Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hurricane Love - Nowhere To Go

If these people can't evoke a feeling from you with their talent and their passion, then you just may be a robot and you need to be checked out.  They are one of my favorite bands of all time and they are relatively new.  They need to compile all this amazing music they've been putting on youtube into an album so that I can throw all my money at them.  They deserve to be supported because of the sheer talent they possess.  My god, when all their voices come together, it's chilling.  There's just so much they have to offer and they know exactly how to put all the feeling and emotion into their music.  It's just so big and it fills up the entire space and just lifts you up as part of it.

I can not express how amazing they sound and the power they have in their words.  I don't want to sit here and squawk about it, it's distracting you from listening to the song.  Please listen and post some comments.  You know you want to.

Grant Terry - Silent Warrior (Track by Track)

If you think Nashville is just where country music is made, you're sorely mistaken.  With production values that rival any studio in the country, Grant Terry and crew have created one of the most sincere and honest pop albums I have heard in a long time. It's an amazing examination of the human condition and what we all go through at some point in our lives.  When you sit down and listen to what Grant has to say, it's easy to hear that he's been through some stuff in the creation of this album and the end result has got to be an extremely cathartic experience for him and further more, for the listener as well.  It's heartfelt and it's been heartbroken.  But even though there are times when we feel like we're at a loss Grant is able to inject positivity through his words and his intonation and the subtleties his voice carries.

The album opens up with "Rise Up", appropriately the first single to be released off the album, a song about coming into your own and standing up for what you believe in.  Not letting anything stand in your way in your own personal growth and development.  We spend so much time worried about all the small stuff that we get bogged down in our daily lives.  We hold ourselves accountable and to do that we have to stand on our own two feet.

The synth on "The Fire" was totally unexpected and it grabbed me immediately.  The chorus is already amazing and super catchy, but throwing that hardcore synth vibe under Grant's vocals added that It factor that makes this song soar.  It's smart decisions like this that show maturity in choices and production.  And then at the end of the track, there's a part where they strip everything back to just Grant and a guitar.  This small quiet moment was incredibly smart.  It's like a palate cleanser.  It gets you ready for the song to wind up.

The synth carries over on "Go" and I'm hooked again.  His voice is so honest.  It's clean and it's strong.  There's no clean up in post and it doesn't sound trampled on.  The chorus and hook are fantastic.  It's a song that so many people can relate to.  Being stuck not knowing where you stand, getting mixed signals.  The dreaded Friendzone.  We've all been there and you do want that release.  You want to just be let go.

When the title track, "Silent War" comes up in the line up, you're ready for something a little slower; a little stripped down.  It's a bit beaten up and put through the ringer.  It's ready to just sit down and take a breather because of all the emotion that's not been said.  It's heartfelt and it's a bit heartbroken.  It's vulnerable and ready for a resolution.

It seems that Grant has been through it.  It's not necessarily the tracks that are a bit melancholy, it's Grant too.  "Another Home" sums up what it feels like to be on the left behind end of it all.  When things are done and there's no reparation to what we had.  You've made your mind up to leave, so let's just be done with it.  If our home isn't good enough for you then you're free to go.  It's not a pity party song though, it's the realization that what was good is gone and the only way forward is through.

And what a wonderful segue into "Desire", you just have to push through.  Understanding what your fellow man has experienced and offering that bit of knowledge that while everything that's happening sucks right now, it's not always.  You may feel at a loss or you may feel totally overwhelmed with your circumstances, but you have everything you need to accomplish your dreams. You just have to believe in yourself to make it come true.

These songs are written from such a place of hope that even though the subject matter is a bit on the heavy side, they still have that silver lining.  That dream that things are going to get better.

"Step By Step" is a cautionary tale about how we interact with one another and the path of destruction we are capable of leaving in our wake.  But more than that, it's more about self redemption and how we stand up for ourselves and just say no.  We aren't going to let the conditions of our happiness be dictated by someone else.

