WECB Music Staff is back in full force bringing you their highly solicited opinion on what's new + not yet reviewed...ish. If you've got stuff you would like to send our way, go ahead and email music(at)wecb(dot)fm --we'll do our best to be kind ;-)
**btw- all opinions author's own//duh**
Review: Deep Water - Desert Moons
‘Deep Water’, the new single from up-and-coming Australian band Desert Moons composed of Jake and Simon Dobson, provides listeners with haunting and powerful harmonies and a melodic synth beat. The simple beat plays off of a pattern of major chords, adding light synths and hi-hats to create a fresh, city sound. Haunting vocals compliment the elementary beat, certainly securing their spot in the indie-electronic genre of music. Jake Dobson, the duo’s front man, describes the song as more of a metaphorical journey; taking risks outside of your comfort zone, and taking a step into deep, uncharted territory, like that in the ocean. It represents, as Dobson stated, “facing [your] demons head on”.
The Dobson brothers merge to form Desert Moons, based in New South Wales, producing and recording their own music in a house studio. While both brothers have toured with different bands, their recent collaboration is the first time they have created music together. ‘Deep Water’ is their second track, following another light-electronic song ‘Rough Trade’, which first put them on the map for some minor labels, local radios, and global blogs. The brothers performed their first live show this past week on September 29th, at a small art gallery bar in Sydney. Their music is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, and iTunes.
- Claudia Bennett
Review: Something New EP - Makeup Girl
If the indie genre was a supermarket, Makeup Girl would be the off-brand cereal that expired two years ago. Yes, Frosted Fakes may be cheaper than the real deal, but people trust their Frosted Flakes and are happy to pay twenty cents more for quality that they can count on. Plus, those Frosted Fakes have been sitting on that shelf for way too long to still be edible - they don’t have a chance. And if mom or dad comes home with a big box of Frosted Fakes, little Jimmy is going to be pissed. He wants his name brand Frosted Flakes and will accept nothing less. He’s not going to waste his one sugary breakfast for the week on an inferior product.
What can make knockoff items appealing, though, is when they offer something different than the original. Just making a watered-down version of something successful is never a marvel or a feat; and that’s exactly what Makeup Girl does.
On their recent Something New EP, the Washington D.C. natives reel out predictable song structures, basic chord loops, and cliched lyrics. Makeup Girl is the Frosted Fakes and Mac Demarco and Homeshake are the Frosted Flakes. The wailing, nasal vocals on tracks 3 through 5 blatantly mimic Demarco’s signature inflection. But Makeup Girl’s vocalist lacks the personality that Mac Demarco radiates. Similarly, tracks 1 and 2 copy Homeshake’s simple and clean production method with smooth chords and drums that sound like they were syncopated automatically from a GarageBand stock setting. Very few musicians can pull this off. One thing that makes a successful attempt at incorporating ironically crappy drums is when the other instruments shine effervescently, making it clear that the percussion is intentional. With Makeup Girl, I can’t tell if the drums are ironic or not because the other instruments’ performances are just as dull. For their next project, I hope the band develops more of an identity, takes more risks, and creates a sound of their own.
- Gabe Allanoff
Review: Money - (The New) Elektrisk Gønner
Elektrisk Gønner was formed in 2010 when producer Benjamin Løzninger teamed up with a fresh unknown Danish singer named MØ. After the release of their album, MØ was signed to Sony. Benjamin decided to relocate to Brooklyn where he recruited singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Skyler Cocco. Together they released the track “Money” as the new Elektrisk Gønner. The older Elektrisk Gønner had more of a techno sound. “Money” brings on a fresher happier feeling. It is an electronic pop song with a very noticeable eighties feel. Skyler Cocco’s vocals are sweet and soothing and fit into the bass perfectly. “Money” has a unique renewed sound making it stand out from other pop songs. It is worth checking out.
- Gianna Bellomo
Review: White Wing Dove - Priest
Priest’s newest single, “White Wing Dove,” reveals a less than subpar side of indie electronica. Paired with basic synths and a poorly executed gated reverb, the song comes off as a cheap shot of Grimes. Not fitting completely into indie nor into electronic, the song awkwardly fits into the two.
Stylistically, the song changes beats from one to another, none that work well with one another. On top of that, their electronically enhanced voice during select pieces is not done tastefully.
Overall, “White Wing Dove” presents some challenges toward realistic appreciation. As an unoriginal piece, the listener waits dully for it to end. No new elements are introduced, and therefore, the artistic performance and capabilities aren’t fully developed.
- Gabriella Mrozowski
Review: She - Malachi McNeill and The Necessary Evil
Malachi McNeill is from East Stroudsburg, PA a little down in Northern Pennsylvania near the Delaware Water Gap. He dabbles in folk/rock, which is apparent in his song “She”. The song starts off slow with a sort of indie rock feel. The guitar keeps the song moving throughout the piece. Malachi can sing very well and his voice never is off pitch. However, the one thing I really did not like about the song is the fact that it never really goes anywhere. It stays slow throughout the entire piece. When listening I kept waiting for this build-up to reach a climax, but it never does, leaving the listener unsatisfied. The sound throughout the piece stays the same with nothing really standing out to me except a small guitar solo near the end. The drums never do anything interesting and neither does the bass. The lyrics are sweet and seem to be about a love he misses, but once again, nothing that really stands out to me as a listener. I feel that he has a lot of potential, but needs to continue on working on writing and working on building his sound. It seems like he’s just starting out at being a musician and with that, he has a long way to go to figure out what sound he wants to take on and how he can make it something unique and something his own.
