Black Moth Super Rainbow – Cobra Juicy album review

The only thing more confusing than the sound of Black Moth Super Rainbow’s new album “Cobra Juicy” is who they are and where the hell they came from.  We do know the band’s founding member Tobacco came from Pittsburgh, PA.  (You know, world famous Tobacco).  He then brought in friends Father Hummingbird, The Seven Fields of Aphelion and Iffernaut, also very common house-hold names. 

The band has been going strong since 2002 releasing 5 full-length albums, “Cobra Juicy” being the last, released just this past October.  BMSR have over a decade of followers who have soaked in their psychedelic, folk-y, synth-pop songs without ever really knowing who this mysterious enigma of a band truly is.

The album before “Cobra Juicy” was released all the way back in 2009, with the members and fans alike expecting the follow up album sometime early January 2012. Tobacco released a statement on his Facebook that he had completed an album for release, but didn’t feel it was up to par with the band’s previous efforts and scrapped it in it’s entirety, hoping to finish and roll out a new album by the end of the year.  With the help of a KickStarter campaign, Tobacco was able to do so. Although he left the abandoned tracks off the record moving forward, he did make them available for fans to hear through the band’s SoundCloud page. It could be agreed by BMSR fans across the board, that the absence of the dropped songs  was not felt in the 11 brilliant tracks the band did select for “Cobra Juicy”.

The album rocks, despite it’s overly produced and synthesized tones.  It feels like a Beck album if Beck was to auto-tune and filter his voice through a computer over and over again until it was barely distinguishable.  With some synth-pop musicians  having a tendency of sounding a bit “Weird Science” circa 1985, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s sound is fresh and relevant.  These mystery men (maybe women) have captured the best parts of synth, pop, dance and psychedelia infusing it in another  solid alternative album.

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Esthero – Everything is Expensive album review

“Music is my genre” Esthero explains, which answers nothing but tells us everything.  This Canadian songstress’ music has been described as hip-hop, jazz, pop, electronic, and indie among many others.  And her third studio album ‘Everything is Expensive’ is no exception to her wide range in vocal and musical stylings.  Esthero, born Jenny-Bea Englishman, started performing when she was only 15 years old, and joined forces with producer Doc McKinney shortly after turning 18.  The two began recording and releasing tracks as “Esthero” in 1998.  Finally picked up by Warner Bro. records, Esthero released “Wikked Lil’ Grrrls” in 2005 featuring Andre 3000, Cee-Lo Green, Gnarles Barkley, and Sean Lennon, to much critical acclaim.

The first single from her latest album, “Never Gonna Let You Go”, features a driving piano melody, a touch of synthesizers, and super-pop chorus.  The song swings so well, you will be swept up into the groove too quickly to realize she is singing of her love for a boy – so strong she’s resolved to capturing him and keeping him in her closet when he wrongs her.  But I mean, who hasn’t been there once or twice, or six times in their lives?  The video for the single features a very adorable girl, playing the part of Esthero’s daughter torturing a Ken doll much like Esthero describes throughout the song.  It’s charming and impossibly catchy, given the dark tone of both the video and single itself.

The rest of the album is beautiful, and is built of more ballads than the pop/dance tracks the artist is more commonly known for.  “You made a simple mistake, now you’re paying for it with your heart” Esthero sings out of love and loss over 13 exceptionally produced, three-dimensional songs.  All with the ability to challenge you heart with her melodies, and your mind with her flawlessly chosen lyrics.  Her voice is sweet and silky, and stands on it’s own over a seriously stellar mix of piano, Spanish guitars, trumpets, and solid drum tracks.

If you elect to purchase the album, do so through where Esthero has created one-of-a-kind packages with your purchase.  Some packages include a Skype session with Esthero, a bedtime story, or even some of her original artwork; with a portion of the proceeds going to a charity of the singer’s choice.  Even if you purchase just the album alone, it’s well worth the money for this flawless effort from a star we have only seen the beginning of.

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Jenn Grant – The Beautiful Wild album review

With an eclectic blend of piano, harp, sitar, flute and more – Jenn Grants 5th album “The Beautiful Wild” will send you winding and turning through stories of love, loss, and imagination. With Jenn’s husband, producer/musician Daniel Ledwell, the couple started recording the album in a small house in P.E.I., lying down drum and bass tracks and creating the frame work for the album to take form.

