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26 November, 2012

Andrew Appletree & The Neptune Riders - 59 To The End

Andrew Appletree & The Neptune Riders - 59 To The End (song review) |self-released, Dragonfly, 2012| 3/5

"59 To The End" is a song performed and recorded live at Zen Recording studio by Andrew Appletree (guitar,vocals, music, lyrics) and The Neptune Riders featuring Aimee Trachtenberg (vocals), Barry Waddell (guitar), Bryan Thompson (drums) as well as Stephen Paul Connelly (guitar piano, bass guitar).
It was released on the Dragonfly album in 2012 and is featured as the last track on the record.

First of all, the intro brings an atmosphere well suited to a live recording where the musicians are synchronizing before the performance of the song. You'll hear "Hold on!" calling for patience, followed by the sound of spontaneously touched strings, then drumsticks dictating the rhythm and somebody taking a deep breath. I believe this may have been left in the track on purpose to enhance the experience of the music. This song is deeply rooted in classic blues and rock styles. If you listen to a few other blues compositions, you'll notice it's almost a stylistic technical method which opens the track.

Secondly, well written arrangements include both solid rhythm guitar parts as well as soloing arrangements that transpire after passing through the middle of the track. Additionally, smoke filled bar-like moods are performed on the piano, which is such a specific instrument that it can steal the listeners attention as much as a saxophone, especially when utilized with rock music. When it comes to bass and drums, they give the song stable dynamics and never go upfront; both play their parts synchronized very well.

Thirdly, the vocals sound rough - the way we used to hear vocals performed in songs by Bob Dylan, Captain Beefheart or Tom Petty (yet not as harsh as those performed by Tom Waits). Thus, the vocals can be automatically associated with hard rock, blues and southern rock styles very well. There are also repetitive female background vocals reminiscent of what you would hear in music associated with the 1970s counter-culture.

Finally, if you are one to look at album covers first before listening to the tracks, you probably won't be able to miss the Neptune-related statuesque lady with a dreamy gaze which adorns this record.

"59 To The End" lasts a bit over 3 minutes in duration. Thus, you can think of many ways to use it, aside from just listening. This track would be a great candidate to be utilized in a radio set-list, movie soundtrack or also (based on the lyrics) for the long awaited “end of the world” as we shift from one year to another if you believe in the recently reported apocalypse that supposed to happen on 12/21/2012 (according to the sources of the crazies). Overall, "59 To The End" sounds like a great new musical discovery for the fans of i.e. Stevie Ray Vaughan or Van Morrison.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, November 23rd, 2012)
This review on Fabryka Magazine:

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24 November, 2012

These Green Eyes - Paramedic

These Green Eyes - Paramedic (song review) |Blackledge Music, Relapse to Recovery, 2009| 4/5

This quintet, founded in New Haven, Connecticut comes up with emotional music based on melodic alt-rock arrangements. These aspects of songwriting have been playing an important role in many radio rotation lists throughout time. A fact which remains true regardless of the daily program schedule being pop or rock oriented. Most ordinary listeners don't require distracting music to be touched by its message and it seems the musicians who comprise the line up of These Green Eyes had this in mind when they were writing the song "Paramedic".

“Paramedic” is a short track (3:47) and basically begins with no intro. Memorable verses come instantly and they are filled with Colin's vocals along with a rhythmic mix of guitars performed by Jeff and Greg, drums by Mark and bass by Zach. Layered guitars play in harmony during the choruses and shift in and out of edgy rhythms during the verses and breakbeats. Also, the mood of the song changes at 2:00 with the bass guitar providing the melodic backbone of the juncture while the vocalist sings melodies in alto.

The topic of the song seems to underline the importance of rescuing people's lives. Paramedics, aside from fire brigades and police are the first responders who improve a victim's diagnosis in case of an emergency. Of course survival time is up to an individual's body resistance and own will to live, but good care may improve their chances of recovery.
Thus, the idea behind the song "Paramedic" could fit well into a documentary about people dealing with regional or national range disasters such as floods, hurricanes, plane crashes, shootings, etc. or devastating personal traumas like depression, suicide, divorce and many others. If this song were to be utilized in the soundtrack of a movie it would not only put an accent on the most important work of emergency teams, but also soothe the cinematic aspects of disturbing scenes that outline the reality of an accident before things return to normal. There are no brooding moods though.

