Album Reviews: Archive

Critic Acclaim for “After We Fly”:

“The Sun Harmonic is one of the many projects for Toronto-based Kaleb Hikele. He`s led rock bands, been a folk performer, and helped create an artist collective, as well as solidifying his creative empire by building a downtown studio. Now, he returns to his first instrument, the piano, to create this body of songs on the new set After We Fly.

It`s actually a sampler for a bigger work to come, a wide-ranging double album he`s preparing for 2016, called Winter. So this has the alternate title of 8 Winter Songs. How snowy the whole thing gets remains to be recorded, but for now After We Fly is a tempting treat. Hikele knows full well how to make modern, delicious tracks, rich in melody and intricately composed. What he avoids here is the temptation to chop it all up and dose it in trickery and finery. Instead, each song has as its main instrument the piano, so sadly out of fashion in most genres. Yet here it is in all its glory, chords and triplets and trills and tremolos.

That’s not to say he doesn’t embellish; there are lots more instruments, even some effects, but those glorious melodies came straight from the old Joanna. He introduces jazz moves, classical ideas, and lush pop, with cello, trumpet, and a grand chorus of voices among the guests. With a fine, soothing voice as well, Hikele has done wonders for the piano player.”
– Bob Mersereau, curator of Top 100 Canadian Singles blog (New Brunswick)

“(Performance: A+/Production: A) Recording as The Sun Harmonic, multi-instrumentalist and composer Kaleb Hikele has been responsible for previous releases that have gathered a healthy amount of critical respect. After We Fly gratifyingly takes his body of work to a brilliant new plateau as he takes eight songs from a work in progress entitled Winter that’s due next year and lets his audience hear these songs as they change.

Listening here it’s hard to imagine how the humanity, honesty and at times absolutely beautiful Beatles-esque melodicism washing over them could be improved upon. The record’s dominant instrument is the piano and the richly rendered sounds Hikele coaxes from it and the dreamy warmth suff using these tracks makes this a sometimes exhilarating listen that creates a world of its own.”
– Rod Nicholson, editor for SCENE Magazine (London Ontario)

“Elegiac”: Adjective. 1. Mournful, somber, melancholic. (I add a qualifier,  “bittersweetly beautiful.”) 2.Kaleb Nathaniel Hikele, AKA The Sun Harmonic. Like AWOL Jon Brion or Paul McCartney’s troika of moving Beatles ballads, ’68-’70, Hikele needs only a piano (having been classically trained, age five), his reassuring bedside-manner, and chamber music production, to make elegiac music painted in the refracted light of sundown on the clouds. The multi-instrumentalist adds bits and bobs to backgrounds, but on “As I Go Away” and “Where Your Beauty Lies,” it’s the intimacy of his delicate fingers and vocal that reigns. Like Jon DeRosa, that intimacy was forged in days as a punk/alt.rocker and eventually prolific solo artist, and his aspirations are such that this eight-song ode to winter will give way to a 22-song double-LP version, Winter, next winter. Such grandiose ambition—such direct heart.”
– Jack Rabid, editor of The Big Takeover Magazine (Brooklyn, NY)

“Kaleb Hikele is tough to nail down. A classicially-trained pianist, multifaceted musician, and a burgeoning producer, Kaleb is moving in all directions, at all times, constantly exploring his musical interests and finding new ways to express himself. He has been part of many projects, some under his own name, and other configurations with his friends performing folk, blues-rock, and other earthier sounds. I’ve been watching him from afar for a couple of years. I’ll admit that when I first stumbled upon him, I wasn’t sure what to think. The constant exploration of all these different things, frankly, meant he wasn’t 100% nailing it on any of them. He was getting really close, but not quite “there”.

However, this is quickly changing as he (still a very young man in his early 20s) has returned to his roots, so to speak, with piano and vocal music, performing as The Sun Harmonic. Have a listen to a few of his tracks while reading along my brief interview with a guy who, and I really mean this, is poised to do great things.”
– Kevin McGowan, editor of The Revue (Ottawa)

“The Sun Harmonic is lyricist/singer/producer Kaleb Hikele, an artist whose earlier work (including a recent collaboration with Al Grantham) has impressed this scribe. New album After We Fly (his fourth studio record) is an interesting concept, as it’s rather a document of a work in progress. Hikele is planning a 22 song double album, Winter, for an early 2016 release, and it will include expanded versions of these eight songs. This is mellow folk-pop, based around his gentle vocal style and fluent work on a multitude of instruments. Sparse piano ballads predominate, and it’ll be fascinating to see how he builds on these songs.
– Kerry Doole, Editor for New Canadian Music (Toronto)

“Rating: 4/5… There is a great range of genres in “After We Fly” from Folk, Jazz and Rock. A lot of the music on “After We Fly” has a somewhat calming effect with its gentle folksy feel.   My favourite is the first track, “As I Go Away”, which I found myself singing along with and felt completely mellow.

“Poison Myself” has more of a Jazz feel to it, but nevertheless evokes the same calming effect that I spoke of earlier. If you’re in the mood for a more upbeat, energetic tune, then the final track on the album but be what you’re looking for. It has a strong presence, and sounds more theatrical than the rest of the album.

The Sun Harmonic did an amazing job of putting together a group of songs that will attract the listener and keep them listening. I personally cannot wait to hear the upcoming (double) LP.”
– Jenna Melanson, Editor of Canadian Beats

“I always love piano-driven songwriting, and I absolutely fell in love with the above track (When The Well Runs Dry), which I proceeded to replay over and over again. I subsequently ordered the 8-song album After We Fly, which arrived with a lovely personal note from the artist and was filled with great melodies, poetic words and a jazzy-folk feeling. It’s been great company on my long weekend drives from the fishing village where I live to the farther-away-than-I’d-like homes of my family and friends.”
– Rebecca, arts blogger at Lot Sixty Five: (www.lotsixtyfive.com)

Critic Acclaim for “Season”:

“Story” a melancholy acoustic intro piece, serves up solitary vocal delivery from Hikele that is passionate, up front & personal… “Puzzle”, along with Track 3 “Wait” are both striking pieces that flow & ebb their way through to emotional fruition… The actual musical format is very intimate, & is an up close & personal snapshot of the artist. The songs themselves are very naked & personal with messages revealing the highs & lows of life, love, passion, & naked vulnerability… Besides the voice & the acoustic guitar you will also notice some amazing chops & impressive bluesy style riffs thrown in the mix.

The acoustic guitar playing abilities from Hikele are impressive, catchy, conservative & in the pocket. His voice is just as impressive & I might add his falsetto is quite amazing. Hikele takes many vocal risks throughout this production indicating to me a strong & confident vocal ability. The lyrical content is extremely revealing as all songs cut deep to the core. From powerful “Apology” to upbeat “Safe” to melodic” Stir” to striking “Again” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Song” the perfect final statement for a CD of this caliber.

It takes an amazing amount of talent and skill to deliver a bare bones musical production such as this. Hats off to Hikele for taking all this on… Overall, Season by The Sun Harmonic is a striking & compelling musical production. Its strong suit is its overall consistency, lyrical wisdom, & bold straightforwardness. Make no bones about it folks; it took raw honesty to write & perform some of these songs. What I like most about Hikele is there is no attempt to hide how she feels, or sugar- coat the truth…. Hikele is one of those artists. Hikele will work best on days you want a delicate acoustic sound to fill your atmosphere.”
– Cyrus Rhodes, President Chief Editor for The Muse’s Muse

 “On his latest release, ‘Season’, Kaleb has decided to go in a lo-fi acoustic direction with his sound. What you hear on the release is exactly what he recorded, Kaleb’s acoustic guitar playing and vocals, no over dubs where used on the recording.

The releases opening, “Story” (48 seconds) and closing “Song” (38 seconds) tracks didn’t bring anything exciting to the musical table for me, but other than that I enjoyed the rest of the album and the way that Kaleb really lets his talent shine as he uses different styles of guitar playing and voice inflection to create the necessary mood for each of the 11-songs found on, ‘Season.’ Highlight tracks include, “Apology”, that Kaleb wrote as a dedication and goodbye to a dying relative. I also enjoyed the well done acoustic guitar parts found on the tracks, “Today” and “Stir.”

In all of the songs found on ‘Season’ Kaleb’s vocals shine as he sings about often painful things that have been a part of his life. I liked the raw edge that’s found on the songs that make up The Sun Harmonic’s latest release.”
– C.W. Ross, freelance writer for Music Blog

Critic Acclaim for “Chemistry”:

“It takes a lot of guts to do what Kaleb Hikele has done. Performing with scream acts (Far From Freedom) and alt-rock trios (the Capitol) in the past, Hikele has reinvented himself as a classically trained folk artist playing under the moniker the Sun Harmonic. And as the sparse, yet startlingly genuine, arrangements on his debut full-length illustrate, Hikele is ready to bare his soul to anyone who will listen. Each of the ten tracks on Chemistry allows for lots of room to breathe, from the acoustic, pseudo-spacey groove of “Ready To Flood” to “If I Fall,” which not only highlights Hikele’s sombre side, but also his affinity for dusty, twangy folk. Presumably free of any artistic constraints, Hikele explores a variety of musical and thematic undertones on Chemistry, usually with fortuitous grace. His voice climbs above any barriers on “All You Need,” proving that to make a strong and well-rounded record all you really need is yourself, and a little bit of courage.”
– Joshua Kolke, editor for Exclaim! Magazine

“Kaleb Hikele has taken an interesting path on his way to becoming the singer/songwriter he is today. Having picked up music by learning classical piano at five years of age, he went on to play in a number of punk and alternative bands during high school before finally branching out on his own in 2007. Since then, he’s found the time to release five albums (one live) as well as an EP. He’s a busy man, indeed.Hikele’s latest releases, which are still recorded solo, fall under the name The Sun Harmonic. His music is rooted in folk, but contains traces of alternative, bringing a Ben Harper-like feel to many of his songs.

His diverse musical background may be his greatest asset. His songs can go from a crawl to an uplifting feel with little notice and he knows when it’s appropriate to get loud with both his guitar and voice. With so many releases under his belt, it’s a wonder that music as good as Hikele’s isn’t known to a wider audience. But who knows, maybe his latest, 2010’s Chemistry will be the one that propels him to wider recognition…”
– Ben Conoley, freelance writer for Canadian Musician Magazine (Showcase feature in September 2010)

“It had me truly stumped… It’s a multi-personality in here, that’s for sure… There’s even giant sweeping pieces in here that recall Pink Floyd but are more something of your own invention.”
Eric Thom, freelance writer, Toronto, ON.

“My favorites are, “As You Will”, a melodic folk / roots rock track filled with harmonica sounds- “Ready to Flood”, offers up a nice arrangement… “If I Fall”, a song filled with passionate vocals, along with nice piano, guitar, and drum parts. With his latest release, ‘Chemistry’, Kaleb Hikele continues to progress and grow, showing that there’s a bright musical future ahead for him.”
– C.W. Ross, Senior Writer for The Indie Music Stop, Pennsylvania, USA.

Critic Acclaim for “The Sun Harmonic” album:

“Featuring graceful acoustics and the silky smooth voice of Kaleb Hikele, The Sun Harmonic is self-produced and worthy of praise due to its classic simplicity of song. An amazing production, captured during seven hours of live recording, The Sun Harmonic will not disappoint its soft-hearted listeners.”
– Florence Ng of Discorder Magazine, Vancouver, BC.

“In many ways it sounds as though the folk-influenced Hikele intends The Sun Harmonic as an exercise in simplicity. Recorded in seven hours flat, it sounds quietly urgent and aloof at once.”
– Sophia Al-Maria of Sound Proof, Toronto, ON.

“The CD’s nine tracks stay true to the pastoral setting it was recorded in; quiet folk rock, though you can still hear Kaleb’s screamo roots in his delivery. Even tracks like ‘Oh The Flame Burns’, which has string overdubs, have a certain sparseness which adds to the reflective feel of the CD.”
– Dave Clarke of SCENE Magazine, London, ON.

“Kaleb, who produced the release, went for a raw edge on the recording being careful to not over produce the music- You can feel a real passion, heard in Kaleb’s vocals. This release offers up a nice collection of songs that push the singer songwriter envelope in a good direction.”Rating: 8.3 out of 10.
– C.W. Ross, Senior Writer for The Indie Music Stop, Pennsylvania, USA.

“A great album done by a brilliant musician. The album delivers in all the right places”
– Anonymous iTunes Consumer