Monday, August 8, 2011

Scott Campbell - "Full Assembly Required - Album Review

In 2010, net label Prosity Records, released the Scott Campbell EP "Some Assembly Required" Now Scott is back to finish the project, with the addition of a further 7 songs, and the release of the full length CD, "Full Assembly Required" .

With the same whimsical songwriting attitude, and a gravel infused voice which only seems to get better for wear, this album of Americana, folk, folk-rock, blues and old-time popular music is better for it's completion to full length. There are not a great deal of albums which are written as such, some being more song collections. Full Assembly Requird, is quite the opposite, and meanders effortlessly from one track to the next, down it's own road, and in it's own time.

The opening number Amen is rich on vocal talent but does not set the mood for the rest of the tracks. It is the title number, Full Assembly Required that does that, with it's straight foward approach, and a tounge in both cheeks attitude.

Songs such as the the delightfully playfull 2 song medley Over the Moon For You/Everything Things Coming Out Blue even includes a lead whistling track which in some ways would seem dated, but here it is a near perfect fit. Moving on to more serious subjects such as Steelworking Sons of a Gun doesn't detract form the acute lyrical observations inherent in the work, and the album as a whole provides a vivid lyrical picture which remains throughout its varied playlist.

I caught up with Scott to further explore the albums origins and to see how it progressed.....

NS - Full Assembly Required carries on from the previous success of the EP Some Assembly Required. Was there an intent there to follow up with a full CD, or did it just happen ?

SC - As one who came of age in the 70's, I'm always thinking of projects in terms of albums. Not necessarily concept albums but at albums that at least follow a loose theme. The theme usually arises after I have about three or four songs finished. The reason I went with the EP first here is that Dan Tindall, a JPF member who created the Prosity Records net label, agreed to release an EP of my songs. He might have been willing to release an entire album but, at the time, all his other releases were EP's so I just went with that. But I knew at the time it would eventually become a full album.

NS - You do have some help along the way here, but most of the heavy lifting.... the song writing, the playing, the vocals and the production are done by yourself. Any tips for those who also have to wear many hats ?

SC - Most of the time I feel like I'm winging it but, if pressed to offer something philosophical, it would probably be, "have fun but work on improving the thing that is holding you back the most." Once you improve that, something else will become the weak link and you can turn your attention to that for awhile. And so on, and so on...... The great thing is that you will never run out of things to work on - so you'll never get bored.

NS - Your voice is certainly unique. Where do you find the right sort of gravel to gargle with ?

SC - It's been a fun thing for me to find that gravel. I started a project a few years ago on recording songs that were in the public domain - old folk songs like Erie Canal, Let the Bullgine Run, Ain't No More Cain - stuff like that. They seemed to call for a more raspy vocal than I had used previously. I posted these songs on the JPF music group expecting that people would say, "What the hell are you doing with your vocals". Instead, they egged me on - so I continued to experiment with different vocal approaches.

So I've been enjoying thinking of vocals like a musical instrument - where you bend them to suit the song. At the same time, the public domain project inspired me to write more songs in an Americana type vein - where the raspy vocal fit the topic.

I'll probably get into something else at some point, but for right now, I'm just going where the muse takes me. Interesting to me is the fact that I use far less processing on my vocals now that I did previously - just some compression, a little reverb, and a mild cut at about 250 Hz. About the only other thing I do is, if I want a REALLY raspy vocal, I sing it first thing in the morning before coffee.

NS - There's certainly a mixture of styles and genres, but acoustic singer songwriter would probably fit best. Do you go for a more acoustic style, or is it something you're comfortable with ?

SC - I just go with what my muse steers me to. Lately, they've all been in a similar vein (acoustic singer songwriter is probably a good description) but that could change on the day the muse pops something really outlandish into my head.

NS - Where did the idea of whistleing in a song origonate ?

SC - It probably was placed in my mind 40 years ago when I heard Otis Redding sing "Dock of the Bay". Why it finally came out here, in Over the Moon for You, I'm not sure. It just seemed to fit. If there is a silver lining to waiting until you are middle aged to write and record songs, it's that all these things you've heard are buried in your brain just waiting to pop out at the right moment.

