08/29/2014 - Mixtape mastery - discover world-class talent of only 18 years-old - Nobility in review!
08/28/2014 - Jer @ SBS helps out American Idol finalist Sarah Burgess in her campaign to bring awareness to fighting the disease Duchenne through a duet of sorts!
08/28/2014 - The powerful & emotional music of solo-artist Jonny Goode comes to review - check it out!
08/27/2014 - We find an excellent combo of religion and music through a listen to & review of Alexander Ehm!
08/26/2014 - Jer @ SBS Takes On The ICE BUCKET, accepting the challenge from Marc Gladstone from the legendary Canadian band Prism...and also his father...
Nobility – State Of Mind – Mixtape Review
Let me start off by saying that if you’re going to only choose ONE mixtape based on the concept of growing up and living in the suburbs of Naperville, Illinois this summer…well, definitely make sure that it’s coming from rapper/producer Nobility! Okay, okay – yes…I realize that the odds of running into this conceptual idea in TWO albums over 2014 might come with chances less likely than winning the lottery…but c’mon – that’s a damn inventive opening to a review isn’t it?
But let’s face it – all kidding aside, I have literally NO clue as to what it might be like to grow up with today’s challenges, let alone in another country, another city so far away from where I am here in BC, Canada. When writing is based in concept – that to me is always an indication of some truly forward thinking and high-levels of care in the overall assembling of the music and all aspects of it; Nobility provides no exception here. I found that, even just reading through the titles of the tracks before pushing play, I was already interested in hearing the perspective of what life is like from this extremely young artist. Nobility is only eighteen years old – but the depth in his music will convince you he’s been living on this planet for decades beyond his age.
And that brings me to my daily….wait….whaaaaaaaat?
You read that correctly – Nobility is only EIGHTEEN. I even went back and read that again myself after I wrote it down! When you take his young age into consideration, this mixtape quickly moves beyond something made well to realizing quickly that you’re listening to world-class talent and an artist with a massive future in this music-industry.
Right from the drop of the bass in the opening track of “State Of Mind Pt. 1” – you’ll hear what I’m talking about and then confirm it yourself by the second track “The Burbs.” Nobility is an exciting and tremendously skilled MC; with a rap flow that reminds me of one of my own favorite current mix-tape masters, Tyga – this young rap-superstar is already making music that can certainly compete and hold its own when you compare it to what’s out there right now in the mixtape/rap genres. Much like Tyga – Nobility has an incredible knack for knowing where ‘the pocket’ is, and through his wise choices in samples…he’s virtually living in ‘the pocket’ throughout this entire album State Of Mind.
The lyricism is top-notch. Tracks like “All Good” and “I Remember,” showcase his incredibly commitment to style and delivering his lyrics with true modern-day swag. He flows quickly – but make no mistake, this isn’t blurry-rap where you can’t hear the lyrics; Nobility has taken the time as both an MC and a producer to make sure that you’ll hear each and every word throughout this conceptual album. Do the lyrics reflect life in 2014 Illinois? I’m going to give him the credit I believes he deserves and answer that as an affirmative yes. After nearly half the album has passed and you’re listening to the song “Gone,” comes along and you’ve yet to hear a song that hasn’t reflected the extreme amount of thought and care Nobility has put into his career…well, personally I think it’s best we all assume he’s telling us the truth about how life is going over there in his section of the USA. Musically – as each track plays out, you’ll realize there’s zero-point in doubting this young man’s credibility.
Production-wise…you’ll even get a shout-out in “O.U.Y.M.” that will go a long way to revealing just how focused Nobility is on his career; “I’ma be the new Dre.” If there’s ONE true role-model out there for production in rap…I think Nobility has found the perfect choice. There’s a shocking amount of similarities in their approach from bass tones to the consistency of the production itself. I mentioned it earlier – but I truly believe we’re listening to a world-class talent here in Nobility and if the album continues to hold up as tightly in the second half as it has in the first – there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll find the longevity on this planet and within the industry he’s seeking out.
You can trust your favorite bearded-music-reviewer here…or you can listen to the beginning tracks of the second-half, “Blondie” and “BASIC,” and simply agree with me…cause I’m right.
“Blondie” is a compelling and excellent instrumental…and drifting into the extremely memorable cut “BASIC,” you’ll quickly find yourself movin & shakin-it in your seat to this tune infused with a perfect sample from Sara Bareilles “Love Song.” It pulses with the beat of an instant single that the people are going to love.
