Peyton Pearson – Press Release – April 12, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE – APRIL 12, 2016

Peyton Pearson To Release Sophomore Studio Endeavor This May

On May 29, the rising young hip hop artist Peyton Pearson will celebrate his second album and seventeenth birthday with a special event. The album, entitled ‘The G.R.E.A.T EP,’ follows the performer’s acclaimed debut effort, ‘247.’ Pearson is set to be “the hottest out of the South since the sun. He’s the big walking, shit talking teenager with plans to take over all facets of the music industry.”

Born in Dallas and raised in Los Angeles, Pearson’s craft has been honed since he was a child, having started rapping at the age of three. His life has been rooted in hip hop and R&B culture since birth. By eight, he had begun to write his own music, and by ten, he had completed his first rap song. In recent years the artist has dropped an array of singles and ‘247,’ an extensive fifteen song effort that hit fans last December.

The new EP will be unveiled on Pearson’s birthday at the CAPS Theater in Sherman Oaks on May 29. Doors open at 7 pm and the entry fee is $10. The evening’s album release festivities will be accompanied by a performance by Pearson. Fans can ‘name their price’ to pick up ‘247’ right now on Band Camp, which can be found below.

Pearson boasts an active social media presence, one well worth following for updates on his music, semi-inspirational banter, and full-fledged comedic rants.

http://peytonpearson.bandcamp.com/music

https://twitter.com/peytonpearson

https://www.instagram.com/doristhegoblin/

Snapchat: Dash529

Contact: demeanormusicdm@gmail.com

Killing Rapunzel – Their Debut EP

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be shining our gaze over onto Killing Rapunzel, a head banging, hard rocking Wisconsin outfit with a pretty bold mission. The band wants to be the “teachers, guides, and leaders of a generation of lost dreams.” They want to harness classic hard rock and metal to continue to define the genres for a new generation of music fans. So, they’re not exactly as apathetic as your typical young rock group. Are they effective, though? Let’s find out.

Killing Rapunzel, who currently describe themselves as a self-governing independent entity, have released a three track EP, ‘Here We Are.’ It’s very ‘classic,’ which one will notice immediately when spinning the titular song. It’s arena hard rock straight out of the 80s, complete with copious amounts of leather and headbands. It’s actually quite anthemic, and very well performed. For a small endeavor, they explode like a band thrice their size.

The lead vocalist definitely has a Geddy Lee / Axl Rose thing going for him. He’s a high pitched wailer, which serves him effectively on ‘Here We Are.’ He struggles to find his footing on ‘Witch City,’ however, which results in him aimlessly wandering the song always a bit out of key. The instrumentation he’s backed by is far more concrete, offering a pretty dynamic performance chock-full of good ole’ rock and roll passion.

‘Pissed On’ is a mixed bag, a hodge podged lyrical endeavor lead into obscure territory by the vocal performance. The screeching is so high, it’s undecipherable. The instrumentation, again, shows extensive prowess. Thus, one could argue that Killing Rapunzel is an excellent act for their niche, but they do need to find a way to harness their lead vocalist in a more appealing, listenable fashion.

Is Killing Rapunzel going to be the genre-changing, world-bending leader of a generation? No, the band won’t be. This musical style is a bit dated nowadays, and definitely aligns into niche territory. This could prove a very good thing for the band – with time and honing, they stand the chance at standing tall in a corner of music that still has a die-hard following. That’s the beauty of the modern music scene and the technology that connects it. Killing Rapunzel has a ways to go, but they could be on their way.

https://www.reverbnation.com/killingrapunzel

http://www.killingrapunzel.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yya0Zyop0aE

Sequel – His New Music

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be shining our gaze on Richard Barboni, otherwise known under the musical moniker of Sequel. He’s an American hip hop artist with a burgeoning musical resume online, including a lengthy release he dropped several months ago, the ‘Underground Prince Mixtape.’ Thus, Sequel is shaping himself early to become a quite a prolific artist. Let’s explore some of his new music.

I’ve said this countless times before, but it always bears repeating. The independent hip hop community is inundated with music, more so than any other. There is so much poorly produced music in its realm. Artists like Sequel are certainly refreshing in this regard, because his production isn’t lackluster and his lyrical style isn’t overly derivative.

