All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Black Angels - Don't Play With Guns (Video)

The Black Angels are prepping for the release of Indigo Meadow on April 2, 2013.  To tide you over until then, here is the video for the first track, "Don't Play With Guns".  I hope you enjoy!

Amanda Brecker - Blossom

Amanda Brecker – Blossom
2013, Emarcy
Amanda Brecker is a New York City vocalist with series jazz and pop vocal chops.  It was in Japan where she first found stardom, however, wrapping up two Gold Awards and best-seller status as a jazz artist.  In 2011, Brecker released Blossom in Japan.  The album, a tribute to the collaborations of James Taylor and Carole King, shows off Brecker’s supple voice on some classic tunes.  With Jesse Harris (Norah Jones, Once Blue) at the helm, and some of Taylor’s and King’s own band mates in tow, Brecker gets an aurally appealing though overly reserved re-introduction to American audiences.

Brecker sets forth with the title track, offering up a light and easy vocal inspired by James Taylor. The track is eminently listenable, and Brecker brings an instantly affable quality to the song. Brecker finds a pragmatic sense of hope in the midst of "So Far Away", making it into a wistful daydream. "You Can Close Your Eyes" is well presented here, with a vague lullabies quality that is sweet and wistful.

Brecker makes a true ballad out of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", using the sweet quality of we voice to make this sound more philosophical than urgent. Brecker is a pleasure to listen to here. The standout track on the Blossom is a difficult choice, but "Sweet Baby James" has to be in the running. Amanda Brecker's voice is her own, but she manages to capture the same easy feel that James Taylor is known for.

The arrangement Brecker uses for "It's Too Late" has a gentle, soulful swing to it that's quietly irresistible. Her laid back vocal has a soulful element to it that's nice without being overdone. "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" is solid, with just a touch of blue eyed soul in the sound. Listeners may start to get a bit restless at this point. Brecker's voice is pretty and her interpretations are reverent to the originals, but she hasn't generally added anything to the songs. This doesn't change with "Long Ago And Far Away".

The tone changes a bit with "Something In The Way He Moves". Brecker switches up more than just pronouns as she sets a gentle swing and adds a nice folk singer/songwriter feel to the vocal line. She tries to so the same with "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman", but just doesn't have the power in her voice to carry this tune in its elemental grace. "You've Got A Friend" acquires a vague jazz and gospel essence, along with a delicious hint of melancholy. Brecker is at her best here, intimately personal and warm in her delivery. Brecker bows with "You Were Mine", which is well done but seems thoroughly out of place stylistically.
Amanda Brecker is a real talent.  I am not certain that a tribute cover album is necessarily the way to break her into the American market.  It sets Brecker up to be more of a musical oddity than an artist that listeners actively seek out.  Brecker has the voice and the charm to overcome this fate, but this is another example of  a major label seeing short term dollar signs than the benefits of allowing an artist to develop his/her fan base in organic fashion.  The result is that the artist (Brecker) and fans get short-changed.  Blossom is a fair effort, but Brecker has so much more to offer.
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

P.J. Pacifico - Sailing (Video)

P.J. Pacifico's cover of the Christopher Cross classic "Sailing" has generated one of the most unusual videos in recent memory.  Shot entirely on an iPhone, this one will keep you up at night.

The Nadas - Lovejoy Revival

The Nadas - Lovejoy Revival
2013, Authentic Records
Whoever knew that one of the (quietly) biggest juggernauts in Indie music would be based in Iowa?  It’s true, and you’ll understand once you get a listen to The Nadas.  The band has sold over 200,000 albums through their own Indie label, and consistently churns out some of the finest Americana rock and roll you’re likely to find.  The Nadas’ latest effort, Lovejoy Revival, finds the band at the peak of their musical powers, drawing on influences from country to classic rock and roll.  As always, The Nadas roll with a lyrical depth and musical grace that paces the Americana pack.

