Monday, December 30, 2013

CD Review: True Nature's 'You Shouldn't Have To Shout So Loud'

True Nature
You Shouldn't Have To Shout So Loud
True Nature/Fire Sign Records

The New York City-based power pop and alternative rock group, True Nature, brings us an excellent album of alternative tunes with vocals akin to The Gufs and Nickelback. The instrumental arrangements are not too far off either. The six-track album contains one track that is a short introduction to "My Freedom Lies Behind The Sun." The alternative rock song is pure Nickelback with The Gufs guitar work. The title track, "You Shouldn't Have To Shout So Loud," contains jingly and grungy guitar work with vocals not too dissimilar from Pearl Jam and Nickelback. "Only Love" is a classic rock tune with pop and alternative greatness that only can be achieved by the best groups. Fortunately, True Nature is one of the good guys with good vocals, arrangements, and catchy rhythms. Fans of the aforementioned groups will be happy to add True Nature to their audio library. After all, it's only natural. ~ Matthew Forss 

CD Review: The ConSoulTant's 'New Year, New You'

The ConSoulTant
New Year, New You
Raging Sky

Selita Boyd (aka The ConSoulTant) breaks through with another hit that leads us into the new year with great vocals, great beats, and dance-inspired, R&B grooves. The lack of many songs does not detract from the few songs on the album. New Year, New You contains one of the past hits, "Hit It Out The Park." The new year is celebrated with two very similar songs: "New Year, New You" and "New Year, New You Countdown". Both songs are amped-up dance tracks with electronic, industrial, and hip-hop-focused tunes that are anything but boring. Of course, the holiday season would not be complete without a song devoted to Black Friday, which is poignantly-titled, "Black Friday." The dance tune contains a bit of industrial electronics and hip-hop vocals with scattered bells and Santa "ho ho ho's". The song is a bit faster than the other tunes, but that only makes the song different. The Georgia-based singer brings together a fabulous set of songs for the new year. The songs are relatively short and few in number, but the musicianship is above-average and worth a listen, or two, or three... ~ Matthew Forss

Sunday, December 8, 2013

CD Review: Avis Dei's 'Early European Dance'

Avis Dei
Early European Dance
Sketis Music

Russia's Avis Dei produces an exciting album of very early music that is instrumental and steeped in the 15th and 16th centuries. This form of Middle Ages or Renaissance music contains traditional instrumentation from the bagpipes, mandolin, assorted percussion, recorders, cittern, cello, and others. The fanciful delivery is very moving and pleasant. The music stems from English, Italian, and Belgium ancestries. There are nineteen great songs that showcase the dance sounds of the Middle Ages. A fan of Renaissance fairs, Middle Ages history, and early classical music will appreciate the music contained herein. However, the music is so accessible that anyone will appreciate its inner and outer beauty. The Middle Ages have been known as a dark period with little innovation and new discoveries. Though, Avis Dei proves the Middle Ages can be a fun time with Early European Dance. Liner notes are in English and Russian. ~ Matthew Forss

Saturday, December 7, 2013

CD Review: Anna Hoffman & Romancero Sefardi's 'Juego de Siempre'

Anna Hoffman & Romancero Sefardi
Juego de Siempre
Sketis Music

Sung in Ladino, the language of Sephardic Jews, Anna Hoffman & Romancero Sefardi bring us a dozen sensual and emotive tracks with vibrant voice, percussion, and other assorted instrumentation. Anna is the vocalist, but she is joined by a plethora of instrumentalists skilled on guitars, kalimba, table, oud, saz, buzuki, sax, trumpet, tabla, santur, daff, riqq, udu, violin, rabab, and others. The musical repertoire is slow, sauntering, and utterly provocative for the senses. The melody and rhythm is chiefly Sephardic with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern elements abounding. The emotive vocal delivery, jazzy horns, and meandering percussion and strings makes it an ideal album for fans of Sephardic, Jewish, Spanish, and Middle Eastern music. Anna's voice is timeless. The time is now to hear it. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Dmitry Novokolsky and Yury Krivoshein's 'That Job Is Over'

