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The Shondes Release "Searchlights," Celebrate with National Tour
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

Brooklyn-based band The Shondes released their third album, Searchlights, today. The powerful LP was written after violinist Elijah Oberman was diagnosed with cancer, throughout his treatment and recovery. As a result, the songs embody a distinct urgency. Songs of questioning, heartache and an overall optimism are interwoven in each of the 10 tracks.

“The songs on this album are the kinds of rock songs that made us want to both dance and also cry the whole time we were working on them,” said drummer Temim Fruchter.  “Those are the exact kinds of songs that are my favorite to perform – the kinds that feel like they really, really connect us to the audience when we play them.”

Searchlights kicks off with the energetic “Close the Door” with powerful vocals and violin accompaniment. A relatable track, Louisa Solomon’s earnest singing transcends. “I want to set the record straight/I guess I just have too much faith that justice will prevail,” she sings.

“Are You Ready” follows suit with a heavy bass beat and steady percussion while The Shondes’ dynamic rock & roll flavor is further showcased on “Give Me What You’ve Got.” With angst-ridden vocals and soaring instrumental interludes, it’s easy to envision this track being performed live. This comes as no surprise though, as the band is known for their energetic live show.

Formed in 2006, the band’s moniker, “Shonde,” is the Yiddish word for disgrace, and they have always talked candidly about being unashamed of who they are and standing up for what they believe in. A standout release, Searchlights, impresses and aptly blends punk rock sensibilities with striking violin, bass, guitar and percussion accompaniment.

Whether Solomon’s voice crescendos at the perfect spot or Oberman’s violin is at the forefront, the band begs the listener to take notice, pouring their hears and souls into every note played. And that, for every music lover, is something to believe in.

Listen to The Shondes’ dynamic track, “Ocean To Ocean,” here and be sure to catch them currently on tour. Complete tour dates below.

The Shondes On Tour

9/20/2011 PHOENIX, AZ @ The Trunk Space
9/23/2011 LOS ANGELES, CA @ Bellyflop Gallery
9/24/2011 LONG BEACH, CA @ MADHaus
9/25/2011 SAN FRANCISCO, CA @ Café Du Nord
9/29/2011 PORTLAND, OR @ Reed College
9/30/2011 PORTLAND, OR @ The Doug Fir
10/1/2011 SEATTLE, WA @ The Vera Project
10/3/2011 SPOKANE, WA @ TBA
10/6/2011 MINNEAPOLIS, MN @ The 7th Street Entry
10/8/2011 MADISON, WI @ TBA
10/9/2011 CHICAGO, IL @ The Hideout
10/12/2011 OBERLIN, OH @ Oberlin College
10/14/2011 NASHVILLE, TN @ FooBar
10/15/2011 DURHAM, NC @ The Pinhook
10/16/2011 CHAPEL HILL, NC @ Ackland Art Museum
10/21/2011 BROOKLYN, NY @ CMJ
10/29/2011 PHILADELPHIA, PA @ Tritone
11/5/2011 PORTLAND, ME @ TBA
11/17/2011 BOSTON, MA @ O’Brien’s

September 20, 2011 | | (0) comment comment
Album Review: Timeseven's "This Road"
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

William Hayden’s passion for music dates back to the 60’s. As a child, he dreamed of being a performer on “American Bandstand,” and from the first time he held a guitar in his hands, he was hooked. Many years and life lessons later, Hayden is back with his new group, Timeseven. Hayden wrote and composed each song on the 10-track release, This Road, while Mark Williams lent his voice on the compilation. Williams’ refreshing vocals combined with Hayden’s relatable lyrics make for an impressive release.

Complete with tales of love, loss and life’s ups and downs, Hayden’s songs are emotional and realistic. Anyone who has witnessed love or heartache will find something to grasp onto. While the start of the LP provides much optimism during the early stages of a relationship, by the end of This Road, the honeymoon period is long over. Throughout the 10 tracks, the listener witnesses the first blossom of love to the mournful death and heartache of love lost, which is a true testament to Hayden’s ability and intricacies as a songwriter.

