Monday, April 22, 2019

90s Kids - Slow Motion

We tend to get wrapped up in what's viral. You know, that thing that's happening on social media that gives us all FOMO.... the dreaded Fear of Missing Out. But when you step back to a more simple time in your life; before technology ruled the school. Before you were watching people do whatever challenge is going on, you were kicking it with the Fresh Prince and keeping your Tamogatchi alive and it was great. Ed, Edd and Eddy were on the tv and you knew exactly what was All That. Brittney and NSync weren't just Tearing Up Your Heart and Doing it Again, they were tearing up the charts.

Looking back on the 90s not only sparks nostalgia but it reminds you of a time that just seemed so much easier. Columbus, Ohio based 90s Kids want to take you back in time with music that makes you feel young again and helps you escape the hustle of today's tech heavy day to day grind. With the release of their new single, "Slow Motion", they've taken everything that is absolutely great about that decade and wrapped it up in a beautifully crafted song. The vocals are smooth and just make you groove along with them. I'd love to see them on tour with fellow Ohioans, Walk the Moon because I think they're style compliment each other exceedingly well.

This song is just fun. It's a joy to just lay back into it and hear how the harmonies come together and how the synth is used perfectly to encapsulate those funky rhythms and jams that you'd hope would come out on a Hip Clip. I'm a fan of this and love to hear how they've taken all their childhood influences and created a passion project that just brings light to the music industry. I think there needs to be more music out there that's just joyful and makes you smile. It's good to be able to just let everything go for three and a half minutes and reminisce on a time where everything was easier and you didn't have as much to worry about. If we all took more three and a half minute breaks, things may be a bit easier to get through the days.

90's Kids are going to be on the road this summer with EXNATIONS and are anticipating a new music video and an EP to drop Spring/Summer 2019.

90's Kids on the Web

Drona - Space (f. Sancii)

I adore international music. I think we are in a marvelous technological age in which we get the opportunity to hear music from all over the world. You have artists from Bulgaria, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, the Middle East all making waves while staying true to their heritage and culture but providing an entry into their world, sonically speaking. I don't pretend to know everything there is about the various cultures sharing space in the musical universe but I do feel as if I have a pretty solid handle on what sounds good and what makes a good song and the collaboration between singer, Drona and producer Sancii has made beautiful work.

"Spaces" is the latest single from Indian born, Drona (Vaibhav Aggarwal) and it's a play on mental, physical, and outer space all at the same time. I do love this idea because I tend to look at life through moments and experiences. We move from moment to moment building memories with people that matter and the same can be said about spaces; especially how they're using them in this song. Spaces between people, places, events. The spaces in time grow and collapse as we become closer and further away - as separated by space. Space in time and space in geography. It's a brilliant concept that draws you in and makes you think about how you evaluate space and time. How do you see the spaces between people? How do you see the spaces that mark a moment? Do you use music to delineate time and art? Do you use experiences and memories? How do they all tie together and bring us closer to the divine?

I'm a fan of Indian culture. I've consumed a massive amount of cinema from India. I adore how life seems so much brighter and colors more vibrant within their society. I love films from Bollywood and the huge production value that's put into the films and I feel like Sancii and Drona have taken the same care with this single. The production doesn't miss a beat. It's tight and there's not a wasted moment. I love how you can hear a slight cultural feel to Drona's vocals and there's a slight pull into his heritage and life. I love that personal touch to the track as there is an international feel to it without it being a gimmick. I think that these two individuals have created a fantastic song that has staying power and will absolutely bring you closer to yourself as you dive inward in introspection and think about the spaces in your life.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Tiffany - I Think We're Alone (2019 Version)

It was 1988. Acid washed denim. Garbage Pail Kids. A ticket to the movies was $3.50. Transformers were the toy all the boys had to have and two young female pop start were battling it out for supremacy on the airwaves. You had the blonde, Debbie Gibson that was selling puppy dog eyes and 1950s sensibilities and you had rebellious Tiffany with her fiery red hair and sparkling personality fighting to be everyone's number one girl. Tiffany came out swinging with her GIGANTIC hit, "I Think We're Alone Now" and all bets were off. She was everything in my eyes as a young music fan. She was beautiful and she looked like she was having so much fun running through the malls in her video and it made me realize at an early age that pop music was the only way to go.

