AGENCY PANIC – Single Review: “Panic”

Agency Panic 2

Agency Panic is an alternative/progressive metal rock band based in Wexford, Ireland, and in July they made an auspicious debut with the release of their powerful new single “Panic.” It’s the first song off what they are calling their ‘drip feed’ EP, which is being released one song at a time. Making the hard-hitting noise are J.D.K. on vocals, Tubs on guitars, Lee on bass, and Revsy on drums.

“Panic” is four minutes and 49 seconds of hard rock perfection. The track opens with a blast of crashing drums and fierce guitar, and never lets up. The guitar work is phenomenal – Tubs sets the airwaves afire with scorching riffs of shredded and wailing guitars that are pure bliss for those of us who love intense, guitar-driven melodic rock. Lee lays down a solid bedrock of heavy bass, while Revsy pounds his drum kit like a man possessed. J.D.K.’s strong, passionate vocals are chilling as he snarls the dark lyrics, becoming downright feral in the song’s finale when he screams the words alongside the raging guitars, sending shivers up and down my spine.

It’s an incredible song that leaves me wanting to hear more from this amazing group of musicians, and I cannot wait for their next single! The intense black and white video shows the band performing the song in a darkened room with ominous-looking shadows, alternating with scenes of a man stealing, then destroying, medical records and cutting off his fingerprints in what appears to be an attempt to hide his very existence. Later in the video are scenes of civil unrest and other disturbing images, juxtaposed with the band’s performance of the now almost violent music and vocals. Have a look and prepare to be blown away:

Connect with Agency Panic:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream “Panic” on  Spotify /  Apple Music
Purchase on  Bandcamp /  iTunes

Top 30 Songs for August 19-25, 2018

1. JUMPSUIT – twenty one pilots (1)
2. GOLD RUSH – Death Cab for Cutie (3)
3. CLOSER – IAMWARFACE (5)
4. UNWIND – John Defeo (2)
5. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (8)
6. 44 – Oli Barton & the Movement (9)
7. HUNGER – Florence + the Machine (4)
8. NATURAL – Imagine Dragons (19)
9. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (7) 45th week on chart
10. HI HELLO – Johnny Marr (11)
11. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (6)
12. FEVER PITCH – Rainbow Kitten Surprise (13)
13. LIVING IN THE FUTURE – Dawes (14)
14. DIZZY – The Million Reasons (17)
15. NEVERMIND – Dennis Lloyd (18)
16. HUMILITY – Gorillaz featuring George Benson (15)
17. SUCH A SIMPLE THING – Ray LaMontagne (10)
18. QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT – Bastille (12)
19. FLAWLESS – Dorothy (16)
20. WHEN THE CURTAIN FALLS – Greta Van Fleet (25)
21. RIDE OR DIE – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (24)
22. GHOST – Badflower (29)
23. GIVE YOURSELF A TRY – The 1975 (20)
24. COLORS – Beck (21)
25. FOUR OUT OF FIVE – Arctic Monkeys (22)
26. SOMETHING HUMAN – Muse (N)
27. BURN THE HOUSE DOWN – AJR (N)
28. BLOOM – Troye Sivan (26)
29. KAMIKAZE – WALK THE MOON (27)
30. LIFE TO FIX – The Record Company (23)

REALITY SUITE – EP Review: “Awaken”

Reality Suite

Reality Suite is a New Jersey-based rock band with a fresh sound defined by scorching riffs and anthemic melodies. The band was formed in 2009 by three life-long friends, Brian King (drums) Antonio Valenti (bass) and Joe Padula (guitars). After struggling through a string of male and female vocalists, the wonderful Kimmii Heart came to the rescue, and their winning lineup was firmly established. They released their debut album Skinn to critical acclaim in 2015, and followed a year later with the single “Bury Me Alive.” This May, they dropped their EP Awaken, which I have the pleasure of reviewing today.

