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Here comes a N’oreaster……….. Mystics Anonymous

With a N’oreaster on the horizon I thought it might be fitting to go back to the Northeast.  So back to Massachusetts and Mystics Anonymous. Jeff MA

Mystics Anonymous is the recording project of Jeff Steblea.  Formed in 1995 Jeff’s focus was artistic freedom. He released “Mystics Anonymous” in 1998.  However, a solid line up never materialized so with  a little creative thought a light bulb went off and Mystics Anonymous became a recording project as did building his own studio.  It was during this time that Jeff was asked to contribute some original scores for some independent tv/film projects.  The “Brutality of Beauty” was released in summer 2003 as a limited mail order featuring 7 new songs.  He also composed “Middle Distance” for the “Of the Earth” art exhibit at the Artworks Gallery in Connecticut.  That score was released in 2003 and comparisons of his work were made to Brian Eno and David Lynch. Mystics Anonymous was quite active during this time, recording and releasing “Winsted in the Space Room” also in 2004. It featured 14 new songs that leaned towards the more experimental side of Jeff without alienating the listener.

That brings us to present day and Mystics Anonymous’ latest release “Dreaming for Hours” which came out January 2014.  I’ve been listening to this thoroughly over the course of the last few weeks delving into the composition, style, the nuances of the vocals. The first sounds of “Sinner’s Lament” are that of a drum machine spewing a tribal beat that compels you to listen.   Slowly the other instruments/sounds are layered on top of it adding fullness and further drawing you into what’s next. Imagine smoke tendrils as fingers curling in a “come hither” motion. And you do.

In “Wells had it Right” the lyrics are poignant, reflective and present that leads you into “False Voices” which is an instrumental piece. This  experimental instrumental has all the ebb and flow of a tide. A little more than halfway in and you may notice some R2D2 sounds and a vocal sample as it seamlessly transitions into a tribal themed beat again, reminiscent of Meat Beat Manifesto.  The allterna-pop pace picks up again with “Knife Thrower”  The lyrical sarcasm/irony is smart and well done. For some reason “Days” really sticks with me.  Maybe it is because it reminds me of early World Party (All Come True) even be the way the backing vocal comes in and hi-lights the lyric that reminds me of the time I first heard Sinead O’Connor backing Karl Wallinger and World Party on Hawaiian Island World.

Mystics anonymous“Made of the Time” has a heavier sound to the vocal and overall mood of the song.  It reminds me of Low Pop Suicide / Joy Division and how they tended to be a bit darker without being completely dark.
The next few songs “Dreaming Interlude”, “Theme from Night Sweats”, “The Fifth Business”, and “Hours Epilogue” are the more experimental songs on the album. They contain more of an electronic feel and they are a welcome addition. It mixes up the alterna feel of the album and takes it into yet another musical realm. There is no easy classification of this release and I like that.  It has appeal to many in that sense.

Jeff states: “the whole point was to establish a project where nothing is off-limits”.  Well Jeff, mission accomplished.

Check out Mystics Anonymous on their website here:http://mysticsanonymous.com/ or like them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mystics-Anonymous/326367507376859?ref=ts&fref=ts

Listen and download their stuff here :http://mysticsanonymous.bandcamp.com/

 

 

Happy listening

-Not Haydn

 

 

 

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Lee Gregory- Going Going, Going, Gone Solo

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A little while back I introduced you and followed up on a band out of Washington State, Strangely Alright.  Since that review the keyboard guru, Lee Gregory, has chosen to go solo and pursue other interests and projects.

His first release was a cover of Johann Johannsson’s “The Suns Gone Dim” which can be found on SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/lee-gregory-keys  His version is a little different than the original.  He kept the electronic feel of the piece but made it a little more ethereal with a much fuller orchestration. 