Flash forward 31 years. Yes, I said 31 years and Tiffany is back with an updated version of her mega hit and let me tell you, it not only hits me in all those nostalgic places it needs to but it never ever makes me feel like she's just trying to monopolize on her past career. It's current and it's fresh and it speaks to those of us of a certain age that have a bit of mileage on them. Those of us that have been kicked around my the universe but still have no plans of behaving. 40 something looks good on us and we're all still those rebellious youths somewhere deep inside. Needless to say, as I'm sitting here writing this I'm a bit giddy as this is fulfilling a pretty long life long fan of hers and pop music in general.

For me, 1988 was when I was really coming into my own taste for what music meant to me. I wasn't
listening to my parents music any more. I was branching away from what my siblings were listening to and I was finding my own way and Tiffany stood there like a beacon guiding me to a whole new arena of music that would become the foundation in which I based the majority of musical interactions throughout the rest of my life. I could talk for hours about "Should Have Been Me" or "Promises Made" or "I Think We're Alone Now". I still to this day know the words by heart and I know I consecrated a cassette to the ground at some point after I wore it out listening to it over and over in my Walkman. It was a glorious time as I was discovering so many new ideas and making my own mind up for the first time.

So, let's talk about the 2019 version of "I Think We're Alone Now". Simply put, it doesn't miss a beat. It's still fresh and current. It's modern but it harkens back to those times when things were so brand new. She sounds amazing. There's not an off note in the track and I think the production team behind the updated version have something to be exceedingly proud of because they've created a fantastic song. She talks about her influences for the update as being, "the Foo Fighters, and maybe a little Go-Go's and Blondie mixed together" and you can hear that clearly. The guitars are a bit heavier. The synth is a bit stronger and it does a brilliant job of representing all that she stands for.

Having a bit of experience under her belt and having lived an incredibly full life she also says about the song, "It incorporates fun and family. They're wearing 'children behave' t-shirts. We're starting a new nation of 'children behavers!'” With a twist, though: "It's an adult version. 'Let's not behave. We've made it to our 40s. We're rockin' it!' Let's have some fun, shall we?" I think we all can use a bit more fun in our lives.

Delta Rae - Heart Won't Break

A new single from Delta Rae dropped on YouTube today and it's brilliant. It proves that a band can shift their footprint but stay true to who they are. The heart of the band stays consistent and honest while the packaging has a bit more pop appeal to it. The vocals are still beautifully harmonized between Liz on main vocals, Brittany, Eric and Ian on backing and harmonies. That's where they shine and shine beautifully; when all four voices combine into this beautiful singular voice. It's so amazing and I am damn glad that they're still growing and reaching new demographics.

In their new single, "Heart Won't Break", they've created an awesome fusion of so many genres that help keep them firmly planted as an Americana band. I've always considered Americana one of the most misunderstood genres out there as people just want to write it off as country or folk and it's so much more than that. It's the Mississippi Delta of music. It's where rock and roll meets folk and combines with urban influences and a "take no prisoners" sensibility just like the heart of our country and the never give up attitude that makes being part of this country so strong and great. They've taken all these influences that seemingly don't work together and they're all blended into one amazing song here, whether it's the squeezebox or it's the mandolin which brings that earthy sound or it's the slight beatbox and the upbeat pop influences that push it toward a whole pop direction, they are still the same band that's grounded in emotion and feeling that they've never ever shied away from.

The four vocalists in the band all have tremendous strengths and it's incredibly smart how they're used. Brittany can offer so much power and emotion to her vocals like in "Bethlehem Steel" or "Bottom of the River" while Liz brings comfort and warmth to songs like "If I Loved You" or "Heart Won't Break." Eric tends to be much more the male counterpart to Liz offering a similar perspective but from a male voice while Ian is the counterpoint to Brittany. They're all versatile enough to pull off any vocal task given them but they are the best when the song they take the lead vocal on matches the breadth and scope of their voices. Liz always amazes me with how hearty her vocals are, even on songs where she's breaking up with you - you still feel like things will be ok and while the hurt may be strong and fresh, it's not going to last forever.

I've been writing about this band for seven years. I've seen them grow and become the group they are today and it's because they are smart and wise and choose their own path and they're the group they want to be on their own terms. They explore and grow and they forge their own path while staying true to who they are and the narrative they have to tell. I adore them. I'm lucky to be able to call them friends and I think they continue to inspire and amaze me. I've seen them live 3 times and that's not nearly enough and I need to make a point to get back out there and see them more because they tell the stories that matter and they're crafting a legacy like no other.

Sour - Separate Ways

So let's talk about this new track, "Separate Ways" by Essex based trio, Sour. You've got a vocalist in Connar Ridd, a bassist: Jonn Downham, and Sam Mumford  on drums. Which is all you need to get a party started. So then you take 21 year old Connar and you inject so many vocal influences into this new, hip voice. I hear influences from artists ranging from Andy Bell to Glenn Tilbrook and even a bit of Marc Almond. It's brilliant and it's reminiscent of a much simpler time in music. He's also got just a bit of that whole Eastern UK feel to it. The swag and attitude that comes with it and it's great. On this track, his vocals come in a rapid fire delivery that almost imitates a percussive instrument and it's an incredible way to show off his talent. I honestly think these 3 young men compliment each other quite strongly and if this is the quality of music they're going to put out, I'd love to hear then I can't wait to hear more.

Connar says this track is an exploration into his own sexuality and I think it's a beautiful vehicle for him to be able to do that. I talk about how music is a medium and a language that we can all speak and it's what brings us all together and enables us to see how we are more similar than different than people around the world. We've been represented in so many ways across the musical spectrum and we desire so much to hear our struggles and our own lives reflected back to us in music. So however Connar identifies, I hope that someone out there hears this and feels like he's speaking directly to them. I know the very first time I heard a love song sung by a man to a man, it was like my eyes had been opened for the first time and it was beautiful and it was new and made me want to hear more and more. I hope that someone out there feels similar when they see this video or they hear this song.

They state this isn't a break up song but I think I'd classify it more as a growth song. Knowing that regardless of how you feel, you have to do what makes you happy with people that make you happy. If that means going your own separate ways, that's what you have to do. You have to take care of your heart and your feelings and find those people in your life that help you become the most fully realized version of yourself and that especially rings true in any relationship. If you're not getting what you need with the partner you have and communication isn't doing what it needs to do, then you have to step back and analyze the situation and make a change.

This is an infectious, funk filled pop tune that makes you just bob along with it and enjoy the message without realizing you've been delivered a message. It's a cool jam that will hopefully open quite a few doors for these artists and allow them more of a platform to be able to tell their stories.

Sour on the Web

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Podge - Yuka-Peno

I spend a great deal of time talking about feelings and emotions. Talking about how artists represent a deep seated part of ourselves that we may not have even thought about but there's also a whole side of music that is there to lift us up and just take us on a journey for a couple minutes. Just to help us escape from the day and drift off. 20 year old artist, Podge has created a dreamy track, "Yuka-Peno" that just sweeps you up and allows you to forget the world as you slip-slide into this landscape he's painting with beautiful, glitchy synths and syrupy vocals.  He says he's influenced by the Japanese maga series, Nichijou and Japanese musician, Cornelius.

I feel like this could be a track in a sequence in an anime series as it's quirky and fun. Just helps you escape for a minute.  He released an entire album of tracks he's been recording in his bedroom called, "A Hero Appears" and if they're anything like this, that whole album will just be something cool to drift off and forget your cares for a while. Get out and support him and show him love. I feel like fresh voices are always welcome as are unconventional points of view in music as it helps us explore worlds outside ourselves.