Tiny Boats – No Tiny Feat

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Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been digesting the album “The Broken Vessels” from a new group called “Tiny Boats”. It’s been a somewhat humbling, stupefying, and inspiring experience, and by the time this review is done, you’ll understand why I chose those words.

When I review an album, I lean not only on my perspective as music lover, but also on my experience and insight as a songwriter, musician, music producer, and audio engineer. Perhaps that makes me more critical, as I tend to analyze the album rather than simply listen to it, but I find it actually helps me better understand the artistry and effort behind each project.

The first few seconds of this album made me nervous… as I heard a simple acoustic guitar part, drenched in an infinite sea of reverb I braced myself for the worst…. Oh please, don’t let this be painful to my tender ears!!! And then…just a couple of seconds into the song – I found myself completely entranced in the music. But, more on that later….

This album is hard to describe, but it is a fantastic blend of styles, ambitiously produced, with songs that have been crafted by lyrical and musical artisans – leaving them with a level of depth and artistry that is sorely lacking in so much of the cookie-cutter music that is popular today.

This may be the first album from Tiny Boats, but it is actually not the first time that the members have worked together. Jason and Jesse previously worked on a number of songs under the name of Herod the Fink. I don’t know why they chose to work under a new name on this project, but it was a good choice, as Tiny Boats reflects a maturity that leaves the old “Herod the Fink” tracks sounding pretty amateurish by comparison. This album represents a new beginning for them – not because they have abandoned their “old” sound, but because they have perfected it and taken it to an entirely different level.

Stylistically – where to begin? American and European folk, rock, pop, indie rock, even a little country and punk… somehow all rolled together in a fairly dramatic, sometimes theatrical format. At times they sound very “retro”, as if they were straight out of the early days of rock, and at other times they sound very progressive, even reminiscent of rock legends such as Rush. Still other times they flirt with modern pop rock sounds that typify bands such as Imagine Dragons, and still other times they bring to mind the quirky folk inspired sounds of Midas Whale.

The album production seems thoughtfully done, with layer after layer of sounds alternating with stripped down, intimate sections of music. The songs are dynamic from start to finish, and the fusion of many styles keeps the project interesting from one song to the next.

While some songs are certainly stronger or more enjoyable than others, I didn’t really feel that there were any “fluff” songs on the album – each song seems to hold it’s own. The first song on the album – “Burn in the Sun”- is a fantastic song that provides a very strong opening to the album, and quickly makes my favorites list. Next up is “Being and Doing” which brings to mind the “Rush” sound I mentioned previously. Midway through the album, the song “I Built These Walls” borders on chaotic at times as they push the boundaries of their eclectic style, starting with a slow, intimate, and produced sound and then working their way into a high speed, less polished “garage band” type of sound and then alternating back and forth several times between these two incredibly different styles. Strangely enough, they seem to do it with ease. As they dive into “We Waited for Sunshine” they give off a retro vibe reminiscent of the late 50’s and early 60’s. Skipping ahead to “Polaris”, they have a melancholy sound that is very sparse at some times, and richly layered at other times, with a creative approach to the production that helps it stand out on the album – this was definitely another favorite of mine. The album ends with “Broken Vessels” – a fast paced song that seems to blend folk and punk, a sound that is certainly a big part of their “signature” sound.

I mentioned earlier that my attempt at reviewing this album left me humbled, stupefied, and inspired. The stupefied part is that there is so much to say about this album that I’m at a loss for words. How do I communicate the interesting blend of styles? The very dramatic and theatrical moments in their arrangements? The way they effortlessly shift between a stripped down and intimate feel and a highly produced, layered feel? The genuine songs that are not written from formulas, but are written from the heart? I can only say – give it a listen.

As for being humbled, I sincerely am. Frankly, I was not a huge fan of “Herod the Fink”, (sorry guys!) and despite Jason’s long history with music and recording, my impression is that he is still a relative newcomer in the world of recording and producing. I’m humbled because his production work certainly doesn’t sound like that of a newcomer at all, but that of a seasoned pro. The passion and honesty of the songs are not lost in the production: at times, I can hear the little “human” elements in their performances that come from real musicians, which I truly enjoy. Clearly, as musicians and also as a production team, Tiny Boats is not afraid of blazing their own trail and doing so with style.

But mostly, I’m inspired. In this day and age of “bubble gum” pop, and cookie-cutter production, Tiny Boats offers a refreshing experience that draws on great musical inspirations from the past, and packages them boldly, with a modern sound and style all their own. With a fairly average voice, a home studio, and a band made up of only 2 people, Tiny Boats has created something special – not with gimmicks, but with good writing, good production, and obvious passion.

Tiny Boats isn’t “just” an album, it’s art.

Learn more about Tiny Boats and sample their music at http://tinyboatsofficial.com

By Matt Mylroie of Driftwood Tide Music
http://www.driftwoodtidemusic.com

 

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Tiny Boats – No Tiny Feat

The Ghost and the Guest: An Unexpected and Unlikely Album

Jake Workman The Ghost and the Guest is an interesting album that was recorded in a simple bedroom studio and was released last year by LDS artist Jake Workman. Loyal Linescratchers followers may recognize Jake from his days with the group “The Sweater Friends”. Prior to listening to this album, I had never heard any of his music, and knew little about him. So, it was with a completely fresh and unbiased perspective that I was able to sit down and listen to his music.