“Just Like You” introduces Timeseven with soft vocals, smooth guitar and percussion accompaniment. Williams’ refreshing singing style combined with delicate electric guitar interludes impress and quickly draws the listener in. “I’ve been waiting a long time to tell someone I love you/Now I’m thinking that someone is you/ I’ve been looking a long time for somebody just like you/I’ve been waiting a long time for you/I’ve traveled all around the world/Just to find your shining smile and face/And your hand holding mine,” Williams sings. With a soaring guitar interlude mid-song and solid percussion throughout, the album opener aptly entices listeners to delve into the remaining nine tracks. The next song, “Free” quickens the pace. Hayden’s introspective and uplifting lyrics mesh well with Williams’ singing style making a mark on the listener.

Hayden mentions in his biography the therapeutic process songwriting has on him. “Tapping into my own personal experiences and being as honest as I can, I hope my songs will touch a chord and resonate with the listener on a deep level. Thoughts and memories, whether of joy or heartbreak replaying over and again in my head, are now woven into my songs. Songwriting has helped me to heal from the inevitable wounds of life and to celebrate its victories,” he writes.

Every track on the LP showcases this honesty. A heartbreaking tale of loneliness, “Just the Thought of You” demonstrates Williams’ deeper vocals with light guitar strumming. “I’ve traveled all around the world just to find myself alone/I’ve spent my nights alone/Just talking to myself/Holding onto a dream in my mind/With my heart up on the shelf,” he sings. With a soft almost whisper-like singing style, “Just the Thought of You” and next track, “Invisible Man” bring to mind singer-songwriter Joshua Radin.

While “Just the Thought of You” is a somewhat uplifting tale, “Invisible Man” follows suit with introspection and continuous questioning. A slower ballad that embodies the hope to find content in life, Hayden shows his ability to understand the human psyche and have listeners relate. “I’m the invisible man/See me while you can/I’m here today but tomorrow I’ll be gone” he sings with desperation in his voice and slow paced musical accompaniment.

The light-hearted “Your Love” switches gears and recalls Jack Johnson with intricate guitar finger picking and soft vocals. With delicate percussion, the feel good song further demonstrates Timeseven’s prowess as musicians. Additionally, the stand-out “Ordinary Man” brings to mind John Mayer with bluesy guitar interludes while “I Still Think of You” tells the dark tale of unfulfilled dreams. “Movin’ On” follows suit and slows down the pace until album closer and title track “This Road.”

No doubt an impressive debut release, it is the slower ballads that drag the album to a close instead of ending strongly. This Road would have made more of an impact if the fast paced tracks and ballads were dispersed evenly throughout the album, and as a result would greatly help the flow.

March 2, 2011 | | (0) comment comment
Artist of the Week: Brooke Fraser
CATEGORIES: Artist of the Week, CD Reviews

New Zealand’s Brooke Fraser has been readying the release of her stand-out third album, Flags. With angelic vocals reminiscent to singer-songwriters Ingrid Michaelson and Colbie Caillat, Fraser’s 11-track LP combines descriptive songwriting with remarkable musical accompaniment.

Flags begins with the energetic “Something In the Water.” With a catchy beat and a chorus that is bound to stay stuck in your head long after the last verse is sung, Fraser kicks of the album strongly. Next track, “Betty,” co-written by Fraser, Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman and The Real Efforts of Real People’s Ben West, segues nicely with horn features, a driving percussion beat and Fraser’s relentless vocals.

Of Flags, Fraser says, “I’ve never used as many characters or as much narrative in my songwriting as I have on this record. On my previous albums, I was singing completely as myself, which is why I think I got so burnt out from touring.”

Last album, Albertine, Fraser says was inspired by “incredibly significant events and people and every time I’d sing I’d go back to that moment where my heart was ripped open. So singing such heavy songs nearly every night for three years took a toll … On Flags, it’s still me speaking, but it’s me speaking the voices of different characters and their stories. It’s more survivable.”

A new character is woven into each of Fraser’s 11 songs while her angelic voice captivates on all. “Orphans, Kingdoms” impresses with a steadfast drumbeat underneath her slower singing style while “Ice on Her Lashes,” a beautiful ballad, introduces soaring string features for the first time.

Continuously showcasing her versatility, on “Jack Kerouac” soulful electric guitar accompanies the Caribbean folk influenced track while moving ballad “Sailboats” displays Fraser’s more serious side. With a release this strong, Americans can expect to hear much more from the New Zealand native.

Watch Brooke’s video for “Something In the Water” below and be sure to visit her Web site to download “May Waltz.”

December 9, 2010 | | (2) comment comment
Album Review: Matt White’s “It’s the Good Crazy”
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

With 11 tracks of infectious falsetto and defined soul, Matt White impresses on sophomore release, It’s the Good Crazy. From the very first track, “And the Beat Goes On” White manages to capture the listener’s undivided attention with his powerful singing, piano playing and whistling. The versatility between each song on the LP electrifies as it’s nearly impossible to predict what will come next.

Catchy songs like first single, “Falling In Love (With My Best Friend)” are instantly likable and easy to picture heard on Top 40 radio while the sexy “She’s On Fire” offers surprising diversity with a seductive beat matched well with White’s deep vocals.

The slower “Taking On Water” follows “She’s On Fire” and embodies lyrics that are bound to make every girl’s heart swoon. “It’s your eyes that keep me hanging around/Make me drive all night to get to your house,” he sings over light percussion and acoustic guitar accompaniment. 

While White demonstrates his ability to be more serious on a number of ballads throughout his LP, it’s on more playful tracks like the 70s influenced “Teacher Teacher” that showcase his talent best. Alternating between slower singing and belting the chorus, his transformation is impeccable. “Off My Wall” follows suit with higher vocals and slow groove building that is sure to bring even the shyest wallflower to the dance floor. 

Overall, a remarkably solid release, White makes a name for himself on It’s the Good Crazy. In an industry of predictability, White remains to stand out from the crowd.

For more on Matt White, be sure to visit MySpace and to learn about the stories behind his songs, read a recent interview with him on The Huffington Post. Watch him perform latest single, “Falling In Love” below.


Matt White performs “Falling in Love” at Joe’s Tavern, Sept 2010 from Julia Allison on Vimeo.

September 23, 2010 | | (0) comment comment
Album Review: June Shellene’s “Wait ‘Til Midnight Ends”
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

With soulful vocals, June Shellene impresses on latest release, Wait ‘Til Midnight Ends. No newcomer to the music scene, first album The Lost Art of Love, won two achievement awards from Billboard Magazine. Additionally, her songs have been covered by numerous artists, including jazz musicians and Broadway acts. A powerful vocalist, Shellene satisfies the listener as she blends jazz, blues and soul on Wait ‘Til Midnight Ends. 

Self-produced with bassist Jim Cox, the 13-track album combines delicate piano, fitting percussion and soulful saxophone features throughout. Despite the talented musical accompaniment, it is Shellene’s powerful vocals that leave the greatest impact. Her singing style blends well with the music, soaring at the perfect moment and fading to a whisper when she sees fit. Whether she’s singing about things she wishes life would present her on “Not Good Enough Blues” or belting out her emotions in between horn features on “We Won’t Let It Bring Us Down,” Shellene’s talent is undeniable.

Wait ‘Til Midnight Ends begins with the six-minute long title track. A glimpse of what’s to come on the remaining 12 songs, Shellene’s voice accentuates the piano, bowed bass and percussion accompaniment. The seductive “Make a Little Time for Love,” brings to mind Rosemary Clooney’s infamous “Mambo Italiano.” With upbeat percussion and a telling European vibe that transports the listener back in time, it is a song easily enjoyed on repeat. The standout track combines accordion, bass and percussion alongside Shellene’s pitch-perfect singing.

Though the piano is the chief instrument heard on most of the album, additional saxophone and horn interludes add diversity. “Lincoln Avenue” showcases Shellene’s sultry singing style combined with soulful saxophone while “We Won’t Let It Bring Us Down” switches gears with a slow story-like introduction with trumpet and clarinet features.

“Tattoo” is a refreshing change from previous songs. Not a complete escape from her roots, the track showcases a rustic country vibe. While previous songs could easily be envisioned in a jazz club, “Tattoo” has a telling southern influence that brings to mind soul music championed in Memphis.

A voice beyond compare, Shellene’s latest release embodies a timeless quality that brings to mind numerous jazz greats before her. An album that no doubt will stand the test of time, Wait ‘Til Midnight Ends, demonstrates her prowess as a singer and pianist. Continuously evoking emotion throughout each track, one can hear her passion for music on each song and only wonder at the power her next album will evoke.

For more on June, visit her on ReverbNation.