Since releasing that cover he has released a few other originals on Soundcloud. The first one that I came across after listening to the cover is “Stuck in Tacoma”  It is night and day if you are comparing it to the cover.  This song has bounce and gets your foot tapping from the start.  It has hints of Bob Dylan, Karl Wallinger, Beatles, and Grateful Dead for starters.  There is even a bit where I feel like I’ve walked into a saloon and the can-can girls are doing a dance.  The song is a lot of fun and should not stay as the title implies “Stuck in Tacoma”

Moving on to the other songs that Lee has on Soundcloud we get a sense of the influence that The Beatles may have played in his musical upbringing.  Which comes as no surprise when you think of their catalogue and how many artists from many genres cite them as influences. Listen a little further and you also hear some Pink Floyd influence on the song “2”.

Lee does not have many songs up on Soundcloud yet but I sense that as he writes and records the list will grow.  I also sense that the list will contain many songs that are  similar to what he has shown us thus far, ballads, pop, etc.  He is a gifted songwriter and keeper of the keys so I’ve no doubt that many more musical gems are in store for us if we are patient and follow him on Soundcloud.

Here is the link again: https://soundcloud.com/lee-gregory-keys

Once on SoundCloud you will see the other links that Lee has available.

 

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50 States of Talent continues…. this stop Virginia with The Velvet Ants

50 States of Talent continues…. this stop Virginia with The Velvet Ants

After a bit of an unplanned absence and the Thanksgiving Holiday I am fully recovered from my tryptophan  overdose.  I hope you are all recovered as well.  Now let’s get back on track with the sharing of undiscovered local bands.

This installment of the 50 States of Talent Series which I began last year as a way to search out local talent from all 50 states in the union finds us in Virginia this week with The Velvet Ants.  No, it isn’t some sort of a bakers concoction or the infamous “cow killer” ant.

The Velvet Ants are a local band from the Fairfax, Virginia area.   Formed in 2006 by Ian Margolycz and Trevor Hart.  In 2007 the band released 2 albums on their label T!LT Records, Lunatic Fame and Pixie Junk.  It was limited to local record shops in the DC area.  In 2009 a re-release of Lunatic Fame was made available to a much larger audience on Zeptune Records while the band took a hiatus.  By 2011 work was begun on new material and a new album “Advantage” was released.  This album was mixed and co-produced by Ken Stringfellow who you may recognize from The Posies. The Velvet Ants kept busy playing many shows in the metro DC area while working on new material.  They released an album of “extras”with the help of Jordan Zadorozny.

Things were good, a loyal following, a steady string of albums and new material yet with all of this local success the band almost fizzled into oblivion. Ian, the only member who wasn’t ready to call it quits was encouraged to “carry on” by Jordan Zadorozny. The result of this encouragement is the third release titled Solt Olio in Fall of 2013. http://velvet-ants.com/album/solt-olio

This is where I stumbled onto the band.  I was immediately drawn in by the opening song “Find You”.  It has a crisp alternative sound that is old school without really being a throwback. The songs are well written and the flow on the album feels very comfortable.  The second song on the album “Cardigan’s Fable” is truer to what you will find on the rest of the album.  The vocals are dreamy and there is a definite ambient vibe going on but not enough to put you into a trance.   There is a nice balance without one sound overpowering the other  The sound is reminiscent of The Posies, Matthew Sweet and The Pixies among others.

The album Solt  Olio provides a a pleasurable listening experience from the first note to the very last. Listening to the songs you can hear how well they are thought out.  There is nothing amateur about this release. It is so well done that you may forget that this is local talent!  The bands current lineup consists of Ian Margolycz on guitar and vocals, Eric Sakmar on bass and Jordan Zadorozny on drums.

The Velvet Ants have a web presence.  They have a few videos of live performances on YouTube, a Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/velvetants a twitter @VelvetAnts and a webpage http://velvet-ants.com/  You can also find them on Soundcloud and Reverbnation

Check them out at any of the above links but definitely check them out.  You will be easily hooked, I was.

