings and a few upheavals he remains one of the best singer songwriters of all time.  In 1983 I heard "Tell Her About It" and the mega hit "Uptown Girl" and for the first time I bought a Billy Joel album.  In 1983 I was open to all genres of music so when I had "An Innocent Man" I pretty much played it to death and bought his Greatest Hits Vol 1 and 2 set soon after to hear more of the man.  The album had Soul, Motown and 50s and 60s tributes all over it, catchy songs and emotive ballads that made Billy an 80s global star.

The album had 10 songs and 7 were released as singles, although in hindsight maybe that was too much as by the time the secenth single came pretty much every household already had the album!  The first single, "Tell Her About It" became Billy's biggest hit in the UK (before "Uptown Girl" gave him his first and only number 1) and reached number 4.  The great authentic Motown feel with harmonious vocals like the classy singing groups The Supremes and The Temptations with a catchy chorus captured the ears instantly.  "Uptown Girl" as previously stated arrived and hit top spot, accompanied by a video featuring model Christie Brinkley, who Billy later married.  Said to be an homage to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, it was a great song which gave every "backstreet guy" the hope of finding an "uptown girl"!  The title track was the next single, "An Innocent Man" was a slower ballad style compared to the uptempo beats of the previous singles.  The 50s style of The Drifters (of whom my dad was a big fan) sounded great to me and brought back some memories of secretly playing the band's hits on old vinyl.  The song continued Billy's Top Ten success and reached number 8.  "The Longest Time" only reached number 25 and was again another different style and genre.  A classic Doo-Wop song complete with finger snaps and hand claps and various harmonic vocal backing.  The crazy thing is, these songs are usually made by vocal groups but Billy decided he wanted to do all the backing himself including the percussive elements and vocal ranges.  "Leave A Tender Moment Alone" was the 5th single from the album and only reached 29, this was probably when the single releases maybe should have stopped.  This song reminded me a little of a Stevie Wonder style song, a gentle Motown and Soul number.  The next single "This Night", is probably the the "filler" song for me, not that it is bad but the other songs are so great.  Notable for its use of Beethoven's second movement "Pathetique Sonata" in the chorus of the song.  The final single from the album did not even chart in the UK.  "Keeping The Faith" is Billy reminiscing about the 50s lifestyle and how things were not always great but he's "keeping the faith" in that the future will be alright.


"Easy Money" is a Soul/Funk foot stomper, in the style of James Brown and one of my favourites, and maybe could have been a single but as I said maybe there were just too many great tracks on this album.

"Careless Talk" is a 50s style Doo-Wop/Motown track in the style of Sam Cooke with little elements of The Drifters.  

"Christie Lee" is a fast paced piano led Rock N' Roll track, think Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis.  Add some brass and this is a great track which sounds like a proper jam session where everyone is having fun.



CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - ACOUSTIC INDIE ROCK BAND "THE SPASE"

The Spase hail from Widnes in Cheshire in the North West of England.  The duo of Andy Forrest (vocals/guitar) and Peter Walker (bass) were actually featured in one of my articles "Cheshire Rocks" a few years ago which was published by INCheshire and Prestbury Living magazines.


After appearing in several bands together they created The Spase in 2012.  They steadily built a loyal fanbase around the Cheshire area and released their debut album entitled "On A Cloud" featuring gems like "The Shooting Star" and "A Roaming Son".


The Spase bring a great Acoustic style Indie Rock with harmonious melodies and vocals.  The pure "live" sound they give on their songs is something I really like.  It is always better when, in headphones you feel like you're really at a gig.  They cite U2. The Beatles and REM as their influences but there are also elements of the Madchester era of the 90s sound like The Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets.


The band have jist released their second album, "Either Side Of Right" and a single is set to be released in April and a succession of gigs to follow.  My favourites on the album are "When Nearly Is All That You Can Do" and "By My Side".  On some of the tracks I also hear a little Simon & Garfunkel style, especially on the slow songs.  This is a great compliment to them as I consider Paul and Art to be among the best songwriters of all time.



Wednesday, 4 April 2018

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - INDIE AND AMERICANA ROCK BAND "THE FIREFLYS"

The Fireflys are a band from my hometown of Runcorn, in the North West of England.  Playing a brand of Indie/Americana Rock with guitar driven songs and harmonious melodies.  Since finding this band I have also reviewed a live concert and their previous album on New Music Ear as well as having an article published in California's Music Insider magazine so they are always on my radar.


Since forming in 2007 and a few band lineup changes they have released four albums all to critical acclaim.  The last album "The Illumination Of Everything" brought the band to new heights and their single, the brilliant "Branches" was played on a myriad of radio stations and Internet playlists.  I described the song as "a lilting mixed masterpiece of sadness and hope" and this is what the songs give, plenty of emotion.


I had the pleasure of meeting the two mainstays of the band a few years ago, songwriter and frontman Lee Wylding and drummer Andie Packer who were very humble and down to earth and so respectful to fans and media.  These kind of people you can ony wish the best for and hope they achieve their ambitions.  The band is now a sextet and completing the lineup are Chris Tann, Sam Bramhall, Joe Paul Forber and Phil Conway.


Last year began the new chapter in the band's history as they signed with record company Strawberry Moon Records and released their first single under their banner, the gentle and emotive "Grace".  A second single, "Runaway" is out now with the album maybe arriving in late Summer with a third single "This House Is Ours" coming in August.  Always working hard playing gigs all over and building a loyal and appreciative fanbase, The Fireflys are here and show no signs of stopping, take notice!