Friday, February 19, 2010

Poisoned Town and Virtual Cut by Inner Voices

Hello all,
As some of you may remember, I reviewed two songs by Adam Brierley's solo project, Inner Voices, back in November. For the many of you who enjoyed his past releases, prepare yourselves because his next EP, Impact Statements, will be available soon. The Impact Statements track list is as follows:

1. Poisoned Town
2. Virtual Cut
3. Bend Your Mind
4. Stay In The Light

The theme of both Poisoned Town and Virtual Cut comes from Brierley's observation of the devastating aspects of street violence and its effects on many victims' friends and families. Poisoned Town, although is lyrically based on unfortunate events, has a catchy, smooth melody. Brierley dazzles the listener with his brilliant use of the synthesizer like always, but in this particular song he also includes a beautiful piano solo during the second half of the track. Of all his releases, I’d say this one is my favorite so far.

As for Virtual Cut, this one is an instrumental track. Its melody is extremely similar to that of Poisoned Town, and also includes the piano solo. Despite the lack of lyrics, the track is constructed in such a way that Brierley’s voice still manages to shine through. For reviews on the final two tracks please check out my last post. I’d definitely recommend keeping an out the release of Impact Statements!

For more on Adam Brierley’s Inner Voices, check out:

www.myspace.com/AdamBrierley

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bend Your Mind and Stay In The Light by Inner Voices

Hey everyone,
As some of you may remember, I reviewed the Inner Voices' Surveillance State EP back in early May. For those who enjoyed the sounds of this one-man group I am pleased to announce that he is back with more. There have been mentions of an album coming out eventually, but for now all I've got is two tracks to provide us with a little sneak peak: Bend Your Mind and Stay In The Light.

Bend Your Mind is a track that leans towards the mellow side of things. From the very beginning, stretching all the way to the final beat, Adam Brierley creates a misty, almost dream-like feel with the synth, creating an even tone though out the song. Professional soprano vocalist, Ruth Jenkins, laces a few of the lines with her beautifully soft voice towards the second half of the track. What I really like lyrically is Brierlley's concept of "bending" one's mind. We are typically more accustomed to hearing the words "change your mind" and I like how Breirley took a more original stance in conveying a similar message.
Bend Your Mind was originally produced in 2007 and was quickly recognized by Kaz (the MySpace Music promoter) and George Mulchay from Radio Dublin Near FM, and has been playing through out the UK ever since.

Stay In The Light starts off a bit more fast-paced than Bend Your Mind, creating a nice distinction between both songs. This track clearly has a lot more of an edge in both lyrical and musical terms, closing with a brilliant instrumental and final say from Breirley. It was first recorded 18 months ago, and since then has been awarded 5 separate finalist Effigy awards by ABC Radio/MMI Fmaegames (January 09) for: best overall song, best song in General Rock category, best songwriting, best production, and most popular song. The final album version was finished up this July and was mastered by Fran Ashcroft, who has worked with Damn Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & The Queen), Abbey Road Studios, etc.

From more on Adam Brierley Inner Voices, see:
www.myspace.com/AdamBrierley

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Featured Artist: The Drool Brothers

Hey everyone,

One of the things that I love about music is that there aren't any boundaries. The age we live in is one where the subject of a song, the concept of a band, and the instruments of the group have become immensely diverse. The spectrum has widened to various forms of what used to be one genre, and between Eugene Hutz's (of Gogol Bordello) fire bucket to The Suburban Legend's synchronized dance moves, members have gotten more and more creative at entertaining us. One band in particular who seems to be well aware of this is The Drool Brothers.

This four-member group resides in the Los Angeles/Whittier area, and have been a group for the past 13 years. Over the course of that time they have managed to mold themselves into a genuinely original band with a one-of-a-kind sound. Their latest release for instance "gets more unusual as it progresses" says frontman Chuck Mancillas. The song titles alone - "Journey To The Center Of The Mall," "Flapmaggot," and "Sons Of Sal" for example - are enough for the listener to know that he or she is experiencing something different.