Happy Listening

–NotHaydn

 

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50 States of Talent continues in The Empire State with Chris J. Connolly

This installment in the 50 States of Talent comes to us from The Empire State.  Though originally from Staffordshire, UK long distance love brought Chris to the US.  Love is what is bound to happen when you give this guy a thorough listen.CHirsC

In the UK, Chris got his start as a teen playing drums in a harder Joy Division- esqe alternative band that is still around.  However, Chris has a softer side and began writing songs while still in his teens.  This softer side is evident in his music.  The songs and vocals are artistically intricate and simple at the same time.  I get a Thom Yorke and Vance Joy feel vocally.

Most of Chris’ music is strictly acoustic but is easily transferable to a full band.  Don’t let the term acoustic fool you.  There is an edge and a crisp rawness in his guitar playing when he needs it to accent his lyrics, so perhaps unplugged may be a better description.

On his self released ep aptly titled EPII Chris offers up an array of tasty compositions.  One of my favorites would be the opening track “Black Swan”. This song opens the door to what awaits you on the rest of the release and has catchy phrasing. Musically it plays with both his edgier and softer acoustic sides. In the softer acoustic songs Chris explores his innermost thoughts.  He translates those feelings into beautiful songs like “American Accent”, “Ferry to Rosslare” and “Colder”.    While many of the songs are acoustically driven Chris gives you a taste of what the possibilities are when he gets a band behind him on “Beaten Up Road” and “Fight At the End”.  While not available for purchase on ITunes, Chris will gladly send out upon request his EP. I EP11highly recommend this.  However, there is a single available for purchase on ITunes it is called Factory just search Chris Connolly to find it  or click here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/factory-single/id570747201

Chris has a lovely website (https://chrisjconnolly.bandpage.com/ )  with links to Facebook and SoundCloud pages Included on the website are lots of fun doodles and thought-provoking photos and his songs , which I encourage you to share with your friends.  He has made sharing easy thru Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Chris also has a few videos if you would like to watch him though they are relatively generic.  He also has some performance videos on YouTube.

Give this guy a listen. If you are in Long Island and see him playing at a local coffee shop stop in, say “hi” grab a cup and enjoy the music.

Happy listening!!

-NotHaydn

 

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Follow up on the 51st State and Stuart Newman

As I promised, a follow up is in order. What better way to get through the summer than with some new music?avatars-000035976694-ivu6s9-t200x200 Especially some music from an artist that provides some nice mellow rock perfect for sitting around the campfire or hanging on the porch with friends enjoying some summer cocktails.

Stuart provides just such a back drop with his new single “The Whiskey”. Reminiscent of some XTC and Love and Rockets this single just starts, wham- vocals. I actually thought I may have missed something the way vocals are looped on the intro. Those first few seconds threw me but once I got into the song and the lyrics all was good. There is a lot going on in the lyrics and that is what I like about Stuart and his style.

The song contains some memorable lyrics, and is catchy enough to find yourself humming along to or in my case singing along to. “Every man’s castle needs a moat” is one such phrase that sticks with you. Overall, this song is built with a solid foundation and is lyrically smart. If you are one who likes to delve into a song and the lyrics than this song will satisfy your cranial needs. Stuart is definitely an artist to keep your eyes and ears on if mellower rock is your thing. I look forward to more from Stuart in the coming months and will keep you updated on his progress.

In the meantime, enjoy your summer and why not add some Stuart Newman to your summer music rotation?

Here is a link to make it easy for you https://soundcloud.com/stuarttnewman

And if you haven’t already done so check out some of his other tracks, you will find some Radiohead influence, intelligent songwriting and pleasantly mellow guitars.

There are also some videos and such out there if you want to see Stuart in action. I believe I found a few previously with a quick google search.

Enjoy!!!!

– NotHaydn

 

 

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50 States of Talent continues……. Pigeon

pigeonIt’s a bird, it’s a plane….. no it’s a band called Pigeon.

Hailing from the Chicago suburbs is a band called Pigeon.   What started out as a solo project for Dominic in 2011 has since evolved into a full fledged band called Pigeon  (Dominic Glimco- vox/guitars, Chris Hartley- guitar, Jeff Bensmiller- bass and Steve Berger-drums) with a very indie college sound.  Not a Ned’s Atomic Dustbin college sound. Take it down a few more notches and perhaps a very mellow That Petrol Emotion song or early Pop Will Eat Itself but much slower.

