Review Round Up #53

PlugInMusic.com's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews on a weekly basis. This edition includes Nigel Clothier's "Book of Days," Star Anna's "Crooked Path," Ashes Divide's "Keep Telling Myself It's Alright," Satoru's "Balancing In The Twilight," and Upperhand's “The Sailing And The Sinking Of The S.S. Ridiculous.”

Book of Days

Nigel Clothier
“Book of Days”
(Self-Released 2007)

British singer-songwriter Nigel Clothier is clearly holding himself back. On his album "Book of Days," he keeps his songs at a steady pace, seemingly afraid of getting himself or the listener too excited with, say, a quick rhythm or a minor chord. The result is that Clothier's album never jumps into the deep end or takes any chances as it smoothly sails by without a second thought. "Book of Days" remains ever the wallflower with its polite demeanor and quiet attitude.

Sounds Like: Gentle but unexciting singer-songwriter

Key Tracks: "Hepburn's Run Away"

C-
buy it!
Crooked Path

Star Anna
“Crooked Path”
(Malamute Records 2008)

Star Anna's debut release, "Crooked Path," is one steeped in country's quick moving, twangy riffs and echoing slide guitar. Anna's voice effortlessly blends to meet each of those melodies to create a sound that simply floats by. Somewhere between lonesome and outgoing, "Crooked Path" plays to both sides with memorable melodies and catchy tunes that always remain soulful.

Sounds Like: Alt-country

Key Tracks: "Crooked Path"

B
buy it!
Keep Telling Myself It's Alright

Ashes Divide
“Keep Telling Myself It's Alright”
(Island Records 2008)

A Perfect Circle founder Billy Howerdel is stepping back into the spotlight with his new outfit Ashes Divide. Buzzing with well known names like Josh Freese, and Paz Lenchantin, Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba and Devo Keenan (son of Maynard), Ashes Divide has not only the star power but the experience. The band's debut album, "Keep Telling Myself It's Alright" follows in the same vein of APC but sounds like a cleaner, crisper alternative that still soars and crashes with that distinct pounding hard rock sound Howerdel's known for.

Sounds Like: A more mainstream version of A Perfect Circle, Tool

Key Tracks: "Stripped Away," "Forever Can Be"

B+
buy it!
Balancing In The Twilight

Satoru
“Balancing In The Twilight”
(Colusa Records 2008)

California musician and one-man-band Satoru does it all on his sophomore release, "Balancing In The Twilight." With the swagger of a slightly sloppy and faintly shrill David Bowie, circa the early 1970s, Satoru serenades listeners over light melodies that prefer to remain in the background. "Balancing In The Twilight" has heart but ends up being hit or miss from moment to moment.

Sounds Like: Low key singer-songwriter

Key Tracks: "Like A Shadow In The Twilight"

C-
buy it!
The Sailing And Sinking Of The S.S. Ridiculous

Upperhand
“The Sailing And Sinking Of The S.S. Ridiculous”
(Self-Released 2007)

With a gruff voiced singer strutting his stuff over instrumentation that lovingly brings together indie rock with a sort of free-form jazz, Seattle's The Upperhand is quite the combo. The band's debut full-length, "The Sailing And The Sinking Of The S.S. Ridiculous," bounces cautiously around on poppy rock beats before being mellowed out with smoother melodies, often floating from the piano, that still retain a bit of bite.

Sounds Like: Indie rock jazz

Key Tracks: "The Plight Of Ghost Pirates"

C+
buy it!