Seeing ourselves through the eyes of others and being the best version of who we can be are at the heart of "Better Man".  It's got an incredible pop sensibility to it that makes it perfect for radio play.  It's an exceptionally hopeful song that is an brilliant follow up to "Step By Step".  It leans on the lessons we've learned and pushes us forward in our growth.

When it feels like we are the only ones fighting the good fight, it's easy to think that "The World's Against Us", and that's the theme of the next track.  This sounds similar to a OneRepublic track (I've compared Grant to Ryan Tedder before and I think that's an amazing thing) so I could totally see this making huge waves on the radio.

"The Pond" isn't necessarily a sad, going away song because of the innate hope built into it.  There's a bit of a silver lining wrapped around this track.  It's saying goodbye for now but not forever.  

When life gets in the way and so much comes between us it's easy for two people to become "Strangers".  We all get caught up in our own lives and end up somewhere other than where we planned.  We look around at where we are and who we've walked away from and it's really hard to get it all back.

As we come to the end of the album, we are treated with an amazing acoustic performance of "Ain't It Like A Woman".  We've been through it.  We've been heartbroken and we've been redeemed and now we're hopeful about the near future but standing in the way is the fantastic frustration of never really knowing where you stand.  If Grant with full production is amazing, then stripped down, Grant with a guitar is even better.  It's solid and it's soulful.  It's a fantastic way to walk away from this album.

This man has a bright and brilliant future ahead of him.  He's got an incredible voice and he's made very intelligent decisions regarding his career up to this point.  His videos are fantastic and he knows who he is and who his demographic is.  If he keeps this up, there's no stopping him.  And I for one and glad that the universe decided to have me hang out at Mafiaoza's and get to meet him in person.  It's funny how it all seems to work that way.

"Silent War" releases on May 6 on major online retailers.  Make sure you get your copy because it's going to be worth it.

Grant Terry on the Web

Twitter: @grantterrymusic 
Band Camp:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Titus Jones - Clarity Kids

This epitomizes how well Titus knows his craft. It's been a minute since we heard new music from him but this shows that he hasn't been away for any time at all. He knows how to disassemble things and how to put them back together.  He has laser like precision in his ability to make the parts  and make them into something so much larger than when they started.  I had not heard the Echosmith track prior to the mash up but it's fantastic.  MGMT and Zedd are two of those artists that are so exposed that this is a refreshing take on tracks that I felt were nearing the end of their shelf life.  Like most of his tracks, it's huge and got a tremendous sound to it that would only sound better in a club with 80,000 watts pushing it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Meet Cattivo

I'm generally hesitant when I find an unknown producer because sometimes the work sounds like an arts and craft project, but when I came across Montreal based producer, Cattivo I put all those doubts aside.  Born in Montreal in the 1980s, Patrizio Rapagnetta is a classically trained pianist that first was bitten by the music bug when he heard a fellow classmate playing piano.  His parents supported his dreams and he started learning more about his craft and his ability to create.  As a teen he stretched his creative muscles and tried heavier sounding music in a heavy metal band and he went the opposite with a pop band trying to find where he fit and all the time, he was soaking in all those influences.  Influences that would later come in handy as he started crafting tracks out of thin air.

Cattivo released his debut album and has a new project coming out May 6.  If you listen to the tracks on his Soundcloud, this man seems fearless.  Whether it's a hip hop track with thunderous beats and one of the coolest flows on top of it or a lush, atmospheric piano driven piece with a presidential monologue capping off the vocals - it seems there's not a genre he's unwilling to tackle. If you're in the mood for some dream pop or some synth, he can hook you up.  If you want something more filling and a bit more moody or hardcore, he can fill the bill with that as well. When you are dealing with an up and coming producer, it can sometimes sound hollow and the sound isn't fleshed out but there are amazing highs and deep, rich bass notes that round out his production so it's not so "made at home".  As he continues to grow and mature with his abilities, I can only see better and better things for this young man.

Where I think he really shines are his piano based tracks.  They are played beautifully and they don't seem to be lacking in the risk department.  I would love to hear how he would fuse that beautiful piano playing with other styles, show an even broader array of influences.  Throw in some international beats, some heavy beats.  Do something next level that is going to catch em all off guard.  I'm gonna keep an eye on this young man and wait until I go, "DAAAAAAM!"

