Win Peter Winters

It’s a bit trite at this point to start a review with something along the lines of “in this sea of overproduced busy-ness business along comes Win Peter Winters with a gorgeously nuanced post classical folk pop fusion yada yada”, so I won’t do that. Already acts like Mumford & Sons have shown that people are both ready and willing to take the time to listen to some truly great songwriting with acoustic textures. The music has been compared to many things, but I think I’m gonna go with Rachel’s on this one. Except with more banjo.

What I really want to talk about regarding this new self titled album is the insistence of pop aesthetics with classical instrumentation. Glock, banjo, sound recordings and a lovely cello (Chris’s main instrument) combine with never-not-completely-not-dissonant lyrics to give the vague impression of being lost at sea. The vibe is melancholy and a bit lonely, but with a refreshing sense of dramatic irony (especially the quirky final track, “World Goes On”).

Though I wish the initial track was a bit stronger, by the time we get to “Rain” I was able to completely lose myself in the music, and directly following that we get “Ocean”, the above linked and my personal favorite. The concept album has generally consistent orchestration, but this particular track has a certain patience to it, which I love, and I’m always a sucker for a good solid refrain at the end of several successive stanzas. I know, I’m a nerd.

Listen and purchase at his bandcamp and like his Facebook page.

If you’d like me to review your own music, just ask. I love getting new ear candy!

Urceus Exit – Compensation for the Sound of Silence (disc 1)

It’s a tough thing, in this ever changing world, to be aware of one’s history while at the same time yearning for something new and different, and I’ve found that the electro sector has had a hell of a time trying to figure out what to do next. They often lean too heavily on either putting more in or taking more out, and it turns me off.

That said, I found Compensation for the Sound of Silence to be an extremely pleasing mix of those two options. In a word, I would describe this music as “undulating”. I got the very vivid impression that I was standing in a dark room, when suddenly the darkness began to shimmer and vibrate in the shape of sine waves, neurons, and, at times, a chorus of pale hands trying to rip me to shreds. I mean this in the best possible way.

Fitting to the album title, Urceus Exit remembers their most important tool in music… namely, silence. While there are few true pauses, almost every track makes sure to remind us that, while driving beats, arpeggiated blips, soundscapes, and baritone vox are here to help us that, eventually, all undulation ceases. Then it drives back in again. It’s a pleasing thing.

The overall sound achieved thankfully avoids the muddiness you sometimes run across in this genre. As a final touch, at key moments I was blown away by some truly compositional harmonic flavors, leaving me with a final impression of Voltaire meets Download. Head on over to urceusexit.com to learn more, purchase, and contact.

And a bonus:

Urceus Exit
by Austin Henry Dobson

I INTENDED an Ode,
And it turn’d to a Sonnet
It began a la mode,
I intended an Ode;
But Rose cross’d the road
In her latest new bonnet;
I intended an Ode;
And it turn’d to a Sonnet.

Music Review: “Anymore…” from Bryan Titus

The greatly anticipated debut album from singer/songwriter Bryan Titus has finally arrived. It is a labor of love and the result of many years hard work… and brother, it shows.

The album opens up with the deliciously mischievous A Little More, letting us know to expect the unexpected. Already we get a sense of the enormous personality of Bryan’s vocals, not to mention that great sense of fun so obvious to those who have seen him perform. Then we ramp it up for the stirring song from whence the album gets its name, only to slow it down with the anthem-level You Got Life. The song order manages to showcase Bryan’s diversity without being jarring, and as each song progresses we are lulled into the sense that anything goes, and that’s okay.

“Anymore…” is dedicated to the memory of Bryan’s father, so it’s appropriate that it ends with a chilling cover of the Alice in Chains classic Man in the Box. More than any other track, this one really displays the emotive quality of Bryan’s singing, as well as certifying his strong rock roots. It also further cements his ability to pull together a variety of genres into a cohesive record… Or show, or house party, or secluded field, or whatever. Seriously, the guy plays everywhere. There is probably some little green guy wearing a Titus shirt on Mars. He’s certainly been playing up a storm around L.A. for years, relying on word-of-mouth and fierce online support to gather his ever-growing crowds of adoring fans at locally cherished venues like the Mint, House of Blues, and Harvell’s. I’m happy to report that his studio of choice somehow managed to translate his charisma to track, thus providing you and I with an authentic listening experience so often lacking in contemporary popular music.

In addition to his outstanding vocals are the lilting slides/balls-out riffs of the versatile John Weed, and the masterful rhythms of drummer Jeremy Miller. Both of these musicians truly understand Bryan’s music, and it makes each track both cohesive and interesting. Just listen to relevantly titled A War Inside to see what I mean; as John’s guitar sidles alongside Jeremy’s marching snare (think Paul Simon), the tune grows all the more meaningful by the reinforcing of its theme. Then listen to SMC student favorite Numb to get an idea of their impressive range, a skill that grows increasingly important in the 15-second window of the modern world. Throw into the mix Will Weissman’s brilliantly understated bass lines to keep it all moving forward, then add a bit of fantastic production and lush vocal harmonies, and you’ve got a fully dynamic sound that manages modernity without forgetting its roots.

While I could harp on for a while about the incredible performers and engineers involved on “Anything…”, put together on a shoestring budget with a lot of old-fashioned elbow grease, the overall vibe is one that places excellent songwriting absolutely front and center. It is impossible to overstate just how much the world needs more music like this. I give this album 5 indie stars out of 5.

Find out more about Bryan Titus at bryantitus.com, iTunes, and his Myspace.