August 25, 2010 | | (1) comment comment
PT Walkley Offers Versatility on Three-Song EP
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

PT Walkley is an artist who needs to be witnessed live. The first time I caught him in concert, I covered the show for Filter and was truly in awe. It was his record release and he had nearly a full orchestra of musicians and backup singers perfecting each song on his album from start to finish.

Having opened for Coldplay at Madison Square Garden, performed at All Points West and had his music featured in several commercials and films, Walkley has proven his staying power as a songwriter and performer. His latest three song EP (which he handed out to all in attendance at a recent show at Joe’s Pub) will be showcased in Ed Burns’ upcoming movie, “Nice Guy Johnny.” The film premiers April 23rd at Tribeca Film Festival.

A slight departure from his previous release, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone, the three songs provide a much more upbeat rock sound. “What’s What” kicks off the release with gritty guitar and seductive vocals. With additional piano and percussion accompaniment and Walkley’s catchy “woah-oh-oh’s” the listener is captivated right away.

“Something Else” switches gears and is more of a tongue-in-cheek love ballad. With quirky lyrics demonstrating the roller coaster tale of a relationship, Walkley intrigues. “Oh how we used to fight/We’d shout out loud ’til the laryngitis came in/You weren’t my type/I didn’t float your boat/I was broke and you were broken,” Walkley sings at the start of the song. However, by the stories end, the character seems to have changed his tune. “Love is alive and well/Something else, something more/So much better than it was before,” he concludes. With fast-paced percussion and Walkley’s energetic vocals it’s impossible to not tap your foot along by the song’s close.

Last track on the EP, “The Radio,” featuring The Blue Jackets is a much edgier rock sound than previously heard from Walkley. A track questioning the impact of radio and tastemakers, the song’s aggression impresses. It perhaps is fitting then, that he name drops well known songs and musicians like Billy Joel and “Billie Jean” within the same line. “If you ain’t Billie Jean or Billy Joel you’re gonna come and go/On the radio, radio, radio,” he sings. In the end, the song begs the question: Who is to say what belongs on the radio?

For more on PT Walkley, visit his Web site. You can listen to “What’s What,” “Something Else,” and “The Radio” on MySpace.

Related Links:
Q&A; with PT Walkley
Song of the Week: “The Lucky Ones”
PT Walkley Impresses at Album Release Show
All Points West: Music, Mud Wrestling, and Beer Gardens

April 8, 2010 | | (0) comment comment
Album Review: The Canon Logic’s “FM Arcade”
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

I’ve been to my fair share of shows over the years. Every now and then there’s a band that really sparks your attention. Not just the, “Wow. They were pretty good,” remarks after a concert, but thinking that this band truly has something special. Something different than all those other up-and-coming bands out there. This is exactly how I felt the first time I covered The Canon Logic.

It was October 2008 at Arlene’s Grocery and the first night of the CMJ festival. I had never seen a New York crowd go that crazy. The girls were dancing like maniacs in front of the stage and everyone was wearing Canon Logic sunglasses that the band made specifically for their showcase. Performing at 7pm on a Tuesday night the first day of a festival was definitely not the best time slot, but the band worked it to their advantage.

I interviewed the guys after their set and never imagined I’d wind up working with them as tour manager and publicist for a few months. Funny the way things work out. During my interview, I asked TCL what makes them different from every other band invading NYC during CMJ week. Guitarist Josh Greenfield informed me of their diverse and devote fanbase where everyone from parents to grandparents to even his high school-aged sister enjoy their performances and frequent shows.

“I think we have a wide range of fans. We like to try and bring everybody together. We’re trying to pull from so many different influences. We really like the classic rock stuff and we also like what’s going on now. I think we have a good balance of the two, which allows everyone to really get into the music.”

It’s been a long journey since that October. Many concerts later, The Canon Logic are releasing their debut full length, FM Arcade. The 12-track album is an accurate portrayal of their talent and energetic live show. Think The Killers meet The Beach Boys. Or, as Time Out New York once wrote, “The Canon Logic plays 1960s-style shameless pop fused with latter-day production sensibilities.”

Kicking it off with solid instrumental buildup on first track, “Villain In America” the listener is jolted awake and quickly realizes this isn’t your typical debut. Frontman Tim Kiely’s vocals have an old school vibe that intrigue and are never overpowered by the musical accompaniment.