NS - You've recorded 3 albums now. Any thoughts as to live shows ?

SC - Not really. I have a wonderful career outside music that allows just enough time in the cracks to enjoy making music. There really isn't time right now for me to develop the skills to be a good performer. And I DO recognize that they are serious skills.

I won't rule it out because I've found myself doing all kinds of things that I would have thought crazy a few years prior. If I do it though, given my age and type of music, it would definitely be a niche type thing, which suits me just fine.

NS - What's next on the agenda ?

SC - I'm not sure. It will probably take six or seven months to sort itself out. Right now I have about half a dozen songs in the rock genre and about half a dozen in a similar vein to Full Assembly Required. I also have about half a dozen cover songs that I really like. And I have a single phrase in mind that I somehow think an entire project will build itself around. I'll probably go with whichever one gets finished first.

NS - What is your favorite thing about making music?

SC - It's getting into the flow or the zone. That state of mind where you are so focused on creating something that hours pass without you even realizing it. Where you've got random things coming at you from all directions and you're making them all fit together into something coherent. Where the balls are all in the air and the plates are spinning away and there is not even any effort to it. To me, it's the greatest high on earth and my goal is to spend as much time in that state as possible. I have been able to get there doing other things too but it is particularly accessible through music - so I'll keep doing it until I can't get there anymore.

With such an approach, it's not difficult to understand how such a listenable album was created from the outset. Full Assembly Required is available now through CD Baby and all digital retailers.

Title : Full Assembly Required
Genre : Singer Songwriter

Artist : Scott W Campbell

Linda Adams, Ricki Bellos, Tammy Carlson, Gwendolyn Campbell, Wendy DuMond, and Joice Terceira sing backing vocals on Thanks Be to You.

Producer : Scott W Campbell
Engineer : Mike Caro

Rating : 4.5/5

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

KAW Creation and Yann Causeret Release New Single - "A Stranger Told Me You Were Gone"

Writing about death is never easy. Writing about the moment of death, even harder. KAW Ctreation and Yann Causeret do just that with the release of the new single "A Stranger Told Me You Were Gone".

So where do you start in writing the first few lines about that moment which occurs to all of us ? Start at the beginning ? Track backwards, and add a few mournful moments ? Add some violins for effect, and a sweeping harp to capture the percieved magesty and mystery?

No. not really. You start with a couple of verses and a chorus, written by French songsmith Yann Causeret and posted on an obscure message board, almost solely dedicated to those strange people referred to as songwriters. You then spend the next 18 months emailing ideas back and fowrth with your co-writer on the other side of the planet, finish up with a vocal recorded in France, backing recorded in Australia and guitar over dubs recorded both in France and th US, and then send the whole thing to Austalia for mastering. It's that easy...... really.

When choosing which material to work upon, sometimes logic just goes out the window, and is replaced by a feeling which simply compels the writer to continue. Ths song itself takes hold, and whisks it's participants along in a frenzied barrage of ideas. Nothing is too weird, nothing is too stupid, and nothing unworkable if you have the right creative talent on the team.

Such was the case with "A Stanger". With no deadlines, and no "must do now" timelines, the song itself grew almost organically. And like an organic carrot, had all the bumps and imperfections of a natural product which sprung up from the manure pile of random thought. Neatly transferred into a studio setting, it was then srubbed and cleaned, and scrubbed some more until it all sat nicely in place.

Words were changed, phrasing was altered, musical memes added and subtracted, until it's essence was easily seen. Somtimes death is instant, and from the initial shock comes a flow of emotions, hopefully captured here as a brief moment in time.

KAW Creation featuring Yann Causeret, are proud to announce the release of the new single, "A Stranger", a song which took the long road, but finally made it to completion.

