Music Review – Adam Winn “Burnout”

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Adam Winn’s new EP features a melancholic and relatable story of the emotional struggles in a failing relationship. Adam Winn is a singer-songwriter who focuses on creating compelling stories that are told through his music. Winn’s musical aesthetic touches on. He is backed by musician Dave Tolley on the drums.

A hometown hero in Fort St. John, BC, Adam Winn has worked as a firefighter for the past nine years. Having been trained in bass guitar and classical voice, Adam Winn never gave up on his love of music and turned to storytelling through grassroots music. Adam Winn’s new EP was successfully crowd funded, and he is set to embark on his first tour around Western Canada late July.

For first time listeners, the most striking aspect of Adam Winn’s work is the beautiful, clean guitar work and deep bass of his voice. Interestingly, Adam Winn’s vocal technique and enunciation sounds slightly more country than most folk singers, and this brings a unique quality to his songs. From the thickness of his voice, you can tell that Adam has had years of experience singing and is comfortable with a wide vocal range, being able to sing both mellow vocal lines and louder technical lines with ease. The guitar sounds very clean and crisp, which is an important aspect of folk music.

Adam Winn elected to keep his work clean with little effects on the sound. The vocals are kept center and forward to allow the listener to know where their attention should be focused. This by no means takes away from the instrumental accompaniment however as the sounds are balanced carefully to allow harmony between each part. Almost all parts of the mix are kept quite dry with little to no reverb. This fosters a more intimate listening experience.

In his song Burnout, Winn added a harmonica to the song to make the song more enticing. However, personally I thought the harmonica was a little bit distracting due to the stark difference in sound between the guitar and overall mood of the song. Initially I also thought the melody of the harmonica was quite strange or that perhaps there had been some wrong notes played, but after a few listens I realized the harmony was correct and that perhaps it was just my dislike for the sound of the harmonica.

The music video of Winn’s song Burnout was filmed by Jess Greene. The video shows a comfortable studio in which the musicians play. This studio matches Winn’s campfire folk music aesthetic. Much like Winn’s music, the video was kept simple and clear with much of the focus being on Winn as he sings. The mood of the video helped enhance the melancholic vibe of the song and makes the listener feel more relaxed. It was a little awkward however watching Winn for most of video as it felt as though he was purposely trying to avoid looking at the camera and didn’t quite know where to look.

Listen to Adam Winn’s song Burnout here:

Further Listening: Ray Lamontange, Glen Hansard, Bright Eyes

Websites:
https://adamwinn.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/adamwinnmusic/

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Music Review: Only A Visitor – “Lines”

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Only A Visitor is an upcoming Vancouver based avant-pop group that is known for their experimental music. The band consists of Robyn Jacob, Emma Postl, Celina Kurz, Jeff Gammon, and Kevin Romain. Having performed in a number of festivals including the Artswells festival, Campbell Bay Music Festival, The Field, and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the band’s debut of their new full-length album “Lines” aims to explore the possibilities that vocal harmonies posses in breaking the traditional roles of instrumentation in pop music. Their music is influenced by musicians like Bjork, Philip Glass, and The Dirty Projectors.

For all of the songs in their new album, the instrumentation was kept dry to foster a sense of intimacy. The listener feels as though they are sitting in the audience listening to a live performance. The sustain and decay of the instrument sounds and voice were also kept very short to make it sound punctual. These effects make a nice contrast to the bass, and occasionally the xylophone, which had a more sustained sound. The vocals were often kept plain without much vibrato, which helped with making harmonizing the different vocals easier. However, I found that this made it harder for me to enjoy the songs.

Listening through the entire album, I found it interesting not knowing where the next song would lead you. Every song had different harmonies and very different stories to tell. Because every song was different, it also made me think that a lot of the songs and melodies were quite random.

The musical elements in Only a Visitor’s single and title track “Lines” proves to be an interesting listen. The track begins with a haunting piano line that piques interest from the audience. It is at once noticeable that the piano plays a key role in the song as the vocals that join in a short while later seems to take more of a supporting role to the piano. The vocal line definitely has an avant-garde style to it, as the melody is quite unique.

Overall, I found that the arrangement of the song actually subtracted from the vocals and the message the lyrics were trying to express. I found that I was more preoccupied with listening to the instrumentation and unique vocal harmony to pay much attention to the lyrics. The enunciation of the lyrics with the melodic line also made it difficult to understand the message during the first listen as well.

Watching the music video, I thought some of the illustration was a little random. For example, during the chorus “brother, it will come together,” and Asian family dressed in traditional wear is shown. It is not clear as to why this image was chosen for this chorus.  However, although there was some confusion with the video, it did help with understanding the lyrics better as some parts of the video reflected the message clearly.

