Nick Muilaert, a native of Chicago, emerges as a singer/songwriter steeped in the rich tradition of folk music, drawing inspiration from a mosaic of influences including the likes of Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket and the iconic Nick Drake. His musical oeuvre delves into the intricacies of coming-of-age themes—self-discovery, apathy and romance—infused with a DIY ethos that fosters a lo-fi charm in his creations. Anchored by a gifted ensemble, Muilaert & The Society, Muilaert’s stage presence thrives on continual reinvention, ensuring a distinctive and dynamic live experience with each performance.
The inaugural track that beckoned my attention, "Something In The Night," resonates with a remarkably live ambiance, eliciting a sense of distance akin to a theater performance. A funky undertone infused with crisp guitar work and a syncopated bass line sets the stage for this piece. The subtle vocal harmonies within the infectious hook amplify the song's allure, while its palpable energy steadily ascends, culminating in an enthralling finale.
In stark contrast, "I Just Don’t Care Anymore" adopts a more subdued, silky texture, infused with R&B nuances that exude strong ‘70s vibes. Muilaert navigates this stylistic terrain with finesse, delivering a rendition that captures the essence of the era with a remarkable level of authenticity. "Dig Me" deviates from its predecessors, swapping out the ‘70s funk for a more garage rock-oriented energy reminiscent of artists like Ty Segall. This composition stands out with its compelling vocals, energetic melodies and an infectious groove that propels the track forward. Embodying an originality within the trio, "Dig Me" subtly echoes shades of The Beatles, adding a layer of originality to its sound.
Muilaert's adept songwriting shines throughout this repertoire, urging an experiential live encounter. Yet, even in the absence of a live performance, the tracks demand attention and appreciation when cranked up, mirroring the fervor and vivacity that electrifies his stage presence.
Brian Wright, Ralph Tobias, Lee Dykes, Wade Capps, Peter G and Dr. George Woods collectively form the musical force known as The East & The Crow, hailing from Corpus Christi, TX. Their catalog boasts an impressive array of songs, and my introduction to their artistry began with "Embers in the Sea," a track pulsating with an infectious and lively energy. While traversing the auditory landscape, I couldn't help but discern a tantalizing blend of '90s alternative echoes fused with a subtle jam band undertone. The song, particularly during the breakdown where the vocalist croons, "Oh my soul cries out to you," left an indelible impression, marking it as a standout song.
The resonance of familiarity finds its way into "Punching Bag, Baby," where the conventional chord structures are delivered with an inventive twist. The vocalist excels in this rendition, offering a performance that truly shines with a vocal melody that takes center stage, while the band, in turn, provides unwavering support. The lead guitar segment, executed with precision, adds another layer of musical finesse.
Yet another jewel in The East & The Crow's treasure trove is "Can't Blame It On The Rain." This piece exudes a palpable sense of intensity, embracing a slightly more robust and hard-hitting demeanor, punctuated with the inclusion of synths. Once more, the vocal melodies stand out as a notable highlight, underpinned by the band's tight-knit, exemplary performance.
Collectively, The East & The Crow have demonstrated their adeptness at crafting rock-oriented compositions that traverse a rich spectrum of musical flavors. I liked the way they fit in some Americana the melds with a classic rock flavor. The vocalist sounded really good. He knew when to push the dynamics and just had a really nice tone. I became a fan and look forward to hearing more.
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Hailing from Lyme, NH, James Graham's musical trajectory has been one marked by enduring dedication. His songwriting and performance roots stretch back decades, originating in the vibrant crucible of New York City's East Village as part of the anti-folk scene during the '90s. A relocation to New England brought about a renewed chapter in his career as a local songsmith, gracing the upper valleys of Vermont and New Hampshire with his sonic storytelling.