The EP is a deeply personal work for the band, each of whom have experienced the death of a loved one in the past few years. In an interview with PopBreak.com, Brian explained: “During the writing for what became “Awaken,” Kimmii and I realized most of what we were writing about were losing loved ones. Each of us had lost someone close to us in the last two years. I lost my mother in 2016 to lung cancer – which spawned the song “Cut, Burn Bruise.” Kimmii lost a close family friend which inspired “Grave.” Antonio lost his mother and Joe had lost an Aunt in 2017 – so, as much as “Grave” and “Cut” are about missing a loved one, in the context with the other songs – “Awaken” becomes an album about recovery and rebirth…leaving the pain behind and moving on. The songs “Live Now Forever,” “Dead to Me,” and “Lust” drive that point home.”

Dead to Me” perfectly exemplifies their dynamic, hard-hitting sound. Brian’s pounding drumbeats establish a sturdy foundation for Joe’s gritty riffs and Antonio’s buzzsaw bass lines, though the song also has moments of relative calm where glossy synths and delicate guitar notes dominate. Kimmii’s emotive vocals run the gamut from seductive purr to malevolent snarl to impassioned wail as she throws dark shade on someone she’s clearly had enough of: “I’m done playing nice with your sick little ways. Breaking my back just to keep you away. It’s over this time I’m losing my mind. You think that I’m blind well I’m feeling like – You’re dead to me!” The music and vocals ultimately build to a crescendo, with sweeping strings, wailing guitars and a soaring harmonic chorus that make for a dramatic finish.

Grave” is a dark anthemic ballad with fantastic guitar work that wends its way amongst the crushing bass and crashing cymbals. Kimmii’s passionate echoed vocals are marvelous. The band dials things up a notch on “Live Now Forever,” a terrific head-banger with fierce riffs of fuzzy guitars and humming bass. I like the way Joe makes his guitar squeal, and his blistering riffs and Brian’s pummeling drums in the bridge and final chorus are fire. Kimmii’s vocal gymnastics are impressive as she matches the fury of the instrumentals note for note. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the EP.

Another powerful anthem, “Cut, Burn, Bruise” is about missing someone so desperately you’d do almost anything to have them back: “Can’t bring you back. So I drive through the night. Going fast makes me feel alive. You make me feel alive. / Love’s a cut, a burn, a bruise. But I loved you til I’m black and blue. Feeling broken, I am learning to live without you. But I’d die for another day with you.” Reality Suite keeps the hard-driving rock grooves coming with “Lust.” These musicians are really at the top of their game, delivering more of their signature fiery riffs, throbbing bass and tumultuous percussion, and Kimmii’s dazzling vocals raise plenty of goosebumps. It’s a great track, and Awaken is an awesome little EP that packs one hell of a mighty wallop.

Connect with Reality Suite:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes / cdbaby

VERIS – Single Review: “Gimme More”

VERIS Gimme More

Boston duo VERIS burst onto the indie music scene in early summer 2017 with their infectious ear worm of a dance track “Opening Night.” They followed in September with their sultry and seductive “Devil in the Details,” which was a Top 10 hit on my Weekly Top 30 Chart. (I featured both songs on this blog, which you can read here and here.) Now they return to please our eardrums with a fantastic new single “Gimme More, and they sound better than ever!

Veris

VERIS is singer/songwriter/guitarist AJ Edwards and songwriter/drummer Mark Hylander, and with assistance from Bleu (William James McAuley III), who produced and co-mixed the song with Ducky, they’ve created a stylish and sexy track that really showcases their musical versatility. The song is different from their previous two singles – it’s always a good thing to change things up and bring fresh sounds – but still delivers a catchy melody, cool grooves, smart lyrics, great vocals and fine instrumentals, all things we’ve come to love about VERIS.

