Album Review: Infrastructure (The Chandler Estate)

The Chandler Estate is made up of experienced musicians hailing from the bands My Favorite, The Secret History, Mad Planets and Boycrazy. Although their debut record, Infrastructure, only has four tracks, it’s clear that this band has a unique sound and quite a lot of talent. The album beautifully blends pop melodies and guitar riffs with the underlying indie style of songwriting and vocal delivery. All four songs are worthy of toe tapping and endless repeats stuck in your head for days on end. “Past Tenses” is the darkest and most intense of the four but is executed in a way that won’t leave you feeling depressed. The third track, “El Camino Real,” features a simple and repetitive chorus that is somehow addictive and never annoying. Infrastructure has the signature indie pop stamp and will leave you more than ready for this band to put out more music.

Artist: The Chandler Estate

Album: Infrastructure

FCC: Clean

Album Review: The Burden of Unshakeable Proof (Vanessa Peters)

After writing and recording 27 songs in preparation for her seventh album, Vanessa Peters settled on ten personal tracks to make up The Burden of Unshakeable Proof. Her background in creative writing serves her well in her songwriting. Her lyrics are thoughtful and honest but still poetic and full of metaphors. Peters has been compared to (& mistaken for) Aimee Mann, one of her own musical idols. Songs like “Delicate” manage to blend the tenderness of a ballad without being depressing; instead, the melodies and instrumentation are reflective and thought provoking. “206 Bones” highlights her folk-rock side while “Atmosphere” is a gentle, indie-rock tune. Peters’ vocal on “Change Your Disguise” is reminiscent of Alanis Morissette’s relaxed and almost spoken singing style. As a whole, this album radiates the down-to-earth and captivating way Peters shares her feelings through music.

Artist: Vanessa Peters

Album: The Burden of Unshakeable Proof

FCC: Clean

Album Review: High Dreamer (Kylie Odetta)

With High Dreamer, Kylie Odetta breaks away from her previous production-heavy sound and delivers five simple and beautiful tracks. Her signature emotional lyrics are coupled with commercially viable melodies and grounding piano parts. The title track, “High Dreamer,” showcases her ability to deliver haunting melodies and capture a cinematic feel in just over four minutes. “When It Rains” is in a similar vein and makes you feel like Odetta is looking right in your eyes as she sings. Between the production, smooth vocals and perfectly constructed chorus on “Sweet Innocence,” this song could compete with the top pop songs. In contrast, “Can’t Erase It” is a bluesy, soulful ballad with hints of Norah Jones and Duffy, proving that Odetta can’t be contained in a pop or indie box. She closes her album out by going completely acoustic on “Let Me Love You.” It’s jazzy and romantic with a beautifully executed vocal. High Dreamer surely brings many new fans to her well-earned and deserved following.

Artist: Kylie Odetta

Album: High Dreamer – EP

FCC: Clean

Album Review: Singing Saw (Kevin Morby)

Singing Saw is Kevin Morby’s third solo album, and proves that he only continues to improve his craft. The indie rocker uses prominent bass lines and even some brass (“I Have Been to the Mountain”) to showcase his diverse music abilities. His relaxed style of delivering lyrics makes the songs feel more intimate instead of overdone. “Singing Saw,” “Water” and “Black Flowers” reveal an old country influence with their instrumentation, production and vocal twang. If chill, vibey ballads are your cup of tea, “Drunk and On a Star” will be your new best friend. If you’re looking for some synth rock with unexpected surprises (hint: tempo changes), check out “Dorothy.” Morby gets emotional on the ballad “Ferris Wheel” that features just his vocal with a piano. At least one of the songs on Singing Saw is bound to get stuck in your head and draw you back again and again.

Artist: Kevin Morby

Album: Singing Saw

Label: Dead Oceans

FCC: Clean

Album Review: Blue Wave (Operators)

Operators’ is categorized under “Dance & House” on iTunes, but they describe themselves as analog post-punk as well. The musical diversity allows them to bring back ‘80s signature sounds without compromising their edginess. Blue Wave, their debut album, is a project led by Dan Boeckner (Divine Fits, Wolf Parade). Track #3 (“Cold Light”) is the lead single and doesn’t disappoint with its full, synth-rock sound and summer anthem feel. “Control” and “Nobody” dance into the techno world while “Shape of Things” and “Evil” showcase the band’s rock and roll abilities. The album closes with “Space Needle” and proves that Boeckner isn’t afraid to be emotional with his vocals.