Dmitry Novokolsky and Yury Krivoshein
That Job Is Over
Sketis Music

Lead singer, guitarist, harmonica player, and percussionist, Dmitry Novokolsky, joins Yury Krivoshein--another talented guitarist with bass, keyboard, and programming skills. The Russian duo perform English-lyric songs with an Americana, bluegrass, country, and folk edge. The thirteen songs feel more like an American experiment than a truly Russian compilation. At any rate, the swinging, bluesy, and folksy tunes are catchy, classy, and creative. Some of the songs include "Cotton Joe From New Orleans," "Still A Rambler," "Gimme Some Gumbo," "This Blues Is Real," and "That Job Is Over." It is easy to see why fans of classic Americana music will love it. Hopefully, others will love it, too. This is the way country music should sound. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Kevin Seddiki and Bijan Chemirani's 'Imaginarium'

Kevin Seddiki and Bijan Chemirani
World Village

With ties to France and Iran, Kevin Seddiki and Bijan Chemirani know how to bring us candid, pleasant, and globally-inspired, acoustic music. Kevin is a guitarist, percussionist, and zarb player. Bijan is also a percussionist with specialties in zarb, daf, udu, saz, and others. The thirteen tracks reflect an instrumental blend of Mediterranean, North African, and Central Asian melodies that are very ear-pleasing, while some are quite catchy. The casual music is imaginative, which probably stems from the aptly-titled album name. There are plenty of sonic embellishments that are experimental, creative, and visionary. There are some fast vocals on "On Saturn's Rings." Otherwise, the album is virtually void of vocals. The light music is perfect for relaxing, cafes, and lounging. Kevin and Bijan are truly inventors of a global sound that is anything but dull. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Various Artists' 'Night Visions: Desert Dwellers Selected Remixes'

Various Artists
Night Visions: Desert Dwellers Selected Remixes
Black Swan Sounds

The multi-sonic sounds of Desert Dwellers' remixes with various artists in the field of contemporary electronica and yoga music. Artists such as Tarun, EarthRise SoundSystem, Kalya Scintilla, Girish, Kaya Project, Deva Premal, Deya Dova, and others, bring us a unique blend of trance-induced, dance-induced, and soul-infused and Bhakti-inspired ethno-electronic blends of shimmering kirtan melodies. The cohesive blend of contemporary melodies and instrumentation is rather futuristic, yet global. There are dance-friendly beats, as well as lounge-inspired tunes. Anyone with an interest in Black Swan Sounds, White Swan Records, and similar labels, will rejoice with the new music here. It is truly a yogic journey of epic proportions. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Yagoda Galo's 'Polar'

Yagoda Galo
Sketis Music

Based in Arkhangelsk, Russia--Russia's northwest region on the White Sea, Yagoda Galo performs folk, traditional, and original compositions from all around the North and in Russian lyrics. The eleven-track release contains some of the most beautiful and innovative Russian folk music ever recorded. The ensemble utilizes various instruments, including the didgeridoo, acoustic guitar, domra, mandolin, flute, clarinet, bongo, djembe, jew's harp, drums, bass guitar, and a few others. The result is a complex mix of songs that are vocally and instrumentally-rich. Many of the songs resemble early European or Scandinavian sea-faring songs, but these contain a Russian edge. At any rate, "By The Sea," "Far Away," and "Dreamboat" contain the most sea-faring elements. The best track on the album is probably "Around The Town." This track contains an extremely catchy melody and killer instrumental bridge at the end of the song. If you had to hear one song before you died; this would be it. I would not hesitate placing in the top ten best world music song list of all time. Polar combines the vocal/instrumental traditions of the Cold North, but presents us with the inner warmth of feel-good rhythms and melodies that shine beyond borders...and expectations. Polar is one of the best albums of music anywhere and at any time. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Morpheus Hang's 'Listening In The Dark'

Morpheus Hang
Listening In The Dark
Sketis Music

Yuri Rubin (aka Morpheus Hang) is a Russian composer and performer on the hang and steel drum. The hang is an instrument currently only made in Bern, Switzerland that is an idiophone played with fingers and hands. It is a UFO-shaped steel sheets welded together as two discs. The instrument is played on the lap in both horizontal and vertical positions. The sound is quite indicative of the steel pan, but that is typically brighter in tone. The hang is more muted in tone, which adds a kind of bass sound to the songs. There are no additional instruments or vocals on the eight tracks that range over forty-minutes in length. The tonal qualities overall are very contemplative and meditative. The hang is very dreamy and melodic. Yuri succeeds with Listening In The Dark. ~ Matthew Forss