Monday, June 10, 2013

Northern Abbey - The Sounds of Glowing

Try The Calamari returns with a review of Northern Abbey's brand new EP, The Sounds of Glowing. When Nick Lambert announced the impending release of his project's next album, I fervently patroled Northern Abbey's Bandcamp for days (It just so happens that the EP was released the one day I didn't visit the site).

Odd as it is, the songs in this album reminded me of a winding brook flowing inbetween moss-covered trees. Why is this odd despite my awkward phrasing? Because Northern Abbey's Bandcamp reads, "[Nick Lambert] loves all the greenery, forests, rain, lakes, and people that the northwest brings together, and writes music as a sort of soundtrack to all of it." Whether you believe me or not, I noticed this description midway through listening to the album. It's fair to say Nick is a master at creating imagery through his music. Particularly reminiscent of said imagery are the tracks Portrait, The Trail, and Of Lights.

The album opens with the serene yet relatively upbeat Portrait. The track boasts flawless instrumental combinations such as an interesting piano and guitar colaboration along with Nick's steady vocals. A perfect song to ring in the new album, in my opinion.

In the next track, The Trail, Nick sought out the help of his wife, Shiloh, to create a very calming and peaceful melody. Though subtle, this acoustic track showcases feel-good euphonics that'll demand your undivided attention.

The EP takes a dramatic turn in the following track, A Lonesome Road. A Lonesome Road is an instrumental with (what I assume to be) Arabic influences. While listening to this track, a feeling of impending dread is what I would describe my immediate feelings as. Not to say that I dislike the track; in fact, it's quite the opposite. This instrumental is original and an provides an interesting change of pace.

Glowing is a little bit more progressive than the earlier songs in the EP. This track's tempo alternates from from a somewhat rapid pace to a soothing, melodic gait. However, the next track, Of Lights, maintains a slow tempo that is quite mesmerizing.

Finishing off the EP, Nick offers us a bonus track. The Several Seas (Bonus Track). It's easy to tell why Nick labelled this song as a bonus track as the sound doesn't quite correlate with the other songs in the album, but that doesn't make this song any less incredible. The Several Seas (Bonus Track) has somewhat of a 70s electronic vibe (or Sega Genesis vibe) with heavy used of synthesizers. It's certainly a unique way to finish off the album.

Though short, it's plain to tell that the effort put into these songs is more than most artists put into full-length albums. I urge you to migrate to a desolate location and listen to The Sounds of Glowing in its entirety. You will not be disappointed, and if you are, well then, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

Final Verdict:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Dear Hunter - Migrant


Track Listing:
1. Bring You Down
3. Shame
7. Girl
8. Cycles
10. Let Go

The album is available to listen for free on which is why all songs link back to
the same article. [EDIT] Since finishing this post, has removed most of the album.
Therefore, I suggest you listen to the album using Spotify.

Try The Calamari brings you another review of The Dear Hunter with the release of their first ever nonconceptual album Migrant (I ordered the deluxe package because I'm a nerd. Also, because the band is phenomenal). Casey Crescenzo with his familar orchestral and theatrical sound that massages the sound holes.

The album begins with a track that gently lures the listener into the album through soothing strings and steady keys. Bring You Down soon introduces Casey's vocals and an explosion of horns. The song is quite deceiving as it starts with a somewhat bleak aura and transitions into an uplifting, encouraging harmony.

Whisper starts off quite jaunty with a very fast-paced tempo. This track uses a vast combination of instruments which makes for boisterous adventure. However, the following song Shame takes the pace down a notch by introducing a parlor type atmosphere. The violin, piano, and conservative snare carries the track for a time before a subtle orchestral sound rings forth later.

Next, An Escape brings back the accelerating tempo and showcases another uplifting song.
Girl starts with a grungy and repetitive guitar and drum beat, but at around 0:45, the song breaks into a more polished sound. What's truly interesting about this song is that it features Casey's sister Azia in the background vocals. The track closes out powerfully with Casey's familiar style of shouts and explosion of intruments. My only complaint about this song is that it's too short (Otherwise, it rivals the sound of an angel beat boxing into a harmonica... which I assume would be a particularly pleasant sound).

