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Recent album review #1
Maggot Brain is a dreadfully unspectacular album.

Maybe I'm being a pretentious wiener-dog, but my favorite track is the one most people bash - "Wars of Armageddon" - which has less to do with "Revolution 9" and is more like a really cool Santana-esque funk/jam, admittedly made funnier by its interspersed sound effects. But it wouldn't have worked without its awesome backbeat and insistent organ riffing.

The middle of the album features a bunch of shorter tunes that start out brilliantly ... such as some beautiful acoustic strumming on "Can You Get To That", a mindbending keyboard riff on "Hit It and Quit It", a ferociously fuzzy riff and vocals on "Super Stupid", quirky Jew's harp on "Back In Our Minds" ... but then dissolve into fun but mediocre pop songs. The harmonies are pretty, but there's not much behind them.

The 10-minute title track gets hyped as the greatest guitar solo ever, but aside from a few shimmering passages, much of it is boring and ordinary. It's cool how Clinton double-tracked it though, by delaying the second track, and although the low-key backing is haunting, the solo itself is less inspired than people make out. Maybe I gots no soul?

The whole album is engagingly freakish, but it also sounds like it was recorded down the hall - it's hard to believe Clinton would produce the ultra-lush America Eats Its Young just a few years later. Whilst completists will like what is a fun and undemanding slice of Funkadelica, there's not even one classic track to snare the casual fan.

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by Reviewer: Cosmic Ben

Posted: Monday 25th May 2015 10:25 PM

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Recent album review #2
I came across Canadian indie/folkie Liana C. DiMarco as a result of two of her tracks featuring on the sampler Series: Unsigned - A Compilation of New Canadian Music, that I reviewed a while back. I was sufficiently impressed by those two songs to check out her album I See No Rain.

LiANA's most distinguishing musical attribute is her rather unusual voice. It is a powerful womanly voice, rich and resonant, with its natural range leaning towards the upper end, such that she comes across as quasi-operatic - albeit untrained - somewhat like Joan Baez, but jauntier and more high-pitched. On most of the songs here, she accompanies herself on acoustic guitar, occasionally supported by what sounds like a simple penny whistle or recorder.

The track from this album that was featured on the sampler is the 5½ star "I Remember the First Time", a languid contemplation where LiANA's voice is slightly more subdued than elsewhere on the album, to positive effect, and she's accompanied by what sounds like the plucking of a harp rather than acoustic guitar. What's more, the composition is not only the strongest but also the longest number, but strong enough that it doesn't outstay its near 5-minute running time one bit.

Unfortunately, it turns out the rest of the album doesn't feature the attributes that make "I Remember the First Time" so good, such that whilst it stands tall, it's surrounded by much less notable material.

For elsewhere, LiANA's vocals are for the most part less restrained, and her voice is so powerful it can become exhausting to listen to over the course of an entire album. And the harp that complemented her singing so well on "I Remember the First Time" is absent from the rest of the material, often replaced by one-dimensional strumming that either does nothing more than maintain an elementary rhythm, or - on the slower numbers - punctuate her phrasing with just the odd chord here and there.

All in all then, I See No Rain consists of one genuinely meritable number and a lot of lesser stuff. And whilst the lesser material isn't exactly filler - some of it's sort of OK as far as it goes - the album gets a bit too samey with just voice and strumming, such that everything inevitably pales in comparison to that one standout track.

LiANA has a unique sound vocally, what one comment on her website describes as 'New Age Country-Opera' (though LiANA's music - at least on this album - is Folk, not Country), but I'm inclined to think that if she wanted to move beyond the Friday night student coffee-bar circuit, she'd need to polish her songs more, get them produced to a standard above the level of demos, and also rein in / discipline her vocal excesses - just a wee bit anyway.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon

Posted: Tuesday 26th May 2015 12:09 AM

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