Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Michael Oakely - Turn Back Time

Retro New Wave music is either hit or miss for me. A lot of time, producers and content creators will stick to an instrumental track forgoing finding a vocalist as 80s vocals are trickier to create than an 80s inspired track. There are a handful of artists out there that have the ability to pull off both and from what I've heard from Michael Oakley, he's now one of the lucky few that can replicate a fantastically 80s inspired track. From the brilliant use of the synth to the guitar solo that shreds the track, this is a prime example of how to create a great retro new wave song. His vocals have that soft, easy, romantic vibe that so many artists in the New Romantic movement had. The song isn't overly complicated. It's a very straight forward track and I think that's a damn smart move on his part as it holds up the ideals of a lot of the music from the time period.

From his press kit, "Hailing from Glasgow Scotland, dance/electro artist Oakley has successfully created an innovative style, defying the mainstream with the combination of minimalistic yet memorable melodies with electronic synth-pop. The result is a body of work which celebrates the 80’s - an era of revolutionary artistry but yet feels modern and dynamic." I agree with this. I think that he does have a love for the music of the time. He handles it with a reverence that not many people do and it's apparent in the quality of his work.  

Felix Hagan & The Family - Attention Seeker

"And I don’t like to show my soul to strangers - But show me yours and I’ll show you mine"

Felix Hagan & The Family have quickly become one of my favorite groups. They create music that builds experiences. It's theatrical and it's bawdy and it harkens back to a time of vaudeville and drawing the audience into the performance with the band. They create music that's bigger than your standard pop tune and it's music that leaves an impression on you.

"Attention Seeker" is an incredible piece of social commentary on how we are living our lives. We are so connected in a world of social media and technology but we are less connected to the people in our lives more now than ever. The song talks about two individuals in situations that we've experienced in our own lives in some form or fashion. We long for the ability to connect, to be part of something bigger than our own lives. We are shouting into the echo chambers that we've created; hoping against hope that someone hears us. As much as the song is an up tempo pop track, the message is much bigger than a simple chorus wrapped around a few verses.

I feel like this is a way to get people involved in understanding what the artist is trying to put out. Wrap the message in a very digestible package and before the listener knows it, they've had an experience greater than just listening to a song. And this is such an amazing piece of work. I am in awe of the breath of work that Felix Hagan & The Family are creating.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Frida Sundemo - Gold

I first wrote about Frida four years ago. It makes me so happy to see that she's still releasing music that is good and creative and fresh. I love her voice. Have since I first heard it. You know that I love music from Sweden and Frida is a prime example of how great music from Sweden can be. It's passionate and it's easy. It's not overworked and it's not over produced. We, in America, would consider an EDM artist but she's a pop star and should be treated as such. I think the small quiet moments in her voice are what make me the happiest with her. She has such an expressive quality to her voice that you don't hear in the swath of "indie" singers today. She stands apart from the crowd and her production team knows how to properly utilize her instrument. There's a theatrical quality to what she puts out and the way the song builds and swells into an experience and then slowly fades out is pretty incredible.

This song is a single off her latest album, "Flashbacks and Futures" and it's inspired by space with a little science fiction thrown in. The video has been met by continued high critical praise, with the likes of Clash featuring it as their Track Of The Day saying, "The record is a superbly creative piece of pop innovation... 'Gold' is just wonderful, recalling everyone from Pet Shop Boys to The Knife in its sheer sonic splendour... The visuals deftly expand on this, conjuring visions of intergalactic solitude."

Make sure you check out the video and give her a follow on social media. She's an incredible artist and she's got longevity and staying power that a lot of up and coming pop stars don't in the industry today.

Tom Walker - Heartland

It takes at least 2 viewings of this video to appreciate it. I recommend more than that so you can appreciate the cinematography of the video on it's own as a mini-movie with a fully realized concept and then you need to watch it again just to focus on Tom Walker's incredible, soulful vocals. The video is full of tension as Tom appears to be an agent with nefarious connections and intentions but his plans go all pear shaped when he runs across our damsel in distress. He has a job to do. He's got something that has to be taken care of so he gets her to stay put while he completes the job. After leaving her, he makes the decision to take her to heart and choose her over the errand that he's supposed to complete. Going back to find her; she's no where to be found. Frantic, he goes back tot he places they've been together and can't find her. Just when he gives up; he opens the boot of the car and there she is hiding in plain sight.

I really feel the video reflects that song perfectly. It's soulful. It's gritty and it has heart and personality. I don't know much about Tom Walker but I do enjoy his voice. I enjoy what he's doing with music and I'll make sure to listen to more of his stuff.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Haim - Little of Your Love

Watching the Haim women dancing their hearts out makes my day. Nothing is better than being able to enjoy other people enjoying something. This video looks like it would have been incredible to be part of because everyone looks like their just having the time of their life. The song is wonderful. Haim can really do no wrong in my book. Danielle, Este, and Alana are just amazing performers and they inspire me every time they step in front of a camera or a microphone. Watch the video, smile, and watch it again. Well done ladies. Keep doing what you're doing and keep releasing music that is important.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Don't Give Up - Maggie Szabo

Inspirational. Beautiful. Important. 3 words that come to mind while watching this video for Maggie Szabo's latest single, "Don't Give Up". I feel that we are in a very hectic time right now and it's important for songs and visuals like this to remind us that we aren't alone. In a world where representation is crucial and being able to see ourselves reflected in media; it is important for music like this to exist. The video is done is such a careful way as to not be ham fisted with the material but present it in a way that is accessible and honest to the viewer. Maggie's vocals are stunning and create such a beautiful backdrop for this story of acceptance and finding yourself. Our trans brothers and sisters are at such a risk for not only marginalization but suicide that videos like this give a voice to the struggle that so many young people face on a daily basis. The young transman in the video is treated with dignity and respect and shown that he matters and he is important. And it's damn important that we show our extended family in the LGBTQIA+ family this every day. They matter and they are valid and their existence won't be swept under the carpet.

I like how this video was realistic in the fact that the couple didn't go to the prom and were immediately accepted by their peers. I like that it didn't show the couple as an object of ridicule or violence either. So often in the LGBT+ world, we are shown that the only way to be made feel part of something is to have graphic representations of coming out where violence and shame happens. And that doesn't do anything to help people learn and grown in themselves but having a portrayal of care and affection where the couple can express themselves, even by themselves is honest and realistic.  Any proceeds from this video will go to the Ali Forney Center, who strive to make everyone feel welcome and part of something and end the plague of homelessness within the LGBT+ community and our youth. Check out the video and share it with your friends and family. Start a dialog about trans education and let's make a positive impact on those people who are so malleable and are in need of a voice.