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Non-Prog CD Reviews

JL Stiles

JL Stiles Presents House of Murmurs

Review by Gary Hill

There are a lot of sounds heard here. Even just looking at the eras represented gets a range from the 1960s to today. Sometimes one will hear 60s pop elements. Other points call to mind The Moody Blues. Still other things have modern music or bits of alternative rock and Europop. Even jazz makes appearances. It’s all blended into a catchy and competent set of music that works quite well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
All in a Day

Retro pop music is heard here. This feels like something that would have been popular in the early 1960s. It’s bouncy and fun.

Spring Light of Day
The general musical concept is the same here. That said, this has more energy and more of a searching kind of vibe. It makes me think just a little of the Moody Blues.
Song Beside My Grave

This seems more modern in tone. It’s got the retro alternative rock vibe that’s somewhat popular these days. It’s more or less a ballad. It’s also quite cool.

Frostbite Falls

Psychedelic sounds merge with Europop and alternative pop on this slow moving, moody tune.

Beneath the Light

Here’s another that feels like it could have been released in the 1960s. There’s a hippie sound to it, but also some jam band leanings in place.

The Great Natchez Tornado 1840

Trippy modern music is merged with more of that purely retro sound on this alternative tune. It grows pretty well as it continues and has some of the most hard rocking music of the whole disc within it.

Movin

This definitely makes me think of the folk music of the 1960s. It has some great layers of vocals and has a blues edge to it. It does work out to a more modern alternative rock side with cool retro keyboard sounds.

Leaf in the Snow

The bass here brings a bit of a jazz element to the piece, but overall this is more alternative rock. It’s a good tune, but other than that bass, nothing all that special. The main problem is, everything is starting to blend together by this point.

After the War

Now, this is more like it. Folk, blues and other sounds merge on this cool little rocker. It’s powerful and dramatic without seriously changing the concept. There are some great vocal harmonies and a lot of other great stuff going on in this piece. It’s arguably the best cut on the whole disc.

Simple Faith

Now we’re back into the same kind of sound we’ve heard throughout the rest of the album. That makes this one OK, but not all that special really. It’s just kind of monolithic.

Afterthought

This is not terrible, but it’s really too much like the rest of the stuff at this point. That means that taken outside the scope of the album it would be a good tune, but here it’s just kind of boring.

 
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