Wink Burcham - Irene Vennie Review

It's debatable as to whether the Tulsa Sound is a definable musical style or a snapshot of rock musicians who made it big out of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the 1970s. Musicians such as Leon Russell, JJ Cale and Elvin Bishop found fame by mixing blues and country music 40 years ago in the heartland of America. Once superstar Eric Clapton aped Cale and Russell's sound (both "Cocaine" and "After Midnight" are Cale originals), the Tulsa Sound became world renowned.

The notion of a unified Tulsa sound for this generation, something borrowing from Russell and yet providing something new and exciting for the '10s, seemed like a far fetched idea until recently. In the past few years a number of Tulsa-bred artists who grew up listening to Tulsa's rock and roll forefathers have emerged. The New Tulsa Sound, a tag made famous by a compilation album released in 2010 by Horton Records, is the current reincarnation of the now mythical '70s Tulsa rock scene. Though the scene is filled with talented musicians and fantastic bands, one particular artist stands out above the rest. The lucid and laid back Wink Burcham is the face of the new Tulsa Sound, and for good reason.

Jul
11
2012
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Norah Jones - Little Broken Hearts Review

It's been ten years since Come Away With Me was released and it seems like now, more than ever, that Norah Jones will forever live in the shadow of her debut album. Jones may be most famous for her sultry voice, but her overnight success is one of the best pop music stories of the new century. From virtually unknown to Grammy darling, Jones shed her backup singer job to become both an actress and a pop superstar. Her inconspicuous debut was released quietly on Blue Note Records in '02, but would go on to sell tens of millions of copies world wide (it's been certified Diamond in three countries). With so much acclaim and fandom to live up to, it's really no wonder that Jones has struggled to regain the relevance that was bestowed upon her a decade ago.

May
24
2012
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Silversun Pickups - Neck of the Woods Review

If Carnavas was fresh and exciting and Swoon was dull and predictable, the Silversun Pickups' third album, Neck of the Woods, could probably be called both refreshing and maybe even a bit eerie. The band's move from hooks that bordered on arena rock into a darker and more ambient sound certainly feels like a step in a refreshing direction. As much as I liked Carnavas, the Pickups' first full length, I felt alienated by the repetitive and overbearing sounds of their followup Swoon. Carnavas was shoegaze-lite, a dream pop inspired opus that relied on fantastic songwriting sprinkled with ambient noise that slowly saturated each track. Neck of the Woods is, thankfully, a call back to the band's debut. It's an album that skates along in ethereal splendor, never getting too worked up or in too big of a hurry. Only on a few occasions do the steady sounds swell into a wall of blazing guitars; which is something we've kind of become accustomed to while listening to SSPU. Not to say that that the Silversun Pickups are suddenly playing it safe, quite the opposite. Instead, the band has decided to delve into the intricacies of the pop-ambient sound they've created. The results are scintillating.

May
16
2012
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Dee Snider - Dee Does Broadway Review

More than likely you know who Dee Snider is, but I'll give a very short biography for those who don't. Dee Snider has been in the music scene since he was a child singing in church choirs, school choruses, and the Baldwin High School Concert Choir. Three years from graduating high school, Snider joined up with the rock/metal group Twisted Sister. Although Twisted Sister have disbanded and reunited over the years as a group, Dee has always stayed active on his own. For instance, Snider famously testified before the U.S. Senate in 1985 against the parental warning label system that was being forced upon albums that had offensive material in them. Wow, a singer and a patriot. Snider has remained in the public eye over the years by making numerous TV appearances and transmitting his own radio show, "House of Hair" to over 200 radio stations across the country. Now enough with the bio-crap. If you still don't know who the man is, there may be hope for you yet after this review.

May
15
2012
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Van Canto - Break the Silence Review

Let's sing a metal song with "randandan!" If you haven't heard of Van Canto, then you don't have any clue what's in store on their fourth album Break the Silence. Van Canto is a German power metal band with no guitars, keyboards, or bass what so ever - just a drummer. "Huh?" you may ask. Well Van Canto is an a cappella group that has taken Europe by storm. Three of the singers (Stef, Ross, and Ike) deliver metaphorical guitar and bass, while the other two (Inga and Sly) bring the lyrical vocals. The one true instrumentalist, the drummer Bastian, ties everything together. The band mimics the guitar and bass by singing through guitar and bass amps to deliver a unique metal sound. In the studio, Van Canto overdub themselves to get a continuous sound of constant "randandan" and other such sounds that make up the melodies where the guitars should be. One of the lead vocalists, Sly, is such a versatile singer that on cover songs he can imitate the same style as the original vocalists. From clean highs and lows, to a heavier yelling bark, he nails each note every time. It's unbelievable to listen to something as astonishing as this group. The vocal talent by each member is both impressive and highly original. This is by far the most unique metal act I've ever heard.