Cycles is a soothing rhyme with easy vocals. The verying tempos work with one another to create a wavering melody that is quite serene. The Vicious Place also has a similar vibe to the song. What makes this song unique is the subtle piano breakdown that hovers over a void of silence. And finally, finishing off the album is Don't Look Back. This song is somehwat repetative in lyrics, but the instrumentals are more than enough to make up for the simplicity.

Sorry for my absense and the half-assedness of this review, but this post has been sitting half-done in my draft box for weeks, so I figured I'd get it over with. To conclude this review, I strongly suggest that you give this album a listen. I'm not only saying that because these guys are my favorite band but because this album is brilliantly orchestrated and wonderfully directed.

Final Verdict:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Deas Vail - Birds & Cages


Track Listing:
4. Cages
5. Birds
12. Atlantis

Although I'm providing YouTube links to the songs, I'd strongly suggest you
listen to the tracks via Spotify or iTunes as the sound on the YouTube videos
is altered in order to avoid copyright issues.

Welcome to Try The Calamari, where music meets marinated squid rings (The tagline is still in the works). Today I will be reviewing the jaunty and beatific Birds & Cages by Deas Vail. Deas Vail—meaning "humble servant of God"—is apply named for it's Christian influences as the band uses their music as an outlet for their faith.

The band is made up of the singer and pianist Wesley Blaylock, backup vocalist and keyboardist Laura Blaylock, bassist Justin Froning. percussionist and drummer Wes Saunders, and guitarist Andy Moore. The instruments are very definitive—especially when it comes to the piano and guitar. Wesley Blaylock has a subtle yet beautiful voice as he exhibits his range of vocals (I know I say I don't like the compare artists, but he's essentially the male version of Imogen Jennifer Heap from Imogen Heap and Frou Frou).

The album begins with a sprightly, uplifting track that flaunts Wesley's vocals along with an array of string instruments including a violin. The Things You Were is a great way to showcase the album due to the varying pitches and the interesting breakdown at 2:35 where the track takes on a new sound altogether. It steadily builds up until the point that it reverts back to the original tempo. Also, we get to hear Laura's euphonic vocals if only for a moment.

Growing Pains has is homogeneous with the initial track while carrying a slightly more upbeat pace; whereas, Excuses  is a track that's primarily dominated by guitar and Wesley's vocals. Following up with a moderate tempo and slight increase in the variety of sound is Cages.

However, the song that I believe truly dominates the album is Birds. This song is heavy in piano, and the listener is able to appreciate the full range of Wesley's voice. The piano is eventually drowned out by a flood of guitar and percussion for moments in time during the song, but it consistently resumes its position at the forefront throughout the track.

Following BirdsTell Me introduces a brief intermission through steady, soothing vocals over a gentle piano. Dance In Perfect Time is similar in sound to The Things You Were and Growing Pains, but Sunlight picks up the pace with an upbeat tempo. Aside from Birds, I'd say this is one of the better tracks on the album, especially when the band uses the full extent of their instruments at the 1:03 mark.
Puzzles And Pieces takes the tone down a notch, to say the least. This is a very cerebral and calming track, even moreso than the rest of the songs on the album. The Great Physician starts off very much in the same way as the previous track, but at 2:10, Wes picks up the pitch of his vocals and a guitar rings forth over the rest of the instruments.

The album closes with the tracks The Leaper and Atlantis which, like a lot of the tracks, carry that all too familiar sound.

Now, although this album lacks a bit in diversity, Wes can correct this issue using his range and cerebral vocals. I would have liked to have seen a more colorful display of tempo, but I suppose it could be argued that it's never wise to fix what's not broken. I suggest you listen to the album and decide for yourselves whether or not the album carries a unique aura. Though overall, I really enjoyed Birds & Cages, and I cannot deny that it is a spectacular album with a celestial sound.

Final Verdict:


Friday, March 1, 2013

dredg - The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion


Track Listing:
1. Pariah
3. Ireland
9. Saviour
10. R U O K?
18. Stamp Of Origin: Horizons

Although I'm providing YouTube links to the songs, I'd strongly suggest you
listen to the tracks via Spotify or iTunes as the sound on the YouTube videos
is altered in order to avoid copyright issues.