Their influences include Mott The Hoople, P. Funk, The Knack, comedian Jerry Lewis, and Kurt Rambis, among many others. Unlike Muse's latest releases, however, The Drool Brothers have skillfully mastered the ability to create their own musical signature through and through, while subtly incorporating bits and pieces from their influences. According to Mancillas, their goal is to "create as much music as possible and exist independent of scenes or music industry influence. To play unique places and enjoy our musical emancipation" and so far they are doing just that.

For more on The Drool Brothers, see:
www.DroolBrothers.com
www.MySpace.com/DroolBrothers


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Seeing the Arctic Monkeys and The Like

Hey everyone,

Long time no speak! Summer's officially over, I have finally adjusted to the new school year, and I am now ready to throw some reviews your way! Two weeks into September (the 15th to be exact) I saw the Arctic Monkeys play with The Like at the Hollywood Palladium, and it was absolutely brilliant!
The doors opened at 7:30, and the moment they did, (what seemed like) hundreds of fans stampeded into the venue. The line was literally wrapped around the street by the time I arrived at 6:30; I can't even imagine how far it must have stretched by the time they let us in. I saw the Arctic Monkeys play at the Palladium two years ago, and I suppose all the excitement had blinded me from the scenery; this time around, however, I took a better look at my surroundings. For those of you who have never been here, I highly recommend checking it out, the venue is magnificent. The ceilings are beautifully decorated with chandeliers, and the floor space is incredible. I guess for a venue of this size it would have been better to have built a bigger stage, but apart from that I have no complaints.
As for the show itself, the crowd was very disappointed to find that the Klaxons were not going to be opening up for the Arctic Monkeys. They were initially supposed to perform and, for reasons unknown to me, they had been last-minute replaced by The Like.This show was the all-girl group's second time performing on stage. As for their music, the first few songs sat well with me but I soon got bored of their repetitive sythn beats and common music style. I felt as though all the songs sounded the same, almost as if they were all part of one giant song. I could tell I wasn't alone in thinking this, as the crowd soon got restless as well.
Once The Like had left the stage, however, the restlessness of the crowd only got worse. I found myself shouting obscene things in order to draw some attention to myself in hope of ceasing some of the chaos. My efforts failed miserably. I was squashed to the point where it was affecting my (and I'm sure everyone else's) breathing. I almost lost my shoe several times, and then finally after a great push the damn thing came right off. Thanks to my fancy footwork, however, I managed to retrieve the little bugger as I miraculously made my way out of the crowd, hanging onto dear life by a mere thread.
After about 45 minutes of intense pushing and shoving, the lights started to dim. About 15 minutes after that the band came out. This isn't the exact order of the set list, but here's what was played:
Brianstorm
Crying Lightening
Only Ones We Know
This House Is A Circus
My Propeller
Dangerous Animals
Cornerstone
Pretty Visitors
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Still Take You Home
The View From The Afternoon
Dance Little Liar
Do Me A Favour
Encore: Fluorescent Adolescent
Secret Door
505
The band was brilliant. They came on and played right away, and after the first song or two they stopped to address the audience. Between every few songs frontman Alex Turner would stop to make some comments, or crack some jokes, always reminding us of how much he enjoys saying the words "Los Angeles" (which hopefully means he'll want to come back soon!). I heard a few complaints about how they should have played more stuff from their first album (Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not) but I think all in all they did a great job of representing each album fairly. Their tour, after all, is meant to promote their latest release Humbug so naturally they had to play the hits from that, and I reckon they managed to satisfy the portion of the audience who haven't heard the new album by playing their older hits as well. The crowd responded fantastically to the band, the energy in the venue was incredible. Apart from a violent, but expected, reaction from the crowd I had a perfect night!

