The Pyramid Ship | Going Out EP | Review by Chad Wolfe

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The recording wants to be out of control, but the juggernaut is tethered tightly to tradition—backbone rhythm and strong guitar. Makes it seem odd to reference Jack and Meg on this one, but The Pyramid Ship do it—they raise the ghosts of The White Stripes to compel this EP to work for those craving the simplicity of a guitar. A Drum. Vocals. Power. Sex. We never knew if Meg and Jack were married, but we didn’t really care. They shook it down.

The Pyramid Ship is in the same ilk. They jam heavy on drums and guitar riffs, screaming lyrics sound calm and smooth. Nice band lifting spirits of Ian Astbury and The Cult, The Doors, Kid Rock, Rage Against the Machine, and The White Stripes. They know they can handle the wattage, but beyond this album will they get original? Let us see. They are on the horizon.

Chad Wolfe lives and works in Southern Iowa where he’s grown a tremendous appreciation for open spaces, red vs. green tractor polemics, porches, and corn on the cob. When not writing about music, sports, and pop culture for the internet, he tries to avoid thinking too much about the future or the past.

The Pyramid Ship | Going Out EP | Review by Sound of Confusion

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With The Pyramid Ship and this debut EP, Hogg, along with musical partner Charlie Morton, is shaking off any shackles and simply delivering tight, superbly-crafted modern rock. The title track opens the EP and punches out in true style. There are shades of latter-day Stone Temple Pilots and lost Brit-rockers The Senseless Things, in the rolling grooves. It’s a powerhouse of a song driven by Hogg’s vocals; as was once said  it’s a “mindshaker meltdown” of a track.

‘Outside My Door’ slinks in on a dirty bass rumble. This is maintained throughout the song. Hogg indulges his best Robert Plant lasciviousness, and “hears her knocking”. ‘Outside My Door’ is a dirty, sultry beast that is all the better for being recorded up close and personal. Keeping the Zepp-size groove on, ‘Riding’ swims in on another low-slung trip. It has a looseness not seen since Reef and their early tracks such as ‘Naked’. The song then finds its own footing and stomps with an almost raw-glam power. The concluding track to the EP is ‘Breaking up’, it’s fresher than the low-slung tracks previous. ‘Breaking Up’ houses a wonderful skyscraping chorus that lights up the whole song. The song then stretches out in a psychedelic, bewitching brew, before finding its rock-solid base taking us out in classic fashion. This is a delightful entrée that whets the appetite and leaves you craving for what The Pyramid Ship will give us next.

Check Out – Sound of Confusion Blog – and full review

The Pyramid Ship | Going Out EP | Review by RockReviewPhil

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Review: Going Out EP
By: Phil Lisotti

Ever since The Black Keys broke in to super-stardom not too long ago (and The White Stripes before them), there has been this surge in rock duos; bands with a guitar player and a drummer and that’s it, with one of the two, or both, providing lead vocals. Many of these bands are not well known in the public eye, yet, seeing as how this is quite a new thing, but I’ve discovered some relatively known bands throughout the past few months such as British Columbia’s Japandroids and American rock band IAmDynamite, who were lucky enough to tour with Sum 41 last year. Where I live, in the Greater Toronto Area, there are also a few bands such as Sorry OK Yes.

It’s a rather understandable concept; less members equals fewer egos which further equal fewer fights. There’s also the fact that it is easier and quicker to get a band together if there are just two members. Having trouble finding a bass player? No problem, the Black Keys can have just two members so can we. Having seen a couple (three to be exact) of these bands perform live, I discovered a downfall to this concept; the sound is not full enough to fill a concert hall. I almost completely wrote bands like this off until I saw Barrie Ontario’s Indian Handcrafts open for Billy Talent playing the Air Canada Centre, where the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors play. The fact that a duo such as them was able to completely fill a whole arena with sound like they did completely renewed my faith in the future of rock duos.

Anyway, that brings me to The Pyramid Ship. Completely unlike any other rock duo I have heard as of yet, this band mixes more genres than I’ve heard out of many bands in general (trios, quartets, quintets, etc). An indie rock sound with a 60’s garage rock feel and a full distorted guitar tone which at times creates an alternative rock blend, mixed with different vocal elements, this is sure to catch anyone’s attention as it did mine. The band consists of John Hogg on guitar and Charlie Morton on drums. John has had the most success out of the two, enjoying most of his success between 1997 and 2002 in the British alternative rock band Moke. He later formed Hookah Brown with famed guitarist Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes.

