Tag Archives: Folk

Luca Bash – The Single Drops EP Review

10 Sep

Modern-day music seems to have an obsession with big beats and EDM-style euphoric rises and drops. Now this isn’t another of those typical reviews slamming EDM for its major successes over the past few years, but it is an review aiming to highlight the beauty and stripped back simplicity of a musician and an instrument.

Italian Luca Bash is one of said musicians, with his new EP, “The Single Drops”, summing up what the medium of acoustic music is, thought-provoking, emotive music that can connect people with its raw power. This EP is a compilation of the ‘best bits’ of the 2014 releases, “Cyan”, “Magenta”, “Yellow” and “Key Black”, plus an original new tune. It’s a novel approach, which shows sheer confidence from Bash in his own output

Bash and his long-time collaborator Giova Pes have combined to create a soulful experience that reaches out and connects with the listener, bridging the gap from record to artist. Kicking off with the new track, “Your Tomorrow”, from the moment Bash’s gravelly tones kick in, over the heavenly acoustic melody, you can close your eyes, lie back and relax. Again, the sound is exceptional here, with the production values high and the crisp instrumentation really matches Bash’s raspy vocals perfectly. It could be said it doesn’t really evolve as a song, but then when a song is the equivalent of a river trickling, does it need to go anywhere providing it is intensely relaxing to listen to.

Second song “Forever Like Asleep”, manages to sound like something heard on a mellower moment of “The Walking Dead”, a show famed for its country influences. The guitar melodies here are captivating and demand attention from the word go. The vocals here are more pronounced and noticeable too, with the musical breakdowns both intriguing and musically diverse too, it’s Bash and Pes showing us, the listener, that they have more to their musical repertoire. At times the vocalisations are slightly strained, but I really think it adds to the level of emotion in the music.

Next up is, “Dear John”, and is where things start to get slightly repetitive. I do enjoy the instrumentation here, as we break into more rhythmic melodies that resonated with me, but I feel this is a song that would excel live, while on record it’s kind of left behind a bit, as it sounds eerily similar to opener, “Your Tomorrow”. It does grow on me as we develop, but I feel that there’s not a lot more to be said about this track. It has more of a sleepy quality than a relaxing one.

The beginning of “Little Tale” sound like a mystical fairytale of sorts, with its mysterious acoustic background, while Bash’s vocals tend to differentiate from what has gone before which is a relief after the slightly derivative nature of “Dear John”. No here, we do gradually build to some form of climax, which allows Bash’s vocals to be a lot more interesting and diverse in their range. The breakdown halfway through serves as something of a harvester for the emotion that is to come in the latter half, we slow down before eeking out another powerful vocal and acoustic combination towards the end of the song, as the acoustics really take centre stage.

This sweet, but short, EP comes to a close with “Black Swans Walls”, which has more than a couple of American reference points, Dave Matthews-esque guitars swelling in the background and providing a suitable backdrop to a hurried Bash on vocals. It all sounds a lot more positive and upbeat, so rather than relax, it gets you a bit more pumped and bouncy! A great way to end such a short little collection of songs, and a nice emotion to leave with the audience, for sure.

Connections have also been important to Luca Bash. He often speaks of the moment where the adulation of a female fan sent shivers down his spine: “Before the final part of ‘Dear John,’ I make a pause after a B7, followed by a G.
When I reached that point of the song, the crowd was quiet and the silence was incredible. But a young female voice screamed aloud ‘Bravo!’ and, despite the fact that I was playing, I heard her. I still remember the shivers. I was unknown, playing a song unknown as well, but able to give emotions. This is the reason why I still compose.”

That much is clear within Bash’s work, you can tell he aims to connect and give people pleasure in his musical truths and personality. With “Single Drops”, he’s only going to connect to more and more people around the world.

Drunk Tank Pink Sessions – Christoffer Øien New Release Out September 4

1 Sep

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When we last left Christoffer Øien a few years ago, he was coming off the heels of his successful debut Monster, which the Music Court lauded as “expansive folk; it mixes the style of some of Joe Purdy’s slower, lugubrious pieces with a mystical Radiohead flavor.” So, when I received a note from Øien that his new album would be out in September (tomorrow!), I got excited. Øien’s acoustic creations are keen and pastoral; true bucolic masterpieces from the land of fjords and trolls.

With the new album comes the continuation of Øien’s brand of mountain folk, a darker brand of music that is led by deep acoustic guitar tones and Øien’s smooth, quivering vocals. The music, while melancholy, has a unique ghost-like haunt to it; the riffs and Øien’s voice stays with you and not long after listening you find yourself humming the melody to disturb the silence. That’s staying power.

“Drunk Tank Blues,” the quasi-title track features all of the qualities about Øien that entice listeners. It is a slow-moving piece that features a crisp acoustic and dulcet violin. The song, which features a minimalistic almost existential video, matches the lugubriousness of the video, a smooth melody about drunk blues. The song moves slowly, accentuating each verse and string fill with skill.