With an irresistible strutting bass-driven dance beat that grabs hold of both hips, “Gimme More” quickly has us in its thrall. The seductive dance groove is punctuated in spots by trap-like break downs and lots of quirky electronic synths, making for an interesting and exciting track.  AJ’s smooth vocals are wonderful, soaring to a pleasing falsetto as he sings of feeling besotted with desire for another:

I can’t help I’m impatient
Is it a crime, lock me up
I’ve got nothing but time
Is this more than just an obsession
Please let me in, gotta feel, gotta feel it yeah
Gimme more

It’s a great song, and certain to be another hit for the creative duo. Take a listen:

Connect with VERIS:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify and Soundcloud, and purchase on iTunes

LAZY QUEEN – Single Review: “Turn From Void”

Lazy Queen
Photographs by Anine Desire

As EclecticMusicLover, I have a special fondness for artists and bands who push boundaries and go outside the proverbial box in the creation of their music and/or identity. So it was my lucky day when I was contacted by Henrik Søberg of Norwegian band Lazy Queen for consideration of their new single “Turn From Void.” In their bio, the band states they “speak for the disenfranchised, the outcasts, the queers, the allies, the feminists, for the pissed off, for the isolated and lonely, the weirdos and the freaks.” Since I fall into several of those categories myself, they’re definitely for me! Their music is a loud and intense mix of noise rock, grunge and punk – the sonic equivalent of a car crash, as someone so eloquently put it.

Lazy Queen was started by Søberg in 2013, who’s Norwegian with Colombian roots and gender fluid, while they were living in Brooklyn, New York. The band then consisted of Søberg and three American musicians, and they released four singles and a fantastic EP Drift to critical praise from both national and international press. They earned a broad following from performing in numerous shows in the New York region, a tour in Puerto Rico, and opening slots for legendary bands such as Psychic TV. Søberg had hoped to settle in New York, but a bureaucratic snafu at the Norwegian embassy forced them to return to Norway.  Upon returning to Oslo, Søberg reformed Lazy Queen with Norwegian musicians Jonas Røyeng, Jon Bernhard Hunskaar, Peter Mortensen and Petter Anderdal. They’re now recording songs for a forthcoming EP or album, and “Turn From Void” is the first single.

The song is brilliant, with numerous melodic change-ups that keep us in a near-constant state of surprise. There’s a lot going on, and it took several listens for me to fully digest this complex track. It starts off with a little acoustic guitar riff, then Søberg begins singing “Take what you need, and leave the rest to me.” A heavy drumbeat soon kicks in, along with gnarly guitars and a humming bass line that take the song deep into grunge territory.

The guitar riff that appears in the chorus is absolutely captivating and so damn good! Søberg’s vocals grow more passionate and raw as the music swells, backed by a vocal harmonies that bringing goosebumps. Suddenly, we’re hit with a wild punk rock flourish of frenzied guitars and thunderous percussion, while Søberg wails at the top of his lungs. Just as quickly, things calm back down to the same acoustic riff and gentle vocals we heard at the opening, until the song ends with a massive crash of guitar chord and cymbal. Wow, what an awesome track! I cannot wait to hear what new songs Lazy Queen will throw at our ears.

Connect with Lazy Queen:  Website / Facebook / Instagram
Stream their music on Soundcloud / Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes, and Drift may also be purchased on Bandcamp

SUM Releases Video For Their Uplifting New Single “It’s Alright to Be Me”

SUM2

SUM is a New York City-based band with an admirable philosophy and loads of talent. They’ve created their identity from the meaning of the Latin word “Sum” (pronounced “soom”), which means “to be” or “I am.” Their aim is to inspire us to accept who we are and to understand and embrace our own uniqueness.  Their exuberant music style, born from a fusion of jazz, soul, hip hop and pop, is beautifully showcased on their uplifting new single “It’s Alright to Be Me.” It’s the first single from their forthcoming self-titled debut album SUM, due for release in late September.

