Tag Archives: Insomnia Radio

Reviewed: Mahri Autumn – ri-solv

10 Aug

Mahri Autumn released ri-solv in March 2010

The track ‘High Time’ is available to download for FREE on the Insomnia Radio Daily Dose (11 August 2010)

Review also published on thejustinwayneshow.com

Australian musician Marianthe Loucataris has set the bar high on her first solo endeavor with the sweeping, emotive sounds of ambient-folk record ri-solv. The album is a revealing collection of ten songs that float over your ears on a breeze of acoustic delicacy which underpins a most soulful voice that is full of quiet passion and deep yearning.

The album begins tentatively, introducing the record’s underpinning elements with the accordion-rich strains of ‘High Time’ – a flowing, folksy piece peppered with acoustic guitar, piano and Egyptian percussion (of which more will be said later on). But what really catches you is your first introduction to Loucataris’ voice, which is a beautiful, overlayed harmonic experience; she sings with purpose, but with an utterly charming reserved undertone that permeates each song with a sense of intrigue. It can at times make you feel a little voyeuristic, as if by listening to her songs you become privy to a very private form of expression, but that only serves to make the album more touching and personal. The record ebbs and flows between confidence and reservedness, but always with a delicate touch from the vocals.

As well as her strong vocal talents, what sets this record in a very interesting and rather unique light is Loucataris’ use of Egyptian percussion techniques, which reflect both her cultural heritage and her time spent studying under an Egyptian drumming master. Setting these traditional percussive sounds in a very modern soundscape makes listening all the more pleasurable, as you will hear curious sounds that fit perfectly into the context of these ambient, enveloping tracks that, honestly, can’t really be pinned onto any genre. She creates ethereal soundscapes, with overlapping vocal melodies and layer upon layer of carefully-placed instrumental and electronic elements.

I’ve spun this album many times, and it is one from which you can garner something new from each listen. From twinkling piano and gorgeous accordion drones, to the delicately plucked acoustic guitar and unique percussive elements, and of course, that astounding emotionally exposed voice, Mahri Autum’s ri-solv is a beautiful cluster of deeply heartfelt songs that are wonderful in their subtle complexity.

The album is available to download for whatever price you choose.

Reviewed: Mojave – Crow’s Funeral

9 Sep

Reviewed for the Insomnia Radio: Daily Dose (click to hear/download the track ‘For a While’)

Today’s Daily Dose track ‘For a While’ comes to you from Vancouver band Mojave’s second album Crow’s Funeral. Mojave are lead singer/guitarist LJ and guitarist/sometimes singer Paul. They are an elusive pair, no last names given, but after hearing their album you could feel as if you know them, such are the depths to which they plunge into their emotions and experiences.

Part folkish-rock, part symphonic and entirely emotive, the album is a haunting mix of urgent, pleading vocals, delicate guitars and rich, warm strings.

The instrumentation is pleasingly varied, moving from epic, almost operatic numbers full of strings like this Daily Dose track, to banjo-led ballads (the title track), with some theramin thrown in for colour on ‘Wake Up’. The lyrics are consistently poignant, and delivered so beautifully and tentatively that the emotional feel of each song is truly compelling.

There is a sense of vulnerability on this record that makes you feel as if you’ve become privy to someone’s innermost thoughts, and an honesty that makes it captivating if not a tiny bit unnerving. However, the dark secrets of this album are cut through in the middle by ‘California’, a hopeful and uplifting track that lends some sunshine to an otherwise heartwrenching record.

Crow’s Funeral is a dark, resounding album full of many different layers, both musically and emotionally, which gives a glimpse into the lives of its composers that can catch you off guard; a rare feat, and a beautiful one.

Coming soon: Miss Morrison, host of Insomnia Radio New York!

22 Jun

That’s right folks, I’ll soon be vibrating your eardrums as Insomnia Radio‘s newest regional podcast host!

I really can’t tell you how excited I am about this and what a huge honour it is to be able to become part of the Insomnia Radio family, and being able to cover such an awesome region is such a bonus.

