Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Lori Cunningham: Unseen

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

“Unseen” is the impressive debut from singer-songwriter Lori Cunningham. This release combines dreamy, electronic arrangements with deep, introspective lyrical prose to create a moving listening experience for the Angelic Voices audience.

The album begins strong with “Reflections”, a primarily instrumental track laced with beguiling vocal work. It prepares the listener for an enchanting, contemplative experience. The remaining compositions ebb and flow from sweeping, ethereal tracks to infectious, upbeat tunes that issue a challenge to pursue dreams and love without restraint.

“Silver Threads”, “Inside”, and “Without You” are prime examples showcasing Lori’s passion for creating songs that examine the soul. In addition to eleven original compositions, the CD also features a dance/trance remix version of “Empty Well”, and an instrumental version of the title track “Unseen”. While it has universal appeal, fans of ambient greats such as Delerium and Sleepthief will thoroughly enjoy this emotionally charged experience. Even the CD artwork beautifully portrays the esoteric vision within.

As a classically trained vocalist, Lori made a conscious decision to follow her dream of creating music the way she wanted rather than performing as instructed by her professors. I applaud the risk she has taken as her obvious vocal range and depth is explored throughout this release. I hope to see this exhibited to an even greater extent in the future, therefore I am looking forward to her continuing collaboration with Adam Amos (also featured on on 3 tracks on “Unseen”) on the project “Emeria”, to follow her progression as an artist and vocalist. -Jess Hanna

Buy Unseen
Visit Lori Cunningham’s Official Website

Summer Of Space: Summer Of Space

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

The debut self-titled album from Summer of Space is dynamic and hypnotizing. The infectious melodies and introspective, thought-provoking lyrics dare the listener to explore the depths of their own psyche. The range of emotions, from thankful praise to heart-felt self examination, reveal the ups and downs felt by all of humanity throughout time.

Through her impressive vocal performances, singer/songwriter Haley Gibby is able to express feelings of gratitude, desperation, and perseverance. In 2001, Haley teamed up with music producers Finn Bjarnson and Ryan Raddon (Kaskade) to create the project Summer of Space. In March 2007, their dedication and combination of creative talents paid off with this electrifying release that thoroughly entertains and engages the listener.

I was particularly taken with the exploration of the subject of spirituality, presented in an inspirational, yet subtle, style that reverberated throughout this release. The album starts out strong with “With You”, but other standout tracks include “New Found Art”,“Drowning”, and “Solace”. I feel these display the greatest depth of this project’s talented team. Fans of bands such as Beauty’s Confusion, Mandalay and Weekend Players will surely enjoy this album. “Solace” is an extraordinary work that is well worth the listen. It is a positive, uplifting experience that will leave a lasting impression. -Jess Hanna

Buy Summer Of Space on iTunes.
Visit Summer Of Space’s Official Website.

Our Broken Garden: When Your Blackening Shows

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Our Broken Garden’s, “When Your Blackening Shows”, is a haunting slow ride, featuring singer-songwriter Anna Brønsted of Denmark. While primarily a solo project, the album also includes the raw talents of Søren Bigum on guitars, Moogie Johnson on bass, Poul Terkildsen on percussion, Palle Hjorth on organs and Lise Westzynthius on piano. This team combines their efforts to create the moody, thoughtful melodies to lull the listener into a dream-like state of consciousness.

These elements are especially evident on the title track and “La Sagitaire”, which I found to be the stand outs on the album. Some may feel the content is monotonous at times, but it will appeal most to a mature, thoughtful audience. Anna’s child-like vulnerability shines, similar to that of the great Stina Nordenstam. The melancholy, dark, enchanting compositions make this a release to reflect on.

Although “When You Blackening Shows” launched the band independently through word of mouth, their recent signing to the Bella Union record label will surely bring about even more recognition. Since this signing, Our Broken Garden has additionally released an EP entitled “Lost Sailor”. Check them out today! -Jess Hanna

Buy When Your Blackening Shows
Visit Our Broken Garden On MySpace

Sambassadeur: Migration

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

sambassadeur-migration Sambassadeur’s “Migration” is a delightful Indie Pop treat, influenced by music from the early 60’s to new wave, modern alternative, and beyond.  The soothing vocals and cheery melodies create a nostalgic, feel-good daydream.  This album bursts forth with strings, guitars, and electronic elements, creating an engaging experience.

The album opens with “The Park”, an infectious song with an irresistible presence. The creative lead guitar and driving forces make for a great opening track.  “Subtle Changes” continues the upbeat pace, putting a smile on even the most cynical listener. The mood slows with “Falling in Love”, a dreamy piano driven trip, exploring love and devotion.  Migration picks back up with “Final Say”, a throwback to great new wave tunes of days long past.

Anyone who enjoys Club 8, Acid House Kings or the Cardigans would be missing out if they passed on this inventive release from Labrador Records. Sambassadeur successfully combines elements from various genres to create a dazzling display of talent and heart. -Jess Hanna

Buy Migration
Visit Sambassadeur’s Official Website

Marcomé: River of Soul

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

marcome-riveroflifeMarcomé’s “River of Soul” is a rich, soothing ride from start to finish. Beginning with a soulful siren call, she draws the listener into a series of dramatic dreamscapes, each painted with a life of it’s own. “River of Soul” is peppered with inspired musical and lyrical sound pictures spanning the globe and time. I imagine the fascinating worlds described within passing through my ears and placed before my eyes in vivid detail, with Marcomé as the ultimate tour guide.

The production quality of this release is excellent. Everything is perfectly balanced, allowing the listener to absorb each bit effortlessly. It deserves more than one listen to truly appreciate the effort and emotion knitted together in splendid harmony. This work was clearly a labor of love for the multi-talented Marcomé.

