Review Rundown: James Morrison, Seven Circle Sunrise, Fake Figures, Blessed by a Burden, Moksha

Here we are – No. 50. Can you believe it? The 50th edition of the Review Rundown. Well, 49 down and a hell of a lot more to go – it’s hard to believe that the RR has covered 245 records – but that’s in the past because here’s five more. This landmark review rundown features reviews of releases from James Morrison, Seven Circle Sunrise, Fake Figures, Blessed by a Burden, and Moksha.

File Under: Soulful Singer/Songwriter
James Morrison – The Awakening (Island): Though James Morrison came out guns ablaze, selling over two million copies of his much-heralded debut Undiscovered, he’s talented enough that he left room to improve, and though he didn’t exactly show that type of improvement on his sophomore record Songs for You, Truths for Me, he did so on his latest, the Awakening. One area Morrison has improved is his songwriting, which leads to some of the albums more heart-rending affairs (“In My Dreams,” “6 Weeks,” “Person I Should Have Been”), the latter based on a poem inspired by his last conversation with his late father. The Awakening also offers up a killer single (“I Won’t Let You Go”) as well as some dance-able upbeat tempos (“Beautiful Lie,” “Forever”), along with some lush, incredibly vibrant production from Suede’s Bernard Butler. Though it’s a fairly enjoyable release, the Awakening still is a couple steps short of a great record. (
Grade: B-
Go Download: “Person I Should Have Been”   

File Under: Modern Rock
Seven Circle Sunrise – Beauty In Being Alone: There’s some filler throughout the course of Seven Circle Sunrise’s Beauty In Being Alone, some less inspired rock outings that get lost in the shuffle like too much of today’s mainstream rock (ahem Daughtry *cough*) (“Another Day,” “After All,” “Praying for You”). “Nevershine” is beautiful, a piano-led track dripping and oozing with potential and promise that shows frontman Veno Xavier is anything but a system singer. There is a breadth to this rock throat, one as powerfully emotive as it is gritty (for those astute readers , there’s a bit of Liquid Gang’s Jose Maldonado in Xavier’s voice – 50 gold stars to anyone whose heard of that band – if not, check out the album Sunshine). And speaking of potential and promise, those are two apt words to describe the albums better half, those moments of hard rock bliss fueled by driving guitar leads and charging riffs and solos (“Broken Man,” “Dead Love Letters,” “Undone”). And it should go without saying, you want your rock band to sound closer to Burn Halo or Rev Theory than Nickelback (unless you’re a soulless shill like the latter). Any way you slice it, Beauty in Being Alone is a good record. To arms rock fans, to arms, Seven circle Sunrise is a band to put on your rock radar for sure, as this is a name you’ll want to familiarize yourself with sooner rather than later, and what better a place to start that Beauty in Being Alone. (
Grade: B+
Go Download: “Undone”   

File Under: Supergroup Rock
Fake Figures - Hail the Sycophants (Shillen Records): With former members of Hotwire, Atreyu, the Iron Maidens, Scars of Tomorrow and SSNOVA within their ranks, it’s clear that Fake Figures has the chops to put together some tight material, and with their debut EP Hail the Sycophants, the band peddles their wares quite obviously. With ex-Hotwire vocalist Rus Martin at the helm, it’d be easy to think that Fake Figure’s sound would trend one way rather than the other, and while there are some smatterings of Hotwire influence (seriously, if you haven’t heard their album the Routine, you’re depriving yourself), things don’t play out exactly as you assume. Hail the Sycophants is easily summated in one track, the opening “Perfect No One,” which explodes out of your speakers with high-powered shouting vocals and driving guitars, which, well paired with boom percussion, makes for a highlight track right off the bat. Yes, “Perfect No One” is a pretty spot on representation of what the band can do when they kick it into gear, but Hail the Sycophants isn’t all bombastic pomp and circumstance. The band can temper the pace and slow the heartbeat as it were, as evidenced by the piano-led “As We Drift.” Keep in mind that not only is Hail the Sycophants  Fake Figures’ debut, it’s also just an EP, and for as good as this is, it’s exciting to think about just how good this band’s debut full length release will be. (
Grade: B
Go Download: “Perfect No One”

File Under: Stylish Metalcore
Blessed By a Burden – Addiction EP (Standby Records): Aside from the ear shuddering drops into euro-dance histrionics (“The Red Moon”), which do more to baffle than enhance (seriously I See Stars anyone?), Blessed By a Burdens’ Addiction EP is a rock, a dense slab of glammed up scene-core that plays like a the Oncoming Storm-era Unearth meets This is Love, This is Murderous-era Bleeding Through love story, just with more cowbells, uh, waves of synth (“Confession,” “Turn Your Back”). The front-running duo of the back to back “Testament” and “Inherent Sins” dominates the Addiction EP, showing early on that these boys mean business and are thoroughly taking care of said biz via consistent throat shreds and some dynamic guitar play from the bands noteworthy rhythm section. Another pleasant wrinkle to the Addiction EP is the closing “Passion and Power,” a track led by some cleverly tucked away spoken word, a moment during which the bands explains they are here to help where they can but they aren't role models. Addiction gives the band something to build upon but more importantly its good enough to get people excited about their forthcoming full length. (
Grade: B-
Go Download: “Inherent Sin”

File Under: Soul Funk
Moksha – Here to Go: Here to Go comes out firing on all cylinders with two of its best cuts, “the Seed” and “Real Show,” sounding like a mix of inspired Kara’s Flower-era Maroon 5 and the Chris Nathan Band, with an explosive cornucopia of sounds as layered as they are luminous. Deep seated grooves and sexy vibes abound throughout Here to Go, though there’s a somewhat subtle underlying jam band spirit that becomes more and more prevalent by the time the tremendous “Real Show” concludes, before the band completely flips the script on the following “the Measure of All Things,” a track that sees the band fire off a bad impression. The soul-funk dramatics don’t return until “Starswarm,” and when this tune hits you’ll see just how much they’re missed, and just how good Moksha is in this arena. At times, the band sounds like a jam band waiting to happen (“Into Thin Air,” “Bubbles”) and a Dave Matthews shirt and a few bong rips away from appearing at the closest frat party, which strips some luster from Here to Go, but doesn’t completely derail it. “Awaken My Love” is just about as badass as Here to Go gets, and if this guitar riff doesn’t cause you to get your swagger on, nothing will. Here to Go is inconsistent, sure, but when its good, when the band is focused and lets the bass drop, these grooves are not to be missed. Don’t sleep on Here To Go, hell, don’t even sleep on Moksha, because both exude talent. (
Grade: B
Go Download: “Awaken My Love”