Several hours before I began penning this review, Sequel dropped a track called ‘Imprint.’ It’s one hell of a good hip hop track, exhibiting a slick and simplistic synthesizer beat that favors brevity over anything ostentatious. Sequel overlays himself into its soundscape with ease, becoming one with his production. A lot of his tracks do boast heftier productions, though, such as those found on ‘Underground Prince.’

Sequel seems to balance that well, especially on tracks like ‘Realest Recognize,’ which harnesses one of the best instrumentations I’ve heard in the indie hip hop community this year. His excursions through Kanye West-esque soul hip hop, as showcased on ‘Head Shot Kill,’ are surprisingly effective, too.

The reason Sequel isn’t as stereotypical as his indie counterparts lies in the opening of his new mixtape, the ‘Intro’ track. Essentially, he argues he’s a continuation of a long lineage of quality hip hop, rooted in several generations. This is important: he understands where his craft came from and how he needs to help move it forward. The indie scene is far too full of superficial, stereotypical, bland acts who just want to drop the next hot mixtape on their way to the poolside bar, a beautiful model in each arm. (Seriously, the self-aggrandizing of the scene is ridiculous.) 

There are some production quips in Sequel’s music that will likely be addressed in time. Sometimes, his vocals aren’t mixed quite right into their tracks, such is the case with ‘Picture This (Cameras.)’ A quick remix increasing his personal presence in the production would likely remedy this well.

Sequel is a remarkably promising young talent. ‘Underground Prince Mixtape’ is indicative of a hip hop artist that can overcome the monotony of his own scene to shine brightly. He’s moving in a good direction, though he could be augmented by some production help to take him to the next level. Spin his music on Sound Cloud and Reverb Nation below.

https://soundcloud.com/sequel908

https://www.reverbnation.com/sequel908?profile_view_source=header_icon_nav

https://www.instagram.com/sequel908

F. J. Nascimento – ‘Troubled Road’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be shining our gaze on the award-winning songwriter and composer, F.J. Nascimento. The Switzerland-based musician has impressive catalog online that showcases a fairly extensive array of styles – everything from acoustic soft rock to orchestral compositions. One of his jaunts through songwriting from the past year is entitled ‘Troubled Road,’ a lengthy, but rather beautiful ballad worth checking. Let’s explore the song.

Nascimento wrote ‘Troubled Road’ for a close friend who was fighting lung cancer in the hospital. During her near month long stay, he penned the song for her. Thus, ‘Troubled Road’ is quite an uplifting number, harnessing imagery of overcoming obstacles. Most importantly, the song conveys its vital message: Nascimento’s friend wasn’t alone. The beautiful song is a ballad of resilience, doused in soft rock musings that are especially elegant.

In a previous review I penned about Nascimento off the Spotlight, I drew a parallel between Nascimento’s vocal style and that of Joe Walsh. I think the comparison is even more apt when analyzing ‘Troubled Road.’ He sounds eerily similar to the ‘Life’s Been Good’ rocker, meaning he definitely has an unconventional voice. It has a passion to it, though, and ‘Troubled Road’ is the most suitable song I’ve heard for it from Nascimento. He’s perfectly at home in the landscape of the song.

As aforementioned, it’s a soft rock endeavor that fills itself with reverb-doused atmosphere, soft backing vocals, and anthemic choruses. The best part of the composition is the searing electric guitar that erupts out of the song to add its fantastic flair every so often. The instrument’s intense performance elevates ‘Troubled Road’ in more ways than one.

‘Troubled Road’ is most certainly the strongest pursuit of Nascimento’s that I’ve spent time with as a critic. It’s a track that he’s found his groove in, and it’s clearly a personal labor of love that he put his heart into. It’s very much worth a spin if you’re a fan of rock in the indie community that’s reminiscent of 1970s singer songwriter rock.

https://soundcloud.com/fjnascimento/troubled-road

https://soundcloud.com/fjnascimento

http://www.fjn-music.ch/

The Links – ‘Rap Song EP’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

There are several acts that have become mainstays of the Independent Spotlight. One of them is The Links, an outfit from Lafayette, Louisiana that I’ve showcased a series of times. They’re a prolific group that’s constantly evolving their sound, which has always been the primary basis for my lauding of their work. Their new EP is ‘Rap Song,’ an early insight to their upcoming album, ‘Sucreland.’ How does is stand against The Links extensive catalog? Let’s dig right into it.

