ROUND EYE – MONSTERVISION

ROUND EYE – MONSTERVISION

URL: http://roundeyeband.com/en/

Monstervision was recorded by Li Wei Yu & PK 14’s Yang Haisong, narrated by former The Daily Show comedian John Bloom (Joe Bob Briggs), and is the last recordings laid to wax of the late great Steve Mackay who left behind a body of work and goes out in style on the humorously uplifting but deadly serious and controversial album. If you can get past that and enjoy the music that is great, and if you can handle both, then there is much to eat up from this band out of Shanghai. If you’re not familiar with them, now’s the time because this does the business, and if you are already into them, it should please.

It might even be a step up in all departments to pull off an epic punk rock showing, or it could just be a grand effort to keep up that standard. Whichever really isn’t the point, but if it is any departure it’s likely a stark one. It just doesn’t seem like this could be a step backward for Round Eye, let’s put it that way. But the proof is always in the pudding, and commentator Joe Bob Briggs(played by John Bloom) kicks off Monstervision with some narration before “Commie Blues” cracks your head open with power and energy. It starts the mood off right by getting the most controversial track title out of the way. And from this juncture forth it has all the fun in the world.

You don’t want to get too much wind of Joe Bob Briggs on paper, he’s better heard than described. But rolling through the next few tracks, you get to hear back from him more often, than not, through the rest of it. Let the album play him out with the music to get both sides of the ticket. It is music after all, and more than most punk can come up with lately. Not that there isn’t a strong underground market for it with acts like Round Eye touring up the globe, but it’s still not music normally designed to tickle the masses unless you’re a Ramone or Blondie. This is of a harder variety, with the thrashabillies of the day. Such evidence can be an exception on “Hey Dudes” with its urban feel and more pop sensibilities, but it’s all meant to heal as well as entertain and lyrically inform. And if you don’t have fi=un with this, there’s really nothing on here for you. But how anyone could listen to it and not hear something to enjoy is not easy to imagine. As this is more like it from the previous four pieces of music. But they are all different in one way or another, it’s just that there is some threading to follow on this album. Not’s not tightly weaved but at the same time it is between the music, lyrics and how the vocals are delivered.

If that’s not enough they take you to the deep end of the culture pool on “Pink House” and it’s even more musically interesting than the previous track. The peaking point of the craft shows hardest in this track, but it’s not necessarily the most enjoyable. It reaches into adult contemporary for what it’s worth, and shows the kids how to vent and aspire to a mature level of it. But that just could be the old punk rocker in me, able to grow with the blending trends. Different strokes for different folks, as with the rest of the vision that is of monster proportion. They have my attention, after making the noise from China to this far away land.

WEIBO: http://weibo.com/u/3125686804

10/10

Elvin Graham

Chris Murphy – The Tinker’s Dream

Chris Murphy – The Tinker’s Dream

URL: http://chrismurphymusic.com/music/

You can glean some measure of Chris Murphy’s attentions from his album covers. The latest, The Tinker’s Dream, has a beautiful cover depicting presumably European architectural sculpture. This is the sort of album cover that a serious artist puts forth for a collection of songs and the dozen tracks on The Tinker’s Dream bear out such suppositions. These are vibrantly alive but highly skilled explorations of music with European origins thoroughly transformed by the Americana musical culture. Experienced listeners are likely to hear many of the instrumentals as Appalachian influenced fare given a light and lively Celtic twist. The production work renders a variety of instruments with clarity and the mix balances these disparate sounds in an artful way. The songs with lyrics and vocals reference traditional music, but they reframe those references in a more personal context.