For more on The Like, see:
www.myspace.com/TheLike

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For more on the Arctic Monkeys, see:
www.ArcticMonkeys.com
www.myspace.com/ArcticMonkeys

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Away We Go

Hey everyone,
A couple months ago I remember seeing the trailer for the film Away We Go and thinking that it's one film I don't plan on spending my time on; I guess I had the impression that it wasn't going to be anything special. Well, I gave in and eventually did end up seeing it and, despite my low expectations, I actually enjoyed it. According to Yahoo! Movies, the critics gave it a B-, personally I would have given it a B.
The film is about Burt (John Krasinski: Leatherheads, License To Wed, Shrek The Third) and Verona (Maya Rudolph: A Prairie Home Companion, 50 First Dates, Duplex), an unmarried couple who unexpectedly find out that they are going to have a baby. Desparate to raise their child in the company of family or friends, Burt and Verona set out to find the best suited destination. Along the way they encounter a wide range of very different families, all with varied backgrounds and situations. This brings a bit doubt among Burt and Verona as they start to question their past and their future.
What I really liked about this film was that it obviously didn't seem far-fetched at all, and thus was easy to relate to. Personally, I am not on the verge of having a child, but the different types of situations that Burt and Verona faced, along with the lessons they learned from each one, were done in such a way that even I, an audience member, could clearly draw connections from them.
The acting was great, and the chemistry between Krasinski and Rudolph was beautiful. Some other well-known stars were Catherin O'Hara (Penelope, For Your Consideration, Game 6), Jeff Daniels (State Of Play, Space Chimps, Traitor), Alison Janney (Hairspray, Juno, Over The Hedge), and Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, Monster House, Stranger Than Fiction). The film was directed by Sam Mendes, also known for Revolutionary Road, Jarhead, and Road to Perdition among others.
I thought this was a sweet film with a very cute ending. There was a handful of clever jokes, all of which I genuinely laughed at. I'd say this goes hand-in-hand with a nice bowl of popcorn on a rainy day.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Hello all,
After that disastrous Digital Fortress experience, I thought I'd give Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen a try. It had been recommended to me by everyone I had talked to who had read it, so I figured I should check it out.
The story is about Jacob Jankowski, a "ninety. Or ninety-three" year-old man who reflects on his adventures traveling with the Benzini Brothers' Most Spectacular Show On Earth. I found the first ten chapters rather slow, Gruen has a tendency to describe everything in great detail, and I guess it just didn't sit too well with me. Apart from that, those ten chapters weren't too bad - they talked briefly about Jacob's school life at Cornell University, how his parents died during his senior year, how he never completed his veterinary exams, and how he managed to avoid being "red lighted" by taking up the position of being the Benzini Brothers' vet.
Jacob's relationship with his first friend on the show, August, (who initially fought to keep him on the circus) takes a drastic turn when he starts to fall for August's wife, Marlena. The next two thirds of the book are filled with secrets, lies, attacks by a paranoid schizophrenic, romance and sex which get you so hooked that you almost forget about the previous crap chapters. I find that it's a lot like To Kill A Mocking Bird, where it's a great book but you need to fast forward to the second half before you actually start enjoying it.
Jacob built another vital relationship with Rosie, the newly acquired elephant. She was described as being "stupid" by her previous owner, and as a result was heavily beaten by August when he couldn't get her to perform any tricks. Being a vet, Jacob naturally felt a great deal of guilt and sympathy for Rosie. The more time he spent with her, the more he realized how competent she actually was. By a stroke of luck he figured out that the only reason Rosie wasn't responding to August was because of a language barrier - Polish, which lucky enough was Jacob's native tongue.
Gruen packs us in with a ton of information at the start, preparing us for the wild adventure that unwinds during the last two thirds of the book. To be honest, I found myself going from reading half a chapter to two, sometimes three, chapters a night, and coming from a slow reader that means a lot! Although it is a bit difficult to get into, I definitely do recommend this book, because when you get to the bare bones of it, it's not as important how you feel when you start the book, but more how you feel once you end it; and I felt pretty satisfied by the time I was finished.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Seeing the White Rabbits and The Subjects

Hey everyone,
Long time no speak! Don't worry I've plenty coming your way! To start, I saw the White Rabbits play with The Subjects at The Troubadour on the 18th of June; I definitely didn't expect such a great show.
To be honest, I wasn't much of a White Rabbits fan to begin with, and I had never even heard of The Subjects, but all my indie-show experiences at the Troub have been fantastic, so I didn't need to think twice when my friend invited me to come with him.
We got there just as the doors opened, and the crowd was pretty small which was fine by me. The Subjects went on about at about 9 and were absolutely brilliant. Here's their set list:
New Years
Edge Of A Dime
Winter Vacation
Right2know
Hard Way
Down Time
Hounds Of War
In The City
Swept Upon
Coward In The Night
At one point Matthew Clark, one of drummers of the White Rabbits, joined The Subjects on stage; it was great! I love it when groups do that; whether or not it's true, it projects a good vibe to the audience that there's more to the groups' relationship than just sharing the same stage. As mentioned before, I had never heard of these guys and I'm sure some of the audience members had either, but it didn't stop a significant number of people bobbing their heads and moving along with the music. There was brilliant vocal variety as two of the four band members pitched in with the vocals, nicely accompanying the frontman. There was also fantastic organ work done by one of the vocalists. Towards the end of the set, one of the members picked up a set of drumsticks and started playing on a spare floor tom, effectively warming up the crowd for the White Rabbits.
By the time The Subjects were finished with their set, the crowd had practically doubled in size. I'd say it was almost as packed as it was when I saw Razorlight, and that's saying something.
Shortly after, the six-member band started to neatly assemble themselves on the venue's small stage. Here's the set list:
Rudie Falls
The Lady Vanishes
While We Go Dancing
"Ethio"
"Chevy"
"Sleep"
Kid On My Shoulders
Company I Keep
The Plot
"Punk"
"Burundl"
"Foxhunting"
The Salesman (Tramp Life)
They played a great set - each member put so much effort into every song, but the one member who really caught my attention was Matthew Clark. It seemed as though every time I looked at him he was playing a new instrument. After drumming alongside Jamie Levinson for a bit, he gave his sticks a break and then started jamming on his guitar. Then, for the fast-paced songs like While We Go Dancing, he'd pick up a tambourine and dance about the stage. Honestly, at one point I half-expected him to steal the mic off frontman Stephen Patterson.
Patterson positioned his piano at the centre of the stage. I was cool with the arrangement at first, the pianos are typically off to side so it was interesting to see a new arrangement. Towards the middle of the show, however, I realized why the piano isn't typically positioned like this: Patterson had his back to my side of the stage for at least ten of the thirteen songs on the set list; probably not the best angle to present to half your audience. I was impressed with his key-work though. On top of the piano he had a keyboard, and for at least one of the songs he would play with one had on the piano, while the other was simultaneously playing on the keyboard. It was quite a sight to see. At one point he picked up an acoustic guitar and started strumming, which was great.
Odd piano position aside, I guess the only other issue I had with the show was guitarist Alex Even's 'guitar stance.' He was standing on my end of the stage, and I've seen this move countless times so I don't mean to be picking on Even specifically, but every once-in-a-while he'd lean forward while playing the guitar, resulting in a crouched posture, while facing his shoes. I really don't like this popular move, and would greatly appreciate it if someone would explain to me the fascination behind doing it.
Towards the end of the set bassist Brian Betancourt grabbed a pair of sticks and started drumming along with Levinson and Clark. That was three guys on drums. Three! I was blown away and it's not just because I was standing by the speakers (definitely don't recommend it by the way). On the whole, the bad performed brilliantly. Every song projected so much energy it was incredible.

For more on The Subjects, see:
www.myspace.com/TheSubjects

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For more on the White Rabbits, see:
www.WhiteRabbitsMusic.com
www.myspace.com/WhiteRabbits

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