The Pyramid Ship’s debut EP Going Out may only contain four songs, but these four songs do the perfect job of giving an idea to listeners how the band sounds and what they are all about. Starting with its title track; truly a catchy song, starting right away with the “garage rock” Kinks-like tone of John’s guitar, its breaks in the music to make room for the singing of the verses, only to pick up in to a fun pop-punk like anthem of a chorus, never losing the great jamming feeling the song starts out with. It’s also one of those songs I enjoy that makes you think it is over with about a second of silence, only to burst right back out in to the garage rock classic that it is. (Hope I didn’t spoil the surprise there).

This is followed by the indie rock sounding Outside My Door. Immediately the song starts off less fun and more serious with its low toned instruments and vocals. This eventually bursts in to a very experimental rap-like vocal. Now I’m not one who usually enjoys when a singer breaks in to rap vocals in the middle of a rock song, I usually just tolerate it with bands like Papa Roach for instance. However, in this case I really enjoy the “rapping” that this song has. I find myself being moved by it as opposed to just tolerating it waiting for the singing to start again. That is all clearly personal opinion, but I think that shows exactly how unique this song is.

The next track, Riding, slows things down even more, but as the songs slow down more and more, the musicianship just grows stronger. Continuing with the experimentation of sounds, this song loses a bit of its jam feel and sounds more alternative, mostly thanks to the drum beat, which I find very Our Lady Peace-esque. This song also contains some “rapping” in its vocals, not as much as Outside My Door, but just like the its predecessor, the “rapping” vocals are in some sort of style that I just find far more appealing than usual for rap-vocals.

As the EP continues to get better and better, we find ourselves at the final track, Breaking Up. This brings back the fun feeling that Going Out had, but just like the EP’s other two tracks, there seems to be more concentration on the musical aspect of the song. The song does what any EP or LP’s last song should always do; it leaves you wanting more. By this point I don’t doubt the EP’s listener will be thinking what I’m thinking, “too bad it’s only four songs”.

There is simply nothing but promise for The Pyramid Ship. Being made up of two men who have been in the music business for long enough, it is no surprise. The musical intelligence presented on these four songs makes it obvious to its listener that this is not a band made up of kids. The band’s sound is something that I believe can appeal to a younger generation of rock music lovers as well as the generation before them; the generation that grew up in the 90’s and remembers when alternative rock music dominated the radio in the early 90’s.

ALBUM HIGHLIGHT
Breaking Up” –¬ Having already described the basic premise of the songs sound, I didn’t describe how it sums up all four songs perfectly. It is fun and witty like Going Out, but at the same time it has a bridge section that sounds nothing like the rest of the song, but sounds more similar to the slow and serious sounds of Outside My Door and Riding. It is hard to say which song from the album is the best song since they are all so different, but this is the track that should be first heard by anyone to give an idea of what the listener is in for.

FINAL RATING
8 (Out of 10) http://rockreviewphil.blogspot.ca/p/blog-page_21.html

Gary Reynolds Volume One Deluxe Reviewed by The Shrevest

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Gary Reynolds presents quite an interesting listen in his second solo record. His voice harkens reminders of Ed Roland (Collective Soul), Ian Webber (The Tender Idols, The Idyllists), Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen), and Elliott Smith. Yes, throw some singing from those four into a blender, and it’s likely to come out as Gary Reynolds. The music on Volume One is a nice, smooth blend of college and indie rock with some pop rock tossed in to keep things catchy.

There’s really not a bad song on the record, but some songs are better than others for one reason or another. Some of the vocal performances leave a little to be desired (“Paula My Dear”), but even the weaker performances are made up for with some fantastic music compositions. On the other side of the coin, “Who Do You Love” shows that Gary has an impressive vocal range – the man can definitely sing. Each song has something to offer the listener, and fans of multiple genres should be happy here.

The atmosphere and feeling on the record make it feel like it came from the UK in the late 70s, but it sounds fresh. It serves as a tribute to the musical heritage of some fantastic bands and artists – think Velvet Underground’s piano/organ sounds, Bowie’s structure or lack thereof, with some fantastic guitar work thrown in. “Paralyzed” has some awesome guitar tones and is probably the best song on the record.

Lyrically, the songs are all pretty strong. Every artist normally has some line in a song that will make me cringe a little, but through a couple of listens I’ve yet to find anything cringe-worthy here. Gary is a pretty good songwriter and it is a feature point of the record.

I like to recommend a perfect setting for albums – this one is good for a casual hangout, sitting around with some beer and whiskey playing a round of cards with some friends. The only mistake might be the cover of “I Think I Love You” – his originals are good enough to not need this cover, and it feels wildly out of place amongst his other songs.

