Klef Notes

Music Reviews

Peter Kleinhans "Something’s Not Right"

Coming out of the Big Apple is Peter Kleinhans, an American Alternative artist who is taking a bite out of the Indie Music World with panache, reverence, and stability.  Engaging his fans with wonderfully animated lyrics that support mature themes of practical life, he has the look, talent, style and muscle to push the “refresh” button on the world of Modern Music! 

Kleinhans is quickly identified as a pure Rock artist, but he is more of a fusion artist as his music incorporates elements of Rock, Blues, and some Country.  “Something’s Not Right” is a refreshing collection of pure Alternative music set to reawaken old memories and create new stories. 

Each track’s title is sort of a sub-title to the book of the artist’s life, eleven in all: 

  1. 3,000,000 Years
  2. A Separate Time
  3. Leaving Home
  4. To Hell and Back
  5. Something’s Not Right
  6. Falling Apart
  7. Sky Blue
  8. ‘Til The Music Stops
  9. Turn the Tide
  10. Waltz into The Darkness
  11. Halifax Harbor 

While each track touches on real life issues, the six tracks included in this review fully highlights the reality of life and its milestones like existence, pain, love, and change by seasoning them with humor or aggression or just good old vocals, a melody, and music. 

We will start with the opening track “3,000,000 Years” – a kind of quasi-existence story that lyrically explains the way humans have adapted and settled into living.  

The track is almost satirical in that it adds humor to a true and kind of brutal account within human history – the lyrics speak on topics of death, pain, creation, and prevailing:  we made it through an ice age and we made it through drought we built civilizations, and we wiped ‘em out / we died in plagues and we died at war / but one thing we always knew we wanted was more more more / there’s never been another moment like this / there’s never been another moment like this / so swing low and come on in for the kiss / ‘cause there’s never ever been another moment, a moment like this / 3,000,000 years, 3,000,000 years.  And throughout the entire track, the melody is kept light and fun.  Wonderful technique to engage fans.  Kleinhans adds to this technique by incorporating hi-hats, cymbals, and light-hearted harmonies.

To Hell and Back” is that classic ride or die track that tells the story of living life to the extreme and taking chances with a partner by your side.  The lyrics tell this story: cut me with your words, heal me with your song / whip a perfect night from a day gone wrong / spread your sunshine, then unleash your squall / if I don’t fall I’ll be back to love you before too long / come take a ride with me on this train to hell and back / lock your lips with mine as we jump the track / your my passion, my poison, you’re my blessing, you’re my curse / but your better’s so much better than your worse is worse.  The classic Big Band sound with a horn section and classic piano heightens the energy of the track.  Kleinhans adds soft female vocal adlibs to drive the hook while he cleverly scales the track with a second tenor vocal that sounds light but seductive like a card player keeping his hand to his chest.  The horn section closing the track adds texture and flair – it has the night club feel combined with a juke joint appeal.

I simply love, love, love the layers of instrumentation on the title track “Something’s Not Right” – the song starts with fiddles / violins swinging and then the six strings and four strings come in crawling and standing in modulation and pull backs – it just adds mystery and a nice bounce.  In addition, Kleinhans sings a bit different on this track – it is almost conversational, rapping in its mood, and it works.  Moreover, the vocal technique supports the theme of “Something’s Not Right” as it is about when a person feels that something is going wrong, or things are not quite as they seem, but you go with the flow anyway – he sings:  the party’s over, everybody’s gone / there’s an uneasy feeling keeping me stirring my girlfriend’s dreaming the night away / I kind of want to wake her but I don’t know what I’d say / maybe I’ll go out and take a drive / let the wind rush by me remind me I’m alive / see the moon, get a midnight snack / it’s not that far to Walmart and back / another day and how I spent it / wish I could live as if I meant it / it’s not so bad, bit by bit / but can it really be that this is it / something’s not right / something’s not right / something’s not right, the way it looks from here.  This fifth track gives a refreshing twist to the EP as it is more like 1960s in its lyrical melody but modern in its production with the musical scales and backing vocals.  In addition, the song is written in a more classic formation where there is a first and second verse, but after the hook and a small bridge, another verse comes in and reintroduces that smokin instrumental bounce of guitars that have swag.  This treatment of writing is often missed today in music – glad to hear it here.

Sky Blue” has the airy, Bluesy, everything is gonna be alright vibe that we love about Dave Matthews’ musical style.  It is a reflective piece of music that resonates with many as it is honest but not soft like a fairytale.  It is the way life really is for many of us.  This metaphorical track uses imagery to fully emphasize the downhearted state of the narrator who is in search of some sunshine to which he finds in the eyes of his love.