The band is lead by drummer, composer and arranger Steve Belvilus, and the lovely soulful vocals are courtesy of the engaging Patryce Williams, who’s also a professional actress. Rounding out the ensemble are Joel Desroches (Piano), Olivier R. (Keys), Andrew Gould (Sax), Gil “XL” Defay (Trumpet) and Francesco Beccaro (Bass). In an interview with VENTS Magazine, Steve explained their reasoning behind writing “It’s Alright to Be Me”:  “When we played shows, people kept messing up the name of our band and we always had to explain the meaning. So I decided to write a song that hopefully will become a hit so that we don’t have to explain ourselves anymore.

Lyrically, the track explains what the band is all about, and was created to be their defining song, and also an anthem of empowerment:

At a young age struggling to become all I can be
I was afraid to show the treasures inside of me
Many people wanted to make fun of me
But now I see the light that’s been in me

The light is the essence inside of me
The “I” you see is bright and shines all over me
SUM is the Latin word that defines me
It means the “I” that’s bright in me

I don’t care if you don’t like what’s within
I’d rather be myself cause that’s all I can be
SUM means I or to be the essence of me
It’s alright to be me, that’s what SUM means to me

The heartwarming and charming video skillfully captures the message expressed in the lyrics. It opens in a classroom, where Patryce plays both a teacher and a student who’s tormented by a classmate. Later on, the band is shown performing the song at a small party, and the boy who teased the childhood Patryce is now an adult. He approaches her adult self with a gift and an apology, and all is forgiven as they hug one another. Take a look:

Connect with SUM:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream or purchase “It’s Alright to Be Me” on Bandcamp

Top 30 Songs for August 12-18, 2018

 

1. JUMPSUIT – twenty one pilots (2)
2. UNWIND – John Defeo (1)
3. GOLD RUSH – Death Cab for Cutie (5)
4. HUNGER – Florence + the Machine (3)
5. CLOSER – IAMWARFACE (10)
6. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (4)
7. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (6) 44th week on chart
8. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (8)
9. 44 – Oli Barton & the Movement (9)
10. SUCH A SIMPLE THING – Ray LaMontagne (7)
11. HI HELLO – Johnny Marr (11)
12. QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT – Bastille (12)
13. FEVER PITCH – Rainbow Kitten Surprise (15)
14. LIVING IN THE FUTURE – Dawes (20)
15. HUMILITY – Gorillaz featuring George Benson (18)
16. FLAWLESS – Dorothy (19)
17. DIZZY – The Million Reasons (24)
18. NEVERMIND – Dennis Lloyd (25)
19. NATURAL – Imagine Dragons (29)
20. GIVE YOURSELF A TRY – The 1975 (17)
21. COLORS – Beck (13)
22. FOUR OUT OF FIVE – Arctic Monkeys (14)
23. LIFE TO FIX – The Record Company (16)
24. RIDE OR DIE – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (28)
25. WHEN THE CURTAIN FALLS – Greta Van Fleet (30)
26. BLOOM – Troye Sivan (21)
27. KAMIKAZE – WALK THE MOON (23)
28. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges (22)
29. GHOST – Badflower (N)
30. BROKEN – lovelytheband (27) 26th week on chart

ANDREW LA TONA – Album Review: “Human”

The great city of Toronto, Canada has a thriving music scene, and I’ve featured a number of artists and bands based there, most recently The Autumn Stones and their stunning album Emperor Twilight. After seeing that review, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Andrew La Tona reached out to me for consideration of his latest album Human for a review, and I’m so glad he did because it’s fantastic! I can say without equivocation that I love his extraordinary album. Andrew’s a creative and gifted composer, songwriter and musician who employs all sorts of experimental and unique instrumentation, melodies and time signature and chord changes that make for incredibly interesting songs that always deliver unexpected surprises for the listener.

Andrew has had a lifelong love affair with music. As he explains in his bio:

“It seems as if music has been my life since the day I was born.  My mother always reminds me that as a toddler, she signed me up for a Mother and Tot music class. A fond memory of mine is that for as long as I remember, there has always been a piano in my home.  At the age of seven, I began formal lessons in piano and classical theory through the Royal Conservatory of Music for seven years. By fourteen I made a commitment to myself that music was to become my life.  I discovered my father’s old guitar hidden in the basement.  I took it upon myself to learn by ear, listening to records and reading guitar magazines.  When I entered high-school I was proficient on Piano, Guitar, Bass and Drums.  I made the band room my home, where I played in all the school ensembles, refined my sight reading and theory, and learned Trumpet, Euphonium and Flugelhorn as a personal project.”