Late in 2022, he ventured into the studio for the very first time, where he breathed new life into a mix of fresh material and cherished, time-tested songs. This creative endeavor crystallized into Every Day is You, a seven-track album that bears the indelible influences of luminaries like Jeff Tweedy, Neil Young and Bob Marley, yet retains Graham's distinctive musical identity. "Personality Test" kicks off the album, immediately infusing the listener with a buoyant groove, evoking an atmosphere of ease and optimism.
It resonates as the antithesis of weightiness, with Graham's welcoming vocals and lyrical finesse, straddling the line between poetry and narrative. Hints of Cat Stevens surface, along with an unmistakable Jeff Tweedy flair, as Graham sings, "I got a little soul / I want to let you know / I’m gonna let it show / My personality test came back."
The title track "Every Day is You" offers a reflective shift initially, before gracefully incorporating the carefree essence that threads through the album. It exudes lush, at times sensuous soundscapes, and simple, philosophical messages echo the shades of Cat Stevens. The song's title rings true and genuine, with a chorus that lingers long after the music fades. "Let it Go" introduces a delightful twist, infusing elements of Latin music and conjuring associations with the likes of Santana. The song revels in pure, unadulterated joy, with guitar melodies that resonate harmoniously with the irresistible horns and infectious bongos.
As the album unfolds, "Everlasting" emerges as the most reflective and nostalgic entry, weaving an atmospheric soundworld adorned with a diverse array of instruments, crafting a warm, glossy auditory experience. Graham later returns to his signature energy with "Truth Keeps Waiting," yet another demonstration of his knack for crafting compelling hooks. "Let It Go" and "Star in Las Vegas" exude a thematic connection, reinstating the album's warm embrace through the resonance of organ melodies, acoustic instrumentation and heartfelt vocals. Graham concludes this musical offering with "Pieces of Light," perhaps the most radiant track of all, laced with a touch of gospel inspiration. Though delving into themes of life, philosophy and profound subjects, this album maintains an exceptional equilibrium, ensuring it never feels burdensome. The synthesis of these diverse elements results in a musical experience that simply uplifts the spirit. The energy and depth within these compositions combine harmoniously, rendering this album truly remarkable. An experience not to be missed.
The Squeezebox Stompers, hailing from the Boston area, exemplify the essence of Americana roots music. With a remarkable fifteen-year journey, they've graced New England with their renditions of cajun, zydeco, blues, folk and original compositions, earning accolades such as Boston Music Awards and Songwriting Awards. Their latest release, What’s So Bad About Feeling Good, is a captivating eleven-track opus. Upon immersing myself in this album, I found myself transported to the visceral ambience of a live performance, and this, my friends, is a sincere compliment.
The production quality is exquisite, with a warmth that envelops you, as if you're right there in the room with the band. The title track, "What’s So Bad About Feeling Good," boasts a lush tapestry of instrumentation that defies the conventions of a typical rock outfit, showcasing a captivating fusion of diverse styles. In "My Little Angel," the delicate interplay of subdued Latin percussion and an array of instruments creates a rich, bittersweet soundscape, seemingly revolving around themes of lost love.
The vibes woven into the composition transport the listener to a solitary contemplation on a tranquil tropical island. Certain tracks demanded my undivided attention. "Louisiana Dancer" conjures the atmosphere of a suspenseful murder mystery dinner, masterfully building tension while maintaining a playful undertone.
The darker and enigmatic tones of this song left an indelible impression. "I Just Can’t Wait" possesses an irresistible, foot-tapping quality that will compel you to dust off your dancing shoes. It exudes a jubilant spirit reminiscent of a post-game celebration in a bustling dive bar, shared with an exuberant crowd of about fifty revelers. "Someday, I Pray" takes a more introspective turn, delivering philosophical truths in a manner that's accessible and devoid of preachiness.
The Squeezebox Stompers is a tight-knit ensemble of musicians whose chemistry is palpable from the very first note. Be sure to immerse yourself in their sonic journey; it's an experience well worth exploring.
