31 July 2016

Mackin Carroll - Damascus

Mackin Carroll is an artist who is based in Los Angeles, California, he is in his twenties, he is the front man of a band called The Nova Darlings (love that name BTW) and this is his second release.  I was sent an email asking for a review a while ago and it is about time I started it.  The press release that came with the review request is more like a conversation with the artist, as if he is being interviewed and it is was a useful insight to this man.  It spoke of hope, desires, dreams and there is a hunger to the man as well, as need to perform as well.  So with that in mind, it is time to see how the Damascus EP has turned out.

Starting off the EP is "Ashes on the Bridge" is a song about the early stages of relationships, putting one's foot in your mouth and how interactions with humans can be a truly awkward and exciting time.  There is forgiveness in the words, there is desire mixed with the promise of hope and it is a beautifully tender moment.  It is also a song that I would have called a Scrubs tune - when the TV show Scrubs was about, when they had a moment that the cast would be looking wistfully into the distance and contemplating their lot - this song would have been perfect for that moment.  I really love the melancholy of the song, the bittersweet taint to the music and the reflective nature of the song.  The second song on the release is "Cigarettes & Fatherhood", a song about wishing the smoking was a hobby that had been picked up and the wish of Fatherhood.  This is Mackin Carroll's favourite song from the release and I can see why that is.  It is a gentle and beautiful number, showing a longing for a connection which is somehow mixed in with wanting to be alone at the same time.  It is such a contradiction of terms, the hints of wanting to be alone and then the dreams of being a dad as well; it is a beautiful number and it is a fragile number as well.  Ending the EP is "Sleepwalking" which is about not quite being where you want to be, having desires in you which are achievable and you know the fulfilment will be worth it, but not quite being there yet.  Once again, it is a beautiful number about self-doubt and once again it has desires in the mix.  I love the ending of this song, learning to give oneself a break and learning it as well.  It is a positive number to end this EP.

For a three track EP, this is very engaging from the start.  An acoustic driven three track release that showcases a man who is struggling with himself and the world that is around him.  Each song is a beautiful story of hopes, desires and unresolved issues that are part of this life.  It is a good induction to Mackin Carroll and I hope to be hearing more from this man as the years go by.

4 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out

Top track - Ashes on the Bridge

You can purchase Damascus from the Mackin Carroll Bandcamp page here

You can stream Damascus on Soundcloud here

You can visit the Mackin Carroll website here

You can follow the activities of Mackin Carroll on Facebook here

At the time of writing, Damascus is not available on Spotify, Deezer, etc.

Eve Maret - Say So

Welcome to another submission post, this time we are back over in Nashville once more and it is time to listen to the music of Eve Maret.  From what I can remember, this album was submitted as a comment on my review of 'The Mirror Is A Personal Hell' by Lucy Stoner (review cleverly linked here).  As I have seen the name Eve Maret mentioned by MPGExperts as well, I have a feeling that Ms Maret must be part of the same exotic music set which is currently brewing in the state of Tennessee.  Apart from that, there is not much that I can gather from her Bandcamp page - apart from one thing, this album is made up of a collection of songs that were composed between 2013 to 2016.  So, with very little to go on, let us see how this album sounds......

Starting off this album is "Everything About Me Is Creepy" which sounds like a brief instrumental from the start of a horror movie or an abstract comedy involving people you would associate with the BBC TV series 'The League of Gentlemen'.  However, much like the introduction to a TV show, the music is incredible short and is over before it really starts for me.  "528 hz" is an atmospheric piece that is once again all too brief, mixing together the styles of Cocteau Twins, Ben Howard and sounds like the desert winds are swirling around you.  But as it is almost at its peak, the song is already ending and you are heading towards the next song.  The music is good once again, but even with this being the second longest piece of music, it is still a sub-three-minute piece and it needed a little longer to grow for me.  "Hold feel give" is a low, reverbing piece of music that is extremely heavy on the lower end of the musical spectrum and the vocals on the mix I have click all over the place as if there is a jump on that section of the song - yet the music stays on its constant course.  Again (as is the pattern for this record), it is far too short and it could have been taken in a few directions, but that is only my own opinion.  The fourth track is called "You Can't Run from Yourself", a track with vocals that drift around like a minimalist Julia Holter which follows the pattern of the rest of the album - it sounds good and it is over far too soon.  "Gregorian Pant" is an instrumental that drifts around with light synth noises coming to the forefront every now and then.  It is another interesting concept that would work a lot better if it was longer as it could have expanded into something like a track by The Orb.  It has potential, but it does need more time to expand.