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Indiana - Solo Dancing

Driving beats, sultry vocals, production that lifts this track to the heavens, "Solo Dancing" is the newest single from UK pop star, Indiana.  I've been trying to get some background on her but she's very mysterious.  I know she's from Nottingham and this track has been picked up and played on Radio 1.  That says great things for her, I think. It's got such a cool synth vibe to it that just gets inside you.  The video has some very interesting themes to it that I will leave to your own imagination.  It took me a minute but I was like, ohhhhhhhhh I see now.  I am going to do more research into Indiana, the girl; not the state and report back with my findings.  Until then, spend your own time solo dancing.

Indiana on the Web

Twitter: @Indianathegirl

Thursday, April 17, 2014

FemmePop - Not That Kind

On the frontlines of the New Wave revolution is Irish songstress, Femmepop aka Margaret O'Sullivan.  She is already making a name for herself in the synthpop community and when the songs are as good as this one, there's no doubt this is right where she should be.  If you were to compare her to other vocalists in the genre, she is going to stand out heads above the rest because of the sheer volume of emotion she is able to pour into her music.  So much of the music in this movement sounds soulless and just mass produced.  This song is not one of them.  There is a soulful resonance that takes this song and elevates it to new heights.  Robert Parker built a track that just floats right beside her, never taking over - never overpowering her performance.  It's a beautifully done song and I think it's easily one of my favorites this month, probably this year so far.

After you get through being astounded to how the track sounds, you sit back and pay attention to the lyrics and what she's actually saying.  It's a break up song.  It's honestly one of the most heartfelt break up songs I've heard.  You can tell that there was something to lose but she just couldn't stand there and take it anymore so she made the difficult choice to walk away from the life they'd built together.  You have to do what's right for you even when it's the hardest choice to make.

Femmepop on the Web
Twitter: @femmepop

Janelle Monae - Heroes (David Bowie Cover)

Sheer Perfection. When you take an amazing song and have a brilliant artist cover it, it only stands to reason that it is going to be amazingly perfect.  This was recorded for the Pepsi Beats of the Beautiful Game album so I can only assume that it's a soccer based album since soccer is the beautiful game.  I don't want to talk to much about it.  Just listen to the beautifulness that is this track.

Anastacia - Stupid Little Things

I initially missed the release back at the end of march, but I've made up for it with severe obsessing over this song.  I have been a fan of Anastacia for a while but where she hasn't been as embraced by the industry in America we haven't had nearly as much exposure to her work as artists the labels throw money at.  But she hasn't forgotten about us and has been releasing albums regularly since her debut back in 2000. She has had an amazing career overseas and that's amazing for her but like the Scissor Sisters, sad for her American fanbase because with imports and the internet, we really didn't have nearly enough exposure to her.  Her voice hasn't faltered over her fourteen year career.  She is only getting better with time and the maturity shines through in her overall sound, performance and overall attitude. 

This video is gorgeous, she's gorgeous and the song is so indicative of what makes her amazing.  Her voice is so distinctive that you can't help to be drawn in.  It's powerful and it's got a raw edge that makes it more than a simple pop song.  It's got a rock vibe that gives it depth and range that are grounded in her vocals.  Her performance in the song and video just takes center stage and isn't overwrought by the production or the backing track.  The song is all about getting over all the little things that we allow ourselves to get tripped up on.  We all do it, we end up making mistakes and can't seem to put them behind us to move on.  It's a massive track and I wish it would get the airplay it deserves because the world, America included, needs more Anastacia in our lives.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Matt Zarley - Gravity (Sara Bareilles Cover)

Longing.  The power of desire and need that you feel and experience when the feelings are just too strong.  Being drawn in and to feel so powerless is something that even if for the briefest of moments we've been a victim of.  That sorrowful feeling of knowing that what you want above all else; what makes you whole is the very thing that's poisoning you.  Those relationships that no matter what you do you just can't shake them.  Even when you're away from them, they are in your thoughts and everything you do.  The idea of them sends you into a tailspin of emotion.  This pattern of behavior is how we end up with no where to go and no one in our corner.  But it hurts so damn good.