The idea behind "Paramedic" is a thought-provoking one, but the arrangements and compositional aspects may not be enough to stir the interest of a high maintenance listener. It's undoubtedly a song fitting many popular radio set lists (over thirty US radio stations play this song on the air already), but it also has hit potential due to its musical repetitions and simple structures. If you need melodic music which expresses life issues of an important matter, this song is for you.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, November 6th, 2012)

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

19 November, 2012

File Transfer Protocol - The Gargoyle Studio Sessions

File Transfer Protocol - The Gargoyle Studio Sessions (2010-2012) 4/4

01. World of One, 02. Rain, 03. Shadows, 04. Attrition, 05. Ivory Towers, 06. The Singularity, 07. This Machine, 08. 99%, 09. Regime, 10. Subversion

The true industrial rock scene has seemed to be dead for some time now, but this is not a secret for die hard fans. Provided that the United States has been the genre's homeland where it found success in the 1990's, European bands have come up with a few new industrial musical sub-genres over the course of the past 5 years that are personified as i.e. electro rock defined by more melodic arrangements. I cannot say however that these modifications have increased the chances for a revival of the original scene. Nonetheless, there are still new bands being created by musicians who's period of teenage revolt occurred in the last decade of the 20th century. Some of these artist have never set themselves free of this revolutionary attitude, yet they have been ignited by idiotic ideas that are introduced by factions of our governments. Following this theorem, we'll look into Texas, the police state of America where Sean Rieger, the founder of File Transfer Protocol makes his music.

It should be noticed first that FTP's sound has undoubtedly been inspired by the accomplishments of Nine Inch Nails, Gravity Kills and Stabbing Westward at some point. New artists who seem to be fascinated with cold, industrial & guitar driven music have been encouraged by the success of Trent Reznor. Many of these artist find themselves as the founders of one-man projects that they utilize to express their frustrations through music with either aggressive or melancholic attributes.

Sean Rieger appears to be well balanced somewhere in-between. His songs bring positive vibes, yet they do not touch upon the common elements of pop music. His lyrics raise awareness about topics that should be important to every down to earth American, however Sean doesn't stir anger by relying on the use of brutal arrangements either. The idea behind his music seems to be rooted in the promulgation of warnings supported by sheer facts. He wants to redirect the listener's attention to issues which may happen to become a real danger in the near future and which are being prepared by legislators whom the citizens have elected.

After three years passing since the release of the debut album Bipolar, a new compilation album has just been released entitled The Gargoyle Studio Sessions. The album title harks back to Sean's personal fascination with magical gargoyles which he collects as figurines and displays in his recording studio, although he treats them as protective totems. This release features a set of 11 songs recorded and released as singles between 2010 and 2012.

"World Of One" is the opening track for this compilation. Pulsing beats as well as various effects that are created with the utilization of samplers build an intriguing atmosphere which is followed by slightly echoing vocals. The tempo speeds up as the intro is joined by drums and guitars. There are ethereal piano sounds as well in the end of the track which standardize the composition, giving it a classical feel.

"Rain" is an instrumental arrangement that features distorted guitars, most probably inspired by Nine Inch Nails' album The Fragile. Once again, the piano appears to create a very interesting contrast when held in comparison to the sound of modern electronic music. The atmosphere feels kind of sad, but this may have been done to illustrate the psychological process of dealing with some problems.

"Shadows" is the best song on this album as far as I'm concerned. The first element of the song structure brings arrangements that are inspired by 'big bubble' effects and phat beats that are commonly utilized in electronic dance music. Although these aspects can also be heard in rock-sounding songs by bands such as Nine Inch Nails or Gravity Kills. Most often, Sean creates tension within the verses of his songs which becomes a sensation that increases and is finally released throughout the choruses; a method that has also been used in “Shadows”. The overall sound of this track is far beyond uncanny, which may cause the listener to feel shivers up their spine. This effect is due to an interesting mix of guitars and samples. A contrast of lazy, sensual tempos and non-distressing tensions have built a plot for a song that has turned out magnetic.

Gothic sounds reverberating from a bass guitar along with industrial samples and declaimed lyrics are the opening sequence for the following track called "Attrition". The listener may find a few connections to the music of Gravity Kills, but also to another industrial rock icon - Stabbing Westward. Effectively distorted guitar riffs are reminiscent of tunes on The Fragile as I mentioned above. Due to a slow rhythm, piano and lengthy vocals present in the choruses, the atmosphere of the track sounds a bit epic. Nevertheless, it has been wisely crosscut with beats and rasping guitars, but also hushed up effects.

