Album Reviews

Deer Park Ranger Bottom Of The Ocean

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Deer Park Ranger is the solo project of Trevor Humphrey. He formed the project in Oakland, California in mid-2016 and found his sound as he began pairing Rhodes Piano with delayed guitars, and electronics. Inspired by post-rock influences Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai, the layers are simple and beautiful melodies that build into powerful crescendos. 

Bottom Of The Ocean is the first full-length release from Trevor Humphrey’s post-rock/ambient solo project, Deer Park Ranger. After releasing 2 EPs in the last year, Humphrey has followed up with a 10 track LP of compelling and emotional songs. Bottom Of The Ocean is an extremely personal record that touches points of sorrow, pain, and fear while juxtaposing them with moments of hope and elation. This blend highlights the dichotomy of emotions that are present during a major life change. The painful end of things you used to love, and the overwhelming excitement of your next chapter. This emotional tug and pull are present throughout the listening experience. Progressive movements are intertwined with soft piano melodies and blended with synths and arpeggiators to create swelling soundscapes. Heavy, aggressive guitars tear through tracks like Gallows, while Part Of The Story and The Days You Used To Love are reflective and evoke feelings of nostalgia, and the title track cascades to a crescendo of hope and triumph.

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Brian Hutson Anything Can Happen

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Submitted by Charles Hatton
Photo Credit Angela Talley

"Anything Can Happen" joins the fine string of single releases that have characterized Brian Hutson's career thus far. The lone exception, his late 2017 EP release Midnight Sessions, underlined the fact that he's one of the blossoming talents in popular music today. There is a dearth of vocal interpreters both emotionally aware and technically capable, but Brian Hutson fits the role. Hutson's first single, released in 2015, resulted from a chance meeting with famed producer Joe Vulpis who soon whisked Hutson away into a studio for his first recording, "Let It Ride". His natural talents were quite apparent and he couples movie star looks with it to make for an overall winning package. This new release shows Hutson is far from content from resting on whatever laurels he's earned so far and, instead, searches for new musical worlds to conquer. He finds one with "Anything Can Happen" and his presence in the performance is powerful.

Sour Bruthers EP

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Submitted by Jason Hillenburg

The Chicago based group debuts with a self-titled EP effort illustrating a remarkable understanding of traditional music and the needed imagination to transform it. Their transformation gives this EP release a distinctively individual quality unlike what we hear from many Americana themed acts today. It’s a tricky balance to maintain fidelity to a particular form while still bringing something of yourself to it that doesn’t move it too far from its roots. Sour Bruthers realizes that ambition straight out of the gate with this self-titled studio release and polishes off the collection with robust production capturing the spirit of these songs and rendering the band’s approach with clarity and balance. Sour Bruthers enter a crowded field, this style of music proving increasingly popular once again and sustaining a niche musical community within popular culture, but they obviously possess the talent to stand out from the pack and claim a spot as theirs alone.

Caroline Ferrante - Sky

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Submitted by Pamela Bellmore

The four song EP Sky, Caroline Ferrante’s second studio release and third overall, solidifies her growing stature as one of the indie folk scene’s brightest songwriting talents. The first single from the release “ Feel Like a Holiday” has already enjoyed considerable success, including garnering a coveted award for one of 2017’s best singles from Ark of Music, and Ferrante continues to push this richly rewarding release. It deserves a wide hearing. Ferrante’s songs are uniformly exceptional and further enhanced by her forceful singing that explores a wide range of emotions with a clear ear turned towards balanced interpretation. Unlike many purveyors of this style who merely look to hit specific marks, Ferrante is a writer and performer who imbue her vision of traditional music with clear charisma and individuality that makes these recordings her own, beholden to no obvious influences. Sky will generate a lot of momentum for this artist and we can only wonder what direction she’ll turn next.

Lord Nelson - Through the Night

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Submitted by William Elgin

The second album from Virginia quintet Lord Nelson, Through the Night, is a ten song outing expanding on the brilliant results they achieved with their 2015 debut The County and fleshing out the marvelously varied sound they adopted for that first collection. Lord Nelson’s 2012 formation began with brothers Kai and Bram Crowe-Getty and soon blossomed into its current iteration. They’ve earned a considerable live reputation thanks to an impressive live schedule clearly showing them off as a working band, sleeves rolled up, putting in their time on the road to build a grass roots following. It’s paid off for them by earning plum billings at respected festivals like Lockn’ and such appearances are illustrative of the ambition that’s increasingly sure to carry Lord Nelson to heights hitherto unimaginable for these young Virginians. Their invigorating, broad based sound is quite unlike anything else on the scene today and only improving with each new album and show.

Talkin' Paisley Fields and "Glitter and Sawdust"

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Submitted by Eileen Shapiro

On April 27th, the new release from Paisley Fields will be officially unleashed to the entire world. The country sensation and frontman James Wilson will be celebrating its release with the band and a host of many at C'Mon Everybody, and you're all invited...

The album has one of the coolest names on the planet, "Glitter and Sawdust", as well as many great new country tunes. In support of the album, the band will be heading out on tour and also will be playing Detroit Pride.

I spoke with James and below is a full itinerary of his whereabouts, or how you can find him aside from playing piano at some of New York's finest clubs and bars.

With your album coming out so soon, what do you have planned for an album release party?

We're throwing a big party at C'Mon Everybody April 12th with our good friends Karen & the Sorrows and Mylo! It's a night to celebrate the album with everyone, play some music and have a good time. The album officially comes out April 27th, but you can hear the new songs live and pre-order a copy of the record at the show. Tickets are available now:

How are you preparing for Chicago Pride?

Ashley J Satisfied

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 Submitted by William Elgin

Orlando born and Los Angeles based singer Ashley J is poised to make a deep impact on the pop world with her EP release Satisfied and even a cursory listen illustrates why. She’s invested tremendous emotional capital in the writing and recording of this stunning five-song collection and it doesn’t strike a false note throughout the length of the recording. Ashley made a brief stop in Nashville before relocating to the Los Angeles area and opting to pursue her musical fortunes there, but her ability to inhabit different forms testifies to the flexibility of her vocal talents. She isn’t just some pop chanteuse with a limited shelf life; instead, Ashley J’s EP Satisfied positions her to enjoy the long career deserving for a singer of her immense skills. Satisfied has immense pop appeal, but her substantive talents exhibited on these tracks are more than enough to carry her forward for years to come.

Noble Son Joy of Violence

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Submitted by Laura Dodero

Canadian singer/songwriter Noble Son (aka Adam Kirschner) unleashes his debut album Joy in Violence, a follow-up to the three prior EPs that he released since 2011. It’s been a long journey for the musicians who found himself face to face with his own personal demons and mental struggles in 2017 which kicked off a dedicated songwriting spree that resulted in 8 pieces all of which would be recorded for Joy in Violence. This record is an alien trip through the bleakest, blackest recesses of the human mind as it battle to fight against its own sinister urges and the music on this LP truly gives off that eerie, ethereal vibration.

Monsieur Job Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow

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Submitted by Bradley Johnson

South American based act Monsieur Job has released a memorable single “Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow” certain to be an enormous hit with Latino listeners, but the quality is so high that’s safe to say this song has a lot of crossover potential begging to be realized. The power of this release is twofold – it lies in the mix of Caribbean/Latino influences with the urban beats now so common in EDM and hip-hop, but given an additional spike in Monsieur Jobs’ hands. The second factor is in how the band’s four members bring a cross-section of influences. Songwriters Toby Holguin and Stan Kolev, alongside other members Charlie Illera and Leo Jaramillo, are well schooled in both DJ style and live music that enables them to bring organic qualities to bear on the largely electronica nature of the music. This is one of the year’s most compelling singles thus far and will likely finish as such. It’s also coupled with a powerful remixed version that will enjoy many admirers as well.

Soja The Mod Club Toronto


Submitted by Lenny Stoute

What with Toronto's deep and longstanding relationship with reggae music, the genre cognoscenti round here can be hard on contemporary acts doing original material. Luckily they were in short supply among a packed house because D.C. based Soja deal in a reggae muchly influenced by the area’s local hip-hop, with alt-rock in its DNA. So there was room aplenty for superbly dreadlocked frontman Jacob Hemphill to show off his shredding chops on songs like "Be Aware" and "Tear It Down".

Ok, so this isn't old school rebel reggae standing up for its rights but it must be nigh near impossible for a black act in Amerika not to have a political thing or two to say. With a name like  Soldiers Of Jah Army it's a downright obligation and Hemphill and crew got right to it, albeit with sparkling horns and uptempo beats. “I Don’t Wanna Wait,” the breakthrough single, had a rap interlude that took issue with both Republicans and Democrats (sample lyrics: “It’s all about money/money”), the fierce and defiant “You Don’t Know Me” and “Bad News” with the grabby chorus “we are the immigrants/Thank you for the bad news.” all kept the socially conscious beat strong.  Hemphill has cited the band's stance thusly“Our goal as a band is to stick up for the human race.

We see the world and we try to make it better in the limited time we have here." and their socially conscious good times mashup does a decent job of keeping it real.

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