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Spectators "Paranoia"

Spectators released their debut at the beginning of April. Rachel gave it a listen. Published April 17 2014.

  by Rachel

Out of Chicago, IL, the Spectators have a unique sound that makes it hard to place the band in one particular genre. The Chicago-based band consists of Josiah Viland (lead vocals), Chris Ford (bass and vocals) Aaron Viland (synthesizer, guitar, monotron, and vocals), and Walter Halliwell (guitar, synthesizer, and vocals). Their sound and style flow throughout their debut album Paranoia. The album, released on April 5, 2014, features carefully honed vocals, and a sound that merges futuristic tones with familiar rock themes.

The album kicks off with Live Fast, which sets the unique tone of the album. This particular track is quick to catch the listener’s attention with a catchy chorus and intriguing rifts. Live Fast is the perfect introduction to their edgier tunes, which includes Cross the Line, The Start, Next to Me, and Drift.

Though most of the album features edgier, more funky sounds, Spectators have also proven that they can successfully create tunes with a softer side. I Don’t Mind, in particular, tends to stand out against the crowd of up=tempo tracks on the album. The song showcases lead singer Josiah’s unique voice. His raspy, yet soulful, voice is quick to grab ones attention. Josiah’s voice, coupled with an impressive arrangement, is reason enough to purchase the entire album.

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Oskar Schuster "Sneeuwland"

Oskar Schuster has released his album "Sneeuwland" about one week ago. Our Linda has reviewed it. Btw, she's unveiled that this is her first album review - great job Linda :-) Published March 29 2014.

  by Linda

Oskar Schuster is an extremely talented composer and musician from Berlin, Germany. With his newly released full length album “Sneeuwland”, successfully croudfunded on Sellaband, Oskar takes us on a journey of “Wunder”. This is Oskar’s second album, his first, “Dear Utopia” was released in 2011, followed by the piano solo EP “Les Valses Invisibles” in 2012. Only one track on “Sneeuwland” features the artist Possimiste, which is his second collaboration with her voice, the first song being “Stjernen”.

“Sneeuwland” is a twelve track piano composition, where Oskar creates and evolves his sound with multiple layered piano tracks as the main element and adding in beats and sounds of Glockenspiels, music boxes, old cameras and typewriters. This unique album takes the listener away to far off lands, long forgotten memories and fantastical dreams. Creating visuals through sound is definitely where Oskar takes you with “Sneeuwland”.

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Jana G. "Mixed Signals"

Thanks to Rick Calhoun for writing this review. Published March 07 2014.

  by Rick

"So what if I'm shy?" That's how Chicagoan Jana G. introduces herself on her Facebook page. After listening to her new EP, "Mixed Signals", released February 24, you get a sense of what she might mean. This is not an apology, folks, it's a double dog dare you challenge. Jana delivers that line with clinched fists on hips and narrowed eyes. Shy doesn't mean weak, feminine doesn't equal sissy. Jana G. is not going to let you see her cry.

"Mixed Signals" is a joyous, four track celebration of a strong woman dealing with love and life on her terms. She lists as her influences boyfriends and breakups. This reflects the subject matter here and also for her 2012 release "I Am Jana". But this is no needy, clinging girlfriend waiting by the phone. The driving, danceable beat throughout propels Mathew Giliberto's guitar and piano, which are sometimes crunchy, sometimes shimmering. Jana's vocal ascends on top of it all, assisted by Shana Petrone's well matched background vocals. One of the most pleasing things about this project is the growth of Jana's singing technique. She has a more rounded sound than "I Am Jana", more expressive and versatile. The whole production seems cleaner and less cluttered, without losing any of the energy and punch. This is likely due in part to the skillful touch of Timothy Flynn at AudioWall Studios working his digital magic.

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Kayo Dot "Hubardo"

Published September 12 2013.

  by Jonathan

There are few things more intriguing than the words “new Kayo Dot album”, and in an age of serious, mind-numbing experimentation in the underground, both of metal and the avant-garde, that is saying something.

Based out of New York and helmed by Toby Driver, also of maudlin of the Well and several other musical entities, Kayo Dot have spent the best part of the last decade or so raising eyebrows and crushing expectations, but “Hubardo” marks another important chapter for Kayo Dot, and not just musically. The album has been crowd funded.

The band eschewed the now-established mediums of Kickstarter, Pledge Music etc in favour of releasing the album online through Bandcamp and physically through their own imprint Ice Level Music, with all the recording funding coming from self-managed pre-orders beforehand, something that obviously relied very much so on the loyalty and dedication of their fan base and like any crowd funding initiative, it’s a veritable minefield of financial risks.

One can never expect anything orthodox or ‘easy’ from Kayo Dot though, as has been evidenced by each beard stroking and evocative record. 2003’s “Choirs of the Eye” was a dense prog metal behemoth and last year’s “Gamma Knife” was a terse delving into the frenetic art-rock abyss. There’s always something new, and strange, around the corner.

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Inge "Heaven Knows"

Thanks to Rick for writing this really dedicated review of Inge's second album "Heaven Knows". Published on June 19 2013.

  by Rick

Do not let the demure, reserved cover art fool you. This album is a coiled spring, full of surprising power and ready to jump out at the unsuspecting. The music within, like the photo on the cover, is subtle and refined instead of brazen. Take a closer look at the gleam in the eyes, the crooked half smile, and you have a better idea of what's in store. This woman is able and willing to take you places, sometimes places you don't want to go.

"Heaven Knows" is Inge's second full length album, after the excellent "I See You", released in 2010. It is a delight to mark her growth as a songwriter, performer and as a manager and promoter. Business skills are increasingly important for musicians, particularly independents, and Inge does it all and does it right. I sense a greater self-confidence and individuality in her songwriting and her singing, less tendency to try to sound like someone else. Inge has her own style and she relishes demonstrating it.

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