Tag Archives: Working Brilliantly

Introducing…Just Walden

If you were looking for a talented singer-songwriter waiting to break out, the Goldman Sachs trading floor might be the last place you would look. But that’s just where Danny Ferraro spent his last five years, plying out his daily trade. In 2014, after years of ambivalence and second-guessing, he finally summoned the courage to make the leap and pursue music full-time.

Just Walden

Just Walden

Danny’s first band experience occurred in 2005 during his first semester at Columbia University where he met future Just Walden musician, Taylor Eichenseer. They built a following around campus; playing shows at parties and various venues around the city before releasing a self-titled EP in 2008. After graduation, the group added childhood friend Alex Margolin and Taylor’s brother, Aaron. They built a studio in their apartment and started experimenting more with their sound. This new group was short lived though: Danny’s job took him to London where he nonetheless continued to write songs. The rest of the group founded the band Wildcat Apollo in Brooklyn eventually relocating to their hometown, Austin, TX.

Before Just Walden finally materialised as a band, principal songwriter Danny Ferraro had a significant reoccurring dream. “It was all the members jamming to a song that had this unique, rocking, contiguous sound with the piano as the central rhythm.” It was the increasing recurrence of this vision that gave him that extra bit of courage to leave his job. This final step resulted in his move to Austin where he rejoined the rest of the gang and helped form the new group, Just Walden – named after the pond made famous by author Henry David Thoreau.

Just Walden’s debut, High Street Barton Blues, barrels out in a glorious haze of psychedelic piano rock, a spiritual and soul-searching experience. Some of the material, which is based on Danny’s experiences in Central London, was informed by the harsher elements of coming-of-age while other songs on the record are beaming with encouragement and sanctuary found upon return to his band.

Just Walden have recently placed their latest track, Romie Knows, on Soundcloud for fans to download.

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Dog Society – In The Shade Album Review

Coming full circle after their major label debut Test Your Own Eyes (East-West/Atlantic Records) and their critically acclaimed 2013 release, Emerge, the renown New York City pop rock collective, Dog Society, has created an album that continues to fulfil their promise as a great American rock band.

Their latest album, In The Shade, was released last week. In The Shade is a move forward from Emerge lending this band to sound evermore like those distinctly grungy 90s rock bands such as Nirvana.

Dog society

Dog Society

There are a lot of brilliant tracks on this record. To start with Heal Me Friend kick starts the album off in a grungy meets pop fashion. The chorus, “Please, please/Heal me friend…” sounds strangely familiar as if this song is a reworking of another. Heal Me Friend is upbeat with a fast tempo and repetitive guitar riff that makes this song easily recognisable. Straight away it allows Dog Society to show their Nirvana-esque style. It’s hard to believe this song didn’t exist in the 90s rock scene.

The next track, Oleander Girl, is slower and more relaxed in comparison to Heal Me Friend. This is a romantic number, the ballad of the record, “I once had an Oleander girl/A voice as soft as falling snow…” The vocals on this song are just perfect – they’re not showy; they’re simple, soft and effortless. Oleander Girl has a really solid sound to it – the electric guitar is minimal, the drums predominant alongside the vocals while the acoustic guitar can be heard clearly giving it that lighter rock sound.

Emerge features next and builds the album back to that faster pace and grungier tones. The electric guitar steps up a notch and the vocals take on a much more distinctive and strong tone. Emerge is a track that you can’t help but fall in love with. The lyrics are exposing of human behaviour, talking about the desire men have for women, “You give me something/And it feels so good just touching you/What a sight/Emerge/You circle and you weave/I am married and I am satisfied/I’ve rearranged this mess of mine so many times…”

Losing Her Again is another song that sounds very familiar in terms of musical arrangement and lyrics. It starts with a sole electric guitar riff with the vocals gradually making their appearance. This track is quite experimental – the vocals sound a little 60s as they’re more raw while the music is edgy and feels more spontaneous. It’s a brilliant track that’s worth a listen.

Dear Brother however is a really punchy Blues rock song that again resembles a different era. Dear Brother has recently been premiered on True Blood. It’s an outstanding Blues rock track with a fantastic jam section just over half way through. There’s so much going on in this track; the electric guitar is blending Blues and rock traits in its riff and chords, the bass line is predominant in parts demonstrating those Blues elements while the drums never soften, they’re dramatic all the way through. Musically, it’s an immense song that really shows off Dog Society’s dynamics as a band.