The bonus disc of this album comes on a CD fashioned after a vinyl record. It’s a nice touch that adds some more character to the album.

Standout tracks: “She’s the One”, “Lay It Down on Me”, “Paralyzed”, “Who Do You Love”

TheShrevest Official UnScholars Gary Reynolds “Volume One Deluxe Edition” Score: B. I really like this record, but the unnecessary cover brings it down a notch. “Paralyzed” is one of my favorite tracks of 2013 so far.

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Transient Songs “Foreign Rooms” Review by TheShrevest

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Early Radiohead + Velvet Underground = Transient Songs “Foreign Rooms”. That’s a compliment. “Foreign Rooms”, the sophomore effort from Seattle-based Transient Songs, is a fun listen from beginning to end. If you haven’t heard of these guys yet, it should only be a matter of time.

“Foreign Rooms” is a nine tracks of jangly down-tempo college rock. In addition to invoking images of Radiohead and Velvet Underground, you’ll get some Joy Division overtones at times. The percussion, crafted by Ian Piña, sets the mood and atmosphere for this record. It’s called “Foreign Rooms”, but it would not be out of place at your summer evening back patio bbq. The guitar work is very clean, and the lead and rhythm sections are in constant communication with one another, almost as though they are having conversations. The basslines, for sake of comparison, are very reminiscent of what you might expect from Interpol, but Transient Sounds is much less moody. The vocals are well done, almost spoken-word at times, but never out of rhythm.

All these comparisons are not meant to suggest that this is a ripoff of other bands – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. “Foreign Rooms” is still a very original effort, and it’s put together in great fashion. The album begs to be played from beginning to end. If you’re a fan of any of the bands mentioned above, I would fathom that you will find something here that you enjoy.

As good as it is, the album isn’t perfect – it features some overdone cliche (“We are the last of a dying breed…”) and some of the songs sound very similar to one another, but these are minor and don’t take away from the enjoyment of the album.

Standout tracks: “Idle Hands”, “Southern City Saturdays”, “Sparrows” (which features a beautiful string arrangement), “Places that Scare You”, “Foreign Rooms”

TheShrevest Official UnScholar “Foreign Rooms” Score: B+. Pick it up and you’re not likely to be disappointed with your purchase.

Visit the official Transient Songs website for more information and to sample the record for yourself.

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Volume One by Chad Wolfe

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Review: Volume One
By: Chad Wolfe

This morning I drove through country gravel roads full of fog and rain to get to a job of clutter and noise, and Gary Reynolds collection Volume One was contemplative, patient, and melancholic enough—it is a sexy record, deliberate and so full of heart that it provided the perfect early morning drive soundtrack to get there. Volume One is anything but cluttered or noisy. There are experimentation’s with electricity for sure— re-verb, pedals, and amps. The scratch and hum of amplification. But it is a controlled chaos—so controlled that at times this listener wishes Reynolds would unleash his demons more heavily, and let the amplification rock to force all of us to run for cover.

Reynolds’s music is like rummaging through Bowie’s basement and finding a box of aborted B-sides; Volume One is a sweet and evil collection of songs borrowing from all over the place for inspiration. Reynolds honors all, though, and creeps them out as he plugs in and turns on amps. As the tubes heat up and prepare to deliver, the ghosts of British pop and rock invade Canada at Neil Young’s ranch where Crazy Horse sits with writer’s block while Bowie gets it on with Jagger out back by the engineered log pile; Richard Thompson is doing the dishes, humming melody after his morning tea; The Pretenders are moaning about hangovers, and Elton John just wants to sleep in. This is the company Gary Reynolds keeps. They will all meet on the ledge at some point in this day during Volume One.

Chad Wolfe lives and works in Southern Iowa where he’s grown a tremendous appreciation for open spaces, red vs. green tractor polemics, porches, and corn on the cob. When not writing about music, sports, and pop culture for the internet, he tries to avoid thinking too much about the future or the past.

Foreign Rooms by Phil Lisotti

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Review: Transient Songs “Foreign Rooms”
By: Phil Lisotti

When an artist has a successful album, especially when it’s a debut album, it is never easy to follow up. In this case, Transient Songs have gone from being a solo act headed by lead singer John Frum in to a full collaborative band. Their newest release, Foreign Rooms (released in March of 2013) is the first album to feature its new band members, and the result is, in fact, a different output from the debut album Cave Syndrome.

