Category Archives: Pop

My Cardboard Rocket

ThePositiveThe Positive & Negative by My Cardboard Rocket (Self-released EP)

Many actually were introduced to A.J. Garces last year, as he traveled across the country on the Summerfest Tour as a support guitarist for Keep It Cute . Also on the bill were such notable bands as  We The Kings, Breathe Carolina, and The Ready Set.  Now a solo project has been launched with the moniker of My Cardboard Rocket – and judging by what’s ignited on the debut EP entitled The Positive & Negative, expect Garces and his pop rocking project to shoot straight up into the stratosphere. Containing five wildly infectious tunes that will remain embedded in your head long after the music spins to its grand finale, The Positive & Negative by My Cardboard Rocket is surely on the most electrifying new releases of 2014!

ajgarces1The countdown commences with the sweet sonic perfection of The Best Team, featuring the participation of Phillip Wolf in a hip hopping cameo. The fireworks continue with the blissful refrains of Dangerous, where opposites attract with wondrously addictive results. First Shot then envelops your speakers with its vibrant chorus and exhilarating vocal performance rendering this one an absolute standout.

Gold Watch is a reflective track about attaining your dreams no matter what adversity surrounds you, featuring another hip hopping guest solo, this time none other than YouTube sensation Nathan Ryan.   And then closing out the EP way to soon is the powerhouse inflections of Last Dance, where “Oh no, we’re dying at the disco, run, run, they’re never gonna catch us” is urgently conveyed to a ultra-pulsating beat.  An extraordinary, heart pumping conclusion showing A.J. Garces at the very height of his solo artistry.

Fans of acts such as The Ready Set and Goldhouse will surely unearth an all-out favorite when jumping aboard the soundscapes of My Cardboard Rocket. Even with these comparisons, A.J. Garces clearly demonstrates his own style and flair that will surely captivate all looking to discover some exciting new songs to enjoy. Be sure to check out what the talented A.J. Garces has to offer to world at large, because My Cardboard Rocket is destined for the brightest stars and beyond.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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The Downtown Fiction

losersandkings2Losers & Kings by The Downtown Fiction (Fearless Records)

This certainly seems to be the year The Downtown Fiction are slated to hit the big leagues, especially if their winning sophomore release Losers & Kings is any indication of what’s in store for this band. The best pop punk summer album since Yellowcard surfed effortlessly through the streets of Ocean Avenue, Losers & Kings by The Downtown Fiction present 12 solid tracks of wildly infectious tunes. After three EP’s and a previous full length entitled Let’s Be Animals, expect this new puppy to roar into the hearts and minds of many a music fan.

downtownfiction2014The kick-off track Some Place On Earth is pure pop perfection, a wistful track of epic proportions with a driving chorus ready to hook the listener in for even more glorious anthems ahead. Hope I Die On A Saturday Night is certainly a grim title for a track, but the melodies are so spiraling and joyous, you’ll be singing along to this one for the many days to come. Don’t Count Me Out is a song of perseverance that could be an anthem for anyone searching for that elusive dream.

Kiss My Friends recalls the power pop movement from the 80’s, brought back with an ultramodern twist – it’s the albums second single and it’s sure to ignite a frenzy when performed live. The pace is then slowed down a bit with a visit to Santa Cruz, where the gorgeous refrains of “I’ve got my skateboard, I’m never coming home” jubilantly ring through. “This one’s for the broken hearted,” the lyrics proclaim on the radiant No Generation, with its chorus jangling through your head like a wondrously rebellious dream.

Cool Kids has a Beatlesque sound that will rock and roll your world while So Called Life is filled with attitude and style set to grooving melody. Big Mistakes especially shows off Cameron Leahy’s emotional vocals combining well with the soaring melodies. Right Where We Left Off is a definitive highlight, a heartfelt acoustic ballad demonstrating another side to The Downtown Fiction sound. And then closing out Losers & Kings on an all-out rocking note is Sometimes, leaving an indelible impression with its breathtaking vibrancy.