Only A Visitor’s new full album was release to audiences on June 16, 2017 and is available on their iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and their website.

Further Listening: Bjork, the Dirty Projectors

Websites:
onlyavisitor.com, onlyavisitor.bandcamp.com, facebook.com/onlyavisitor, twitter.com/only_a_visitor, instagram.com/only.a.visitor/

Only A Visitor high res trio cred Mayan Vered

Review: Daemon & Airdrie – China Shop

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The first time I listened to this song I thought Airdrie had such smooth vocals. Daemon complements Airdrie’s voice immensely in China Shop. The duo’s vocals work well together and produce a contrast which balances the song throughout. This single is an interesting introduction to the duo because of its seductive, moody tones.

Daemon & Airdrie is a trip hop, electronica, and dream hop duo who originated from Victoria, British Columbia. The band consists of Marley Daemon and Jesse Thom and they have toured UK and Canada in the folk trio Dirty Grace. The new single and music video China Shop is the duo’s latest creation of a uniquely stripped down performance and song. Furthermore, the production of China Shop was mastered by Manj Benning while the song was recorded and mixed by Jesse. China Shop has an unexplainable haunting beauty to it which entices its listeners. 

The title of the EP China Shop comes off as a little confusing because the lyrics state “make me a China Shop” and I don’t understand the reference. However, I understand that the artifacts of Chinese culture are often referred to as delicate, sensual, and mysterious. Both Airdrie and Daemon’s vocals balance each other out perfectly.

The duo definitely played with the balance of the stereo because the keyboard is barely audible with only the left earbud in. There was an extremely cool guitar sequence in the EP, however, it was muffled by the distracting noise of the keyboard. If the keyboard was more centred in the single then the sounds would be more balanced. I could definitely tell that they were going for a climax near the end. Despite these minor details, China Shop is a dynamic and interesting single.

The vocals of Daemon and Airdrie were balanced gracefully. At the 0:40 mark Airdrie doubles her vocals, which is a nice, detailed touch to the already spectacular single. It is undeniable that their vocals are quite breath-taking and it’s great that the duo centred their vocals so that the sound became more focused for the listener. Furthermore, they mixed in a lot of reverb which resulted in a really cool sound effect.

Overall, Daemon & Airdrie is a duo to look out for and their new single China Shop is a breath of fresh air.

Further Listening: Distant Grand, Intragalactic Omnivortex

Listen to Daemon & Airdrie’s EP China Shop at Daemon & Airdrie’s SoundCloud page. If you like their music, check out Daemon & Airdrie’s official website + the group’s Facebook, BandCamp and Twitter pages.

Single Review: Erich Mrak “Think About It”

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Listen to Erich Mrak’s “Think About It” here

Toronto-based, upcoming artist Erich Mrak releases his debut single “Think About It”. The track has a laid-back feel reminiscent to a few of Macklemore’s more composed songs.

Erich Mrak’s 2017 debut single is bathed in Bento’s richness in production value. Bento’s (Mrak’s in-house producer) choices of mellow beats fit well with Mrak’s assertive vocals. Despite the richness of Bento’s production, Mrak’s rap felt pale in comparison. Lyrically, he chose to rap instead of sing his lyrics and that makes it easy for any artist with a basic sense of rhythm. However, Mrak’s choice to double his voice in his single was an exceptional choice because it makes his voice richer. His voice rings deep within our ears, despite the lyrics being crowded by his aggressive rap style.

Overall, “Think About It” sounds messy because there is too much going on in this song. This trait rings especially true during specific parts of the song. For instance, in the instrumental section, the sounds were all mixing together which makes the track muddy. The bass and the beat is extremely prominent in this track. Then Bento (or whoever was responsible) added in the keyboard effect on top of the already prominent sounds. Unfortunately, this mix takes away from the clarity of the track; leaving his audience with a headache. The underlying beat broods in the background of Mrak’s rapping, but never seems to build on that towering epic that it seems to want to deliver.

A strange difference in momentum intensifies the tension between the underlying beat, lyrics, and Mrak’s rap. Mrak is assertive in this track, but the beat is laid-back and chilled. It’s like mixing water and oil together. The lyrics are also much too simplistic and repetitive, especially with his constant repetition in the vocal riff, “Do ya, Do ya, think about?”. It can get annoying really fast. However, this is first of many of his singles this year so his fans will be on the lookout for more fresh music.

Mrak offers this single as an unexpected change of pace and style, which presents itself as a 180 degree shift from his previous works. I wonder if fans of his previous style appreciate this dramatic change in his music. Only time will tell.

Erich Mrak and his debut single is on Spotify, Soundcloud, and Apple Music.
All photos and cover art is designed by Martin Nombrado.

Further listening: Macklemore, Lays, Grimes

 

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