Tag: Album Review

RECORD REVIEW: The Soonest – Quarters EP (Performer Magazine – July 2011)

The Soonest - Quarters EP
The Soonest | Performer Magazine – July 2011

The Soonest
Quarters EP
Berkeley, CA

“San Francisco dream rock with a darker side”

The Soonest’s latest release, Quarters EP, exemplifies the phrase, “less is more.” The San Francisco rock band, formerly known as Lion Riding Horses, sound much bigger than their four-part roster might suggest. While it only boasts four tracks, the production on each song exhibits a noticeable level of care.

The EP opens with “Ghosts,” a song appropriately titled with its haunting characteristics. Guitar arpeggios layer nicely with echoing sustain as vocals float listlessly across. Frenetic drum riffs propel the track forward, taking the dream pop characteristics of the song into a heftier level. The following track, “I Don’t Mind,” seems most reminiscent of the popular indie pop songs of our day. The boisterous drum riffs remind the listener of bands like Vampire Weekend, though The Soonest delivers in a manner more serious. “King” offers a bit of ballad with its longing lyrics and pop-influenced background vocals. The loving touch of ambient sounds and songwriting extend into the EP’s final track, “Ready.”

Vocals and instrumentation are rich, and the pacing of builds and lulls work refreshingly. It’s a balance that’s hard to execute. As a set, Quarters EP works effectively as an intro to a band already on the rise. (Self-released)

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Lori D. Brackney and Jose Rosa at Ex’pression College for Digital Arts

– Keane Li

PERFORMER MAGAZINE – RECORD REVIEW: Mikie Lee Prasad, Jukebox Folktales: Volume Two

RECORD REVIEW: Mikie Lee Prasad
Jukebox Folktales: Volume Two
By: Keane Li

One of the hardest working musicians in the Bay Area, Mikie Lee Prasad has been performing his rollicking brand of energetic Americana in local pubs and clubs for well over a decade. His recent release, Jukebox Folktales: Volume Two, a sequel to 2009’s Volume One, features a number of the talented local musicians he’s worked with on past projects.
The album opens with the diabolical “Try Evil.” Mikie sings a story not uncommon for a bluesman – a meeting with the Devil in an otherwise common place (this time, a gas station), with the humor and gypsy-esque jive of Tom Waits. “Don’t Wake Up” and “Hammer,” ballads steeped in that classic swirling American sound, conjure images of summer evenings and family friends. The inclusion of Bongo, his dog, and Marie, his wife, on this record show that it is, indeed, a familial affair.

Jukebox Folktales: Volume Two is an exhibition in what experience, maturity, and witty songwriting can get you. From its happy highs to its somber depths, the variation on this well-balanced album creates an experience that can be tirelessly enjoyed. (Self-released)

(link to review…)

PERFORMER MAGAZINE – RECORD REVIEW: John Vanderslice, Green Grow the Rushes

John Vanderslice | MySpace | Twitter

RECORD REVIEW: John Vanderslice
Green Grow the Rushes
By: Keane Li

Few musicians have given as much to the Bay Area indie scene as John Vanderslice. The former frontman of MK Ultra in the latter half of the ’90s, he has since broken off into a successful solo career. His renowned analog recording studio in San Francisco, Tiny Telephone, has recorded great acts, from Death Cab For Cutie to Deerhoof, and he has himself helped produce records for Spoon and The Mountain Goats. Green Grow the Rushes, his latest EP, continues his journey through American alt-rock.
The record features a cacophony of whimsical tones. “Thule Fog” sounds as if it were part circus and part kabuki. Vanderslice manages to fill his record with the strangest of voices, as if he had an orchestra of worldly instruments at his disposal. Even on the relatively straightforward “Lay Down,” he employs an underlying synth sound reminiscent of the ’80s. The result is adventurous, as much a treat for the mind as it is for the ears.

While Vanderslice’s songwriting is remarkable, the production and instrumentation on Green Grow the Rushes truly shine. His songs are articulate and organized without being derivative. It’s refreshing to hear an artist explore new frontiers of sound and succeed so well. (Self-released)

(link to review…)