Matt Zarley was built for this song and it was built for him.  Sara Bareilles created the boiler plate for this song and set the bar exceptionally high and Matt destroys it in his cover. This cover hits every feeling you have.  The raw power of emotion he conveys in this performance is staggering.  I've always known his voice was gorgeous but this... this is just powerful.  When he holds the "down" at the end of the song, you just want to crumble onto the floor because it's that good.  This is what music is supposed to do.  This transcends a simple song.  It's art. It invokes feelings and memories and washes over you and makes you part of something more.  I am honored to have had the opportunity to hear this cover.

Rosie and the Velvet Bullet - Beautiful Everything

Future Noir Soul...  Taking everything that is beautiful about the 50s and adding a pop sensibility mixed in with R&B and EDM production, Rosie & the Velvet Bullet are serving up a fresh style that will turn heads.  "Beautiful Everything" is made exquisitely possible thanks to Bridget Barkan's gorgeous voice.  The track is fantastic and exceptionally well put together but if it wasn't her sultry swagger and soulful style, the two pieces would be discordant and wouldn't work right.  It's not just an homage to artists from the past, it's new and it's fresh.  It's exciting to hear two young people making music that is this innovative.  She has a bit of Rosin Murphy in her voice that makes me flash back to Moloko.  That's a good thing too.

This duo is going to be massive.  I can't wait to see where they go next.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Grant Terry - In My Head

If Ryan Tedder had been influenced by the muddy Mississippi river, he might come out sounding a little like Nashville based singer/songwriter Grant Terry.  Growing up in Northern Louisiana seems to have given Grant a soulful, earnest grounded sound that resonates through his writing and his vocals.  Moving to Nashville in 2010, Grant quickly garnered a modicum of success when his 2012 debut album, "All She Wrote" landed at number 3 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart.  Letting his environment shape his sound, Music City USA has added another layer of honesty and deep rooted thoughtfulness to his voice.

Between his talent and a crack production team, it's crazy to think that he's just now breaking into the scene.  There were some really amazing choices made with this record.  It's got a flawless sensibility that makes it perfect for mainstream radio play but there's a vulnerability to his performance that keeps him accessible to his fans.  It's easy and it doesn't attempt any theatrics that will take away from what is already so good about it.  It's a song that is going to appeal to male and female fans alike; guys will marvel at the fact he's singing about places they've been in their head space and girls are going to appreciate knowing they've made that much of an impression on the guy she likes.  The song is built in such a way that you will be humming or singing it long after you've listened to it.  It would be easy to see him touring with other singer/songwriters or opening up for Jason Mraz, Colbie Calliet or even OneRepublic.

Grant Terry on the Web

Twitter: @grantterrymusic 
Band Camp:

Johnny Stimson Feature

This blog has given me the opportunity to hear a tremendous amount of great music.  I've been able to interact with singers/songwriters, producers, record label execs and everyone in between.  What I still get star struck about is when artists take the time to read what I've written and comment or repost it and to make it even more of an overwhelming experience is when you are at a show and the artist you are there to see takes the time to acknowledge your work and spend time talking to you. I am in awe when you talk to someone that you admire because their art has transformed you and they reciprocate that admiration for the what I've done or said about them.

I had one of these interactions last night at the Nashville edition of Ben Lovett's Communion tour.  I've been a fan of Johnny Stimson for quite some time because his music is expressive of the experiences that we have all felt at one time or another in our lives.  He sings about love and loss and aspects of the human condition we've come in contact with.  His vocal range is uncanny as he hits notes that are incredibly difficult for most male artists, his honesty and heart shine through the tracks like a beacon.  He may be singing about loss but it's done in such manner that as much as it stings and as much pain you have to experience, things will be better.  You just have to push through it and don't give up.  There is a hopeful optimist inside all of us, we just have to have a little help to find him and Johnny has the ability to draw him out.