No, it's not a grammatical error, dredg is actually written entirely in lowercase (It's called trend setting). You can put that irritating suspicion at ease. Anyway, today I will be reviewing the brilliantly eccentric and dynamic album, The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion, which is loosely based off Salman Rushdie's essay, Imagine There Is No Heaven. But, this is a review of music not literature, so I'm not going to delve into that.

Like a majority of the reviews I've conducted thus far, this band is no stranger to experimentation, and this album is most certainly not an exception. Vocalist Gavin Hayes, guitarist Mark Engles, bassist Drew Roulette, and drummer Dino Campanella amalgamate their individual talents to bring this extraordinary album. The band has slight metal influences, but it is far more progressive, blending heavy instrumentals with alternative vocals.

The album is introduced by an eerie children's chant overlapping a piano. As soon as the repetitive, short-lived chant comes to a conclusion, the drum and guitar proceed to take over the track. Gavin Hayes introduces his vocals through subtle distortion, yet it is easy to see that he has complete control of his voice. He may not have the most unique voice, but it's impossible to disregard his talent. Pariah carries an alternative vibe much like many of the tracks on the album.

Following Pariah comes a short but catchy electronic instrumental track, Drunk Slide, using interesting sounds including a xylophone and distorted piano. Another experimental instrumental (That's a tongue-twister) is R U O K? which uses a consistent piano melody and steady percussion while mixing in various soundscapes and electronic tones. The album does feature a traditional instrumental; though, that's not to suggest that it's in the least bit dull. Long Days And Vague Clues is a very animated track that evokes a sense of approaching trepidation and chaos.

The album also features soothing and serene alternative tracks. Ireland is relatively upbeat yet revolves around a steady and simple rhythm. Lightswitch works with alternating tempos while featuring southern instrumental influences. Saviour seizes the opportunity to trash on the guitars by providing a metal-esque track. And, Information is a jaunty and uplifting melody, mixing multiple instruments and Hayes' vocals to produce a confident harmony. But, I believe it is Gathering PebblesI Don't Know, and Mourning This Morning that truly captures the albums dynamics by showcasing refreshing pulse that tickles your ear holes.

Aside from the unique instrumentals and vocals, this album has four very short tracks all beginning with the title Stamp of Origin. These mysterious tracks all sound very much alike and use minimal (if any) vocals and subtle beats. I'll leave it up to you to decipher their meanings (Yes, of course because I'm lazy).

And that brings my review to a close. Again (as always) I urge you to give this album a shot. If I enjoyed reviewing it, I hope that you'll—at the very least—enjoy listening to it. It's unique enough to carry a sound all its own but not so outlandish that you'll be lost in its attempts at experimentation.

Final Verdict:

Also, I'm always diligently searching for refreshing and unique albums to review. If you know of a band that you think will peak my interest (or not) let me know in the comment section or otherwise. I'd be more than happy to write a review on it. Just don't be offended if I give it a rating slightly less than you'd hoped (Not that my ratings are worth a damn).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Northern Abbey - Northern Abbey

Track Listing:

Yep, that's it for the track listing. You'll finally be spared my long-winded, senseless ramblings that are usually incapable of being interpreted.

While perusing the depths of the internet (Don't worry. I didn't go too far down the rabbit hole) I happened upon an interesting sound. After much investigation (I looked to the top of the page), I found the source of the harmonic resonance to be that of Northern Abbey's self-titled EP.

Now, there isn't much that I could find out about this band/project, but it was intriguing enough to write a review on it despite it's extremely short composition. However, it's a complex, refreshing, and cinematic experience despite the length.

This experimental EP was written and produced by Nick Lambert of Falling Up. Jordan Wood contributed the drums, bass, stomps, and claps while Eric Stanwell played the violin and cello. Jessy Ribordy, also a member of Falling Up and The River Empires, engineered and mixed the EP while too contributing to the claps and stomps. And, it seems as though Wikipedia is slacking because that is literally all I could find out about the band. Anyway, onward to the track breakdown!

The album begins with Catacombs which is a complex and celestial track. The song leads in with a delayed yet soothing piano while electronic influences accompany it soon after. Lambert introduces his voice about a minute in and continues with very repetitive lyrics. Despite the monotonous melody, his vocals are extremely euphonious and most certainly add to the beauty and allure of the track. However, the song does pull a M. Night Shyamalan at 3 minutes and 45 second. The listeners are lead to believe the song is over as it breaks off into silence, but after waiting 25 more seconds, a strange static tapping interrupts the dead air and an explosion of distorted, electronic instrumentals finish the track out.