- Angela Rath
Review: All About Love - Ronny Morris
All About Love is a song capable of making a bad a day feel just a little worse. Yet, that might be its strength. It has a very melancholic sound and tone. From the weepy vocals that try to make sense of the present, to the crying strings that draw these emotions right out.
Morris’ background in how his music was used, such as by Greenpeace for “Save the Arctic,” certainly seem to fit a more somber tone. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything wrong with Greenpeace using his music. What this does do is provide some better sense of the style of music Morris is trying to compose.
All About Love is not a sappy song. It’s certainly not the angsty teen breakup song. Not being able to totally make out the lyrics, I can’t say what it is exactly about in terms of a love song. It is, however, for a more adult rather than teen audience. It feels much more mature, genuine, and from the heart, coming from a place of hurt and possible despair. It’s perfectly appealing to a young adult audience who feels lost and confused in their emotions about love and of life.
It’s easy to like, but not to love. This is mostly due to the style of the song just not being the depressive-dissociative synthpop/jangle-pop/indie music that I go for. That said, it’s well composed and well mixed, and I think that Ronny Morris has great talent and skill that is sure to gain him some popularity.
Will I come back to this song? Maybe. I think I’ll be on the lookout for if any other songs by Morris catch my ear, and I hope that this song gets more people’s attention.
- Jim Macolini
Review: Listen - Jayson Bratten
Jayson Bratten is an Irish songwriter from Longford who recently released his double A-side single release on September 8th, 2017.
“Linda” is the first song listed on the single release, a poignant track with lyrics just as powerful as the accompanying instrumentation. His lyrics tell a story, imbued with a familiar romance, common in country music. String instruments create a dramatic tone, relevant to Bratten’s tale of heartbreak. “Linda” carries a slow, sultry melody that ends on a somber, final violin fermata; signaling the end of Bratten’s lonely tale.
The second track, also by Bratten, is entitled “Listen”. In contrast to “Linda”, “Listen” has a more upbeat, rockabilly vibe and immediately attracted this listener by opening up with a series of rhetorical questions: “Do you what's in store? Have you forgotten your past?”. In the chorus, a hypnotic cycle of guitar riffs is to be heard, broadcasting Bratten’s grungier bravura.
Though Bratten started his venture making music through busking the streets of Galway, the songwriter has also become increasingly popular in Germany, Belgium, Canada, and Australia; though it can be assured that Bratten’s rising popularity isn’t finished. Bratten is supposed to have begun recording his next album this past September (2017) with producer John Henry, in the Grouse Lodge in Westmeath. Only good things are to be ahead for this impressive young talent, and his fans will excitedly await new music from Bratten, though out-doing his previously released tracks will be a feat to be seen.
- Emily Bunn
Review: Hell to Pay - Hold/Transfer
When I listened to Hold/Transfer’s song Hell to Pay, the first thing I thought of is how adults stereotypically call rock or punk music noise. I never really understood what they were talking about- music to me was very obviously not noise. But, Hell to Pay as well as Cemeteries (two out of the three songs the band sent the station to play) are very close to what my grandparents might call simply noise. There’s just so much going on, a lot of percussions, and the vocals are practically drowned out by instrumentation.
Now, I know the unknown SoundCloud band self-identifies with the genre “shoegazing.” Until I googled that term, I had no idea what it was. To those readers who may also be just as clueless, the website Allmusic.com describes shoegazing as, “…overwhelmingly loud, with long, droning riffs, waves of distortion, and cascades of feedback. Vocals and melodies disappeared into the walls of guitars, creating a wash of sound where no instrument was distinguishable from the other.” Taking this definition into consideration, I can almost understand why Hold/Transfer’s music sounds the way it does. But, the saga continues. The website previously mentioned also cites the bands My Bloody Valentine and Lush as examples of this revolutionary style of music from the late 80s and early 90s. So, naturally, I looked them up on Spotify and listened to their most popular songs.This is when I really began to understand the mission of shoegazing and I liked it. Every sound was equal, nothing was background, the guitar or the bass and the percussion and the vocals were all the same level and seemed to effortlessly meld into one another. Going back and listening to Hell to Pay, I realized what the difference was. Instead of all the sounds in the song melding together, the percussion and other instrumentation were straining to drown out the vocals. In the process, this created a very staticky uncomfortable sound for the listener. Resentment (the third song the band sent) was a little more successful in the shoegazing goal, had much more of a melody, and was sans angry white background noise.
Ultimately, I think this band has work to do. They need to find a balance between their vocals and instrumentation for the music to be truly enjoyable. I would recommend giving Resentment a listen and even some of the other songs on their new album, Warning Labels, but maybe leave Hell to Pay and Cemeteries off the mix.