I reviewed the album in a digital download form and found that the download contained much more than just music. Graphics from the album are included, as is a scanned copy of a handwritten thank you note from Jake. Most interesting though was a large booklet, which was conveniently provided in a number of different e-reader formats. Right about here is where things started to get weird, interesting, or sentimental – depending on how you look at it. The included e-book comes in at over 40 pages. In the preface, we learn that the songs were inspired by the life of Henry Pickett Pratt, who was born in 1866, and left a journal about some of his early life – a journal which was read by Jake Workman. Something about this man and his experiences struck a chord (pun intended) with Jake, and provided the inspiration for the songs on the album. The e-book includes portions of the journal that provide a backdrop of sorts for the songs. Jake has intended for the journal and the music to be enjoyed simultaneously in order to get the full experience of what he intended to create and capture.

Continue reading “The Ghost and the Guest: An Unexpected and Unlikely Album”

The Ghost and the Guest: An Unexpected and Unlikely Album

Campfire Carols from Jiminy Finn and the Moneydiggers

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Crossposted in a slightly different form at A Motley Vision.*

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Campfire CarolsBlair Hodges, whom you probably know best as an insightful reviewer of smart-person books you never quite manage to read, also does drums and vocals (usually backup) and kazoo for the band Jiminy Finn and the Moneydiggers. We’ll talk more about the kazoo later.

Continue reading “Campfire Carols from Jiminy Finn and the Moneydiggers”

Campfire Carols from Jiminy Finn and the Moneydiggers

Da Korum – Worldz Without Numba

I finally loaded Da Korum’s latest EP into iTunes yesterday. Based on all the hype surrounding Worlds Without Numba, I was expecting a masterpiece.

It’s a piece alright.  This was the longest 11.5 minutes of my life. I have had visits to the dentist that were less painful. I would rather see Betty White naked (and confess it to my bishop) than listen to this album again.

I will spare you the horror of listening to this album by describing this (I hesitate to call it “musical”) train wreck. So horrific, in fact, that I’m sure it will cause many “Nights without Slumba”.

A quick run-down of the tracks:

“Back (4 Tha Furst Time)”: My main recollection of this song was that they said “yo” an awful lot and mentioned R.L. Stine. Though the Goosebumps series would hardly qualify as high literature, I was pleasantly surprised to hear they read at all. A third grade reading level is apropos; that seems to be their emotional age.

“U Don’t Understand Me” feat. Grizelle: I had already assumed Da Korum were a couple of 20-somethings still living at home. This song confirmed my suspicions with the line, “when I turned 18, I ran away from home and worked at Arby’s for two weeks until I moved back home.” Is it even possible to run away from home once you’re 18? Though I can hardly stomach listening to a couple of spoiled adult children rap about how rough their lives are, I actually felt sorry for the dude who went to summer camp and didn’t earn a single merit badge. He breaks down and cries right in the midst of recording. Why didn’t they edit that part out? I’m guessing they spent all their allowance and had no money left to cover the costs of re-doing the vocals. Studio time IS expensive. Despite all of that, this song is probably the highlight of the CD. I am impressed with the female vocals. I am amazed that they even speak to girls, let alone convince them to appear on a record. She probably just works for the studio.

“Worldz Without Numba”: This is easily the worst astronomy lesson ever taught. If the members of Da Korum actually received high school diplomas, they should be taken away immediately and all their teachers should be fired. Do they even teach spelling in school anymore? They change “care” to “ker” so they can rhyme with “err” (which is their new version of “air”). Did you not realize “care” and “air” already rhymed?

Da Korum seem to be sadly ignorant of how sadly ignorant they are. They even attempt to dazzle us with their knowledge of the Theory of Relativity.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Einstein starts to haunt them for this botch job.

Can they just hie to Kolob and never come back?

Da Korum – Worldz Without Numba

Haun’s Mill: The handsewn CD

When Syphax first emailed the Linescratchers’ author list about Haun’s Mill, I was instantly intrigued:

… an awesome group from Texas called Haun’s Mill (formerly Haun’s Mill Massacre). They do old-timey music but it’s more of a Southern Gothic-type thing, and their stage show includes weird and admittedly creepy projector movies. A lot of their lyrics deal with old dark times, like the Spanish Influenza epidemic or the Great Depression, etc.

I immediately replied that they sounded awesome—like someone had tapped into my id and found the music it secretly wanted. An hour and fifteen minutes later, he wrote back to say he might be able to get an album sent to me. It was too late because I had already bought it. My id would not be denied!

I knew this could go either way. It could be my fate to love this band because, really, how could I not like a gothfolkMormoncreepoöldtimey band? Or it could be that, with my expectations running so high, even the greatest gothfolkMormoncreepoöldtimey band ever to play Kolob could not live up to what I envisioned.

Continue reading “Haun’s Mill: The handsewn CD”

Haun’s Mill: The handsewn CD

The Aquabats – “Hi-Five Soup” Review

For a few weeks now, I’ve been listening to the latest effort from the Aquabats, and contemplating my critique. Having done a number of reviews and critiques over the years, this one has been the hardest, because it is such a unique project.    I have heard of the Aquabats but had never heard their music until now. So, rather than review this by comparing and contrasting it with past works, I am simply going to focus on this particular body of work.

So, to point out the obvious… this is not your “typical” band.  With their spandex “rash guard” super hero shirts and their anti-negativity helmets, they not only deliver everything you would want from a world famous rock band, but they also travel the planet in their highly customized Winnebego fighting crime, including notorious bad guys like  Gasface and  Kitty Litter.

Or at least that’s what I hear.

So, on to the music… It’s juvenile, cheesier than cheetos in nacho sauce, completely over-the-top, borderline ridiculous, and… FUN!     It’s actually refreshing to have something on my iPod that is fun, light-hearted, energetic, and full of satire. Continue reading “The Aquabats – “Hi-Five Soup” Review”

The Aquabats – “Hi-Five Soup” Review