Salim Nourallah and Duncan C

 Salim Nourallah

Salim Nourallah “Skeleton Closet”

In this self-funded album, Salim explores beyond the confines of last years brilliant “Hit Parade.” Starting with  “Dead Man’s Stare” Salim’s weary voice bleeds resignation with simple guitar strums and percussive effects. The melancholy approach recalls The Eels’ Mark Oliver Everett and its carried throughout the album.

“Crocodiles” is the very definition of a cautious tale about reptiles (human or not) and “don’t be fooled by those toothy grins” and Salim transforms into the Texas version of Ray Davies on the wonderful gems “Terlingua” and “Permanent Holiday.” The latter is an ear-worm that is like the devil on your shoulder encouraging you to go off the grid, as he says “When you gonna do it…” “Prisoner” is another tale of heartbreak, with “Two Years” showing our protagonist alone with an infant after the death of his loved one. The depth of emotion on tracks like “The Bullies Are Back” and “2 Lizards” recall Pink Floyd in spots and a little Jim Morrison comes through on the finale “To The Desert.” Highly Reccomended.

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C Duncan”Architect”

This impressive debut from classically trained musician Christopher Duncan was created alone in his bedroom in Scotland. Duncan’s “Architect” boasts layered harmonies, chamber pop of the highest order mixing lo-fi and slick production together. The spacey pop of “Say” is deceptively catchy with its chanting chorus. This ghostly choral is used to great effect on “Silence and Air” and “He Believes in Miracles,” but what made me sit up and made me take notice was the signature gem “Garden.” Using a fast tempo plucking rythym, it builds and runs along with an urgency that is totally infectious – it’s one of my favorite songs this year.

The follow up “Here To There” has elements of late 80’s pop (The Cure, Orchestral Maneuvers in The Dark) and after “By” the album slips into a more atmospheric, less melodic phase redeemed by the plaintive ballad “I’ll Be Gone By Winter.” Overall this is a good artisan styled pop album worth exploring.