Grant started developing all 12 tracks over the next year while Ledwell embarked on his own Canadian tour. She found herself scrapping a lot of the earlier recorded skeleton tracks entirely, to follow her heart and allow the music to go in a different direction. She admits it went against her normal writing process that was responsible for every success in the 32 year old’s career previously. But she wanted to push herself away from her standard methods, and let her voice lead in creating each uniquely beautiful and heartbreaking track. Pushing herself so far out of her norm, she’s defined the production process of this record as, at times, chaotic.

The first single from the album, “In The Belly of A Dragon”, infuses her signature folk sound with undertones of a 60’s flower-power groove. The single is accompanied by a music video featuring the very pixie-like songstress frolicking around in the sand, while all smiles. The sound of the album is earthy and raw but doesn’t lose commercial appeal. Her lyrics are simple, yet haunting. And in letting her strikingly tenor voice take back seat, she utilizes the talents of David Christensen, Kinley Dowling and the Halifax Boys Honur Choir, to fill out an already impressive collection of original melodies and words.

The album closes on a very effeminate and melancholy cover of  “Eye of The Tiger” bringing closure and hope to 11 previous tracks of the thrill of falling in love and the heartbreak that comes with it. Running the gambit of human emotions, and challenging the ear with more obscure instrumentation and sound, this album left me waiting for more from Jenn Grant.


Black Marble – A Different Arrangement album review

Black Marble is a Brooklyn based band consisting of Chris Stewart and Ty Kube (previously of Team Robespierre fame), and a whole lot of synthesizers.  Their first full-length LP “A Different Arrangement” was released earlier this month by Hardly Art records. With a synth-pop feel, this album will transport you right back to 1985, or perhaps the first time you turned on a Depeche Mode record.  Although they share a similar dark quality to other bands of it’s genre, there are strong melodic patterns laced through every track, making each individual song something a little cold and sometimes dark, but refreshing to listen to.

Song’s like “Last” (which is ironically 9 out of 11 tracks) have a strong rhythmic lead-in before allowing heavy, haunting tones to fill out this band’s sound.  Vocals are never the front man for their often times lyricless music, but placed over as a top layer adding dimension to the album on the whole.  Unfortunately for a girl like me who swoons over romantic words and whimsical vocal runs, it didn’t sit right in my ear-holes, but musically their sound is not threatened by it’s absence.

Black Marble definitely lack’s a presence on the internet (the band’s website is currently nonexistent), and they are performing primarily in their home state of New York with no larger scale tours on the horizon.  But they have been listed as a band to watch in 2012 by more than one critic, which makes sense with the rise of synth-based artists in the past few years.  The whole album is available to hear on Spotify, and is worth a listen. Though, this band will probably not ever exceed the success of the two men’s individual efforts as DJs, and joint effort creating mixtapes for other bands with a bit more popular appeal.


The Chevin – Borderland album review

Borderland is the first full-length effort from Leeds, England natives The Chevin.  After forming in 2010 and releasing their first EP “Champion” earlier this year, The Chevin are finally gaining some momentum here in the states having performed on David Letterman late August.  With the undeniable powerhouse vocals of lead singer Coyle Girelli, the first single “Drive” plays out like any other great anthem-rock song, the likes of Muse.  Driving drum beats push through the entire album, giving each song a unique rhythmic pulse that held my interest more than anything else this 10 track effort had to offer.

The entire album is lyrically simple, but effective. With vocal runs extending over long periods of melodious tones, what he is actually saying is secondary to the epic rise and fall of every chorus on every track.  The only time this album gives even the slightest moment to catch your breathe and raise your lighter, is it’s last track “So Long Summer” which gives the illusion of being a ballad only before escalating into another predictable soundtrack song.

Musically, this band is tight.  I will not deny that combined the 4 members have mastered their individual sounds, and came together to create an album that is well produced, polished, and commercial enough to keep them relevant.  But I’ve heard this band.  I’ve heard these songs.  And for someone that likes digging for just that one track that may never make it onto radio but displays a sound that is uniquely a band’s own, I failed to find one within their debut release.

iTunes has featured the band by naming song “Champion” Single Of The Week, generating a quarter of a million downloads for The Chevin.  Currently supporting The Psychedelic Furs through a US tour, the band is sure to pick up many new fans from what I would imagine to be an exceptional live show, one in which I would probably be inspired to move my feet to. I am too underwhelmed with the lack of versatility from the actual record to turn it again for yet another listen.