"A Stranger Told Me You Were Gone"
© 2010 Causeret/Gotthilf/Wood

Yann Causeret - Vocals
Hervé Gotthilf - Acoustic Guitar
Geoff Wood - Acoustic guitar, drums, keys
Mark Kaufman - Lead guitar
Mike Dunbar - Bass

Producer - Geoff Wood
Engineer - Paul Butler Tayar

Photographer - Johan Genin

"A Stranger" is available as a digital download everywhere, including iTunes , and can be previewed and purchased directly from the KAW Creation website.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bern and the Brights - Swing Shift Maises - EP Review

Being genreless is similar being stateless. Skipping over boarders, and bouncing over boundaries, can indeed, have a profound effect on the senses and give freedom to the way in which the world is perceived. The latest release from Bern and the Brights – Swing Shift Maises EP, does just that.


Hailing from New Jersey, and playing the local circuit, where they’ve honed their considerable skills as a formidable live talent, Bern and the Brights have taken their collective musical ability into the studio. Primarily described as an acoustic EP, the band has given the light touch to an EP which could have easily been over bearing if over produced. That’s not the case here.

A lightness and a deftness of touch, contrasted with strong structure and subtle layering, ( especially in regard to violinist Nicole Scorsone) provide solidity and depth to a musical style which is both unique, and yet vaguely familiar.

All four tracks, sit alone independently, yet are easily mixed and matched to follow one another in no particular order. The yearning of the opening track Boo, with sublime vocals by Bernadette Malavarca, develops and builds, and is well constrained, giving tension and release in equal measures. A deeply soulful track, Boo could easily be turned on it’s head, but instead has a constrained subtlety that doesn’t divert from the rise and fall of it’s natural progression. It would be all too easy to let this track rip, and ruin it completely.

Leading into the following track, Sangria Peaches , the instrumentation of acoustic and electric guitar, bass, drums, and violin doesn’t change, but is used in a totally different way. With the addition of castanets, and a staccato violin, a quirkiness is added, without being too much misplaced. Likewise the next tune, Sleepless Aristotle , is similar in tone and texture, yet defies the unwritten rules of conformity. And finally, It Goes Like That, with a different take on a hillbilly beat, and an unusual nod to Twang Town, round off the four tracks on offer.

There is nothing predictable here. A progression which may be heard next, is simply not there, and a surprising good use of referenced cliches, is used sparingly with a tonge firmly planted in both cheeks, if that's at all possible. Frontwomen Bernadette Malavarca and Catherine McGowan take up the story......

NS - The band has a very organic sound, for want of a better word. Is this intentional ? or perhaps a byproduct of the live show ? There's no synthetic instrumentation for example.

B - It's just what feels right for now. We have no firm stance for or against synthetic instrumentation, and it's likely that at some point, we would introduce something like that. But, I do think that unless you are careful with synthetic sounds and so forth, the usage can easily date.... and, I think in general, the intention with Bernie and the Brights is to strive for timelessness whenever we can.... fingers crossed that we achieve it.

NS -That live acoustic sound has translated well into a studio setting. Are you happy wth the overall feel ?

C - We’re definitely pleased with the overall feel of the EP. We recorded live, all 5 of us, and just overdubbed the final vocals, additional violins, guitars and percussion, specifically because we were trying to capture our live sound. We started a few recording projects and recording live with all 5 of us was the final method that worked for us.

B - Yes, it has translated. We had some time to marinate with each other and develop together before tracking the EP, and it's a good thing, I think, though we were always anxious to get something out...ASAP.

NS -Marinating has certainly worked. Why an Ep then ? Not a single, for example, or a fuller album ?

C -We primarily did an EP to finally get a recording out there. It was long over-due for us and a full length was going to take a lot longer than we wanted to wait.

B - Yeah. Time was a factor in the decision. We did not want to rush a full-length, but we did want to get something out there. In terms of choosing the songs that were ultimately included, these four are ones that fans really like, as well as a survey, or snap shot of what we are like as a band.

NS - Track selection is always important ? Why these tracks, specifically, out of the many you have ?

C -We have about 30 songs, with a few babies still growing. These 4 songs are some of our more staple, fan favorite tracks, but they also display a bit of our diversity, so they seemed to be the best to select for putting them out first.

