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Album Review: Taylor Locke – Time Stands Still

 
By on Tuesday, 24th February 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Taylor Locke Time Stands Still coverLos Angeles native and former Rooney lead guitarist Taylor Locke’s first solo album ‘Time Stands Still’ finds Locke somewhat at odds with his newly-appointed singer/songwriter status. After spending 10 years with Rooney and two more with his side project Taylor Locke and the Roughs, he is a bit uncomfortable working outside the context of a band, as he explains in the press release for ‘Time Stands Still’: “I think the term ‘singer/songwriter’ sadly evokes a white guy in a coffee shop strumming a fucking G-chord all day. I think this record sounds more like a band record…the band just takes occasional smoke breaks.”

True to Locke’s description, the album alternates between sparsely arranged acoustic ballads and the West Coast guitar rock sound of acts like Jackson Browne or Dawes. In fact, as I listened to ‘Time Stands Still’, I was strongly reminded of Dawes, particularly by the similarity between Locke’s singing voice and that of Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith. While not one of my favorite bands, Dawes do have their moments of brilliance, and so it is with Taylor Locke as well.

One of those brilliant moments is the opening track to ‘Time Stands Still’, ‘Burbank Woman’. It’s another one in a long and timeworn list of songs about the contradictions of the feminine mystique, but its lyrics manage to sidestep the usual clichés, as in the chorus: “she knew something that she didn’t say / deep in her heart there was a valley and no freeway to get there / never mind the miles of my persistence / she was gonna keep me at a distance”.

Unfortunately, those clichés catch up with Locke before the album progresses much further. Second track ‘The Game’ is an extended gambling metaphor, using stale poker jargon to describe a turbulent romance. Trite lyrics also plague the album’s first single ‘Running Away From Love’, whose bland musical arrangement and backing vocals would make qualify it as perfect material for the muzak in a department store.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/iWMa6JKyA_w[/youtube]

But just when it seems like the album has taken a nosedive into the banal, Locke comes charging back with a groovy mix of guitar and synths behind the catchy chorus to ‘So Long’. Even better is the current single ‘Call Me Kuchu’, where Locke finds a rougher vocal tone to match the crunchy guitars and gritty lyrics. The call and response between voices in the chorus creates a haunting echo that lingers long after the song is over.

The second half of the album leans more heavily on Locke’s singer/songwriter abilities, and the lyrics to title track ‘Time Stands Still’ undoubtedly refer to his new venture: “it’s late in the game for fanning the flame / the wind is gonna blow out anyway / walk off the stage, turn a new page / call it what you will, time stands still”. Those words became even more meaningful recently, with the passing of the track’s co-writer Kim Fowley. Locke describes Fowley as the “Rock ‘n Roll Grandpa” who talked him into making a solo album in the first place: “The song reveals his sensitive, introspective side, that I count myself among the lucky few to have known.” With that possibly in mind, Locke allows his unadorned vocal line to take center stage over the vaguely gospel harmonies in the keyboards, which are delicately decorated by acoustic guitar and ringing percussion.

Taking a slightly different direction, ‘The Art of Moving On’ is once again purely in the singer/songwriter vein, but its cynical lyrics are contradicted by the forward momentum of the acoustic guitar melody. The finger-picked acoustic guitar rhythms and minor key harmonies in final track ‘No Dice’ are surprisingly reminiscent of Spanish art song, ending the album on a pleasantly unexpected note of newly piqued interest.

Ultimately, the singer/songwriter tracks on ‘Time Stands Still’ suffer slightly from Locke’s vocal delivery, which unfortunately isn’t one of the album’s strongest features. His singing works best in the bolder electric guitar arrangements, where the instrumental colour can take precedence over the vocals. Still, for an initial foray into solo performing, Taylor Locke has made a solid effort here, and one worth building upon.

6.5/10

Taylor Locke’s solo debut album ‘Time Stands Still’ is out now on Lojinx Records. Click here for a free download of its title track.

 

MP3 of the Day #872: Du Blonde

 
By on Tuesday, 24th February 2015 at 10:00 am
 

Beth Jeans Houghton has reinvented herself into a cardigan wearing, burger eating femme fatale called Du Blonde. She previewed songs from her forthcoming album last weekend at the 6 Music Festival in Newcastle and without a doubt, this new song ‘Black Flag’ must have been included in that set. Have a listen to the tune below and if you like it, you can get it for free from her Web site.

 

MP3 of the Day #871: Hidden Charms

 
By on Tuesday, 17th February 2015 at 10:00 am
 

If you’re like me, you often wish the ’60s never ended. The crisp sound of guitars and drums, unfettered by unnecessary electronic faffing about, with a commanding voice drawing you in. Young London band Hidden Charms caused a big stir in both in Britain and America last summer with their first track for the public ‘Sunny Side’. It looks like they’re set to continue on that trajectory with latest track ‘It’s Time’, produced by Nick Waterhouse at Sound City Studios. The band describe how the song came about:

We recorded the song with Nick in a day, it was very spontaneous, we didn’t think about it too much. Its a song about anticipation, waiting for something to happen. I think when your in a band you don’t always have a lot of control over where your heading and most of the time that’s the situation you find yourself in…waiting.

The band are giving ‘It’s Time’ for free download. Listen to the track below and if you like it, grab it for your very own by clicking that download button.

 

(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) MP3 of the Day #870: beGun

 
By on Wednesday, 11th February 2015 at 10:00 am
 

“Landscape electronica” is what Barcelona producer and DJ beGun does best. To get you through the midweek, why not get some free music? beGun is giving away his brilliant track ‘Dublin’, full of lightness and pulsating with engaging effects; you can listen to the track below. You can get ‘Dublin’ from this page in his Facebook by liking his page.

You can read my Bands to Watch feature on beGun ahead of his appearance at SXSW 2015.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyaK51339Os[/youtube]

 

MP3 of the Day #869: Stornoway

 
By on Monday, 9th February 2015 at 10:00 am
 

Anticipation is building for the release of Stornoway‘s third album, the crowd-funded via PledgeMusic ‘Bonxie’. So far, we’ve heard the excellent ‘The Road You Didn’t Take’, the lead single that I fell in love and summarily reviewed here. An additional carrot has been dangled in the form of an early demo of ‘Josephine’; the gorgeous song will appear on ‘Bonxie’ but prior to this, it has only been heard at Stornoway’s most recent live performances. To grab the demo for your very own ears, use this link to get the mp3 in exchange for signing up for their mailing list.

 

MP3 of the Day #868: Modestep

 
By on Friday, 6th February 2015 at 10:00 am
 

It’s the end of a long hard slog of a school and work week. Time to treat yourself, yeah? Now you can treat yourself and have it not cost you a penny. UKF is giving away the new Modestep single ‘Snake’, and it’s a helluva track, with huge electronic beats and enough vitriol to get out all your aggressions from the days past. Have a listen to it below; if you like it, you can grab it from UKF here.

The Modestep sound is a bit marmite, and Martin explains this in his previous Bands to Watch feature on them. Catch the band live on their short tour of the UK next month.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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