Second track, “Avenue of Criminals” has always been a concert favorite. Longtime fans will be impressed with the arrangement. Slow piano draws the listener in at first before Kiely enters while guitar and percussion further layer the track. Complete with Beach Boys-esque harmonies, their first single off FM Arcade is bound to stay stuck in your head.

“It All Went Away…” switches gears from the high intensity of the first few tracks. Just over a minute long, the piano based song showcases the band’s willingness to try something new with a stripped down approach, breaking up the album well. “Nights At Armour Mansion” follows suit and is a darker number with a slow beat at first listen. Midway through, however, an instrumental interlude quickens the pace with fitting percussion before the rest of the band joins in on vocals.

Standout track, “Dead Man” begins with 15 seconds of guitar distortion reminiscent to that of The Kinks. The energy never wavers, and instead continues to electrify throughout the entire track. This is indie rock at its finest. While it’s hard for the rest of the album to follow such intensity, “Dead Man” is one track that is sure to have music critics raving.

Ending with the minute-long “Last Day of Man,” The Canon Logic leave the listener wondering what they can expect next. A solid debut release, FM Arcade, is only a glimpse into what is sure to be a bright future for the Brooklyn-based band.

Gearing up for their debut full length release this coming Tuesday, FM Arcade, will be available on iTunes and Canon Logic’s Web site. If you can’t wait that long, you can download “Nights At Armour Mansion” and “Avenue Criminals” for free here.

The band will be performing at Mercury Lounge tomorrow night celebrating their release. For more information, visit their Web site.

Related Links:
Q&A; with The Canon Logic
Song of the Week: “Delia”
The Canon Logic Video Performance
Canon Logic Lure Fans With Catchy Rock Songs, Sunglasses

March 4, 2010 | | (0) comment comment
Album Review: Laura Meyer’s “Miles From Nowhere”
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

Laura Meyer‘s Twitter bio describes her best: Globe-trekking folk-rock poet. The New York-based folk-rock artist recently completed a 38-day, 34-show tour across the US and will be back on the road in early December. It seems the tour bus is truly her home and she’s at ease at any locale — whether it’s performing in Dublin for over 10,000 fans at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival or in New York at the intimate Rockwood Music Hall.

It is perhaps no wonder that Meyer’s latest release, Miles From Nowhere was inspired by her time spent on the road. The 20-track album takes the listener on a journey throughout the 40,000 miles Meyer has traveled. With detailed scenic description and continuous alliteration, Miles From Nowhere grabs the listener’s ear and takes him to a new destination.

It’s not often that an artist can transport the listener to another time and place, but on Miles From Nowhere, Meyer succeeds. Whether she is singing about New Orleans on the rustic opening track, “Katrina, Katrina” or her beloved home on the colorful “Back In New York,” each song is distinctly different from the previous.

An old soul, it is easy to envision Meyer performing at folk festivals, for it is her lyrics that stand out most. The way she imparts constant emotion and vivid imagery throughout each track is remarkable, bringing to mind Joni Mitchell with her vocals and distinctive guitar style. Additionally, the occasional angst shown in edgier tracks like “Miles From Nowhere” and “Chelsea Hotel” exemplifies Alanis Morissette circa her Jagged Little Pill era.

Miles From Nowhere progresses naturally from song to song, despite obvious differences in tone throughout each new track. The softer “Katrina, Katrina” transforms into the edgy title track extremely well while the dark and somber “Chelsea Hotel” and it’s faster guitar picking segues equally fittingly into the love story of “New York, New York.”

Recorded in one session, Miles From Nowhere alternates solely between acoustic and electric guitar and Meyer on vocals. The album is simple, and not overproduced. In fact, it’s as if you’re receiving a private concert by Meyer in your living room. Her songs are incredibly honest as she opens up her diary to the world. “I trust the universe takes care of me/But sometimes my trust is just so hard to believe,” she sings on “Night Drive.”

Much of the album deals with the uncertainty of love. “The Ocean” embodies a spoken word segment on love and is a welcomed change while “New York, New York” speaks of the uncertainty in relationships. “I’ve always felt like New York is a yo-yo/Tied round my finger I can’t throw her away/But now I see after coming and going/New York’s the only one who ever stays/I’m just the toy in her hand/Like a boy who thinks that he’s a man/I’m just the toy in her hand/She throws me away and I go back again and again/I’ve always felt like love is for strangers/Soon as you know it, it goes away/I’ve tried to love him despite the danger/And in the end only love remained,” she sings.