The songs come across as melancholy, depressing almost unless you listen to the lyrics then it becomes trance-like.  Dominic’s vocals are a combination deliverance/ sound wise of Thom Yorke, A Gallagher brother and Brian Molko of Placebo.

In a sense I could compare them to Placebo the way that the guitar loops and the vocals are very monotone.  There are a few songs that pick up the pace a little yet they still keep that very monotone feel.  They have Kiaro Skuro formula going on.  (Kiaro Skuro was a very popular indie rock college band a ways back.)

I would like to hear them take it up a notch vocally.  There are a few songs that step up and have a beat that moves, I want the vocals to match that. There are a few songs that do just that and those are the ones that got my toes tapping.  “I got a chilly willy” (I don’t, it’s the song title) is one such song. The further into the library I went the better the song compositions became, “Who Will Can”, “Where Are We”.  They are in there, it’s just a matter of discovery.

When not working on the band Pigeon, Dominic and some of his close friends are hard  at work on the indie record label Paperduck Records which they created to showcase the musical talent of the Naperville area.  They have released a compilation cd last year with plans to release another one this summer.

Pigeon also has plans to play the Chicago and Champaign-Urbana areas so check them out if you are in the neighborhood.

There is a Facebook page for both Pigeon and Paperduck Records.

You can also check them and Paperduck Records out at the following links:

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fpigeon69&h=zAQENIhQU

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fpigeon69.bandcamp.com%2F&h=zAQENIhQU

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fpaperduckrecords.bandcamp.com%2Falbum%2Fpaperduck-records-fruit-salad&h=zAQENIhQU

Happy listening. – NotHaydn

 

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Strangely Alright’s new release is here: The Time Machine is Broken – or is it?

A few weeks ago I let you in on one of Washington States many musical secrets, Strangely Alright.  Well, theyFINAL CD COVER 1 have just released their effort “The Time Machine is Broken”  It delivers as I suspected it would.  I was safely transported to and from my destination.  So, I guess in my case the time machine isn’t broken, and well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

The songs are all well written though sometimes I really didn’t feel the song kick into a natural groove until the first chorus. Once the chorus hit the songs soared and the groove of the album was found and provided a quite enjoyable listening experience.

There are many catchy phrases in the songs where you say to yourself “Damn how come I didn’t write that?!”  Whether Regan is writing about his experiences or drawing from others close to him it is clear that this is a very personal album.  The songs revolve around  lives lived, mistakes made and turning points that have changed their lives and made them realize the world is a two way street. You get only what you give and at the end of the day giving is better then receiving.  Love and forgiveness.

Reflective of that thought process is one of the slower songs on the album “If I don’t laugh I’m only going to cry”.  The song reflects the distance they have travelled and how time has matured them.  It is in this song that we find the albums title. There is a lyric questioning the possibility that they have become their parents and really is that such a bad thing?

“Before the Fall” is another slower song that dives into one’s self and sees how others have given so selflessly and the only way to repay that is to give themselves completely to the other and in that realization there is a clarity and warmth even as the summer sun settles.

So while the lyrical content of the album is complex and not just a bunch of pop songs so common in today’s world, it is still an easy listening experience.  I don’t mean Barry Manilow easy listening.  I mean that the songs lyrics are  combined with structurally sound adult alternative pop and catchy choruses that welcome you to sing along.

Towards the end of the albums closing we find that Regan and the rest of Strangely Alright (Ken Schaff:Bass, Jeff Reiner:Lead Guitar, Lee Gregory:Keys and Preston Darvill:Drums)  have all found the “Direction Home” and end the album on a very upbeat summery tops down in the convertible kind of song aptly titled ‘You and Me” and when we get to our destination “let’s share a bowl of Capt’n Crunch”.

So do something nice for your ears today and go check out the new album from Strangely Alright

at http://www.strangelyalright.com/

you’ll be glad that you did.

-NotHaydn

 

 

 

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