Dog Society are producing a sound that is around 20 years too late but that’s OK. Their music is the sort of music that always features on those American comedy films (think Road Trip, Ten Things I Hate About You and, dare I say it, Freaky Friday with bands such as American Hi-Fi). There’s a strong sense of reminiscing when you listen to this band and this may well be why they’re gathering so much attention. If you like Nirvana, American Hi-Fi and The Beatles then take a listen to Dog Society and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

In The Shade is out now.

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Random Order – Black Lipstick Kiss Album Review

Taking cues from Twin Peaks, James Bond and Quentin Tarantino films, Toronto based collective Random Order’s spine tingling swamp rock reggae attracts a diverse cultural audience. Their newest offering, Black Lipstick Kiss, which was released 29 July, injects their signature subversive rock into the sexy soundscapes of dangerous spy movies.

Since their inception in 1995, Random Order have consistently released great material, toured Canada, the East Coast and Japan, played Festivals, charted on Canadian Top 30 and opened for artists as diverse as Joan Osborne and Salt-n-Pepa.

Black Lipstick Kiss starts with The Morning After Kill which showcases Random Order’s strange combination of reggae, soul and rock with influences from Imelda May and Diana Ross being heard in the vocals. It’s a punchy yet seductive song which makes it an instantly great opening track.

The title track, Black Lipstick Kiss, appears next on the record. Black Lipstick Kiss is a soulful song where the seductive guitar riff and jazz drum beat compliment those sexy and gorgeous vocals.

The next track, Do It Quattro, is a great jam track where the vocals are suspended entirely; this track is solely about Random Order’s rock/reggae style – it’s totally all about the music. Do It Quattro has a distinct live sound – it’s raw giving it that automatic enthusiasm.

Spoiled is a silky track; the guitar is summery and soft while the vocals are airy and bright sounding. If you’ve ever seen Ten Things I Hate About You then Spoiled has a similar sound to the band, Save Ferris, who perform I Know at the school ball. Spoiled is reminiscent of No Doubt with its swing and reggae influences. It’s a brilliant upbeat song to get you moving.

Trans Mission on the other hand lends itself to sound a little bit like Patti Smith especially on the vocals. The track is much darker than those heard previously on Black Lipstick Kiss. The notes held resemble Patti’s deeper vocals and there’s also a bit of spoken word with that angst and punk attitude that Patti has.

Pink Cloud closes the record on an upbeat, pop and totally absorbed reggae beat. This song will instantly lift your mood despite the lyrics, “I want to ride on your pink cloud/Even though I know it’s going nowhere/And I know it’s going to break…” Pink Cloud sings about being totally in love with someone or something and not caring about the consequences or worrying that the cloud could fall apart, “I know I’m going to be the one to fall…You don’t even know you gave up the fight to trust/In anyone a long time ago”. It’s about the danger and the passion behind our human reactions.

Random Order’s Black Lipstick Kiss is a brilliant reggae/rock/ska album that will make you fall in love with this band’s sound.

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Ships Have Sailed – Someday EP Review

The brainchild of singer/songwriter Will Carpenter, Ships Have Sailed was formed in early 2013 as an outlet for material that didn’t fit into Carpenter’s role as guitarist for Hip-Hop Rockers, 7Lions (2101/Capitol).

The resulting six song EP is a heady blend of current alternative rock, cathartic song writing and dreamy pop which has already found a home on college radio with over 40 CMJ stations keeping several tracks from the EP (including the single Midnight) currently on rotation.

Midnight is a pure pop song with its catchy melody and lyrics. It sets the tone of this EP incorrectly as the next song, Clouds, is a well crafted and beautifully written acoustic number. It’s the gentle ballad of the EP. Taking influence from the likes of Dashboard Confessional, Cloud has some beautiful lyrics, “Clouds on water/Sons and daughters/Don’t you falter in this life” set against the backdrop of the steady, slow acoustic guitar.

The third track featured on the Someday EP is Bring You Down which Ships Have Sailed are streaming here. Bring You Down also has some fantastic lyrics, “Don’t you let me bring you down again/Demons in me twisting round again/Find myself in this old town again/Baby don’t you let me bring you down again.”

Title track Someday concludes the EP. Sounding heavily influenced by Dashboard Confessional once more, this track has a strong American acoustic rock feel to it. It’s a soft ending to a rather riotous, up and down, EP. The song finishes the EP contemplating life, “It feels like I’m living someone else’s life/Think I’ve forgiven those who caused me strife/And I know/Someday might go/But someday might be long.”

Someday is a good debut EP from Ships Have Sailed. There’s nothing that ultimately stands out as a must hear but if you like Dashboard, this might be a band for you.

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Introducing…The Falling Birds

Principle songwriter Stephen Artemis grew up in Albany, raising hell with his friends and soaking up the grunge and post punk sounds of the 90’s. It was during this fundamental coming of age when Stephen bore witness to the great economic decline of what is now known as the Rust Belt.

The Falling Birds

The Falling Birds

Years later, after moving to New York City and living first hand the great disparity that exists in America, Stephen began telling many of these stories in his songs.

Now his band, The Falling Birds, are due to release their debut EP, Native America, on June 17. The Falling Birds have a similar sound to the The Black Lips and Fuzz with a dash of Bright Eyes’ storytelling sensibilities. This is a band to watch.


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Josh Matthews – A-Sides Album Review

Based in Philadelphia, Josh Mathews is about to release his first album A-Sides. His music, which stems from a lineage of street poets like Richie Havens and Sixto Rodriguez, has been described as Urban Folk but his pensive, guitar-wielding persona is anything but derivative. One part mid-western hip hop delivery (Atmosphere), one part 60’s folk commentary (Jackson Brown); A-Sides is an unique journey through the thoughtful, inquisitive, hopeful and often brutally honest mind of a young man who takes his time on this earth very seriously. An unadulterated slice of his life.

Josh Matthews

Josh Matthews A-Sides artwork

Working through the tracks, and there’s a generous number, each has an identity but the whole has a coherent identifiable charm. Some top choices are: Lockdown, With A Sound, Why Not, Everything I’m Not, Two Ton Feet, Dear John and Home.

On Lockdown you can hear the rawness of the streets he spent three years busking across America on. Appearing on these songs are howling dogs, traffic, footfall, basic guitar picking, whistling, tapping of the guitar for a beat and lyrics about abstract thoughts. The final shriek reveals the fear and semi-horror of it all.

With A Sound’s lyrics, “Caught between a rock/I’m afraid to fail and I’m afraid to succeed/So I’ll take my pack and carry it on my back/And fade away… “ tell the story of a homeless person. It’s a melodic song with a typical folk narrative.

Why Not has a sweet open-hearted sing-a-long chorus, “I want love/Obvious love/I want love to strike me like a hammer”. It’s a simple guitar song with bare feeling, accompanied by what sounds like the tapping of spoons and a bongo.

Everything I’m Not is very Leonard Cohen inspired with its compressed quirky and clever lyrics, softened by the accordion,“Everything that I’m not and all that I am has been said and done, that’s part of being a man”.

Two Ton Feet is destined for a designer jean or phone advertisement with its simple ironic smile appeal. However, Dear John is the perfect and sad illustration of the awkwardness of male communication with Interlude acting as a manic, desperate and drunken phone call referring to the same topic, appearing just before Dear John on the record.

Josh Matthews

Josh Matthews in the studio

Home is the ultimate wandering minstrel angst with its lyrics, “I wanna feel it pump through every single vein/I wanna hear it loud and clear in my feelings and feel it in my brain/A home/A home/A home”.

This album is different in a reassuringly and familiar way and big things could come to Josh Matthews.

A-Sides is a Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen and Seasick Steve themed record with a modern twist on the sea chanty and folk genres.

A-Sides will be released on January 14.

By Kate Dexter

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Dog Society – Emerge Album Review

New York band Dog Society are to release their new album Emerge as an independent release 19 years after their well-received debut, Test Your Own Eyes which was released by Atlantic/East West Records. They explain the gap simply as: “…life getting in the way”.

Dog Society’s newest record, Emerge, was co-produced by Rob Schnaapf and Tom Rothrock (Beck, Elliot Smith) meaning Emerge is the sound of the band recapturing their spirit.

Dog Society are tricky to pin down in terms of musical style and genre. They definitely are American rock yet a Beatlesesque Sgt Pepper style seeps through occasionally as in the opening track Being Here and later track, Pink Sun.

The second track A Good Friend slightly oddly combines a sweet accessible vocal and acoustic guitar in the verses but dropping into heavy rock for the choruses. This combination works much better on Scraped which has echoes also of Nirvana with tortured lyrics: “Crawling round a white padded room..”

There’s musical talent here and Dog Society are not afraid to use it. But perhaps the 19 years account for a coming together of too many ideas all at once. The mix of songs on the album can be confusing, almost experimental. Shade Grown is reminiscent of some Pink Floyd numbers and the Bowie style Spaceboots is possibly close to genius if the production could only keep up with what this track has to offer.

The Fuse Before and Suffer A Smile are more cohesive and accessible, the latter is rather sweet and catchy in a groovy Californian fashion.

The album artwork is delightful. This band has a lot to offer but perhaps they just need taming a tad.

Emerge is out on November 19.

By Kate Dexter

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