Hailing from the coastal city of Atlantic City, Quasimodo's Bride emerges as an original, genre-bending alternative rock ensemble. Amidst their sonic arsenal, "They Say" shines as a dynamic rock anthem, a standout in their repertoire. The song possesses an undeniable pop sensibility, with the hook serving as a magnetic focal point. Yet, the true allure lies in the enigmatic, attitude-laden vocals that weave a compelling narrative. "They Say" ambitiously reaches for epic heights, and its production masterfully complements this sonic ambition. One can't help but envision this track as a compelling opener or closer for a live performance.
"I Lost It" takes a markedly different direction, embracing a lo-fi, punk-infused ethos, with a raw, unfiltered quality. This stripped-down approach captivates with its immediacy and straightforwardness, eschewing overly elaborate production in favor of a more organic, natural sound. The vocalist exudes a palpable attitude, evoking the spirit of a band like Heart.
"Blush" adds another layer to the band's multifaceted identity. The track exudes an energy that straddles the eras of the early ‘70s and ‘90s, seamlessly blending classic and alternative rock elements. The bassline holds a prominent place in the mix, providing a solid backbone to the band's explosive sound.
Listening to Quasimodo's Bride, one can't help but sense that their true power comes to life in a live setting. These songs feel tailor-made to ignite a crowd, and the band's undeniable prowess in the realm of rock is impossible to ignore. For the full experience, be sure to turn up the volume and let Quasimodo's Bride's electrifying sound wash over you.
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Hailing from the American south, sibling duo Lyn_Sey came together in 2019 with an unmistakable passion for crafting music that transcends genre boundaries. Their unique forte lies in seamlessly melding vintage aesthetics with a modern sensibility.
My introduction to their sonic universe began with "Stars Fall Down," a track that exudes an unmistakable ‘90s aura. It calls to mind the sonic tapestries of Peter Gabriel and the R&B sounds of yesteryears. This might seem like an unusual blend, but it's not only evident in the musical elements but also in the way the track is expertly mixed.
"Stars Fall Down" offers a soft, ethereal experience, with straightforward lyrics that radiate positivity and healing. Following suit is "Mrs. Right," which wraps the listener in a different, yet equally comforting, embrace. Its cozy ambiance feels akin to nestling by a warm fireplace. The theme of love continues to take center stage, and this time, the drums provide a larger-than-life presence while the guitars offer solace and warmth.
The trio concludes with "Alright," the most animated of the bunch. It boasts a funky, big-band energy, with an intriguing ‘80s midi-style bassline. This track feels like a celebration, even though it doesn't shy away from the hardships of life, encapsulated in the line, "Everything's going to be okay," which resonates with a reassuring positivity. Lyn_Sey is unapologetically eclectic in their approach to music. Thankfully, their ability to gracefully navigate this diverse soundscape is truly remarkable. Their repertoire is nothing short of striking, and it beckons you to dive in and uncover their enchanting sonic world for yourself.
Become A Fan
Craig Greenberg has long been a prominent figure within the dynamic downtown and Brooklyn music scenes, and his influence has reached far beyond, leaving its mark both nationally and internationally. His body of work is a testament to his commitment, and his most recent EP, Between the Sea and the Sky, adds another captivating chapter to his musical story.
The EP commences with "Going Back to the Start," setting the stage with a distinct "piano man" ambiance. The piano takes the spotlight, impressing with its dexterity and sharing the limelight with the vocals. The song's structure is well-crafted, but the instrumental section beyond the midpoint is the true standout, capturing the listener's full attention.
"Quarantine Queen" channels a more straightforward American rock vibe, dominated by the guitar. While undeniably catchy and well-composed, it treads somewhat predictable territory. "In Need of a Friend" emerges as a highlight, melding a memorable vocal melody seamlessly with the organ and piano. The emotional resonance is palpable, and the transitions are particularly commendable, especially when the Pink Floyd-inspired vocals make their entrance. "Face the Fire" maintains the momentum, sharing a rhythmic energy reminiscent of The Beatles' finest work. The EP's final offering, the title track "Between the Sea and The Sky," provides a fitting conclusion. The inventive drum work and a magical breakdown featuring the kick drum and piano captivate the senses.
