press releases reviews

The Shivers – More album review

A labor of love, which can be traced back to The Shivers earliest works, the NY cult-favorites’ latest release More is bent on liberating folks weary of recycled and tired tunes, and turning them towards music that captures the whole gamut of the human experience in the most valid way.  The Shivers dogged efforts to explore the many aspects of love is evident in their every turn of phrase and the lyrics that exemplify Keith Zarriello and his band’s tireless energy to pursue their dreams not just in music but in all things unattainable.  This makes them, in every way possible, a force to be reckoned with.

Originally hailed from Queens, NY, front-man and lead-singer Keith Zarriello, began deliberately penning songs under the moniker, The Shivers.  The songs directly reflected his eclectic influences that include everything from rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, folk, and onwards throughout the American musical conscious.  His debut, Charades, was released in 2004, with accolades from Pitchfork and The Guardian.  The album’s release also piqued the interest of a classically-trained church organist, named, Jo Schornikow, who joined the band as a full-time member that year.  Seven years of touring and four albums later culminates to the release of, More, which dropped June 29.

The album begins with a piano interlude.  It is melodious; a kind, gentle sort of easing into Zarriello’s vocals, which grabs your attention right away and forces the idea into your subconscious nearly instantaneously that he is someone to be reckoned with.  The bluesy melodies and interesting lyrics from the tracks, “Kisses,” and, “Love is in the Air,” stands out with a fun vibe and relevant lyricism.

The track, “Two Solitudes,” with whispering and ghostly, lulling effects washed in ethereal wistfulness, is complemented by an organ playing in the background.  This track then segues into the very melancholy and equally yearning, “So Long Woman.”  It is a quiet lullaby that depicts a highly emotive experience.  The closer, “More,” is very expressive as well.  In exacting detail, Zarriello shells out his love in an emotional drunken dirge that ends up becoming an extremely high-ended gesture towards a ghostly love.  It is as tender as it is sensual and will have listeners reeling from the album’s emotive power.

With a powerful range, an eclectic mesh of sounds, and poignant details, The Shivers are virtuosos of rehashing the simplest moments from their very own experiences and making it something we can all adapt and make our own.    In a nutshell, it is Zarriello’s raw vocals that make these tracks tick and remain stand-alones as songs we return to again and again.  As a bluesman with a touch of influence from everything under the sun, Zarriello’s unconventional voice and understanding of human nature makes him genre-bending as well as a relevant and timeless singer/songwriter.


Mad Rad Interview

It’s a fundamental known that popular music has been a driving force in the clubbing scene since the dawn of Madonna’s early reign in the pop world.  Pop music these days is a bit more bass heavy with a little rap influence – a hybrid between R&B, rap, and dance music.  Twenty years ago, hip hop was being played in more secluded venues.  Now every song has elements of hip hop in it.  So to pigeon-hole music into a type of genre would be catatonically lazy and not only that but extremely confiding to the artist.

press releases reviews

Butcher the Bar – For Each a Future Teathered album review

Butcher the Bar, aka Joel Nicholson’s sophomore release is filled with jaunty, feel-good tunes.  His debut, Sleep at Your Own Speed, was above all very well-received.  Critics recalled Sleep at Your Own Speed as an album that dealt with the intricacies of growing up – his first record was recorded in the intimacy of his bedroom.

In For Each a Future Tethered, a 60s vibe and eclectic instrumentals scattered throughout the album provides for a textured feel for what is to come.  Not only that, but the highly impressionistic songs  juxtaposed with powerful imagery makes this release a work of maturity.  Soothing string arrangements in “Cornered to the Cusp,” and “Blood for Breeze” carries forth a melodious wash of harmonics that duly announce, Nicholson is all grown up.

Highly persuasive in a way that only thought-provoking folk music can be, the comforting melodies and commendable songwriting on For Each a Future Tethered can also be very convincing.  Each of the songs on this record has something we can each ruminate over.  With varied details interspersed throughout these songs—just enough to cancel out the sweetness that can generalize this as a mere pop release—a reticence is also apparent.  Although quiet, these summery songs contain a slant of darkness to them.  Not just your normal broken-hearted songs—for once this is an album that expands beyond downtrodden love and into other aspects of the world.


The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow album review

With heavy backing from A-list celebrities like Taylor Swift and Sara Bareilles via Twitter, The Civil Wars managed to create quite a following even before the release of their debut album.  Barton Hollow is the duet’s first full-length release, recorded in Nashville.  And it looks like The Civil Wars’ collaborative efforts with Grammy-award winning producer Charlie Peacock is producing the kind of work that has the critics stepping on each other’s toes just to get out those praises.  The New York Post declares, “A grand album with less.  This indie-folk record is an acoustic study of love…” while Stereo Subversion describes the release as, “Simple and pristine…breathtaking.”

