EP Review — “Just Ride” by Lane Dudley

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Image courtesy of Lane Dudley.

Power. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I start listening to Lane Dudley’s debut EP, “Just Ride.”

Lane’s vocals leave an immediate impression after the first several lines of carefully plucked acoustic arpeggios, instantly reminding me of legendary vocalists such as Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Layne Staley of Alice in Chains. Although Lane’s vocals and songwriting are reminiscent of grunge and hard rock acts, most of the songs are backed by an acoustic guitar, piano, lightly distorted electric guitar textures, finger-picked bass, and minimal drums, offering a refreshing approach to a sometimes worn-out genre.

There are several tracks that stand out to me immediately from “Just Ride,” from the dark and brooding opening track, “Matter At All,” with its blues-twinged lead guitar riff to “Give a Damn,” a classic homage to rock, marked by strong vocals, badass lyrics, and a driving beat. After listening a little more closely, however, I quickly noticed that there’s much more to Lane Dudley than dark, bluesy acoustic guitar riffs and strong, masculine vocals. A deeper sentiment makes a couple appearances on this album.

“Love Is” is a full-blown ballad, but it manages to maintain all of its masculinity– something that isn’t always easy to do and something that deserves to be lauded when it’s pulled off correctly. “Your Divine” appropriately comes right after “Love Is,” channeling the sweet guitar hooks of the Allman Brothers and blending it with the rugged earthiness of Eddie Vedder (not Pearl-Jam-Eddie-Vedder, mind you, Into-The-Wild-soundtrack-Eddie-Vedder Eddie Vedder). While these two tracks stand in contrast to the more in-your-face songs that comprise the rest of the album, they are arguably two of the best songs on the entire album.

Image courtesy of Lane Dudley.

Image courtesy of Lane Dudley.

The last two songs on the EP send the listener off on a darker note. “Just Ride” is the song from which the EP takes its title, and it begins on a foreboding and philosophical tone, echoing some of the themes that can be heard in bands like Dream Theater and Mastodon. The song builds and builds until it spills over into a perfectly executed bridge, which really makes the song stand out from some of the other darker songs on the album. “See Fire” is the last song on the EP and is also, in my opinion, the most Nashville-influenced track on this entire album. That’s East Nashville, mind you, not the clean and modern Nashville you find in Green Hills or 12 South. The whole song just has a dark, mournful, and chilling sound to it that I love, offering a review of the overall mood of the album and bringing the whole thing together excellently.

Overall, “Just Ride” is a valiant first release from an artist with a lot of potential. Lane has a voice that’s very hard to come by in the realm of singer-songwriters, and it fits his style perfectly. While at first he may seem a little rough around the edges, Lane is a talented musician with an ability to write truly heartfelt, passionate, and relatable music. My one criticism of the album is that at times it verges on sounding adolescent, but “Give a Damn” is the only time it comes close to sounding that way.

The verdict is this: Lane Dudley is a powerful vocalist and songwriter who tastefully combines elements of hard rock, blues, and classic rock all while maintaining the spirit of a singer-songwriter. I look forward to hearing more from him. In the meantime, show Lane some support by clicking on the links below.

→ Buy on iTunes

→ Like on Facebook

→ Subscribe on YouTube

→ Visit his website

Single Review — “Scary as Hell” by Noreen Prunier

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Photo credit: Abby Frenes Photography

Mournful. Haunting. Hesitant. All three words capture the spirit of country singer-songwriter Noreen Prunier’s new single, “Scary as Hell.” Noreen spent the last several months working on the single with producer Gus Berry in East Nashville, and by November 28th, 2014 she released it on iTunes, Spotify, and Noisetrade, where it was featured on “New and Notable,” receiving over 500 downloads.

Originally from Nassau County, New York, Noreen Prunier moved to Nashville, Tennessee in the fall of 2013 to start school at Belmont University and to pursue her career as a singer-songwriter. She may be from New York, but Noreen’s songwriting has a decidedly Southern element to it. This is especially evident on her latest single, which– when coupled with her new photos– is slightly reminiscent of a Flannery O’Connor short story.

“Scary as Hell” opens with a captivating guitar hook that Noreen wrote one day when she was noodling in open E tuning. After several bars, the first verse begins by telling a story about a lost love and the empty promises that left with it. If you’ve ever loved someone and they hurt you it can seem impossible to shake the memory when you meet someone new. This is exactly what Noreen sings about in the chorus when she says, “I’m so afraid of / How this could end up / ‘Cause when I lost him, I lost myself.”

"His eyes knew me / They saw straight through me" Photo credit: Abby Frenes Photography

“His eyes knew me / They saw straight through me” Photo credit: Abby Frenes Photography

After the chorus fades back into the main riff, the second verse echoes more of the fear we heard in the first verse: “You can say you’ll stay / But you sound the same / As the one who made me this way.” The chorus comes back anxiously, building up energy, releasing it into the bridge where Noreen addresses her new lover directly with all the fear and hesitation in her voice she’s been lamenting throughout the song. The bridge then breaks down into a fragile chorus accented by the tiny bell sounds of acoustic guitar harmonics before coming back triumphantly one last time.

The lyrics may be the same, but something about the way Noreen sings the last chorus seems to say that the pain and the fear are still there but she is moving on. The distant and reverberant vocals singing “scary as hell” at the end of the song seem to compliment this feeling just before the song resolves on a strummed guitar.

“Scary as Hell” is one hell of a song from this burgeoning singer-songwriter.

Buy on iTunes

Like on Facebook

Subscribe on YouTube

Visit her website

Track by Track Review — “There’s A Light On” by Brooklyn Doran

As Thanksgiving Day wraps up here in the US, I sit in my parents’ now-empty living room and reflect on the past year. The past year marks a period of change in my life, and now that my family (minus my brother, who is in Illinois) has retired to bed I am left to reminisce on these changes, what they mean, and why I’m so grateful for them. A little over a year ago I moved from my small hometown in North Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue my life’s calling in music. I started college at Belmont University, met new and wonderful people, visited places I had never been before, and much, much more. I’m so thankful for these changes, as they really made me a happier person and helped me see the world in new and beautiful ways. For the first time in what seems like forever I enjoyed school and learned so much, both from class and from my fellow students. I formed new relationships and cherished old ones. I came to a deeper understanding of “home,” and where it is and who it’s with. I experienced the passing of time and realized what a mysterious and healing thing it is. That being said, these changes also made me a much more thankful person. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, tonight I am thankful for family, a place to come back to, Grandma’s cooking, and music– specifically There’s A Light On, the debut EP from Canadian folk singer-songwriter Brooklyn Doran.

Brooklyn Doran poses with her band.

Brooklyn Doran poses with her band.

I say this quite often, but music really is a language that transcends time and place. It seems I am constantly reminded of this, and There’s A Light On is doing just that on this chilly November night in North Georgia. Brooklyn Doran is originally from a small town called Kenora in Ontario, but her music speaks to me as if it were written right here. Released on May 22nd, 2014 and produced by Adam Faux, Aaron Corbett, and Brooklyn Doran, There’s A Light On is a beautiful and honest collection of songs from this emerging Toronto artist. Here is a track-by-track breakdown of each song on the album. 1. “Cold Outside”: This is the perfect song to start the album. Warm steel pedal guitar tones in the intro layered over gently-plucked acoustic guitar give one the comforting feeling a warm home provides during the winter. As Brooklyn begins singing, the lyrics gradually point to a lover as her source of warmth and security when she sings, “Time is infinite / with your  skin against mine,” just before going into the chorus in which she says, “It is cold outside / but I’m right here in your arms, dear, tonight.” The chorus is followed by soft textures from clean electric guitar and brass instruments, evoking a sense of the strong and deeply rooted feelings the two have for each other. “Cold Outside” is a beautifully written song, from the lyrics to Brooklyn’s delivery to the arrangement and instrumentation. Please do yourself a favor and listen to it.

2. “There’s A Light On (Kitchen Song)”: The title track from Brooklyn’s EP is a bouncy, heavily swing-influenced piece driven by brass instruments, upbeat drums, and a groovy upright bass line. “There’s A Light On” masterfully combines elements of light and dark, as the song brings to mind images of dimly lit jazz clubs with the band in the stage lights and stands in stark contrast to the more low-key song “Cold Outside.” Even the lyrics create a scene of a light in the darkness when Brooklyn sings, “There’s a light on in the kitchen / no matter how late you go out.” Listening to music is very much a visual experience for me, and I can clearly imagine driving up to a small house on a dark winter night and being able to only see a light on in the kitchen as this song plays over the radio. I could listen to this song on repeat for a long time, and that’s saying something– the song itself is just shy of a minute long. My only complaint is that it’s not longer.