When an album gets good reviews such as Cave Syndrome, the pressure is always on. It’s hard not to choke under all of the expectations that are put on by fans and media. Most artists feel obligated to release the same album twice, so to speak, to assure the same result in terms of satisfying fans. For Foreign Rooms, this was not the case. The songs are still of a certain indie/alternative rock nature, filled with not heavy and rather slow songs, much like on the debut. However, this time around, John changes his singing style. His delivery of his lyrics sounds more like he is telling it as a story rather than just basically singing them. Similar to that of Bob Dylan, but in most cases it comes across more like Iggy Pop.

The albums first two tracks, Idle Hands and Southern City Saturdays are both of the slower nature, concentrated mostly on the lyrical content, while setting a relaxing mood for its listeners. The song leads to The Vens; not necessarily a slower track than the previous two, thanks to the drum beat, but it is a rather dark and gloomy track that kind of gives a lost while driving at night feeling. The other comparable track to this one on the album is Way Down, which has a very well written instrumental bridge to it, however in terms of the all around song, The Vens is the better of the two tracks.

Golden Eights is a slightly faster sounding track compared to the other songs off of the album. It still maintains the acoustic/clean electric guitar combination and mellow drum background. This leads in to another slower track called Sparrows, which is perhaps the best of the slower tracks off of the album due to it being one of the best vocal performances on the album, while musically being very well written.

Places That Scare You is probably the most upbeat sounding song on the album. It carries a very late 60’s sound and vibe. The lyrics contain the same not too happy yet not melancholy atmosphere, but musically it is a stepping stone for the albums sound. Haywood is another stepping stone for the album. Not sounding quite so much like a 60’s songs, but just like Places That Scare You, it stands out for sounding very different from the rest of the album. This time around, the song is much more upbeat and features the previously mentioned Bob Dylan/Iggy Pop singing style from John.

The album ends off with its title track, Foreign Rooms. Musically, this track has the sound of a 90’s “Grunge” band playing a slower and softer song. Think Nirvana’s All Apologies, which makes this song a highlight for its listeners. It is much more than just another slow track off of the album, while appropriately ending the album off on a not too hard but not too soft note. The track also features a rare guitar solo.

In the end, you have Foreign Rooms; the sophomore effort from Transient Songs. There is an all too obvious sense of maturity in its song writing, and though stylistically it is similar to the bands previous album, musically it is quite superior. The collaboration between band members is all very obvious here, making it more of a band effort than just a solo effort, and a gem for indie rock fans.

ALBUM HIGHLIGHT
Golden Eights” – While it is one of the tracks off the album that doesn’t follow under the category of being one of the albums slower songs, it would still give the listener an idea of the bands slow sound, while showing listeners their more upbeat side at the same time. It has probably the best mix of instruments; a catchy guitar riff with acoustic guitars in the background, consistent bass tracking keeping the songs pace, and the drums on this track stick out more so than on any other track on the album.

FINAL RATING
7 (Out of 10)

Phil Lisotti writes for Phil’s Rock Reviews which is a site for avid rock fans – http://rockreviewphil.blogspot.ca – Also check out his facebook page.

Volume One by Phil Lisotti

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Review: Gary Reynolds “Volume One”
By: Phil Lisotti

It’s never too late to try and get back out there. After a five year hiatus, Gary Reynolds has returned to the music scene with the release of his first album in as many years, and shows that he has certainly not forgotten how to write a song. Also produced and engineered by the man himself, Gary comes swinging with strong heartfelt lyrics over a number of tracks with obvious strong inspiration from past masters in the music business, such as late 60’s Beatles-esque pop with early 70’s soft rock. Even a feint glimpse of 90’s alternative era influence can be heard, specifically in lieu of a band like Oasis.

The albums first track, Wall Eyed Girl, starts off with a soothing electric piano, giving a Beatles “Help” era feel. It doesn’t take long for the song to pick up with more instruments, giving the song a much more full feeling. Gary also shows some more strong ability to write on a piano, on songs such as Instant Happiness, Honeymoon, Who Do You Love (all three having a somewhat gloomy, heartbroken feel to them) and All Because of You, which is among the more happy sounding tracks off the album, a very inspiring story about a loved one with Gary having a bit of fun in the recording studio on the bridge (perhaps too much).

Guitars do play a big part in this album. Life on my Own has a John Fogerty sounding opening guitar riff that continues throughout the song, giving it a bit of a hard yet subtle feel. The song has one of the better choruses on the album, all thanks to the guitar playing. She’s the One has a harder guitar tone, very early 70’s-like tone. Along with its harmonized vocals make this track among the harder tunes, unfortunately it is not a very long track, but it will undoubtedly have its listener singing along. Want is the most 90’s sounding track off the album, with its hard guitar tone, and strong usage of intermittent guitar playing during verses, making way for the drums and bass to have a bit of spotlight (listen to Nirvana, you’ll notice they do this quite a bit). Getting Over is the last of the strong guitar driven tracks on the album. It combines the previously mentioned electric piano in the background, but rest assured it is a guitar player’s song, featuring one of few guitar solos on the album. And it’s a dandy bluesy guitar solo too.

Elijah is a very well written track, starting off acoustically, and feeling like a Neil Young song until the rest of the instruments come in. One of the softer tracks on the album, it is also probably the most full track, filled with piano, tambourine, drums and a string section, perfect for the listener who just wants to relax, not play anything hard, but at the same time doesn’t want to play a corny ballad…not that there is anything wrong with a corny ballad.

Songs like Lay It down on Me and Paula My Dear aren’t defined by the instruments played on them. They are more or less the singer’s songs on the album. Gary may not be the most talented singer, but he has a voice that can certainly be listened to. Waiting for Godot is probably the albums weakest track. Gary concentrates more on the song’s lyrics rather than the delivery of the lyrics, giving it a bit of an uneven feeling. And the albums finally track, I Will Remain, ends the album off on a very Beatles sounding note. It features multi-tracked vocals to make Gary’s voice sound stronger and mixes acoustic guitars with electric guitars, and its lyrics, as the title suggests, assure the listener that even though it is the last song, it is not the last we’ll hear of Gary.

All in all, this album is pretty good! It lacks some originality, but in this day in age so does almost everyone. What matters is that there is a strong sense of music knowledge and song writing skills displayed throughout the album. Great for the avid listener of soft rock or softer classic rock artists such as Billy Joel or John Mellencamp

ALBUM HIGHLIGHT
“Instant Happiness” – The best written song on the album. On a music’s standpoint, it goes from a staccato piano beat with Gary’s soft sung lyrics over top that sounds like he’s creeping up getting ready to jump up and scare you, and he almost does. The verse leads to a slightly harder chorus, with the full band playing and Gary singing his heart out. The track is another to feature a guitar solo, and just like Getting Over, it is a guitar player’s solo. Not a complex one but a bluesy one with a lot of feeling to it.

FINAL RATING
7 (Out of 10)

Phil Lisotti writes for Phil’s Rock Reviews which is a site for avid rock fans – http://rockreviewphil.blogspot.ca – Also check out his facebook page.

Foreign Rooms by G. Chad Wolfe

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Review: Transient Songs, “Foreign Rooms”
By: G. Chad Wolfe

Sophomore albums can be tricky for a band. Either they get swallowed by the success of a debut and go out with a low roar into oblivion, or they stray from the confines of what brought the band notice in the first place. The second album by any outfit is a treacherous position if sought after with too much gusto, ego, et al the demons. Transient Songs’ Foreign Rooms calls to mind the stand tall, yet dirty and imperfect chords of “Caryatid Easy” off Son Volt’s mighty sophomore record, Straightaways. Not only through its unapologetic gruffness, but by the way the album didn’t seem to hit with a bang—a quiet recording waiting to be discovered by those ready to hear.

It’s in that spirit that Transient Song’s second LP Foreign Rooms sets up shop with real instruments—real music for real people as the saying might go. The kind of music where the band actually plugs into an amplifier and cuts fingers on strings. The ethos on Foreign Rooms is as legit as a high school football coach delivering with blood and guts the clarity of an angel raising half-time speech.

A lush roll of sound and heartbreaking lyrics and vocals make this album a loser’s anthem. The album catches stride and rolls into one when guitar merges with drums on the track Haywood, sounding like what Marquee Moon might’ve if Peter Buck contributed to Tom Verlaine’s seminal album back in 1977. Foreign Rooms feels like the line cook’s soundtrack at the end of the night if one were to walk through the kitchen of Las Manitas in Austin, TX, on a whimsical Friday. And all of this is begging the question “where the hell has Transient Songs been my whole life?” But the answer is in the songs, and the spirit of Television, Alejandro Escovedo, and early Whiskeytown hum through the wires while John Frum declares to whoever is listening: “How is the view from the bottom of the well? / Do you feel the ache in your bones when the winter swells? /We are the last of the dying breed/We’re just what’s left of the demon seed.

Chad Wolfe lives and works in Southern Iowa where he’s grown a tremendous appreciation for open spaces, red vs. green tractor polemics, porches, and corn on the cob. When not writing about music, sports, and pop culture for the internet, he tries to avoid thinking too much about the future or the past.