The Civil Wars consist of John Paul White, originally from Florence, AL and Joy Williams, hailing from Santa Cruz, CA.  Though the members of The Civil Wars met barely a year and a half ago, they are now selling out shows and attending the kind of award ceremonies that they were mere spectators of less than half a decade ago.

But with all said and done, Barton Hollow is a spectacular album.  The nearly perfect tunes found on this 12-track compilation are deeply melodic.  Stemming from a carnivalesque feel, the songs off Barton Hollow retain an elusive quality, yet remain highly accessible for the fervent indie follower.  Lulling, and giving off a majestic and haunting effect, The Civil Wars are able to concoct dreamy and folksy harmonies that will leave the avid listener pining for more.

Not only does Barton Hollow demonstrate The Civil Wars uncanny ability to put together harmonically striking melodies, but the purity of these songs also retains a layer of aesthetic authenticity.  The band name takes a snapshot of a certain era and the 12-track album does the exact same except on a different scale: like the band moniker, each song experiments with a splice of life within a relationship so acutely that these skillful renderings will soon grow synonymous to the definition, or mere representation of an internal struggle between any two lovers.

A touch of crystalline and smooth vocals with traces of an atmospheric sound, The Civil Wars are able to aptly supply the voice behind the melancholic aspects of relationships.  Yet it will be their uncanny ability to record and manufacture the tender and quiet moments of love in song that will definitely make them a staple to our musical diets.


Lindi Ortega – Little Red Boots album review

Canadian singer/songwriter and musician, Lindi Ortega’s title track for her third album is largely a prediction for what is to come.  “You’re gonna know me by my little red boots.  You might not know me—You’re gonna know me by my ruby lips.  You might not know my face, but I leave a lipstick trace…” sings Lindi whose sassy and confident streak never lets up on her third release, Little Red Boots, which dropped under Last Gang Records on June 7th.

With a growing profile in the music industry, she has affectionately been given the moniker “Indie-Lindi” for her time spent as an independent artist in the Toronto music scene.  These days she is described as “Toronto’s best kept secret,” and though it seems Lindi has had no qualms with the title thus far, it is surmised that with the release of her latest LP, this angel-faced artist on the rise is well on her way to breaking out from being anyone’s “best kept secret.”

Starting off with a playful pop-additive, Lindi coyly sings about little white lies in “Little Lie.”  Her stance in music is obvious towards “Blue Bird.”  A professed bird-lover, Lindi pays ode to these delicate winged-specimens and their strong penchant towards song in her second track on the album: “If I were a blue bird/I’d sing all day/I’d sit on the shoulders of people in pain/I’d sing a tune for the lonely and sad…”  But it won’t be until we get to “Dying of a Broken Heart” that we get to see a more melancholy side of Lindi.  Her quick, sure-fire wit gets somewhat subdued by a touch of seriousness in ballads like the closer, “So Sad,” and suddenly we start to miss Lindi’s sass and attitude.  Little Red Boots ends on a sad note, which is a sort of letdown considering the album started off on such an energized and upbeat tone.

What is noticeable throughout Little Red Boots is that Lindi is extremely grounded in her music.  In an industry where image is nearly everything, Lindi acknowledges her pretty face and vocals but doesn’t let it get in the way of her passion, which is singing all day for folks who need it most.

Though this Canadian beauty with Mexican/Irish roots has traces of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash in her, it doesn’t seem right to pigeonhole Lindi to any type of sound or genre.  An eclectic blend of acoustic, country, and alternative, Little Red Boots is a mix-match of a little bit of everything as well as Lindi’s signature inclination to spice things up – (hence, the little red boots that pronounces the outfit she dons on the album cover. )  It is almost guaranteed that you won’t just be getting an earful of music when you turn up Little Red Boots on your music player or when you attend one of her live shows—you’ll also be getting a bit of flavor and a lot of sass that only Lindi Ortega can deliver.


BOBBY – BOBBY album review

Although their band-moniker tends to derive instances of conventionality—making them a relatively “un-Googleable” source—the band members of BOBBY fully embraces their common title through their music.  Rather than place all emphasis on their moniker, BOBBY instead demonstrates their originality through the context of their group name and, of course, through their music.  BOBBY is a distinctive project that pays its musical odes to “a fictional friend” of founding member Tom Greenburg, who according to an account would compose songs that his “imaginary friend” could dance to (this make-believe persona also happened to be a bad dancer).

What listeners can be sure of is that the musical talents of BOBBY are fundamentally sound.  Originally hailed from Massachusetts, the group gravitates towards a range of whispery and delicate vocals that also manages to produce an ethereal and ghostly effect through their outlandish melodies in their debut self-titled release that will be available June 21.

Due to the group’s lush vocals embossed over with a layering of dreamy, trance-like instrumentals, BOBBY’s sound and stylistic choices conjure up visions of a procession moving through this world to the next.  In this 12-track compilation, the dreamy other-worldly concept gets played out through the layering of harmonics, where multiple meters are superimposed one after another in order to produce an layered arrangement, so that if one were to listen carefully a variety of time signatures will become apparent on every track.

This avant garde approach, called polyrhythm, reflects BOBBY’s precise and nearly religious attempt to produce a multi-layered and extremely structured soundscape.  BOBBY eerily conjures up the light and airy vocals of Icelandic singer Bjork in “Sore Spores,” and in “Loading Phase,” the track is able to evoke nuances of a haunted sanctuary, inhibited by something so deeply embedded into the landscape that it has surely become a part of the scenery.   The ninth track to BOBBY is the most uplifting and upbeat on the release.  Listless, while at the same time melodious, “Shimmychick” is able to hold up the same reverence for carefully formed harmonies and for the group’s amor for a structurally layered sound that is definitely evident throughout the compilation.

Seeped in rich detail that could only be reminiscent of the set metered verses found in Shakespearean literature, BOBBY’s conventional band-name, and, at first glance, simplicity are deceiving.  Listeners, who are able to look pass the façade, will pick up on the fact that the tunes off this album are also accessible.  It is an almost guaranteed thing that the tender harmonies, rich vocals, and varied instrumentals will transport listeners to other places and also other mindsets, making them fervent believers of these oftimes deeply moving and powerful blend of timeless harmonics.


13 & God – Own Your Ghost album review

Although Saturday came and went without much fanfare, falsifying Harold Camping’s prediction of the Rapture and the death of millions, it looks like 13 & God’s latest album, which was released four days prior on May 17th, has the potential to be one hell of an LP with the demonstrative and collab-efforts of two distinctively great groups, but like most predictions things can go either way. 

13 & God comprises of the Germany-based, Notwist, and Themselves from Oakland, California, both of whom decided to join forces after a failed tour led them to share their admiration for each other’s work and a growing camaraderie while on the road.

The dogma behind the name, 13 & God, arises from the concept that the 12 Apostles and Jesus Christ signifies God.  According to Wikipedia, distinguishing which group is the 13 Apostles and which is God is redundant, since the concept behind the group-name is that God is contained within the 13 Apostles, therefore making them synonymous.  On a much less epic level, I guess that 13 & God is trying to sever their differences by trying to unify their groups with a name that in context is filled with such symbolic religious doctrine.  Although they do not consider themselves a Christian group, their work definitely demonstrates the undertones of spirituality, philosophy, and existentialism that underlines their band-moniker.

Unity being the main object of concern, 13 & God’s latest release Own Your Ghost fails in its attempt to merge what is apparent throughout the album are Notwist’s and Themselves’ own distinctive styles.  Own Your Ghost opens up with the appealing “Its Own Sun” with understated whispery vocals from Notwist’s Marcus Acher that often times seems to be merely backing the instrumentals instead of taking charge as the main attraction.  Acher’s diffident style contrasts greatly with Themselves’ hypnotically charged raps on the second track, “Death Major.”  The differences are quite jarring, making what is warranted as the cohesive context behind the group’s moniker something that is withheld in regards to the group’s content.  The album weaves in and out with Notwist’s and Themselves’ taking turns projecting their own styles and sounds.

Basically, what is lacking from the overall concept of the album is a shared-vision.  In order to make Own Your Ghost a more unified project, 13 & God needs to find a way to sound less like they are warring with each other and more like they are working together.  I liken it to the verse-battle in the famous Broadway musical scene in “Annie Get Your Gun,” where two opposed sides bicker like small children over their prized abilities.  Although some of the tracks on Own Your Ghost sounds quite jarring when put next to each other, there are some notables like the quiet, yet poignant “Armored Scarves,” and “Janu Are,” which actually includes a balanced scheme with both vocalists equally vying for the listener’s attention. 

Own Your Ghost is an album that demonstrates 13 & God’s unusual perchant for an enmeshed layering of sounds that is at times whispery and quiet, laced with a more energized sound that channels Themselves’ eccentric rap-style.  Without a more cohesive sound, Own Your Ghost at best able to engage with a few stand-alones that makes the album pop, but not quite loud enough to make a huge fuss over.

The People’s Temple – Sons of Stone album reivew

Rarely has a band been able to touch upon the raw soundscape of the American conscious just through the mere verbiage of its band-moniker.  Named after Jim Jones’ suicidal 1970s cult, the psychedelic band name vies for the public’s attention, but it will be what The People’s Temple is able to produce sonically that will suffice as attention-grabbing.

With the uncanny ability to retain connotations of a past sound and style that it is like they have become mediums for the 1960’s garage band revival, possessed to make authentic psychedelic music that stays true to its roots, The People’s Temple are able to pull all this off in one big walloping, simultaneous ease in their debut LP, Sons of Stone.  In a matter of 14-tracks, Sons of Stone manages to fit an unlimited amount of 60’s psychedelic rock into a compact 41.7 minutes of audio.

The Lansing, Michigan band formed in 2007 by two sets of brothers – Alex Szegedy (guitar/vocals) and George Szegedy (drums) and Spencer Young (bass/vocals) and William Young (guitar/vocals) – and are known for their cosmically primal sound gained through their fervent listens to ‘60s psych, folk, and shoegaze while in high school.  But by all means, the hyped up nearly abounding energy evident in their debut LP release appears ineffably difficult to emulate.  This is because The People’s Temple are not only mediating on the sound and styles of the choice masters of another generation, and, by default of pure excellence, are now on the cusp of producing a whole new wave of untamed psychedelic wildness for ours, they are also able to balance retro and authenticity with an incredible natural effortlessness.

Notables on the album include, “Where You Gonna Go,” “Stick Around,” and the enigmatic closer, “The Surf,” a Rolling Stones inspired dirge that leaves us with its amped effects and a forecast closure.  Other tracks on the album – which include the titled-track and the second track on the album, “Led as One (Si vis pacem, para bellum)” – has a controlled understated appeal that takes a couple of listens to get used to.

Although sometimes requiring an acquired taste to sample these at times disparaging and raw tracks, The People’s Temple has managed to forge together an album that is able to distill the best of both the current and retro-eras simultaneously.  At times beatific and inimitable, The People’s Temple latest LP could possibly be that stellar discovery that could eventually change lives.

press releases reviews

Delay Trees – Delay Trees album review

Atmospheric music has always been a type of filler and a source of ambiance for certain businesses who want to create an desired affect since the dawn of the soundtracks, or maybe earlier.  But in Delay Trees’ debut self-titled album, the phrase ‘atmospheric’ gets redefined in a wholly different sense.  Moody with an airy and echoing affect, Delay Trees’ first full-length project is anchored in a setting whose description entails wintry landscapes and ethereal washes from a bitter terrain.  Originally hailed from Southern Finland, the members of Delay Trees were ushered together from a shared interest in penning songs about ephemeral relationships and the pressures of adulthood as well as through their love for constructing gorgeous melodies.

The hypnotic and dreamy tracks off Delay Trees are a different strain of pop music altogether.  Perhaps their band name, which is a collective of aesthetics, will yield more meaning behind their understated sound.  Meant to capture a sense of their homeland terrain, Delay Trees is a name taken straight from the bands’ love for reverb and forests.  The memorable and melodic songs off this album also has a tendency to carry forth a blurry sense of mish-meshed effects.  At times unusual and eerie, the results are like that of hearing a strange piece of music in the next room.

In “Light Pollution,” the 7th track to this album, listeners will get to really hone into the nostalgic messages being played out in nearly absurdly dramatic strokes throughout the later parts of the disc.  The shared dream is being ruminated through vocalizations of the past and of a more innocent time where the stakes were higher and perhaps even heightened, making this compilation almost as epic as it is fleeting.  Towards the next few consecutive tracks, “Tarantula/Holding On” and “Whales & Colors,” the timeless blend of rare and artful melodies unfold to reveal an impossibly innocent visage and child-like scope of things.

Delay Trees’ 10-track compilation is an album that surrenders to the scintillating landscape of the band members’ native terrain.  Their resolute prerogative to absorb and project a visually and sonically stimulating natural sound-scape shapes this unique and unusual form of dreamy-pop music.  Like the cover art to Delay Trees’ first full-length debut release, shapes, colors, and sound schemes make for an cohesive and artful representation of what this band is all about.