His music style has matured and shifted over the course of his career as he learns more about himself and who wants to be.  You can hear so many influences in his work from early British Invasion stuff like the Beatles that's very mod.  Very buttoned up and polished to more of his newer material that's very blue eyed soul meets funk with thunderous rhythm and percussion.   It's not a huge leap because you can hear how much soul he has weaved all through each and every track.  It's a lot of the same feeling, just in a funkier, get up and boogie package.

Now, let's talk about his stage show.  The man commands a room.  It's just a 3 piece band but every inch of that stage is filled with every bit of his personality.  It's infectious and it's a party and it's impossible to not dance.  Without a shadow of a doubt, you know that he is doing what he loves and there's no place he'd rather be.  His exuberance is palpable and you can't help to immediately get where he's coming from. You look around and there's not a person standing still.  Everyone is on their feet, dancing and becoming part of something larger than themselves.  Getting caught up in the emotion and forgetting their own lives for a minute.  I've always been of the opinion that a live show is a make it or break it for an artist because the audience is able to hear just how much production has gone into the work.  How much doctoring has been done to the artist's voice and I overwhelming pleased to say (not that I ever questioned it) that the Johnny you hear in the recordings is what you're going to get live and in person.

The man has the talent and the ability to be a megastar.  We're just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.  Another defining trait that he has is his humility and his just general good nature.  I never once felt like I was in the presence of a star that was bothered by me.  We talked, we laughed, we hugged.  The man is the real deal and if you don't believe it...go see him live.  He took and honest to good interest in my life and my opinion.  And I am damn glad that I will be able to say that I knew him when.  In the next couple of years, he is going to be so huge and I can't wait for everyone to fall for him.

Johnny on the Web
Twitter: @johnnystimson

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

RAC - Cheap Sunglasses

"Cheap Sunglasses" by RAC is wearing me out right now.  It's only been up on Soundcloud for a day and it's almost at 80,000 listens.  It's a tremendous pop song with an incredible hook and phenomenal vocals by Matthew Korma.  It's mainstream worthy with enough club cred to make all the hipster kids love it.  The message is super awesome in it's clarity.  You're plastic, replaceable and not worth my time when you act the way you do.  Basic bitches need not apply is the bottom line.  It's beautifully done, the build up and rise to the bridge is fantastic.  It's another amazing track by André Anjos and I look forward to playing this on repeat.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Leslyn - Runaway Heart

Trinidad and Tobago native, Leslyn has started making a name for her self in the mostly male dominated Dubstep scene.  Her voice cuts through the track like a knife and stands on its own.  The track starts out innocent enough but quickly turns into an amazing EDM track with Leslyn dominating it with her gorgeous falsetto.  It's got enough production to make it a very interesting track and help it stand out against so many other producers in the industry.  Give it and her other tracks on her SoundCloud a listen, specifically her debut single, "Young Wild and Free". 

I think she has the ability to do massive things if given the opportunity.  She has a sound and a feeling that is all her own that will take her far.  I hope she's able to get hooked up with the right people in order to help her break out in the club scene. 

Leslyn on the Web

Twitter: @Grandmaleslyn

Frida Sundemo - Drawn to You

Frida is making some of the most compelling pop music in the industry today.  I can't speak highly enough about her music because of how complex it is.  Amazing production wrapped around her gorgeous voice makes her the perfect package.  The bass line in this song pulls you along as she is "running at the speed of light".  Her vocal range is incredible.  It's just another solid example of how things in Sweden are just better.  It's a fantastic song and you're doing yourself a disservice if you aren't listening to it right now.

Friday, April 4, 2014

KORR-A - Fuck Me Like You Mean It

KORR-A has released a blistering track that is rapid fire from start to finish and the video is amazing.  What I learned, don't get between Korr-a and what she needs and don't fuck with a girl's shoes.  She's gonna win out in the end.  It's a blazing EDM track produced by Tearce "Kizzo" that kills.  The track is sure to get you on your feet and moving.  It sounds amazing on my computer but it will be massive when it hits the clubs.

