Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 20 Musical Happenings of 2013

I came very close to not doing a list this year but in all good conscious, I determined that I really needs to.  It's something that I enjoy doing and it's a way that I go through the previous year and reliving things that were really amazing.  This year had a lot of media buzz around different artists and some of it was good and some not so good.  You'll find that this list is missing GaGa's Artpop and Beyonce's surprise album and that's by design.  There are other mainstream media outlets that are going to cover those and for all intent and purpose, I didn't like Artpop. It wasn't an impressive album and therefore, it didn't rate for me.  There are a ton of new artists in this list and some music trends and news so it, like my other year end articles, is a bit of the whole of the music industry and how if affected my life this year.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Amelia's Fault - Made of Shadows

Darkwave has never sounded cooler than when Amelia's Fault is behind the wheel and then when you put the immaculate Andreas Öhrn of Gravitonas on the record and you've got a track that is near perfection.  Driving beats and haunting vocals create an atmospheric event unlike the majority of mainstream artists producing music right now.  I have images in my head of cold stone walls with barely lit gas lamps providing dull illumination but in the corner of my eye, I see something darting in the darkness.  It's a reflection of the loneliness we all feel at time to time, the fact that we do what we can to stand out and stand apart but we don't seem to live up to our own expectations let alone others ideals we have fostered upon ourselves.  Introspection and Self Reflection are two tasks that most of us aren't the best at doing and when we have to take a look at the choices we make, there are times when it's easier to just fade into the shadows rather than stand in the harsh light of day and take a good look at ourselves. 

When you have a production team that has been doing this as long as the guys behind Amelia have been, it's no wonder that there is not one misstep on this track.  It's got a gorgeous beginning, middle and an end.  It builds where it needs to and it's quiet in the spaces inbetween.  It's not overworked and it's not tortured.  It's the perfect combination of creative vision and execution.  If they continue working this way, it's going to be very easy to say that when the full album comes out, they will have a massive property on their hands.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Penguin Prison - Golden Train

Never ever going to turn down a video from Penguin Prison.  And this official video for "Golden Train" is here.  This man has a groove that is so inherent in everything he does, it's not funny.  This is one of my favorite tracks off his 2011 debut release.  It's just a funky dance track that builds into this amazing party in of itself.  It has a fantastic beginning, middle and end and is done right.  There aren't many artists out there that can do what he does in the confines of 4 minutes or less.  I've talked about how amazing he is and how cool his music is in the past.  And as much as I appreciate this video, what I would LOVE to hear from him is new material.  This track has been bouncing around for a while now and a new album or EP would be incredible.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Frida Sundemo - For You, Love

Wow.  Simply wow.  I am late to the game again.  Frida Sundemo is slaying me with this song.  It starts of super crispy with this crazy beat and then this freaking tweaked out sax hits you.  And that's all it takes to make me a believer is adding a sax to a track but then this beat that is just hammering all the way through the song is CRAZY.  It just thumps through the whole track and hits you in the chest.  But then magic happens when she starts singing.  She has this tiny voice that is GORGEOUS and she just takes the lyrics and makes them hers and never ever lets the track get the best of her.  It's not until the first chorus where you actually realize that this song is a freaking love song and it's amazing.  It's melodic and it's magical and it's sweet and it's what a love song should be.  I've listend to it over and over and the lyrics just get right to the heart of you.  And then song ends just the way it came in.  Packing up and taking it's things with it, but leaving this mass of feelings in it's wake.

She is my new favorite artist.

Frida on the Web
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fridasundemo
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/fridasundemo
Twitter: @fridasundemo

Monday, December 9, 2013

Eli Lieb - Young Love

I totally missed this back in July and for that I am damn sorry because that's 5 months I could have been obsessing over it.  I think when this came out, the press was hot and heavy over Steve Grand and it was just eclipsed by that press machine but I think this song will stand the test of time and will be around for quite a while.  It has enough of pop rock anthem and sensibility that if it were marketed correctly, it would be MASSIVE.

This song is built amazingly.  The hook and the chorus are super catchy and don't get me started on how well Eli slays these lyrics.  It's a gorgeous song and it needs to be a number one hit.  It's not pretentious and it's just an honest to goodness love song that has absolutely no ulterior motive.  It makes you feel something and that's important.  Eli's voice has a rough hewn edge to it that adds to the gravity of the song and gives it more weight.  The production is incredible and it's just an amazing song.  Simply, amazing. 

Eli Lieb on the Web

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eliliebmusic
Twitter: @elilieb
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/elilieb

Just Like Humans - Just Like Humans 2013

Are you tired of just reminiscing about how great Kraftwerk and Nitzer Ebb were and want to hear something that takes that feeling but modernizes it?  Just Like Humans is a project created by San Diego producer, Kevin Hartmann that taps into his musical roots based in early 70s and 80s electro and creates something that is familiar but new at the same time.  It is an easy fit into the Retro Future movement that is happening right now and will make any Gen Xer electro fan the happiest person you've seen them in a while.

The EDM scene right now is so full of people that go out and purchase some software and cobble a couple of not so great tracks together but it still takes a massive amount of talent to use that software and use it well.  This album isn't just a rehash of things you've heard before and it's not all loops and samples, it's a carefully crafted album that when you  sit down and listen to the tracks, you get a fully realized concept that has a bit of edge to it and in some places; a bit of darkness and unease.  Not super creepy but enough to think that this maybe the music that Skynet enjoys listening to.  I think that Just Like Humans is one of the more inventive groups that have come on the scene and I'm super happy to have found them.

This album is fantastic.  There isn't a track on it that's not put together well and exceptionally thought out.  It's music like this that inspires me and makes me realize how important music is and how even electro has the ability to generate emotions and feelings when it's done well.  It can paint pictures and it can make you remember things or daydream.  For example, "Individual Throttle Bodies", a song that I didn't even see the name of until after my first listen made me think of this super cool car chase scene but in a sci-fi movie in the 80s.  Let's go back and add a hyperreal chase to Blade Runner with this as the soundtrack.

Go follow him on the various social media outlets listed below.  Take a look at his birthday suit on Instagram :p And more than anything, support indie artists because they are the ones that are actually scoring our dreams.

Just Like Humans on the Web
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JustLikeHumansMusic
Twitter: @JLHMusic
Instagram: http://instagram.com/justlikehumansmusic
Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/jlhmusic

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Meet Father Tiger

Every so often, the stars are aligned and you are at the right place and time for something incredible.  In this case, I was ready to bring one of the most amazing bands into my life.  Now I know how corny that sounds but I when music is as big of a part of your life as it is mine, milestones can absolutely be measured in albums and artists.  There is an amazing New Wave revival happening right now and there are so many bands that are making incredible synth pop that will have a place in the music pantheon for years and years to come.  A band that has carved out a place in history is Father Tiger, an LA based band made up of Greg Delson and John Russell.  Not only do they create amazing synths and beats and melodies but the lyrics that are written are absolutely amazingly heartfelt and earnest.  Not one lyric sounds forced or out of place and when you listen to the songs you can tell that every song is painstakingly crafted and worked until perfect.  They've released 4 albums, one of which are some of the most amazing covers I've ever heard.  Greg's voice has the ability to take the simplest turn of phrase and inject so much emotion that you have to stop for a minute and just let everything process.  I am in awe at the level of talent these two men have and how effortless everything sounds.  People have drawn references to so many other artists, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Information Society and more but when it comes down to it; Greg and Russell are their own men and have created their own sound.  You can hear beat that makes you say, oh...that sounds like... but it's nothing more than paying reverence to those artists that came before.  I don't think they sound like any of those artists directly.

