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Reviews (Album, Movie, TV)
Ampient: Music4 Projec PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alec Cunningham   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:19

Local musicians join forces in an ambient collaboration

Ampient, an experimental ambient project that comes to you from a handful of Knoxville musicians, has recently released its newest collaboration of tracks simply titled Music4 Projec. Although it was originally formed in 2009 by the well-known local musician Todd Steed and members of the group have varied from year to year since then, this specific release has been a collaborative between Steed, John T. Baker, George Middlebrooks, Brett Winston, and Toby Applegate.

The group notes that multiple tracks on the release were created as a nod to Brian Eno, the musician who initially founded the idea of ambient music back in the 1970s. Ambient music is intended to reduce the mundane occurrences of everyday life by providing a soundtrack to enhance your day and stimulate your mood. And as is the purpose of this type of music, this album is designed to be one that will make you think.

The release begins with a track by Baker titled, “Music For Yardwork,” which employs sounds comparable to those of a lawn mower. Similarly, you can easily imagine yourself as a traveler being taken on a musical journey with “Voyager.”

These musicians have taken piano, guitar, and strings instruments and wrapped them in a layer of electronic processing in order to give off its intended conceptual air. In doing so, they’ve managed to put immense personality into this predominately instrumental project of theirs.

Each musician brings their own particular style to the table. Middlebrooks, for instance, tends to produce a sound founded strongly around the synthesizer in his roaming, lengthy tracks. And although most of the tracks are of traditional length, the contributions made by him range from being almost seven minutes in length to being a full sixteen minutes long.

Winston, on the other hand, takes an entirely different approach. His songs are much shorter in length – the longest of the six tracks he contributes barely reaches four minutes. Each of his songs have titles that have to do with flying in an airplane, such as, “Island Home in the Sky,” “Travel Delays,” and “Crash Landing Safe Return.” He also adds a stronger sense of structure to three of his songs by introducing lyrics into the composition.

The differences in style can be explained by each artist’s individual musical background. Winston, for instance, comes from a band called The French, whereas Baker’s origins come from his solo pop career, and Middlebrooks hails from an ambient-infused rock trio called Stolen Sheep.

This might not be an album meant for every type of music lover, but if you’re not already a fan of ambient music, this album can easily grow on you. Some of the most notable tracks include “Music For Yardwork,” “Crash Landing Safe Return,” and “A Towel That Smells Summer Fresh.” Music4 Projec can be listened to in its entirety and can even be downloaded for free at


Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:23
Garth Brooks Rekindled Traditional Country on Self-Titled Debut PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Lay   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:23

Oklahoma native begins revival of Honky-tonk and Western Swing with humble first outing

During the 1980’s Country and Western Music went Pop and the genre as most fans knew it nearly died out as fiddles and mandolins were replaced by electric guitars and loud drums.

Of that era, Alabama was the only band that sustained success through the 1990s. The 80’s were dark for country music.

Sure, George Strait emerged early in the decade and Merle Haggard continued to release critically acclaimed smashes such as Big City and Kern River (the latter 1985 release was hated by his record company and is now out of print). But the genre’s traditional sound took a back seat until Randy Travis emerged in the middle of the decade with a pair of releases.

After that, traditional country went dormant until the emergence of Garth Brooks, who burst onto the scene in 1989. He brought traditional county music back with his self-titled debut, a humble but stellar effort that had fiddles, western folk tales, rodeo, swing, heartbreak, desolate desperation, love songs and farming, blue-collar factory work and inner struggle --- in other words --- everything that is great about country music.

And the critics and fans alike gushed praise upon the work that signaled the beginning of a new era in country and western music.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:27
Classic Review: Blood, Sweat & Tears PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Lay   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 20:56

B S &T’s third effort doesn’t pack a big punch

Blues and Jazz rockers disappoint despite some high notes

Blood, Sweat and Tears was a hit making machine during 1968 and 1969 but the group declined almost as quickly as it shot to the top of the charts and dazzled critics and fans alike.