I’m a huge fan of the track “KING” which is a lot longer & darker than anything on the album up to this point. The song is an epic for sure…a true heavy hitter that might not be as ‘easy’ to like in those first listens, but there’s no doubt that this is the kind of track that lasts and holds up over time. It’s minimalist…even references the mighty ‘Yeezus,’ who went on to really bring about the minimalist movement in the rap scene we know today. This track is a true nod towards that, and is also proof beyond a doubt that Nobility has got his head in the game, knows what’s current and knows what works. He’s modelled himself after some of the true giants of the game and come out with a viable and respectable style of his own.
As the album winds down…it stays in the trenches and back-alleys…stays a little on the dark side as it moves through “Suicide Note,” but it’s through tracks like this that help you understand why this became a concept album and not just a few tracks strung together. It’s like do-or-die for Nobility – you can hear just how carefully this is all put together and when it comes to quality, Nobility is as serious as a heart-attack. Closing on “State Of Mind Pt. 2” – you’ll hear the real messages from this fresh perspective as he advises you a final time on this diverse mixtape. He’s not here to simply follow the pack – Nobility is here to bring about change and up the game of everyone else around him – and it all starts with this tremendous example he’s put forth here on this mixtape State Of Mind.
- Jer @ SBS
Find Nobility’s mixtape direct right here: http://www.datpiff.com/mixtapes-detail.php?id=636269
Jonny Goode – Snakes & Ladders – Album Review
Like…seriously! Who put the sticker on this album? I’m definitely assuming this didn’t come from one of our people – not even one of our readers would have done this; but I’m actually looking at instructions that are more or less leading me towards certain songs – not the album as a whole! NOT gonna happen lol…though I certainly can’t blame the person in question for providing more direction to the indie-music journalism crowd out there – they certainly need the help!
So let’s talk about Snakes & Ladders by Jonny Goode…in its ENTIRETY. :)
There was definitely one piece of information in this note that caught my eye; it mentions that the music of Goode would appeal to fans of Ryan Adams, Gerry Rafferty and David Gray. Though I’ve often found Adams to be entirely overrated and under-accomplished and I’d profess to not have listened to nearly enough Rafferty in my lifetime, it’s definitely no secret on these pages that I love the music of David Gray…so let’s see if I can hear this in the music myself!
Snakes & Ladders opens with a tiny & delicate track called “High Hopes,” which, if you’re hearing this track like I am…you’ll end up with high hopes of your own for the rest of the album to follow as this is a tremendously fantastic way to open up this album. Goode reveals the signature style of which he’ll deliver his vocals; a mixture of sweetness & rasp that come out gorgeously on this first track and throughout the album to come. This for certain…is where the comparison to Adams is most likely coming from…and I’m cool to accept that as pretty damn accurate. It’s a clear tone and confident style that is projected with strong emotion and Goode provides it flawlessly track after track.
So to Goode…I say please…PLEASE – do NOT let all these kind words I expect you’ll receive go to your head like Adams has over his short career. Were it not for his overwhelming sense of entitlement – I’d be a much bigger fan…so I’m hoping that Goode can remain the humble & creative songwriter he is now for many, many years to come!
“Crossfire” is an excellent tune and really brings up the energy quickly into this album. That sweetness & rasp combo drips all over this tune and frequently reminds me of one of my own favorite singers in the UK band called Feeder. As he shifts into the dark & slow-groovin’ track called “Radio,” and sweetens up the chorus with his vibrant vocal-chords…I’m liking that comparison more and more as the track plays on. Feeder always had an imaginative way to find the pulse in a slower jam, and those were often my favorites on their albums; Goode displays that same mastery right here early on into the album in this track, the atmosphere is thick, rich and perfectly full. This track, despite already loving the two to play before it, moved Goode beyond possibly just getting lucky on the two beautiful opening tracks and into the ‘no, this guy is the real-deal’ category.
Gorgeous…there’s a word I’ve possibly overused myself…BUT…in case you’re wondering EXACTLY what I mean by that term, simply reference “Stay (Acoustic)” by Jonny Goode. That’s what I mean by gorgeous. What a song! It’s completely heartbreaking through the lyrics…the narrative tells the story of a man that is truly in love and watching the love of his life spend their time with another. But what makes it beautiful…is the emotional way he’s described his plight; the lyrics are fantastic. If there’s a person that this song is directed to…and they’ve heard it…and they HAVEN’T left their current partner to be by the side of Jonny Goode…well, I’m just saying if these words don’t convince this certain someone of just how devoted & unwavering his love really IS…then it’s just not meant to be! This feels like an amazingly personal song and story…there’s an authenticity in this track that makes me certain this is drawn from a real-life experience. I feel for the character presented in the story of this bittersweet song; again, this is a real heartbreaker, but what a fantastic song.