The Links occupied a lot of experimental territory in the past, often dabbling in funk or alternative rock on efforts like last year’s ‘Shopping Cow Funk.’ ‘Summer’s Out’ was similar, too, pulling threads of psychedelic into the equation. ‘Rap Song’ isn’t actually rap, but it’s definitely nothing like what the group has released in the past. It’s a tougher, more intense jaunt through hard rock, rather than alternative rock.

Some fans of The Links may get jolted heavily by ‘Rap Song,’ for better or for worse. It’s a well written song that erupts into cacophonous hard rock as Jordan Marola, the vocalist, ultimately enters some ‘hard’ territory, screeching in a deep, angry tone. He’s accented by a very funky bass line and a searing electric guitar that takes no prisoners as it glides through the soundscape of ‘Rap Song.’

‘Rap Song’ ventures outside the realm of alternative rock that The Links have always enjoyed exploring. It’s a sonic punch in the face in contrast to their previous work, or the rest of the EP for that matter. ‘Sacramento’ is a drowned-out synth-pad playground that’s very reminiscent of The Links work in 2015. ‘You Must’ returns to the band’s excellent ability to toy with synthesizers to craft a stunning landscape complimented by soft vocal crooning. In honesty, ‘You Must’ may be the strongest effort on the EP. It’s a finale of epic proportions.

The EP also features an electronic remix of the title track, arranged by Warganization. It’s an excellent addition to the record, fleshing out the song in a fun way that’s very different from the original rendition. That’s exactly what a good remix should do. Thus, ‘Rap Song’ is a remarkably strong EP, one that seems to show a shift in style once again on behalf of The Links. ‘You Must’ may be the hidden gem, though.

http://thelinks.bandcamp.com/
http://soundcloud.com/warganization
http://www.facebook.com/thelinksusa
http://warganizedrecords.com/

David & Tiffany Spencer – Press Release – April 9, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE – APRIL 9, 2016

David & Tiffany Spencer Take Radio By Storm With New Contemporary Gospel Single, ‘NOW’

David and Tiffany Spencer, a couple married in 2011, will be releasing ‘NOW,’ their latest musical endeavor, to radio around the nation. The contemporary gospel single marks the first studio release of the couple’s collaboration. The inspiring track is perfect for radio, concreting the duo’s motivational power and chemistry into one splendidly original tune.

Hailing from North Carolina, David is a singer, songwriter, and producer. He has been involved extensively with national gospel acts, programs, and awards, and his production credits include the hit single ‘Good Morning,’ featured in the film ‘Shake off the World.’ In recent years, David has been a musical director for two different churches and in 2015 he formed his company, Sound of David, LLC.

Tiffany also hails from North Carolina and she is currently riding the momentum of her debut release, ‘Growing Gracefully.’ With a background in music education, Tiffany has been working with a number of choirs for many years now, all while providing workshops and lessons to aid choirs in reaching their full potential in their ministries. She has served as vocal director for a gospel group and a choir director for a church.

The elegant combination of the couple’s musical prowess has resulted in ‘NOW,’ a beautifully complex single highlighting the talents of both performers. The song embraces a level of pop sensibility, making it perfect for praise in church services or contemporary gospel events. “I’ll praise you now,” the couple croons over a stunning landscape of electronic and traditional influence poignantly melded together in perfect harmony.

‘NOW’ is already available on all major digital distribution outlets. Stations should refer to the relevant contact info below to inquire about airing the track.

Dallas Frazier/CEO

Christian Sounds Entertainment

csedaf1@gmail.com

803 341 0784

Relevant Production Credits:

Lyrics: David Spencer | Producer: Chris Adams for VonJoie Music Group, LLC

Executive Producer: David Spencer for Sound of David, LLC

Mixed & Mastered By: Audio Ninja Studio

Tony Marino – ‘101’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be showcasing Tony Marino, a lauded composer and pianist that has developed a modest following in the independent community for his endeavors through different types of jazz. Many of his fans aren’t jazz enthusiasts, however, but rather crossover music lovers that Marino appeals to due to his eclectic style. Let’s explore his lengthy new studio release, ‘101.’

Now, ‘101’ is a very long album, clocking in at fourteen tracks. I’ve mentioned this on the Spotlight before, but it bears repeating: this can work for or against an artist. Their music can expand dramatically through its extensiveness, or it can drown in its own monotony. When releasing an album like this, Marino did roll the dice in that regard. Fortunately, he rolled well. ‘101’ is a pretty incredible excursion through different styles of jazz.