Their subject matter runs that gamut from first love to saying goodbye and everything in between.  The tracks range from upbeat that will have you dancing at first listen but when you go back and listen to them again, it's the intelligence and thoughtfulness that they've written into the tracks that give them staying power.  But then there are amazingly beautiful ballads and songs that speak to the human condition and the heart.  They've got two albums that are as different as Summer and Winter cleverly, the tracks mirror those seasons.

Vernal Equinox is fun and happy like the spring.  It's new and it's fresh like the world walking up again for another year.  But don't be deceived because the songwriting shines through the amazing brass and percussion.   These tracks just make you feel good all over and the come to a head with "First Love", a gorgeous song about that first time you know. No doubt in your mind, you just know.  But like all first loves, it comes to an end.  You look back at it realize how much work you put into it and see where you are at today and it kind of leads right into Winter Solstice.

Winter Solstice is a little bit heavier, a little darker.  The songs blow in like fresh snow and tend to be a little more on the melancholy side of the heart.  It's the necessary dichotomy that makes these albums coalesce in a perfect balance.  I have to say, this is my favorite of the albums right now because I am more able to relate to the feelings these songs bring up.  But don't think this album can't bring the heat.  It opens up with the gospel.  "Head Hung Low" will take you straight to church and make you testify.  I have to say that my favorite of all the tracks that have been released is "Still With Me".  It hits very close to home and I know exactly how the character in the song feels.  I identify with the song more than I have any song in a long time.  The way the chorus just comes out of nowhere and is just aggressive gives it so much of an edge.  "Done" is another gorgeous track.  The lyrics are just stunning.  The song is amazing.

E.P 1 and Summer Solstice are also beautiful albums and stand on their own merits and have tracks like "Right Now", "Shell", one of the most amazing covers of  "Set Fire to the Rain" I have ever heard.  I bought these albums last week and I've not stopped listening to them since.  It's very easy to see how they are going to stay in heavy rotation for a long time.  The only thing I'm sad about is that "High Road" isn't available for purchase.  Listen to that track, it's incredible - the demo and the acoustic version.  They've also generously donated proceeds from the purchase of their tracks, "First Love" and "Right Now" to Marriage Equality so that one day, we all can have the same protections under the law.

Go listen to their music. Go to their shows.  Buy their merch.  Go buy their music.  Support independent artists so they can keep making music.

Father Tiger on the Web
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fathertiger
Twitter: @FatherTigerSays
Youtube: http://youtube.com/fathertiger
SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/fathertiger

Tumblr: http://fathertiger.tumblr.com

Monday, November 25, 2013

Matt Zarley - Hopeful Romantic

I've been a Matt Zarley fan for going on 4 years now.  He, unknowingly, helped me through the death of my boyfriend of 11 years in 2010 and since then he has been a mainstay in my record collection.  That being said, I implore you to find it in yourself to either contribute to this Kickstarter or share this with people that will because Matt has the ability to take things that you don't even know you're feeling at the time and put them to music.  His latest album, Hopeful Romantic will only get made if we help it get made.  When you think about it, if you're a fan of his music - you were going to buy the album regardless so why does this make it any different, only now; you get to say you had a hand in the creation of the finished product.  More than anything, he is a damn nice guy and he represents us, music fans, LGBT people, and everyone in between like not many other artists have.  I haven't gotten to know Matt as well as some of the other artists that I've reviewed over the years but trust me when I say the man is a genuinely decent human being with one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen.  So look at his campaign and watch his video and pledge something.  It's going to be worth it when the album comes out because I can already tell it's going to be beautiful and it will help me on the next part of my journey with a healed heart, and dreams in my eyes; I will be a Hopeful Romantic.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

John Kamys - I Want Some Sun

The most successful music artists in history have a way of reinventing themselves and pushing the envelope on their own musical process.  Jinx Titanic is no different; whether he is swaggering madly with the Super 8 Cum Shot crew or he's crooning with the Ladykillers, Jinx has no problem letting the public see what inspires him and showing different sides of his personality.  Trading in his punk heavy beats and his big brass band for slower tempos and more melodic productions, John Kamys' 2009 release of "I Wantt Some Sun" will certainly show you a side of him you've never seen before.  I have to say with all honesty and as much heartfelt sincerity as possible, it's one of the best albums I've heard in a long time.  It's one of those albums that will be known as "Critically Acclaimed" and I hope that it goes farther than that and that it's publicly loved as well.

For all intent and purpose, it would be easy to classify this record as a Country album but that's deceptive.  It's Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave and Porter Waggoner and Tex Ritter all rolled up into one package with amazing brass and strings and harmonicas but what it has mostly is so much heart and soul poured into an amazing record.  Over all the influences and beautiful production are John's gravely vocals that are just so distinctive and honest.  What he doesn't give away in his writing, you get in the inflection of each purposefully placed syllable.  The record is vulnerable and it's raw and it's earthy and it's a little bit of everything that makes American music amazing.  It touches us on a level that's accessible to everyone.  We are able to dig into our experiences and find meaning into each song.  So I don't think this is a country album, I think it's a John Kamys album.  Plain and simple.  It's not labeled, it is what it is.  It's love lorn and it's romantic and it's the gamut of feelings that can be accessed in 10 songs.

The songs paint pictures and build images in my mind.  When I hear the slow deliberate roll of "I Am Your Emergency", I see a car in slow motion flipping end over end in the most dramatic fashion ever.  The hopeful romantic in me sees a man in love sitting on a hearth as snow softly falls serenading the one he loves for the first time in "Boyfriend".  This song is going to stick with me for a long long time as it hits me right where I need it to right now. "Lilies of the Valley" just gives me a mournful kind of feeling because it's the end of something, whatever that something is.  His voice is just so soulful on this track and it makes me just close my eyes and stop what I'm doing and give the track my full attention.  Then when you fall into "Caught Between Two Worlds", you are taken to the Nick Cave place.  The deep dark place that runs chills up and down your spine.  And it doesn't really get too much happier after that because we are confronted with the doubt of what happens when the other shoe drops as John sings "Waiting for the Roof to Cave In".  Everything is going well and life is good, but how long does that get to last?

While his other projects have been playful and fun and sexy and dirty and all of the above rolled together, this album is 180 degrees from that.  It is one for the history books.  It's touching and it's hits you right in the feeling spot.  Don't get me wrong, "I Want Some Sun" and "Good Morning Wayne" are super fun tracks and they are fantastic but I am really in love with the more slowed down songs on this album.  They just stimulate so many emotions and I can really connect with them.  It's going to be on heavy rotation for a while because it came when I needed it.  I can't recommend this album enough and I hope you are able to get as much out of it as I have.

You can pick it up on Amazon for $8.99 and it's worth every penny in the self discovery you're going to do for yourself alone.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Logan Lynn - Hologram

Lately I've been doing a lot of introspection and a bit of retrospection as well.  I've been pushing myself to look at the world through different eyes to see what change I can effect opposed to what I can sit by and allow to make the changes for me.  It's important to realize that nothing is given to us and the important things in our lives are things that we have fought for.  They are what hurt the worst when they are ripped away from us because we have put forth effort.  If you just float by and don't stand for what's important to you then you're just going to fade into the background.  You're going to go unnoticed and you're going to simply passed over.

