One album a month for how long?

British singer/songwriter Sean Wright has been releasing one full album a month for the past year and a half. A couple of weeks ago I started to dip into these, and have so far downloaded about 30 songs, all of which I like to a greater or lesser degree.

It makes me wonder how much longer he’ll keep doing this, and whether he will ever run out of songs. I also wonder how many of these albums will make it onto Jamendo, because is really best suited to individual tracks.

Review : 13 Segundos de Caida Libre by Icarus Crash

Icarus Crash are a melodic hard rock group from Malaga in Spain. They sing in Spanish, with a few English phrases thrown in on occasion (I think).

As I’m not really a fan of the genre, I didn’t expect to like this as much as I do. It sounds like a more compact and more melodic The Mars Volta, but also has a great deal of crossover potential, and I think that this would be a bit hit in rock clubs as it has the sort of energy that will drag people up to dance even if they don’t normally like to. My favourite track is “Ro”, but there isn’t a bad track on it really, and the whole listening experience is really enjoyable, which was a nice surprise.

The whole album can be streamed or downloaded for free from Jamendo.

Review : Window Sills by The Wind Whistles

I was going to wait to review this until Sunday, but as I’ve listened to it a fair few times over the last 24 hours I thought it was worth sharing.

Window Sills by The Wind Whistles – They think they sound like the Violent Femmes and the Lemonheads. Other people compare them with The Decemberists and the Moldy Peaches. I’d agree with all the above and add the White Stripes and the Fiery Furnaces to the mix.

The music has a traditional edge, but deals with modern (yet universal) subjects. Both singers can sing, and it sounds like they would be amazing in a live setting (anywhere from a concert hall to a camp fire).

I think I’ve just found my “walking to work” record for the next few days.

Sounds from beyond the realm of reason

I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago (maybe longer) on how I sometimes really like to listen to songs sung in languages I don’t understand. I think I’d rather not know what the lyrics mean than to hear them and be disappointed that they don’t do the music justice. I’ve been listening to a lot of music in foreign languages recently, but also a lot of instrumental music and things that fall somewhere in-between.

I will now attempt to describe these sounds.

Azhrak : Below the Arctic Ocean
– This is a single track of keyboard based atmospherica, which really works on several levels and which suggests should a full-length work appear at some point it will be rather special.

Death by Panda : One Fifteen Four Four (direct download link) – This is the followup to “House Made of Glass”. It’s got less vocals, but still works on most of the levels that it’s predecessor operates in.

Kouki : Revolute
– I don’t know what to make of this group. They have recorded hours of music, mostly in huge blocks of sound like this. I would describe “Revolute” as mainly ambient music, and very worth listening to, but don’t expect everything else they have recorded to be either of these things. I’m considering putting together a CD of some of their shorter works to see if they make more sense in bite-sized chunks which I suspect they will.

Saint-Jean : Zikophren – The new album from my favourite French group is a bit of a departure, in that it actually moves beyond the Chanson sound they have trademarked into something a little more modern. Feedback lurks under the surface of a couple of tracks, and it is a darker and more satisfying album than anything that has gone before.

Tryad : Listen – This is one of the most popular albums on Jamendo, so I thought I’d give it a listen. The first track is amazing, but after that is meanders along and doesn’t really go anywhere. This is a fairly good album, and probably the most professional sounding set of songs I’ve reviewed this week; it just lacks a little soul.

Usta : Pierwszy Pocałunek – Polish progressive jazz with vocals anyone? I like this, but would only listen to it when alone or on headphones. And I can’t even begin to understand what they are singing about which I suspect is a good thing.

Just a couple of recommendations this week

Due to weddings and holidays, I’ve got a 10 album + backlog of things to write about. But as I’m off on my travels tomorrow I thought I’d mention a couple of the albums I’ll be taking with me to keep me occupied at the airport and on the plane to Verona.

Midnight Snow by Abscondo – I downloaded this about a week ago, and there has not been a day since when I have not listened to it at least once. This is singer-songwriter fare, but with a twist and a dark underbelly I really like. Download it here for free, or buy it from iTunes for £7.99. I did the former, but had I discovered it from another direction I would happily have paid. You might also want to check out Imperfect People, by a related group called Sungod Abscondo who I might grow to love almost as much.

Not Quite Connected by Josh Woodward – This is more acoustic and folky than the other two albums I have, but I think it is actually my favourite. There are no stand-out songs as such, but it’s all really good and has been my “walking to work” music for over a week. It also makes me feel really happy, and I suppose will be the record I associate with getting married as it is the last thing I played before the ceremony.

And that will have to be it for now. Tomorrow I head off to Italy with my lovely wife (and my EeePC for potential blogging opportunities of course).

This week’s free music

As I did last week, I’ve written a few notes on things I’ve downloaded this week. All are rated on the Sound Opinions “Buy it/Burn it/Trash it” scale.

