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 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:

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
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
Twitter: @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


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
Twitter: @johnnystimson