The instrumental prowess behind Tony Marino and his bandmates is immediately astounding. ‘Bob & Zita,’ the opening of the album, boasts a keys-heavy journey through wind instrumentation. The flute and keyboards bounce off each other so elegantly, and they’re backed by a selection of percussion that’s chock-full of personality. That’s an important factor of Marino’s musings: they embody personalities unto their own.

Marino’s piano performance seems to have been recorded on a keyboard rather than an acoustic piano, and thus, it has a pretty distinct sound. It doesn’t occupy itself with any reverb or the like. This can make it sound a bit electronic, as exhibited on the solo section of ‘A Tune For Matt’ when the keyboard was clearly turned over to a different setting. That said, this is also refreshing. Marino sits at the forefront of his sound, unhindered by ostentatious effects or production.

There’s a Latin flair to ‘101,’ which makes sense, considering Marino has been forging his way through that scene for quite some time now. Within that realm, he branches out in a few different intriguing directions. ‘Chicago Bossa’ is a good example of this. ‘Bossa’ is a Brazilian style of samba and jazz that’s very danceable. I imagine Marino’s music is at home in a sublime fashion when introduced to a ballroom stage or a jazz club on an evening designated for more upbeat styles.

The most important aspect of an entirely instrumental record is that lyrics never end up being desired by the listener. The instruments need to take on that role themselves, conveying emotion, passion, and mood. The sonic landscape needs to be equally as poignant as a powerhouse vocalist. This is something ‘101’ excels at doing throughout its run. ‘Kristina,’ for example, has all of the perfect workings of a lovely love ballad. Marino need not utter a word, though, because his piano drives you through the motions better than any words could.

Earlier, I mentioned the instrumentation sounding particularly electronic due to the keyboard likely being a MIDI set-up or something similar. ‘Arturo’ gives that away, simulating a brass sections that’s clearly played by Marino on keys. I’ve often argued that overt key synthesizing can take away from the atmosphere of a song. With ‘Arturo,’ however, it’s oddly fitting. You know you’re not listening to a real brass section, and as a result, it allows Marino to exhibit his talent in a sonically different way.

At the top of this piece, I mentioned that Marino thinks of himself as a genre-bending act. Yes, he’s jazz, but he appeals to people who may not be traditional fans of the genre. Once one gets into the groove of ‘101,’ the reason for that becomes apparent. Many people who are not jazz fans see the genre as inaccessible, gloomy, or too complex. Songs like ‘We’re Home’ are welcoming, introducing listeners to the intensity of a quality jazz performance without daunting them in experimentalism or gloom.

‘Hermeto’ is probably the only track on the album that isn’t accented well by the synthesized nature of the keys. The occasional synthesized sections are overbearing and harsh. At one point in the mid-section of the song, the brass synthesizer sounds more like a mushroom dancing across the screen of ‘Super Mario’ than it does a jazz performance. ‘Broad Street’ mends the pitfall nicely, however, offering a great landscape for the flute to reoccupy itself within.

The songs of this album are dedicated to people who have touched Marino’s life over the years. ‘Stephanie’s Waltz’ is one of the most beautiful tracks on the album – a truly touching escapade through waltz-step explorations. Its simplicity is perfect, and I’m so glad the track doesn’t attempt to infuse any further instrumentation or percussion into itself.

‘Eggeman Road’ is a wonderful pursuit, especially in its final moments as it tones down the keyboard into a particularly wonderful effect. ‘Keep It Moving’ then follows, one of the more driving tracks in the collection. Toward the end of the album, Marino does occasionally fall victim to its length. ‘Eggeman Road,’ while lovely, isn’t anything new after over ten tracks of similar pursuits. ‘Keep It Moving’ does supercharge the final notes, though, and ‘Rita’ is a stunning finale.

