Friday, May 31, 2013

CD Review: Chase Enriquez's ''Til The Flame Burns Out'

Chase Enriquez
'Til The Flame Burns Out
We Group

If you are seeking alternative hip/hop and rap music, Chase Enriquez should be at the top of your search list. Fortunately, one need not struggle to find the high points of this album. Every song seems to awaken the spirit with vibrant riffs, hooks, and licks. The more rock-driven, "Tell My Why," is more indicative of an alternative track over a hip-hop medley. "Night On Fire" opens with an electronic shower of sparks and synth medleys that delve right into a booming, bass-driven song with hot hip-hop lyrics and rap instrumentals. The richly-textured track contains gritty vocals that are uptempo, but not too fast they are indistinguishable. The sound is indicative of Sudan's Emmanuel Jal. Though, all the lyrics on 'Til The Flame Burns Out are in English. "In The Wind" starts with a few keyboard washes and tapping percussion sounds. The rap instrumentals back the edgy vocals and rock-like foundation. "All The Way" opens with a shout and symphonic string arrangements and loud, rock instrumental backing that is very cinematic, but in your face. This is rap and hip hop with attitude, but nothing that is too showy or overdone. It's nice to have some musical accompaniment with the vocals. Chase Enriquez is a talented performer and composer that should not be missed if you like urban, rap, and hip hop music. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Scott Krokoff's 'Realizations & Declarations Vol. 1'

Scott Krokoff
Realizations & Declarations Vol. 1
Hypochondriac Records

New York lawyer and singer, Scott Krokoff, takes a lawful approach to upbeat folk rock/pop songs on his latest release, Realizations & Declarations Vol. 1. The folk music is pop-driven with catchy rhythms and melodies, and roots-driven with throbbing B3-type sounds. "What The Hell" starts out with a light guitar tune that is joined with drums, bass, and Scott's folksy vocals. The reverberating sounds are iconic and giddy. "Closed" contains a good, roots-driven tune with good rock progression and alt-folk goodness. "I Know Your Story" is an upbeat song with clear vocals and pop hooks that will grab you and never let go. "A Better Life" is a more acoustic-driven song early on, but the tune picks up a more rock vein with B3 sounds and an electric guitar. There are eight tracks in all, but "What The Hell" appears twice: as an acoustic and standard track. All of the songs emanate a sense of folk/rock with good clear vocals and infectious hooks. Think of The Gufs meets Venice and The Mysteries Of Life. ~ Matthew Forss 

CD Review: Greater Alexander's 'Positive Love'

Greater Alexander
Positive Love
Greater Records

New York-born, Greece-raised, and currently located in Michigan, Greater Alexander (Alexander Vlachos) brings us scintillating folk tunes with classy guitar stylings and various instruments that come together to form an engaging type of music. Greater Alexander's vocals are akin to Jack Johnson and Paul Simon. Moreover, the musical arrangements are not too unlike the aforementioned musicians. The sweeping folk guitar tune, "Baby Steps," contains a steady beat and wistful vocals that are free-flowing. "Feel Of Summer" is another breezy and sauntering tune on guitar. The acoustic guitar is refreshing and sparkles with folksy charm. Moreover, the whistle medley is another sign of folk-isms winning out. "Everlasting" incorporates a little piano accompaniment with backup vocals and wispy lead vocals that are soft and light throughout. "Let It Be Me" is another fun song with acoustic guitar-driven elements and vocals akin to Australia's Xavier Rudd. Twelve songs in all are included on the album and all of them fit a folksy vein. Part of the folksy fusion could be due to the global influences. Anyone familiar with Jack Johnson, Xavier Rudd, Paul Simon, and similar artists will love Greater Alexander. ~ Matthew Forss

Friday, May 17, 2013

CD Review: Jensen Reed's 'The Left Coast'

Jensen Reed
The Left Coast

Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter, Jensen Reed, weaves tight lyrical worldplay around an amped up hip-hop, alt-pop, and electronic background that propels the album in alternative directions with a fresh perspective. The symphonic and electronic-focused, "Throw You The Rope," is a magical song with keyboard embellishments and a hip-hop instrumental backbeat that mirrors a more conservative and lighter Linkin Park medley. "Left Coast" opens with a jingly beat and punchy rock melody with vocals that resemble Modern English and The Killers. The cinematic opening of "Rocketship" merges into a rock/rap medley that is not particularly fast, but the ambulating beat and keyboard washes add an element of alternative leanings indicative of pop, electronica, and dance. "Something Missing" features a few punchy piano beats and up-tempo vocals that are rather steady with background vocals. The music is rather reflective without hip-hop or rap lines. "The Countdown" contains some dark, brooding electronic embellishments with hip-hop instrumental backing. The vocals are slow at first, but the vocal delivery picks up mid-song in a rap display. The swishy percussive beats and punchy piano line creates a modern display of musical ingenuity. The entire album represents a wide breadth of musical creations that span several genres, but the musical variety is not too different to turn-off new listeners. Anyone with an interest in alternative hip-hop, rock, pop, and dance-inflected music should check out Jensen Reed's new work. ~ Matthew Forss