“Runaway Trains” shows the energetic pop-side of Goode’s style in this pumped up tune that has already been making waves as the lead single and video from Snakes & Ladders. It has a broad appeal and a quick & easy feel to the music with a beautiful vocal-melody. It’s a big song and certainly worthy of the attention it is continuing to garner from music fans in all corners of the globe.
It’s followed by a much-more niche-sounding track in “Karma,” whereas Goode leaves by the electric-energy of “Runaway Trains” in favor of a track led in interesting & creative directions through some intense musical-prowess. There’s some completely excellent guitar work in this subtle and slow-burning track that rises to its full-potential midway through into a tiny but excellent solo/break before descending into its melodious ending.
By contrast, the song to follow, “Faith’s Prayer,” is a piano-led, drum-intensive and absolutely incredible track. At this point, you have to tip your hat to Goode – he has certainly found a way to be impressive through the vocals in each and every track. But the way this track starts into its final minute…WOW. Just freakin WOW. Like, really – it can’t get any more emotionally convincing than his performance on this song…it’s incredible. If anything has had you doubting…you’ll stop all that noise right here and now in the explosive ending of this song, pick your jaw up off the floor…and apologize out loud.
You’ll get a bit more of the rock-side of Goode in the final three tracks in “You Don’t Wanna Know,” before heading into “Being First,” which I think is actually played entirely on a ukulele? Whatever that instrument is…it’s not only perfect for this quaint little tune – but Goode’s performance in this song will flat-out make you SMILE with your whole face. There are a few squeaks – good ones – that occur within the playful-rasp of his voice on this track that, if you’ve ever been in the studio-headset listening to a vocalist record…well…there’s no way you’d let him try again to outdo what clearly came out so perfectly genuine here on this song.
The final cut – “10:07,” is certainly unique, and extremely short…BUT…for those of you that would want to go further and really get into your music…something tells me you might be interested in trying to play this song in reverse as well…
What can I say? This album FLEW by, in all the greatest of ways. There’s energy, there’s melody, there’s style, confidence and tremendously respectable songwriting on Snakes & Ladders. Jonny Goode has put forth a veritable piece of pop-rock gold here on his new album with an entire set of heartfelt tunes that couldn’t possibly be ignored.
- Jer @ SBS
Find out more about Jonny Goode by checking out his official site at: www.jonnygoode.com
Alexander Ehm – Praise The Lord – Album Review
If I’m not too careful – you people out there are going to start assuming I ONLY deal with religiously-based music! As strange as I personally find it each and every time that we’re often sought out this way – I take it as an extreme point of personal-pride that I’m able to supply objective reviews that are still of value even when our personal-views and life-context might not always line up side-by-side. As many of you already know – I was raised with a somewhat religious background and I’m immensely proud of a ton of those values instilled in me, even to this day. And as I continue to welcome ANYONE that has a voice and a vision – well…I can’t be faulted if the religious-music community is out-working the rock & rap artists out there ten-fold this summer!
And as many of you know for a certainty – religion and music continue to be one of my favorite topics to write about, talk about…become fully immersed in… So let’s do that again today and talk about the new album Praise The Lord by Alexander Ehm…
I’ll start off by saying there’s virtually an entire kingdom’s worth of material to like and comment on in Alexander’s work – bar none, regardless of what you personally believe in – there is some of the most beautiful music I’ve heard this year drifting in and out of this album. Alexander Ehm, frequently accompanied by Jennifer P display a real gift for composition and melody, but more importantly the tender balance when both of those components come together in just the right way.
Now…going into an album called Praise The Lord, one can make nearly zero mistakes in assuming that it would be based in religious sentiment and context; but what I wasn’t prepared for, was that it would open with a gorgeous instrumental track and continue on to be nearly completely without vocals throughout the album. The opening song is called “God With Us,” and musically proves right here just how powerful songs without words can be, yet how appropriate and within the context of an album they can be as well. It doesn’t feel any less based in religion than any of the songs on this album with words, which again certainly highlights the songwriting abilities of Alexander Ehm and what a gift he has in his ability to truly create magnificent soundscapes that truly take you somewhere when you close your eyes. There is an astounding amount of beautiful instrumentals on this album of devotion, expressing those emotions that cannot be spelled out in words. The title-track itself, “Praise The Lord” is entirely instrumental…and again, entirely beautiful.