"It's A Bobby Trap" follows that similar short pattern of the album, with a guitar and vocal focused track that loops around you like a brief mist and vanishes just as quick as well.  It sounds once more like we are being introduced to an idea and it is only given a fleeting glimpse before returning to the shadows.  "Sea Cow" is closely akin to the sound from the underground of Nashville that I have become accustomed to over the last year or so; it is a slowed down, droning, messed up piece of of sound and it is also the second longest song on offer here at three minutes & eighteen seconds long.  This song is given time to grow and it is an interesting piece of atmospheric drone, something that some of the other songs on here could have benefited from.  "By Yer Side" is the eighth number on the album, this one is more minimalist noise with clinking percussion, sparse electronica and modified vocals.  It is another song that could have done with some expansion.  It has a messed up country & western vibe to the sound, something so off the wall and subverted - just a little too short.  The penultimate song is called "Voice Only", it is based on looping vocals and reverb from a guitar that could have led to some Sunn O)))/Holter hybrid, once more the idea is over before it can truly unfold, but even though it is another brief piece of music.  The album ends with the longest song on the album, "6 16"; or it would have been if the song was full of music - the sound cuts off around one thirty mark and it goes on for just under another two minutes.  The music itself is in keeping with the album, it is sounds like the formation of an idea and then it is over once again all too soon.  But somehow like the rest of the album, the music does not disappoint - it is just (like the others) a short piece of music.

The best way I can describe this album is that it is a prologue, the genesis point, the start of a journey.  The songs are all well played, yet they are incredibly short and could benefit from being given a little longer in the world.  However, they are also beautiful little stone of musicial joy that are performed incredibly well.  But because of the shortness of the songs, I cannot give it a higher mark; but that does not mean I do not see potential in the music as there is an originality and beauty to the pieces on offer here, something that could be returned to and explored on further releases.  The atmospheric music that is created here is something that normally would lend itself to longer passages, but Eve Marter has went for a Discharge/Descendents punk, smash 'n' grab time signature & length which gives the feeling of either a short attention span or a desire for things to be kept simple and neat - either way, it is not quite there.  Also, I want it to be know that I do not think it is a bad album as the music is good, I just see these songs as ideas to be expanded upon; good ideas, just needed a little more time.  So, in conclusion - I like this album, it has some fine ideas and the music is good and the structures start off spot on, it is just needing a little longer for the sound to grow.

6.5 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but it is not quite there.

Top track - 528 hz

You can purchase Say So from the Eve Maret Bandcamp page here

At the time of writing, there is no Facebook page & Say So is not on streaming sites.

30 July 2016

Polarsets - Horizon

Sometimes you can miss things that are happening right on your own doorstep.  In this long overdue Cover Roulette review, I am going to look at the latest release from Polarsets, a band from my home town of Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  I would love to say I have heard of them before, share stories of their shows and all of that jazz; alas I cannot, as it would be as big a lie as the illusion of freedom.  The only information I can get from their Facebook is that the band are comprised of Rob Howe, Mickey Smith, James Rudd & Carmen Ledda Green.  After that, it is very sketchy on information about the band, as is their website and other accounts; however, they do have some spectacular videos and images.  But this is a Cover Roulette review, one which I have started just because I love the image of the album.  The desert panorama with a circular effect in a stark monochrome is very inviting, it is one of those images where you can get lost in.  I wonder if the music has a similar effect on the listener?