I know I don’t exactly live in the area(!) but I’m going to do my absolute best to represent the independent music of New York in all its varied and eclectic glory, so any comments/suggestions/submissions will be greatly appreciated! I could also do with some spies on the ground, so any New Yorkers in the audience (or anyone else for that matter) feel free to hit me with an email at sarah[at]insomniaradio.net.

My first episode should be available in the next couple of weeks, so keep your internets locked on Insomnia Radio – killing your FM one podcast at a time.

Reviewed: Swimming in Speakers EP

13 Jun

The song ‘In Knowing’, from this EP, is Insomnia Radio’s Daily Dose today (13/06/09)

If New York based duo Swimming in Speakers (multi-instrumentalist Chris Clarke and lead vocalist Meadow Eliz) can do one thing, it’s defy categorisation. In fact, they can do lots of things, including synth-dipped kitchy electro, gentle heart melting acoustic delicacy and trippy vocal-led musical explorations, and all topped with lilting vocals from Eliz that can be haunting, impassioned or whimsical and are always hugely charming. I’m not even going to attempt to label them with genres because honestly I can’t; each song on the EP takes you down a different path that’s always in a stark contrast to the last.

The EP’s leading track ‘In Knowing’ is, at the risk of sounding way over-excited, my idea of a perfect pop song. Full of wholesome synthy goodness, classic Casio cool and Eliz’s swaying, laid back, warbling vocals, as well as being more catchy than swine flu, this song has everything that good pop needs plus the unique style that SiS bring to the table. Among countless other nuances the verses actually have a slight tinge of Bhangra about them, in the vocals at least, which just serves to make this song all the more interesting. I’ve listened to this song about 20 times in the last few days, it’s seriously addictive.

‘In Knowing’ is definitely the standout song of the EP for me, but the rest is definitely worth your time and really shows off the versatility of this exciting new band, and to further entice you you can get the whole thing for FREE from the excellent 100000fans.com!

Swimming in Speakers are another band who realise the power of Twitter and use it to their full advantage, and they’re also really nice! Find them as @sistheband.

Reviewed: The Flying Change – Pain is a Reliable Signal

10 Jun

‘Dirty White Coats’, from this album, is Insomnia Radio’s Daily Dose track today (10/06/09).

The Flying Change, AKA songwriter Sam Jacobs and a selection of talented musicians, had an ingenious idea for spreading awareness and getting awesome coverage for his new record Pain is a Reliable Signal (released 19/05/09). He gave it away for free to anyone who wanted it, in exchange for a promise that whoever downloaded it posted a review, a tweet or told a friend about it in exchange. It’s such a neat idea, and I’m such a pessimist, that I was almost convinced that the album would be awful and I’d have nothing nice to say about it – I was very wrong on that front. So here I am Sam, making good on the exchange.

Pain is a Reliable Signal is a labour of love in every sense of the phrase. It is a simple, honest, from-the-heart outpouring of an album, of the kind which comes along very rarely. Inspired by his wife’s (and his) experiences with the US  health care system during a difficult time, this record draws you in and makes you feel every emotion that Jacobs feels – every pain, every moment of frustration, every fleeting hope and crushing blow.

It is accompanied by a growing track-by-track explanation of the songwriting process (the stories are still a work in progress) on his blog, of how each song came into being and what the feelings were behind it. In this way it is an interactive album, you can read the story along with each song and somehow feel more involved with the music, getting a rare, personal insight into the creative and emotional process of songcraft.

Jacobs’ voice and style is reminiscent of many of the great singer-songwriters of our time; the gravely tones of Cohen, the potent simplicity of Dylan and some charming, slightly off-key moments reminiscent of Neil Young. But I found myself concentrating not as much on the music or the voice, but instead on the powerfully emotive lyrics which weave the listener into every song in an inescapable mesh of  empathy and passionate emotion.

Musically it is a dreamy landscape of delicately layered pop, discordant symphonies of noise and back-to-basics singer-songwriter sensibilities with a whole host of talented musicians thrown in on top. The music of each song works to reflect the temperament of the lyrics and accentuate their emotive power, such that you can’t be a passive listener of this record – you are engrossed.