Portland, Oregon artist Logan Lynn posits a similar situation in his song, "Hologram".  It's been a while since this track was released but I just recently found him and that's all that matters.  If you've got no one that reflects all that is good in you, then are you actually there?  If you're not being challenged and reciprocated is there any purpose.  It's easy to get by on your own but when you have someone to share it with, it makes the process of simply being so much more.  Knowing yourself and being comfortable in your own skin/space is important but it's not much of a life if you're always alone.  Chunky, granola style beats and quirky melodic progression through this fantastic synth track bring out the independence in Logan's vocals.  It's brilliantly put together and it leaves you feeling a bit more introspective than when you started.

Logan on the Web

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoganLynnPDX
BandCamp: http://loganlynn.bandcamp.com/
Twitter: @LoganLynn
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tramp-stamps-and-birthmarks/id582735839

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hayden Chance - Anatomy of a Wish

I know this has been primarily a music blog for a long time, but as I said a couple posts ago; it's now going to be about things that inspire me and nothing has inspired me more lately than the writing of independent author, Hayden Chance.  Hayden is a Chicago native and has surrounded himself with words his whole adult life.  Not finding the books he wanted to read on his local bookstore shelves, he decided to write them himself.  Here is the review I published on several book sites about his latest book, "Anatomy of a Wish"

There are too many authors in the world that write with far too much pretense. Hayden Chance isn't one of those people. What he set out to do in the beginning of this book is fully realized by the end. I picked up this book on a whim and I simply could not put it down. From the time I started it to the time I turned the last page, there was no where else I wanted to be. It's been a very long time since I had an author instill such a hunger in me (pun intended). He writes with a voice that is familiar and easy. You feel like you've known his characters and as an extension, Hayden himself for a very long time. These are people that you've encountered and you like them. You get to know and care about his characters quickly. I think if I had to pick a criticism, the book wasn't long enough. I didn't get to spend enough time with them. And that says to me there needs to be a sequel or four. I couldn't believe how quickly I fell for these people. There is an "a-ha" moment in the book and it actually made my heart soar when I read it. That's a quality that I also haven't felt in a long time. I lost all track of time as I was drawn into his part of Chicago.

I don't want to do a synopsis of the book, there are plenty of those out there. What I do want to say is this a story that I didn't expect to go where it went. There were honest to goodness twists and turns I did not expect and not once did I ever feel the ideas behind the writing were overworked or gratuitous. It's almost like every word put to paper was done because it needed to be there. It was deliberate but had a beautiful sense of ease to it. I gush because I am left with an amazing feeling after completing this book. And for that, I am grateful.

I found Hayden by chance on Facebook and started looking into his works and decided, what the hell. And I am damn glad that I did. I went ahead and bought Year of the Bull as a follow up because he has quickly found a place in my favorite author category. I am recommending and gifting Anatomy of a Wish to all of my friends who are readers because they will devour this book. I think if the rest of his works are as amazing as this one, Mr. Chase has cemented a place in my library as long as he continues to write.
If you're a fan of a little fantasy with your fiction, then don't miss out on this terrific book. There is so much I want to say about this but it's your turn now. Pick up the book and spend not near enough time with Griff, Jimmy, Reina and Hector. You'll be glad you did because it's worth it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

London Grammar - Nightcall

One of the most amazing parts of the movie Drive was the soundtrack.  Nightcall by Kavinsky was one of the songs on the soundtrack that just stood out as a phenomenal piece of music.  It fit the movie's tone and overall feeling fantastically.  It was deeply melodic and moody and a bit broken, just like the Driver.  So what happens if you strip the electronica away from it and add Hannah Reid of London Grammar's vocals.  It changes the song into something more than it was.  It becomes even more haunting and melodic.  Hannah has an incredible depth to her vocals that just hit you right in your feels.  I cannot recommend this cover enough.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Doug Repetti - Make the Most

There's a point when music stops being simply music and becomes something more.  Something inspiring, thought provoking, something that makes you stop what you're doing and listen.  It's magic when it comes together and doesn't seem like the artist tried.  When it's effortless and easy is when you know that something great has been created.  If it's laborious and overwrought then you have to wonder who the artist was trying to prove something to.  Doug Repetti is an artist that easily walks the line between musician and artist and he does it with such aplomb that you are simply taken aback by what he's created.  I've watched this video now over and over and each time I watch it, I get a sense of the headspace that he travels in.

The message is simple and elegant.  We are only here for a brief amount of time and in that time, it is our responsibility to make the most with what we're given.  It's our free will and our own individual motivations that drive us to do what we can with what we are given.  I think it sometimes takes someone reminding us of this when we actually look at our lives and say, you know...the small things that I've been sweating so hard...aren't that important after all. Now, I'm not saying that this video has made me reevaluate my life or make broad sweeping statements about how I'm going to change to be better, but it did make me say...hmmm.  Maybe I am stressing out about the wrong things.

Doug Repetti may not have an international following but he is someone that deserves a listen.  It's guys like him that don't take themselves too seriously and create art for the sake of creating art that make this a better place.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lectrolips - NSA

When I first saw the title, I was thinking about all the controversy in the media lately over all the government meddling in sharing of information over the internet so I assumed the initials were National Security Agency.  It took less than 20 seconds to realize I was wrong.  This song is fantastic.  It's subversive without being sleazy.  It makes me want Lectrolips to tour with Liquid Diet.  It makes me dance. It makes me move. It's built in incredible levels.  If you just close your eyes and let it wash over you, it's a hell of an electro track.  It just makes you move.  If you listen to the lyrics, it's a bit cheeky and a bit camp.  It's expertly crafted, not a note missing or out of place.  Ant and Leo have created another brilliant track.  It's got a feel of a mixed media project with how the vocals are placed against the spoken portion.  I think I hear something new each time I listen to it.

I don't know how popular these guys are in the UK but I want them to be gigantic because they make great music.  It's quality work that makes you want to hear more.  They have a strong point of view and don't shy away from it.  That creates a desire for me to hear more and to want to throw money at them.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jhameel - Fiesty

I've decided to take this blog in a bit of a different direction.  From now on, my posts aren't going to be about quantity.  It's going to be about inspiration.  I only want to write about artists that inspire me.  That being said, if you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know what a fan of Jhameel I've become.  He just had a successful kickstarter for his next project and I was one of the first backers ponying up my cash to make sure he succeeded.  So as a tease/fantastic marketing move, he's released the first video from the album and it's Jhameel doing what he does best.  Be himself.  It's a fantastic song and it's got a bit more of an urban feel, I mean since he is rapping in it but damn he does a helluva job doing it.  It's sexy and it's easy and you just slip into it and let him do his thing.  He's probably the best artist in the past 5 years that you don't know about.  Trust me.  I know what I'm talking about.  He's amazing.  You're doing yourself a disservice by not being a fan.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Johnny Stimson - Daddy's Money

With Johnny's previous releases there was a bit of a 60s Mod to his sound and it was incredible.  It cultivated a feeling that was missing in the industry.  With this single and his previous track, "Human Man", he has both feet firmly planted in a much funkier place.  There's a bit of disco and a bit of rock and roll and a whole lot of Johnny in these tracks.  "Daddy's Money" just makes you move.  It's got a tremendous breakdown and it is brilliantly produced.  Every subtle nuance of Johnny's voice is carefully cultivated so that it is never lost in the track.  And let's not forget about his range.  The man has an incredible instrument that deserves to be at the top of all the charts.  The track is full and the instrumentation is solid.  If you didn't know any better, you would swear that this is the track of someone that has been doing this for two to three times longer than Johnny has.  I am impressed with what he's offering us right now and I can't wait to see what's next.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Liquid Diet - Writing On The Wall

I love entendre; single, double, none at all. I think that it takes a tremendous amount of intelligence to properly write an entendre. You don't want it to be smutty for the sake of being smutty. It has to be smart and it has to make you go, "Oh you...." after you realize what it is that has just been said. Billy and Georgia are two of the most competent vocalists in the industry today because their chemistry is palpable. It’s got weight and a depth that can’t be faked. You trust the vocals because they allow you to.

