Tag Archives: Holly Maher

You Me At Six – Cavalier Youth – Album Review

You Me At Six Album Review

YouMeAtSixPR120511 (552x286)

Typically, unless an album jumps out at me and screams ideas and feelings I have to sit on it for a while to absorb everything. The sound, the artist’s intentions, their execution, whether or not they put their heart into their work.

Maybe you’re thinking how could I possibly know the artist’s intentions or whether or not their heart was in it… and my response would be, you just can. You can hear it in their voice when passion and intensity begins to make the stanza lines quiver and distort. You can feel it when the guitarist spent the time to find unusual notes and phrasings to make you feel something unexpected and profound. I’ve said this before in the review of the amazing Holly Maher; you can’t fake sincerity. You can’t manufacture soul. You can’t fib and lie your way into the hearts of your fans. Not discerning music fans, anyway. Maybe that’s why it’s taken me longer than expected to write this review. You Me At Six are legitimate musicians, with solid songs and the more I listen to them the more that I like them. My only gripe with this album is it’s production.

Starting off with a short, sweet little song called “Be Who You Are” the singer, Josh Franceschi earns brownie points for name-dropping Joy Division right off the bat. It’s pretty clear by the end of this short song that this album has been pored over in a studio so that every note is precisely placed and polished. While this isn’t the worst thing ever, and I honestly don’t know how much input the member’s had in the recording process, I can’t help but feel that the record loses something due to it’s luster.

For example, take one of my favorite albums of the last five years; The Golden Age of Nowhere by the criminally over-looked Los Angeles outfit, Funeral Party. The album is 12 or 13 tracks of well written, catchy as hell rock and roll. It’s polished but not perfect. His voice blows out, there are a few notes that make you say “wtf?”, and there’s even one song in particular that I feel could have been left off of that record without really losing anything of tremendous value. The reason The Golden Age of Nowhere shines the way it does is because it’s dripping with emotion and skin-and-bones sincerity. His voice is blowing out because he’s feeling what he’s singing about. That’s what we want to hear. Your art, as a musician, is going back to that place you found the inspiration for the song for the 3 or 4 minutes the song lasts. Your job as a musical artist is to be highly skilled in self-empathy, and to show us exactly how you felt when this song was created. The source, the light (or darkness), the primordial incarnation of something severe…I want to hear it! So much of Funeral Party’s sound is defined by their singer, and I feel the same way about You Me At Six.

Franceschi is a decent singer, and while I didn’t hear anything in the instrumentation to blow my mind, that’s not the kind of band You Me At Six are. The band is greater as a unit than as the sum of their parts. Franceschi feels like he’s holding something back, something raw that would add greater dimension and contrast to the sometimes wall of distorted guitars. They have so much potential and are so close to realizing it that I would hate for them to fall into repeated commercial radio airplay next to Seether, Shinedown, and blah blah who’s-his-face-what’s-it-matter. In the event that this does become a reality, track 9 “Room To Breathe” will almost certainly be the culprit. Like I said, I don’t know how much input these guys had in the studio. They are a pretty young band (Franceschi being 23), and hopefully they will continue to grow and expand their musical horizons into something truly special.

Cavalier Youth, while a cool title for an album, does not feel accurate. Too much time and care has been taken with this record. What could have been a great record breaks down in mediocre land, but don’t discount this group of musicians. Whether misdirected, misinformed, naive, or inexperienced, all those things can be shaken off with time. Long story short, this is a solid effort, but not really my cup of tea. Keep an eye out for future offerings from these lads as I think they have the potential to do something really important, or at least wildly popular.

Standout tracks are “Wild Ones”, and “Too Young To Feel This Old”. (Check out the album below on iTunes)

Broken Birdie

Best Rock Songs of 2013

2013 best rock songs

The Best Rock Songs of 2013

(Make sure you check out our Top Rock Albums 0f 2013)

2013 was a year packed with interesting entertaining rock offerings.  Most commercial radio seems fixated on synth-driven, watered-down, safe music for the masses.  At times, I’m a sucker for that stuff, too, but far more often, I enjoy my rock with a little guitar, as you’ll see below…

Click on the sing titles to check out and grab your own copy of each song.

Bonus Track: Golden, Holly Maher – Our own BrokenBirdie sums this one up perfectly: This Nashville native “really knows how to mix sassy and sweet perfectly…” Maher is not an easy fit into our rock ‘n roll genre, but she’s a blossoming singer songwriter with lots of potential.

24. What Doesn’t Kill You – Jake Bugg – Garage rock 21st Century style. This 19 year-old has a great sound, sometimes punk, sometimes folksy, and this is the best offering from his second album.

23. Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys – Really like the guitar intro on this one, and just love the focus on Alex Turner’s vocals, which are his best yet.

22. Safe and Sound – Capital Cities – An example of the synth and drum machine recipe that dominates today’s airwaves, but this one is creative and catchy. 

21. Harlem – New Politics – A bit of a guilty pleasure. Bubble gum rock, but it’s got infectious lyrics and a memorable guitar riff that you’ll never get out of your head.

20. High School Lover – Cayucas – This one has a slick late 60′s surf rock feel which fits this band from Santa Monica perfectly.

19. Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend – It’s a great showcase for Ezra Koenig’s vocals, and unbelievably, this is actually the band’s highest charting song of their career.

18. 17 Crimes – AFI – This one is carried by Adam Carson’s drums. It’s got a great singalong chorus about a nasty topic. I should have moved this up to #17 just for the symmetry.

17. Recovery – Frank Turner – It’s fun catchy song with deep meaningful lyrics from one of today’s best rock ‘n roll poets from Tape Deck Heart, one of this year’s best albums.

16. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood – The first single off of their debut album I Love You and it was a breath of fresh air on the Alt-Rock scene. The first of two tracks from the West Coast band on the list.

15. Wake Me Up – Avicii – My wife rarely turns me on to excellent new rock, but this is an exception. This one makes a great driving song, but it’s excellent in any environment and crosses so many musical genres. Love the music bed…

14. Drive Me Home – The Reason – A big rocker from a veteran Canadian band who sound like Kings of Leon, just with a little more talent and a lot more passion and less pretentiousness.

13. Deal with the Devil – Pop Evil – Reminds me a bit of Alice and Chains which is always a good thing. Love Leigh Kakaty’s vocals, but the music from his band mates is even better.

12. Diane Young – Vampire Weekend – Bit of a different feel, where Koenig’s vocals highlight early; and then the song masterfully devolves into a clever mash-up of sounds eerily reminiscent of the late 80’s dance remixes from Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

11. Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold – Best hard rock band around, and this song is a prime example why. Searing guitar solos, hard driving rhythm and killer vocals.

10. Cut Me Some Slack – “Nirvana” featuring Paul McCartney – OK, I named the band… It’s Dave Grohl’s fantastic contribution to Sound City. Paul bringing back haunting “Helter Skelterish” vocals accompanied by the living members of Nirvana, and it works amazingly well.

10. Waves – Blondfire – It’s a great summer vibe, and a tune that highlights the beautiful vocals of Erica Driscoll and an absolutely mesmerizing groove.

9. Bit By Bit – Mother Mother – One of today’s most underrated bands, and this provocative quirky song is the best one from their fantastic album The Sticks. It’s aggressive Alt-rock with a unique blend of boy-girl vocals.

8. Lola Montez – Volbeat – Killer guitar work from new addition Rob Caggiano (Anthrax) and an excellent spotlight for Michael Poulsen’s powerful and distinctive vocals.

7. The Boys Are Back – Dropkick Murphys – Bagpipes and a rousing chorus power this rocker. Just love Ken Casey’s beautifully ragged and harsh vocals. It’s Irish rock at its best, well almost…

6. House of Gold – Twenty One Pilots – Ukelele driven ode to Tyler Glenn’s mother featuring his quirky but perfectly fitting vocals as this duo continues their ascension into rock stardom.

5. Rose Tattoo – Dropkick MurphysThis is Irish rock at its best. Tender mandolin opening with more of a classic Irish story teller vibe and a memorable chorus. They also released a version with Springsteen on vocals as a Boston Marathon victims’ fundraiser which is just as good as the original.

4. Thanksgiving – Stephen Kellogg – It’s a masterpiece, a ten minute masterpiece, but worth every second of it. Poignant, meaningful lyrics, passionate vocals and superb music. This one should become the definitive Thanksgiving song.

3. San Francisco – The Mowgli’s – A positive, happy, upbeat song, and it’s just fun as hell. This octet delivers a wall of sound, and the music is simply addictive. A great song made better by the great vibe.

2. Afraid – The Neighbourhood – Jesse Rutherford’s vulnerable vocals and deeply introspective lyrics are fantastic, and the song is absolutely great. It is the highlight track from the band’s excellent debut I Love You.

1. Four Simple Words – Frank Turner – This one starts with soft piano accompanied by acoustic guitar, then evolves into a raucous punk rock throwdown. It’s everything wonderful about rock ‘n roll wrapped up into one song. Oh, and the lyrics are perfect, too.

 

There you have it. My list… What did I miss? Let me know in he comments below, and make sure you Follow Us on Twitter and Like our Facebook for rock music updates all year long.

Rock On!
Cretin

Holley Maher – Euphorics – Review


 

Holley Maher Album Review

 

holley maher euphorics
holley maher euphorics

Holley Maher – Euphorics Album Review
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I wasn’t even halfway through the second song, “Golden”, before I started to question the title of Holley Maher’s new EP, Euphorics.  The music is undeniably pleasurable, but more-so for whom?  Her or us?  You can hear it in her voice that she is in control and enjoying herself throughout every moment of these songs.  Light-hearted and sincere, you can hear her smile as she sings and it adds a fun, personal dimension to her music that is often attempted, but seldom executed with such grace.

Generally composed of a piano, acoustic guitar, drums and strings, the music is simple but charming.  Her sing-song  vocals on “Hiding Place” are certain to get stuck in your head and the strings add that movie soundtrack quality, making it perfect headphone music for long, solitary walks. The last track, “Whispered Words”, hints at elements of the electronic, which I think would be a fantastic direction for Maher to explore in the future.

My only complaint is the dual vocals on “I Do”.  Holley’s voice is strong enough to stand on its own, and the male vocals sound a little too close to something that’s heard on a contemporary, easy-listening stations.  The guy has a good voice; I just think that it takes the song somewhere that doesn’t necessarily mesh with the rest of the EP.

On a recent trip through Nashville it became clear that there is a lot more going on in Nashville than just country music.  Maher, who is based in Nashville, seems to have the talent to take her musical career in any direction she chooses.  Country radio, pop radio, or a darling of the indie scene, Holley Maher and her songs could take any one of them by storm.  Her attention, however, is split between her music, dance, graphic design, photography and fashion, so after learning that, it’s not a surprise that, for now, we have to settle for these five beautiful songs, and two previous EPs.  It is my own selfish wish that she chooses to focus more on music in the future, and maybe my wish will come true as I believe that “Golden” should be in heavy radio rotation.  She has a bright future in whichever endeavors she pursues.

– Broken Birdie –

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