Whether it’s her intricate finger picking or moving lyrics, Meyer is one folk-artist who deserves your attention. Visit her Web site and if you like what you hear, be sure to catch her on tour in December and January.

Recommended: For fans of Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, Ingrid Michaelson.

November 29, 2009 | | (0) comment comment
Album Review: Switchfoot’s “Hello Hurricane”
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

Their first album in nearly three years, Switchfoot have said Hello Hurricane has been the hardest record they have ever made. The band tracked over 80 songs out of 150 written, the end result being 12 remarkably cohesive tracks. Between the aggressive rock numbers and powerful ballads, Hello Hurricane is a solid release embodying tales of struggle and loss intertwined with the overlying theme of hope and love. Their seventh studio release, Switchfoot prove their music is as important now than ever.

A press release explains it best: “Where the multiple-Platinum selling The Beautiful Letdown became an anthem for a generation of fans to leave a life of complacency with songs like “Dare You To Move,” “Meant to Live” and “This Is Your Life,” Hello Hurricane takes the message a step further, encouraging fans to live for something beyond themselves.”

Energetic tracks like current single, “Mess of Me” and opening song, “Needle and Haystack Life” reassess this message. “Don’t let go/Don’t give up hope/All is forgiven/You breathe it in/The highs and lows/We call it living/All is not lost/Become who you are/It happens once in a lifetime.”

Frontman Jon Foreman further explains the record’s concept. “Hello Hurricane acknowledges the storms that tear through our lives. This album is an attempt to respond to those storms with an element of hope, trying to understand what it means to be hopeful in a world that keeps on spinning.”

Known for their introspective lyrics and heartfelt ballads, the heavy rock entrance on the record may surprise longtime fans at first. High-energy, arena-friendly tracks can be heard early on Hello Hurricane, something the Switchfoot concert buff will enjoy but the average music fan may take a few spins to appreciate. In a four-minute album trailer Foreman provides clarification while talking of the difficulty in tracking the album. “They didn’t feel like the type of songs you wanted to die singing. For Hello Hurricane, that became the prerequisite for the song. If you’re not crying, why are you singing it? If you don’t believe it with every ounce of you, then there’s no point in singing it.” It is this quote that best describes the album.

Hello Hurricane takes the listener on a journey. The upbeat start of the record eventually takes a turn midway through, ending with three fitting ballads. Let me be clear, this is not an album of singles; it is an album that rewards those who listen to it in its entirety.

Slower track, “Your Love Is a Song” recalls earlier Switchfoot track, “Let Your Love Be Strong” and “Your Love Is Strong” off Foreman’s solo EP while “Bullet Soul” is a welcomed rebirth. Opening with excessive guitar fuzz in the speakers, it’s as rock as you can get. Listeners can easily picture Foreman jumping off the drum kit while screaming the lyrics at a live show.

Switchfoot thrive on their ballads and the emotional “Enough” is just one example. With soft guitar accompaniment and percussion, Foreman’s voice blends well as he sings, “Do you love me enough to let me go?/To let me follow through/Let me fall for you my love/Do you love me enough to let me go?” Possibly the simplest track on Hello Hurricane, the depth behind “Enough” is immeasurable.

“Free” follows “Enough” and is a song many can relate to. In a tale of the struggle breaking free of our own vices be it debt, greed, or our past, Foreman sings, “I’ve got my back against the wall/But I still hear the blue sky call/The chains that hold me back inside/Are the prisons of my mind . . . I try to live the light of day/Why would I do what I hate.” With dark guitar tones and percussion the song leaves an impact on the listener.

Produced by Mike Elizondo, (Eminem, Dr. Dre, Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor) Hello Hurricane is a new beginning for the band. While certain tracks rock harder than others, it is the stories within the songs that leave the greatest impression.

The title track is said to have been inspired by a woman who lost all she knew in Hurricane Katrina. Last year, with Habitat for Humanity, the band helped rebuild a woman’s home who relocated to Baton Rouge. As she learned to walk as an amputee, Foreman explained her mantra: “I walked out of my house and my life in New Orleans on my own legs; I’m going to walk into this one the same way.” Of “Hello Hurricane,” he explained, “This is the spirit that I wanted to capture with this song, and moreover with this record. The storms of life might take my house, my loved ones, or even my life- but they cannot silence my love.”

