Thursday, May 23, 2019

LegPuppy - Non Disclosure Agreement

1993. I'm a junior in high school and an album has been released that will forever change the trajectory of my musical taste. A small techno group from the UK has unleashed "Music for the Jilted Generation" and my love affair with The Prodigy has begun. Jump ahead to June 4, 1997 - my 21st birthday and I'm in Atlanta Georgia at the Masquerade in a crowd of sweaty techno fans jumping around, dancing and listening to Keith Flint and Maxim spitting lyrics at the crowd as The Prodigy is on their Fat of the Land tour.  Imagine my surprise in 2019 when I am handed an album by another act from the UK that takes me back to a much simpler time in my life and floods me with nostalgia and stirs so many emotions in me.

LegPuppy are absolutely blowing my mind with this new album. Driving beats. Synths that are next to God. Vocals that just take you to another dimension. This group is the group I never knew I needed them until I did. Utilizing Voi Vang on vocals as they do take them to a whole new level and it's good and it's dissentive and it has this whole attitude and vibe that's subversive and you get wrapped up in it. There are moments on this album where I honestly feel like I'm listening to a lost Prodigy album and I don't say that in a fashion that they've deliberately ripped off something that's been done but they're paying homage and they've tapped into the same primal and raw energy that Liam and the boys did all those years ago and it's amazing. The production is spot on and there's not a beat or a synth that isn't exactly where it should be. They've created a world that's dirty and it's sexy and it takes the piss. This album has been created and laid out in a way that the journey they take you on isn't so different than places you've been before, musically speaking as it were, its just now they're pulling the curtain back and showing you the grimy underbelly of it all.

The album starts of with a fully instrumental track, "Truth" and I'm immediately taken to the place I was the first time I heard "Break and Enter / Their Law" by The Prodigy and I'm awash with all those warm nostalgic feelings that continue to get stoked through out this album. Now, don't get me wrong...they're not living in the past. They're not doing something that should have been done almost 30 years ago. This is all current and it's new and it's fresh but it still knows it's roots and where it's come from. We go from "Truth" into "Tears" and we're introduced to Voi Vang. Her voice is pure and it's clean. It's the spot left when you white glove a table that's not been dusted for years. It's part of the whole but it's the part that's bright and shiny and new and it pulls you closer into this crazy world they've created. It's very Sneaker Pimps, very C.J. Bolland; paying homage but never appropriating.

"Nominate 10" comes right where it needs to be. There's nowhere you can go from "Tears" - this is the logical progression. It hits hard with a rap that's bold and it just shakes you back to reality from the siren song that's just ended. That's how I would absolute describe Voi's voice....siren like because you're just lulled into serenity even though it's against this pulsing backdrop of a song. But getting back to "Nominate 10".... it's a fantastic ride from start to finish and I was tapping my foot and bobbing along aggressively. It's not a song that I necessarily want to listen to in my car because it's going to find me driving the city streets at a speed that matches that amazing BPM.

"Speak, Talk, Speak" lampoons our communication and daily life in 2:19. It's like this song is roasting us without even trying because we are living in such a Black Mirror world and this is the background track in a time and space where all things are just wrong. This is kind of a horror story of a track because it holds up a microscope up to our lives and makes us examine them in less than 3 minutes. It's almost like a very broken palate cleanser between "Nominate 10" and "Twit Machine" because "Twit Machine" comes in hard too. This song is aggressive and it wants you to know right off the bat. Again, sticking with the whole communication vibe and social media addiction we've all become part of, this song brings to light all the things we do in between tapping and swiping. When the full on FOMO has set in and we have to make sure our lives are properly documented in the most appropriate Stepford way instead of actually living our lives.

"She's Lost Her Soul - Grade II" is hard. It's just a more sparse version of attack than what we've been dealt in the past couple tracks. It's more methodical about it's approach and the care it takes in spinning you in the web of darkness. The percussion and the beat just penetrate you and go right for the heart of you and it's deliberate. It has a message as well and reminds us that we all need to do our best to support live music. Without that, these artists aren't able to create because so much of the creation process happens in a give and take between the band and a live audience."Puctas Murint" is next and while I don't know the meaning of the title or what the song is fully about, you are still amped up and still keyed into this world they're continually reshaping around you. It's another short song but what it loses in legth, it damn sure makes up for it in content and depth.

"Corgi Stop" is a trippy side quest of a song that makes you feel like you've landed in the poppy field in Oz. Again, a short-ish track, like a corgi's legs. I can't make out the lyrics on it but I do feel a bit alien. A bit like I've done some whippets or sucked helium out of a balloon.

The last track on the album, "NDA" is nuts. They've taken everything they have left, the kitchen sink and all and thrown it at you in this. The beat is bananas. It's got a jungle feel to it. This is where things go off the rails and get primal. This song is sexy as fuck and it's a joyous ride from start to finish. It's a huge track and it's the absolute high note the album HAD to end with. The builds and the swells are matched in intensity with the drops and if you close your eyes, this nearly 10 minute track just fills every part of you.

This album is going to be massive and it's going into heavy rotation in my collection and it proves that you don't have to have full lyrical content on every single song to build an emotional connection. It's brilliant and it's bad ass.  Make sure you pick it up. Preorder this damn thing now!

You can do it here -----> Preorder  <----- p="">

Beware the Bear - Show Me Love (ft. Sean Smith)

You may know Sean Smith from his time with his sister Sarah as Same Difference, the act that reached the final on the fourth season of the British X-Factor but since he's embarked on his solo career, Sean has been growing and evolving as an artist and it's never more evident than on the new Beware the Bear track, "Show Me Love". Sean sounds so much different than he has previously and it's an amazing showcase of his vocals as Beware the Bear create a track that just picks him up and carries him all the way across the finish line. This is one of the most uplifting songs I've heard in a long time and in comparison to the recent trend of the dark, emotives Lana's and Billie's....this track is a bright spot in a very dark night.

It's not so much a plea for affection as much as it is showing that he's open and receptive to what it is you have to offer. He's put himself out there and he's let you know that he's ready and not its your turn to play your part. It's hopeful and it's light and it's everything you need in a solid pop song. It makes you want to be loved and it makes you want to have everything that comes along with it and I don't think there's anyone out there that could deliver a performance better than Sean. He's a brilliant vocalist and I love that we get to travel with him on his exploration of self and I can't wait to see him as he's becoming the most fully realized version of himself because it's a helluva ride.

The LaFontaines - Alpha

This is an amazing rock track with two awesome vocalists. Kerr Okan's rap is fucking amazing. “’Alpha’ comes as result of the losses we’ve had recently in this area from young males, predominately of the ‘Alpha’ stereotype,” frontman Kerr Okan explains.

“I’ve often struggled with my emotions - anything other than aggression was always seen as a weakness and something that should be locked away. ‘Alpha’ marks the point in my own journey where I realised that there was something real to be gained from embracing the spectrum of emotions - whether you’re male or not.”

His voice is designed for it and the amount of swagger he carries is palpable. There's nothing else in this world that he should be doing this this. He was built explicitly for this. And combine that with Jamie Keenan's smooth ass chorus and this song is just fire. I've been sharing it around with a ton of my American friends and not one of them has heard anything like it and they're all beside themselves because they haven't heard this group before. It definitely a song that just sweeps you up and doesn't let go until the ride has come to a complete stop. The way the video is shot in one take is awesome and pumps you up because you know if this is what they can do in one take then any live show they put on will have similar energy and it will be hype. I can't say enough about Kerr's rap. It's fucking brilliant and it's infectious in the absolute best way.

"Alpha" is taken off their new album, "Junior" which will be released on June 14, 2019 and they're currently out touring supporting this single and the new album.

Tiffany - Beautiful

Many people think that Tiffany hasn't released music since the late eighties and they would be wrong. She's been steadily releasing music throughout her career and the music has always been a representation of who she is as an artist. Her latest single, "Beautiful" is just that; an awesome representation of where she's at in her life. She's a bit older. She's got a little mileage on her and she's not making music that's age specific. When she was a teenager, her music appealed mostly to teens; now as a grown woman, there's quite a bit of pop appeal to what she's releasing but it's not for kids and it's not for soccer moms. It's quality pop music and it should be treated as such. A lot of people will want to talk about how her "voice still sounds" and how she looks as an adult compared to the memories they had of her as a young woman but that's reductive and doesn't do any good. She's beautiful and her voice is strong and amazing.

I like how this track and her updated version of "I Think We're Alone Now" have a bit of an edge to them. They're a little more rock and a little less bubblegum. I feel like that's a parallel to how a lot of us have grown as adults, the wide eyed idealism of youth is traded in for a bit of life experience and it gives us more of an edge. It allows us to be able to discern things a little more clearly with more judgment. We don't rush headlong into decisions like we may have when we were younger. It's still unmistakably Tiffany at it's core with it's pop sensibilities and it's a song that is easily accessible to everyone, regardless of where you're at in your life. It's a song about connecting and forgetting everything and everyone except for that person that makes you feel like a kid again. The person that fills your head with cotton candy nonsense and makes all the things just so much sweeter. If she keeps releasing music like this, she has absolutely renewed my faith in what quality, time tested pop music should sound like.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Justin Ferre - drifing into once a day

It's not often that a song makes me stop every single thing that I'm doing and put both earbuds in and give it everything I have but when it does and I'm shaking from the emotions an artist evokes - that's god damn important. Finding artists in this social media day and age is one of the funniest things because they can come from anywhere and today, I was totally blindsided by an artist that took me off my feet all together. Albuquerque based singer/songwriter Justin Ferre is that man. He has come into my life today and wrecked every single emotion I have. My hands are shaking and my eyes are blurry because this song is nothing but a stream of emotional consciousness and there's so much to it that it has touched my heart deeply and more passionately than anything in a long time.

The power that this man has in his voice and his delivery is shocking and it's beautiful and it's good. It's raw and it's honest and I have a lump in my throat because this song is exactly what I needed to hear to day and I don't know how the universe knew but damn it, it did. His vocal style shifting from a soft whisper to a raging torrent of emotion is so awe inspiringly beautiful. I am honestly having a hard time putting coherent thought together because of his delivery. There's no one else in the world. He's singing to me. He has singled me out in a crowd and his words are driving their way deep into my heart and my soul as it makes me feel so real and noticed and loved. The raw edge of his voice is that of a salt of the earth, honest to god man that believes in every single word that's coming out of his mouth and the person that this song has been written for is the luckiest man in the world.

This feels like he's just saying and doing whatever his love and his passion is telling him to say. When you hear his breath and you hear his thoughts come out while he's picking the words to say, you simply can't get more truth in art than this. He evokes so many emotions in me that it's hard to figure out which ones to process first. But safety, security, being wrapped in the words that he's saying makes me believe..... NO it makes me KNOW that whatever it is I'm going through in this moment that there's another human being in the cosmos that is standing there with me. Strong. Secure. Waiting for me to stumble so that he can be there to pick me up and help me on my path. Wrapping his arms around me, holding me; reminding me that I'm not alone and it's wonderful.

The way he shot the video for this is brilliant. It makes you focus on his words. It pulls you into his performance. It is a private, intimate performance and it's just you and him and you're going to be all right. This is the song that I want played at my wedding. These are the words that I yearn to hear from someone as they're holding my hand and helping me shake off the dark days. I don't know if he knows the power he wields but it is good and it's true and fuck..... I'm done. I'm a fan. Bonafide. Will travel to the ends of the earth for this man now if this is the level of work that he puts out.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Iris - Crazy

I get a lot of music sent to me daily. And sometimes it takes time to sort through it all and pick the songs that mean the most to me in order to write about them. If you've been around for any time at all, you know one of my favorite auditory qualities is how a vocalist's voice comes across. The more unique the voice, the more I'm apt to enjoy it. I think it's because unique voices are fewer and far between and they help the artist stand apart from the masses and in a world of bedroom producers, the masses are getting larger and larger. So imagine my surprise when the newest single from Iris, a New Jersey based singer/songwriter slid across my desk and her smoky, sultry voice that's reminiscent of Stevie Nicks swept me off my feet.

"Crazy" is a beautifully, heartbreaking single about love that harkens back to the fourties with it's slow and languid production. Like music from that era, this song spends it's time focusing on the lyrics and vocal performance rather than over the top production. I could easily see this song being played in a smoky, blues club or a USO tour where people are slow dancing and falling in love all over again. That feeling when all your insides are in knots and your palms are sweaty and all you can think about is them. "I'm not crazy. I'm just crazy about you", she says and so many people have been in that place and the universal feeling that this song evokes is strong and powerful. I think back to a time in my life when it just clicked and love fell into place and everything made sense. Iris has a voice that's beautiful in it's simplicity. I checked out the acoustic version of this song and her control is remarkable. If you look how far she's sitting from the microphone, she loses no sound and her voice is still clear and crisp. That's a sign that this isn't over produced and that she's actually delivering a stellar performance.

Her voice just wraps around you, holds you close and you close your eyes and take it all in. You get lost in how she's placing her syllables and the story she's creating. It's one of the coolest songs I've heard in a long time and I'm honestly kind of crazy over it. If you don't feel something after hearing this song, we need to take a trip to the wizard and check on your heart, there Tin Man. She's a helluva performer and I dig the hell out of her.