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/

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.

Review: HundredMillionThousand – LP1

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Album art by Victoria Diaz and Tobias Oliva

HundredMillionThousand’s new EP features a moody journal of the many faucets of mental illness and the producer’s experience with the subject. HMT is fronted by producer Noel Jon whose musical aesthetic touches upon a brooding and suspenseful atmosphere.

HMT’s debut album “LP1” proves to possess a dark and melodramatic core. Jon’s moody aesthetic is especially prevalent in the lead single “Yalda”.

The musical elements in “Yalda” are harmonious and prove to be an easy listen which is due to the careful composition of the instrumentation. HMT demonstrates his mindfulness when composing this single to make sure that the sounds are balanced and not too crowded.

In “Yalda”, HMT definitely wanted the bass to be the main component of the song. I noticed that they brought the bass to the front and every other instrumentation is put in the background to support it.

HMT’s “Yalda” features real, treated vocals with an added stutter effect. This stutter effect was added to the sounds on the vocal line at the beginning and the effect was similar in other parts of the single. This composition provides an eerie and unforgettable EP track. The vocals on “Yalda” are excellent because the song has a heavy bass line, but the vocals are able to cut right through them.

I think the reason why it sounds like the vocals were inputted is because HMT pushed the fader up quite a bit, which adds to the effect of the vocals slicing through the bass line.

Furthermore, reverb was added to the vocals to really broaden the kind of sound HMT was aiming for. So this adds to the song in an excellent manner.

I thought the transition (like 3/4 of the way through the song) was really well done because they were successfully able to introduce an almost completely new theme that changed the pace of the song. There were still some slight noises in that tiny section where everything was cut, however, that was just to help the listener know that the transition wasn’t the end of the song.

The use of white space was also extremely successful in this instance.

The melodic line also has some very slight pitch shifts which I thought were quite cool.

My experience of listening to the lead track is positive because I thought “Yalda” is an excellent composition and the vocals are unique. I thought the song was hauntingly beautiful.

Further Listening: Transcendence, Boards of Canada, Inward

HMT_Photo6_Photographer- Nicholas Yee

Press Photo by Nicholas Yee

Websites:
http://www.hundredmillionthousand.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hundredmillionthousand/
https://twitter.com/HunMillThou
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9wUhoUMtJb2dzw3xKfyy2A
https://www.instagram.com/hundredmillionthousand/

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Song Art By Danielle Muntain

Review: Dark Model – Saga EP

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New York’s Dark Model (Tetsuya Oe) has the distinction of being a producer in beat-oriented, electronic music. The second album “Saga” follows its predecessor in the style of progressive, dramatic electronica.

The lead track of the album “Survivors” is reminiscent of an epic, progressive anime theme. For instance, “Survivors” reminded me of an opening for the Legend of Zelda, which doesn’t surprise me because Oe’s work has appeared in numerous advertising campaigns such as Xbox’s “Forza Motorsport 5”. Tetsuya’s roots in Hiroshima, Japan revealed itself prominently in this track as there is a great deal of traditional Japanese instrumentals woven delicately into “Survivors”.

Despite the prominent Japanese influence woven into this lead track, the melody sounds extremely disjointed. The electronic bass is too arresting and upfront. Moreover, the violins sound awfully electronic which suggests that it is not the genuine instrument, but instead the sound is actually done with a synthesizer. The purpose of electronica is for the artist to experiment with different sounds, however, “Survivors” sounds too artificial and crowded. Oe tried to pack too much into a song and it ended up sounding chaotic. The first listen made me think that it was definitely not an actual orchestra which produced this strange mix of instrumentals. I can sense a desperation from the Oe to make the sound as exciting as possible for his listeners. As a result, all of these prominent instrumentals confront one another which creates an immense distraction for listeners instead of a harmonized beat.

Moreover, the song’s production sounded dry (in a sense chalky) because of the apparent lack of effects in the music. In “Survivors”, there is a lack of reverb which makes the song “sound extremely close to the audience” when the audience is listening to it. The song has an “in your face” quality, which is not necessarily a positive when music should be harmonized to an easy listen. The beat would have sounded substantially more powerful if the snare at the beginning was not so prominent. As a result of this prominence in the snare drum, it made the song sound more fuzzy than tight.

The second lead track of Saga, “Storm Goddess” fairs a little better in terms of the input of technical elements. For instance, the song sounds tighter than “Survivors”, the snare isn’t as prominent, and the melody is clearer. The blending of these elements is better than “Survivors”. Oe tries to follow the actual placement of the instruments in an orchestra during the production process. An instance of this is when he trumpets solo starts further back than the violins and drums, which creates the illusion of an actual orchestra. However, at around the 2:50 mark, there is a disagreeable key change, which doesn’t mesh well with the overall aesthetic of the song. “Storm Goddess” is still a disjointed effort on Oe’s part because there is a clash of instrumentals and questionable transitions between the different sections of the song. The indiscernible background instrument does not help the composition of this disjointed effort either because it fails to give listeners a break. Unfortunately, Saga does not possess much to engage the listener’s heart and soul.

Further Listening: In Uchronia, Valentin Wiest

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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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