Friday, June 14, 2019

X Ambassadors - Hold You Down

It was either "Renegades" or "Unsteady" that I heard first and then I saw the special video they created for "Unsteady' and I immediately fell in love with this band. They have a sound that's got a whole lot more soul infused in it than your typical alternative music and I think a lot of it comes from the fact Sam Harris and Casey Harris are brothers. You can feel the connection between the two of them in their music and it's never more evident than it is in their newest single, "Hold You Down" from the upcoming LP, Orion. This is the third single off the album and they brothers say it's about brotherhood and their relationship. The video is an amazing trip through the history of the Harris boys as you get the opportunity to see their lives growing up through family home movies.

I have two older brothers and I know what that bond is like. We don't get the opportunity to share it much anymore but I can honestly thank them both for a lot of how my personality developed and the man that I am today. I remember hearing Duran Duran or reading comic books for the first time thanks to my brothers. Playing video games and getting into general mischief with them as we were growing up was part of a right of passage that you can only experience with a brother so I can feel how genuine Sam is when he's singing this song knowing it's an ode to those times when the relationships are all that's important.

"We'll be the last ones dancing when the lights go out / when there's no one to hold you / I'll still hold you down"
It's that bond. It's that love for your sibling that can't be duplicated though any other relationship you'll ever have in your life. It's unconditional. It's the support and care that you can only get from someone that's been there with you since day one. It's the acceptance of all our faults, our flaws, our successes that dive us to be more than what we feel we can be and it's good and it's honest. This song means a whole lot more to me than I thought it initially would because I don't have that closeness with my brothers anymore and I miss it. It's absolutely amazing to see how the brothers interact on stage. How Sam never once let's Casey falter as they're walking on stage together. And it's that love and support that Sam has that's incredible. Casey never once wanted his blindness to affect who he was as a person. He saw it as what it was, a small obstacle that would prevent him from doing certain sighted things but never would stop him from playing piano once he learned and he's an incredible musician.
This song is incredible. I enjoy it immensely and hope that it means a lot for other people as well. Especially those that may be estranged from their siblings. Orion will be released on June 14th and it's going to be a huge record. I love what these guys stand for and love the music they create. It's important and means something to the collective music fan base at large.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Alba - Heartbeat

The guitar in this song immediately drew me in and made me need more of it and to see that it's Alba, herself, killing it on the guitar makes the song so much better. We don't have a lot of female lead singers that also play an instrument and it's a shame. I think there's something very special about doing double duty like that in a song and she's got definite star quality that makes her stand out from other singers. I'd love to hear her on tour with Haim or Joss Stone because I think they have complimentary styles that would play off each other well and strong, independent women are the coolest when it comes to music makers.

London-based singer/songwriter Alba has released a new single, "Heartbeat" and she says, "Heartbeat was inspired by the feeling of synchronicity of a crowd with the beat of the music during live concerts, when everyone's heart seems to beat to the rhythm of the kick drum, and also takes inspiration from the sense of synchronicity between the pounding hearts of two lovers. I wanted to be the one setting an energetic and positive beat to which an audience may synch to. The kick drum at the start of Heartbeat is actually mixed together with a human heartbeat sample."

I love the bluesy feel to this song and her voice. It's smoky and it's got depth to it that you don't get in pop music today. Stack her vocal talents up against her guitar playing and she's an incredible talent. She does cross over from pop to rock to blues and it makes her an exceedingly well rounded artist. It's very cool to hear the influences pour out of her music and how authentically her own the art she's creating is. There's not many other artists out there that have a vibe similar to hers and I can't honestly think of many female artists to compare her to. I'd be more apt to say she's similar to Stevie Ray Vaughn or Johnny Lang than comparing her to artists like Halsey or Lorde. And I think the world needs a whole lot more of her. She's unique and she's blazing her own trail.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Matracia - Slow

I ran across a Twitter post pointing out this song and decided to take a chance and am damn glad that I did. I am unfamiliar with Dylan Matracia as an artist but I guarantee that I'm going to spend time getting to know him. The lo-fi, Twin Shadow, shoe gazey vibe of this song is a complete mood and this video just is amazing. Echoing that lo-fi, David Lynch-esque art house aesthetic, the video follows what appears to be a romance that ends in the potentially untimely death of one of the partners.

Dylan's languid and mercurial vocal stylings fill the space with an atmospheric calm that is reminiscent of relationships we've all had. There's a lazy, ease at which he works. He's not forcing anything and he's not rushing it. When he gets to where he needs to go, sonically, he'll be there. There's nothing laborious about this. There's nothing overproduced. It's just easy. It's exactly what I needed for this song and video to be. The visuals are stunning and the cinematography is great. Both Dylan and Benwa Kramer (his hirsuite love interest) play off of each other exceedingly well and there is chemistry between the two of them that's tangible. You feel a bit voyeuristic watching their time play out. There's enough there to want to know more. There's a story behind all this and it's one that would be very cool to see play out.

I like his style and what he evokes. It makes me want to be more invested in his story and his progression as an artist. He's having a good time creating art and you can feel it in the music. Even though this song is under 3 minutes long, it's all it needs to be and it gives you exactly what you need to get you to where he wants you to go. I want to spend more time with his music and get to know more about him as an artist.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Daniel - Best Damn Party

Being an independent musician is a blessing and a curse. You get to do things on your own time with your own creative freedom but you don't have the support of a label helping you market your work. So you have to be the A&R department, the marketing department, your own publicist as well as getting everything together for record releases and all the stuff that goes along with it. So it doesn't hurt my feelings at all to receive an email a year after an single has been released looking for coverage. I opened my email this morning to find a very excitedly written email from an independent artist from Salem Massachusetts, Daniel. It didn't give me much information other than there was a party in his head and everyone was invited. I'll be's the fastest I've clicked a link in an email because he didn't spend 4 paragraphs talking about how unique and how his music was "insert overly flowery hipster description". He let me hear him and he let me make up my own mind about him in as an unbiased manner possible.

