Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter League - Une Fois

The music industry has become very "open sourced" in the past 10 years as software and engineering equipment is more accessible to the general public and that has unleashed a deluge of artists on the world; some of them not so good and some of them mediocre but every now and then you'll find one that's a shining example of what music can be with the right direction and guidance and Winter League is one of the latter.

The song doesn't have the traditional setup with a discernible chorus that is repeated through the song so there's much more of a purpose behind their instrumentation and lyrics.  They have a place where they are going with the song and it's determined early on that they are going to bring you along with  them.  Building a non-traditional style song is a risky proposition because when you have a verse, chorus, verse type of set up, the audience has a basic outline of what to expect out of the song and you can potentially deny them the opportunity to get caught on the hook and all that but it doesn't seem to be a problem with this track.

Alex's vocals just grab you and you don't need any tricks or magic to make it to the end of the song.  There's nothing derivative or forced here.  It's solid indie rock that has a heart and body to it and it's all grounded around Alex.  As the leader of the band, it's his charisma vocal delivery that cements it all together.  It would be exceptionally easy for a less talented singer to let these tracks overwhelm him and overtake the vocal all together but Alex easily shows a maturity in his leadership by holding his own and letting his passion for what he's singing come through.

The production value on this song and others on their Reverbnation page just blow me away because the songs do not sound like anything from a local indie band.  The songs are polished and sound ready for mainstream release.  I am beyond blown away by the overall quality of this group and I hope they don't stay a small hometown band for long because that would do them an utter disservice.  They deserve to be heard by the world and they absolutely need to be snagged by a major label soon.  I could easily see them touring with groups like Fair to Midland or Tame Impala or Grizzly Bear.  There's enough art house/progressive to their sound that they could mix in with that crowd or they could get down with the indie dudes without question.

I certainly keep track of this group and bring more to you as I get it.  They have the potential for doing amazing things in the very near future.

Winter League on the Web


Slow Knights - Without You

To appropriate a quote from the Batman franchise, "Slow Knights isn't the pop group the world wants, it's the pop group the world needs."  The members of this group just get it. Rod Thomas, Bridget Barkan, Mykal Kilgore and Xavier all come together on this track and it's so good.  When all the pieces of a song come together and the lyrics work and the vocalists are singing the hell out of it and the production is on point, you create magic.  Del Marquis does that every time he sits behind the board with this super group of amazingly talented artists.

This track is a full on, dreamy duet that has such innate longing and desire between Rod and Bridget on lead vocals.  Both of them are tapping into a serious place of experience and feeling that you just feel every word they say and know it to be true.  The song echoes those feelings we've all had of being without someone and how it effects every aspect of what we do and who we are.  It builds into a controlled fever pitch of emotion between them both that leaves you just spent.  If this is an example of the work they are going to be releasing in March, then please....bring it on.

Stormby - I Can't Stop (Loving You)

Restraint.  That's the first thing that comes to mind when listening to this track.  The restraint and patience that Stormby had creating this track is Herculean.  The slow, deliberate pace of the song pulses and throbs until the end never feeling like he wanted to get ahead of himself or the track.  You never feel rushed or like you're being forced to finish.  You just take your time and savor and luxuriate in every second of the song.  Much like how you feel when you're in love.  When you're wrapped up in it with everything you have, you never want it to end.

You're immediately my friend when you throw a sax into any track and his use of that glorious horn in this song elevates it to new heights because of how it punctuates the beats and rhythm.  The song has a very 90s club feel to it and I think that era of music produced some stellar tracks so if he was paying homage to those producers and divas of the time, he hit it right on the mark.  This is a track that would slow the dance floor down into a sweaty, sexy mass of bodies just living for the moment.

Stormby is a favorite of ours around here and a good friend so it's incredible to hear great tracks from him as often as possible.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

James Leon - I Love The Music (The First Night)

I think the thing I love about James is that everything he does, he does it with such unabashed joy that it's tangible over the airwaves.  When he sings about going out and having a good time, you know it's going to happen.  He throws every bit of himself into the recording and you are left with this product that just resonates so deeply with what he's giving you.  With this track, you so easily connect with what he's singing about because we've all been there.  We've all looked at our lives after a long, grueling week and realized that if something doesn't change, there's a chance we may break.

So we throw on our best gear and take off to drink and dance our cares away.  We've called everyone and let them know that they damn sure better be at  the club or they are dead to you and you just let it all wash away.  He's growing as an artist and you can hear it in not only his vocals but the orchestration and the audio treatment.  It's big and bawdy and it's a song that's going to get you off your ass and out the door.  If James keeps this pace up, there won't be a disco in the world that doesn't know his name.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Meet KIT

Talk about sleeping on an artist.  I've had a bit of a rocky time with my blog lately and there was a period of time I was away from my music and my music social media.  I had to spend time working on me and determining where I stand and where I need to stand in the industry and I've come back to writing and tonight I logged into SoundCloud and much to my surprise I found that at some point in time, I started following Kit Walters and I'll be damned if I'm not extremely happy that I did.  I started listening to the tracks on SoundCloud and then moved to YouTube to watch the videos and have even purchased the EP from Amazon.  What amazes me, in the most "I can't believe they aren't megastars" way possible, is that they only have less than 2000 likes on Facebook.  This group should be huge.  I mean, OneRepublic, Maroon 5, Shiny Toy Guns huge.  They should be burning up mainstream pop radio.  Their tracks should be being played on The Vampire Diaries and Teen Wolf and every other CW style show.