The dancing in the video is gorgeous and the fight scenes are actually better.  I think it's super cool, sleek and fresh.  If it's a little too on the nose for you, she has released a version of the song/video that is more family friendly.  And you can watch that but I don't like censoring your art for any reason so I'll stick with this version of the song.  She's hot and it's good to hear strong points of view from women in EDM instead of simply being eye candy.  I'm a fan and think she deserves much more recognition than what she has.

KORR-A on the Web
Twitter: @korr_a
Instagram: @korr_a

Philip Bonneau - The Pawn Overture

In what will likely be the first act of his art project "Brave New Secrets", Philip has released "The Pawn Overture".  The track starts off with white noise, static, news reports and an overall sense of discord.  It quickly focuses in and becomes very airy and atmospheric.  Using a reading from Romeo & Juliet, we are then thrust into something that doesn't feel exactly right.  It's ominous and foreboding like something just outside the periphery is watching you.  You feel it on the back of your neck but can't quite place the feeling.  As the ambiance changes into something a little more fevered, you feel like you need to quicken the pace of your stride because it's just not safe.  The track is brilliantly put together and is done with such aplomb it actually caused an emotional response in me.  My heart rate actually increased a little and I was able to feel a connection to it.  There's a lull around the 7 minute mark that makes you feel like you've taken refuge or sanctuary and as soon as you feel rested, there are these discordant church bells that increase your anxiety once again but you soon realize that you may have thought you were fleeing from something that in actuality you were running toward someone.

Someone that you just might be star crossed with.  His use of "Mirror" by Ellie Goulding is genius.  It's not one of her more well known songs as it was on The Catching Fire Soundtrack and not one of her releases.  As a photographer, it amazes me that his skill at mixing and music production is as strong as it is.  There isn't a flaw in this piece.  It's built amazingly and it is brilliant in it's execution.  When he is actually able to put the images with this song, I think people are going to be blown away.  I may be a bit biased because I am a tremendous fan of his art and I think that with his point of view, there are many people that will be affected by this work.  It's incredible to me when people are able to lay their soul bare for the world to see and in doing so cause people to become more than what they were to begin with.  I've had the opportunity to get to know Philip and the man you see in the art is the man he is.  There's nothing pretentious or obtuse about him.  He is what you expect him to be and that honesty is priceless.

Philip on the Web

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Franmusik - These Streets

You don't need high concept or special effects or a story if the song is strong enough to carry it's own and it does in FrankMusik's new track, "These Streets".  Just him and a camera and some cars on a motorway.  That's all you need to make a great song even better.  We've had the pleasure of going with him as he's grown and matured as an artist and with this track,  I dare say this is the best I've heard his voice.  I don't know if it's the production of the song or just a really fantastic recording day in the studio but it's really good.

Jane Badler - Volcano Boy

No surprise that this video makes my pick.  Jane can do no wrong.  Even trapped under a sheet of ice, she smolders.  Giving it all to the camera is one of the most amazing qualities Jane has.  The song is sexy, it's fun and it's giving me the attitude and earnestness I've come to expect from Jane. She is able to be amazingly sexy and sultry without even trying.  That's simply not a talent that can be taught.  You either have to have in innately or not and she has it in spades.  Her longevity in the music industry is sealed as long as she continues to put out amazing track after track.  Because she isn't trying to prove anything to anyone with her music, she has the ability to pick amazing songs that showcase every ounce of her talent and propel her through the stratosphere.  This song is so hot (pun intended).  Love it, love her!

Rita Ora - I Will Never Let You Down

People want to dismiss Rita Ora as simply a Rhianna clone and that's not true.  She has a gorgeous voice and a style all her own that is evocative of pop in the early 2000s.  Her latest single, "I Will Never Let You Down" produced by Calvin Harris gives you everything you need to just make you feel good.  It's got a lighthearted quality that is fun and flirty and perfect for Spring. If you need a quick pick me up, give it a whirl.  I wish she had more radio play because she is a solid artist with a point of view.