“Connemara Ponies” starts this off the way you might expect a widescreen epic film to begin. The music is never portentous or overwrought. It has tremendous strength thanks to how the melody takes off with such zest and keeps winding in melodic patterns. It never feels hurried and the musicians, led by Chris Murphy’s violin, put on a clinic about how to seamlessly weave a variety of musical voices. “Union of the Seven Brothers” creates a clear contrast in mood. The pace isn’t as driven, but the layered effect of the arrangement is just as powerful here as listeners hear on the opener. Like the album’s remaining songs, “Union of the Seven Brothers” runs just the right amount of time and has unwavering across the board focus. The first song with vocals and lyrics, “Wicklow”, is about a lot of things, but the primary theme here is classic surviving hard luck and times. Murphy’s quasi-sardonic vocal never tries to compete with the musical backing and conforms as closely as possible to the melody. “Gibraltar 1988” recalls the earlier “Union of Seven Brothers” but is far more considered and strained with elegiac, melancholic streaks. It is one of the most musically lyrical songs on The Tinker’s Dream and among its finest instrumentals.

The mood brightens considerably on “Cape Horn”. The language of the lyrics is grounded in details rather than fuzzy generalities and it gives the song’s narrator a strong, dramatic voice. Murphy realizes the potential of the lyrics and gets some valuable contributions on backing vocals. His violin doesn’t play such a central role in this song and the guitar work gets a rare chance to shine. Other instruments take a turn in the spotlight during the breaks. “Small Wonder” is another track with vocals and another bright melody filling the instrumental breaks. The vocal melody for the verses falls a little flatter in comparison, but it’s very suitable for what is essentially a love song and hits its peak with a solid chorus. The musical mood clouds over again with “The Thistlewood Bridge”, but there’s a different spirit behind this song than earlier numbers. It doesn’t follow the same melodic pattern as many of the other songs and that change in flavor comes at an excellent place on the album.

The Tinker’s Dream ends with “The Hayloft Waltz”. It’s a musically adept exploration of a particular tempo that has, largely, fallen out of favor in popular music. The one time staple retains the power to hold a listener’s attention and Murphy’s violin is the best part of this presentation. Chris Murphy’s songwriting and performance meets every benchmark for genre devotees and this his finest release to date.

9 out of 10 stars

I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-tinkers-dream/id1164567880

Shannon Cowden

Jonathan Cavier – Premier

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Jonathan Caviar – Premier

URL: http://caviermusic.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jcaviermusic
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jonathan-Cavier-1740450396233457/

The blockbuster debut Premier heralds the arrival of a major new talent. Few young performing artists can lay claim to the sheer variety of compositional and arranging skills that Cavier brings to bear on his first album. His tenure as part of the pop duo EyeTalk produced five albums and can rightly be regarded as his finishing school for this epochal first release. He covers an astonishing amount of space on Premier, veering comfortably from outright rock posturing into pleasing AOR balladry on songs like “Comes a Moment”. His voice is an immediately underrated instrument – Cavier shows the good sense, throughout, to never attempt stealing the spotlight from the songwriting though it is apparent that his voice is capable of dominating the proceedings at any given moment. It is an apt illustration of the good taste that makes this such a memorable album from the start.

“January” starts Premier off with the sort of wide-screen, ambitious moment it deserves. The ambition, however, is deceptive. An initial listen emphasizes the song’s affability and its intelligence, but closer listens reveal one of Premier’s best efforts. This is fully rounded as few songs are. His lyrical content has a rare incisiveness that Cavier uses to explore personal issues in original ways. There are few tropes or clichés weighing down his self-examination. “Hope” has similar merits. Cavier is undaunted in his goal of depicting his personal truth behind that word and the musical backing never reaches for profundity when, instead, it settles for illumination and entertaining its target audience. The melody reveals itself gradually – nothing is ever rushed in these songs.

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“Time Will Tell” is the first of a few songs on Premier that recall the glory days of MTV 1980’s pop music. Duran Duran is clearly a strong influence on some of these songs, but Cavier relies less on overwhelming the listeners with a synthesizer attack and, instead, integrates those elements into his sturdy melodic structures. He does exhibit a love for the decade’s big drum sound, but his sense for dynamics allows him to use them as a chance to create additional dramatic effects. “Burning Away” is one of the album’s harder edged moments and never overstays its welcome or sounds out of place when compared to the poppier material. Cavier summons the needed teeth and grit for a piece like this without ever overstressing those effects.

