Thursday, June 26, 2014

Josiah Carr - Love is Love

Sometimes you have to step away from all the production and synth and just cleanse your palate.  Piano driven pop music is one of the methods I use to reset all of me when I just get overwhelmed by all the technology driven music that I listen to day in and day out.  I've recently become acquainted with a new artist that sounds amazing and does a fantastic job of stripping away all the noise and pollution in my head.  Nashville based Josiah Carr is a new artist that is currently making his rounds in the clubs and smaller venues paying his dues to the music gods.  And he's doing a helluva job.

I saw him at Louisville Pride perform to a decent sized crowd and easily hold their attention through his set.  What he didn't see was how the venue was set up and the acoustics carried was that not only did his music touch those that were in front of the stage, but it also carried all across the park so that everyone that was attending the event heard him.  He performed mostly cover songs and that's totally understandable.  The audience was vibing off his set so he went with what they wanted to hear.  This shows that he's learned to read off the crowd and keep the energy level where he needs it to be.  There are artists that have been in the industry for years that haven't learned this and they just barrel through a set and the audience never even bothers to care.  I've been to shows like that and it's a miserable experience for everyone.

I want you to take a listen to the original track I've attached, Love is Love and let me know what you think of Josiah.  I think he's got a bit of John Mayer mixed with a little Jason Mraz but I've also heard more of his music than you have.  I think with the right production and the right guidance, there's nothing this young man can't do.  I'll keep you informed of what's going on in Mr. Carr's music life and when that CD drops, you can bet I'll be all about it.

Ponychase - Parade of Youth

I cannot properly express how much this album has already impacted my life. I had the distinct pleasure to see them preform live at Nashville Pride on June 14, 2014 and this album has not left heavy rotation in my library sense.  As soon as Jordan sings the first note in Parade of Youth, I was immediately hooked.  Her voice is so dreamy and just takes me right back to the New Romantic era.  I could easily see her hanging out with Dale Bozzio and Aimee Mann just becoming best of friends.

I don't see how anyone couldn't fall in love with the ease of this album.  There's nothing forced.  It's all put together in a manner that belies the band's age.  You would think that something that has this production this tight would come from a band much more mature than Ponychase but I think that is going to be a huge plus in their favor because it doesn't sound like a fledgling artist trying to find their feet.  They have a voice and they have a clear idea of who they are as a band so it's only getting that message out to the public from this point forward.  That's light years ahead of so many young bands out there and it's incredible.

I don't hear any missteps in the album; from the lyric choice to how the songs are structured to even the track order.  When Running with the Pack comes up in the line up, you're ready for that part of the journey.  You're ready to dance a bit and have a good time.  It's easily one of my favorite tracks on the album but the stand out is when you get to Resurrected. I mean, come on; are you kidding me.  This song should be played at every prom across the country.  It should be mandatory, without question.  Without fail.  This is the quintessential slow dance song and it just fills me with an insane sense of happiness.  I just can't properly express how amazing this song is.  The rest of the album isn't full of filler either.  The songs are solid.  Each one building on the next.

When you sit back and close your eyes, this album just builds a soundtrack in your mind.  Whether it's to a movie you've seen before or it's to your own life, there are so many moments that are relatable.  The album has this uncanny method of promoting peace as well.  Everything just slows down and becomes easier to handle.  There's a physical reaction as well that causes your body to just let go of it.  Whatever it is.  It just leaves and is replaced with moments of clarity.  There aren't too many albums that have that ability.

I want this group to be megastars because the world needs them right now.  There's too much manufactured music proliferating the industry and when something is as honest as this is, it deserves to be heard.  It deserves to be supported and it deserves attention.  Go buy their album.  Buy their EP.  Go see them at a show.  Share the sampler with all your friends. 

Ponychase on the Web

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meet Classy Mongrel

Generally when I think of music that describes itself as chill or ambient or chillwave, I always expect that I need to have some form of pharmacological assistance to get me into the headspace that I should be in to fully appreciate the art put out by the artist.  That's not to be said for Kentucky performance artist, Classy Mongrel.  His music has teeth.  It's got flavor.  It's not simply beats and loops over and over at 89 bpm to lull you to sleep.  It's a fully realized musical endeavor with a beginning, a middle and an end.  If I were to compare him to anyone it would be artists like Grimes and Penguin Prison or City Rain.  He's been to the same places that Hercules and the Love Affair have been and he's not simply some guy sitting in his room learning a craft.  His music is fluid and it's full and gives you something to work with.