"Ivory Towers" plainly forces the listener to react either by stamping the floor, headbanging or other activity which lets them adjust to the rhythm and dynamics of the song. This specific method by FTP of building tension in the verses as I mentioned before, stands out in this track and makes emotions explode through the following choruses. Overall, the composition recalls of a junction between songs such as "Gave Up" and "Wish" by Trent Reznor, which are both marked by turmoil and nervous anxiety.

"The Singularity" is the next song on the tracklist. It is expressed by a murky, concerned introduction that is based on synths and cold, layered, protracted guitar riffs. This composition blooms in time, which enables it to gain speed along with a colorful portrayal of emotions. Sean perfectly matched the rhythm of the lyrics into the arrangement. There are also subtle effects present in the verses which are laid over the vocals. On top of it all, memorable choruses turn out as catchy as those which are present in the song "Ivory Towers".

A melancholic and gloomy intro foreshadows a song entitled "This Machine". It is surrounded by samples and intelligently layered guitars, drums as well as bass which create an interesting background for deeper, brooding vocals which come next.

On the other hand, both "99%" and "Regime" originate from two events which occurred in the United States, but gained momentum and spread across several other countries in 2011.
The first song is related to The Occupy Movement which featured angry Americans dissatisfied with levels of poverty. Many of whom are seeing their rights abused every few weeks by legislators whose actions are exposed through the national news cycle. They oppose the policies and long accepted practices of banks, Wall Street and the super wealthy during this time of extended economic crisis. The mood of the song is closest to "Ivory Towers", which is characterized by a rapid tempo that may illustrate anxiety and insecurity as well as methods of escape or attack. Background sounds have been orchestrated into layers enriched by screams, guitar riffs and vocal communications that are stylized to sound like the TV news.

The idea behind the track "Regime" has come out of a recent attempt at censorship towards Internet content as well as advancing surveillance upon civil society. This is based on legislation masked by innocent looking four-letter acronyms such as ACTA, SOPA or PIPA. In fact, ACTA has been signed by representatives of the United States along with a few other countries without any public consultation, but a few countries in the European Union have given up on this idea due to the fervid public protests of Internet users. The pulsing beats in “Regime” are for instance reminiscent of early Stabbing Westward songs. This aspect combined with edgy guitar riffs and well matched vocals make yet another memorable track that has been written to encourage the mentality of the people to wake up.

"Subversion" finishes The Gargoyle Studio Sessions album. It's the newest track and is a bit different from the other songs due to heavy, funky bass lines a'la Red Hot Chili Peppers which begin this composition. As for the atmosphere, "Subversion" brings an aggressive feel with it mainly due to a rhythmic bass line along with buzzing samples, effects and screaming vocals. There is no graduating advance of tension either. Instead, listening to the entire "Subversion" track feels like sitting on a bomb while playing with a TV remote-control style detonator in hand which works as good as a game of Russian roulette.

There are a few ways to call for a revolution - from throwing Molotov cocktails to making punk music. This can also be accomplished with the use of more subtle methods such as presented by File Transfer Protocol through this album. I'm not sure if Sean has successfully gotten rid of his tension, however a listener will be undoubtedly left watchful and alert after listening to The Gargoyle Studio Sessions. Both the music and lyrics assign a mature form of rebellion which is used by this artist to protest against the abuse of a citizens' freedom by their respective governmental institutions more and more often. The Gargoyle Studio Sessions will open the eyes, ears and minds of listeners in regards to a few issues which are not only important to Americans, but also citizens around the world who blindly follow 'Made in the USA' trends which sometimes have a bad impact on their individual rights and liberty (see: ACTA controversial legislation).

Musical know-how, writing skills, intelligent arrangements for multiple instruments, well thought out compositional characteristics, valuable inspirational elements, smooth performance techniques as well as high quality mastering and overall album production make this compilation stand high among many other industrial rock releases.
To top it all off, The Gargoyle Studio Sessions are the tireless work of one man. Ten years ago an album like this would have been released by a major label and never have been offered as a free download. In this current market independent artists control their own business and a digital copy of this release can be easily downloaded for free directly from FTP's official website. Of course this doesn't mean that a listener should not try to offer support to this musician financially if possible. It is important to keep Sean motivated to come up with yet another great album while he remains inspired and there are definitely many other items you can purchase from his online store!

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, November 18th, 2012)

Download this album (from FTP's upload to Google Drive through Fabryka Magazine, no registration is required).

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine