Category: REVIEWS

CD and DVD reviews

Avi Jacob – “Pickup Truck” Single

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Alright…here’s what I don’t expect at any given point in time; to like a song with a title calling it “Pickup Truck.” Instantly picturing tailgate-parties and redneck family-reunions…I was more than pleasantly surprised that Avi Jacob was nothing at all like I’d imagined he’d sound on his new single “Pickup Truck” – there are no…

The Morning Sea – “Mal -De-Mer”

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The Morning Sea’s “Mal de Mar” is a triumphant album. Everything works: from the intricate arrangements to the highly articulate lyrics, the songs are filled with color. Passionate in tone these are pieces that teem with life. At times reminiscent of the Decemberist’s careful arrangements and penchant for storytelling the songs are joyful in nature.…

Reflectivore – ‘Reflectivore’

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Reflectivore is from Duluth Minnesota. Formed by Allen Cragin and Ryan Rusch and recorded at Rusch’s The Weight Room (studio) in Washburn Wisconsin. Longtime friends that have been writing music together and had the focus intensify towards Reflectivore after Allen’s wife passed away last year. Reflectivore worked very recently with True Norse Films on a…

Ahmed El-Motassem – ‘This Great Embarrassment of Being!’

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Ahmed El-Motassem’s “This Great Embarrassment of Being!” showcases a unique voice in the musical universe. With highly articulate, thought provoking lyrics Ahmed El-Motassem explores what it means to be alive in this moment. Environmentalism, one’s place in the world, philosophical discourse, all of this is laid bare through Ahmed El-Motassem’s carefully crafted stories that serve…

DeDe – ‘Dream of You’

“Dream of You” is an album full of joy. Lyrically the songs are optimistic and sunny. Her songs focus on the future that helps people move forward, as her combination of storytelling and hope feel particularly satisfying. Arrangements are meticulous. Stylistically “Dream of You” effortlessly blends together elements of folk, country, and rock into a…

Jesse W. Johnson – ‘Primal Scream’

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More than impressed with what Jesse’s doing here on his latest EP Primal Scream. Dude is a hell of a songwriter…and not only am I fortunate enough that his talents reside inside a style of music that I can’t get enough of, but as it turns out, Jesse’s not alone and has an entire band…

Jennifer Hope – “Bring Me To Life”

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Jennifer Hope’s “Bring Me To Life” is a defiant triumphant song. Sounding akin to a lovely mixture of the Cocteau Twins mixed with a little metal, the song is positively dreamy. With hazy textures given a little edge, Jennifer Hope’s voice guides it the rest of the way. The slow build helps to emphasize the…

Oakes and Smith – “Between the Earth and Sky” EP

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Art Folk. I like that term. I like how it fits the music of Oakes & Smith…from what I can hear in their new EP, they’re deserving of such an apt-title for the songs they’re writing. The pictures online make it seem like Robert Oakes and Katherine Smith are closer-than-close…but any romantic-link would only be…

Airy Jeanine – “Do You”

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Airy Jeanine’s “Do You” is a perfect pop song dedicated to unrequited love. Backed by crisp percussion the song positively bounces. The infectious groove is made just right, not too fast or slow, “Do You” glides by ever so gently. Neon-hued synthesizers help to lead the song forward. Lyrically the song reflects upon the infinite…

Chris Lind – Drive

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Chris Lind has become a driving force in the New York City music scene. “A dazzling singer-songwriter a la Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake…” – Chronogram Magazine. He’s developed a unique and personal sound, defined by soaring vocals and hauntingly beautiful melodies. Beyond a solid background in rock and jazz, Chris spent a year studying…

The Wild Waiting – Stay Gold

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Boston-based alternative pop band The Wild Waiting has released a debut EP, Stay Gold, capable of reminding you there are only a few new things under the sun. The collection is a pleasing and seamless synthesis of alternative rock sensibilities stretched to their snapping point by elongated melody and lush quasi-orchestral textures. They maintain impressive…

Johnny Goldstein – ‘An Elegy for the Lost City’

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An Elegy for the Lost City by Johnny Goldstein is an ebook that uniquely doubles as a soundtrack. It marks a milestone that is the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by sharing the deep-rooted traditions and lifestyle of Louisiana through five families beginning in 1707 to present day. Goldstein is an award-winning composer, songwriter, guitarist,…

Pat Baer – ‘Make the Best of It’

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I had the chance to interview Pat Baer back in August, (http://skopemag.com/2015/08/07/moving-two-steps-forward-into-the-right-direction-with-pat-baer), and I knew then that she was an upbeat, positive person. And that is exactly what you are getting on her new album ‘Make the Best of It’. The record features 11 tracks where “Make the Best of it” & “Turn It Around”…

Mr. Ray – ‘No Room For Bullies’

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Ray Andersen, better known as Mr. Ray, is an accomplished musician who has had much success in the area of Children’s music for the last 20 years. Mr. Ray was 2013 & 2014 Top 10 Best-Selling Kids’ Artist according to Billboard Magazine and should be this year too with ‘No Room For Bullies’. This new…

Dom Mar Kz – “When It’s Tough To Be You”

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With strong passionate vocals embodying a sense of hope, Dom Mar Kz’s “When It’s Tough To Be You” is a warm comforting song. Lyrically the song emphasizes the sense of togetherness. A narrative forms that explains exactly the same of loneliness that can seem to overwhelm a person. The story told throughout the song is…

Dr Compressor – “Doctor’s Orders”

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Dr Compressor creates dark downtempo on the shadowy “Doctor’s Orders”. Spacious with its elaborate sound Dr Compressor weaves in a wide variety of samples throughout the collection. Lush grooves dominate the collection. Bass lines are incredible throughout the entirety of the collection. Engrossing in their intricate detail Dr Compressor at times feels reminiscent of Nightmares…

Gnarly Karma – ‘Classic Breeze’

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Based out of Long Island, NY, Gnarly Karma is a memorable four piece rock/fusion band quickly making a formidable reputation for themselves in one of the nation’s toughest music markets. Their aspirations to a fusion label aren’t understated – Gnarly Karma’s instrumental attack brings together a number of seemingly incongruous elements into a compelling musical…

Sweet Honey in the Rock – ‘Love In Evolution’

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Sweet Honey in the Rock has a long, illustrious history as one of music’s preeminent performing entities. The six piece female a cappella unit has long merged a social mission with their musical aims, but rather than tackling longstanding issues with a heavy-handed or dated manner, they consistently portray the realities of modern life for…

Robert Nash – ‘The Ghost of Your Old Love’

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Robert Nash creates a compelling environment on the expressive and lovely “The Ghost of Your Old Love”. Conjuring up images of early Elliott Smith records (specifically “Roman Candle”) the songs are full of life. Impeccably arranged the entire album is perfectly sequenced with the album best taken in as a whole. Serving as the heart…

Third International – ‘O.B.L.I.V.I.O.N.’

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Third International is an interesting project from New York but has roots in England. The band was formed, in 2010 as a vehicle for my songs. I wrote and performed around the world for many years, took a couple decades off and found myself inspired by the new music that was coming out. I had…

The Stollers – ‘Stationary Sun’

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There’s no use enumerating the long history of successful sibling musical combinations. The list is long. Thankfully, however, The Stollers leave out melodramatic and often violent interactions characterizing such acts for so long that it’s practically passé. Brad and Lesley Stoller are musical collaborators stretching back decades and through various incarnations, but their album Stationary…

bitter’s kiss – “No One Will”

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Bitter’s Kiss is an album of delicate pop songs. These are piece that are full of emotion. Lovelorn, hopeful, carefully arranged, Bitter’s Kiss is the kind of album that gently introduces these elements into the overall mix. Moody the album feels like the perfect fit for a sleepy Sunday afternoon. Playful at times the songs…

Bad Mary – ‘We Could Have Saved The World’ EP

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Ya gotta know your punk to really ‘get’ Bad Mary. If you’re not okay with a few rough-edges and rough-elbows being thrown-in along the way to the center of their own rock-storm, this will be tougher on you. If you’re all-good with the punk-aspects of freedom & music and how they relate to each other…the…

Hz. – “Bad Guy feat. BrooklynxHippie”

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Certainly. I can get behind this. The idea of encouraging someone starting out as young as Hz in the rap-game is definitely something that I can support; that being said the skills, ability and talent need to at least show themselves in order to be able to find that sincere WANT to root for the…

Phil Celia – ‘The PCB Sessions’

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Quick Bio – Singer/Songwriter Phil Celia, Los Angeles Music Awards 2014 Americana Artist and Male Vocalist of the Year, recorded his follow-up to 2012’s acclaimed “Circus Town” at EPM Studios in North Hollywood. The new record, “The PCB Sessions” was recorded by Lynne Earls and produced and mixed by longtime collaborator, brother Perry Celia, also…

Kenny Fame – ‘Goodbye’

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Kenny Fame’s new release called, Goodbye has a rare passion that comes through with pure sincerity. He is a musician out of Harlem, NY and now resides in London, where he is pounding the pavement and soliciting his music and reaching worldwide recognition. Stream: https://kennyfame.bandcamp.com/track/goodbye The song, Goodbye has a longing, that reaches the soul.…

SO – “Echo Park”

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Artistically-twisted Hip-Hop? Did I just create a new genre category? If I did just now, I don’t really deserve the credit…SO does for putting that conclusion into my brain after taking in the Echo Park EP – a record so full of unexpected ideas, performances and music that there’s no way you’re prepared. I found…

