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Xoch – ‘S/T’

posted 22 Feb 2016, 12:17 by Paul Woodward

(Independent)

Review By Woody

Las Vegas based pop-rocker Xoch is a very experienced song writer and this is her self-titled fifth album release. It’s a diverse collection of songs and upon reflection the cover of Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ actually explains a lot about the different styles thrown into the melting pot here. I wouldn’t say Xoch musically are akin to Blondie but in their song writing creativity and what they try to achieve is very much along similar lines.

You’ve got some straight up pop, thoughtful ballads and quirky alt rock numbers all rubbing shoulders, but also with some rather interesting musical elements thrown into the mix. You’d think taking snippets and licks from other styles and genre’s and forging it into a pop rock skin would be a total mess of Frankenstein type proportions. But much like Blondie the songs are carefully crafted too make sure these unusual traits accentuate the appeal of a song rather than creating a discordant mess.

Anyone who knows me knows I love female vocalists and been a lover of the softer side of rock means pop rock very easily tickles my musical taste buds. So obviously something like this album is going to appeal but I think it’s strength and what will give it longevity and repeated listen’s is the diversity in the style and sounds of the tracks which offer something for every mood and at only seven tracks long that’s not an easy task!

It’s very easy to get caught up in front woman Xoch’s performance on this album as she is very much the focal point of the band and its sound, but it would be remiss of me to fail to nod a head to her backing band who deliver some great musical performances and some of those very important hooks. As it’s is a musically diverse album you have to pay credit to these guys having the musical chops to perform various styles whilst reigning it into a pop-rock feeling.

Xoch herself has an amazing voice, you may not click to just how good a vocalist she is based on the more straight ahead pop and quirky rock numbers. On the Ballads though she just sends chills through your body, she has a wonderfully emotional and vulnerable vocal that gives these ballads a heart wrenching power that really makes them stick with you. Lyrically she knows what she’s doing too, her wealth of experience is clear here. Keeping it simple for lighter tracks where it’s about fun and energy but also having the depth and soul to create relatable, thought provoking and emotional lyrics on other songs that gives something with a little more depth for listeners.

Album opener ‘Summer Vacation’ is a real tour de force in hooks, an ultra-catchy uplifting pop rock track perfect for the Summer as the title may indicate! There’s a killer guitar hook which will embed itself in your consciousness and there is some fun and fluffy keyboard licks that really pump up the smile inducing factor! The Hammond keys on ballad ‘I Know’ give it a slight retro feel and this emotional song has a slight country/Americana tinge to it. Xoch’s vocals real soar here, powerful, evocative, and this song really showcases her vocal abilities. The next ballad ‘Never say Never’ is again very emotion driven and deep. Xoch’s stunning and vulnerable vocals on this one really made a big impression on me. This is a great power ballad that should be a worldwide hit!

Quirky, off kilter groove driven rocker ‘Slide’ shows a different side to Xoch’s song writing and her vocal abilities. There’s a trippy psychedelic vibe to this one with a hint towards early ‘90’s alt rock, it even includes a mid-section rap with pulsing bass beat. I have a feeling this song would be awesome to experience live. Atmospheric mid-tempo rocker ‘Awake’ is a soaring and sweeping number which evokes female singer song writers of the ‘90’s and ‘00’s but with a stronger rock beat. There’s a melancholic musical hook on the verse’s that I particularly like on this song too.

‘Everyday (of My Life)’ is a funky pop rocker with thoughtful lyric’s and even though the song has an upbeat pop flow theirs a depth to the track thanks to those lyrics that gives it more impact. The cover of Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ fits in quite well with its rap mid-section and ethereal atmospherics and this tribute to an obvious inspiration is well executed.

So many Indie releases go flying under the radar, but yet again here is another that I urge female vocal and pop rock fans to check out! Just because you’re not on the X-Factor or a Youtube sensation doesn’t automatically mean a song or artist is not worth your time! I think many will really enjoy Xoch you just need to press play to prove me right!

Track Listing: Summer Vacation / I Know / Never Say Never / Slide / Awake / Everyday (of My Life) / Rapture

Album Rating: 8/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Summer Vacation

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