3. “Look Away”: The third track on this EP is very piano-intensive and really showcases Brooklyn’s talent as a vocalist. This song is by far the darkest song on the album, as it is clearly a rebuttal to a man who has caused a woman harm in some way. Brooklyn sings, “I can hear her thoughts / echo in his mind / but little moon-shaped scars / are all he left behind,” just before she begins to chant, “Look away / look away over here,” in the chorus. “Look Away” is a powerful song with a defensive tone for someone who has apparently been done wrong.

4. “Lansdowne”: “Lansdowne” is a heart-wrenching piano and vocal piece about a lost love. The song opens with tender and nostalgic words spoken to a lover: “Dance a waltz for cold hands / sing to me concrete romance.” This opening paints a picture of two people in love, but it seems ill-fated from the beginning given the melancholy notes and the longing words. The chorus adds grief to the tone of the song, saying, “Lansdowne, Lansdowne / I’m gonna lay my head / on this broken ground,” but the second verse confirms this suspicion when it says, “We’ll shake hands and part our ways / I know you can’t but wish you’d stay with me / invite me in for peppermint tea.” The rest of the song sees Brooklyn using the upper register of her voice as she laments “Lansdowne, Lansdowne.” This is such a sad song, but it is certainly well worth a listen and probably one of my favorite songs from the EP.

5. “s.s. calamity (Sink This Ship)”: The last song on the album is perhaps a continuation of the heartbreak heard in “Lansdowne.” Brooklyn repeatedly sings that “it is sinking,” leading into a powerful build in which she sings that “…I will sink this ship / if it comes to this,” eventually belting this refrain at the top of her lungs before the band goes into a musical break to finish the song. “s.s. calamity (Sink This Ship)” is a powerful way to end this brief and wonderful EP from an artist with a lot of potential.

Being an independent musician is hard work, and unfortunately a lot of it goes unpaid. Show Brooklyn Doran your support by buying her EP on Bandcamp here, or at the very least “like” her on Facebook here. Brooklyn also has a website, which you can find here.

Get your copy and download of There’s A Light Onhttps://brooklyndoran.bandcamp.com/releases

“Like” Brooklyn on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brooklyndoranmusic

Check out her website: http://brooklyndoran.com/#

Fall 2014 Playlist Now on Spotify

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify to highlight my favorite songs for fall this year. I will only add songs to this playlist that I have either featured on my blog or that I have seen performed live this year. All the bands on here are unsigned, so this is a great opportunity to discover new music and to also get more exposure for your own music! To find out how to submit your music for consideration, visit my Contact page here. Here’s the playlist– enjoy and be sure to follow it to hear new songs as they’re added!

Music Reviews, Tunes for Tea, and Murfreesboro Gig

School has kept me pretty busy this week, but there are still some pretty exciting things coming up. Here’s a brief little update.

Music Reviews
I know I always put a little P.S. at the end of my posts to talk about a cool new band I’ve been listening to, but now I’m going to start making an entirely separate series of posts devoted solely to reviewing new music. I listen to almost every kind of music, so I’m not really picky when it comes to a genre.

The only stipulation I have is that you mail me a physical copy of your CD or vinyl. Believe it or not, writing blog posts is really time consuming, and I don’t get paid to write reviews. Requiring that you send me physical submissions only keeps me from having to sift through so many submissions every day, but it also gives me a better feel for who you are as an artist and gives me a little musical artifact from a band that I think is cool. Of course, the publicity will be good for you, too, as I will always include buy links and links to social media as well as a music player if you’re on Soundcloud.

The address for submissions can be found in the “Contact” section of my blog. The link should be at the very top of the page.

Tunes for Tea
On the topic of music blogs, I myself was recently featured on a music blog based out of Toronto, Canada called Tunes for Tea. Doris Day, the writer for the blog, said some really kind things about my music, and I really appreciate it! You can read the blog post here.

Murfreesboro Gig with Jen Hodges and Spurge
I was sitting in my apartment last week when I got an email out of the blue from Jen Hodges, the frontwoman for a Nashville-based post rock band called Jen Hodges and Spurge. She asked if I would be interested in playing a show with them in Murfreesboro, to which I said yes, of course. Check out Jen Hodges and Spurge here and also check out the event details here. I’ll post more on my Facebook page as I find out more info about tickets.

Well, that’s it for this week. Enjoy your Wednesday, but just as importantly, enjoy the music!

P.S.

This week I’ve been listening a lot to the new single from a band called Of the Vine. The single is called “In Event of Moon Disaster” and it’s awesome. Of the Vine is probably in my top three favorite post-rock bands, right up there with Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You. Awesome, awesome stuff. I highly recommend you check it out.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ofthevine
Bandcamp: https://ofthevine.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://ofthevine.com/