Tag Archives: life

Kyley Styles – “One Short of a Six Pack”

In anticipation of writing this review I checked out Kyley Styles’s Facebook page and was immediately struck by the line accompanying his profile pic: “Life is tough. Write a song.”  What struck me upon seeing this is the context it gives the EP’s lyrics which focus primarily on the perils of human relationships. That isn’t to say that they are dry, boring or the sort of navel-gazing drivel we get from some indie/alt acts – Styles presents his view of the world with tongue firmly planted in cheek but still manages to touch the heart.

The EP gets off to a kick-ass start with the infectious “Eye of the Beholder”, a groovy hook-laden tune that reminds me of little-known Canadian indie act Barstool Prophets, who had some brief success in the mid-90’s with the song, “Paranoia”. Stylistically (bad pun intended) these two tunes are of a kind and that is definitely a compliment. In fact, this track would have been my choice for release to radio, which is not to say that “Halo”, the track that was released to radio, is unworthy. It’s simply true for me that “Beholder” is a whole body groove out, head-banging, air-guitar, sing-along endorphin rush.  That, my friends, is worth the price of admission, especially at $4.99 from iTunes!

The balance of the EP is equally satisfying in different ways, although the tone softens somewhat on tracks 2, 3 and 5. Upon first listen I have to admit to being a little confused about what genre Styles fits into; however, on several repeat listens this became less and less of a concern due in large part, I believe, to the fact that Styles is the songwriter and the band all wrapped up in one: with the exception of drums on track 1 and Uncle Bill’s violin, Styles plays all the instruments on the EP himself. As a dabbler in home recording and a hack at multi-instrumentation I can tell you that is no small feat. Being the single creative force behind a project is really, really risky: when it works it can be magic but when it doesn’t…

Fortunately for Kyley Styles it works perfectly: to this ear the key weapon in the Styles arsenal is his ability to create memorable hooks. Lots of us can play a few chords, hum a melody, add a lyric and call it a song but few can weave the elements of a great song/great performance/great recording into an emotional experience that is memorable. What strikes me most about Styles’s songwriting ability is his sense of phrasing and rhythm, key elements in creating a memorable hook and it’s the hooks that, well, hook us (my editor is cringing).

The bottom line is that I love One Short of a Six Pack, and that is saying something coming from a middle-aged metal-head who doesn’t list indie/alt rock amongst his top 3 genres. Head on over to iTunes and invest $4.99 in some endorphin-firing rock ‘n’ roll. You’ll be glad you did.

p.s.  Once you buy the EP make sure you head over to the Kyley Styles website to download the accompanying .pdf EP booklet. Do that Here.

Kyley Styles - "One Short of a Six Pack"

Taylor Cochrane – “Acoustic”

When Calgary-based Taylor Cochrane left his role as lead vocalist for The Kronic Groove Band, many of his fans expressed dismay: Where would Taylor go? What would he do? What was next for the talented and much-loved artist?

Fans had no need to worry, however. From start to finish, Cochrane’s debut and highly anticipated album “Acoustic” is an incredible collection of original songs that showcase the artist’s impressive talent as a songwriter. The album represents years of struggle and accomplishment for the talented Cochrane. A self-described “attention whore”, Cochrane shows skill and passion that most artists can only dream to achieve. Starting with the catchy “Narcissism and Yellow Fever” and ending with a bang with “This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You”, the album gets better with each listen. Cochrane draws on the inspiration of Elliott Smith, Say Anything, Regina Spektor, and The Beatles, adding his own brand of lyrics and energy to create a unique fusion of folk rock, reggae, ska and pop.

From the dreamy “It Feels Like We’re On A Safari”, which evokes images of beach parties and summer picnics, to the slower and honest self-reflective piece “Hypocrite”, Cochrane is a storyteller and a salesman. He’s not simply singing lyrics – his stories are believable and heartfelt, and his emotions, whether self-consciousness, hypochondria, or incredible sexual repression, come through clearly with each rhyme or folky phrase. At times bizarre and somewhat shocking, Cochrane’s lyrics are nothing less than honest, revealing a surprisingly deep and thoughtful writer. The listener is pulled in with catchy melodies and beats, but the lyrics themselves have so many double entendres and tricks that each listen reveals something that had previously gone unnoticed. With numerous double meanings, Cochrane’s lyrics are impressive and at times beautiful, at the very least.

It is refreshing to find a songwriter who doesn’t take himself so seriously and who is not just “dumping his depression on the world”. Cochrane reminds us of the ups and downs of being young, the struggles of life and relationships, and the day-to-day joy of being a gangster thug. We may not all feel the same way or understand what’s happening, but we can appreciate Cochrane’s quirkiness, his humour, and his incredible talent as a songwriter who still has so much left to share. The album truly is an incredible achievement of which Cochrane should be extremely proud. There is no doubt that he has “the wit, the talent, the confidence, [and] the inspiration to be great”, and no less is to be expected.

Listen to “Acoustic” and expect to love every track. You won’t be disappointed.

Taylor Cochrane - "Acoustic"