He went on to study Radio Broadcasting and Journalism at Seneca College and School of Communication Arts, and from 1999 to 2006, he played with various groups with long-time collaborator Edward Kramer, with whom he founded the bands Odd Man Out and Yesterday’s Gone.  They recorded four albums together, and Andrew personally completed three solo albums which went on to be the foundation for his and Ed’s band Big Stereo, to which he devoted his full attention from 2006 to 2009. Since 2010, Andrew has continued to work on his own music, and Human is his latest album, which dropped in June.

Andrew La Tona

Human is a commentary of sorts on the current state of things, in which Andrew expresses his antipathy for today’s leaders, our growing obsession with gadgets, and ponders our place within the vastness of the universe. His lyrics are so well-written and compelling that I’ll be quoting a lot of them. The powerful opening track “Leader” speaks of how humankind’s ignorance and greed is wrecking our planet, yet we’re hungry for leadership to help us solve our problems, but our leader (Trump) is a fraud:

Here, we find ourselves trapped inside a fate so paramount 
And we live for ourselves with no regard for other animals 
Our mother earth is threatening with disaster 
We’re blind, we are condemned to live upon the soiled earth 
How could we figure out how to reverse our plight, our misfortune, our ignorance 
Total genocide 

You’re not the leader we want 
Leave or we’ll never have peace 
The way you speak is absurd 
It warps the minds of our young

Musically, the track starts off with a distorted spacey synth, then expands to a rolling drumbeat as Andrew begins singing in his silky, yet vulnerable voice. His layered jangly and chiming guitars are marvelous, and he uses a variety of synths to great effect in creating a very intriguing song.

Borderlines” is a feast for the ears. Andrew employs guitar, bass, organ, horns, cymbals, drums and glittery synths to weave a rich tapestry of sound that unfolds throughout the length of the enthralling track. The song is about breaking free from mind control and expectations placed upon us by oppressive societal norms.

I want to be free. Free from your borderlines
I need to break the mold you’ve always cast for me
And in my mind, there’s a place like this
Without your rules, your greed

Andrew takes on people who feel success is having more money and stuff than everyone else on “At the Top.” The delightful song has a Latin vibe thanks to a peppy Samba beat and instrumentation that beautifully softens the bite of the lyrics:

Boast among your rich yuppy friends 
‘Bout how you trample on all those around you 
All just to end up at the top 
And what’s left for you? 
Is there more than just the cars – the yacht? 
Honestly, I’m not impressed 
Baby, nothings cooler than you, my friend

Power and Prowess” is an incredibly satisfying ‘fuck you’ to Donald Trump, which automatically makes this a winning song in my book! The track has a fast-paced galloping drumbeat, with wonderful intricate guitar work and crisp layered percussion.  Andrew vocals get downright raw as he snarls the scathing lyrics:

“Be the champion”, that’s what you tell yourself 
I guess in your mind you are 
It’s true you shit on johns of gold 
You’re at least champion of that 
So how can you lead the people of today 
Forward to tomorrow? 

I doubt you know the gravity of your post 
I’d say no 
There are people out there who want to love 
There are people out there who don’t want to die 
You’re not one of us 
We should be blessed with human rights 
No one should be groped by you 
No one should be owned by you 
You’re in charge of you, big boy 
And that’s all (And that’s all) 

Weald that sword in battle, head up to the front line 
Bring yourself to ‘fess-up to one crime 
Let us know who’s running the show 
You’re not the man for the job 
Move over, asshole 
We can save the world 

One of my favorite tracks is “The Walls,” a beautiful declaration of love to someone to whom you are beholden. This song is so utterly captivating it gives me chills. It’s as if Andrew has gone out of his way to make the guitars and synths sparkle like jewels of sunlight strewn across the sea. His fervent vocals, which occasionally soar to a smooth falsetto, are positively sublime.

