Album Review- COREIGN, “Equality”

cdcover_equalityLeave it to me to agree to review one of the most challenging groups out there for my first official album review.  Married couple Corinne & Reto Bachman’s project COREIGN falls into a category of experimental progressive orchestral rock that is unique to the European continent.  Add on to this the fact that the album was completely self-produced from beginning to end, and you find a project of huge scope.  And while some may point to the production quality when trying to rate or rank this album (something the band acknowledges as a goal to constantly improve upon), it is the quality and complexity of the music itself that draws the listener in.

“Equality” is the third 2016 release for COREIGN, following the previously released “Sphere” and “Affinity”.  As with any release by COREIGN, the listener is challenged to follow a highly complex and unconventional path through each song, with each song standing on its own individual merits.  The moods and styles change from one song to the next, and the use of multiple layers of sound, intriguing counter melodies and unique harmonic movement take the listener on a musical journey with surprises around every corner.

The duo  of Corinne and Reto draw on their love of groups such as Within Temptation, Led Zeppelin and UFO, and build on this foundation a menagerie of true avant-garde delight.  From “Biker Girl”, which harkens back to the era of vintage Yes and King Crimson, to the more complex “Desperation”, which challenges the ear with unexpected cadence and harmonic movement, the entire album showcases a form of music that constantly defies categories.

I should take a moment to mention the technical production of the album, which some may categorize as ‘raw’ or ‘rough’.  The mix presented on the album is very much by design.  In the duo’s own words, “Using few correction and re-recording, their songs keep a very vivid and live-sounding character that prefers the authentic, direct, raw and pure sounding over the nowadays over-corrected and over-produced.”  I can appreciate the approach, and it does result in a very non-commercial, in the moment kind of feel.  A perfect example of the music taking precedent over everything else.

This form of music is not meant for the casual music listener, but instead requires a selective ear to appreciate not only the complexity of each song, but the use of non-traditional harmonies and voicings in each song.  In other words, this is not the stuff of American pop radio.  But, if you are willing to go on a wild and fantastic musical journey, this album is worth the price of admission.  COREIGN is promising a new release, “Lucidity”, in the coming months, which should continue to expand on the groundwork laid out here and give us even more reason to listen to this ‘outside the box’ group.

“Equality” is available on iTunes, Amazon and iGroove. 

Cozmic Debris Indie Music Sampler Announcement

I’ve been a little lax in writing here.  It has been another whirlwind month in my world.  As I type this, I am currently following and sharing the love of almost 375 of the best indie musicians on the planet, and the number continues to grow daily.  It is becoming a full time endeavor, and it would be completely unmanageable, if it wasn’t a pure labor of love. But enough about that.  On to the announcement.

In order to spread the word about these indie acts in an effective way, I have started compiling public playlists on Spotify.  The easiest way to find them is to search for “Cozmic Debris” on Spotify.  Each one highlights 25 different acts, which gives the listener right around an hour of great music to listen to.  Each sampler contains music of many styles (at least for now), and because I am the one doing the compiling, I get to choose my favorite song from each artist.  You may like everything on a particular sampler, but I’ll guarantee more than one group will peak your interest.  Right now, there are three volumes available, with new volumes coming out every few days.  My goal is to highlight all of the artists I have found in at least one list.  I am also working on compiling specialty samplers that will focus on a particular style of music, or a particular region of the world.  The bottom line is that you’ll end up finding a ton of great music by listening to these samplers!

The goal here is simple.  Expose people to as many of these incredible musicians as possible.  I encourage everyone to not only listen, but support the artists you enjoy.  Go find their music and purchase it.  Get their merchandise.  Go listen to them live, when possible. Follow their social media accounts.  Share these playlists with your friends, so they can do the same things.  Do whatever you can to share the love!

Here are the lineups for the first three Cozmic Debris Indie Music Samplers:


Volume One

The Puss Puss Band, “Bucko’s Lullaby”

Tamanie Dove, “Sweet Stormy Soul”

Matt Maloof, “Worn Out Boots”

The Ninjas, “Morphine”

Austin Peckham, “Unexpected Memories”

Saint Luke’s Drifters, “Battle of Wounded Knee”

Royal Canoe, “Walk Out On The Water”

Red Light Effect, “Phosphorus”

The March Divide, “Take Your Chances”

Three Left, “Let Me Go”

Crow Mother, “Dirty Van”

The Internal Frontier, “Gravity”

Flowers in Syrup, “Ten Feet High”

Cure for Gravity, “Push”

Here We Harbour, “Dangerous”

Albany Down, “Mercy”

Woodshed Red, “Forget Regret”

3 Bricks Shy, “I love to Boogie”

Randall Rahn, “Home”

Ships Have Sailed, “Up”

Blue Helix, “Aliens”

The King Stan Band, “Texas Flood”

Che Orton, “Boogie Woogie All Night Long”

Michel Zanoboli, “Day Party”

Jess Weimer, “Telltale Signs”


 

Volume 2

Halfway Home, “Little More Love”

Notice Grace, “City On a String”

Oogee Wawa, “Tips”

Prettier Than Matt, “The La La Song”

Made Of Eyes, “Wishing Well”

Facing West, “Scars to Your Beautiful”

2nd Mouse, “Out Of My Control”

Kerosene Stars, “Holy”

Starflight, “Rocket Like a Stone”

The Young Presidents, “Loner”

Static Fires, “End of the Road”

Lunar Rogue, “Circles”

Eric & The Soo, “My Hometown”

Cletis Carr, “All I Can Think of is You”

Chris Watkins and Drunk Poets, “Cheerleader in Love”

Camille Rae, “Shadows Dance Tonight”

Big Kettle Drum, “Holding Me Up”

Barstow Bats, “Play Piano”

Almost July, “Better Plans”

Beyond the Break, “The Way It Was”

Black Powder County, “Rain”

Free Ride, “Outsider”

John Tracy, “It’s a Miracle”

Kylie Hughes, “Take Me Anywhere”

The Lately, “Come Back to You”


 

Volume 3

Jimi Falls, “Shine Again”

Henry Maybury, “Lost Days”

Hit the Shadows, “Day in Day Out”

Jaq Mackenzie, “I Tell You”

Leslie Krafka, “Black Cadillac”

Air Crash Detectives, “Can’t Wait Another Minute”

Podracer, “Hammers and a Handgun”

Steve Bonino, “Never Come a Day”

The Battle Of Winter, “Slow Burning Country”

The Minerals, “Ball of String”

Who Shot Lizzy?, “When She Looks in the Mirror”

Zack Walther Band, “Get out of Your Head”

Iris Corporation, “Highest Love”

Ciera MacKenize, Learn to Fly”

Black Cadillac Kings, “420 Girl”

Atlas Run, “Bookshelf”

Scott Celani, “Delhi”

Swampbox, “4 AM”

Hello Shannon, “Pressure”

Janna Pelle, “Memory Lane”

The Foresters, “I’ve Got Confidence”

Tanyamae Mandigo, “Don’t Go”

Quinn Archer, “Dark Places”

Veil Unknown, “Behind These Eyes”

Jantsen, “Massive”

 

It’s Time For Some New Music!

I’ve been talking about the business an awful lot lately.  Time to talk about some of the new music coming out.  If you hear something you like, support the artist!!

Note- I came up with this list on my own and it is much shorter than it probably should be.  If you have new music coming out, get me the details and I’ll include it in future posts.

The Puss Puss Band, “Bucko’s Lullaby”.  One of the perks of doing this is I got to hear this before everyone else.  Two guys from Wales who experiment with sound and space, “Bucko’s Lullaby” is the first single off their soon to be released album.  As with most of their material, the song is a very strong, yet emotive offering, highlighted by the haunting vocal style that is the signature indie alternative sound of the group.  https://soundcloud.com/pusspussband/buckos-lullaby

Scream of Sirens, “Your Mind or Hers”.  Another single in advance of a new album.  Due to be released on Thursday, the newest offering from this all female British trio will hopefully continue their tradition of providing their fans with indie hard rock goodness.  I’ll update with the link when available.

Apollo Junction, “Paris”.  A group getting ready to drop their first album, Apollo Junction leads off with the first single from that album, released just yesterday.  “Paris”  has all the makings of a fun alt-pop dance hit, with a great beat, vocals and harmonies and a super mix.  This is a group alt-pop fans will want to watch!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmEAXfKfcJ8

A New Nowhere, “You and Me”.  Debut single soon to be released by another UK indie band, this promises to be a must have for indie grunge/hard fans, if it follows in the steps of their previous work.  Available for pre-order on iTunes.

Daniel Trigger, “Here Comes The Rage”.  Due out February 18th, this should promise more of Daniel’s hard arena rock sound with screaming guitars and terrific vocals!  Available on Bandcamp February 18th

Ships Have Sailed, “Up”.  Nice alt-rock-pop offering from this LA band.  Awesome, laid back feel with a great mix and that signature sound found on many of their earlier recordings.  According to the band, the single is available everywhere.

 

 

The Used Record Store Discount Bin

When I was a student at Berklee in the early ’80’s, there was no internet to discover new music on.  And while there was some great alternative commercial and college radio going on in Boston at the time, there was no easy way to get out across the globe and find new, non-local talent.  That is, there was no easy way, unless you were willing to roll the dice at the local record stores’ used discount bins.