Canary Burton – “Raggity Three Step”

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Elegant and refined, Canary Burton’s “Raggity Three Step” is a pure joy. With crystal clarity Canary Burton weaves together elements of ragtime with classical to create an unique universe. Restrained at all the right moments Canary Burton plays with a sense of confidence. Veering from absolute softness to outright exuberance, the song manages to cover…

For The Kill – ‘Fire & Whiskey’

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For The Kill’s “Fire & Whiskey” is hard rock at its absolute best. Dominating through sheer volume the songs pummel the listener into submission. Tying the songs together is Frank’s commanding vocals which rise above the intense riffing. Joey C.’s attention to detail is particularly satisfying as his guitar playing is pure perfection. Tommy D’Angelis’s…

Larmheim – “Cent Soleils”

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Lärmheim’s “Cent Soleils” offers up an aural kaleidoscope of sounds and styles. Ranging from chaotic, noise-like rushes to the absolute sublime subdued ambient acoustics, Lärmheim does it all with the utmost of ease. With clear influences ranging from Aphex Twin’s very best work to Pan Sonic’s unrelenting aural assaults, “Cent Soleils” presents a plethora of…

Saul Williams – ‘MartyrLoserKing’

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Saul Williams is bringing a new sound to hip-hop with his electric beats and chilling sound. His recent self produced album MartyrLoserKing shows Williams extreme close eye for technique and perfection. Williams is definitely someone to watch out for, MartyrLoserKing delivers a form of hip-hop, trap, and electronica that he has conjured up into his…

Idiot Grins – “Big Man”

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Idiot Grins offers the best of country and soul on the triumphant “Big Man”. From the incredible horn section to John Hansen’s powerful vocals, the entire album brims with joy and optimism. “Big Man” swings triumphantly with the colorful work of Michael Conner on keyboards and Randy Strauss on guitar. Anchoring the sound is the…

Sarah Morris – ‘Ordinary Things’

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There’s no question Sarah Morris’ new album, Ordinary Things, clearly works within an established tradition. Morris isn’t trying to remake the wheel with any of the release’s ten songs, but that isn’t to say that this is bloodless, risk-averse exercise. Morris sings with such unfettered openness that each new song comes as a gamble –…

Bad Reed – “Self-titled” EP

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I think…hmm…how do I put this? Could I be any MORE excited about this music from Bad Reed? And I’ll answer my own question today…no…no I could not. Not only is Bad Reed a fantastic example of a band & sound that would quite easily make my personal playlist any given day of the week…

Harbinger Uprising – ‘Line in the Sand’

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In our modern age of Rap synths and autotune it can be difficult to find the top seeds among the harvest. What makes masters like Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Eagles of Death Metal, and Massive Attack so sought after? Sure, they sound good, they look good, they feel good. But above that they’ve got…

Shoko Igarashi Organ Trio – ‘Alarm Call’

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Irresistibly smooth “Alarm Call” shows off the Shoko Igarashi Organ Trio’s impressive chops. From the nimble drumming of Kazuhiro Odagiri to the playful work of Takafumi Suenaga on organ, everything comes together. By far the heart and soul of the album pours out of Shoko Igarashi’s tenor saxophone. Remarkably expressive Shoko Igarashi’s work on the…

Mel Monaco – “Single Again”

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A short, dramatic tune from Pop/R&B/Soul-singer Mel Monaco with her new song “Single Again;” in a powerful & edgy tune…the theatrical nature of the performance and music will grip you firmly. There’s something nearly Amy Winehouse-ish about the song…and overall it’s a cleverly written song that plays with both the light & the dark and…

Charlee Remitz – ‘Bright White Trims’

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Hailing from Montana, up and coming pop Charlee Remitz drops her debut album Bright White Trims. A shifty mixture of club friendly, beat-driven tunes and darker, ethereal indie electro pop, the record packs plenty of vibes into eight fresh, infectious tracks without overstaying its welcome. The production emphasizes the multi-layered keyboards, dub step thumps, and…

Jim Wellman – “Dawn to Dusk”

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Effortlessly combing elements of funk and jazz into a satisfying whole, Jim Wellman’s “Dawn to Dusk” is a pure pleasure. The songs are luxurious with infectious bass lines, sly guitar work, and gleaming keyboards. Slinking by ever so slowly every single part of the album shines. Vocals rise above the immaculate arrangements adding a sense…

Sarantos – “Pain of the Past”

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“Pain of the Past” shows Sarantos tapping into the gauzy sound of early 90s shoegaze. With a sense of nostalgia serving as the unifying theme of the song. Sarantos looks back towards the past, the sorts of things that can cause pain and last with a person through the rest of their lives. Such things…