The combination of pop, rock, EDM, and a smattering of dubstep heralded by Kit Walters' vocals make for a dynamic combination that is nothing but stellar.  Kit has this edge to his voice that elevates the tracks to something hovering between rock and pop and it's that rawness that will make you continue to the next track.  And then the next after that.  What really stood out to me was the cover they released on their Soundcloud of "I'm on Fire" by Bruce Springsteen (which is by far one of my favorite songs ever) and the treatment they've given it takes it and cranks up the heartache by about a million percent.  They've created something that encapsulates so much longing and regret that physically hurts.  I've felt this in the pit of my stomach before.  This feeling so strong that you just don't know how to deal with it.  I can't speak highly enough about this cover.  It's what hooked me and will probably be the "gateway drug" I use to hook other people.

But moving beyond the cover, you start unraveling the layers that are KIT.  The next track I listened to was "Your Ghost", another track plagued with heartache and longing.   The track reminded me of an Australian band, Appeasing Lindsey and I am enamored with them so I was primed and ready to go when the song started.  What I wasn't expecting was the hardness to the vocal on the chorus but that's what sealed the deal.  It's what makes this more than a mere pop song.  It's the elevating point that makes it more than the sum of it's parts.

They are a relatively new band, formed in 2012 but they already have a sound that's mature and fully thought out.  It's not an easy task for a new group to find their footing so quickly.  And it gives the illusion that they've been doing this for a long time.  That's important because it gives them room to grow into the industry without spending time trying to find out who their listener is.  I think right now, their listener is someone that has some life experiences under their belt and knows that life isn't all sunshine and rainbows but isn't willing to give up yet.

Go out and spend the $5 on the EP and support them on all the social media you can.

KIT on the Web

Monday, December 1, 2014

Kendall Kelly - Manifest Destiny

This album left me speechless for quite some time after listening to it.  So much so that it's taken me this long to sit down and write about it.  Without a doubt, with every ounce of clarity I can muster; this album is hands down the most personal that Kendall has released.  This album is full of honesty and heartfelt, earnest emotion that it would simply be impossible to not be touched by it.  Not only that, to date, this is the best work that Kendall has released.  From his inflection and the choices he has made in the vocal delivery of the lyrics to the subject matter that he tackles on this album the songs have an incredible depth of character to them.  The production is full and rich and sounds easily like it was crafted in a massive studio with the top of line producers and equipment.  The instrumentation is gorgeous.  Every note, every beat, every synth is amazingly placed with precision and care.  The way that it's all stitched up proves that the people working to bring this album to life all believed in the message that Kendall had to express.

There are tracks that are fantastically commercial and there are songs that are soft and independent that need to be be handled with care on this album.  The way the songs are arranged on the album almost have a polarizing quality to them.  It's as if they are a mirror of the dichotomy of the human condition.  The duality of ourselves as we move through our days.  The first half of the album is comprised of very daytime songs while the last half of the album are the songs that reflect our thoughts and emotions that we are faced with in the deep dark of the night.  It's evident that this album tells a story but it's up to how these songs touch our lives and how our life experiences play into the tracks that determine the overall outcome of how we are affected by these tracks.

It's that quality, an artist's ability to touch us and hold a mirror up to our own thoughts and feelings that differentiate art from simple entertainment.  Now, don't get me wrong.  There's a place for entertainment in our lives.  It's an important distraction from the day-to-day that helps us escape for a few minutes and forget ourselves for a minute, but for an artist to be able to touch upon the fabric of our being and express our own feelings is magic.  Not everyone has that ability.  I think it takes an artist to be his most raw self to be able to tap into that primal portion of his psyche and be able to share his most vulnerable self with us.  And when they have lowered their guard and are standing there, emotionally or sometimes physically naked, for the world to see; we are then able to look into our own lives and reciprocate what they are giving us.

Kendall spent the better part of the creation of this album working on himself and discovering how he fit into the world and it's evident that his journey is mapped out with clear precision in vivid technicolor.  You hear the heartbreak and the pain.  You feel the frustration and the incomprehensible hopelessness that we face when not knowing your purpose but what runs through each song in the track in this sliver of hope that culminates in the last track, "Space Age" in an almost forward thinking ideal of what is yet to come. But even as such, there's still damage and a bit of unease to the uncertainty of the future. You feel each and every moment of indecision as he carefully and artfully weaves these moments into lyrical bliss.  It's no secret that I am a huge fan of his work but it's rightfully justified as he has grown as an artist and a performer over the course of his career.

Pick up this or any of his albums and don't just listen to them.  Take the time and hear him.  Hear what he says and let it reflect onto your experiences.  It always astounds me when an artist expresses something that I never knew needed expressing but when it happens there is an epiphany and you know in that exact moment that you aren't alone in the universe.  Kendall shows us that despite the hardships and struggles and late nights full of doubt and indecision that we are far from alone in the world and that if we just reach out there is someone out there experiencing the same thing we are.