All that being said, it's not something that you can't groove to.  You can absolutely start at square one and let him take you to where you need to go.  Just close your eyes and the beats and synths will easily wrap you up in the deliciousness his music provides.  When you come across a track with vocals, they aren't used as a stand apart feature that you are supposed to give all your attention; they are another instrument in the lineup.  The vocals enhance the overall track and don't take away from your enjoyment.  You don't have to stop grooving to hear what's being said, you simply integrate it into your experience.  Another artist he brings to mind is British Dream Pop group, Fuse.  I love the Dream Pop genre as much as I dig Shoegaze and I would more faithfully put Classy Mongrel in that category quicker than I would just call him an ambient artist.

Something he does in a lot of tracks is there maybe a four or an eight count where things are just a bit off.  Just a bit broken.  To my ears, that's almost an homage to life itself.  Things aren't always perfect and you hit a rough patch and then you process it and move on.  It's a testament to the resilience of human nature at it's core.  It's not being bogged down by the small stuff.  It's the glitch in the Matrix. It's the deja vu.  It's acknowledging that things can get back on track if you let them.  He's able to incorporate these little moments of unrest into his tracks and they don't take away from the overall product.  In some instances, they may be a little unnerving but that's part of learning and growing as a human. 

The production on the tracks is solid.  There's a ton of depth and range to his music.  His synths are tight and are all pulled together into a cohesive product.  I don't hear any "store bought" samples or loops (or if I do, he's done a good enough job at disguising them that they don't come across that way).  It's well thought out and as professional as any other artist making this music today.

Classy Mongrel on the Web
Twitter: @classymongrel

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Christian Lee Hutson - No Apologies, Please

I've been trying to write about Christian Lee Hutson since I met him at the Communion tour but I've never been able to just sit down and write what I feel would do him justice.  He was the first act to go on that night and that's a precarious position to be in but he took the stage and made it his own for that set.  We talked for a couple minutes after he played and I got to learn a little more about him.  I found out that he travels the country most of the year gigging his heart out and trying to just make that connection with fans that get what he's trying to express.  His message is that of someone much older than him but his experience is far from lacking.  He's paying his dues and putting in his time and that's making him into a true artist, unlike the manufactured pop artists or reality show contestants that have fame shoved into their lap.

What I don't know about classic country music could fill a library so there's no way in the world I can say he sounds like this person or he's channeling this person.  What I know is that his music is honest.  It's raw and at the heart of it, it's got teeth.  Country and Western music was created to tell the stories of the people affected by the day to day life in rural America.  It's built on stories and experiences that at one point in time or another in our lives, we have had the opportunity to experience.  It's edgy and it's angry and it's heartbroken and it's human.  Classic country music that hasn't been influenced by the more suburban influences of today is about as hardcore and punk rock as those genres.  There's killing and there's loss and there's all form of emotion and anti-establishment messages.  Christian pulls a lot of those same ideas into his music as well and he's created a platform in today's pop/rock country world where that storied history and those traditions of picking yourself up off the ground and knocking the dirt off your jeans and moving on is as rich today as it ever was.

Let's talk about this song and video now.  First and foremost, you cannot deny his charisma and his stage presence on video.  The man knows how to sell his performance and when you're dealing with the dichotomies of the two characters he's playing in the video, the range of emotion is staggering.  There are times when he flashes a look at the camera or something slides across his face and you just have to stop for a minute because you can see there's actually something happening there.  It's not forced, it's not acting.  It's a connection to his music and his message that allows him to just give you all he has to give.  There are expressions he gives through out the video that tear right into the heart of you and leave you going.....damn.