Artist: Operators

Album: Blue Wave

Label: Last Gang Records

FCC: Clean

Album Review: Make Your Own Bed (Sarah Burton)

Sarah Burton is no stranger to making records. After releasing an EP in 2007, and two full-length albums in 2010 and 2012, Burton stuns once again with Make Your Own Bed. The piano-driven instrumentation (which she played herself) ties her to Sara Bareilles, and her raw vocals add a hint of Alanis Morrissette. Between her phrasing and voice’s timbre, she can be compared to Anna Nalick. Burton combines elements of her previous releases (acoustic folk, country, and blues) to create a diverse album. With “Make Your Own Bed,” the title track, Burton proves that she’s tough and not afraid to be a little rock and roll. She shows off her soulful side in “Grind My Teeth” but swiftly moves to a more delicate and vulnerable vocal for “So Long” and “I will be free.” She returns to her country elements with “Red” and delivers it with power-ballad instrumentation guaranteed to pull at every heartstring. No matter what style of music you prefer, Burton has a song for you in Make Your Own Bed.

Artist: Sarah Burton

Album: Make Your Own Bed

Label: Sarah Burton / Fontana North

FCC: Clean

Album Review: The Gates (Young Empires)

Young Empires may have started in 2009, but waiting until 2015 to debut their first full-length album proves that slow and steady wins the race. The Gates opens with “Mercy,” a powerful and intense track followed by the dance-worthy and oh so modern title track, “The Gates.” The trio hails from Toronto and blends the indie pop, electronic and alternative dance genres to create their unique sound. Some tracks, like “So Cruel” and “Sunshine”, mix pieces of the signature ‘80s sound with modern electronic elements to bridge the gap between throwback and current. The simple melody in “Stranglehold” will stick with you for at least a few days. With “Never Die Young,” Young Empires displays their versatility and ability to pull off a harder, alternative rock sound. The album ends with “Uncover Your Eyes” which is arguably the most commercial song and could perfectly underscore the ending of a movie.

Artist: Young Empires

Album: The Gates

Label: Pirates Blend

FCC: Clean

Album Review: 7 Layers (Dotan)

Released in 2014, 7 Layers by Dotan highlights his delicate storytelling voice. The album is driven by acoustic guitar and carefully added in instrumentation that doesn’t take away from the bare bones of each song. Plagued by stage fright, Dotan forced himself to test out the songs in the living rooms of complete strangers. This forced him to be vulnerable and contributes to the emotional beauty in every song. His singer/songwriter style features catchy melodies such as the choruses of “Hungry” and “7 Layers.” Adding in layered vocals creates a full sound while keeping the simplicity intact. With “Home” and “Home II” (as well as the interlude “Tonight”), listeners are taken on a dynamic and anthemic journey. Dotan gives artists like Bon Iver a run for their money with 7 Layers.

Artist: Dotan

Album: 7 Layers

Label: Republic Records

FCC: Clean

Album Review: Marlon Williams (Marlon Williams)

Marlon Williams’ self-titled debut album features nine tracks that are diverse but all connected by the country thread. Hailing from a small town in New Zealand, Williams combines his classical training and years spent in choir with raw, personal experiences. Each song has a unique identity and Williams delivers them all with honest vocals and melodies. While “Hello Miss Lonesome” has the upbeat guitar-driven foundation akin to Mumford & Sons, the track “I’m Lost Without You” is a throwback to the ‘50s with its lilting instrumentation and soulful chorus vocals. Other tracks (such as “Lonely Side of Her”) exemplify the honesty in folk music. Williams is certainly starting off on the right foot with this emotion-infused album.

Artist: Marlon Williams

Album: Marlon Williams

Label: Dead Oceans

FCC: 5