Following Catacombs is the classical instrumental, Wayward Village. This song is introduced by a sharp violin that is then accompanied by the light plucking of cello strings. A minute in, a piano joins the two and blends in seamlessly with the melody. Two thirds of the way into the song, the classical theme is transformed by the addition of a bass and drum with heavy metal influences which then leads the track to its finality. It's a very interesting take on classical music regardless of the track's length and simplicity.

And last, but not leastin fact most, for that matteris Paintings. This song finally gives Lambert's vocals some credit. His voice is carried through a ballroom echo (I just made that term up, but it sounds intelligent and makes sense in my mind) and holds a relatively high octave. It's a pretty bare track in terms of its instrumental expansiveness, but the acoustic guitar and slightly oriental influences mix to add a surreal and soothing sound. The track finishes the EP leaving the listener feeling calm yet craving more.

This orchestral album carries an intriguing melody and a few surprises that captivates the audience. It's a short EP, but the complexity and original choice of instruments cannot be overlooked. Although the vocals are repetitive, their unique resonance helps them hold their ground among the instrumentals. In my opinion, Northern Abbey gives you a taste that leaves a lingering appetite. I hope that the band continues this endeavor and releases a longer EP or album in the near future because it's definitely gained my attention.

Final Verdict:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Person L - The Positives

File:Person L The Positives.jpg

Track Listing:
11. Untitled

Getting sick and tired of my incessant concept album reviews? Well, lucky for you, I'll be reviewing Person L's second full-length album The Positives. This band is fronted by a Mr. Kenny Visoli from the pop punk band The Starting Line. Other members of the band include the drummers, Brian Medlin and Ryan Zimmaro, the bassist, Charles Schneider, and the keyboardist/guitarist Nate Vaeth.

Person L's methodically crude and strained vocals weave with repetitive beats to create an uplifting and, at times, tranquil melody. But, enough with my nonsensical, brief album breakdowns; let's get started.

The album kicks off with a track exhibiting serene and ethereal guitar riffs overlapping a rapid snare. In Hole In The Fence, Kenny Vasoli's vocals seamlessly ease their way in with the instruments. It's a very cozy song up until the 3 minute mark when the guitars and drums erupt in unison (I'll stop trying to make this sound so sexual)  and exit in a distorted mix of sounds.

Good Days carries a slightly more upbeat tempo. Vasoli's voice is heard more upfront and showcases his range and even a glimpse of his shouts. There is certainly more of a force behind the guitar and other instruments. Following Good Days is The Positives which picks up the pace even more. Although Vasoli is a bit more conservative with his vocals in this track, the beat is catchy and the entirety of the song blends well enough.

Up next is Goodness Gracious which is a lot more grungy than the last 3 tracks. It goes so far as to mix heavy guitar and drums while featuring horns and even cowbell (Must fight urge to bring up Christopher Walken's SNL sketch). The phonics are dynamic and unkempt to match the pace of the instrumentals. The following song, New Sensations, has the same feel of Goodness Gracious, and although I hate to compare bands, the sound is very reminiscent of The Hives, just a little more gnarly and boisterous.

Stay Calm sounds much like the title suggests, calm. However, there is an audible sense of apprehension with a psychedelic facet in the tone of the track. Adversely, the following song, Sit Tight, holds the opposite effect as it features compelling and sometimes strained vocals and an uplifting tempo to snap the listener out of their previously imposed funk.

In the next track, Loudmouth, Vasoli's voice is distorted and is supported by energetic and upbeat instruments. This song has the same audible atmosphere as Goodness Gracious and New Sensations.

Changed Man features a bluesy guitar riff and Vasoli's characteristic articulate and drowning vocals. The subject matter of the track is also a hallmark of most blues songs. Changed Man is definitely the most unique and intriguing song on the album, in my opinion. The singer's pleading shouts are truly powerful. Afterward Pleasure Is All Mine brings back the uplifting aura with a fast beat and quick lyrics.