Another favorite is the bouncy “Laniakea Supercluster,” a fascinating track that has a strong Talking Heads vibe. Along with his echoed vocals, Andrew uses lots of otherworldly synths to create a sci-fi feel to go with the lyrics that speak to the fact that, on the one hand, Earth is but an insignificant speck in the overall massiveness of the universe, but on the other hand, it’s our home and so very significant to our survival and well-being.

So Long to the Human Race” is an apocalyptic clarion call after a nuclear war for those who survive and repopulate the world to try and co-exist in peace and be one with the earth. The gritty guitars, heavy buzzing bass,  organ, and spacey synths lend a somber mood.

It makes me sick to look upon all we’ve done
And the little we’ve done to help
And if I could, I’d eat up all the terrible things we’ve done
And shit it down your throat 

Can’t you see that our kind is a warning 
From the first flame, to the first rocket 
So little is left of what we blew all our cash on 
And burned up all the oil 
And killed who we loved 
So long to the human race 

Time Goes Ever By” touches on our obsession with our mobile devices, addicted to the siren song of staying connected on all our social media accounts, at the expense of many other facets of our lives. I know I’m sometimes guilty of this behavior myself. Musically, the track has a lovely melody, with some terrific guitar and organ. And have I mentioned that I love Andrews’ vocals?

Everyone around me seems to be gripped by the same illness 
Never putting down their device 
Never looking up from their trance 
Never have the time to sow seeds 
Never stepping past the bar 
Of this jail we’re put in by ourselves and our will 
Can we find the strength to let drop the rock upon the screen 
And our friends logged on the web

Human is a brilliant album on every level I can think of – composition, melodies, lyrics, instrumentation, vocals, and production. Andrew has done a masterful job with all aspects of the album production, and should be very proud of this outstanding work. And if all that weren’t enough, he even did the amazing cover art!

He’s now in the process of forming an ensemble of musicians to perform with him live, and is excited to have them add some amazing character and flavor to the songs from Human, as well as some of his songs from his back catalogue.

Check out Andrew’s Website and connect with him on  Facebook 
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

ALLEN & DOUGLAS – Album Review: “The Spider and the Phoenix”

Allen & Douglas Album Art

Allen and Douglas are a singing & songwriting duo from Birmingham, UK who play an interesting and pleasing style of folk rock. They’re also two prolific guys, recording and releasing eight albums – containing an astonishing total of 128 songs – in under five years! (They pack a lot of tracks into their albums, with each containing anywhere from 14-20 songs.) Their latest offering is The Spider and the Phoenix, which dropped this past March. It’s an ambitious work with 17 tracks, and is essentially a concept album in two parts, though it flows beautifully as one large production.

Lifelong friends, Craig Allen and Steven Douglas began writing songs in their teens. In their bio, they expand a bit on their background and what the latest album is about:

“Strumming, singing and writing away in old railway stations and under canal bridges we developed our sound, harmonies and song-craft as young men through hard work and trial and error. Nowadays after several hiatuses due to differing work and travel paths, we practice and record regularly in a small bedroom studio in Birmingham, UK. We write primarily for pleasure, producing many genres of music. Our latest body of work ‘The Spider and the Phoenix’ is conceptual and charts a journey from depression to recovery.”

They also have a cheeky sense of humour (notice I used the British spelling):

Allen & Douglas funny pic

The Spider” kicks off the album, not only setting the tone on a musical level, but also establishing the overall theme of depression, represented metaphorically by a spider that spins its web inside our minds, gradually taking over our personality and poisoning our thoughts. The jangly, heavily strummed guitars and spooky keyboard synths lend an unsettling feel to the track, and the guys’ earnest vocals exhibit a hint of menace as they sing: “The Spider inside your mind spins and winds. The Spider deals in junk, what does he find? And I was doing fine.