There were dozens of used record stores around the city.  We were fortunate to have two surrounded by the Berklee campus.  Both of these stores had discount bins that mainly consisted of music nobody had heard of before, with the albums priced anywhere from 25 cents to a dollar apiece.  And because they were located in proximity to one of the largest concentrations of diverse musicians on the planet, the stores were smart enough to make sure these discount records really were the unknowns of the musical world.  It was possible to discover a desired artist amongst the piles, but it was rare.

Because this was a time in my life when my musical taste was expanding exponentially every day, I took a much different approach to the discount bins.  I would go in with $10 dollars in my pocket (big money for a college student) and head straight to the bargain section.  Once there, I would start going through the bins and pick out albums, basing the decision solely on the album art.  If it looked cool or interesting, I’d put it in my pile.  Usually, I could walk out of the store with 25-30 albums for my $10.  I’d run back to my apartment and start listening to them.  Like I said, I was rolling the dice.  Most of what I purchased was not up to my expectations. But just about every trip resulted in one or two gems, music that was incredible, went into the regular rotation pile and were the start of a new artist catalog in my collection.  It was worth the $10 to find those few albums each time.

Boy, how the times have changed.  I haven’t been in a record store in twenty years. My album collection has been replaced by a Groove Music account containing almost 2500 albums, most all of which would be categorized as classic music today.  And now that I am back in the hunt for new music, I turn to the modern day version of those discount bins- the internet.

Now, there are a couple of differences between the two.  Unlike the discount bins, I can actually listen to the music before purchasing, guaranteeing that I will enjoy everything I buy.  No more rolling of the dice.  Another difference is that an artist’s full catalog is usually available wherever I’m doing the buying.  No need to spend months (or years) looking for the missing pieces to complete the collection.  I may not be able to get an album for 25 cents, but I’m guaranteed that my $10 purchase is going to be music gold!

And yet, as much as they differ, they share one common trait.  You have to wade through the weeds to get to the good stuff.  This is what I experience.  There are days where I find one band after another that totally knock my socks off and have me grooving in my seat for hours at a time.  These are a rarity, especially the longer I explore, having found all of the easy gems, the low hanging fruit.  Most days, I may listen to 50 bands and only find interest in one or two of the groups.  I find myself flashing back to the old days, where al the hours of listening to those discount records resulted in just a few keepers.

Why am I telling this story?  I tell it because it demonstrates one of the biggest challenges in the indie music world, both for the listener and the artist.  There is a ton of music available to sift through, and the hard fact that most of us don’t talk about is that most of it is really not that good.  I don’t say that to be mean, I say it because it is reality.  There is a subset that is plain noise, a bunch of ex-college frat boys who bought guitars to get the girls, and never really learned how to play them, let alone how to sing.  Then there is a much larger group that I call the “not quite ready for primetime bunch.”  You hear talent, you hear the potential, but the sound isn’t quite there yet.  The mix is muddy, the balance is off, or any number of things that need improvement.  For the casual listener, the possibilities of the talent is not enough to pull the trigger, at least not yet.

This all presents a challenge for the average listener.  The sheer volume of music out there can overwhelm most folks. Factor in the large proportion of that music that is not good enough to justify the expense, and it is possible that they throw their hands up in frustration, give up the search and go back to commercial music. The problem is complicated if they have a narrow music preference.  If the are looking for nothing other than progressive rock, as an example, they may run out of steam long before they start finding the real gold.

For those artists that do stand out from the rest, these same issues exist.  They can easily get lost in the weeds, unrecognizable from all the other music out there.  It amazes me when I come across truly legendary music with next to no fan base at all.  And for those unpolished artists that haven’t quite figured out the sound yet, the lack of attention from the buying public can lead to frustration and, unfortunately, to these talents giving up the dream.  It sounds like an impossible problem to solve.  However, there is one more piece of the puzzle in this new musical world.

This is where the influencers come in.  They come in many shapes and sizes.  Good independent internet stations, who find the cream of the crop and put them in rotation.  A place where the casual listener can go to find great music.  Bloggers and reviewers who give honest feedback and develop a fan base of their own, a fan base that is hungry for good new music.  Hell, I’m even an influencer, in my own little way, throwing my support behind great musicians and getting the word out about them any way I can. In addition to that, I can also point listeners to the internet stations.  With all of this support, incredible music has the potential to gain the visibility it so richly deserves.  And those of us that have chosen to become the influencers have to realize the great responsibility we have in this universe, because we can be the difference between success and failure if we are not doing our homework, constantly looking for the next great sound.