Tony Marino is one hell of a talented pianist. His compositions are fresh, consistently interesting, and dynamic. ‘101’ is clearly a labor of love. Marino should tout it proudly, because it’s an accessible, but tactfully deep series of songs that define his sound as a jazz pianist. Plus, I concur with his own assessment of his music – non-jazz fans may find plenty to love here.

http://tonymarino.us

http://www.tunecore.com/widgets/show/123007

http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1096998644?ls=1&app=itunes

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DEBJC7S

Lambscry Records – Their New Singles

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this review, I’m going to be exploring four new singles released by Lambscry Records, an independent label based in Jackson, Tennessee. It’s been around the block since 1995, which was when it was founded in Pittsburg. Now in 2016, the label is back in force with the new releases. Are they worth picking up? Let’s explore them now.

These tracks, which are under the artist UnveileD, are quite impressive given their background, or lack thereof. They’re self-mixed and mastered with no prior instruction, even pulling together some of the more interesting tools available to artists nowadays such as the LANDR. This serves UnveileD well, because I’m often met with independent artists with horrendous masters. These four songs hold up pretty nicely in comparison to their indie counterparts.

Lambscry Records is a non-secular endeavor, hoping to help Christians follow the path of God with their music – or as they put it, “to be the voices crying in the wilderness to make straight the way of the Lord.” This is always a careful line to walk because some Christian-infused hip hop comes off as self-righteous or insincere. UnveileD doesn’t come off as either, and tracks like ‘Inside of Me’ are a powerful pursuit of faith.

The beats on these songs are very electronic, which is probably because they were recorded utilizing drum machines, MIDIs, or the like. This gives the songs a distinct flair. ‘Needs My Fix,’ for example, is flooded with vocal effects, making the otherwise good track a bit difficult to listen to. Thus, it’s probably handicapped by overproduction. That doesn’t happen to as great of effect on the other songs, though.

‘Don’t Lose It’ is by far the most concrete track the label has released. UnveileD is in fine form, his beats are superb, and I adore the synthesized orchestral sections. The digitalized effects on ‘Don’t Lose It’ are much more complimentary than those found on ‘Needs My Fix,’ too, making it the highlight of the first four releases.

‘So Happy’ is a good endeavor, and I really dig the lyricism. UnveileD is a powerful wordsmith and he’s utilizing his talent admirably. The vocal mixes in sections of ‘So Happy’ are a bit too soft, so a bit of tinkering could probably get the track in even better territory.

Lambscry Records is poised to be a very compelling house for non-secular hip hop. It’s quality music that doesn’t feel like it’s capitalizing on its own faith, which sometimes happens in the community. If you’re a hip hop fan or a devout Christian, you owe it to yourself to check out Lambscry.

Please provide me with direct links to where I can find you online. This may include: your BandCamp page, your website, social networking such as Facebook and Twitter, etc.

http://www.lambscry.com
http://www.facebook.com/lambscryrecords
http://www.soundcloud/lambscryrecords

Oskar Baldwin – Press Release – April 4, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE – APRIL 4, 2016

Little Shiny Disc Records Releases Two Oskar Baldwin Endeavors

Little Shiny Disc Records, an independent label founded by Brian Rogers and Matt Williams, has released two new musical collections from Oskar Baldwin. The first release, ‘Drowsy View,’ contains three new songs. The second, ‘Blinking Red Lights,’ is a thirty-eight track compilation of Baldwin selections ranging from 2001 to 2009. Both albums are available on all major digital distribution platforms now.

Oskar Baldwin is the musical moniker Rogers has been utilizing since 2001, which was the same time at which he founded Little Shiny Disc. The Baldwin project has proved a fruitful and continual vehicle for Rogers’ creativity, as he has written, sung, produced, engineered, and more for each release under the alias. The Oskar Baldwin name, however, extends its umbrella over anyone who Rogers was collaborating with at the time of each release.

Collaborators on the Oskar Baldwin project since its inception have been…

  • Matt Williams – (2001 – Current) – Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Keys, Co-Production

  • Jon Wheeler – (2001 – Current) – Bass

  • Jared Dogaer – (2003-2008) – Beats

  • Jesse Taylor – (2001-2008) – Bass, Guitar

  • Sean Schuster – Craig (2001 – Current) – Guitar, Bass, Drums

  • Nick Nickerson – (2003-2008) – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Bongos

Fans can connect with the Oskar Baldwin endeavor on social media and audio streaming websites, all of which can be found below. The brand new ‘Drowsy View’ and the retrospective ‘Blinking Red Lights’ are available now!

facebook.com/LittleShinyDiscRecordings

facebook.com/IamOskarBaldwin

soundcloud.com/oskar-baldwin

reverbnation.com/oskarbaldwin2020

oskarbaldwin.bandcamp.com

Ian Black Band – ‘Take the Wheel’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be shining our gaze on the Ian Black Band, an outfit whose debut release is titled ‘Take the Wheel.’ The endeavor is a hard-hitting jaunt through rock and roll that takes no prisoners. Citing influences like Eric Clapton, Rush, and Styx, the band fights a battle throughout to create fresh, contemporary sounds that also don’t fall victim to being derivative. At its best, it’s a classic-tinged explosion of enjoyable rock music. Let’s explore the album.