This song is full of wit and leaves nothing to be desired. It’s well thought out and brilliantly produced. I think they’ve done a phenomenal song that makes you smile and have a great time. They are one of the most creative and individualistic bands today. I am glad to call myself a fan.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Eric Himan - Red Hot Tears

I haven't written in a long time, seriously written because I haven't felt inspired.  Had some things in my life not go the way thought they should so I've felt put out and bitter about the music scene.  That is until today.  I am subscribed to Tom Goss' youtube channel and he liked Eric Himan's new video, "Red Hot Tears".  I've seen Eric's name pop up on one blog or another and honestly I had never given him a chance.  I bypassed him for other artists and I don't know why.  Sitting here now, I have watched the video 4 times, I have watched other videos and I have purchased his album, Gracefully from his bandcamp. 

In my opinion, that's the magic of the internet.  It's this domino effect that can send you tumbling down a rabbit hole of amazement and you never know what you're going to find on the other side.  Without a question, I am damn glad that I made the decision to click on the video.  Eric has this magnetic chemistry that just oozes through every lyric and every move he makes in front of the camera.  I'll go ahead and say this one and only one time.  He's a damn attractive man.  That being said, let's move past it and talk about the way he carries himself.  This man has the goods.  Plain and simple.  He's not hiding behind production, he's not relying on autotune.  He is working every beat and note for all it's worth and pouring himself into every bit of it. 

The track has this down and dirty groove that you have to just settle into.  You get low and bob your head and rock from the hips while he just wears this song out.  It's funky and it's got a soul to it that not many artists are able to cultivate.  When you watch the video and see him just grooving to his own track, that's when you know that he enjoys the hell out of what he's doing.  He is fully invested in this music and what he's sharing with the world.  At this point, I think I am working on my 6th go round with the track and I haven't even listened to the words yet.  I'm not done with the funk.

Ok, so it's not your typical "Somebody Done Wrong" song.  It's taking all the emotion of being mistreated and misused when they walk out of your life and just letting it burn through you til all you can do is cry.  Not because you're sad or heartbroken but because it's either that or just tear it all down.  Each and every bit of it.  So you just want to scream to the heavens because that's the answer.

After I get done listening to his album, I am going to be posting a HUGE write up about it because I am a fan.  With one song, I am sold.  Thank you, Eric.  You have reinvigorated my passion for the music industry. 

Eric on the Web

Twitter: @RealEric_Himan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EricHimanMusic
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/eric-himan
BandCamp: http://erichimanmusic.bandcamp.com/
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ThumbcrownRecords

Friday, July 19, 2013

Delta Rae - Twisters in the Canyon

Intensity.  That's the only word that properly describes this song and this performance.  From Mike's feverish drumming to Ian's clinched jaw, every member in Delta Rae gave this number everything they had and then some.  This is one of the new tracks they have been working on for the new album and this performance was filmed at the Pleasantville Music Festival in Pleasantville, NY.  This track is bar none all the evidence you'll ever need to see that these six individuals love every minute of what they do.  I simply cannot express how this makes me feel to see just how incredible and how mature this sound is.  They never cease to amaze me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rita Ora - How We Do (V.A.B. Remix)

You don't have to totally reinvent a song when you remix it.  You just have to give it your own spin.  Make it something more than it was.  That's exactly what German producer, V.A.B has done on his remix of Rita Ora's club burner; "How We Do".  It's an amazingly clean vocal sample and he has layered it over a new track that just gives the song a whole new feel too it.  If you're a fan of Rita or simply want to hear a new take on a pretty great song, give this remix a shot.  While you're at it, check out his other remixes on his youtube channel or his soundcloud.

Meet Regulation Nine

I recently had a chance to sit down and talk with one of the coolest guys to hit the Nashville music scene, Rodney Noffsinger - lead singer of Regulation Nine.  Regulation Nine are tearing up Music City with their own brand of thunderous alternative music.  They've just released their debut EP and premiered their first single on Hunter Briley's show "Local Buzz" on Nashville's premiere station for all things alterative, 102.9 The Buzz (a station that I listened to religiously when I lived in Nashville).  So I'm gonna do something a bit crazy, I'm gonna link that interview in this interview (Yo Dog! I heard you like interviews so here's an interview in your interview) so you can hear their new single, "En Fuego" which is this blistering, fast, hardcore rocking track that just gets into your bones.  The song is about 18:00 minutes in to the video but listen to the whole thing cause Hunter is a great guy and the interview is pretty awesome.

Now that I'm done plugging Hunter, let's get back to me.  Here's the transcript of the interview.  Check it out and hop on the Regulation Nine bandwagon.  They're an amazing group of guys and they deserve a ton of success because they are pretty damn incredible.

Pop, Rinse, Repeat (PRR): Hey Rodney! Hope life is treating you well. Summer time in Nashville is one of the best places to be I think, being a Nashville native I can totally appreciate all the city has to offer as it's getting full into concert season. Any upcoming gigs that you're super excited about playing?

Rodney Noffsinger (RN): Being a new band to Nashville we’re excited about playing on the street corner if necessary. We are fortunate enough to be booking at places like The Rutledge, 12th& Porter, The End and other well known Nashville venues. Two upcoming shows were looking forward to are at The Rutledge on July 14th (Battle of the Bands) and a show in August at The End. Recently we joined the Sad Spaceman Promotions family so we’re going to be busy and we’re excited. Gig outlook for the remainder of 2013 and beyond look great!

PRR: As a new band, how are you finding your footing? I know that you are starting to get some traction in Nashville and people are starting to talk about you guys. How does that feel?

RN: It feels absolutely amazing. Who doesn't like to feel liked and wanted? I think the compilation of artist that make up the band gives our unique sound. Lee Darby (drums) not only is he an amazing drummer, his talent in orchestration and melody brings all of our talent out. Vincent Peer (Guitar) is just an unbelievably talented guitarist that brings our riff ideas to life. Jeff Wall, his understanding of lyrics and the ability to make a song really say something is just phenomenal! I am just the big idea guy, the dreamer, and (red bull) to the songs. People seem to like us, I am so glad of that! Without them we are nothing! Having someone you have never met before start singing your song during a live show is just crazy amazing!

PRR: I can assume that being a rock band in Music City USA has it's own set of challenges as well. Do you feel as if the audiences you've played to have an expectation of what you should sound like?

RN: Of course, but I love the challenge. No matter where you’re at, you've got to stand out.

PRR: When you first started, you learned some covers in order to test the waters. Who immediately stood out in your mind as a band you wanted to cover?

RN: Foo Fighters, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains were no brainers because they are big influences of ours.

PRR: Dreaming big, if you had the opportunity to work with another act or acts, who would you want to collaborate with?

RN: Dave Grohl. Period. Watch Sound City and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

PRR: I understand you have an EP coming out soon. What can we expect to hear on it? Can we sneak a peek or a listen to all our readers out there?