The return to the vocal melody is skillfully executed. With each track, Between the Sea and the Sky gains strength and depth. It's a release that beckons the listener to explore the evolving soundscape of Craig Greenberg's musical artistry. Don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in this captivating musical offering.
Sam Sims is an indie musician from New Jersey with quite a pedigree: he’s shared stages with artists like Willie Nile (sideman to Bruce Springsteen), Sever Forbert and The Beach Boys, even opening for Bob Marley’s Wailers in 2014 and 2015. His music has been licensed for prime-time television and gets lots of radio play, and of course he also fronts his own band. His list of credits only gets longer from there, but today we’ll be looking at his current single releases “Conga Drum,” “Hollywood,” “War Becomes Love,” “Te Extrano” and “Feel Christmas.”
Sims himself plays guitar, ukulele and harmonica and has been influenced by folk-rock and island music, creating his own acoustic soul-pop hybrid. Many of his original songs are described as “having a laid-back feel inspired by nature.” His musical influences include Van Morrison, David Gray, Jim Croce, Ben Harper and Jack Johnson. His songs are also informed by his volunteer work in the United States and Nicaragua.
First up is “Conga Drum” which has an island vibe as if sung by Jose Feliciano by way of Van Morrison (I wrote this before I knew Morrison was one of Sims’ influences!). The stringed instruments have a great churning groove (using the muted strings for rhythm) and of course the drums and percussion are tight and clean. The song itself is a nifty pop-reggae love tune. He even steals the iconic Steve Miller “wolf whistle” effect! But that’s forgiven as he actually fires off a Carlos Santana-style lead solo, followed by Santana-like congas.
Next up is the rather Dylan-like “Hollywood” (I’m gonna mention Dylan if I hear ringing guitars, tenor vocals and harmonica). I can certainly catch some of Sim’s other influences here, especially Bob Marley and Ben Harper. Aside from the lovely circular guitar melodies, the percussion is again quite varied and right in the pocket, which must be a Sims trademark even without “Conga Drum” in the title.
“War Becomes Love” is a gentle, bluesy tune with gorgeous upfront guitars playing beautiful licks. It’s funny how this laid-back protest song uses language better suited to “1984” but then spins it around: “Love becomes war… why can’t war become lovin’?” I haven’t seen any production credits but thus far every song is impeccably recorded and mixed, and this one has yet another tasty, just slightly distorted lead guitar solo and still more congas!
“Te Extrano” translates to “I Miss You” in English, and the painfully lush acoustic guitars and steel drums more than bear this out. Funny how Jose Feliciano previously came to mind, as this is a song I could totally imagine him writing and singing. In fact I was very surprised to see that this was not a cover but a Sims original. So beautiful you could get married to it!
“Feel Christmas” is appropriately the final track here, but thankfully it avoids all the hokey Christmas song tropes like bells or fragments of well-known carols. As the fifth track in a row, by now I feel I have a handle on the Sam Sims Sound and this hits all the benchmarks: Sweet, intimate harmony vocals, ringing acoustic and electrics, solid percussion and a note-perfect guitar solo.
Five great songs to check out, and there’s tons more where they came from. You better get started!
Patsy Decline, hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, presents their eponymous album Patsy Decline, a sonic revelation infused with the influences of iconic acts like R.E.M., the Velvet Underground, The Replacements, Wire and The Clash.
What immediately resonates with Patsy Decline is the palpable authenticity of a band honing their craft within the confines of a room, resulting in a sound that feels wonderfully cohesive and real. The album is marked by a bounty of infectious melodies, all punctuated with an invigorating dose of energy.