The instant argument can also be made, that if you ARE leery of listening to something steeped from religious scripture, that Alexander Ehm has made a brilliant move in providing these instrumentals throughout the album. There’s no possible way anyone could accuse this album of being ‘overly-preachy’ – there’s so much left for the listener to interpret on their own. These songs without words certainly pulled me in closer, and again, for many of those instrumentals…I personally felt as if I was hearing what he truly had to say; and in the best of possible ways – through his emotional, passionate and highly-skilled performances. “Sunny Days” is an absolute GEM. I can hear that the whistling-keys might not be for everyone – I get that…but DON’T abandon this track and make sure you stick around for the two minute mark and ride this out to the end.
***Please note Alexander – I need a version of “Sunny Days” at twice the length! Please inform Jennifer for me as well as I know she plays a key role in this song (and of course, many others!).
But take on the song “Noah;” you’ll feel like you built an ark yourself by the time the song is over! It’s truly an epic journey as a song, which brings me to another point I’d like to make – not a single song on this album is over three minutes and twenty seconds long. The effect this has…I mean, if this is Alexander’s own instincts he has got an incredible future in front of him…if there’s been some guidance on keeping these songs as tight as they are, well…then that person needs some strong recognition and tremendous kudos for some mighty fine work. But songs like “Wedding Day” and these other instrumentals I’ve pointed to…there’s absolutely zero filler in this music; it’s all so carefully thought out and well put together.
And you know something? I think that’s one of the finest messages that exist in religions of all types. Respect for ALL things…not just people, but the work that we do ourselves, the tools that help us build and the very life that our creations take on for themselves. There’s a care and respect here in the music that is impossible to ignore; and when accompanied by the extremely-awesome songwriting and creative instrument choices, tones and sounds – I would be shocked to hear that this album didn’t find the universal audience it so richly deserves.
The triple-set into the second half of the album, consisting of “Back To Happiness,” “A New Morning,” and “Wings Of Glory,” was an excellent way continue this album on. Starting those three with a mellow-sound in the first two, before lunging headfirst into a way more guitar-based track in “Wings Of Glory,” – the musicality and intensity of this song set up one of the best moments on Praise The Lord – a song known as “Promised Land.” With its quiet and isolated beginning, it’s the near-absence of sound left with you after the rush of “Wings Of Glory,” that serves to make “Promised Land” as golden of a song as it becomes. It draws the ear right in to listen and appreciate the space and carefully chosen notes – and again, how well those two factors come together when approached from just the right angle.
“The Prayer,” is also an incredibly beautiful song in its own right. Fantastic synth, violin, minimal percussion and of course, the chant-like prayer itself – I can’t be alone here…this is INSPIRING music!
As the album winds through the final instrumental tracks, it ends just as beautifully as it all began and really feels complete by the end. This isn’t something that would have been in my normal rotation – but I’d certainly venture a safe guess that it most definitely will be in the future. Praise The Lord is a real transcendent album; seeing the world through the eyes and music of Alexander Ehm is a vibrantly wonderful experience. A real pleasure that everyone should take a moment to appreciate.
- Jer @ SBS
Find out more about the music and work of Alexander Ehm here: http://ehm-music.de.tl/
Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders – The Last Of The Originals – Album Review
Well…hello to you all in Australia once again! It is literally and musically ALWAYS a pleasure to visit this beautiful continent full of wonderful talent – and I always make sure to tell you Aussies just how much I appreciate you and how grateful I am for what an electric and exciting musical-scene you’ve kept up, especially over this past two decades. Though…all this being said – I was definitely surprised to hear the overall sounds of Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders…in many good ways, don’t pull the fire-alarm just yet! Push play on Billy’s latest album The Last Of The Originals and let me explain!
Starting out the new ten-song set is a complete rocker by the name of “Mrs. Jones - ” and right away things got WEIRD for me. I rubbed my eyes and I’ve triple-checked now…and YES…I can report that somehow, someway – Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders do indeed STILL come from Australia.
The fact that this music ISN’T Canadian…not even from the North American continent…well it blows my mind! Cause you see…comparisons are going to come Billy Roberts’ way in spades through the work of my fellow peers out there in music-journalism land…people will throw out Bob Dylan…Lou Reed…and even the off-continent giants The Rolling Stones…and they’ll all be close, but they’ll all be wrong…
There are two bands out there that I can certainly point to in the recipe of the blend of music that you’ll find coming from The Rough Riders’ amps – one Canadian, one American – BOTH a heck of a long way from Australia and the musical-mainstream…both staving-off obscurity only by true fans of something old done completely new. Those bands…are Canadian-legends The Headstones, and from the USA , we’ve got the true-authors of Alt-Americana from the band Cracker. The most beautiful thing about both, is that chances are Billy Roberts and his crew haven’t heard a single guitar-lick from either of those bands – but the comparisons are undeniable.