The melancholy “I Can’t Stand the Pain” speaks to a relationship that’s unraveling: “You scream it’s finished. And I feel diminished.” Listening to the album, one of the things that strikes me is the strong Pink Floyd vibe running throughout, and this song reminds me a bit of “Comfortably Numb” with it’s interesting use of keyboards and sweeping synths.  And the even sadder “So Blue” finds the singer sinking into despair over his emotional abandonment: “So blue, so very blue. Drowning in memories. / Dissecting reality from dreams, I’m struggling upstream. / Rejection is a mother.

One of the prettiest tracks is “Set Sail Suite,” a mostly instrumental composition with hauntingly beautiful string and keyboard synths. The song is briefly interrupted in the middle with a sweet interlude of delicate acoustic guitar and the guys’ distant echoed vocals that sing “Set sail, set sail on your way. You never have the courage to sail.” “Dark Matters” is pure folk rock, and really channels Pink Floyd, especially in the vocals. The song has the singer lamenting his state of loneliness: “Since you left me I’ve been so lonely. / Dark matters swirling round my brain. Too much space drives me insane.” These feelings of loss are affirmed on “The Sun Went Out Last Night,” as they sing “I find myself crawling since she went away.”

“Nothing Comes Out to Play” and “Through the Eye of a Needle” wrap up the depression part of the album. Both tracks have some interesting music touches, thanks to a greater use of synths and organ.  The latter is a somber but lovely piece, and finds the singer concluding that the one who broke his heart is not a good person after all, and therefore not worth wasting any more tears on: “You didn’t realize you were dead in the heart. Trampling innocent people filled with fear. You were so busy doing damage. You didn’t realize you would leave tears along the path.”

Wrap it Up” is the first track of the 2nd half of the album “The Phoenix,” that represents recovery. It speaks of beginning the healing process by regaining your sense of sanity: “Catch your psychosis, wrap it up in cellophane. Don’t let it breathe. Squeeze out the pain. / Don’t bubblewrap your brain.”  “And When All Hope is Gone” is actually a quite hopeful tune, with tentative piano and electric guitar notes that gradually expand into a pleasing melody that seems to evoke sunshine breaking through a layer of clouds: “The sun will shine again, and it will lead me from this pain.” This sunshine is celebrated in the cheerful “Rainbows in the Sky,” and the jangly strummed guitars on the track are especially nice.

Yellow Blue” speaks to a brand new day, while the raw and bluesy “Quite Like You” has the singer extolling the virtues of a new woman who’s captured his attention and heart.  The track has some great guitar and honky-tonk sounding piano.

The Phoenix” is a declaration of survival and rebirth: “Found myself again. / Shook off the feathers. New feathers give me flight. I feel myself again. Same me, shining very bright. I feel I can fly, I feel I can soar holding hands with the sky.” The song is one of the more interesting tracks on the album from a musical standpoint, with a heavily-strummed guitar riff accompanied by xylophone and plucky electric guitar. At the break, the track transitions with an awesome psychedelic flourish of distorted guitar and organ that continues through to the end. The guys shout “Ha Ha, I am the phoenix!”

The guys turn their attention back to that exciting new woman who’s got their juices flowing on the bouncy, romantic tune “Overflowing.” And album closer “Sweet Sweet Dreams” ends things on an upbeat note, with the singer appraising his happy situation with his new love. It’s a pleasing ending to an expansive work that encompasses a broad range of emotions from pain, despair and bitterness, to acceptance, hope and, finally, joy. This was a terrific concept and theme for an album, and I applaud Allen & Douglas for their skill and success in translating their vision into a coherent and finely-crafted work of near-epic proportions. Their creativity, songwriting and musicianship are impressive, and they should be very proud of The Spider and the Phoenix.

Connect with Allen & Douglas:  Facebook / Twitter
Stream their music:  Spotify / Reverbnation / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes

EclecticMusicLover is Three Years Old Today!