Dirty Wings by Josh Woodward – I downloaded this on the back of listening to his most recent album last week. “Dirty Wings” is less acoustic, rockier, and gets downright political in places, but is still obviously by the same person who recorded “The Simple Life”. I really like this record, have played it on several occasions over the last few days, and would recommend it as a good starting point. I’d give this a “Buy it”, but if you are burning selected tracks then go for “Gallows Hill” first.

Orgamilk and Make This End by Fresh Body Shop – I’ve only had these a couple of days, but felt they were worth a mention. “Orgamilk” is a totally acoustic record, with quite delicate melodies and some fine songwriting. “Make This End” wants to be Nine Inch Nails, and almost manages it on a couple of tracks. I’m not sure if these guys have a career plan, or are even still together, but they are certainly worth checking out in a “Burn it” kind of way.

The Intimate Stranger by Curious – This band want to be The Cure. A lot. I really wanted to like this, but I actually couldn’t make it all the way through to the end. The songwriting is ok, but the singer’s voice really grates, and they are not doing anything I’ve not heard a thousand times before. Trash this, or better still accept that I’ve suffered so you don’t have to.

Take it or Leave it by Terremoto – Great songwriting, which reminds me of the Go Betweens (who I adore). Unfortunately, the sound quality is dreadful, and some songs are almost unlistenable because of this. I really hope someone pays for them to record these songs in a proper studio, because if they did then this would be a “Buy it” record.

The pick of this week’s downloads

As I did last week, I’ve written a few notes on things I’ve downloaded this week. All are rated on the Sound Opinions “Buy it/Burn it/Trash it” scale, and the theme for this week is artists who have several albums available for free, and who are at least starting to make a career out of music.

Then by Black Era – I wanted to download something Italian, in preparation for our imminent trip to Italy. This was the most promising thing I could find, and it’s actually nothing like I expected it would be. It reminds me a lot of Massive Attack and Tricky, and has a darkness that I find quite appealing. All the vocals are in English, and it is the sort of album that drags you in and forces you to listen even if you find it a little uncomfortable at times. I’d give this a “Burn it”, as there are some tracks that don’t have a great deal of impact, but you do really need to hear the first few tracks if nothing else.

The Simple Life by Josh Woodward – At first listen this comes across as standard singer-songwriter fare. After a couple of further listens, I realised that this is at least as good as anything else in the genre, and that there is a professionalism evident in the music that belies the fact it is avaialble for free from Jamedno (or for “pay what you like” for physical CDs on his website – This is a “Buy it”, and I’ll be downloading further albums on quiet weeks I think.

House Made of Glass by Death by Panda – I will begin by saying I don’t know how to catagorise this. It’s my album of the last two weeks, and it can best be described as sitting somewhere between melodic Ambient and Post Rock. Listen to this early in the morning and it will make sense, but TRY and make sense of it and you will be left wanting. I’d buy stuff like this (and do), but for most people it would be something to stream once to see if it sooths you or annoys you, as I think it has the potential to do both equally.

The Grasping Hands of Possibility by Ruined Machines – This is fairly standard guitar led Post Rock, but quite enjoyable nonetheless. I’d say Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai would be reference points, but it touches on a few tried and tested sounds with a couple of surprises thrown in. This is a “Burn it” record that at present I will keep and listen to, but I’m not sure how much staying power it has.

Reviews of the latest freely available music

As promised, a few scribbles on things I’ve downloaded this week (mostly from Jamendo). All are rated on the Sound Opinions “Buy it/Burn it/Trash it” scale.

Ze first cidi by Delph’ sans les pattes – Very French, but very beautiful, this is a style of music I like a lot but didn’t own much of until recently. It’s what I refer to as “Paris Cafe Music” but what other people call Chanson. Definitely a “Buy it”.

The Dreamer’s Paradox by JT Bruce
– An instrumental Progressive Rock album that makes great background music. I would never pay for music like this, but it’s totally inoffensive, and worth a listen. I think this would have to be a “Burn it” at best.

Encore des chansons (2008) by Saint-Jean – More wonderful French music. I may have to download more of this as it fits the beautiful summer weather perfectly. This would have to be a “Burn it”, because I think I’ll grow tired of it eventually.

Who is on my Sofa? by Poxfil – I don’t know how to classify this. There’s a bit of dub, a bit of pop, a lot of strangeness, and very few reference points to hang it all off. Think the Beta Band crossed with ACR in a loft in Paris. I did put this as a “Burn it”, but a week on I actually really like it.

The Asylum theory by Ghostfog – German Darkwave, which is an excellent example of German Darkwave. It totally doesn’t work at this time of year but I might go back to it in winter. Probably a “Burn it”, although I might end up trashing it at some point.

Feed the Animals by Girl Talk
– Not from Jamendo, but released under Creative Commons so it belongs here. Girl Talk mix bits of existing songs into new compositions, which works a lot better than you would think. They’ve been on my radar for a while, but have just released their new album on a “pay what you want” deal, so I thought they were worth another mention. This is a total “Buy it” album, and should be played loudly at cooked meat events throughout the summer.