RN: Rock and freakin’ roll with some heart and soul. Our website regulationnine.com directs you to any of our social media platforms where all of the songs on the EP can be heard except two. We did however debut recently one of the two songs “En Fuego” on Nashville’s 102.9 Local Buzz with Hunter Briley. You can check out the in studio interview and the song on You Tube: https://www.facebook.com/RegulationNine

PRR: Digging deep now, what do you want to be your musical legacy?

RN: To be honest with you and to the point, I just want to be the band that remains true to themselves which is what got us this far.

 PRR: What do you want my readers to know about Regulation Nine?

RN: We’re coming for your ear-gasms.

Lightning Round:

1. Family Matters or Full House? Family Matters
2. Lucky Charms or Trix? Trix
3. Baked or Fried? Fried
4. Behind the Music or Pop Up Video? Behind the Music
5. Physical Media (CDs) or Digital (MP3s) Physical

Thanks for your time. You guys are doing great things and it won't be long before people are saying, "I knew him when". I can't wait to get a hold of the new EP.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Levi Kreis - Imagine Paradise

It's easy to see how the summer of 2013 is shaping up to be a funky one.  With releases like Slow Knights, Cosmos and more recently "Human Man" by Johnny Stimson and Daft Punk's new album, there is more than enough groove to go around, well you would think that until you Imagine Paradise. And if this LP is what Paradise is going to sound like then I am down for it.  2 years ago Levi Kreis set out to make his new album on his own terms and by his own rules with no one telling him what to do.  He created a Kickstarter and his fan base came running to his call and helped him crush his goal.  I've talked about it Here.  It's my number 2 musical happening of 2011 and it was an incredible accomplishment for a boy from the mountains of East Tennessee.

After he exceeded his funding goal, he started writing the album and though some small and not so small bumps in the road, he created one of the most fully realized albums I think I have ever had the opportunity of listening to.  It's a 12 track album and each of the tracks are dedicated to a different backer from the Kickstarter campaign.

I've struggled to find the words for this review because I want to make sure what I say truly represents how his work has touched me and how much this album means to me.  That being said, I hope that I have done it justice.

Right off of the bat, Levi busts out a slow jam that is destined to be the next huge love song in Season 5 of The Vampire Diaries.  lol.  "We Are Timeless" is this crazy amazing track that makes me immediately get on the dance floor and slow dance the shit out of it.  I'm talking being so close that you only have one breathing pattern, where your heart beats at the same time.  That slow swaying back and forth that is just effortless and easy.  When I get gay married, it's the song that is going to be my song.

Moving from there we are treated to the beginning of the funk.  "Any Way You Want It" comes right in and tells all haters to "get ta steppin".  It's a super positive affirmation to living your life and being yourself.  The thing that we all get too wrapped up in worrying about.

"Taking Back My Boogie" keeps the vibe going as he burns through another positive jam about owning your business and representing your own brand.  You've sat around long enough and you're tired of waiting. There are a million other boys out there and if you don't see a good thing when it's right in front of you....someone else will.  Empowerment never sounded so delicious.

Another amazing love song comes in the form of "All Over Again" and this one just makes you smile.  It's that feeling that you know in the bottom of your gut when you see the person that makes everything right in the world.  You know this is the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with and every time you see them, it's like that moment in your mind when you just knew.

I have talked about how Levi has this intrinsic ability to "take you to church".  He does that on this album but it's done in a different way than he has done in the past.  With the a groove running through this album that would make Teddy Riley and Babyface jealous; Levi easily moves from sensual to deep shoulder action without trying.  "Deeper Love" is one of the drop into the groove and just get with it and when Levi scats at the end, the deal is sealed.  This man can do anything.

One of the mostly heavily disco influenced songs on the album, "Love Revolution" was conceived in the bathroom of Studio 54 in a different lifetime.  I see glamour and glitz and all the trappings that go with it.  QBoy's rap at the end takes this song to a whole new level.  It is another song in the amazing feel good column.

He does this amazing thing on the album where he juxtaposes this kind of heavy source material with a beat that sort of takes the edge off of it and you give into the overall experience the first couple times around then when you actually listen to the lyrics, you're like, "Oh....damn" and that's kind of what he does on "4 Letter Word".  It's this song about questioning where you stand but unless you actually take the time to hear it, you would miss it.

"So Much Better" was the first single off the album and I've gushed and gushed about the song until I felt like I'm blue in the face.  It's an amazing song and it's fully realized and I think it could easily be played a a Pride festival or on mainstream radio.  I love this song.  Love it to pieces.

"Never Will I" makes me think of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and that whole Janet Jackson Velvet Rope type of sound.  (For the record, that's one of my most favorite albums of all time).  This is a quintessential Levi song that just makes you feel good about yourself.  This is one of my favorite songs on the album.  Hands down.

Following in the steps of legendary duets sung by Barbara Streisand and Donna Summer or Lionel and Diana - Levi and Sam Harris tear it up on "It Ain't Over".  This is just a damn fun party song that makes me want to strap on my skates and hit the rink.  I love how their voices just come together perfectly to compliment each other.

And he steps into the pulpit and the sermon begins.  This is where you just sit back and let the joy that is the work Levi does wash over you.  It's deep and meaningful and it's full of passion and heart and soul.  "What Love Is" may be the shortest song on the album but it is by far not the least meaningful.

And we close the album with my favorite track.  This song hits me right in my heart.  This track was released acoustically on his "Live at Joe's Pub" album and that version of the song, with just him and the piano is haunting and beautiful with with a full production behind the song, it breathes a new form of life into it.  "Let It Go" is this song that just sits heavy with you long after you've listened to it.  It's a moving on song.  It's a powerful track that makes me weak if I'm in the right frame of mind because there are times when I just can't...Let It Go.

This man is the epitome of grace and graciousness.  He has an instrument blessed by God and he has used it to make this world a better place.  He makes me want to be a better person.  I want to be the person that he sees in me through his lyrics and his melodies.  I am so grateful to have him as part of my life and he has so much to give the world it's not funny.  If you haven't purchased Imagine Paradise you need to.  It will take your darkest days and make them brighter.

So I say, Levi Kreis... Thank you for making this album.  You inspire me to be better.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Drake Jensen - Scars

In what may be one of the most important videos, I've seen in a long time; Canadian country artist Drake Jensen aims to educate in his new single, "Scars".  Filled with haunting images and statistics that drive straight to the core of you, the song is a testament to all those boys and girls that are bullied on a daily basis at school.  Statistics that show how LGBT youth are more prone to suicide based on violence and how revenge is more of a retaliation than anything else really stick with you long after you've finished the video.  The general demographic that listens to country music are typically in a lower socioeconomic bracket than their less rural counterparts so hopefully with an open mind, this video can touch and education many of the people that don't necessarily have access to these facts and figures.

I am proud of Drake and what he's done for country music.  He lives his life without compromise and if you don't like who he is or the message he brings with him, you are more than welcome to tune out, however - you're preconceived notions may get shattered if you let him.  I am glad that there is a strong representation of gay masculinity in the music industry and I am even prouder that he isn't an Abercrombie model.  It puts a face on the gay man that the average individual doesn't necessarily get to see on a regular basis and shows people that you don't have to change anything about yourself to be who you need to be.  And for that, I thank him,

I'm going to go sit in the corner now and finish sorting out my emotions after that powerful message.