‘Take the Wheel’ opens up with ‘400 Lonely Roads,’ a track that offers up a mixed bag for the listener’s consideration. The band is incredibly in-step with one another. The musical chemistry is there. The lyricism is good, too, even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. I must admit, though, the opening riff of the song is painfully yanked from ‘Layla.’ (Quite seriously, it’s the same riff, it just follows through its second half differently.)

‘City of Lies’ opens up a starkly different landscape for the Ian Black Band to occupy. The song opens with hauntingly beautiful sparsity, something that erupts into a fairly fresh and unique journey through driving riffs and intense soloing. ‘City of Lies’ effectively glosses over the (likely accidental) mishap of sampling ‘Layla’ a bit too heavily in the beginning of ‘400 Lonely Roads.’ I adore when the song changes tempo and masterfully builds into a raucous of exciting noise.

‘A Moment of Silence’ follows a similar formula to its predecessor, opening with a soft introduction that eventually expands into a louder exploration. The track’s lyricism is notably interesting, taking a unique spin on honoring veterans. (Something that’s often done with so little passion in rock and roll that it’s become an empty trope.) ‘A Moment of Silence’ is clearly heartfelt The track houses some of the finest guitar work on the album, too, with solos that are reminiscent of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse era style. 

‘The Search Is On’ is a bit of a production hodgepodge for listeners on a quality stereo setup. The tune opens up with the vocals and instrumentation noticeably separated in the panning. Both are quite clear at this point, but once the mix moves toward the center, it gets muddy and muffled. The master’s volume is a bit erratic, and may prove problematic for earbud listeners.

Fortunately, that’s mostly an isolated incident and ‘Transcendental Dream’ is actually home to one of the most well-organized and executed productions on the album. Every piece of the mix is in perfect harmony. Even the strained lead vocals are surprisingly lovely. Brady Harris, the lead vocalist of the Ian Black Band, isn’t the strongest vocalist in the world. He falls in and out of tune, misses notes, and often struggles to find his key. To be blunt, this isn’t an issue most of the time. So does Neil Young, who I referenced fondly above. When a song like ‘Transcendental Dream’ is executed the way it is, it makes those less-than-American Idol vocals passionately unique.

‘Why Do Doves Cry?’ struggles to find a groove that really works for it, which is unfortunate, because the lyrical hook is an interesting one. It’s a nicely performed song, though. ‘Inhale,’ however, is a song that should have been left off the album. Again, the pan of the mix is very peculiar – acoustic guitar plods in and out of the right side while percussion meanders on the left. The vocals awkwardly occupy the middle in a far too reverberated style, as if Harris is yelling from the opposite side of a locker room at the YMCA.

The closing track, which is also the title tune, is a stunning finale, one that executes string sections beautifully. All of the mixing, panning, and instrumental issues of songs like ‘Inhale’ are non-existent, which makes the song a perfect closer. If the whole album was mixed like ‘Take the Wheel,’ the effort would be a more a concrete one.

That leads me to my final musings. Is ‘Take the Wheel’ a strong album as a whole? For the most part, yes. It has a lot of character and the impassioned performances often make up for occasional strained vocals and poor production. Certain tracks, however, are subdued heavily by those issues. (In particular, ‘The Search Is On,’ ‘Why Do Doves Cry?’ and ‘Inhale.’) If this was a five song EP without those three, it would be a golden effort. It’s still a good endeavor regardless, though. Explore it for yourself on CD Baby below!

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/theianblackband

http://www.facebook.com/theianblackband

http://www.twitter.com/theianblackband

http://www.reverbnation.com/ianblackband4

http://www.theianblackband.com

http://www.tsu.co/theianblackband

http://www.pinterest.com/theianblackband

http://www.instagram.com/theianblackband

https://about.me/theianblackband