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
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


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:

Dakota on the Web
Twitter: @DakotaBradley

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.