NS - They're certainly diverse, but when the Ep is put on random play, each track is unique, ......yet fits, or compliments the others, They could be in any order. Usually, tracks are ordered for overall flow and effect, but with this Ep, it doesn't matter. Is it by design, or just an overall feel, in how you write and perform ?

B - I don't know why this happens, but I'm glad you say that. I think it's a happy accident if they work in random order, but we tried to be conscious of flow when we ordered the songs.

NS - It's been well recieved. More gigs, and travelling further afield ?, or back into the studio for more recording ?

B - Recording and travel are certainly in the forefront of our goals. We would like to release a full length, and ....expand, grow, however we can.

NS - And that growth also involves other artistic persuits as well ? From your website, it's all hand done, a hands on approach by the band. Is it important to retain a certain level of creative and managerial control ?

B: I'm not sure the need to control the content to that extent is so conscious; I think much of it does boil down to resources, as a practical reason, but also it is true that we enjoy doing some of the aspects beyond music ... art, writing, etc.

C: Yeah. The creative aspects beyond just the music can be fun to think about, but it's almost a full time job that requires just as much time and effort as writing and performing our music. And we did create the artwork for Swing Shift Maisies on our own, which was a lot of fun, but a ton of work. But, like Bernadette said, it's all a matter of resources, resources.

NS -I've described this Ep as genreless. It's not that it's floating around, looking for a genre, it just doesn't need to. It's just unique in it's perception and presentation, and appears to have evolved natually. Your thoughts ?

B - I can see that. I just think it is what it is...we kind of just write songs that feel honest. I think, by default, songwriters are like stew bowls .... if the influences are all over, what's likely to come out will reflect that. The hope is that that mix feels fresh.... like some hybrid product of all that's ever gone into your consciousness.

NS- So with all the options available, what's next on the agenda ?

B: Work. Work. Work. Writing. Recording. Becoming better musicians. Expanding our touring radius and releasing more content. Growing however we can. And definitely, working hard is important. In the end, we love it. We had a pretty great weekend that just passed. We got to open for Fishbone down at the House of Blues in Atlantic City Friday night and then Saturday afternoon we were in the Union County Music Fest. We were on the 101.9RXP stage, but the main stage acts included Spoon, Train, OK GO, Soul Asylum, The Zombies and others. It was a really awesome experience, to say the least. More literally though, a full-length album is in the plan for 2011.

So, with the Ep done, a line of touring dates being drawn up, and a new album planned for 2011, Bern and the Brights, have all the happenings of a promising, and hard working future. If you get the chance to catch them live, ( gig dates here ) then do it now, before it's standing room only.

Swing Shift Maises is out now, and is available via CD Baby , iTunes and Amazon . This is one EP, where it's well worth buying the hard copy.

Title : Swing Shift Maisies

Genre : Undefined, but Altrenative Indie Folk may fit, so may Chamber Orchestra meets Dolly Parton, ..............or any combination which may be dreamt up

Artist : Bern and the Brights

Bernadette Malavarca – lead guitar/vocals/percussion
Catherine McGowan – acoustic guitar/vocals
Nicole Scorsone – violin
Shawn Fafara – bass
Jose Ulloa – drums

Rating ; 4/5

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Joanne Lurgio - 'Nothing Remains the Same" - Album Review

Joanne Lurgio's album "Nothing Remains the Same" was released December 13th 2009. Following on from the succesful 2005 debut album, "Find A Dream -catch it if you dare", it's been awhile between drinks, but indeed, nothing does remain the same, except for the heart warming voice and the presence of a valuable songwriting talent.

"Nothing Remains the Same" is written and performed in it's near entirity by former Mofit Magazines' Singer Songwriter of the Year ( 2007 ) , Joanne Lurgio. An album of 12 diverse, but interlinked songs, it meanders it's way from country rock, to gospel, to tired and lonely ballads, and to simple stories of life itself. What started out as a couple of demo tracks at the infamous Pineyfest Demo Derby, ended up to be a complete round trip musical journey. Joanne takes up the story.....

