Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Moving to Tumblr

Blogger's been awesome these past two years, but I'm finally jumping onto the Tumblr bandwagon. Follow my tumblr at Absentminded Scientist - The Revival. Henceforth, all new posts will be updated on this tumblr, but you can still access the posts on this blog. Thanks for all the love and support! :)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Buzz: On The Run

Band Members: John Ross Green
                            Tyler Miller
                            Brian Fisher
                            Ryan Weaver

Based In: East Freedom, PA, USA
Sounds Like: Bayside, The Swellers, The Used, Relient K, Taking Back Sunday

Mood: Defiant

On The Run has really been 'on the run' ever since their formation in December 2008. Their gig calendar is choc-a-block with one exciting show after another. Needless to say, they've never looked back once.

On The Run's musical style can typically be described as Alt/Punk, especially when their lead vocalist hits those slightly off-key, but immensely effective notes that are such a trademark of the genre. The riffs are (mostly) decidedly alt/rock, though. 'Monsters Like Me' is their most popular track 'til date, and rightly so! The best part about On The Run's music is that each of their songs has a unique hook that'll keep you interested no matter how many times you've heard the songs before. Another of my personal favorites is 'Leave Me Alone.'

You can connect with them on Facebook or Fan them on Reverbnation.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Fresh New Artist: Shawn James [+ Free MP3]

I am a teetotaller, but Shawn James’s music made me want to lock myself in a basement with exposed red brick walls, break out the Scotch and drink myself into blissful oblivion while he sang of love, loss and life. Don’t get me wrong, his music isn’t depressing – on the contrary, it is quite profound. I have yet to find a fledgling artist who puts so much emotion into the lyrics and the melodies that you can’t help but listen with rapt attention.

Influenced by the likes of Son House, Robert Johnson and Ray Charles among others, and steeped in years of singing Gospel in the local church, Shawn’s music has “aged” beautifully and acquired a soulful quality that conveys many emotions at once. His debut album Shadows is a brilliant piece of work if ever I’ve seen any. His lyrics are honest, well-written and have a significant connection to the kind of music he makes. Perhaps what makes him stand out among others is his ability to use his voice as the “do-all-and-be-all” of the compositions. There is hardly any percussion; none, I would say. An acoustic guitar, and sometimes a violin and a tambourine, is all that is used in way of accompaniments.

“Shadows” opens with the lead track “The Wanderer”. It is an upbeat track in the manner of old-timey Gospel Blues, but not obsolete. I think this is the track where Shawn makes his personal statement as an artist – a kind of “Hello, I’m ____” tag that tells you who this man is, and what he thinks he is. 

It is followed by “The Shadow”, an out and out Chicago Blues track. Great harmonica riffs. But the track I loved most was “Midnight Dove”. The imagery of the lyrics coupled with the flow of the melody is quite fantastic. The strains of violin build a melancholy atmosphere, while the lyrics talk of hope. The song starts on a subdued note but crescendos into a controlled chorus, thus keeping true to the allegory of breaking through the barriers of hopelessness to find hope again. This could very well be a lullaby! (Check out Shawn’s website for the story behind the song).

What I like about this album is that the melody isn’t forced; it follows a natural stream of progression, which makes it very soothing and expressive. Not once do you feel like a song could have ended differently, or a refrain could have been reworked. Of his inspiration he says, "Growing up in church also had a huge impact on my musical ability and tastes as well. Seeing how people could be emotionally moved by music opened my eyes to the ability to control emotions through music." Adopting a very personal approach to playing live shows is also an integral part of the 'Shawn James musical experience'. And what might that be? "I moved to Fayetteville(with my beautiful wife) in January of this year and have made playing music my only job," he says. "It's going great because I've figured out how to make it work. It's not just through CD sales and playing shows, but also busking in the streets and playing farmer's markets and such. I like to bring people not only a show that's setup but also a raw version of myself and my music that a lot of today's musicians just don't do. Fayetteville has been extremely supportive of me and I love it here."

Check out the videos for "Midnight Dove" and "The Shadow" here:

My only grouse is that the production values in some songs are a wee bit sketchier than I’d have liked. The vocal and instrumental tracks don’t seem to have mixed properly. But other than that, this is an excellent work of art and you should definitely keep in your Blues collection.

Verdict: Folk and Blues has always been a potent combination, but it was never this intoxicating!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Have a Listen: Xavier Leong

A few days ago, I got a request from this kid in NYC for a review of his self-produced rap/hip-hop project. Now, I don't know much about that genre and I was honest enough to admit it to him. But still, I couldn't help but encourage the chap in what he's doing. Xavier Leong may not be a prodigy or anything, but he sure enough is passionate about what he does. "One of my main influences for my upcoming projects is Bedroom," he says. I don't know what or how much to make of his music, but feel like he needs constructive criticism from people who can really help him with his goal of making good music. So, if you are one of such good Samaritans, feel free to drop him a comment on his SoundCloud account or his FB page.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Am I Being True to My Vision, or Just Plain Lazy?