- Carly Thompson
Review: Nothing Bad Ever Happens to Me - Brett Staggs
I’m ashamed to admit that Brett Staggs is from my home state of Pennsylvania. Although the country artist knows how to play his instruments well enough and the song “Nothing bad ever happens to me” is certaining catchy, I just can’t take it seriously. The lyrics just seem as though he’s bragging that his life is so great, let’s hope it’s ironic. Or is this just his particular niche of Country Music? Notable lines include “I’m always on time / never drink too much wine / I never hang out in a bad neighborhood” and “The babysitter never cancels on date night”. The song “Home is where the party is” is just as promising as it sounds. As catchy as it is, I can’t get over the lack of interesting lyrics. The songs are repetitive and unoriginal which only makes me want to listen to it less. Even if country music was my prefered genre, this is still hardly bearable.
- Kaycee McKee
Review: Apple Pie - Rafferty
One of the first things I thought of this song was “goddamn this dude likes the Black Keys”, and although that’s not the worst thing in the world, it’s a little too similar. Rafferty is clearly influenced, both aesthetically and musically, by hard-rocking leading men like Lou Reed and Tom Waits but lacks the substance to back up the persona. “Apple Pie” is a simple jam about the timeless struggle of trying to have sex with someone that you like. The instrumental aspects of the song are pretty good with a nice clap-drum percussion set-up and a nice crunchy guitar to add some flavor to it. The subject matter of the song is nothing new and the lyrics aren’t going to win any awards, but they’re easy enough to sing along to if you’re drunk enough. Overall, this is a nice song but not something I would listen to again.
- Jimmy Randall
Review: The Grove and the Thrive - Jason Scolnick
My first impression when listening to the album “The Grove and the Thrive” by Jason Scolnick was that it was lacked any depth or creativity. There were generic guitar solos and loud, forceful exhales on the sound “Ah” at the end of each phrase. His lyrics had no point. In one song he just listed a bunch of musicians that he liked. He came across as the type of guy who starts every sentence about music by saying, “Listen, I’m a rock n roll guy...” That’s how I viewed him until I scrolled through his website, down past collage of awkward photos, all from the same dumb photoshoot, down to his bio and did a complete one-eighty. In the first sentence of his bio he says that he has, “Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic Features.” He then talks about how he went to Harvard and is a genius. So ignoring the probability that his bio is completely made up I’d like revise my review. These songs that all share the same four chords with the same tempo and time signature are actually the work of a misunderstood genius. I just don’t have the perspective to see that yet.
- Billy Behman
Review: So They Say - The Mysterious They
The album begins with an atmospheric song, Dawn, that features an angelic voice which makes you feel like you are transcending into heaven. Around a minute into the song a mysterious language is sung which contrasts with the woman singing. At first it feels almost unnatural but then the differentiation between the voices’ pitches becomes extremely soothing. The next song, Always Free, begins with a calming stream trickling as well as an inspirational saying about life followed by an assertive, “for real” which adds enthusiasm to the woman’s message. A rhythmic tribal beat then comes in almost out of nowhere and is surprisingly catchy. The instruments are mostly woodwind which makes the song feel folk-like. Creator Destroys is next which has a much different feel leading with a violin as the main instrument. Gracefully Dancing Energy sounds just as you would expect. There is a soothing aura carrying through the song combined with brass instruments such as a trumpet which again is a surprisingly satisfying combination of sounds. The woman chants words over the melody in the middle of the song that adds to a melodramatic feel. Gratitude and Awe closes the album with a euphoric vibe that makes you feel like you’re floating on a cloud. Although the words are almost unidentifiable, you somehow feel like you understand everything the woman is singing. A rainstorm closes the song making you feel reborn. Again, there is a man chanting a poetic verse that paints a beautiful picture. Overall, this album is about combining sounds you would not typically think blend together with the main goal of surprising its audience with how great it ends up working together.
- Elisabeth Steinberg
Review: The Sedonas - The Sedonas
“Their music revolves around a mixture of various Rock and Americana roots. Their sound: organic and pure. They are The Sedonas out of Knoxville, Tennessee. One would think a band needed more to accomplish such a unique sound. However, The Sedonas pull it off with only the bare essentials, a minimalist stance in a complex world.” This description pulled from the Sedonas’ website would make you think that you would be listening to something completely new, but that would be a stretch. The band features members Connor Wike on vocals, Travis Anderson on bass, Rondo Johnson on guitar, and Casey Green on drums. From listening to their first album one can see the Tennessee influence as all their songs do have an underlying country vibe, with a strong guitar coming through every song. What is harder to see, however, is how their music qualifies as “organic and pure”. All of their songs have a very similar sound to them, so much that they all begin to blend together without any clear beginning and end. The album does offer a nice mix of slow and faster songs to give the listener an idea of what they have to offer; even though the offering is limited. A notable exception, “Better than the same” features a solid guitar solo that allows the track to stand out amongst the otherwise homogenous album. There also is a nice range of instruments and sounds to the songs with what appears to maybe be a harmonica in “Blues ‘16” and keys in “Light”.
- Scout Watkins