Album Review: The Accidentals – Parking Lot EP

The Accidentals

photo courtesy of The Accidentals

by Joe Szilvagyi, Contributing Blogger

EP Review of The Accidentals: Parking Lot

This year’s vacation included a summer getaway to Onekama, Michigan. It’s a tiny tourist town along the north coast of Lake Michigan without so much as a stop sign to interrupt drivers enjoying scenic Route 22. Drivers might notice a small park with a platform that the generous might call a stage. Through the summer, Onekama brings the community together with lawn chairs and picnic dinners to enjoy free concerts. I was fortunate enough to be in town when The Accidentals took the stage.

The Accidentals - Parking Lot

image courtesy of The Accidentals

Free concerts are a fairly common occurrence in small towns throughout Michigan. Typically, they’re fun events where one of the more talented bar bands plays old favorites for the crowd. It’s the sort of thing that people like to remember as part of a summer vacation when looking back at good times spent with family and friends. The Accidentals gave us the good time we were expecting and more.

One of the things that sets The Accidentals apart from the regular crowd is that two of the band members only recently reached drinking age with the third waiting impatiently to catch up. Their talent has landed them concerts in bars that they’re too young to hang out in, leading to the title of their latest release, Parking Lot.

The Accidentals

photo courtesy of The Accidentals

The six songs collected on this EP are the next thing that make The Accidentals different from traditional summer park fare. The music is a little more poppy than folk but a bit too folksy to be considered pop. Electric cello, violin, guitar, bass and drums work together, supporting intelligent lyrics about life on the road in that awkward age where high school has ended but you still can’t order a beer.

As a trio, The Accidentals have traveled coast to coast, catching the attention of music critics and sponsors. Rated as one of the top seven breakout artists at SXSW last year, The Accidentals qualify as one of the most talented acts to grace a summer concert stage. On top of being talented, they are humble and grateful for the chance to perform their own music in front of so many people.

The Accidentals

photo courtesy of The Accidentals

Summer concerts have always been something I look forward to because they’re usually a good time. The Accidentals have set a new high-water mark for these summer shows. I expect the next time I get to see them will be at a larger music festival or even headlining a big show. Thankfully, I have their CDs to keep me company until that next show.

Here’s their soon to be released song, “On the Shoulders of Giants,” as seen at Onekama’s Concert in the Park on July 11: https://youtu.be/xPnOubVrojU

Check out their web site at www.moreaccidentals.com to enjoy more great music.

Album Review: Dallas Cosmas – Farewell From the Lighthouse

Dallas Cosmas

photo courtesy of Dallas Cosmas

by Joe Szilvagyi, Contributing Blogger

Album Review of Dallas Cosmas: Farewell From the Lighthouse

Dallas Cosmas - Farewell From the Lighthouse

image courtesy of Dallas Cosmas

Regular listeners of Radio Diego from the Netherlands are probably already familiar with Dallas Cosmas. He currently has two songs from his latest album, Farewell From the Lighthouse, climbing their Twitter Top 40 chart with “Where Did You Go” cracking the top 10.

Dallas’ experience from a quarter century in the Australian music industry is clearly evident as he uses music to express recent personal loss. Each song is a tapestry of guitars and synthesizers wrapping the listener in a sense of suburban angst. Even when dreaming of getting to paradise like the damsels and dragonflies, the music lingers in a sense of defeat.

Dallas Cosmas

photo courtesy of Dallas Cosmas

It’s easy to wallow in the rich production, restrained drumming, haunting keyboards, and emotive guitar work that fill this album. Tales of loss are told from a place of comfort while looking at an uncertain future. The only thing that mars the recording is Dallas’ singing, which is mostly flat and occasionally off-key. I guess this reinforces the middle class sensibilities that make the music easy to connect to.

