Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Quick hits: Kidneythieves

February 18, 2011

I would be interested to hear what a Kidneythieves live set sounds like. Even though their modern rock draws liberally off industrial rhythms and nu-metal guitar tone, the arrangements and production serve the vocal melodies first and foremost. Which sound would get top billing in a live set? Is it still a rock song if the pop melody is the point? Does it really matter?

Actually, yes. Because as a set of rock songs, this feels pretty tepid, in that the heaviest hitting parts of the sound are turned down to make sure that the vocals cut through effectively. But as a set of really aggressive pop songs, this album works nicely. Free Dominguez’s mid-range female vocals contrast neatly with the distorted backdrop, making her voice stand out.

The songs here are all well engineered; the drums and guitars are crisp and clear (even when they’re mega-distorted). Dominguez’s voice is also commendably recorded; there’s no knocking any performance and/or recording method here. But it really comes down to this: Did you like Evanescence? Are you excited about the idea a muscled-up version of that sound? If so, you should get Tryptofanatic right here. If not, there’s other stuff to check out.

Corrin Campbell shows versatility in modern rock and pop

July 12, 2010

It’s a good time for women in rock. Paramore is having enormous success, Flyleaf is rockin’ it, and many more women in rock are coming out of the woodwork. Corrin Campbell is one of those.

The best moments of Campbell’s Game Night come when her vocals and songwriting style fall firmly in the arena with Paramore and Flyleaf’s melodic heavy rock. She does have some passable lighter material where she plays keys, but the best work is when she picks up her bass and rocks out. “Sunbeam”  channels Muse, opener “Find Your Way” has an Evanescence feel (remember them?), and “Always Be” feels like a heavier Kelly Clarkson.

Of the lighter stuff, “Remember Me” has a nice driving vibe, and “A New Page” is pretty, but the rock songs make a more consistent impression. Her voice fits over the keys nicely, in a very different way than her voice fits over the rock songs, which is a nice surprise. It’s good to hear a voice with versatility.

Corrin Campbell’s Game Night is a solid effort that establishes Campbell as a songwriter with a lot of room to grow in any direction. She could choose rock or mellow pop and run with it for a very solid collection of songs. She just needs to choose where she wants to go and go there.  Recommended for fans of rock bands with girl singers.

TyLean makes discomforting, experimental, dark music

February 10, 2010

Things I am a fan of: concept albums, found sound, cello, piano, non-linear songwriting, operatic vocals, dark moods. Things I am not a fan of: extreme dissonance, instrument abuse, amelodic songs. TyLean’s Between 10 and 2 features all of those things, and thus I am somewhat conflicted on what I think of the release.

TyLean fashions herself as a vocalist, “pianist,” and cello rapist. These are all very self-aware descriptions. Her strength lies in her vocals, which are operatic and intense. Her skill as a pianist is difficult to discern, but it’s definitely creepy throughout. And as for the cello raping, I’m not sure you’ve ever heard anything exactly like “Rosalyn.” I know I haven’t heard anything quite as creepy and eerie come out of a cello. There’s lots of scraping, creaking and painful sounds accompanying a tune about a serial killer (or a dream about a serial killer?).

This is extremely experimental music. If you like dissonant, artsy, horror-inspired music, Between 10 and 2 will satisfy your desires to the extreme. If you wish Evanescence was a horror-punk band, or that Paramore was more like Psycho and less like Twilight, then TyLean is also your girl. There’s not a tune here that doesn’t just ooze creepiness. And for some, that’s awesome. As for me, I prefer not to be discomforted by the music I listen to.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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