The whole record is a triumph both musically and lyrically, but there are a couple of songs that I want to mention specially because of their personal impact on me. ‘Dirty White Coats’ (featured on Insomnia Radio’s Daily Dose), for me sums up the whole feeling of this album; the frustrations that Jacobs felt at the flawed medical system that treated his wife and the pain it caused him to see her suffer, juxtaposed against a musical background of lightly plucked guitar and gentle, lulling strings. The second is the album’s closing song ‘The Northern Bay’, which with it’s final line softly utters, in a breaking voice, “I will take your pain away…”, and in a beautiful, fading cadence the album is brought to its conclusion. If you can listen to that song and not at least get goosebumps, then I don’t want to know you.

Download Pain is a Reliable Signal for FREE here, and be sure to promote it in any way you can. Tweet, blog or write about it, send it to your friends, just make sure this gets heard as far and as wide as possible 🙂

Also read the song explanations (found underneath the download links), and check back for more as they appear. Plus, check out The Flying Change blog, and find Sam on Twitter as @theflyingchange

And if you’re feeling generous (and I think you should), you can purchase the album here.

Reviewed: The Winter Sounds – Church of the Haunted South

14 May

The Winter SoundsThe Winter Sounds split their geographical allegiance between Athens, GA and Chicago, two cities both teeming with lovely indie talent. But they’re not content just playing their home towns, oh no. Take a quick peek at The Winter Sounds’ MySpace page and have a gander at their upcoming shows, and you’ll see that they’ve booked up almost every day from now ’til the end of July, and I suspect the only reason it stops July is that MySpace won’t let them display any more dates. They’re planning a fully comprehensive tour of the US throughout this year, with extra dates in Canada and Mexico thrown in so they don’t piss off the neighbours. So I think it’s safe to say that this band love what they do. A LOT. And you can tell with this, their third record, Church of The Haunted South.

The album is an intricate masterpiece, piecing together individually beautiful and unique tracks to create a warming, powerful album full of contrast and intrigue. It combines standard rock instrumentation with electronic elements, giving the record a new-wave feel but with the dreamy vocals and melodic resonance of Doves and other post-prog bands; but descriptions like this really don’t do them justice. It’s atmospheric, epic, and yet at the same time modest with understated but truly accomplished musicianship.

Standout songs of the album are ‘My Trophy Wife’ (Insomnia Radio’s pick for the Daily Dose), a  stunning piece of almost-power-pop that will rock your socks off; ‘O’Fear’, with it’s gorgeous soaring vocal arrangement; ‘Candellight’ for it’s merry, bouncy undercurrent; ‘Autumn Movement’, with a synth hook that will set up camp in your memory and have you singing along for days; and ‘Hope for the Future’, an uplifting track of anthemic proportions. Actually, that’s practically half the album, and the other half is just as good!

If any band deserves success it’s The Winter Sounds, you can almost hear the passion pouring out of their music and they’re willing to put all of their time, effort and everything they have into gigging and promoting their work. Judging by this record they should get everything they’re striving for.

‘My Trophy Wife’ is Insomnia Radio’s Daily Dose track for 14/05/09

Find The Winter Sounds on MySpace and their website

Reviewed: MorningSide track ‘Alone In Your Grave’ (advanced listen, album scheduled for release 27/06/09)

1 May

morningside_albumcover_11Philadelphia foursome MorningSide are releasing their second full-length album The Abuse You Own later this year, but here at Insomnia Radio we couldn’t wait that long so we’ve got a sneaky preview for you.

‘Alone In Your Grave’ is a stellar example of what makes melodic indie rock great; hammering guitars, a soaring chorus, and a constant contrast of textures switching from sparse to dense instrumentation all come together to make a well polished, passionate, anthemic tune. Reminiscent of the post-grunge of the early noughties, it has elements of Foo Fighters, some Creed-sounding riffs (except not s**t) and a bit of Bush. Plus, with an unexpected and excellent bit of slide guitar leading into the obligatory solo, MorningSide put a surprising twist on the song and add extra colour to this all-round great track.

It’s got a sound that left me nostalgic for my teenage years and a chorus that stayed with me for hours, so if this song is anything to go by, bring on the album!

‘Alone In Your Grave’ is the Insomnia Radio Daily Dose track for 01/05/09

Find MorningSide on MySpace

and Twitter