JL - Through luck and friendship I had a wonderful opportunity to record some of my songs in Nashville, TN. It started out as a demo project, but the more I listened to my recordings, the more I was loving what was happening to my songs and realized I wanted them for myself, not simply demowork. I called my friend Mike Dunbar, who was engineering & producing the demo projects and asked to change direction. to start working on a full length CD. Without hesitation, Mike gathered up some of the best Nashville musicians and we set out to finish the album we'd only just started.

A Rhode Island native, Joanne made the long treck to StringHouse Studios in Nashville to work with long time resident music producer, Mike Dunbar, and as Dunbar puts it, ......

MD - "Joanne was just a pleasure to work with. Although we had some of the best session musicians contributing their talent, it was Joanne herself who provided the backbone of each track, both lyrically and musically, and who required only the lightest of musical intrpretation. Sure, the backing is there, but it is secondary to the strength of vocal lines, and the depth of the songriting as a whole".

Stylistically diverse, yet with a strong sense of continuity, all the tracks on this album take the listener both on a well travelled path, and also down the less travelled side alleys of personal feeling. The deceptively simple blues of "True Love" ( with great alto sax from John Heinrich ), to the elequant delivery and Southern gospel approach of "Walking on Sacred Ground" to the vivid imagery of the title track "Nothing Remains the Same", are all in some ways the same approach, yet with a slight shift in mood, tempo and texture.

With a putity of voice, and an honest no frills approach to production, "Nothing Remains the Same" is not a "perfectly" recorded album. On the converse, being largely recorded "live to tape" with minimal overdubs, and an almost lack of interrupting wizardry, a live studio feel is maintained whilst bringing expression, musicianship and depth of feeling to the forefront. What you see ( or, rather hear ) is what you get.

There are not many vocalists, let alone singer songwriters who can pull off an entire album of listenable and memorable songs.

If you like your music similar to a home cooked 12 course dinner with a warming mulled wine, each track with an everchanging flavour but a strong sense of direction, each with that sense of familiarity yet a subtle but profound difference, then "Nothing Remains the Same" is a must listen. Yes, it has been a long while between drinks, so it's well worth the time to sit back and absorb the atmosphere of a well crafted album. Available from CD Baby, and digitally available eveywhere.

Title : Nothing Remains the Same
Genre : Singer Songwriter

Artist : Joanne Lurgio
Producer : Mike Dunbar

Joanne Lurgio - acoustic guitar & vocals
Mike Baker – guitar
Mike Dunbar – bass, mandolin & guitar
John Heinrich – steel guitar, tenor saxophones & soprano, dobro
Willie Rainsford – keyboard
Fred Satterfield - drums

Recorded at StringHouse Studio, Hendersonville TN and Mike Dunbar Productions, Nashville TN

Produced by Mike Dunbar, Mike Dunbar Productions, Nashville TN

Engineered by Mike Dunbar & Rick Otts

Rating : 4/5

Thursday, November 12, 2009

KAW Creation Release New Single – “Brand New Plan”

KAW Creation, consisting of the song writing team of Kaufman, Allen and Wood, today announced the release of their latest single, “Brand New Plan”

Sydney, Australia 13th November – KAW Creation today announced the release of their latest single “Brand New Plan”.

Written as a country rock song, with steel and acoustic guitar and a double fiddle line, “Brand New Plan” is essentially a four minute musical chick flick condensed down to fit a four minute story line.Letha Allens’ sublime vocal take on the state of inter-sex relationship struggle is cleverly crafted into a rocking country tune, with both an attitude to the future and a wink at the status quo.

The writing and production team of Kaufman, Allen and Wood, with finishing touches from sound engineer Thomas Wind, has once again captured an essence of what needs to be portrayed, and thrown it full force, back at the attitude from where it came.If you enjoy your country rock with a bit of bite, and with a tongue planted firmly in the cheek, then “Brand New Plan” is a certain listen in an uncertain world. Although mainly for the girls, the opposite sex will also smile at the wry sense of humour and “tell it as it is commentary”

“Brand New Plan” is available as a digital download everywhere, ( including iTunes, Rhapsody, Limewire and Napster ) from 16th November 2009, and is available for preview at KAW Creation’s home page at Independent Artists . Commercial broadcasters are invited to download hifi copies directly from Airplay Direct.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bring on the Angst , it's Good for the Creative Mind

Well, the week ended pretty much OK. With a case of writers' block eventually fading into the ether, and the prospect of a couple of interesting projects in the pipeline**, life was looking only dull rather than bleak. It was time to head off to an industry party.

