Category Archives: Reviews

Indie Music Song and Album Reviews

Indie Duo Destry to Release New Album in May

It is easy to find beauty between Boston and Nashville when you combine the brilliantly complex sounds of Destry. The two-piece outfit of Michelle DaRosa and Tyler Odom will be releasing their album, Waiting on an Island, May 3.

Both singers are specialists in bringing out the heart from within the music, conjuring a gorgeous effervescent balance between the two of them. Their songs resonate with organic warmth that defines their sound.

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Album Review: I Am Alpha and Omega’s “The Roar and the Whisper”

iaaao_tratw_finalAs a metal-screamo fan, I Am Alpha and Omega have made the perfect album  to turn on when you’re feeling any emotion. The Roar and the Whisper has me wanting to listen to it over and over…  With emotionally charged roaring and solid harmonic vocals throughout the tracks, the album is just that, The Roar and the Whisper.

During the first listen, I played the album with shuffle applied (didn’t realize it), but every song took me on a different musical rollercoaster. “The Last Breath of Self Expectency” is the perfect introduction to The Roar and the Whisper. The heavy guitar riff on “Irreversable” is the base for melodic vocals and a strong message.

“The Rescue” is a two minute and thirty-one second instrumental rock track that showcases the bands talent, including the bass and drums that rarely get any love in reviews. The band caps-off the album with  “Beaten, Betrayed, Denied” and “Chasing.” I suggest you listen to these tail-end songs while your laying in your bed with the lights off, so you get the full impact of their efforts.

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Has The Age Of The Smartphone Music Video Arrived?

smartphoneIf you’re a musician or you’re in a band, it’s pretty important to be able to make videos. Music videos, and also just videos of you being your charming, disgusting, vulgar, shocking, insightful, intelligent, funny, possibly naked, drunk, and disorderly selves. Luckily, much like putting together an album, these days making a video isn’t exactly rocket science, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

The newest crop of smart phones on the market are turning into real, serious business video recorders. These devices are ideal for carrying around and recording shows, impromptu jams, and all those bonkers moments that will become great music video material. What makes these phones better than their ancestors are features like HD video recording and on-the-go editing software. But wait! Don’t go running out to buy an iPhone 4 just yet. There are other phones on the market with similar technology. Let’s take a look at them:

The iPhone 4 vs. The N8 vs. The HTC EVO

Camera!

While Steve Jobs assures us that the iPhone’s 5 megapixel camera is plenty enough pixels for any camera, Google’s newest HTC phone rocks 8 megapixels, while the Nokia N8 comes in for the win with a cool 12. The media might be hyping the iPhone 4, but the N8 is what the people love!

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Tom Silverman Talks Trouble For The New Music Industry

milesofpilesI worked at a used bookstore in high school and college, and I learned something interesting about booksellers: most people who sell used books don’t read. My boss and his colleagues told me that over the years, sellers see so many books come and go that it becomes almost impossible to choose one to read, and eventually, you just kinda give up.

I remembered that detail this week as I was reading an interview at Wired.com with the founder of Tommy Boy Records, Tom Silverman. Silverman has a lot of things to say that are contrary to the whole, “hey-ho, technology is saving the music industry” line we hear so much these days. The bad news? The music market is so glutted with bands and artists struggling to DIY that nobody is making any money. Fewer artists are breaking through today than ever before.

According to Silverman, our love affair with technology has created a supersaturated system whereby there is too much content for any quality to rise to the top. He quotes numbers claiming that 79,000 (80%) of the albums released last year sold under 100 copies – a number so insignificant in terms of industry stats that it might as well not exist. In other words, the industry itself is becoming like a used bookseller, so overwhelmed by choice that all those many choices may as well not exist.

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Liz Phair’s Funstyle, or How The Music Industry Destroys Artists

lizphair1Some musicians are independent whether they like it or not. They can try to conform, try to get on board with a label and produce pretty, marketable pop tracks, but in the end they find it impossible, and system collapse is inevitable. The tragedy of this whole scenario is that it can actually destroy talented people, compromise creativity, and confuse artistic instincts. Case in point: the strange and corrupted career of Liz Phair.

Phair is making headlines this week for all the wrong reasons. She released her new album, Funstyle, on the 4th of July, and if you thought she’d been getting mixed reviews as of late, the word on Funstyle is anything but. Pitchfork called it “horrible on every conceivable level.” MusicRadar called it “bizarro.” And LATimesBlog generously suggests that you shouldn’t overlook it, even if it is terrible.

Rough.

The album, Phair’s sixth, was released exclusively online, because according to her, she lost both label and manager for it. In response to reviews of Funstyle, the homepage of her website reads:

How To Like It.

You were never supposed to hear these songs. These songs lost me my management, my record deal and a lot of nights of sleep.

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Indie Artist Sora Releases Third Album Heartwood

SoraheartwoodcoverIf you’re standing in a forest, tilting your head way back to glimpse the tops of all those majestic, thickly trunked trees, it’s just impossible not to be moved by their centuries-old resilience; the stoic strength that sees them through even the harshest storms that Mother Nature can unleash.

Yet locked deep within the core of each of those mighty oaks and towering sequoias is something even stronger than their outwardly impressive surface layers: the heartwood.

A tree’s densest, most durable—and often most beautiful—element, the heartwood is the robust, knotty marrow that keeps it standing proud and tall for all to marvel at. And not only is Heartwood also the name of Canadian singer-songwriter Sora’s astonishing third release, it’s as well the perfect metaphor for her music: gorgeous, rich, endlessly enduring.

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Book Review: Ariel Hyatt’s Music Success in Nine Weeks

ArielHyattThis is a book specifically written to show musicians how to promote their bands. I’m not a musician, so you might wonder why I would be interested in reviewing it. Some years back I was involved in band publicity in a very small way. My son studied piano and guitar. He played in a number of local bands and they cut a few CDs. At one point he envisioned a career in the music world. Aside from being an appreciative audience, I helped with publicity and started a web site for him. Although he is now involved in other pursuits, such as raising a family, music is and always will be a part of his life. And now my two grandsons are on the brink of starting piano and guitar lessons. Who knows, I may be promoting them one of these days so I read Music Success in Nine Weeks by Ariel Hyatt with an eye to the future. Wow, have I been out of touch. There is so much more to promoting these days.

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Indie Musician Matthew Ryan Releases Dear Lover Today

MatthewRyan_DearLoverIndependent musician Matthew Ryan is releasing his latest album, Dear Lover, in digital format today. The CD is available at most digital music stores including: iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, The Nokia Store and more.

I had to make sure I put in the right CD when the intro to “City Life” blared out of the speakers. With an electronica vibe accompanying Ryan’s vocals, it gives a refreshing feel to a familiar voice. Ryan’s previous albums also included some songs with a hint of electronica sound, but “City Life” is a track that takes it to a new place.

Ryan keeps an upbeat tempo feel with the title track, “Dear Lover,” which begins with a heart felt vocal asking, “Tell me what want. Tell me what you want…,” over a simple distorted riff. This song proves to show how emotionally sound and powerful his vocals can be. There are very few artists in the rock genre whose vocals can outshine the instruments.

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