May
09
2012
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The New Division - Shadows Review

Founded in a California college dorm room as an experimental electro group in 2005 by Uruguayan frontman John Kunkle, The New Division continuously churns out new music, their latest being the full-length album Shadows.

Noting that their latest work is “just another remedy for a bad day,” The New Division suggests music as just one of many treatments for a lull on their fourteen-track album. Running an hour in length, the piece maps a three-part, adventurous tale of conquering the sorrows of a bad time, however long it may actually be or feel.

Aug
30
2011
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Moby - Destroyed Review

It's hard to argue with the fact that over the years Moby has become the bald, bespectacled face of electronic music. During his 20+ year music career he has had great successes (Play) and forgettable outings (Hotel), but it was his last album, 2009's Wait for Me, that may very well have solidified his place in the electronica hierarchy. Wait for Me was a well crafted ambient gem, replacing the dance numbers of his '08 album Last Nightwith brooding, night drive worthy compositions that fit together more cohesively than any other prior Moby album. Expectations were, needless to say, high for his follow up album. On Destroyed, Moby doesn't tamper too much with the formula that made Wait for Me so great; yet, like he has often done during his lengthy career, the new album falls flat in the shadow of its predecessor.

Jun
20
2011
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Blindside - With Shivering Hearts We Wait Review

It seems like the amount of music that I've been covering lately of bands that have been on long hiatuses only to return with much anticipated and yet mildly, and sometimes not so mildly, disappointing albums has become a recurring theme. So you can't hold it against me if my immediate reaction after hearing that Blindside would be releasing a new album was one of skepticism before ever hearing a note. It has, after all, been six years since we've seen a full length album from these Swedish rockers. The band’s last effort was the wildly uneven, but still entertaining, The Great Depression. After a half hearted EP came out with little fanfare in 2007, Blindside sort of faded away like so many other post-hardcore bands seemed to after the genre’s money well dried up. The boys of Blindside were too indebted to their project to let it die so easily though. This is a band that has not had a single lineup change in their 17 years together, a band that can be more compelling and original than most any hard rock act in modern music. So was my skepticism justified? Not entirely so.

Jun
03
2011
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TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light Review

Nine Types of Light will probably always be remembered as the last album by TV on the Radio to feature the work of bassist Gerard Smith. A month before the release of the band’s new album, Smith was diagnosed with lung cancer. Nine days after the album hit stores it was announced that Smith regretfully passed away. Though the album was recorded before the news of Smith's declining health, that doesn't keep one from correlating the record's scaled back, mellower and less urgent sound to the fact that this is the last time Smith's trademark rhythmic bass would ever be recorded. Though Nine Types of Light still features a few songs that one could get up and shake their ass to, it doesn't have the same kind of energy that the band's last album Dear Science had in spades. Now that the news has recently been broken that Smith is no longer with us, we should be thankful that TVOTR has given us less of a party album and more of a somber one.

May
18
2011
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Kyle Bobby Dunn - Ways of Meaning Review

When Brian Eno revolutionized ambient music during the 70s, he sought to create malleable works of art that would evolve over the length of each track. This technique eliminated the limitation of time in conventional artwork—now the artist could adapt the audience’s reaction first-hand instead of relying solely on each individual viewpoint or analysis. But even that was in turn hampered by the limitations of his audience’s ability or desire to sink deep into music that was just as anti-pop as anything coming out of New York’s burgeoning avant garde “no wave” scene around the same time. But while no wave artists sought to challenge the audience abrasively, violently, even confrontationally, Eno’s ambient methods were never unattractive, just initially elusive (or eternally elusive, depending on willingness and opinion). It was an avant-garde approach to tonal mood music that followed La Monte Young and post-war serialism.

May
12
2011
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