So let's talk about "Best Damn Party". To compare him to artists like Andrew W.K. or Foxy Shazam or The Darkness would be fair. But there's a lot more to Daniel than that. Sure, he's a bombastic rocker like the above mentioned groups and he's got his very own style that isn't taken seriously. Scrolling through the comments on YouTube give an example of how people don't necessarily know how to respond to an artist that doesn't take a conventional approach to making music. With Zac Efron good looks and an unabashed sense of self, Daniel has the makings of an amazing rock star. This song and video are unabashedly fun. It's got a rapid fire energy that sweeps you up and takes you to the best damn party. It's high energy and the heavy guitar riffs just set the song off as more than just a gimmick.

Much like the flack and misunderstandings Andrew W.K. got when he came onto the scene, I think Daniel is going to face similar trials and tribulations but much like the survivors of the Salem witch trials (and potentially some of his ancestors), he's going to do alright. He doesn't just march to the beat of his own drum, he create the instrument. He's not following any play book and he's not trying to be anyone other than himself. If you've been a fan of this blog for any time, you know that's exactly what we celebrate here. Being you. Without hesitation. Without doubt. Be you and create the music that you need to. Not that you want to create but the music that burns a hole in you if you don't get it out of your body. Doesn't matter if people rush out and buy it. Doesn't matter if the masses get it. What matters is that you've got something that has to be released into the universe.

So he's unconventional. He's unique. He's all those things that hipster musicians describe themselves as but in the end what matters is that he's got a voice and a point of view that's ultimately his own and absolutely deserve to be heard. Like those above mentioned bands, not every one is going to like him. Hell, far fewer people will like him that he'd probably really like but those of us that do and that really get what he's out here doing will be loyal throughout his career and will support him through thick and thin. And he's got a life long fan in me.

DanielfromSalem on the Web

Monday, June 3, 2019

Megan Vice - Super Delicious

Vanity 6, The Mary Jane Girls, Seduction, Sweet Sensation and all those amazing freestyle groups of the late 80s, early 90s had this take no prisoners attitude the endeared them to millions. Coupled with the ability to make amazingly poppy music that had your ass moving to the funk grooves, these groups were trailblazers for upbeat bubblegummy pop stars and they're damn important in music history. It's groups like this that have paved the way for New York native, Megan Vice. "Super Delicious" is her latest single and just like all the guilty pleasures she's singing about in this track, I damn sure want more and more. It's one of the most amazingly fun songs I've heard in a long time and it's now my pick for gorgeous summer bop.

If this was just a song with no substance and was just all filler, it would be totally different but she's got a voice that won't stop and she's working with a producer that knows exactly what to do to elevate her to new heights. I've listened to other tracks on her SoundCloud and she's not just a flash in the pan. She's got the vocal talent and the savvy it takes to be a superstar. You can hear how all those artists I've mentioned have influenced her sound and she'd fit perfectly at Paisley Park in the late 80s. It's like all the best people have come together to create an amazing track that has you so freaking happy by the time the pre-chorus kicks in. There's not a misstep in this song. From the nostalgic 80s style freestyle beats to her smoky voice to how the layers and levels are all perfectly crafted to make an rad dance track. I bet this song would sound absolutely amazing in a club and since it's already got a near perfect start, remixes are only going to send this song into the stratosphere.

It's such a tongue-in-cheek song that doesn't take itself too seriously and I think that's something we need more of in the music world. I talk about music with a message a lot. I talk about songs that help our mental health and this is no different. It's upbeat and it's fun and makes you smile so hard. Even though it's not tackling hard issues, it's still got a perfect purpose in any playlist. It's a beautifully put together summer song and I'm glad I have it to listen to as I have my windows rolled down bopping down the street.

Night Lights - Habits

With members hailing from Japan, Mexico, and Norway; Night Lights not only have a unique perspective on creating music but they also have a multitude of cultural differences that bring them together in a very unique way. Vocalist Mau Jimenez, guitarist Yusuke Sato and drummer Dag Eirik Hanken have come together through their mutual love of music and have created some of the most thought provoking Indie pop in the Los Angeles scene in quite sometime. Yusuke Sato says, "As we are all international and all come from different backgrounds, it is really important to us to be able to reach more than one demographic." And if "Habits" is an example of the music they're creating, I don't think they're going to have any issues whatsoever.

"Habits" is a song that every single person that hears it can identify with. Whether it's coffee or binge watching tv or illicit substances or feelings....any time we keep going back to the well for more and more, we all have found ourselves in a position to be addicted to something. I think more than one of us out there have found an addiction to appreciation. When you are told that you're good enough or smart enough or good looking enough, the amazing feeling that's elicited in our brain makes us want more and more. Especially in a time when likes and a curated world view through social media is upon us, we spend so much time making sure we secure that validation because it makes us feel good. Doesn't matter if it's the gains we've made in the gym or how proud we are of our children's accomplishments, we crave those thumbs ups.

The chorus is gigantic in this song. It hits you like a wall of sound and it's great. Mau's vocals are brilliant and the production on the song just draw you in and it's good. It's a song that delivers a message that resonates pretty damn deeply and it's packaged in a song that makes you bounce along with it instead of feeling like you're being force fed a message. The bright and poppy guitars are a blessing on top of the synths. The percussion is done perfectly. I am a huge fan of this song and I'm grateful it just popped up in a SoundCloud station by total random happenstance. It makes me want to hear more and more music from these guys and am glad to have found them.

Night Lights on the Web