CD REVIEW: John Bartl - "Finally"
By: Cyrus Rhodes
"amazing snapshot of music"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Artist: John Bartl
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Alternative Rock, Ambient Rock
Sounds Like: Coldplay, Don Henley, Peter Gabriel, David & David
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Weakness: Synthetic beats & rhythms, unorthodox mix, marketability
Logging in at just over 56 minutes, the CD kicks things off with “I Can’t Hear You” a slow flowing intro piece that serves up steady rock rhythm, against infectious vocal vibe, & hypnotic melody line. This coupled with mesmerizing lyrical content makes for a very interesting & fascinating debut musical statement. Track 2 “Dumb Mistakes & Missing Words” shifts gears a bit with electronic drum beat against ambient guitar rhythms, & upbeat sonic vocal layering from Bartl. Track 3 “Finally” serves up an intriguing ballad that flows & ebbs its way through to emotional fruition with a catchy grand slam of a chorus. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical soundscapes reminiscent of such classic acts such as Peter Gabriel, Coldplay, David & David, Depeche Mode & perhaps a dash of early Don Henley & even Nine Inch Nails. Right from the start you will notice rich musical textures overflowing everywhere, full of passion, variety, & strong melodic structure. The songs themselves are addictive, & packed full of passionate lyrical content & subject matter that simply cannot be faked. The music itself is an impressive blend of alternative & acoustic rock, with just a dash of Ambient Rock. Bartl makes no attempt at sugar coating the truth via his music, instead he tells the truth with bold honesty. His voice goes down smooth, & has a rebellious jagged edge to it. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks throughout the CD as well. No doubt Bartl can hold his own vocally, as I didn’t fail to notice a few well placed falsettos sprinkled here & there. Enter Bartl guitar compositions & musicianship - equally as impressive. What I like most about the music is its sheer unpredictability dark, mysterious, & amazing originality. Song for song you can never really predict what’s waiting for you around the next corner. Also present a barrage of sonic touches, electronic percussive elements, & sinister moog & keyboard accents, piano all bringing even more musical variety to the table. From striking “Stupid Day” & “Crying” to passionate “Superman” & “Not Just Another Song” to compelling “One More Minute” & “Missing” to hopeful “Beating Heart” this CD has something for just about everyone.
I understand the electronic ambient angle - but most drum beats sound extremely robotic & overly synthetic lacking serious bottom end. It’s fair to say some of the pieces over 4.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. As a whole the production is a bit winded. Perhaps 20% of the catalogue needs to be trimmed off - absent the extended intro & outros. Though the actual Recording, & Mastering are to industry standard it’s fair to say the actual mix sounds a bit unorthodox. I might add the bar is set really high for independent artists that attempt to mix their own music themselves. This is an enormous huge undertaking that should never be underestimated. I fully realize this is a subjective art form, but all of the above dies effect the productions overall marketability.
“Finally” by John Bartl is an impressive musical production from start to finish. Bartl possesses enough musical talent & songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. The music is full of musical soundscapes that come at you from every direction. The messages are passionate, honest, & at times extremely melancholy – all from an artist’s perspective. The true meaning of some of these songs is buried deep within the lyrical content, & is not so easily pinned down the first listen. Song for song, not for note this CD possesses an amazing amount of sonic layering & a wide variety of musical instrumentation. Overall it’s an amazing snapshot of music. I really admire artists out there who are themselves & just let the chips fall where they may. Praise goes out to the artist that can show us something real & genuine beneath their veil of vanity. John Bartl is one of those artists. Make no bones about it this is a relatively dark record - so be advised you may not want to listen to this CD on the day you get fired, or the night your wife leaves you. But if you’re looking for dark, tripped out musical experience that offers up an alternative & ambient rock aftertaste then I highly recommend you jump head first into “Finally” by John Bartl.
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