Tag Archives: Country

Ryan Martin is NOT a Hard Man to Love

20 Jan

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Ryan Martin is a musician’s musician. Originally from Los Gatos, California, Martin, a soulful singer-songwriter, moved to New York City and since the move has done everything possible to keep climbing the mountain to reach the musical zenith. Music is often viewed from the rose-colored glasses of the listener. We don’t realize how assiduous and indefatigable musicians need to be to get by in the industry. To succeed – well – it often seems impossible.

But when you have the ability you just know that you must stick at it and do what is necessary to drive yourself forward. It is the one instance of artistic intransigence that is essential. Martin has worked as, “a former pipe salesman, doorman at a tourist bar on Bleecker Street, mover of furniture, bar-back at a debauched Chelsea bar, campaigner for impoverished children, and cash register operator at Trader Joe’s” (Facebook page). He has slept on couches and in his car … until he had to sell it. All of this led up to his debut release – For All the Beautiful Losers – and the tireless effort put into getting to this point seems well worth it.

The album features a dozen delectable tracks that feature sincere depth, wayworn lyrics, and Martin’s gravelly, southern soul vocal. The music plays with several elements – combining the sultry sound of summery country with deep soul and eclectic piano. It is euphoniously complex. I enjoy music that hits you at all different angles, and Martin’s tunes do that.

“Hard Man to Love” lays down a concise rhythm over an effervescent keyboard. The track moves like an Amos Lee piece, slow but sure. The pre-verse guitar riffs are keen. The vocal is tight. There is some swooning country. There is a taste of sweet harmonica. The song is just so rich. And, if you hadn’t had enough, Martin employs a falsetto and strings to end the piece. Very impressive.

“Little Tramp” is just as complex as “Hard Man to Love.” Martin interweaves horns and guitar effortlessly, but still maintains this country-esque feel – almost like a Jay Nash piece. The music is just so enjoyable to listen to. You want to put the piece on repeat. Heck, there is even a little Springsteen in this ditty. Well done!

Track Martin’s work on his Facebook or Twitter. Check out the album on Bandcamp.

The Music of GTA 5

25 Sep

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the beauty of the Grand Theft Auto soundtracks. Now that a little game called GTA 5 has been released, it seems like a good time to analyse the music of Rockstar’s latest masterpiece.

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(A quick side note first – rather annoyingly, the in-game radio stations often get obscured by screeching tires and fleeing pedestrians as you’re driving. Feel free to adjust the volume for the radio stations in the Settings menu to make sure you can always hear them.)

West Coast hip hop classics are well represented in the tracks, as a throwback to San Andreas. Dr Dre’s “The Next Episode” is the first track you hear as you begin the game. Most of the songs on here veer towards the lighter side of G-Funk spectrum, being good songs to cruise along the highways to rather than gang anthems. Dr Dre’s associates like Snoop Dogg and NWA are also included several times. The station is even hosted by DJ Pooh, a real life producer who’s worked with many of the artists himself.

Contemporary hip hop is also out in force. The golden child of LA’s real life rap scene, Kendrick Lamar, is featured on not one but three songs, including Jay Rock’s great “Hood Gone Love It”, which was used to soundtrack Franklin’s trailer. There are also tracks by up-and-coming stars A$AP Rocky and Tyler the Creator.

Los Santos Rock Radio plays a constant stream of classic rock and pop from the 70’s and 80’s, including my favourite song from the game so far, “Radio Gaga” by Queen. This ode to the golden age of radio works brilliantly in a game where you will spend so much of your time listening to it. It also shows the game’s sense of fun, compared to the dour, serious GTA IV. You can also hear the likes of Stevie Nicks, Elton John and Phil Collins on this station.

As always, Rockstar takes pleasure in placing obscure genres and artists in its games. For example, Radio Mirror Parks plays non-stop ‘indietronica’, while Soulwax FM specialises in ‘fidget house’. Thanks to the games improved-radio system (just hold down a button to select the station and see what song’s playing), you’ll always know what you’re listening to, so you can find it again later.

If like me you loved San Andreas’s country station, K Rose, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s back in the form of Rebel Radio. I’ve not had much time to listen to it as you can only get it when out in the country, however I predict there will probably be some hidden gems on it, and also some intentionally terrible ones.

With 240 licensed songs, the entire soundtrack would take you days to listen to even without all the exciting things happening in Los Santos. If you somehow get bored of this wealth of music, there are even two hilarious talk radio stations to listen to. All of this adds up to one of the richest gaming experiences ever. If I’ve missed out your favourite song (which I probably have), share it below. Hey, it’s a free excuse to play more GTA!

The Man With No Destination – Nicholas Burke

13 Nov

One of the reasons I love receiving coverage requests by exciting news bands and artists is that occasionally I come across a musician like Nicholas Burke. With your approval, I would like to shed my composed journalistic integrity for just one moment and resort to a brief outburst of inappropriate slang.

Holy Sh*t, this man can sing.

Well, now I have to back that up, right? Nick Burke is a California-born psychedelic/country musician. His music combines a sun-drenched acoustic guitar with an effortless baritone that emerges from the arid desert like a permanent mirage. Burke’s granular tone is oddly smooth (ignore the contradiction) and his voice features a subtle old-fashioned quiver much like one musician whom I will boldly compare Burke with in a few lines.

The Man With No Destination was released in September of 2012, a nine-track affair that Burke said was, “primarily recorded between the hours of 3 AM and 8 AM.” It “is a
cautionary tale of man living life after love.” On completion of the album, it is tempting to pick up the needle and delicately place it back on the initial groove, only to realize that the tracks are on the computer and to repeat the album double clicking the first song is all that is necessary. The temptation is there because the album itself sounds older than it actually is. Burke is able to capture the warm atmosphere of past country troubadours – most prominently Johnny Cash.

“The Man With No Destination,” the title track from the album, moves with the folksy, upbeat rhythm of acoustic guitars and chugging percussion. Burke comes in – his first line a restating of the song’s title – and instantaneously gathers the full attention of the listener. Johnny Cash was able to manipulate his croon and connect with listeners. Burke shares a similar quality.

“Adios, Goodbye” follows “The Man with No Destination.” It’s a short ditty, fit with a proficient whistle, that also features a neat echo drop and toe-tapping guitar strumming.

“It Ain’t Right” is a traditional country tune – with the twang and everything! But what remains most impressive, and I do not mean to belabor the point, is Burke’s rich, talented voice. It is just perfect for the type of music he is creating. While Burke may be The Man with No Destination, I know one place he should be – in your music library.

You can purchase his new album here.

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