Monday, April 25, 2011


Review: HELL YEH!

Songs that seem riddled with doubts about his relationship with his music that can double for metaphors for relationships with people or life, Ari Hest has written some powerful and visually evocative songs that openly question the musician’s life he’s chosen. Was it the right choice? Is Swan Song a foreshadowing tale of what is to be the future for Ari Hest?

Ari's March, 2011 release - Sunset Over Hope Street is packed with really great songs in tune with pop sensibilities that highlight his vocals...all while keeping the listener engaged by the great music, sounds, and string arrangements in each song.

Stand Out Tracks For Me:

If I knew You’d Say Yes – a song that starts with Ari’s great vocal and ends on it causes me to keep going back to hear this great song. The Drum-work on this song is SPOT-ON. I have no qualms turning my back on a song that puts out something that doesn't fit, but right at 2:07, the way the song was going and kicking in the percussion right there was perfect! Anywhere else and, I'd have probably turned my back on this great song.

Until Next Time – sounds like a song about Ari’s songwriting…unsure if he’ll continue…unsure of the words or stories if they’ll come out anymore…only having “a moment” of his life…and I love how this song starts with sleigh bells and piano and then Ari’s vocals…and some other interesting sounds (probably synth driven).
How Would I Know – Everything about this song is perfect and we even get a big open glimpse into Ari’s questions about songwriting. how does he know for sure that this is THE song? I LOVE the part of the song where the lyric picks up with Caught a show, down at the Rockwood last night

One Track Mind – this song starts off with an organ and reminds me of U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name….and a drum beat that reminds me of a rather military beat.
A Good Look Around….is Ari’s music what compels him to stop and see what’s going on? This track includes a great backing vocal by
ambeR Rubarth.
Now (available on iTunes album download and the Deluxe Double Disc edition) is a song co-written with
Alex Wong (Solo, Paper Raincoat, Vienna Teng and many others) that is a standout track that I'm glad I went with the Deluxe CD to hear it.


Ari Hest is currently on tour in support of Sunset Over Hope Street...touring with percussionist Doug Yowell (Suzanne Vega, Duncan Sheik, Sophie B Hawkins, to name a few folks he's played with :) These two guys work great together and, if you're able to take a moment of your eye-time off of Ari to watch what Doug is doing, it's pretty amazing the sounds the two of them generate (I've seen 2 shows of their's and walked away, amazed and more amazed).

Monday, April 18, 2011

East River Pipe - We Live In Rented Rooms

Review: HELL YEH!
Stream the album in its entirety at

F.M Cornog - East River Pipe - doesn’t tour.
He doesn’t play live for an audience.
He works hard to make sure his albums are worth your time…because it’s not just recording the songs…it’s mixing in all the tracks…or removing tracks from what will make up the final track list for the cd.

Barbara [FM Cornog’s wife] and I whittle it down to our favorite 15 or 20 songs, then we drive around for months listening to various configurations of those songs, until something clicks. Then, when I'm utterly sick of those songs, I know the album is done.” - East River Pipe Facebook Page

Music is personal.
It’s personal for the songwriter and it’s personal for the listener.
The songwriter is putting thoughts together based on what life has tossed at him/her or a pre-determined story line with characters…who most likely are from their real life.

The listener inserts himself/herself into the song or tries to play the $2 Psychiatrist…deciphering what the songwriter has written and chosen as the music backdrop for the song.

Or, the songwriter has hit really close to him…closer than ever thought possible by the listener.

The Flames are Coming Back is a great song and right now, my favorite on East River Pipe’s – We Live In Rented Rooms.
i built a little home here for my girls
beneath the ancient trees
i got a little job tried to change my life
i got down on my knees
but listen
the devil always cons you to play
the devil always likes it that way
the flames are coming back
baby cant you see
the flames are coming back

These lines resonate within me because, as a father, who tries to live life simply, there’s heartache here….trying to bring a good, simple, and normal life for his family…and yet, the past is always there…ready to suck you back in. - At least, that’s my take on it – and my inner narcissist - because, hey, music is personal for each person.

When asked about detailing/providing background on his songs, Cornog says - "Rather than sit on the shrink's couch and explain what these things mean to me, I'd rather let you and other people come to your own conclusions. I truly believe that whatever a person feels is valid, and doesn't need my input. Sometimes I'll think one of my songs is about a certain thing or things, and then Barbara will give her slant on it, and I'll say, "Ya know...You're right." Sometimes the meaning of a thing is a mystery even to it's creator. And sometimes...there is no meaning. Sometimes a thing just "is"...and there's no more to it than that." East River Pipe Facebook Page

Other stand out tracks here are:

Backroom Deals – I’ve come up with a pretty decent music video idea for this one…which proves how great a song is…giving images and video ideas
Cold Ground – great music and sound and then the lyrics bring you back to the stark reality of some lives.
I Don’t Care About Your Blue Wings - for some reason brought me back to the early 80s and my walks down the street to the local pizzeria to play arcade games or when our family would drive into Queens to visit family.
When You Were Doing Cocaine - this song and I’m instantly reminded of Adam Levy’s “I shot her down” or Johnny Cash’s “I shot a man in Reno…just to watch him die.” Not because of the sound or music but because of the bluntness of the entry into the song.
Three Ships - closes this 10 song run with hope in the music…hope in the lyrics…until the final verse….feeling as if I’m left with nothing.
Conman – there’s a great article written about this song here:
In My Personal Song Purgatory (I still don’t have an opinion on it yet): Payback Time

Some Songs I’m not keen on right now
(and, I reserve the right to let these songs grow organically within me over time):
Summer Boy – seems to move too slow for me at this time in my life
Tommy Made a Movie – Too synth driven for my tastes

Other Articles on East River Pipe you may
enjoy reading: