Locked in the Dream by Ksenia Valenti Review

Released in early March, Locked in the Dream is the third single from Ksenia Valenti’s upcoming album. The singer herself is a very talented vocalist, songwriter, actor and comedian who competed in the Russian reality show Sing If You Can. Citing one of her earliest musical memories as hearing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s fair to say I had high hopes for the song and her vocals.

On my first listening, the musical aspect that stuck out to me was the electronic melodious part just after the chorus. It sounded slightly creepy but fit in with the subject of dreams that’s explored in the lyrics. I liked how it followed the familiar formula of a dance track, with the first half of the chorus using less layers than the latter half as well as a build up to a climax in the third verse. Although, I did expect a bigger climax which would have made the track more pleasing. I also think the song could have ended straight after Ksenia stopped singing. It would have made more of an impact, which in a primarily dance track is ideal.

When it came to Ksenia’s vocals I found that her voice has an absolutely classic pop sound. It was clear that she had very good vocal training; her tone was well supported and I didn’t hear one pitchy note. In fact, on the word ‘can’t’ in the lyrics ‘I keep you locked in a dream because you and I just can’t move in’ she changed into her higher register smoothly and seemingly without effort. My only issue with the vocal delivery was in the third verse on the repetition of ‘waking up in the night because I hear the music’. The first time Ksenia sings the lyric it’s fairly low, so I think the repetition could have been an octave higher. This would have contributed to the build up and climax that I discussed previously.

Overall, I think this track is catchy and worthy of a ranking on the dance charts. There were a few little things that could have improved the song, but it was well written, sung and produced. I give it 9/10.

Check out her SoundcloudFacebook Page and her Website

Find out more about Ksenia in my interview with her

Fumes by Triple A: Album Review

Triple A, a four piece band from Plymouth, released their second album Fumes earlier this month. The band describes their sound as a fusion of rock, funk, folk and blues; so you can imagine how unique their sound is. The album shows this through both diverse instrumentation and effects, as well as musical and lyrical content. With madness being the concept for the album, the listener is taken on a tumultuous journey through the human psyche.

The first track, Rainy Days, samples falling rain and dialogue setting up the mood of the album quite nicely. I enjoyed the frequency of rhythmic changes in the song, which I later discovered is a feature throughout most of the album. Another characteristic of the album introduced in the song is how the melodic line brings out dominant function chords; something I’ve found that has become unique to the genre of rock. The Looney of East Street had some interesting parts, specifically at 1:40 and 3:00, but it wasn’t ‘single material’. The next track, named Modern Addictions, had a brief pause at the beginning before the drums came in, which I thought could have been repeated more throughout the song. I also thought that each section of the track could have been shorter but more frequent.

Hunger began with interesting beat groupings that had me attempting to count it out (with little success), although I enjoyed the mental challenge. The rhythm changed extremely frequently in this one which became a little disorientating; however, I found the verses extremely catchy. The band’s musical prowess was on show in Footfalls with the addition of Moriaty giving the song some seriously needed attitude. So? had a very catchy beat, with the guitar part getting less staccato the second time around. I also found myself feeling relief when the guitar solo began. If a song like that didn’t have a ripping guitar solo I would consider it blasphemous.

Triple A


Fumes continued with the vibe set out in he previous track. I think it needed more obvious transitions into each rhythmic section, like a rest or break. In the minute before the song becomes stable, Fin. contains some very impressive instrumental work. The rhythm around 2:40 was also very catchy. I was surprised when Befriend the Dead introduced the piano, although I enjoyed the use of the instrument there was no warning or lead up. I think if the song was further up in the album it would have sounded less out of place.

The piano was continued in Comatose, with a heavy reliance on fifths which would not usually work in pop music but as rock is based around the interval it worked well. The vocals in this tracks were also the best, with the chordal feel complementing the piano accompaniment well. Phantoms switches from piano to acoustic guitar, with two thirds of the song bringing out the contrast of the acoustic softness to the last third of distorted guitar. I really enjoyed the vocals contributed by Mad Dog Mcrea in Railway Queen, that and the fast pace of the song could very much lend itself to be a single.

My main criticisms of this album are the order in which the songs appear and the length of some of the tracks. In my opinion the best works were in the last half of the album, if it was flipped it may have flowed better. Also, most of the longer songs could have been split into two, with the shorter halves having potential to be interludes. However, the band is extremely talented and clearly have some serious compositional chops. I give the album 7/10.

My Little Legs Can’t Keep Up by Rebecca Karpen: EP Review

New York singer Rebecca Karpen released her latest EP My Little Legs Can’t Keep Up on July 30; with a self-confessed mix of Joni Mitchell and Tennessee Williams this EP will, to put it bluntly, give you the dreaded emotions. It consists of the thoughts and feelings of a teen over the space of twenty-eight minutes, owing much emotional depth to the vocal tone of Karpen and her baritone ukulele. I took a listen, and was surprised at what I heard.

The first track, Stop You’re Over Thinking It, sets up the tone of the EP with Rebecca’s signature instrument. It’s obvious from the get go that the song is going to be emotionally charged, but the rhythm took a hit because of it. It needed to be more steady as it was difficult to keep up. I loved the interesting chordal progressions in Temple in Athens. I also thought her falsetto showed promise, with most transitions towards her higher register fairly seemless.

Cragfast signalled a slight change in feel, with the use of a guitar instead of ukulele. In this track it was evident that Rebecca needs to work on her vocal support, her tone became unsteady as the progressed and as the lyrics became more emotional. Although, I did enjoy her choice to speak rather than sing some of the lyrics. This is a poignant choice that clearly shows her intuition in regard to conveying emotions and telling a narrative. I think the song itself could have used a simpler and more vulnerable beginning, providing more contrast to the rest of the piece.

The title track began with distant sounding instrumentation and vocals. An interesting choice which I’m sure was deliberately metaphorical in relation to the lyrics. I found that I preferred Rebecca’s tone in this because it was softer and more vulnerable; meaning it was easier for her to support her tone and keep it steady. From the content of this emotionally-charged song, you can immediately gather that this artist has great potential. If she applied her talent to songs that commented society, possibly mixing some political issues into the mix, I think she could be the next Bob Dylan. An icon for the masses to look to when ‘the system’ is in disarray. (As a side note, I also imagine Rebecca would be excellent at creating and performing Slam Poetry).

All in all, the EP needs a little work. However, there is an element of rawness to her performance that speaks to her song-writing ability. With some work on her vocals and a little more experience, I predict she could be one of the greats. I give the EP a 6/10.

You can listen to her music on Bandcamp and YouTube

Also, you can check out her Facebook Page

Feather by BREATHE: Album Review

British artist BREATHE releases his new album soon and gave me the opportunity to have a listen and share my thoughts on it. With particular interests in metal and progressive music, it’s clear that his eclectic style has yet to transform into a particular sound. However, this latest album certainly brings together many elements that the Seed EP did not, and is a step in the right direction to finding his niche.

The album begins with the familiar prelude of Seed vol 1, with its low, sultry piano chords and excellently timed beat. Lift, with vocals by Helen Victory, was an amazing match. The vocal prowess of Victory lends itself to the crescendo of the music, especially when she transitions into her falsetto. I would have liked to hear the drums come crashing in straight after the vocals; I found myself waiting for the beat to come in for too long.

Back Again had seemless transitions between sections, with the vocals sung in a different accent than the usual American (a nice change). I think Matthew James (the vocalist) needs to work on supporting his voice through his diaphragm so his pitch is more steady, but definitely has potential as a singer. The Clay interlude reminded me of a ticking clock, with the subtle build up of layers and brief break in the middle creating an interesting sonic picture reminiscent of typical movie scenes where a character travels to a new and exciting place.

BREATHE


With vocals by Jake Brown and Zahid Qureshi, the title track Feather poses an interesting contrast. The lyrics are quite heavy, and the lightness of the piano brings out the emotional significance of the vocal line. It also contrasts with the effect put on the melody, creating what sounds like a physical distance when the whole song is quite personal. Probably the best part of the song was when the electric guitar cane in. Definitely a good choice to bring the message home.

The last two tracks, Nerves and Seed vol 2 were probably my personal favourites. The former had an interesting solo guitar bit intermingled with arpeggios on the piano, and although together they sounded confusing, both parts separately were catchy. Will Heggadon’s falsetto was amazing, transitioning between his vocal ranges was also expertly executed. Seed vol 2 was based loosely on a pentatonic scale, differing enough from the other tracks to make it interesting but not enough to seem out of place.

All in all, this is a solid debut album. I think there could have been some improvements, mostly minor. Definitely a step in the right direction for finding the perfect sound. I give it 8/10.

Interview with Aaalyssa DeBoer

Genesis, the debut album for rising star Aaalyssa DeBoer is set to release on the 27th of August. A combination of electronic house and experimental, Aaalyssa worked hard to find her sound and perfect it for her new album. Earlier this week, Aaalyssa was kind enough to answer a few of my questions on music, life and Genesis. 

1. For readers who may be new to your music, how would you characterise your sound?
I don’t want to label it but my music can generally be put into the category of minimal house. It can also be classified as experimental. I put a lot of classical vibes into my music though.

2. Your new album Genesis comes out late this month, what was the inspiration behind the work?
My inspiration would have to be my imagination. It’s like what if you were sneaking amidst a revolution? What if you’re wandering through the forest and you catch a glimpse of a faerie? My imagination is that of a child and I use that to my advantage.

3. Do you have a favourite track on the album? Or maybe a particular track that you’re excited for everyone to hear?
That’s a hard decision! The one I can listen to forever would have to be This is Not Reality. I usually listen to the same song for hours on end until I get bored of it. This one never loses its appeal for me and it just suites any situation no matter your mood.

4. What enticed you to take on a career in music? Was it something you always wanted to do, or was there a moment in your life where you realised the music life was for you?
I always had trouble finding music I liked. I would think I found a genre that I could listen to and then it would turn out it was only a few songs. That is what really drove me to it. The world needed more amazing music in it.

5. As I understand it, you had to put some things on hold in order to find your sound. Do you have any advice for struggling musicians trying to find their way?
Yes I did. I had to deal with so many people wondering why my music didn’t sound like dubstep or house to the point I started to not like anything I made. If people are negative and tell you that you aren’t going to make it, you need to cut them out of your life. You’ll make it, it’s just a matter of whether you’ll give up before it happens. The best piece of advice I can give is to not give up.

Check out my review of the EP here

For more information on Aaalyssa check out her website

Genesis by Aaalyssa DeBoer EP Review

Minimal House artist Aaalyssa DeBoer released her latest EP Genesis on the 27th of August. Although there are only four tracks included, she uses that time to show her increasing talent in the field. Especially in the middle two tracks, it is obvious that she has been honing her skills, with very smooth transitioning and amicable stylistic choices. 

The first track, entitled Genesis, employed the use of a dampened beat. I would have liked it better if that beat was used throughout the track rather than in certain sections. What would have also improved the song is if the dampened beat faded out of into a connected section. Aurora Trailing was had a much smoother sound, with interesting layers that sounded almost contrapuntal. The constant beat was also helpful in orientating oneself in the song. My only criticism of this track was that it faded out too quickly in the final few seconds. A more gradual decrescendo or a continuation of the basic beat into the next song would have been easier on the ears.

I was very impressed by the seamless fluidity in which the melody transitioned from a piano sound to an electronic sound in This Is Not Reality. As the track had a subtle beat rather than a driving one, I think this song in particular would have benefitted from a loud, celebratory climactic section. In Blue Jets and Red Sprites I was quite surprised to find myself listening to a bit of a swing beat. In techno music, the main focus is keeping a steady beat. When a rhythm is swung it feels like it lags behind the beat; because of this I wasn’t sure whether Aaalyssa’s endeavour would work. However, I was pleased to hear that it worked exceptionally well, the only negative thing about it was that it wasn’t in the forefront enough for my liking. 

Although the EP gets off to a bit of a slow start, it is clear that Aaalyssa has creativeness and talent. It would have been nice to hear at least one or two big climaxes and a few of the sound choices could have been better, but she shows promise. I give it 7/10. 

Check out my interview with Aaalyssa here