Lovejoy Revival kicks off with the edgy Americana/pop of "Star Crossed". The acapella opening is a nice touch, but the tale of love, ignominy and apocalypse has a certain charm. The full bodied arrangement is a perfect match, and Mike Butterworth's warm, calming vocal guides it all home. "Meant To Be" is a neo-classic wedding song, co-written with songwriter Tricia Martin. The Nadas sound more than a bit like Blue Rodeo here, with an almost melancholy arrangement contrasting lyrics full of love, hope and pragmatic dreams.

"Someone You've Never Known" has to qualify as some of the finest pieces of pop songwriting to cross this desk in some time. There's an irrepressible energy to this tune, and the prospective perspective on a relationship adds a refreshing perspective. "New Place To Hide" takes a down tempo look at a relationship as it falls apart. This is slow dance material, but a bit of a downer for the dance floor. It would fit nicely in a film soundtrack as a breakup song however. "Visitor" is a quietly ambling story song cut from the singer/songwriter tradition. The outcome here is as unknown as the song's terminus is unforeseen, but the listener is left with a palpable expectation that something is going to change.

"Love You To Pieces" is a quiet but persistent swoon that is memorable. Once again The Nadas appear to have hit on a sound that is perfect for a soundtrack. The Nadas dig out their electric guitars for "Honor". The intergenerational perspective on honor and military service is striking for its lack of political hyperbole and its personal feel. "Only Love Is Real" has a wonderfully unsettled sense of urgency that gets under your skin. This is a song with impact that you'll return to again and again. "I'll Wait Forever" is more settled, but impacts with a powerful sense of love and devotion. This is fairy tale love without the saccharine poetess of modern pop.  The Nadas' take on The Rolling Stones' "Beast Of Burden" is subtle and quiet, but manages to capture some of energy of the original. The closing track,  "Hard Rain" is powerful and emotive in its quite delivery.
Indie music encompasses the full range of musical experiences.  Nowadays you can find everything from abstract teens scratching out chords in their basement on a laptop to established stars, newly escaped from label shackles working the DIY lines.  Out of the menagerie a band will occasionally rise to the top.  The Nadas are one such band, and Lovejoy Revival is a reminder that they just seem to keep getting better with time.  The mix of utter professionalism and distinctive creativity on Lovejoy Revival is hard to find, and the album is a well polished gem that sparkles with its own inner light.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
See also the Wildy’s World reviews of The Nadas’ Almanac (2009) and Ghosts Inside These Halls (2008).
Learn more about The Nadas at 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meredith O'Connor - EP

Meredith O'Connor – EP
2012, Meredith O’Connor
Beware the wallflower.  Meredith O’Connor never fit in.  Ostracized in school for being different, O’Connor has used her differences to become truly unique.  Singer, songwriter, model and actress, the 17-year old is on a steady rise.  Her heart is in the right place too, as O’Connor still finds time to be an official advisor for, an online information and support service for teens and young adults.  O’Connor is about to release her debut EP, featuring four original songs culled from her personal experiences and beliefs.  It is generally a pragmatic and positive look at the problems of a modern young adult.

O'Connor opens with "Celebrity", a straight up, candy coated kiss off song about making it big and rubbing it in the face of the one who dropped her. There's almost a country sensibility here, but the synth affirms the song's bubblegum pedigree. "14 Miles" finds O'Connor warning her crush that his girlfriend is going to hit the road. There is a good intent feel to this, but there's an obvious conflict of interest. The arrangement is straight ahead and solid. "Face That's Perfect" is an uncomplicated yet edgy pop crush song. O'Connor displays a keen pop sensibility here that's part Belinda Carlisle. "The Game" is an odd song of belief in another. It starts off steeped in singer/songwriter pastiche but moves into a chorus that sounds like it was inspired by Debbie Boone. It's an unsettled sound that doesn't quite fit O'Connor's voice.

Meredith O'Connor is an intriguing young artist. Her bound wire alto voice is pleasant but with a steely edge. As a songwriter O'Connor shows her young age. She has yet to find her voice as a writer, and is still playing musical dress up to find which style and sound fits her. There's little doubt, however, that she has the potential to be an impact artist one day.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
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