The musicianship found within The Downtown Fiction is inspired and resourceful, featuring the talents of the aforementioned Cameron Leahy on vocals and guitar, David Pavluk on bass and vocals, Wes Dimond on guitar and vocals, and Kyle Rodgers on drums. The band has grown tremendously since their inception in 2008, and with Losers & Kings, The Downtown Fiction appear ready to transport a brilliant career in music into an uptown reality!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Aaron Shanley

bedroomtapes1Bedroom Tapes: Swiss Cottage Teal Roses by Aaron Shanley (Self-released)

Although memories of acts such as The Lilac Time, Elliott Smith and even Bob Dylan come to mind, Aaron Shanley possesses his own unique visions when it comes to deeply heartfelt music. Originally based out of Ireland, Shanley has traveled to the UK and the States, gaining a good amount of fans and supporters along the way. Bedroom Tapes: Swiss Cottage Teal Roses is the latest full length from this prolific talent, a collection of demos that will surely leave a lasting impressing on all whom encounter their sweetly melancholic melodies. With a beautifully expressive voice, and the material to back it up, it won’t be long before Shanley find himself breaking through on the DIY or with the assistance of a record label.

The Bedroom Tapes start rolling with the gorgeous refrains of So Easy To Hold, a heartbreaking song whose sweeping atmospherics and wistful vocals leave a lingering impression. One of the finest songs Shanley has ever recorded, So Easy To Hold prepares the listener for the pensive tunes to follow.

aaronshanley2013Honey I made up my mind, I’m gonna get a way for a while, hit the road see what I find, and try to lose what’s left of my mind” Shanley muses on the freewheeling Trouble, featuring a banjo underscore rendering this one a standout. I Hope So, Laura then commences with its dark and cathartic strains, followed by the folksy and wondrously artistic Skyline Of Matchsticks.

Cherry Vale recalls wistful memories of a love from the past in a remote yet cozy pub. Just the titles of the next two songs Be Honest For Once and Until The Truth Falls Out let you know what you’re in for during this section of the recording – Honest with its spirited refrains and then Truth with its stark emotional delivery of just acoustic guitar and haunting vocals.

Dear No One is remote and grim, dealing with the reality of loneliness and hurt when it comes to matters of the heart. And then closing out Bedroom Tapes is a somber journey down 5th Avenue, where a resourceful musician a long way from home encounters the high life of the big city and winds up “fucked up, and thinking of you.”

For a collection of demos, Bedroom Tapes: Swiss Cottage Teal Roses by Aaron Shanley is a remarkably solid effort, showing an artist at the very height of his creative prowess. Explore the vibrant world of Aaron Shanley, and prepare to be richly rewarded by these nine exquisite tapestries. And for now, they may all be downloaded for free on Aaron Shanley’s Bandcamp Page.  Expect 2014 to be a glorious year for this massively talented singer / songwriter on the rise.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Call Me Anything

TheBestDamnTimeThe Best Damn Time by Call Me Anything (Self-released)

Based out of the thriving Boston music scene, Call Me Anything is destined to find their way into the big leagues, especially if the songs on their latest EP The Best Damn Time are indicative of greater glories ahead. Presenting their own brand of wildly infectious pop rock, Call Me Anything possesses the skillful knack of unleashing a tune that will remain locked in your head for ages. A band that can appeal to both pop enthusiasts as well as the Radio Disney crowd, there will be a party in your ears as you blast these five wildly appealing songs. If you miss Allstar Weekend and enjoy the melodic inflections of The Ready Set, then it’s time to give a shout out to Call Me Anything – your next favorite band on the rise.

The Best Damn Time kicks off with the breezy inflections of Down Below, instantly hooking the listener with its dazzling hooks and freewheeling lyrics. Let’s Try This Again then bounds at you with its cautious optimism and lighthearted dance beats.

Good Thing begins with carefree whistling and a toe tapping rhythm that segues into the most wondrous of choruses. This track is destined toland deep within the collective hearts of pop aficionados all across the nation. Our City pulsates with its piano underscore and soulful vocals, rendering this one a standout. And then closing out the celebration was too song is a sweet sonic ride on the Dream Car, whose “take me away, don’t be afraid” and “follow all the things you love” refrains will leave a lasting impression.