The album opens with "The Price," an immediate and standout track that could easily pass as a single. Its memorable hooks are complemented by delightful ‘50s pop-inspired vocal harmonies during the breakdown, making for a robust start. "Mt. Fog" ventures into a more melodic territory, featuring intricate guitar work and a superb bass line. The lead guitarist introduces inventive pad-like sounds, adding depth to the composition. Like the opener, the song boasts a sturdy hook that lingers.
Patsy Decline comes alive on "Behind Closed Doors," a definite highlight that exudes the atmosphere of a crowd-pleaser in a live setting. The song's dynamic shifts breathe life into the track, and the subtle yet effective vocal harmonies elevate its appeal. "The Other Way" introduces string-like vocal melodies, contributing to the album's catchy palette. The atmospheric guitar work in certain sections adds depth and texture.
"Flames and Waves" provides a refreshing change of pace, initially embracing introspection and effectively utilizing dynamics. "Let Nature Run Its Course" propels forward with a drive, offering a subtle hint of Radiohead vibes not evident in other tracks. "The Modern World" and "Fades In The Sun" display distinct energies, one exuding a punk-like fervor while the other adopts a more American flavor. Perhaps the album's standout is "Gone," a personal favorite marked by a reflective and nostalgic tone, devoid of melancholy. The poignant lyrics resonate as the vocalist sings, "We used to believe in secretive schemes / And a virulent summer / We got cars without gas and flags at half mast / And ain't life a bummer." Patsy Decline's musical endeavor culminates with the high-energy closer, "Inside The House," providing a fitting and powerful send-off.
One of the album's enduring qualities is Patsy Decline's ability to craft indelible songs. The combination of their songwriting prowess and stellar production results in a genuinely compelling album. "Patsy Decline" comes highly recommended, a testament to their prowess in delivering a memorable musical experience.
Stefano Pesapane's musical venture began at the age of eight when he first embraced the drumsticks. Since that early start, his life has been an odyssey through music, sharing stages with diverse musicians, securing a record label contract and much more. My exploration begins with "Directions," an electronic composition that thrives in the vibrant atmosphere of a pulsating club.
What sets this piece apart is the ingenious fusion of unconventional instruments that aren't typically associated with the genre. Notably, the lively horns inject a vibrant essence into the track, evoking subtle shades of acid jazz. The composition unfolds with a gentle piano introduction and an undercurrent of arpeggiated synth. As the track progresses, the synth introduces low-frequency pulses, harmoniously blending with a rhythmic beat. The sonic landscape exudes a luxurious smoothness, featuring ethereal pads, fleeting sonic elements and an evanescent ambiance that creates a sensation of dancing on air.
What's particularly notable is the ever-evolving soundscape, constantly shifting to captivate the listener. "Directions" leads to "Journey Of Dance," a high-energy composition that fully lives up to its name. This fast-paced track immerses the listener in a whirlwind of sound, creating an immersive, sweat-inducing experience. Like its predecessor "Directions," it explores a dynamic musical spectrum while maintaining a consistently buoyant atmosphere. Once again, the horns emerge as beacons of musical artistry, anchoring the vivacious ambiance. In contrast, "Now and Forever" unveils a distinct sonic landscape, weaving a sensuous atmosphere infused with the seductive allure of R&B.
The track exudes a silky, languid quality that glides seamlessly through the airwaves. Here, Pesapane adopts a spoken-word approach, adding a narrative dimension to the composition and imbuing it with engaging storytelling. Stefano Pesapane's musical craftsmanship radiates with a notable presence, leaving a lasting impression that this exploration has merely scratched the surface of his creative reservoir. For enthusiasts of electronic music and those in pursuit of a sonic experience that transcends conventional boundaries, his body of work is a compelling invitation. The message is clear: Dive into his musical realm and immerse yourself in the multifaceted universe of Pesapane's expressions.
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