And, I wanted to include a track from this collection that further displays Kleinhans’ writing skills.  “‘Til The Music Stops” features Vera Marino of the New Jersey band “The One and Nines” as the lead and she delivers a vocal that is passionately seductive and strong – like a blend of Stevie Nicks meets Olivia Newton-John.  Kleinhans wrote a track that was able to hug the varied vocal style of Marino as well as used lyrics and melodies that are universally unisex that can support a female or male vocalist.  It takes talent to be flexible enough to write for yourself and others without repeating the same melodies, pitches, and storylines.  “Til the Music Stops” tells the story of a woman who rises like a phoenix in the face of difference and/or adversity even when it comes to raising children:  when he came it couldn't have rained on a drier spot  /and when he left, it took everything I’ve got / just to get back up and do what needed done / but I had no choice because I love my son / and I’ve taught my eyes to see each streetlight as a star / to ignore each chance that's lost with every passing car / I know I’ve been left behind / but the rhythm's powerful; gonna keep on dancing 'til the music stops / and the dark is colorful; there's a rainbow floating on the face of every tear that drops / and my baby's beautiful; I’ll do anything to keep a roof over that boy's head / a pillow on his bed / the rhythm's powerful / the dark is colorful / my baby's beautiful.  And the Classic Rock instrumentation featuring guitars, tambourines, and an organ supports the organic feel of the real-world track.

We close with the smooth “Turn the Tide” – the Modern Country/Rock track that has a mid-to-up-tempo and features a steady drumbeat, synthesizer, and guitar, with a lyrical message about making changes to a life that have become stagnated.  The inventive lyrics illustrate this theme: it’s time to let our eyes adjust to darkness so they remember how to see / it’s time to turn the tide, time to trim the tree / time to become something different from who we’d have thought we’d ever be / and who says we’re not just getting started on this crazy roller coaster ride / it’s time to trim the tree, time to turn the tide / take the heights from the mountains, take the depths from the sea.  This is the type of songs that led changes in communities and societies back in the day, and it is time to hear this type of protest-like songs today as it makes people think and react positively.  The female and male backing vocals added to Kleinhans’ adlibs give a good blending effect and alludes to the universal coming together of people, ideas, and change.  The guitar is played by Kleinhans himself and his technique of strumming, riffs, and some fingerpicking is splendid – it is the lifeline of this meditative track.

One thing I love about Indie Music is the infinite process of creativity – the music and the story behind the music that gives way to stories set to music.  That rare insight of the creative force that composed and produced such soundtracks for the fans.  And in Indie Music there are no limits to the stories – real people becoming Rock artists, selling out stadiums, making their dreams come true without the aid of a corporate backing, a major label, or a huge name.  It is the blood, sweat, tears, and personal investment that makes their stories so relatable. 

It is no different with Peter Kleinhans’ story – his is the story that would be similar to that of Don Johnson (when it comes to acting) or Mike Tyson (when it comes to boxing). 

It all started when a racetrack announcer (Kleinhans) sought out to find his creative side and soon began training world champion horses – thoroughbreds Enough Talk and Lavec Dream.  This sojourn led Kleinhans to take guitar lessons, that spearheaded into songwriting, that leads us to this wonderful collection of music.  You see, a typical guy became a Rock Star! 

After listening to this entire collection, it is clear to see the talent of Peter Kleinhans.  As I stated earlier, each track touches on real life issues and presents the common man’s point of view of life’s realities be it existence, pain, love, and/or change.  As Kleinhans stated, his songs “portray an empathy for all the people being lost and forgotten in what has been a unique and disheartening millennium thus far." 

And to fully translate his stories to music, Kleinhans worked with Tony Conniff (acclaimed producer, bassist and composer) on “Something’s Not Right.”  In addition, Kleinhans wrote, sang, and played guitar on each of the songs (except for “A Separate Time”, which is based on a poem by Stephen Dobyns).  The entire production illustrates Kleinhans’ story – he is artistic and does not limit his creativity by over-focusing on the boundaries set by radio stations and/or labels.  He follows the pattern of artists who write “No Rules Music” like Neil Young and Zeppelin and is experimental like Glenn Frey.  He is a great addition to the Indie Music realm. 

His technical and songwriting writing skills, as well as his talent as a musician and vocalist, is proven on this EP, and his real-life passion and serenity will continue to rake in fans. 

Kleinhans’ next performance is on September 25th at 7 PM at The Bitter End on 147 Bleeker St, New York, New York 10012.  For the event listing, go here.  

Artist's Page: http://hyperurl.co/SomethingsNotRightPK

Facebook: PeterKleinhansMusic

Instagram: @PeterKleinhans_Music

Twitter:  @PKleinhansMusic

 

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