If Call Me Anything were on a major label, they would be all over the radio and television airwaves, making all kinds of fans with their lively songs. The charismatic band may find themselves in DIY mode at present, but don’t expect that status to be one of permanence. The resourceful Call Me Anything line up consists of Will Tenney, Matt Mcnulty, and Dylan Ronan, a trio of talent merging together to create nothing short of pure pop perfection.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Placebo

Placebo-Loud-Like-LoveLoud Like Love by Placebo (Universal Music)

Loud Like Love doesn’t deviate much from Placebo’s sound. The sound that they have is known for its post-punk influences shifted and mixed hard through a late 90s alternative filtered guitar. This sound is still great from a band over a decade old and is at the same time being in the moment. The formula remains to still grow on you and envelope you effectively.

The formula remains the foundation of thrashing strums and thumping bass lines gently powering the songs, accented by various screams, piano jitters, and other intricate marks, all of which are in line with Molko’s distinctive voice.

With glistening melodies that be discovered throughout Loud Like Love, Molko’s vocals inject his own brand of self impression. These poetry look stimulating on paper, and yet they are isolated and thoughtful in regards to the universal topic of love. So beware that this CD deals specifically in the helms of emotional broad strokes of love, heartbreak, lust and also the darker feelings of desolation are found on here too.

But it is in Placebo’s lead vocalist/writer Molko’s, delivery that these universal ideals of high school heartache find success. Molko’s lyrics are a true self form of one’s own convenience for release. However listen close and you find yourself releasing at times are these emotions that you are dealing with as well are the same. They are well-crafted rock songs, and that makes all the difference.

The song Too Many Friends reflects its self and its a true example of their great lyrical abilities. This my favorite track on the CD. With the other cuts this CD makes one’s life spans fall more comfortably into the popular rock spectrum.

(Review by Jonathan D. Wright)

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Joel Tock

joeltockep1Train Of Thought EP by Joel Tock (Self-released)

Joel Tock is a multi-talented singer / songwriter / producer from Wisconsin who has been pretty active over the last couple of years. He spent time on the road as the drummer for Stephen Jerzak, which included a long hot summer traveling across the country on the Vans Warped Tour in 2011. Tock’s other band credits past and present include We Follow One and Lights Out Dancing as well as an interesting techno project called Reboot The Robot. Back on 2009, a debut solo effort entitled Relax! It’s A New Day was issued. And now it’s full speed ahead, as Joel Tock has returned with an exhilarating self-released EP entitled Train Of Thought. The three songs contained within are bound to gain the musician a good deal of attention.

The EP commences with the super infectious title cut Train Of Thought, instantly demonstrating Tock’s wonderful versatility. Featuring a timeless rock melody that will jangle in your head for ages, this selection has hit single potential written all over it.

I’ve got to learn how to sit back and enjoy the ride,” Tock sings on the wistful Sooner Than Later, a reflective song that soars into the stratosphere. Filled with emotion and conviction, this track shows how effective Joel Tock is when it comes to a rock ballad.

Dive is an explosive track, featuring powerhouse vocals and catchy hooks rendering this one a standout. Although Train Of Thought only features three songs in all, the effort is tremendously solid, displaying a passion and vibrancy that should appeal to both indie music fans and finicky industry types. So be sure to hop on board the Train Of Thought, and ride full speed ahead with the rousing tunes of Joel Tock.   Recommended for fans of Mayday Parade and The Maine.  It will be exciting to see what the future has in store for the ubiquitous Mr. Tock.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Let It Happen

unravelcover1Unravel by Let It Happen (Invogue Records)

Fans of Jimmy Eat World and The Starting Line need to rejoice right now, because Let It Happen has arrived onto the scene and they are on fire! With lethally heartfelt lyrics and spirited choruses, the six songs found within Unravel will surely leave an impact on all music aficionados. Unravel is Let It Happen’s debut for Invogue Records, and its destined to bring the Cincinnati, Ohio collective a good deal of attention. Their previous self-released effort It Hurts, But It’s Worth It was vastly underrated, seething with a ton of ambition and promise. Now with the dynamic Unravel, expect Let It Happen to catapult into the big leagues.

The sonic explosion commences with The Blame Game, where one instantly notices the perfect mixture letihappen2013_1_1of gorgeously infectious hooks and wondrously memorable lyrics. “Sometimes I find myself in my own private hell” and “why am I so bad at taking good advice?” are amongst the exhilarating sentiments to be expressed on the rollicking second cut Say You’ll Stay, a tune that will remain embedded in your head for ages to come.

When I found the key to happiness, you went and changed the locks again,” vocalist Drew Brown muses with a compelling amount of irony and conviction in Over My Head – another highlight track showing a band at the height of their creative prowess. Ghost Of Yesterday is cathartic and astonishing, about confronting the past with a fearless optimism.

Black And White features spiraling guitars and emotional vocals – a combination that packs an devastating punch to the senses. And then closing out Unravel on a triumphant note is Us Against The World, a soaring tune that leaves the listener wanting to hear a whole lot more. “I can lead you to a thought but I can’t make you think,” Brown says before the song slams into a gloriously hopeful chorus complete with gang vocal.

The musicianship found within Let It Happen is tremendously tight and inspired, featuring the aforementioned Drew Brown on vocals and guitar, Michael Vogel on guitars and vocals, Nathan Joiner on bass, and Sean Highley on drums. Unravel only contain six songs, but may easily be counted as one of the very best pop rock releases of the year. Expect Let It Happen to go the distance, if Unravel is indicative of greater glories ahead.

(Review by Kenneth Morton)

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Christa Wells

47d6ff03e8d944303812fb4f_360x360Feed Your Soul by Christa Wells (Self released CD)

Christa Wells is an exceptional singer / songwriter based out Raleigh, North Carolina, whose piano driven songs about hope and love are absolutely riveting. An award winning composer, in 2006 Wells was named Songwriter of the Year by the Gospel Music Association for Natalie Grant’s recording of Held, a heartbreaking and inspirational song about the loss of a baby boy. Since then, Christa’s own output has been continually impressive – and with the addition of Feed Your Soul, expect accolades galore to follow.

The artistry commences with the wondrously torchy inflections of Vanity Vanity, a lively cut that is sure to reel the listener in for the introspective journey ahead. The warm Have Your Eyes Open is up next, an intimate track in the grand tradition of early Joni Mitchell – a should-be hit single to be sure! This Thing Is Not Going To Break You is sweet and poignant, a powerful track of a couple persevering with grace in tough times.

christawells1Your house is full of unfinished rooms,” Christa Wells muses in the dynamic Shine, whose “Be the friend you never had” refrain is absolutely stirring. “Can I hold you as the flames grow higher?” the singer then proposes on the sweeping Come Close Now. The title track Feed Your Soul initiates near the halfway point, where Ms. Wells displays her wonderful knack for weaving captivating lyrics and alluring melodies.

A lot of work to be done here,” opens the reflective Renovate, opening the second half of the disc with thoughtful, and ultimately empowering words of wisdom and enlightenment. You Are My Defense is a testament of devotion with its eloquent “you are the light that’s calling me” sentiments. For My Child is beautifully expressive, and is sure to leave a lingering impression on anyone watching their children grow up.

The Way That You Love Me features a playful melody and romantic lyrics rendering this one a timeless valentine. “It takes a village, it takes your faith,” the artist observes on the expressive More Than I, followed by the cautiously optimistic strains of Being Loved, closing Feed Your Soul out on a gorgeously triumphant note.