The influencers have an additional responsibility as well.  We have a responsibility to that second tier of artists that aren’t quite there yet.  We have to encourage, while giving honest feedback to help them get over the hump.  We have to do this in a way that does not discourage, but rather helps the artist to grow.  To me, this is the toughest part of the job, but maybe the most important role, as it can result in the next generation of great music, if done correctly.

The point of all this is pretty simple.  We, as influencers, are the key to the treasure chest, both for the artists and the listeners.  We have the ability to connect one with the other.  We can make the snipe hunt of the discount bin a thing of the past, never to be seen again. We can grow our fan bases, but only to make music more visible, and not to stroke our own egos.  After all, it is ALL about the music.  Nothing else matters.

The Revolution Is Upon Us!

It is happening all around us.  The winds of change are in the air, and the momentum is undeniable.  There is a great movement opposing the establishment, and if it is successful, life will never be the same for any of us.

No, I haven’t lost my mind and started talking politics.  That’s a conversation for a different place and a different time.  What I’m talking about transcends politics.  The revolution is one that is changing the world, but has no party affiliation.  It does not involve a single government on the planet.  It truly is a case of the power of the people.  And it is here!

The revolution I speak of is the indie music movement that is taking the world by storm.

Today was an interesting day for me.  It started off with a great conversation with a coworker.  While the conversation started with a discussion of the state of American political affairs, my buddy switched gears on me and started asking how this blog was doing and how my search for independent talent was going.  While I wasn’t surprised by the interest, I was amazed at the desire to learn more about the indie scene.  I took him through the method to my madness in finding music, and before my very eyes, an indie fan was born.  I have to admit a certain amount of pride in seeing the desired end result of the small things I’m doing in the music world.

It would have been a great day if it stopped there, but it didn’t.  I got home and online in time to see that Mitch Laney, of Saint Luke’s Drifters, was doing an interview on Rick’s Mafia Roundup (Music Mafia Radio).  Mitch and I go way back, and he is personally responsible for introducing me to indie music.  I made sure I got on early, and Rick was tearing it up with song after song by a number of indie artists I actively listen to.  Being a polite husband, I had the headphones on, which only enhanced the beautiful sounds I was hearing.  I was in musical nirvana !

Before I continue on with the story, let me put a few things out there.  I am a relative newbie to the indie scene.  Despite 40 years in and out of the business, my appreciation of indie music is most easily measured in months.  However, once I got it, I was all in.  To this day, I am still amazed at the incredible wealth of talent I encounter every day.  It puts everything currently on commercial radio to shame.  And with it, I see the entire industry on the cusp of a huge change in direction.  The revolution I spoke of.  More about that later.  Back to the story…

The interview starts.  For those of you that don’t know, Saint Luke’s Drifters was awarded 2016 Artist of the Year by Music Mafia, which was the reason for the interview.  Mitch did a great job, as I would expect, but it was the discussion itself that confirmed every belief I have in the change of the music business.  Throughout the interview, Mitch is talking up other musicians and bands, letting everyone know his favorites and speaking of the incredible music these other folks are making every day.  Rick went out of his way to talk about the mystery of why the world hasn’t latched on to the wealth of great music that surrounds us all.  Rick went on to state that the business should not be competitive in nature, but an environment where everyone lends their support to each other.  Throughout the entire interview, both men made it very clear that the tide is changing and the indie movement is more than just that.  It is a community.

Every hope and suspicion I had when I started this project were confirmed in the space of a single day.  I already knew there was a treasure trove of great stuff out there.  But I confirmed that there are fans out there that are seeking new music, but can’t find it.  I also confirmed that people like the folks at Music Mafia (and many other internet stations) are critical to the success of these musicians.  I also confirmed that my little piece (encouraging and spreading the word) plays an important part as well, both for the artists and all the potential fans out there.  But most of all, I confirmed that this is truly a community effort, with everybody cheering everybody else on.  The art form has become the focal point.

As an old musician, I can’t stress how important those last two points are.  To see artists supporting and encouraging other artists, going out of their way to share the works of others, is as it should have always been.  To see organizations like Music Mafia encouraging artists to get their music on as many stations as possible demonstrates the selflessness that is required to make success available to all.  Everyone is working for everyone else, and it is all about the music.  And because of all this, the movement is gaining steam, ready to take over the music world.  I find myself more motivated than ever before to be a part of it and see this through to the end.

As I said at the beginning of this post, the revolution is upon us.  The days of the big companies determining the public’s listening habits are waning.  The days of the musician being able to develop their own rabid fan base are here. To those of you making great music, keep at it.  The rest of us have your back every step of the way.