The song itself is full of hurt and resentment but it holds no one at fault.  It's fells like a melodic exercise in Shit Happens or "Well, we tried that.  It didn't work.  Let's acknowledge and move on."  So many of our relationships happen this way.  We start out thinking that everything is going to be one way and we hope that this is going to be exactly what we want but as we get into the thick of it we realize that it's nothing like we wanted.  There's no one to be blamed in the long run when the layers are peeled back and we just realize we aren't compatible so we part ways and move on. 

I can't express how much this song has affected me and the video for that matter.  I don't see the two characters in the video as a man and a woman but more as the person you are and the person you outwardly project to people when you're up to your neck in a relationship that's only dragging you down.  You're polished and put together for everyone to see.  You're charming and you smile easily but when you're alone, your makeup is a mess and you can't seem to pull yourself together.  You're as fragile as glass and can break if someone looks at you hard or you've cobbled together enough gumption to smile and move on.

I own his full length album and I've listened to it many times but when the composition and the structure of the music carries as much weight as his does, you simply don't sit down and write a fluff piece about track four.  You have to dig in and experience it.  I plan to cover him more in the future, and want him to become an amazingly successful artist because I think the emotional territory he's willing to tread is about as deep as you can go and it's done with just him and a guitar.

Christian on the Web
Twitter: @chrisleehutson

Eric Himan - Everything To You

Eric Himan has one of the most engaging personas I've ever had the opportunity to get to see grow and mature.  This is probably one of my favorite songs he's recorded and I think it's a sentiment that we all want in our lives.  I love the song structure and the way the chorus kind of has this deconstructed feel that's very rhythmic against the verses.  We want to find that person that will be able to be the protector and the comedian and the lover and the fighter.  We want to know that no matter what, there will be someone there that's willing to have your back and go the extra mile for you.  Someone that's going to scramble you eggs and help paint the house when you need it.

Eric's voice is sublime.  It's one of the most distinctive voices in my daily shuffle of music and it makes me smile because more than anything you can hear the heart and soul that he's put into these labors of love.  The song is an easy song to get into and it sticks with you for quite some time.  It's got a gentleness to it that makes you want to just bob along with the track.  The video has that exact same feeling to it and you can see that he had a great time filming it as there are parts when you know he's not taking himself seriously at all.  We all tend to do that too.  We take ourselves far too seriously and forget to laugh at the small things.  I think "Construction Worker" Eric is my favorite in the video because he does take the time to laugh at himself and that makes me smile.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Adore Delano - I Adore You

Adore Delano should come correct with a proper pop song. Not a gimmick or a song that is off the coattails of the television show she was on. She should be able to do this because she's a tried and true singer. A performer and an entertainer. And she absolutely delivers on the first single off her album.  The video is stunning.  Her vocals are stunning.  The rap-ish chorus is brilliant.  I am so glad that I pressed play because this song is fantastic and if this is what's to come from her recording career, girl.... you don't need that crown because this shit is good and with the proper promotion, you could be gracing awards show stages all across the globe.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Miss Coco Peru - Show Me Your Pride

With the start of Pride season upon us, a slew of new anthems are going to vie for position for the newest to take the crown.  And all I can say is that all those other upstart bitches need not apply because the title has been securely snatched (yes I said that) by Miss Coco Peru.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen; only on the second day of June and she's already got it.  I generally don't post much when it comes to songs like this but I couldn't pass this one up. But I do love to cover people that I've looked up to for a while.  I don't think there are many queens in the industry that can hold her gaff let alone a candle to the start power that is Miss Coco Peru.  It's an actual song, it's not a gimmick.  It's not some flash in the pan or something thrown together to get some publicity for an up and coming queen. 

What Coco has is a standpoint backed with a storied career.  She's worked in the business for some time now (it's never polite to reveal a girls age) and has seen her share of people move to the big city and struggle with where they fit in.  This song isn't about forcing anyone out of the closet, it's about helping them realize that once they're out of the closet, there's a whole world of people waiting to greet them with open arms and help them to realize that they aren't fundamentally wrong and they aren't broken.  They've just been trying to fit their puzzle piece into the wrong puzzle for too long.

So go grab you a cup of Tension Tamer and sit back and let the history and the reverence of one of the industry's finest performers wash over you.  And don't forget to show her yours.....