"Dude! You've totally stopped writing on that blog of yours. Wassup with that?"
"Yeah, sorry. Just didn't find stuff good enough to write about?"
"Are you kidding me? There're are some really cool artists out there. You mean to tell me the world's run out of good music? Pffft! Admit it, you're a lazy bum."
That was a conversation I had with a friend of mine who was right in pointing out that I hadn't blogged for over two months. Well, they don't call me absent-minded for nothing! But jokes apart, would it be too far-fetched to assume that I just didn't have the motivation to write about artists that I didn't feel I had a connection with? Also, I must admit, I do tend to get distracted by a million other projects that I plan on finishing. It therefore comes as no surprise that I don't end up finishing most of those projects. Sometimes, it just kills to have a brain that works overtime to give you a thousands schemes a day and not the strength or inclination to see them through to the end.

But then again, my love for music surpasses all these hare-brained ideas and, like a drunk who must eventually return to the comfort of his bed in the morning after a night of revelry, I return to find solace in the "arms" of my headphones. And, like my caustic friend so rightly pointed out, the world hasn't run out of great new artists. I just did not step out of my comfort zone to look around a bit harder to find something I had never heard before. Lots of things happened in the meantime that made me realize that, after all is said and done, there are only certain things that remain permanently with us, while all else fades. For me, music is one such thing.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Fresh New Artist: The Jim O'Ferrell Band a.k.a. The J.O.B.

I remember when I first listened to Breaking Benjamin’s album Phobia back in high school; I had it on repeat for more than a week. I was totally addicted to the sound. The war imagery, in both the lyrics and the music, was a complete HIT as far as I was concerned. I couldn’t get enough of that kinda music, and I hadn’t till this morning. Enter The J.O.B. and that was remedied!

Band Members:
Jason Crawford: Electric Lead Guitar
Justin Poroszok: Bass Guitar & Harmony Vocals
Antonio James, Jr.: Drums
Jim O'Ferrell: Vocals & Acoustic Rhythm Guitar

Hailing from Richmond, Virginia (USA), The Jim O’Ferrell Band was formed when Jim returned from a stint in Iraq in 2008. Little wonder, then, that The J.O.B.’s music incorporates heavy war imagery. A case in point being their song Guardian (from the EP 'Letters'), which talks about life, peace and war from a soldier’s perspective. Blending acoustic and electric guitars with drums that make their presence known only occasionally, Guardian hits all the right notes effortlessly.

Messenger is heavier than Guardian in terms of the guitars and the percussion. The lyrics aren’t anecdotal; they’re more like a montage of images – broken, but painting a bigger picture. The distorted guitars coupled with acoustic riffs and Jim’s ardent vocals infuse true emotion into the track. Songs like Messenger prove that you do not need elaborate or poetic lyrics to effectively complement the music.

The J.O.B.’s newest single (to be released this July), Feel, is a more upbeat track filled with optimism and serene thoughts. This one has more of Americana in it than the other two tracks. But it still sticks to its Mod-Rock sound while exploring the more ‘folksy’ genre. Jim’s voice reminds me very much of Three Days Grace’s Adam Gontier. Overall, Feel is a great song to include in your Valentine’s mix-tape or ‘Sunny Days Playlist’ without sounding mushy. That’s a total win-win!!

Verdict: If you are a Breaking Benjamin fan, listen to this one. You’ll love it. If you’re NOT a BB fan, listen to this and you’ll still love it! (Although Breaking Benjamin is more Alt-Metal than Modern Rock, The J.O.B.’s music comes closest to their Phobia phase.)

Friday, 22 June 2012

My Favorite Indie Album Covers: Part I

I'm always impressed by the resourcefulness of Indie bands when it comes to making an album cover. Their USP lies in the way they interpret the vibe of their album/EP and depict it through the album art. Here are ten such album covers that I admire. What about you?

Today's theme: Hand-drawn/Doodle

Album: Antidotes
Artist: Foals
Country: Britain

Album: Feathersongs for Factory Girls Part II
Artist: Stripmall Architecture
Country: USA

Album: Friend and Foe
Artist: Menomena
Country: USA

Album: Hats off to the Buskers
Artist: The View
Country: Scotland

Album: Meet Me On The Left Coast
Artist: The Summer Set
Country: USA

Album: Childrenerdlic
Artist: The Skull Defekts
Country: Sweden

Album: These Places
Artist: Architecture in Helsinki
Country: Australian

Album: Under Giant Trees
Artist: Efterklang
Country: Denmark

Album: Unemployed
Artist: The Employees
Country: USA

Album: Monsters of Folk
Artist: Monsters of Folk
Country: USA