In 1970, the group released Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 and upon hitting record store shelves, it was met by lukewarm reviews at best.

The LP followed Blood, Sweat & Tears (1969) and Child is Father to the Man (1968). Those works were true classics. The band’s first album was a critically acclaimed smash while second was greeted warmly by critics and spawned hits like “God Bless the Child,” “Spinning Wheel” and “And When I Die.”

The group’s third effort was admirable but was a disappointment. It was eagerly anticipated.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 20:59
Show Review: Chvrches • Asheville • Nov 30th PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 2
Monday, 23 December 2013 17:06

On a cold night in America, somewhere downtown, we join our readers, moving fast over the ground.

Two folks went walking, the long city streets, pretending not to notice the air as it freezed. Slowly eroding their sense of self, this kind of weather calls for a fat man and an elf. These two had come, from a land far away, a land of orange and laughter and a street named Gay. They came for delights. What kind you may ask? Some coffee and a concert in a city called Ash. Their coats were pulled tight, and their scarves set to choke, in hopes of keeping out, this November cold. In their hands were some tickets, and they passed them with glee, to the doorman, who promised, this is one show to see. With their eyes adjusted, and the heaters set to fry, they danced and they sang, in the fast moving lights. One hour, and fifty five minutes of fun, and a return trip that almost ended in their destruction. For on the road, going, the completely wrong way, was the police, chasing a car, directly in their lane. Fast thinking and Rad Racer had trained them for this and so they let out an oil that was black and was slick. Saving the day and safely, arriving back home, that is just part, of the story to come. Prepare your glasses, and cozy, yourself a seat, we hope that you find, this review, a real treat.


Last Updated on Monday, 23 December 2013 17:10
LiL iFFy's 'Wand Out' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alec Cunningham   
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 17:58

LiL iFFy Transports Listeners into a World of Wizardry with “Wand Out”


Everyone has a guilty pleasure, and for one Knoxville rapper, he has taken his incessant love of Harry Potter and turned it into a sustainable music career.

“Wand Out,” LiL iFFy’s third full-length album since his debut in 2011, takes magical realism and brings it to life within each song in a way that is nearly irresistible. iFFy, otherwise known as Wil Wright, has made the enjoyment of Harry Potter acceptable for even the most hardcore men out there.

Heavy bass-laden beats with electronic undertones saturate the wizardry-soaked album, and the album cover features a stag Patronus like both Harry and his father were able to conjure in the series.

His music not only takes ideas from the realm of Harry Potter, but it then pairs them with real-life problems and situations in a way that creates a perfect middle ground between the two. And by doing so, this guy has found himself quite an interesting niche in the music scene.

“2 doe (You Can Tell ‘Em)” is an autobiographical tune about how touring has gotten in the way of the rapper’s relationships. “Wand Out,” the title track, appears ninth out of the 15 tracks and is so catchy it will have his entire fan base unanimously shouting along with his lyrics, singing, “If you’re going in you better do it with your wand out.”

Lastly, “Phoenix Tears,” the album’s final track, is about iFFy’s journey that led to this current wizard project. The video debuted Nov. 2 at the first night of the two-night “Wand Out” album release party at the Pilot Light in Knoxville’s Old City.

The wizard rapper and the Wand Out collective have created a large following, and for good reason. Not only have they been hard at work the past few years creating an image for themselves, but they have created a sound that will stick with you as enjoyably memorable.

iFFy’s work combines the phenomenon of Harry Potter with modern hip-hop music, but you don’t even have to enjoy wizardry of any sort to find yourself entirely entranced within his work. The guy has mad rap skills, and he has an equally impressive knowledge of Harry Potter. You’ll find something new within his lyrics each consecutive time you listen.

“Wand Out” is a strong album that rarely wavers from that resiliency. Don’t be fooled, though; this isn’t the G-rated interpretation of the wizardry world you may have come to expect. Rather, this is an entirely adult-oriented release, complete with crude and suggestive lyrics. The idea is a quirky one, but iFFy has a way of making it work incredibly well.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 18:02
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