Here’s the thing…just so you KNOW how truly sick I am…
I’ve been putting off this review as a punishment to myself. I’ve been searching my brain for the name of the lead singer for The Headstones, for whom Billy Roberts is a dead-ringer…and I would not allow myself to simply Google information I knew was stored in my very own dome. So until I could finally remember the name HUGH DILLON – I was refusing to begin. But if you’re Canadian, and you can listen to songs like “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Not That Special” and not immediately think of The Headstones I’d be shocked & surprised. The tight rock you’ve always known and loved is there – the drawl of the lead-vocals is definitely there…these are sounds I’ve literally grown up with echoing in my own backyard and booming from my speakers.
But truthfully…The Headstones didn’t work out and never found that avenue that would lead them to commercialized success. And if you were to ask me…as much as I might personally love their sound & tunes – they simply weren’t creative ENOUGH.
But the other comparison I’ve made to Cracker…is what makes things even more interesting. The tones of the guitars in songs like “I’m Gonna Get That Girl” or “With You” definitely sport the same style and comfort you can find in the playing from Johnny Hickman of Cracker. It’s a very distinct way of bending those guitar notes and tones to really resonate with the heart in ways that can’t be explained in words. But it’s that authenticity and sincerity that you can definitely now hear on The Last Of The Originals.
Cracker? No. They didn’t really ‘make it’ either. And if you were to ask me…it’s cause they didn’t quite rock hard ENOUGH or provide enough energy through their incredible melodies and astounding lyricism.
THANKFULLY…I now have Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders to now provide the BEST of both of these worlds in this new album full of style, full of rock, full of melodies and incredibly authentic songwriting. Whereas these bands I’ve mentioned didn’t quite make it all the way to the top of the musical-mountain – I think Billy and his crew stand a much larger chance given this evolutionary approach to both of those unique sounds; and in combining them as successfully as this band has will appeal to a much broader audience overall.
There’s an intimacy you can’t fake that comes along with this record. Songs like “My Baby Gone Cold,” and “I Was Young” feel like you’re right there with Billy Roberts in a private jam session made just for YOU. The songs are interesting…often personalized but written in such a way that you’ll discover your own life’s storyline will find similarities and relevance – they’re songs that you can connect with.
Where it gets a little tricky…is a song called “Davy Crockett And The Alamo.” It gave me a couple of quirky reactions I wanted to share with you all. The first thing to hit me…was that instantly you can tell this song is going to be HUGE. With a slow but booming start…Billy Roberts almost takes on a similar role to a giant like Nick Cave in his stylistic approach to the mic here. Retelling a massive piece of history – this song matches the feel of this particular story through and through, and in that sense it’s an incredible winner. Once the chorus came in…I did find myself shouting “I don’t want to LEARN right now” at my computer, as my brain had already exceeded its comprehensive intake for the day. It was quickly ignored as this track progressed and really kicked in, bringing in an absolutely stellar violin/string accompaniment that really helps make this seven-minute song become the epic, memorable piece it becomes. There’s a ton happening in this track, which is almost twice the length of every other track on the album, but with the added musicianship & feverishly-hot instrumentation, it certainly becomes the climax of The Last Of The Originals as it heads towards the end of the final chapter and last song on the album “Red Head Baby.”
This final cut really serves the album well…bringing it right back to a place of alt-rock that has really worked well throughout this album. “Red Head Baby” is a dark & funked-out rock groove; once again Billy Roberts is in full control of the mic up front and commanding it with resounding presence. I’m a huge fan of this style of music…but I’m sure you’ve all picked up on that by now!
So…if any of my rambling has made sense here today…you’ll at the very least notice that Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders have been compared to some truly original and groundbreaking artists and bands of our time; and if you know the references I’ve made and they’ve made music you’ve loved – it’s time to check out The Last Of The Originals and really see where the future of this sound is headed. Cause I have the feeling…you can call it intuition…but I really believe that Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders are still just in the beginning stages of what will no doubt be a musical career with longevity & consistency.
- Jer @ SBS
Check out this album The Last Of The Originals by Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders direct from their bandcamp page! https://billyrobertsandtheroughriders.bandcamp.com/
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