Drake on the Web
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drakejensenmusic
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/drake-jensen/id437518744
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/drakejensenmusic
Twitter: @drakejensen

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lorde - Royals

New Zealand native Ella Yelich-O'Connor better known by her stage name Lorde has been making waves in the South Pacific.  With the release of her debut EP, The Love Club; this sixteen year old sensation is poised to make a huge impact in America.  With internet savvy users already flocking to her Spotify to stream the five track EP, Lorde has easily started making a name for herself.  The first single off the EP is the rap influenced track, "Royals".  A song that she says, “When I wrote Royals, I was listening to a lot of rap, but also a lot of Lana Del Rey, because she’s obviously really hip-hop influenced, but all those references to expensive alcohol, beautiful clothes and beautiful cars – I was thinking, ‘This is so opulent, but it’s also bulls**t.’”

Penning her own songs and being her own lyricist, she is being compared to Taylor Swift - an artist that she will be sharing a label with since signing with Universal.  But I think it's a logical leap to make that comparision, young powerful woman writing songs about empowerment and self reliance and the ability to handle ones own business.  For me, she reminds me more of Charli XcX or Sky Ferreira.  I think those are much more logical comparisons than Taylor.  Not because the genres are different, it's just the material that Lorde is singing about seems to be more thought out and well rounded opposed to just singing about missing a boy.  Not that her demographic doesn't feel that, it just appears that Taylor's music gets mired down in that sort of thing.

Lorde on the Web

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lordemusic
Twitter: @lordemusic
Tumblr: http://lordemusic.tumblr.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/lordemusic
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/LordeMusic

Friday, June 7, 2013

Nadia Nair - The Bon Voyage EP

I've gushed about how the music from Sweden is near perfect.  Each and every artist that releases an album, an EP, a single or even a remix seems to be better than the last.  So imagine my expression when I found Nadia Nair.  This woman can do things with her voice that most artists dream about and she has only released her very first unsigned 3 track EP titled, The Bon Voyage EP.  Nadia hails from Gothenburg on the western coast of Sweden and has spent the majority of her life working toward the goal of becoming a powerhouse in the music industry.  Through many years of study, Nadia finally hit the nail on the head when she met producer Victor Rådström in 2012.  Together they worked tirelessly to create her debut EP, The Bon Voyage EP and have released it independently to an anxious and receptive audience.

The EP has three songs that are sexy, they're full of drama and they are flat out incredible.  It starts out with "Monika the Brave", this really cool guitar heavy track that showcases Nadia's vocals flawlessly and an easy introduction into what's to come.  It's a great pop song with an incredibly catchy hook and chorus that you'll easily be singing hours later.

"Kharma" is up next and it starts off very dark and atmospheric.  The instrumentation is pretty heavy in this track but in order to not get totally overrun by Nadia's powerhouse vocals.  You need to make sure she has plenty of room to work because her voice is going to dominate everything in it's way.  The breakdown on the hook is one of the coolest things I think I've ever heard.  Victor is a genius with his programming because everything he does is matched by Nadia and they work amazingly well in tandem.

Closing out the EP is the title track, "Bon Voyage" which she has previously released as a single.  It starts off acapella and it actually shows restraint on her part.  But then the music kicks in and everything becomes intensified.  Again with a driving guitar and heavy beats, Nadia tears this track up.  The fact that her style is a bit heavier and more on the rock and roll side of pop music gives her an edge that other artists don't have.  She is going to be received by a wider audience and I predict will have more commercial success.

Nadia on the Web

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nadianairmusic
Tumblr: http://xnadianairx.tumblr.com/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/nadianair

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Johnny Stimson - Human Man

Closing in on 15,000 views in a day is a pretty damn good day for just a normal guy from Dallas.  With a couple of independent releases under his belt, Johnny Stimson is right on the edge of becoming something gigantic.  The video for his latest single, "Human Man" illustrates that brilliantly.  Gorgeous camera work, an overarching narrative and an amazing song to back it up, Johnny has a hit on his hands waiting to be gobbled up by the public.  I'd like to say that I was the first blog dropping this today but our young artist has already been written about by PopJustice and MTV.  Yup, MTV Buzzworthy picked him up earlier and I think that is going to do wonders for him.

So lets talk about this song for a minute.  Did you ever want Jason Mraz to be just a bit funkier?  Did you want him to have this groove that you just sink into and throw some deep head rocking to?  How about throwing in a pretty amazing falsetto?  Wrap it all up in beautiful production and write some extra dreamy lyrics about the nature of a relationship and you've got a hit.  It's a bit R&B, 2 parts funk and all over fun.  It's a put the top down and take off on a weekend with no other plans aside from the groove.

Not to mention he's got all kinds of "Boy Next Door" happening.  This young man is going to be huge.  Like many of the other artists I write about, get in now when he's about to break and you can ride to the top with him.

Johnny on the Web

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Johnny-Stimson/356360159273
Twitter: @johnnystimson
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/johnnystimson
Instagram: http://instagram.com/johnnystimson
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/johnny-stimson/id357429119

Friday, May 31, 2013

Kim Smith - Nova

It's not often that I am taken completely off guard by an album.  For that matter, it's even less frequent that I am at a loss for words over an artist, but Australian superstar Kim Smith has left me gobsmacked.  Kim is best known as a cabaret singer and with the release of Nova, he has stepped into the world of pop music and done so in a massive way.  He has this demeanor about his performance, a certain way his vocal expression is done that elevates this album to so much more than a simple pop album.  Staying true to his cabaret roots, he has easily injected a flair for the dramatic into every carefully placed lyric.  His delivery is classier than your standard recording artist and that sets him apart from so many other vocalists.  Between the production and his stylings, it's easy to see how this pop album could create a genre all it's own. One that I will call "Cabaret-Synth".

International producer, Måns Ek has taken special care to create an incredibly tight sound for Kim to work with and both parts of this equation work in tandem to accentuate each other.  Måns has an ability to take the very best sound and use it to enhance every subtle nuance of Kim's performance and vice versa.  The vocal track works wonders as an instrument in it's own right bringing out the best in the track.  Each of the eleven songs on the album are all unique in their execution but the common thread that brings them all together cohesively is an overall sense of change and how that effects us.  From losing someone important to growing and learning about ourselves, the themes of the tracks allow the listener to actively take part in journey.

The uptempo tracks will have you moving in a matter of minutes while the ballads and torch songs are a perfect counterbalance to help flesh out the album. "Never Ever" and "Jealous" don't really come through on the first time because you have to bounce along through them the first time, but it's the second, third and sixth time through that you listen to the lyrics and say, "Damn."  It's an incredibly easy album to just get swept up into and before you know it, it's cycled back to the beginning and you're listening to it again.  It has no pretense and doesn't demand anything from the listener aside from a little bit of time.  You don't have to skip tracks because there aren't any low points in the album.  The track order helps with the flow by giving the album an organic feel.  Natural peaks and valleys allow you to just sit back and let the music take you where you need to go.

I enjoy every track but for some reason, "Cheap" strikes a chord with me and just sits heavy in my belly.  It's a song that you don't want to let go of.  I think we have echoed the same sentiment at one point in life and maybe that's why it rings so true.  "With Me All Along" and "These Tiny Little Things" are also very meaty in their execution and I can just close my eyes and see the stories play out in my mind.  I see a lot of emoting and big arm movements.  Songs that Mia Michaels could choreograph an Emmy winning contemporary dance number to.

Kim on the Web

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialkimsmith
Twitter:  @KimDavidSmith

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Amelia's Fault (feat Color Theory) - Colder

All things synth is the best way to go in my book.  Because the genre is so varied, it's nearly impossible to not find something that will immediately key into your current state of being.  Some artists  put out super poppy songs that you want to listen to when your saccharine levels aren't high enough and there are artists that need to hit you in that dark and moody spot.  That's where Amelia's Fault is going to get you.  In that spot when you've been overtaken by melancholy and you just want to sit in the corner and eat/drink/sleep your feelings.

