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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Michael C. Keller "Sunlight and Moonlight"

Sunlight and Moonlight

I think most readers know that I’m a weekend church music director – so when I received a copy of Michael C. Keller’s album titled “Originals and Gospel Standards” I became intrigued. One of the more stand-out tracks was Keller’s song “Sunlight and Moonlight,” a romantic ballad sung over lilted synthetic instrumentation. Keller’s voice is extremely distinct with a mild folky quality and rich in its imperfection – the song is melodically and rhythmically strong, plus its sentiment is really sweet. The accompaniment is a little faint for my taste, but that could just be a genre discrepancy. The song is available on Amazon for download. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Cranky George: Nighttime

Cranky George

Los Angeles indie-rock band Cranky George has released a new single titled “Nighttime.” From the opening guitar line, I was reminded of early REM and wafting memories of college-dorm windows open blasting the cerebrally driven sounds. Fans of The Smiths will also appreciate this tune. There are wonderfully mid-range male vocals sung passionately, plus, even a few Italian lyrics in there. The song is upbeat but fantastically slow-dance-oriented, dramatic, and mildly psychedelic. It would be good to take in a show of these guys, should you find yourself in the LA area; I imagine this sound would come off fantastically live. To learn more about Cranky George, please visit their FaceBook page here

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Throwaways: “Vigils & Vignettes"

Throwaways (a wonderful group of whom I’ve just been informed) note themselves on their website as “…an electronic-infused rock/pop trio based out of Jackson, MS.” A seemingly apt description for anyone who hears their music. Made up of Dusty Goff, Michael Perry, and Robert Hansford; the band is out with a new EP titled “Vigils & Vignettes.”

The album begins with one of the toughest bass-parts I think I’ve heard since Cliff Burton’s “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth).” It doesn’t last long, though, the bass catapults the track, titled “Sky,”  into an orchestral-in-your-face wall of sound (very pleasant) and finally some very smooth male vocals. Throwaways gets major points from me for their use of electronic pads and drones in this number.

The next song “Hope + Fear” is much more akin to an 80’s synth-pop track with a sawtooth lead taking the reins; it’s balanced, though, with distorted guitar. This one is upbeat with a driving drum part augmented by arpeggios until it lands on the chorus, which, if it were any more anthem-like, would be mandated by law to be used as soundtrack material in every film’s slow motion scene (I mean that as a compliment, BTW, anthems are tough to write!)  

Track number three is back with the pads (again, big fan!) but this song has an almost religious quality to it in the way the reverbed synths are the accompaniment for solemn vocals. Of course, the lyrics also hint towards something higher “oh, you take the best of me, now take the rest of me… and I’ll die.” Many of you might be thinking of the Seymour Simons and Gerald Marks song “All of Me” popularized by Frank Sinatra – if it is a nod, it’s a subtle one. This song is climactic in a way that is just stunning. Listen to it on great speakers, not crappy laptops.

The EP rounds out with “Your Eyes,” an optimistic and fast song that has an overt sensual character, although, that impression could just be the utter smooth-ness of the vocals. In many ways, it reminds me quite a lot of the other “Your Eyes” by one Peter Gabriel made famous by John Cusack in the film Say Anything. If only someone will hold up a boombox I think we could get that scene together for 2016!

“Vigils & Vignettes” is pure proof of quality over quantity. It’s a lean four tracks, but there aren’t any throwaways (no pun intended) on this album. What the band has given us is a beautiful set of songs that we can enjoy beginning to end. It will be nice; however, to see what these guys release in the future and if they can pull off a full album with the same attention to perfection. In the meantime, make sure to grab yourself a copy of this one. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Artist Interview: Fingermouse and Rubberneck

Hi readers, for this week's interview we have the band Fingermouse and Rubberneck

MW: Hi guys, thanks for being here! I think most of us are first and foremost curious about your name, how did that come about?

F & R: The name does have a story attached but it's long and full of in-jokes involving the hand of fate and old TV shows.

MW: Can you tell us a little bit about the current release, titled the “Samsquantch EP?”

F & R: The EP is the result of the two of us having met through a previous project which ended and decided that the creative spark between us was too strong to ignore. We didn't think about the direction of the music at all and just threw ideas at each other, building tracks as we went. The strongest songs made themselves known to us pretty quickly and, to be honest, it was enormous fun! I played some early mixes to an old friend visiting from the US and he told me about the new record label he was launching. He liked the sound of our stuff and asked if we would be his debut release. We're proud to support a venture like Invisible Milk Records. Everyone knows how tough it is to make money out of music these days, so all that's left is the love. We make music because we love it and Rob Quicke supports music because he loves it, simple as that.

MW: How does your creative process usually work?

F & R: Our creative process is wildly eclectic and very much an open platform. We like to establish the groove of a song early on, sometimes using drum loops to put us in the same place rhythmically. The initial idea could come from either one of us but we don't mind which direction it takes- it's a pretty relaxed affair until something catches the ear and we just run with it. Lyrics are sometimes already written and other times written around a theme suggested by the feel of the track.

MW: Are you playing out or touring currently?

F & R: We started this project as a purely creative endeavour in the studio and it's occurred to us that if people like the record they might want to see us play live! We've been jamming together a lot recently, both on these songs and on other projects and it's been fantastic fun and really creative, so who knows?

MW: So, what’s on the horizon for Fingermouse & Rubberneck?

F & R: On the horizon for Fingermouse and Rubberneck is a big question mark. We'll see how the EP does and grab any opportunities that present themselves! Other than that, we continue to play and write and produce music because it's what we love to do.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Heavy Star: "Electric Overdrive"

It’s been a great Summer for reviewing rock here at Current Music Thoughts. In several ways, I’m grateful to be alive in a time where so many bright spots in music history can be explored in a very authentic/contributional fashion. To that end, I’ve just finished listening to Heavy Star’s newest release “Electric Overdrive.” The album is a raucous collection of aggressive hard rock ala late 70’s and 80’s bands. The title track #3 has considerable punch delivered through the wailing guitars of Marco K-Ace and Danny Slade and killer vocals by Albert Fish. Heavy Star is grounded in an established sound, but approaching it in a new and fresh way which merits more than a few listens.