Untitled is truly an invigorating and influential song. There is a lot of build up in the song which leads to the singer's intense vocals exploding onto the track. But it's I Sing The Body Electric (Yes, like Walt Whitman's poem) that truly mesmerizes the listener with its elegant melody and warming lyrics. It's definitely a perfect way to close out an album presenting so many different tempos and styles.

In closing, Person L's The Positives is a pretty good album. Although the beats can get overly repetitive at times, the explosive vocals and varied pacing adds creativity and originality to the album. As a disclaimer, the album may not be suited for everyone, but give it a listen and you may find yourself satisfied with your decision. It definitely plays with your emotions (Oh, Mary-Beth! Why did you leave me all alone on prom night!).

Final Verdict:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The River Empires - Epilogue


Track Listing:
17. Lillius
20. Wildbriar

To continue my streak, I present to you yet another concept album, Epilogue by The River Empires. However, unlike the the previous concept albums I've recently reviewed, this album does not weave a chronological story; rather, it acts as the soundtrack to a yet unmade screenplay trilogy called, well, The River Empires. Don't you fret, though; Epilogue doesn't not reveal any spoilers as the album is too difficult to make sense of. If you're looking to learn more about the cultivation of this peculiar album because you found my brief explanation hollow, emotionless, and inadequate, then read this.

Moving onward, The River Empires came to fruition when Falling Up's Jessy Ribordy and Josh Shroy teamed up with the likes of The Dear Hunter's Casey Crescenzo (What a coincidence—I swear I'm not stalking him) and a collaboration of other talented artists to bring to life this intricate story of two children who stumble upon a cryptic message in a bottle. The band has a sound all its own which combines bluegrass, folk, and indie with soothing vocals, deep-country twang, soundscape, and standard rock instrumentals.

The album begins with and ends with two variations of the soundtrack's theme, The River Empires Theme I and The River Empires Theme II. The first version of the theme starts off with a repetitive, slightly mournful piano melody as a childish, fragmented piano plays in the background. The song then seamlessly transitions into Overture In Thales Summer, where Jessy Ribody's tranquilizing vocals are put on display. The second variation, The River Empires Theme II, starts in the same way as the initial theme but later implements orchestral and surreal instrumentation to close out the album. It appropriately correlates to the album's title as the initial theme evokes speculations of finality; whereas, the second theme is expressive of tranquility and completeness (I try so hard to make sense. It's sometimes painful).

The album is comprised of songs varying in tempos and ranges. A few of the tracks carry a hymn-like atmosphere such as The Coventry and others maintain a soothing atmosphere such as Catacombs And Orchards. Usually these songs are heavy in piano melodies and hold a conservative use of string instruments.

However, there are also purely instrumental tracks which appear as though they signify action including From Faye To Astral and The Pelican, which songs that sound almost sly and mischievous, and The First Message and Wildbriar, which seems suggestive of rapid-paced action or passage of time. Furthermore, there are tracks that the band seemingly uses as playgrounds for experimental sounds, soundscape, and recorded conversations such as Galloping Through Day BloomsStag Hollow Fair, and The Woods Of Northland.

The songs which verily bring forth The River Empires' full range of talent are the upbeat songs which sport a heavy bluegrass influence and an indie rock persona. The three best examples of this are A Toast To The Snake KingThree Tigers, and A Dimmer LuxA Toast To The Snake King isn't at all shy with the amount of twangity twang. It is definitely the most upbeat and fast-paced song on the album, as well. Three Tigers doesn't flaunt the bluegrass influence quite as much as A Toast To The Snake Kin, but that's not to say that it isn't at all apparent. What really sets this song apart from the rest is the band-wide chant that takes place at 2:20. Now, I'm not usually a fan of chants, but this band executes it flawlessly, which is a bizarre claim considering that they emphasize the flaws in the chant (i.e. vocals drawing longer on than expected, varying pitches). Lastly,  A Dimmer Lux holds the trophy for the catchiest and most mesmerizing beat. It is, in my opinion, the best track on the album.

Alright, to wrap up this long-winded review, I'll leave you off with a bit of a synopsis. Although I feel as if The River Empires might go a little haywire with the experimental tracks and the album is difficult to interpret in context, the sound is one-of-a-kind. This mix of genre is so original and the band executes it so exquisitely that you'll be doing yourself an injustice not to give it a chance. It may not be for everyone, but I reiterate, it deserves some gosh darn attention.

Final Verdict: