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: Gert Taberner – Fallen EP

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Gert Taberner is a folk music singer-song writer who has roots in Germany and recently moved to New York after the release of his first album. With the debut of the “Fallen” EP, Gert Taberner is conveying the concept of intimacy, which is something that he believes is lacking or often miscommunicated in the millenial era. His style is Folk Rock meets Pop, which is a rare mix of music genre. The first song which came to mind when listening to “Fallen” was the track “Let Her Go” by Passenger. Taberner’s style is influenced by artists like Damien Rice and Paul Simon.

His debut EP “Fallen” was intended to convey feelings of disillusionment, which I felt by watching the music video. The video was shot at the University of British Columbia and as a local, there is a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity. I believe the warmth of familiarity is what Taberner was trying to convey in his work. Furthermore, the actors in the video conveyed the feeling of loss and hopelessness, however in contrast, the song did not convey these feelings.

The technical elements and vocal range of the song fell short of the depth that Taberner was attempting to convey. The sounds of the guitar is strange because there is a strum or pluck almost every second of the song, which might be an intentional stylistic choice. Furthermore, the electric guitar added in the background doesn’t fit with the ambience of the rest of the song. The melody is excessively repetitive as the song progressed and the chorus was repeated at least three times.

The production was a little bit dry because “Fallen” didn’t include many effects. The entire track is just the raw instrumentals playing in the background. He kept the drums dry with not much effect, which makes the track a little bit lack-luster in the technical elements. In comparison with the guitar, the drums sounded extremely like paper instead of having a more rounded effect.

Taberner’s vocals is lazy in this song because he adds no strength to the beat. He might be masking his singing abilities because the lyrics were repetitive and he seems to possess and limited vocal range. Moreover, he added reverb to his vocals which made him sound very echo-y.

At the end he repeats “oh oh oh oh” and the song abruptly ends. Overall, the song is something that has been heard before and lacks the depth needed to be inspiring. “Fallen” feels like a song that’s been sung many times in the past.

Listen to Gert Taberner’s single “Fallen” here:

 

Further Listening: Damien Rice, The Lumineers, Passenger, Kodaline, Hozier
Websites:
https://www.facebook.com/gerttabernermusic/
https://twitter.com/G_Taberner
http://gerttabernermusic.bandcamp.com

 

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Review: GEA – Pink EP

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GEA’s third album “Pink” is the result of her collaboration with music producer Mikko H. Haapoja. GEA is an experimental, indiepop artist who attempts to signify the richness and coolness of the singer’s native landscape of Finland. She brings about an interesting atmosphere of mysterious airiness. GEA has the potential is become the cascading, serene, and quality artist she aims to be, however “Pink” misses the mark in both technical achievement and vocal ability.

The title track “Pink” has several major problems in terms of composition and the lack of basic technical elements. The melody she’s singing in the song is too high as she suddenly goes up an unexpected octave during the progression. Moreover, in the chorus, there is a disturbing wailing sound which drones on until the listeners get annoyed.

The balance of the song is strange because there was barely any sound coming out of the left speaker. The “airiness” that GEA is aiming for in “Pink” causes her voice to slur and listeners will find it difficult to discern or even understand the lyrics. Truthfully, I thought she was singing in a foreign language and not English because of the intense slurring.

The production of “Pink” is dry because there isn’t any production except for the fact that Haapoja brought all the instruments to the front of the song, which in turn, construes the quality of GEA’s singing. There is a lot going on in this track and some foreign instruments were implemented. However, Haapoja and GEA bring all the instrumentals to the front of the song and that makes it challenging for any listener to focus on other elements of the song. “Pink” sounds chaotic and almost headache-inducing. Not to mention, the instrument in the background sometimes gets out of tune.

Listen to GEA’s single “Pink” here:

Further Listening: Bjork, Kate Bush and Sigur Ros

Websites
http://geaofficial.com/
https://www.instagram.com/geamusicofficial/
https://twitter.com/official_gea
https://www.facebook.com/geamusicofficial/
https://soundcloud.com/geasongs

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