Starting the album is "Faster" which is not a cover of the Manic Street Preachers classic song, instead it is in a similar vein to Years & Years and The Killers, synth alternative pop with a sound that is almost akin to a rock riff in places.  It is a very catchy song, a true ear worm which will dance around your head for days and days after you have first heard it.  Like all true pop songs, it has love at its heart, even if this time it is about freedom being offered from a stunted relationship and the offering of fresh pastures.  If ever there was a song that was built for the summer, the music of this song is crafted for the indie dance floor and to start people moving.  "Another Place to Hide" drops the energy down a notch straight away, with a reflective song about times gone by.  It is another indie pop song that wears its influences on its sleeve, but there is a hint of tropical influences to this melancholy tale of lost love and a fragile beauty to the music.  It is a good tune, something so simple and subtle that it can be placed in the heart of a set and the audience will swoon and dance in the same moment.  "Santa Fe" is the nearest that a synth pop band can get to an acoustic ballad with this piano heavy ballad about distance between people and dreams/paranoias that can happen when there are miles between people.  It is a nice song, it has a guitar solo in the middle which is a little out of place and might have been better with a piano solo to be honest, but overall another good song.  "Adelaide" is the halfway point of the album, once more we are dealing with the themes of long distance and self-discovery that comes from running in a direction with focus and drive.  I really like this song, it is a glorious piece of pop and indie combined into a soul searching piece.  But once more, it is heavily in debt to The Killers once more; in fact, it could be the lost twin to "Spaceman" in places here, the notes/chords might not be the same, but they have managed to capture that same soul searching that came from "Spaceman" - albeit with lyrics about moving on to pastures new. 

"On Tonight" starts the second half of this album with a carnival theme, the night is young and full of excitement, possibilities and anticipation.  The party atmosphere has been encoded into the very core of this song, giving it an uplifting momentum that is truly infectious and sets it apart from a lot of its rivals out there.  It is a song that should be being played all around the world as the party sets in, keeping the good time rolling for as long as possible.  "Open Water" is a slower number with a strange time signature to the piano from the drum, which is also slightly different to the guitar on this track.  It is a decent number, but I have never really connected with it as I did with the other songs on the album.  It feels like it has been put together to fill an album, it is there to add length to the record and whilst it is not bad, it is not as good as other tracks on the record either.   The penultimate song of the album is also the title track of the record - "Horizon".  It is all about the chase on this song, aiming for the next crest and seeing what is beyond with all the possibilities that can come from this union.  It is another song that feels like summer has been given clothes and is dancing in the world.  I like this tune, it has potential that is unleashed at the chorus and it feels like the zeitgeist of the album, point zero for everything else that happens on this record.  Ending the album is "Sail Away" which bring the album to a close with a song that is dreaming of leaving once again, heading to new pastures and finding new sanctuary.  However, it feels like two song lumped together as the verses and choruses are fused by the most fragile of threads and it does not sound as organic as the rest of the album.  A decent, but clumsy ending to this album.

It seems as if this album passes a little too quick, but also it leaves the lightest of touches as well.  This is triumph and the curse of the album as well, the songs and themes are like the good times which have gone past and now they are fleeting memories which are left under the veil of time.  But it is like a drunken memory, it is a little fussy and some of the events are not quite complete.  The music here is good and some of the songs do have a certain something, but the influences are more prominent that their own skills.  It is an overall good album, but it is not one that sticks in the mind too long.

6.5 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but it is not quite there

Top track - Adelaide

You can purchase the digital version of Horizon on Amazon

You can purchase Horizon from the Polarsets Bandcamp page here

You can visit the Polarsets website here

You can stream Horizon on Spotify here

You can stream Horizon on Deezer here

You can stream Horizon on Tidal here

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