I got a notification this evening from WordPress that my blog turned three years old today, so Happy Birthday EclecticMusicLover! Time passes so quickly at my age, and it’s hard to believe I’ve been at this for three years already! I think my blog’s come a long way since those early days, when I knew I wanted to talk about music, but hadn’t a clue as to what to write about that I thought people would want to read. My earliest posts were either very brief, lame, or both, and I actually started out posting stuff from others (including some music reviews from youtube critics that I’ve since removed), before I had the confidence to write about music myself. I never could have predicted that I would establish a reputation as a music blogger, and become “in demand” by so many wanting me to review their music!

I’ve published 532 posts over the past three years, which is also hard to believe! It’s not easy churning out an average of 3-5 posts a week, most of them music reviews, but I receive so many requests for reviews from artists and bands that follow me on social media that I’ve got a steady stream of subjects to write about. Sometimes it almost feels like when I was back in college and had papers to write, but I do enjoy writing about music and supporting indie artists, which is very gratifying for me.

Blog Stats

I have 343 followers, though fewer than 10% ever read my posts. Thus far, my posts have received a collective total of 70,873 views. My most-viewed posts by a wide margin are my review of the Coldplay Head Full of Dreams Concert  I attended in 2016, which as of this writing has received 6,599 views, and my 100 Best Songs of the 2000s, with 5,612 views. At a distant third is my review of the twenty one pilots emotional road show tour concert, with 1,400 views. Most of my music reviews receive anywhere from 40-150 views, however, quite a few have garnered well over 200. A few went almost viral, including those of MUTEMATH’s beautiful song “Changes”, Tears For Fears’ “I Love You But I’m Lost”, and Chris Watkin’s superb album “Lights All Askew.” My year-end Top 100 lists for the years 2015-2017 have also received many hundreds of views.

My blog has been viewed by people from nearly every country on earth, with the exception of a few in equatorial Africa. As to be expected, the vast majority of my visitors are from English-speaking countries, with the United States accounting for over half of all views. Second is United Kingdom, followed by Canada, Australia and India. Rounding out the top ten are Germany, New Zealand, Philippines, Netherlands and Italy. And it’s cool knowing that people from such exotic countries as Malta, Macedonia, Maldives and Madagascar looked at my blog!

Also interesting is seeing the various search terms that drove people to my blog. The most frequently used term is musiclover.com, followed by music lover.com, song lover.com, and coldplay. Some of the most unusual ones are for songs that people cannot recall the titles of:

premipongidalu hodaleere asavathu thutiregai private lovers death song
songs with the word bite
banjo techno from 2000
five men from england who sing eclectic
card games played boys style photos
songs that were popular that had high pitched screaming from 2000s
songs from this generation
alternative song with piano crescendo
90s song with violin and piano intro with no words
synthesizer song
pop song with violin
sad love kaktas band 2017 song.in
i would do anything for you 00s song
female singer artist 2000 playing with a guitar with the lyrics with numbers in it?
bands that sing about being yourself
ill stand over your body and make sure you are dead staples singers

A lot of people were really concerned about the length of the Coldplay concerts:

do coldplay concert start on time
how long until coldplay takes the stage
coldplay goes on at what time?
coldplay a head full of dreams tour what time do they go on stage
how long is a coldplay ahfod concert
how long is coldplay concert 2017
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coldplay concert length 2017 average
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how long is opening act for coldplay
how long do coldplays openings acts play?
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how much does coldpaly play really live in the concerts?
list of famous bands in coldplay concert

A little rivalry is always good:

are 21 pilots concerts better than coldplay?

And I love this one:

what kind of songs will they play at the head full of dreams tour (uh, Coldplay songs)

I think most bloggers will agree that blogging about our respective interests can be a lot of work, but also very rewarding and fun. I plan to continue blogging for the foreseeable future, as long as I still enjoy writing about music. And a big thanks to all of you who support my blog!