Richard Murray: Desert Wind

richard-murray-desert-wind album cover

In 2008, Irish singer-songwriter Richard Murray released Desert Wind, a mixture of acoustic guitars, pop music, and country music that spotlights his gift for writing music. If you didn’t know he was from the UK, you might guess Murray was a contemporary of Central Texas native Steve Earle or the Mississippi-born Steve Forbert. Murray’s storyteller songwriting style draws you in to hear his tales.

“Forgive Me Sera” is a bouncier song, merging a pop sensibility with an Americana vibe. The accompanying female vocal adds a pleasant contrast against Richard’s more raw, gruff voice. The second song on Desert Wind is a ballad, “Enlighten Me.” While the acoustic guitar intro isn’t remarkably in its originality (think Lifehouse’s hit “You and Me”), the song offers a great deal lyrically in its call to be carefree and to wholly enjoy of life.

Something that stands out about Richard’s music is his lyrics, detailed in the imagery he paints for his audience. His words offer a window into his thoughts. It seems that Richard expresses himself best through his lyrics instead of his music, which serves more of a backdrop for the stories he tells. “Thinking of Cristina” picks up the pace and shows the side of Murray that is different and fun, as he shows that he has variety in his music by playing a more straight-forward country song.

Desert Wind is an enjoyable record, and it is nice to hear an artist go deep into songwriting to tell a compelling story with their lyrics. It is clear that Richard Murray only wants to give his fans and new listeners the best experience possible when listening to his albums. You can listen to Desert Wind on Richard’s Youtube channel.

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Crowe: Self titled album

crowe-ep-cover

Crowe, a rock band from Burlington, Canada has released their self-titled independent debut, produced by the band. The invigorating thing about Crowe’s first album is how raw it sounds. Refraining from studio staples such as auto tune, pro tools and other studio magic, what the listener gets is four guys in a studio playing music because they enjoy it, not because they are trying to make a quick buck.

The first song, “Satellite,” sounds similar to Dinosaur Jr’s record Beyond, with wailing guitars and pounding drums that have no frills attached. The vocals in “Satellite” are strong, though without much range, but serve the purpose in a hard-hitting rock song. Songs like “Charms” begin with a punch-in-the-face guitar riff that causes people to take notice of what Crowe has to offer musically—a feel good rock record ideally suited for a lazy afternoon with a beer in hand.

Songs like “Troubadour” have more of a garage band sound, with its fuzzy guitars and rougher vocals. “Troubadour” gets a bit lazy once the chorus hits, as if the band could use an energy drink, but still shows off the rock and roll riffs that drive the album as a whole.

Despite the weaker track, Crowe is slowing climbing the ladder when it comes to success—they have been included on playlists for local radio stations in their native Canada. Hopefully with continued airplay, Crowe will see success in the United States and beyond. You can download Crowe for free via crowetunes.bandcamp.com.

Update: SXSW 2013

Hi everyone,

I’m in the middle of writing several live reviews for SXSW (South By Southwest) here in Austin (why I haven’t been posting any reviews.) They will be up this weekend after I edit them. Also, I am now a contributing writer for Ask Miss A, a women’s lifestyle website where I will be writing album reviews for mainstream and Top 40 artists. I cannot post those reviews on Listen Here! so if you are interested in reading those reviews, I will provide a link once I start writing. Regular reviews for this blog will start again this coming week. Thanks everyone!

Lauren

The Men: New Moon

the men new moon cover

The Men, a punk band from Brooklyn have released their latest album New Moon. While it has an interesting mix of songs ranging from country to loud hard hitting rock, ultimately the effort falls flat, mainly due to a lack of direction. The album’s first track Open The Door, is a soft country tune that will make fans of the band question what happened in the year since they released Open Your Heart, full of fast punk songs the band is known for.  While it is okay for a band to share their ideas and to try and make a new path, they should provide listeners with a sense of direction, which is something New Moon is lacking. By opening with a country song and then heading into a noisy rock tune the path leading to a cohesive album seems scattered and disjointed.

Without A Face is a dancy track that adds in a harmonica into the midst of trying to play fast attention grabbing music, making it seem like the group pieced together ideas for a song without any organization. While this song has a thumping bass line to drive the song, by the time the song ends, the band might as well be out of breath, since speed seems to be more important than being able to play well.