As one who rarely attends such events, I find them refreshing in their total honesty towards a field whose greatest endeavour is to put a brave face on a plight, which for most, is one endless round of ups and downs, swings and roundabouts, obstructions and frustrations. The sound engineer who comments that those computer nerds are ruining business for everyone by providing cheap and accessible technology, although the average punter has no idea how to use it and over compresses everything to an ear bleeding zero. The television studio producer who laments the fact that he will no longer have a studio to work in, on the account that the real estate on which it stands is to be sold to the highest bidder, and the programmes and the building in which they were made will be outsourced, himself not included. The budding director maxing out the credit card to provide interim funding until such times as the "big finance" guys will fling themselves at his latest project of utter brilliance, and rescue the tortured soul of a true artist. The musician who can't sell any CD's because his music can be found on the internet for free, and most of the venues around town have stopped hiring musicians, having replaced them with the appropriate hippest and hottest knob twiddlers of the minute.

You would think that it would be easy to become depressed under such conditions.

But this is not the case. With a smile and a shrug of the shoulders to indicate that this is always the way it has been, all involved merrily laugh off such minor setbacks as trivial afterthought, and carry on forward. It has been this way for millennia and will probably be so for millennia to come. From the time of the first rock art ( that's the caves, not the music scene ) when Adam first slung mud at something and made it stick, the humble artist is the one who inspires both looks of admiration and total pity, all rolled up in a feeling usually reserved for the feeble minded.
But it's OK ! We're tough, we're resilient, and it is because of it that the latest compositions of the angst ridden soul are born. Without angst and without a reason to bemoan, we would have no art to create. So please keep putting out cheaper and cheaper computers, please keep selling the real estate in which we work, please keep providing endless finance to those who can't afford it, and please keep stealing the music for which we are trying to make a living.

For without all of that, we would be well off, middle class, boring, fashion conscious, media guzzling, consumeristic, uncaring dullards with nothing to moan about at industry parties. And with no angst, there would be no art to create. Now that really would be bleak......

** niteshifts’ new single “Linda Lou” with the band KAW Creation, now available on iTunes , Amazon , eMusic and Limewire and coming soon to Rhapsody .

Monday, June 29, 2009

KAW Creation Announce the Release of the Single "Linda Lou"

KAW Creation, comprising of the song writing team of Allen, Kaufman and Wood, today announced the release of their third single, "Linda Lou".

Sydney, Australia (PRWEB) June 30, 2009 -- KAW Creation, comprising of the song writing team of Allen, Kaufman and Wood, today announced the release of their third single, "Linda Lou".

Departing musically from their two previous releases, "Linda Lou" is a Southern rock song inspired by song writer Letha Allens childhood in Saylerville, Kentucky. The use of natural instrumentation, (acoustic guitar, mandolin, harmonica) layered over a soulful, danceable, country back beat, and a solid electric rhythm section, provides both depth, and lightness to complement the solid performance of vocalist, and co-writer, Mark Kaufman.

Kaufman, who also provides most of the instrumentation, is accompanied by Allen's solid vocal performance, resulting in the delivery of a unique story line that inspires the listener to turn it up load and get out of their seat.
Best described as blues infused country rock with a Bo Didley flavour, "Linda Lou" was produced in Sydney by Australian producer Geoff Wood, and mix/mastered by engineer Thomas Wind in Denmark. The international focus of this release crosses world boundaries of country and rock and will appeal to those fans who enjoy a unique blend of styles. "Linda Lou" creates a rousing and uplifting toe tapping country rock experience.
Broadcast quality downloads of "Linda Lou" are available to licensed commercial broadcasters, exclusively at Airplay Direct. Streaming and downloads of "Linda Lou" are available to the general public exclusively from KAW Creation at Independent Artists Company.