Amelia's Fault is producer Matt Eriksson, songwriter Richard Hymas, and lyricist Charlie Mason.  This is their debut single featuring vocals by Color Theory.  What they have created is a beautifully melodic track that is haunting and atmospheric.  The manner in which Matt layers the synth, it gives the track a feeling of danger with something sinister lurking just underneath the surface.  Color Theory's vocals give this track the perfect amount of attitude while sliding over you like a menacing fog rolling in off the moors.  The chorus will bury itself in your brain and you'll have a difficult time getting it out of your head.

The brains behind the outfit have a plan in the books to have different vocalists on each track with this project.  I love this idea because it leaves room for interpretation from the vocalists as well as showcasing new talent for each track.  You're not locked into one sound and if you look at the success Slow Knights has had with their debut album, Cosmos it's easy to see how this is a winning formula.

Colder is a free download for a limited time on Amazon.  You can get it here

Amelia's Fault on the Web

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmeliasFault
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/amelias-fault-1
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/AmeliasFault

Bright Light Bright Light - This Is Me Without You

It simply doesn't matter what he does.  Anything Rod Thomas touches is sure to be evocative.  It's going to make you feel something, whether it's hope or sadness and despair or so many emotions along the spectrum.  His ability to express the exact feeling that we all have done at some point is only overshadowed by the way he is able to put it to music and give it universal appeal.  "This Is Me Without You" is the B-side to "Moves" off his latest EP and it's just dripping with brilliance.

It's a song about growth and change and perseverance.  It's something that we all have experienced in one way or another and whether it be amiable or bittersweet or even downright hurtful, underneath it all we want to be able to walk away and dust ourselves off and keep going.  We want to be able to examine our scars and experiences and make the best out of it that we can.

I feel like I can never speak highly enough about Rod because he is quickly becoming what I consider to be one of the voices of my generation.  He speaks more truths in his music that most people do on a daily basis.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dakota Bradley - Somethin Like Somethin

Hunter Hayes.  Jason Mraz.  What happens when you take two of the biggest heartthrobs from two different genres and smoosh them together?  You get Dakota Bradley, a St. Louis native and the newest sensation to take country radio by storm.  Not only country radio, but he's already begun to make a name for himself on the internet; landing a spot on The Ellen Degeneres show after a cover of "The Girl is Mine" went viral.  From there, Dakota has released his first single and in doing so snagged Tim McGraw as a producer.  And now he's on a promo tour after being signed to Sony.

So let's talk about his debut single, "Something Like Somethin".  It starts off with a little bit of Jason Mraz then takes a left turn and becomes something all on it's own.  Something that is all Dakota.  It's a great summer song because it's just easy and fun.  It's not complicated and it will have you bobbing along before the first chorus.  It's well written and with the proper promotion - it could easily be a number one hit.  It's one of those things where he could be the male version of Taylor Swift.  Not a carbon copy, mind you...but someone for young male country fans to look up to.  A voice for all the things that young male fans feel and need to express like Taylor did for her fanbase.

What I appreciate about the country/folk/americana genres is that you have to be able to sing.  You can't have a ton of clean up in post because the fans won't put up with it.  As much as I like the song because it is just easy breezy, I like it because Dakota delivers it like he's been doing it for years.  He is going to be someone soon and when this track is picked up by the major stations and the official video hits GAC and CMT's countdowns, you'll appreciate being on this side of it because you can tell your friends you knew about him months and months ago.  What's going to be cool for him is when he becomes VH1's "Artist You Oughtta Know".

The track releases on iTunes today so get it now and be the coolest kid on your block.  Download on iTunes now: http://smarturl.it/DakotaBradley

Dakota on the Web
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dakota-Bradley/136617573053138
Twitter: @DakotaBradley
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/dbradleymusic

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Janelle Monae - Q.U.E.E.N (ft. Erykah Badu)

Empowerment.  Strength.  Creativity.  Words that only begin to describe the genius that is Janelle Monae aka Cindi Mayweather, the rebel leader from Wondaland.  "Q.U.E.E.N." is the first single off the final suite in this amazing story that has driven her career.  This track is bananas.  It's the lead single off The Electric Lady, Janelle's third studio album and it's been worth the wait.  This track doesn't disappoint in the least and more than anything it just proves that Janelle hasn't even begun to be finished with her career.  What she can do with the space in which she inhabits is awe inspiring.  Then to have the Legendary Erika Badu on the track with her elevates this song to the highest heights.  Their vocal stylings compliment each other so easily that it will make you wonder why it's taken so long for there to have been this paring.

I want you to just take a minute and hear what she has to say because there is no way you don't walk away inspired.  She is a flawless individual and the music she creates has no equal.  I cannot wait for this album and it is going to be incredible.

"They call us dirty 'cuz we break all your rules down
And we just came to act a fool, is that all right (Girl, that's alright)
They be like Ooh, let them eat cake
But we eat wings and throw them bones on the ground"

There's an actual video for the song but Warner Brothers won't let me embed it so here's the link to go watch it on YouTube. It is worth the 6 minutes.

Monday, April 29, 2013

NinthWave Records merges with BuGoudi House

For Immediate Release
Effective May 15th 2013

NinthWave Records, a ten year strong imprint supporting a number of artists and music genres, will be owned and operated by Amy Goudy under the BuGoudi House umbrella. Additionally Goudy is launching Forever FC Music Group, Angel Chord Records, DCCIV and SR Branding. BuGoudi House, originally founded on 2012 as an artist management company, will continue to operate supporting artist management and will expand to provide promotional and event planning services for tours and performances. Representing the Forever FC collective of Lute, Schyler, Jimmy Kelso and Ry as well as Shome, Mullah Mugzie in the hip hop arena and Taryn Hendrix, vocalist and model, BuGoudi House operates with the intention of allowing it’s clients to manage the creative aspects of their careers while providing a solid business support structure. With the addition / expansion artists will have a full service entertainment company to include management, distribution, merchandising, and branding (PR and marketing).

NinthWave Records, established in 2001 as an offshoot of Lexicon Magazine (RIP), is an independent record company specializing in electropop with a vast catalog of releases (over 150 projects currently available on Amazon and/or iTunes) by acts ranging from Ganymede and Empire State Human to NASA and Spray. Songs put out by NinthWave have been used in video games (such as Dance Dance Revolution) and TV shows (like “True Blood”). NinthWave’s Heaven 17 single, “Hands Up to Heaven,” even reached No. 6 on Billboard Magazine’s US Club Play Chart. Recently, the label has helped send Welsh sister act Electrovamp back to the dance floor (with YouTube sensation Keenan Cahill in tow), re-launched the recording career of New Wave chameleon Nathalie Archangel, released cabaret star-turned-synthpopper Kim Smith’s debut single and branched out into rap (with up-’n’-comer Brandon Lee) and Moombahton (with a series of compilations). With the input from original ownership, contributors and consultants NinthWave will continue to support all 10+ existing acts, and intends to expand to continue the mission of providing a nurturing and supportive environment for upcoming artists in the “club” music arena…regardless of genre.

Forever FC Music Group is the natural next progression for the Forever FC Collective.. Forever FC MG will be releasing each of the collective artists as solo entities as well as potential collaborations. Additionally there will be opportunities for artist development with in the Hip Hop and R&B genres for other acts beyond the original four.