While the band seems to enjoy quantity over quality on New Moon, the real gem on the record is a slow country ballad titled High and Lonesome. The calming song leans towards the softer sounds heard on Open The Door and shows immense musical ability. However, the soothing mood is short lived, with the closing tune Supermoon taking another sharp turn back to the noise, hastening the need for an Advil to get through the song. While previous releases by The Men seem to have been focused on quality, New Moon is tremendously lacking in quality. By the time their next album comes around hopefully The Men will get back to playing punk rock music which is what they do best.

Jimi Hendrix: People, Hell, and Angels

jimi hendrix people hell and angels

Creative and musical genius are two ways to describe not only Jimi Hendrix’s talent but also to describe what you hear on People, Hell, and Angels. The last of twelve posthumous releases, this latest material will cause listeners to wonder “what if”, concerning Jimi and his highly successful music career.  The tunes on People, Hell, and Angels were recorded shortly before his premature death from a drug overdose at the age of 27.

Songs such as “Let Me Move You”, featuring saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood is an R&B number where Jimi’s vocals could be compared to Little Richard. While Hendrix was always insecure about his singing ability, it shines here as he makes listeners feel the music through the vocals which sounds like it should be a long jam session. Musically, you can feel the heart that Jimi put into each recording, through his throaty vocals, and abstruse guitar parts.

“Hey Gypsy Boy” is an experimentation through different guitar techniques and shows the depth of Hendrix’s talent by using different sounds to create a cohesive musical sound, as only Hendrix can, by using the guitar as a form of expression. “Earth Blues” shows that Jimi has a knack for coming up with opening riffs that repeatedly hooks the listener into the rest of the tune, and serves as a preface to the guitar pyrotechnics that follows.

After listening to People, Hell, and Angels it is too bad that this is the last of unreleased Jimi Hendrix material, since one can only wonder about the progression of his music and what he might have gone on to do musically. While the world will no longer have new Jimi Hendrix music, at least his fans will still get from this new album taste of an enormous talent who passed on to early.

Youth Lagoon: Wondrous Bughouse

youth lagoon wondrous bughouse

 

Youth Lagoon, the brainchild of Idaho native Trevor Powers has released his sophomore album Wondrous Bughouse. While his blend of Americana and electronic music may seem intriguing, mixing the two not only turns into a huge musical mess, but claiming an Americana influence seems to be a bit farfetched.  The album starts out with “Through The Mind and Back”, an intro that sounds like echoes bouncing off the walls. With an atmospheric vibe to it, the song has an interesting start but at the half way mark it begins to sound cluttered with the rush of sounds that come through the speakers. Power’s audience may become weary of what the rest of the album holds.

Songs like Dropla have hints of piano that sound like an old time piano roll, and listeners finally get a taste of Power’s washed out vocals, which have a parched and nasally quality, making the audience assume that his vocals are added in just to add more sounds. When it comes to lyrical content, Wondrous Bughouse has a theme of mortality, but one would never know it, since Power’s voice sounds faint and too far in the background to get the full grasp of the album’s lyrical message.

While the lo-fi bedroom quality may sit well with listeners, the quality of the album makes it hard for anyone to take Trevor Powers and his music seriously. Due to his different style of music, it will be interesting to see how successful Trevor becomes, but time will only tell. Youth Lagoon is currently on the road supporting Wondrous Bughouse.

Time Sawyer: Headed Home

time sawyer headed home

Time Sawyer, a North Carolina Americana folk band, have released their latest album titled Headed Home. The perfect record to listen to on a country drive, Time Sawyer’s new album offers songs for everyone, ranging from acoustic campfire jams, to hard hitting rock and roll.  The first song, Untitled Traveler, is an acoustic song that wraps up the group’s appeal in nearly three minutes. Starting off with an acoustic guitar with heartfelt vocals, the song has a slight bluegrass feel, while still keeping with the simplicity of folk music, which pulls you in from the very start.

Tunes like Annabelle Please, about a relationship that has disintegrated, are relatable folk tunes that fans old and new will love. What is so great about Time Sawyer is that they seem to thrive on writing simple relatable songs that fans will not be able to get enough of. Fans will also be able to draw parallels between folk influenced groups such as Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers, since both groups have both a passion and ability that is alluring, while making their music stand out from the pack. From listening to Headed Home, Time Sawyer will hopefully be able to make their mark on the music industry soon, graduating from coffee shop gigs to an opening band slot with bands in their genre.

Each time listeners hear Headed Home they will be consistently reminded of the hard work and effort that the band has put in in order to make their record a great success.  Time Sawyer is currently on the road promoting Headed Home in coffee shops around the country.