After learning the story behind the song, the track hits home. “Everything I have I count as loss/Everything I have is stripped away/Before I started building/I counted up these costs/There’s nothing left for you to take away/Hello hurricane/You can’t silence my love.”

The beautifully emotional ballads, “Always,” “Yet,” “Sing It Out” and “Red Eyes” close the album on a high note. Last track, “Red Eyes” brings the album full circle with Foreman singing the chorus from “Needle and Haystack Life” to the fadeout of the song: “We are once in a lifetime…” It is within these songs that Switchfoot truly shine. While the faster paced rock anthems introduce Hello Hurricane, it is the ballads of hope, love and yearning that end the album, leaving the listener with newborn faith, freedom and strength. Foreman explains it best:

Hello Hurricane is an attempt to sing into the storm. Hello Hurricane is a declaration: you can’t silence my love. My plans will fail, the storms of this life will come, and chaos will disrupt even my best intentions, but my love will not be destroyed. Beneath the sound and the fury there is a deeper order still- deeper than life itself. An order that cannot be shaken by the storms of this life. There is a love stronger than the chaos, running underneath us- beckoning us to go below the skin-deep externals, beyond the wind, even into the eye of the storm. Hello Hurricane, you’re not enough- you can’t silence my love.”

Hello Hurricane hits stores Tuesday, November 10. Are you planning on picking up a copy? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Related Links:
Q&A; with Jon Foreman
Q&A; with Chad Butler of Switchfoot
Audio Interview with Tim Foreman of Switchfoot
Switchfoot Raise Over $67,000 on Tour Benefiting Habitat for Humanity

November 9, 2009 | | (0) comment comment
EP Review: Army of Me’s “Make Yourself Naked”
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

In an age where Auto-Tune is recognized as music and overproduction takes the place of the stripped down and acoustic, Army of Me‘s latest EP, Make Yourself Naked is a welcomed reminder of where it all begins. On Make Yourself Naked, singer-songwriter Vince Scheuerman breaks things down and takes the listener on a journey.

“I never intended for anyone to hear this music,” Scheuerman said. In fact, the recordings on Make Yourself Naked were originally meant to be song ideas and demos for the next Army Of Me record. It was recorded on his laptop, in his bedroom in Washington DC.

Reminiscent to that of Switchfoot singer-songwriter Jon Foreman’s seasonally themed EP’s released last year, Scheuerman pours his heart and emotion into each track, inviting listeners into his bedroom. With the overlying theme of love, the EP includes the beautiful “Don’t Be Long” and “Love Song” (listen below).

While a definite contrast from Army of Me’s debut album, Citizen, the five-song EP was Scheuerman’s first attempt at self-recording: he only had a microphone, guitar, keyboard and laptop to work with. The result is a raw EP of honesty and intimacy.

Revealing his vulnerability, with delicate finger strumming on “Love Song” Scheuerman sings, “Love I want to give myself away/Love I want to receive you back in the same way/I make no sense on my own/We’re meant for each other/This is love/I forgot the part of my heart that could burn for someone/Happy surprise when I can’t take my eyes from you/You are something sweet/Surely have captured me/But I know I will stay anyway.”

“Lost At Sea” draws numerous aquatic metaphors, allowing the listener to come to his own conclusion while “On My Way” paints a vivid picture of a man on a long and uncertain journey. Beginning with soft strokes of the piano, “Don’t Be Long” ends the EP with an ethereal chorus to the fadeout of the song, begging the listener to question what’s in store next for Army of Me. A solid release, it is hard to believe Make Yourself Naked was recorded in Scheuerman’s bedroom on a laptop. Nonetheless, it is often these intimate moments that make the best music.

To listen to “Love Song” click here. Be sure to visit Army of Me on MySpace for tour dates and to purchase the EP.

Related Links:
Audio Interview with Vince Scheuerman of Army of Me
I’m With the Band
Army of Me Invades Brooklyn
Q&A; with Vince Scheuerman

October 27, 2009 | | (0) comment comment
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"See Through You"
Willie Shaw's sultry new song mesmerizes upon first listen.
YOU SING I WRITE
Music Reviews, Interviews, Concert & Album Reviews
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