Angel Chord Records is a new imprint with the objective of pursuing upbeat Christian Contemporary
music. Giving artists the opportunity to reach a mainstream audience without having to compromise their morals, values or personal mission.

DCCIV, (704 in roman numerals) was originally founded to introduce the “Charlotte” specific clothing as represented by Forever FC members. The division will be expanding to include tour and fan merchandise as well as higher end limited edition items. .

Finally, in collaboration with Saloan Rochelle, BuGoudi House will be incubating SR Branding,
which provides PR, branding, marketing and social media support. Some of SR Branding’s services are photography, web design, graphics support (lyric videos, album/project covers etc.). The branding strategy will stretch across all divisions and will work collaboratively with artist / genre / label PR and marketing teams.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Vare - Letterbox

Indie-Pop music tends to get a bad rap these days.  It's all Cage the Elephant and Arcade Fire versus Phoenix and Kings of Leon. But what happens if you introduce more of a melodic influence?  What happens if you don't rely on overly complicated guitar riffs and typical lyrics and basic musical progression?  If you have a dichotomy of what could be considered hard and soft then you have an entire new animal at your disposal.  If you do something as simple as add a piano to the mix, then the music takes on a totally different direction.  If you have harmonies and backing vocals that fill out the sound then you've created an evolution of the sound.

The Vare are a new band from Montreal consisting of Mikey Desjardins (Vocals, Guitar, Drums), Gabriel Dennis (Drums, Vocals, Piano), Jeffrey Lauber (bass, guitar) and Lucas Liberatore (guitar, bass, piano, vocals).  They've only been together for a short time but with their combined experience they have created a lush that's atmospheric and fully realized.  You can hear so many nuances almost like they just reached into so many different genres and plucked out all the best parts.  They have an incredible pianist that elevates the sound without question and I think that's one of the many aspects that sets them apart, the prevalence of the piano.  But you also can't discount the guitar riffs and the amazing work the guys have put in.  Leading it all, however is a vocalist that never once gets lost or overtaken by the melody.  He is in control and easily steers this ship.

This EP isn't unfinished.  It's not incomplete.  So many times you have albums that are dropped into this category and you listen to them and they sound like a craft project or something a hobbiest would do at home.  It's got a polish on it that seasoned producers fail to achieve.  It's laid out incredibly and each song is placed exactly where it needs to be.  That's something that always amazes me, how tracks are placed on an album.  It can either ruin the flow or it can just let you easily move from one track to another.

I think the most incredible thing they did was start with "The Way You Were" because it comes out with the piano leading the way.  It sets them apart from so many other groups because it creates a whole new tone and feel.  I came for the piano but stayed for everything else that is amazing about this group.

"Body Heat" is next and it's got a funky beat that just drives the song forward.  The percussion is incredible and it's intricate without being obnoxious.  Between it and the guitar on this track, they almost outshine the vocals but   they stay evenly matched.

The easiness of "Mistakes" makes the perfect spot in the 3rd position.  It's a Sunday afternoon with the top down kind of vibe even though the lyrics are a bit heavier than that.  Mikey does an incredible job on this track and I think it's probably on the top for me.

But from here, we don't sit too long before moving into "Coat the Clocks" which is a brilliant track that showcases so many things they do so right.  It's dreamy and it does this great thing toward the end that punctuates the song that is the epitome of the mixture of light and dark that I mentioned earlier.

Bringing the piano back into the mix with an almost syncopated rhythm on the drums, "Foreign Way" is the perfect platform for a dynamite vocal delivery.  It has this feel to it that is just kind of ambient and easy.  But Mikey's haunting delivery on this track is the star.  It just sits with you and has this resonate feel that sticks.

And that brings us to the last and title song on the EP.  "Letterbox" is this crazy awesome song that you have to close your eyes and just be present in the moment with it (I don't recommend doing that in the car).  This song gives you all the feels.  It is a gorgeous track that is the right length, it's the right production and it's the right way to end the album.  It's lonely and it's longing and it's just this sigh at the end of a deeply emotional journey.

I think that they have created an album that is an amazing foundation for an incredible career in front of them.   With everything they've put into this, I see great things for them.  Listen to the tracks on Bandcamp and Youtube and get ready for the release of this EP on May 4, 2013.

The Vare on the Web

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheVare
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheVareBand
BandCamp: http://thevare.bandcamp.com/

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meet Sam Lewis

When you listen to music, you hear the vocal; then you hear the melody or vice versa but it's not until you spend a bit of time with a new song that you actually start listening to what the words are.  To what the artist is saying.  It's at that point that you get to know that person a little bit more and you are able to connect with them on a deeper level.  When the song is written by a songwriter, it's not the artist I connect with but the lyricist.  That songwriter can give that track to a million different people and they are all going to put their own spin on it, but it's still his/her lyrics they are singing.  It's his emotion they are emoting.  So as great as it's sung without the words to sing there isn't anything there.  

Today, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a new artist.  Someone that plays with words and puts them together in such a fashion that they are able to make me feel things.  Whether those things are joyous or maudlin; spirited or melancholy - it's the person first putting pen to paper that gets the ball rolling and today, I got to know a little bit about an incredible man from Codicote, Hertfordshire (that's in England btw).  Sam Lewis is a selfless man because if you listen to the cover songs on his Youtube or his SoundCloud, he has the ability to shine as a vocalist all on his own.  He has several , but for whatever reason - he chooses to stay in the background.  

The songs featured in his "Songwriter/Producer" set on SoundCloud are crazy.  Each of the three are so great.  I am just floored at his talent.  They are all so different and unique and show off different facets of his personality.  They have to because each artist puts a piece of them in the songs.  

The Simple Things
Kai Addams kicks off the set with a power pop track with one of the most solid productions I think I've ever heard.  Every bit of it fits together perfectly and makes me want to blast it with the top down on a sunny summer afternoon.  The only thing that would make it better would be a remix featuring Tinchy Strider or Dizzie Rascal in the middle eight.  Showing off a bit of the hard and soft of a track that already has a killer amount of edge to it.  It's not Britney or Christina.  It's something totally new.  It's more Sophie Ellis-Bextor but with a bit of smoky-ness added just for good nature.

"Can we make it til morning or are we ships in the night"
This song is criminal.  The bassline and the guitar are slinky and sexy and the harmonies are spot on.  The overall level of funk on this song is bananas.  You just sink into it and groove.  I don't know what it is about the completed package but Alex Bay on vocal duties delivers this song like no one else could.  Listen to the words though. Tell me they aren't inspired.

Work, Work, Work
Damnit if this song doesn't get you off your ass and moving, nothing will.  Sophia-Marie on vocals has enough energy and sugary sweetness to make this song something that you can't help smile and have a great time to.  Tweens everywhere should be blasting this at the top of their speakers and doing the jitterbug or the jive.  How can this song not be amazing.  It is 2:53 of pure bubblegum pop realness.  It would fit right next to a 40s USO show or in the next great Disney movie.  Two thumbs energetically up in the air.

If these three songs are any indication as to what he is capable of doing, then this man is bordering on creative genius.  I can't really express how cool these tracks are.  I want to hear more from Mr. Sam Lewis. I want him to be a megastar, whether that be as a writer or a pop star because he has the talent to do both.  I want more because he is going to make a change in the industry somewhere or somehow.  I just have this feeling.

Sam on the Web

Facebook: https://facebook.com/samlewismusic
Twitter: @samlewismusic
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/samlewismusic1
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/samlewismusic