Wistful and idealistic, articulate and contemplative, Feed Your Soul is sure to reawaken the hopeless romantic in even the most hardened of music critic. Fans of acts such as Natalie Merchant and Sarah McLachlan will discover a treasure trove of sonic delight when emerging themselves into the glorious tapestries of Christa Wells. What began as a Kickstarter program has emerged as one of the most engaging albums of the year. Be sure to check into Feed Your Soul by Christa Wells and prepare to be dazzled by the artful tunes and pensive and yet thoroughly honest lyrics.

(Review by Kenneth Morton)

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The Three O’Clock

hiddenworld1The Hidden World Revealed by The Three O’Clock (Omnivore/Frontier Records)

Ever wanted to be invited into one of you favorite bands living room? Would you like to hear about their beginnings first hand? Then be able to listen to those favorite tracks done as originally planned?

Legendary alternative pop gurus of the psychedelic scene of the 1980’s The Three O’Clock take us on their journey from the punk scene to the alternative pop scene in their early careers with this CD compilation. Danny Benair. drummer for The Three O’Clock is the host writer of all the descriptions of the tracks.  A few independent liner notes from bass player and lead vocalist Michael Quercio and lead guitarist Louis Gutierrez give us some insight as well into the beginnings from themselves as to how the band came to be are also in the few pages of the booklet for this CD package.

As a fan who went to plenty of the bands local concerts I have had front row acquaintances’ and great listening opportunities to really listen to the band’s growth from over the years both live and from my home and car. I feel like I grew up with them. Only thing I would have liked to have on this CD is their current live version of As Real As Real for it’s great mix of true psychedelic and outstanding bass and guitar work that embraces the sound now with even more raw and emotional feeling then ever – and for it’s longer length of the song but that’s for a live show only I guess. But the other track’s show off the bands youth and have put on some of the Tokyo Tapes vinyl tracks finally available onto CD for their first time.

You could say that the raw track’s of In My Own Time missing the horns is like hearing them play it live but in a rawer format and the song works well this way as well too. The Girl With The Guitar shows Michael’s ability to write something acoustic. There are quite a few songs here that never made t onto the original releases like Jennifer Only and Around The World that shows you the band constantly were writing a lot of songs together.

Lucifer Sam which usually found it’s way onto a few live sets has finally found it’s home here onto CD and well worth the wait. Hope this isn’t the last album from this band and hope they continue to keep flourishing us with fun good songs.

(Review by Jonathan D. Wright)

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My Genuine Find

summerepmygen1Summer EP by My Genuine Find (Self-released)

If you are into the joyous pop punk sounds of The Starting Line and New Found Glory, expect the latest EP from My Genuine Find to be your soundtrack to the hottest season of this year and beyond. Summer EP features five cuts of pure sonic bliss, and while the songs are a bit edgier than the previous releases, the wondrously infectious personality of Bobby Mares and his uncanny knack of writing the perfect pop rocking tune remains thoroughly intact. Based out of Las Cruces, New Mexico, My Genuine Find is one of the best kept secrets in music – a positive force of energy guaranteed to put a smile on the face of even the most jaded of music critic.

Flower In Her Hair has a ton of hit single potential, and one notices right away the jangling guitars meshing perfectly with the piano bridge – brought together by Bobby Mares expressive yet playful vocal delivery. Forget About It is the classic story of a good friendship ruined by bad romance, with engaging lyrics that everyone will be able to relate with. Something’s Missing is an all-out rocker cleverly juxtaposed with a story of longing and heartbreak rendering this one a standout.

Went To The Moon is a gorgeously wistful ballad that soars into the stratosphere – the perfect valentine for that special someone who seems to be currently out of reach. Where Have You Been displays a massive amount of good vibes and vibrant energy, another should-be genre classic that is purely captivating.

The Summer EP is definitely a step away from the keyboard based songs of the past, demonstrating a subtle yet dazzling progression for My Genuine Find. Its creator Bobby Mares plays all of the instruments and sings every rollicking note, and the compositions overflow with a love for life and an appreciation for the complications one may encounter along the way. An ultimately uplifting effort to be sure, blast this Summer EP at maximum volume and be ready to enjoy the rollicking, carefree sounds of My Genuine Find!

(Review by Kenneth Morton)

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