Rolin Humes: Rolin Humes Welcomes You to the Penultimate Supper 6/8 – A Music Review

BandRolin Humes is a four piece blues ensemble from Croatia who carries a larger-than-life re-interpretation of an entire genre within their first full length album Rolin Humes Invites You to the Penultimate Supper 6/8. Rolin Humes definitely exemplifies the motto they use: Vivat Crescat Floreat, which means Live, Grow, Flourish. With their unique talents they have nothing left to do but grow and flourish.

Their album starts off with What’s Your Big Secret. This track sets the pace immediately by creating a professional sounding musical cascade that needs no build up to push it into motion. Eventually the large resonating sound slows down slightly for the vocals, but at all times the music is extremely engaging. The music also works on many genre levels including blues, rock and even jazz. What’s Your Big Secret is long, but it never overstays itself welcome. Another great thing about this piece, and many other pieces on this album, is that the lyrics aren’t generic. They tell a story. They share an emotion. They connect with its audience.

Live 2The album transitions into Hero which has an opening and feel to it that is reminiscent of what Elton John was doing in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Rolin Humes truly set themselves out as talented musicians within the first few tracks.

Freedom, which follows Hero, is a more difficult song to analyze. It’s hard to pinpoint just one strength in the piece when there is so much going on, and every aspect just sounds right. It does become easy though to focus on the piano playing talent of Robert James Hudlin, who is also the singer and songwriter for the band. Freedom is preppy, perky and fun. It’s easy to tell that the band is having fun and the vocals are just so damn playful.

LiveWind of Honor isn’t as nearly energetic as the other tracks, yet it still carries itself as a deep song full of emotion and heart. In Flame is story-telling at its best. Rolin Humes re-creates an epic tale with vigour and excitement and make the listener truly connect to what’s happening. Then we have Pa Ti Ri Ri Ri which is almost a self-parody. It’s fun. It’s funny. It’s not to be taken nearly as seriously as the rest of the album.

Rolin Humes BandFinally the album concludes with I Don’t Know What I Don’t Wanna Know and I Don’t Go Where I Don’t Wanna Go. There could be an entire full length review written on this 18:18 song. And no, it’s not a normal length song, followed by silence, followed by a hidden track. This song is fully 18:18 long. It is variations on a theme and continuously evolves. It starts with the bluesy feel we’ve come to know and love by this point, eventually it turns into what feels like a Christian soft-rock piece, yet as the story progresses we keep coming back to the original theme and feel that the song started off with.  We go through phases of marches, featuring the drums, happy-go-lucky moments, and tributes to the soft-rock oldies featuring electric guitar solos. Eventually one has to ask: how can this song keep going? Why am I still so engaged?  This piece is Rolin Humes epic. It’s truly what defines this album. It’s such a large sound for such a small band. All I could think of when I listened to this album on repeat is that it would be an amazing experience to hear this last song live.

Rolin HumesAll in all Rolin Humes is a force to be reckoned with. They transcend genre boundaries and create one of the most unique and enjoyable albums I have heard as of late. Definitely watch out for these guys!

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Adam Gilbert: A Generation of Forgotten Kings – A Music Review

CoverA Generation of Forgotten Kings is Adam Gilbert’s 2012 follow-up album to his critically acclaimed 2008 release Fishing for Water, both of which showcase an alternative-rock band driven by beautifully crafted piano ballads and powerful classically trained vocals.  New Jersey native Adam Gilbert (vocals and piano) started writing and producing his music after graduating from the University of Miami in 2004 and it’s safe to say that his talents will not soon be forgotten.

Most albums have a generic build up where their strongest songs either go first or in the middle and the weaker pieces get slotted to the end of an album. This is not the case for A Generation of Forgotten Kings. While the opening title track A Generation of Forgotten Kings  creates an entitlement of self-aggrandized royalty and glory through its strong alt-rock feel to it, creating a vocal cross between Freddie Mercury and Mika, the album’s strength, not that it has many weaknesses, rest in its last few tracks.

Adam GilbertI’ll come back to some of the earlier and middle tracks, but I need to start with a huge chunk of praise where praise is due. The end of this album is full of haunting piano ballads which just truly touch the soul. The piano is finessed to perfection and the vocals resonated as a well-practiced and trained classical singer who can truly tell a story in a song. I’ll Hold You in My Arms matches all of that without a doubt. It quickly became one of my favourite songs on the album, followed by the hymn-like ballad Stay Awhile. The last track on the album, Listen is the perfect ending to a great album. It feels like a 1980’s rock-ballad anthem that was ahead of its time.