To further impress, Marcomé produces, arranges and engineers her musical work. She is a keyboardist, programmer and sound engineer as well as a proficient percussionist. This is extremely refreshing when compared with the vast number of vocalists and songwriters who hand over their work for others to dissect, destroy, and sanitize as they see fit. This blesses Marcomé with a musical purity that is too often lacking in today’s music.

The tracks I enjoyed most are “River of Life”, “Arabica”, and “Terra Africana”. Each transports the listener to a vastly different world filled with adventure, mystery and romance, providing a blissful escape from daily life. Fans of Caroline Lavelle and Clannad will surely be taken in by Marcomé’s New World voyage. -Jess Hanna

Buy River of Soul
Visit Marcomé’s Official Website

Genika: The Purity

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

genika-thepurityGenika’s “The Purity” takes the listener on an introspective journey of self-discovery and realization of old passions. Essentially, challenging the listener to wake up and dream again without the fear of retribution or doubt. The thought provoking mood, lyrics, and soothing melodies are highlights throughout this work.

Haunting yet uplifting vocals, along with mainly guitar driven chilled melodies cause me to place this in the nearly extinct shoegazer category. “The Purity” combines elements of light goth rock, violin, piano, and electronic sounds backing the complex lyrical schemes. My favored tracks are “Slipping Away”, “Limitless”, and “Follow Your Heart”. At first listen, this album may sound simplistic, but listening closely reveals the album’s emotional depth and range.

“The Purity” is truly poetry in motion. It is a unique experience for the listener searching for meaning in music. It is a challenging and uplifting work that weaves a message of encouragement and hope while portraying the stark reality of life. With themes ranging from abandonment to the desire to break out of one’s self, Genika has tapped into the individual’s desire to do something special and meaningful. Included is a remixed version of the album, providing yet another perspective into the world of Genika. –Jess Hanna

Buy The Purity
Visit Genika’s Official Website

Kate Havnevik: Melankton

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006

katehavnevik-melanktonFrom the snow capped vistas of Norway comes Kate Havnevik, a modern day Nordic siren ready to enchant us with her imaginative debut and to make her mark in modern pop music. Melankton, the albums title, comes from a book Kate read and it means dark rose -quite fitting for a darkly poetic piece of music that is often dramatic, very alluring and should appeal to a broad range of music listeners. As much as I hate comparisons I think if you are fans already of Bjork, Dido, Royksopp, Hooverphonic or Imogen Heap, I am pretty sure you will find lots of things to enjoy on Melankton.

Some listeners might be familiar with her background vocals. Kate sang on Royksopps techno hits Only This Moment and Circuit Breaker from their last album The Understanding, she also worked on a couple of songs on Carmen Rizzos electronic record called Lost Art Of The Idle Moment. But fans might have even heard of her on television. Beautifully mirroring lifes tender and powerful moments some of the album tracks were featured on the hit TV drama Greys Anatomy, generating a buzz & prompting viewers to seek her out.

Creating the album Kate recorded the core string arrangements first. The vocals were recorded in her bedroom studio where she could capture the right feel and sound for each song. Voice (often supple and hushed), lyrics (intimate and warm) and melodies (leisurely drawn out) are the main elements with no strict formula writing for the album and no focus on having one or two big singles. Kates goal was to have the album be a piece of music as a whole and its evident when one listens how nicely bound the tracks are for the entirety of the record.

Several very talented collaborators from quite different backgrounds were enlisted to make Melankton. Guy Sigsworth (of Frou Frou fame) co-wrote 4 tracks in the album and helped Kate with his masterful electronic beats, Carmen Rizzo did some additional programming, Maria Huld Markan provided string arrangements (she has worked with Sigur Ros and Amina), Froydis Re Werke, an exceptional horn player lended her talents (she is the main teacher in horn at the Royal College of Music in Oslo), the talented contemporary jazz player Arve Henriksen provided some dazzling and very emotional trumpet sounds for a couple of the albums highlights and lastly there is the magnificent 16 piece string orchestra from Bratislava Slovakia adorning the dramatic background of most of these tracks. With all this marriage of lush sounds mixed together, one would think this is a schizophrenic piece of work, but the neat techno arrangements blend effortlessly with the organic orchestral sounds.

Kate’s songs have various themes. Enjoying lifes precious moments I think is the most resounding one. Se Meg is sung in Norwegian the lyrics mean See me as I am and take what comes so clearly this isnt a song about relationship compromises but rather one of acceptance. The trumpet sounds on that track sound like lonely ships passing by, lulling us with their romantic solitary sounds, making that one of the most serene and romantic moments in the whole album. On I dont know you she knows the stars, the wind the sky and waves yet she would like to know her partner better so she pleads for him to show who he is to her. Isnt that always such a vulnerable state? To really get to know someone and to really show ourselves as we are to someone we love with all our little flaws? Equally emotional and romantic is Kaleidoscope, where she abandons her worries and sees the world through a kaleidoscope of colors mesmerized by sincere love. On Unlike Me she sings about time not existing, living in the moment, with no guarantees in life we should live our lives intensely and love every minute of it, every minute alive as she insists. On New Day she is admiring a beautiful day starting up with her lover awaking with morning stars in his eyes, ready for what this new day will have to bring, it is one of the more upbeat tracks in the album, due to the energized electronic beats kicking in mid way through and closing the album on a high note.

The album is now available on I-tunes and online from Kate’s web site with deals for US and UK distribution in the very near future. -Sakis Pavlakakis

Buy Melankton
Visit Kate Havnevik’s Official Website