Album Review: Cosmo Sheldrake – Pelicans We EP

Cosmo Sheldrake

photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media

by Joe Szilvagyi, Contributing Blogger

EP Review of Cosmo Sheldrake: Pelicans We

Cosmo Sheldrake - Pelican We album cover

image courtesy of Big Hassle Media

Cosmo Sheldrake takes his inspiration from the world around him, pulling rhythm from a sheet of slate sliding down a hill or waves lapping at the side of a boat. Building on whichever pattern has inspired him, he combines sampled sounds with a wide assortment of instruments including (and certainly not limited to) banjo, piano, penny whistle, and accordion to craft a richly textured world of sound easy to get lost in. Once the world has been established, he sings the nonsensical stories of that place sparking the listener’s imagination.

The record crashes into life with the “Tardigrade Song,” dreaming of living the life of one of the most durable organisms on the planet. There are hints of old sea shanties with a mellow dance groove wrapped around it. The song ends being content with life and all the comforts of home.

Cosmo Sheldrake

photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media

Then a cat’s purr introduces a stumbling, whimsical song titled “The Fly.” This is a musical recital of William Blake’s classic poem with the same title. Rather than focusing on the annoying drone of a fly, this song feels like it follows a fly’s irregular path through the air, halting and pausing at moments but finally resolving, “Then am I/A happy fly/If I live/Or if I die.”

Flipping the record brings a chorus of oboe, flute, and little percussive flourishes recounting Edward Lear’s silly limerick “Pelicans We.” Somehow the music is simultaneously halting yet maintains a smooth flow. As with the previous song, lyrics from the nineteenth century are perfectly matched with music that could only be created with modern technology.

Cosmo Sheldrake

photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media

Wrapping up the album is the most pop friendly tune of the four, “Rich,” written and sung by Anndreyah Vargas (spelled three different ways between the record, video and MP3 files). It keeps the common theme of the EP, dreaming of what life could be. Anndreyah’s childlike voice is ideal for fantasies of having a perfect body while the multi-layered humming and looping chimes and guitars maintain the world initially introduced in the first track.

Cosmo’s first release was a two-song 45 with “The Moss” on one side and another Blake tune, “Solar,” on the flip side. These four songs have doubled the amount of enjoyment I get playing records by having twice as much music. There are rumours that a full-length album is coming later this year to continue this exponential growth of my Cosmo Sheldrake library.

Upcoming Gigs

The “shows” page of Cosmo’s website lists upcoming gigs this summer, many of them festival dates, in the UK, Germany, France, and Bulgaria.

Album Review: PreCog – Are We Lost

PreCog

image courtesy of PreCog

by Joe Szilvagyi, Contributing Blogger

Album Review of PreCog: Are We Lost

Throbbing synthesized bass, drum machines, and clean keyboards work together to create a rich texture that is comforting for fans of late ’80s synthpop. The press material included with the recording suggests a similarity to Depeche Mode, but I put it closer to the synthwave movement that came later including acts like Clan of Xymox or VNV Nation.

PreCog - We Are Lost

image courtesy of PreCog

It’s impressive to know that Gerald Josef and Jason Thomas just met each other at the tail end of 2015 and managed to record their entire 14-song album in a single month. They even managed to produce a slick music video for one of their strongest songs, “Little Evil.” These two clearly inspire and push each other when developing material.

In the tradition of the synthwave movement, the lyrics revolve around various struggles, either with inner demons or the world around us. This is also where the album is a bit dated and flat. While the lyrics are typical of the genre, the singsong presentation of the lyrics feels like a college paper discussing feelings rather than some deeply held conviction. In the end, the listener is enveloped with a comfortable experience that really doesn’t introduce much new to the genre.

There’s a lot of talent here and Gerald and Jason are clearly well-versed in how to produce music. I look forward to hearing what PreCog has to share in the future as the friendship between this duo ferments and their sound continues to develop.

You can find PreCog on Facebook here.

[Update: Thanks to PreCog for pointing out to us that the video  for “Little Evil” was fan-made. In many ways, that makes it even cooler! -GW]