Other notable tracks include How Do We Respond which starts with an a cappella flair that was just getting going before the music kicks in. Don’t get me wrong, the music wasn’t bad, it really went hand in hand with the vocals, but Adam has such strong vocals that they don’t often get a chance to shine without the music backing him up and I thought this could have been the opportunity. The lyrics were a little generic to this song though and it truly stands out on musical talent alone.

Gilbert BeachOn A Hill feels voyeuristic. It sounds like a very personal song that is loaded with emotion and powerful lyrics. Better is another song that stands out for the same reason. Steady as We Go features how talented Adam is on the piano and has a Ben Folds feel to it. This Old World has some of the best vocal layering in a track that I have ever heard. A Little Emotion really lets the rest of the band shine. You wouldn’t know it by this review thus far but Adam Gilbert is a four-piece ensemble that includes Sean O’Flynn on Guitar, Matt Jaworski on Bass and Brian Prokop on Drums. The piano playing is phenomenal, but it’s nice to have that band feel to it from time to time.

My only complaint while listening through this album is that from time to time the songs started to blend together and started to lose the uniqueness that it holds in the beginning or near the end. Songs like Everywhere I Go break that trend by mid album going for a soft rock with a bluesy-jazz twist to it and a true romanticism to the music.

Albert Gilbert 2All in all Adam Gilbert’s A Generation of Forgotten Kings is a phenomenal album and well worth the listen to. Adam Gilbert just recently finished preliminary demo’s on tracks for a third full length album, and I genuinely can’t wait to hear what they have in store for us next!

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Universo – A Music Review

UniversoI was immediately sceptical when I decided to sit down and listen to Universo’s self-titled debut album because it was 29 songs long. Most bands starting off their career together barely have 10 – 15 songs under their belt and will release two or three EP’s before releasing a full album, but not Universo. Hailing from Espirito Santo, Brazil, Universo undertook a 3-4 year project of creating one of the most epic and genre-crossing albums a band has had the balls to release. And God-Damn, it works! Founded by lead instrumentalist, producer, and composer, Leo Bor, Universo was originally intended as a solo project, yet over time Bor brought in Jack and Meika to provide vocals on the tracks and they’ve been together ever since.

Leo BorThe great thing about this album is that everything is polished and finessed. There is nothing amateurish about this album in the least bit. Right from the opening track to the end of the album Universo is a force to be reckoned with. The name Universo is also appropriate in describing this band. Universo is Portuguese for Universe and this band doesn’t define its music by genre, culture, or language. Universo is, in its very essence, universal and lets its music speak for itself. The songs with lyrics are in Portuguese, and being someone whose linguistic skills don’t include that language, I thought I would be at a disadvantage in listening to those specific songs. I was so wrong. The fact that I don’t understand the lyrics almost adds a new haunting level to how refreshing the music is.

Universo ArtUniverso does cross genres, but it’s most comfortable in the soft-rock family that is reminiscent of an ‘80’s rock vibe. Com Voce (With You) is the first single for Universo and it stands out as one of the strongest songs on the album. Meika, who is just stunning on vocals combined with Bor’s superb guitar backing blends together to create a song that is unquestionably dead-on. A lot of the songs, especially those fronted by vocalist Jack, do have romantic overtones to them, and can easily be written off as shallow, but Bor really fights back against the stereotype that “love songs” can be superficial by providing excellent instrumentation to each track.

Universo band on FBOne of the greatest aspects of this album is the fact that Bor intersperses instrumental tracks throughout the album to truly allow his talent to shine through. He comes off as innovative as he includes a variety of original instrumental tracks and a variety of reinterpretations of some classical music, very much in the style of The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. His more modern classical ensembles include Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Bach’s Toccata & Fugue, Bach’s Jesus Joy of Men, and my favourite, Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca, which is one of the most inspired jazz interpretations I have had the joy of hearing.  He also includes an interpretation of a Christmas carol medley which was quite charming and engaging. These instrumental pieces, original and re-inspired classics, could have made up their own separate album, as there are at least 10 of them, but I am very glad they were included in this listening experience as they really were some of my favourite pieces on the album.

Universo 2Universo remains unsigned to any label currently, but I can see this changing very quickly as there is a lot of great talent in this band as evidenced in an album that flows fluidly from song to song and is quite easy to get lost in. Make no mistake, this is a massive album, but it’s an album without any weak songs, and it’s an album that truly does have a universal taste to it. It accomplishes what it sets out to do in that regard. I have to do drive my car around a lot for my work, and this is an album that I could see myself popping into my CD Player, or onto my iPhone and keeping on repeat as there are songs on this album for everyone, and being so massive it never feels repetitive, but always 100% natural. Universo is already mid-way through the production of their second album, and it’s one that I truly cannot wait to get my hands on. Without a doubt Universo has added itself to my “Must Watch” list of musicians!

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