“Pearl” is one of Premier’s best pure pop rock outings and works well within a singer/songwriter framework while still possessing considerable commercial appeal. “Promise” revisits some of the pop flair from earlier in the album, but it’s a more diffuse influence here and, instead, Cavier sounds like someone who has learned to fuse those styles together while retaining the best qualities of both. Premier concludes with the lovely instrumental “Jupiter”, an imaginative and melodic reminder that, before all else, Cavier is a superbly talented musician first and foremost and any notions of pop stardom flow from that central truth. This is as fine as debuts come. Premier will win over many and surprise even more.

9 out of 10 stars.

Written by Robert E. Fulford

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jonathancaviermusic/sets/premier

Love and loss: Gavilan talks about how their new EP came together

almost group use useIt’s a busy week for the band Gavilan. The band, which mixes country rock a la Drive By Truckers and jam band explorations, released a new EP, Almost a Lie, this week. Tonight they’re playing a co-release party at the Grape Room in Manayunk with Borrowed Equipment and, on Thursday they’re at the Roadhouse Inn in Levittown for a Gashouse Radio interview and performance.

The band considers the song “Sangamon River Lament” the lynchpin of Almost a Lie. It was recorded last summer during a two-day session with Matt Muir at Retro City Studios. It’s a collection of songs that, said bassist Jeff Klemns, is “A little less about other people and a little personal.” The song in particular, according to guitarist Joe Altman, became the one that, during recording, seemed to unify the collection.

almost a lieSongwriting and vocal duties in the band are split between Klemens and Altman. “Sangamon River Lament” is Klemens’ songs, one of two waltz-time country tracks on Almost a Lie.

The band is rounded out with Matt Chicchi on lead guitar and drummer Jack Firneno. Joining the band at these sessions was cellist Andrea Weber, and singer Brianna Lee sang backup vocals on just this track.

The new EP is a collection of songs that, said Klemens, is “A little less about other people and a little personal.” The song in particular, according to Altman, became the one that, during recording, seemed to unify the collection.

Listen to “Sangamon River Lament” here, and read what the band had to say about it.

On the opening line:

almost release posterI was driving my uncle Marty to the airport in Peoria, Illinois. My mother’s funeral had been the day before and her brothers and sisters were heading back to their own lives but he was the first to go. We talked for a while but it’s a long drive, and it was quiet, and I just glanced up in the rearview mirror. And I had one of those moments where I realized how big the sky is out there.

People from the midwest who have gone away to other places will understand this feeling. I bet it happens for a lot of people when they step off the plane at a regional airport. This overwhelming sense of  “Oh yeah, there it is,”  which is strange because it’s not something being there, it’s something not being there.  So it’s the presence of an absence. — Jeff Klemens

On writing and recording the song:

The first line just hit me, but it took me years to finish the rest of the song. It’s about my mom’s funeral. It would get too heavy and I’d have to put it aside. And then I finished it. And it’s definitely the most personal thing I’ve ever written. And that was about the time when we started talking about doing this new record. — Jeff Klemens

I remember it being around for months before we actually played it. It features the most non-full-time band members of any we’ve done yet, with Brie singing and the string section, which I think Andrea overdubbed three or four parts. — Matt Chicchi

almost groupAt first this track would blend with “Speak to Me Softly” for me. I had recently joined and was still getting inside all the songs and they’re both slower, waltz-time country songs. Recording, I think Matt Muir could hear more of it in the control room than I could. Him being a drummer too, he became much more involved  in this one than others.