Another song you should check out from the album is “Future Sounds.” A lighter track, with a riff higher on the fret board, Øien advises the listener about a future that does not look so bright, unless people can “find it in your heart to put a smile upon a stranger’s face … and find love in so many ways.” His vocal is particularly strong on this track, particularly emphasizing his best vocal quality – his ability to reverberate his notes. The strongest part of the song is its chorus, which builds with continuing harmonies and becomes like wonderful melodic message.

Check out his website, Facebook for more information.

Josh Ritter is Ready to Get Down

5 Aug

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When I saw Josh Ritter several months ago (just after he finished recording his new album Sermon on the Rocks, which will be released on Oct. 16.) he introduced his newest ditty off the upcoming release, “Getting Ready to Get Down.” It was a crowd mover, a bubbly track much in the style of “To the Dogs or Whoever” with rapid lyric spitting and a funky bass riff mixed with a hip drum beat. Ritter recently released it to the public (July 31), and it has shot up the iTunes ranks, so much so that it appeared on the front page of Hot Tracks today.

So, of course I need to share the track. Josh Ritter is one of my favorite artists creating music today. He blends several styles of folk/rock with intelligent lyrics. It’s easy to sing-a-long to most of his songs, and he carries the title of almost universally creating highly listenable tracks. “Getting Ready to Get Down” is that type of song.

I particularly enjoy the country guitar stylings featured in the middle of the song; it’s a bit different, and it may signal an intriguing dynamic on the new album. But, like always, Ritter’s most endearing quality is his lyric, and this song has a killer verse that I need to share.

“They said your soul needed savin’ so they sent you off to bible school
But you know a little more than they were sure was in the golden rule
Be good to everybody, be a strength to the weak
A joy to the joyful, the laughter in the grief
And give your love freely to whoever that you please
Don’t let nobody tell you ’bout who you oughta be
And when you get damned in the popular opinion
It’s just another damn of the damns you’re not giving”

Talk about bible puns and satirical paradoxes. Ritter tells a message with a punch, a socially liberal sermon from his own personal mount, and I am an eager myrmidon to Ritter’s church of great music.

Bhi Bhiman has both Rhythm and Reason

21 May

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Back in April of 2012 I came across a magical cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” done by a Sri Lankan-American folk-rock singer/songwriter named Bhi Bhiman. To say I was hooked is an understatement. Bhiman’s powerful vocals blew me away, and I spread the word about Bhiman to whoever was listening. It is now 3 years later – somehow; gosh, time moves by quickly – and Bhiman just released his new album Rhythm & Reason, which is a continued testament to how amazingly talented he is. Thus, on the heels of this release, I will make an impassioned plea to many wonderful people who read this blog consistently. Spread the word of Bhi Bhiman. Simply put, more people need to know about this voice.

Bhiman released a self-titled album to much critical fan-fare in 2012, and it featured several tracks that accentuated his deep croon and acoustic stylings. His new album is similar in its intentions: blow you away with well-written folk rock tunes that are sung with ardor and boldness. The tracks move gracefully, blues-tinged and melody-soaked; each featuring Bhiman’s unique stylings. One such song is “Moving to Brussels,” which, while itself is a classic Bhiman track, was recently provided with a humorous video with a cameo from Key & Peele star Keegan-Michael Key.

Key plays a good J.K. Simmons impression with his volatile music lesson for Bhiman. The “Whiplash”-inspired video is hilarious. It does speak for itself, so I will let it do so … play the video now! It doesn’t hurt that “Moving to Brussels” is an energetic folk hit that moves with an infectious effervescence that draws you in. Key doesn’t hurt.

And, if you need some more Bhiman convincing, here is my favorite track by the musician. It is called “Crime of Passion” and while it is not from the new album it is still worth a listen, or two, or three!

Demo-lished: Quincy LePalm

30 Apr

Not often can you catch my attention with a demo version of a track that I already love. Or even demos of things I don’t already love, really. (Sorry, Karen O.) But there is always an exception to the rule. Our exception this time is Quincy LePalm, a genuine songsmith. He is gearing up to release his debut EP, but has released several demos that are sure to catch your attention.

My personal favorite, “Mazinaw Blues,” channels the soul of Son House, with the songwriting reminiscent of Jack White’s ballads. This metaphor goes deeper though; White is conspicuously influenced by Son House- he plays a Son House LP during It Might Get Loud, and the Son House edition of the Heroes of the Blues CD series has a quote from White right on the back of the jewel case. I like to think that not only is LePalm influenced by both of them, he is their new form. Son House was the master of the blues, then Jack came and renewed rock and roll as we knew it with The White Stripes, then The Raconteurs, and then The Dead Weather. Okay, so I’m getting ahead of myself; LePalm has no interest in fundamentally changing the folk or blues music scenes as we know them. But he is interested in telling you a compelling story, just him and his guitar. The paradigm shifts will come later.

There is an EP in the works, due out this summer. For more information on Quincy LePalm, follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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