I was a little frustrated because I wanted to get to the next song, and I was wondering whether we should have two waltzes on a five-song release. Of course, I heard the rough, with the cello parts and all, and was floored. Of all the songs I’ve recorded with various bands, this one has become my favorite to listen to. — Jack Firneno

It seems like the culmination of the album. It embodies the spirit of the E.P. I think the arrangement that we used for the studio track really fits the song well. I like how the dynamic elements fit the mood of the song. — Joe Altman

It became the axis around which the rest of this record spun. — Jeff Klemens

Gavilan performs at The Grape Room, 105 Grape St. in Manayunk, tonight. The show starts at 8:30 with Brianna Lee and includes Borrowed Equipment and Figment.

The band will perform an acoustic set and live interview for Gashouse Radio at the Roadhouse Inn, 2200 New Falls Road in Levittown, on Thursday. April 7.

To hear more, visit www.headlesscowboymusic.bandcamp.com

The Late Saints Release a Video for their Single ‘Multitudes’

The Late Saints announce their first official video, ‘Multitudes,’ one of the most haunting, compelling, and politically urgent songs on their debut album, ‘Presto! In America.’ This is a well done video, and it as great to see a Hot Breakfast cameo in there as well!

Shot in The Sanctuary at Fleisher Art Memorial, Sept 2015, by Kevin Shields and Amy Hicks.

Produced by Jacopo De Nicola & The Late Saints

Featuring: Jacopo De Nicola, guitar/vocals; Mike Huff, bass; Micah Hebbel, drums; Tim Leslie, percussions; Sheila Hershey, ukulele; Jill Knapp, trumpet; Darrell A. Marsh, trumpet; Matt Casarino, tuba; Heloise G., euphonium

 

Links:

website: www.thelatesaints.com

youtube: www.youtube.com/thelatesaints

social: www.facebook.com/thelatesaints, www.twitter.com/thelatesaints, www.instagram.com/thelatesaints

music: www.thelatesaints.bandcamp.com

 

 

One From Many; 29:11

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One From Many; 29:11 

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ofmmusic/ 

This Portland, Oregon based four piece, formerly known as FarCry, follows up their critically lauded debut The Alleged Album with a five song EP called 29:11. The vague title refers to a passage in the Holy Bible’s Book of Jeremiah and provides a kind of thematic jumping off point for the collection. Over the course of 29:11’s five songs, lyricist Andrew Supina contends with the psychic wreckage from broken relationships, particularly those between lovers and family. The album focuses musically on acoustic guitar and vocals but they are rendered with outstanding clarity and carry deceptive sonic weight. One From Many’s skills as arrangers are unquestionable – each of the five selections features sturdy songwriting with depth and entertainment for all. Despite the personal nature of the material, 29:11 is never inaccessible.  

Anyone with a certain amount of age and experience can relate to “Like a Ghost”. While not all of us have experienced this narrative with a parent, adulthood rarely spares anyone the pain of abandonment and unresolved grief. The cathartic qualities driving the song’s drama never overshadow its musical merit. Supina and guitarist Josh McCormick are chiefly responsible for conjuring a moody ambiance that strengthens the lyrical content. “These Three Words” brims over with emotion, not nearly as dark as those heard in the opening number, but it’s nevertheless another decidedly adult number about facing our fears to love. Though it has an appealing commercial edge, it never panders fantasies of happily ever after, but Supina’s soaring vocals help it fly high, especially in the rousing chorus. The EP’s centerpiece, “Apology”, has another glittering vocal melody never undercut by the song’s intensity. Supina goes for his own throat here and renders a litany of regrets with such impassioned fervor that you can’t help but wonder if he collapsed in a chair after cutting his vocal. 

The album’s last two songs, “Promise Forever” and “Afterglow”, slow things down even more than earlier efforts. The “brisker” of the two, “Promise Forever”, is a masterpiece of conversational lyrics elevated to something poetic. Supina’s nuanced vocal and the introduction of a contrasting female voice for harmony vocals brings a musicality to the song lacking before. “Afterglow” finishes the album in an early morning haze of woozy tempos and bleary-eyed reflection, but it’s impossible to not hear in the music a sort of settling, like a flower petal falling to earth. It isn’t hard to imagine that, perhaps subconsciously, Supina viewed this EP release as a final word on his own broken marriage and “Afterglow” is his clearest signal that he has finished pronouncing last rites over the corpse.  

One From Many have solidified, with this release, a growing reputation as one of the most thoughtful outfits in indie music today. Material like this poises them mere inches from another level – every element works in sympathy with the other and, as the phrase goes, the sum is greater than its individual parts. 29:11 will impress the band’s fan base but, most importantly, will garner the band an assortment of new fans.  

8 out of 10 stars.  

Richard Felton

Featured Band of the Week: Thee, Idea Men

September 28, 2015

Soulful Philly blues rock with just a pinch of funk; Thee Idea Men is this week’s featured band.

In the 2012 dorm rooms of Drexel University, Matthew Jurasek (guitar, vocals) and Tyler March (drums) birthed what is now known as Thee Idea Men- a stellar four piece who sincerely enjoy writing and performing original music. With the success of two full length albums, Getcho Groo Von and New Level Shoes, Thee Idea Men earned a spot on Radio 104.5’s Live at 5, and has opened for nationally touring bands like Hacienda, Filligar, The Silent Comedy, Jesus on the Mainline, July Talk, and Pete Francis of Dispatch.

Join Thee Idea Men, Cold Roses, Viv and the Revival, New Sound Brass Band, and more at the 2nd Annual NorthWest Music Revival Saturday October 3rd. The eight hour festival will be held at The Phoenix in Germantown- an open air venue with free parking, food trucks, and a fire pit.

Don’t forget to tune in all this week to hear Thee Idea Men in heavy rotation. You can catch a track at the beginning of every Gashouse Live (Tuesday/Thursday 7pm ET). If you like (or hate) what you hear, please share your opinion by using the thumbs up/down buttons! For show info, updates, free streaming, and more check out Thee Idea Men on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Featured Band of the Week: Johnny Showcase

August 3, 2015

If Frank Zappa, Prince, and members of Funkadelic decided to get together to write an album, it would probably sound like our featured band this week- Johnny Showcase

Originally hatched from the brain of theater artist/musician David Sweeny, Johnny Showcase is an 8-piece underground legend based in our very own Philadelphia. Blurring the lines between performance art and psychedelic soul revival, Johnny Showcase is not only a band but an experience. Cabaret, absurd comedy, and infectious funk led by a sweaty, charismatic showman from Rhode Island who tries just a little too hard to be sexy. Surrounding him is a spiritual advisor named Rumi Kitchen (Michael Baker of The Spinning Leaves), two vocalists collectively named The Truth (Adrienne Mackey and Liz Filios), and a back-up band entitled The Mystic Ticket. Confused? Don’t be. Remember, these people are amazing performers with one million alter egos.

Johnny Showcase’s music catalogue (Love is the Message, Mystic Ticket I: The Pump Fake) is available for free streaming and download on Bandcamp and Facebook. Check out johnnyshowcase.com for more goodies.

Don’t miss Friday August 7th at Connie’s Ric Rac for Johnny Showcase’s Funky Family BBQ with OOLALA, and David Fantasy & Adult Content. Tune in all this week to hear Johnny Showcase in heavy rotation. You can catch a track at the beginning of every Gashouse Live (Tuesday/Thursday 7pm ET). If you like (or hate) what you hear, please share your opinion by using the thumbs up/down buttons!

Podcast: Cicada Jade LIVE at Roadhouse Inn

Every Thursday night we put together a FREE night of entertainment at Roadhouse Inn, in Levittown PA. On this episode, we had Cicada Jade and Borrowed Equipment; both bands on the Little Furnace record label. We had a quick interview with both bands, and then a live acoustic set from Cicada Jade.

Join us every Thursday night at Roadhouse Inn for a great night of music and drinking! For more information on Cicada Jade, check out: Featured Band of the Week – Cicada Jade.