Thursday, November 2, 2017

Justin Utley - Survivors

As a potential candidate for the 2018 Eurovision contest, Justin Utley has released his newest single; an uplifting story of survival and growth. "Survivors" is a gorgeous ode to overcoming obstacles. It's about knowing the power in your own life and drawing on that to be the best version of yourself. This song is a bit of a different direction in music than what we are accustomed to hearing from Justin and it's gorgeous. It's an up tempo, dance influenced song that just makes you feel good and you don't lose any of the heartfelt performance that Justin has worked on crafting and expressing in his recordings.

There's always something very personal and very honest about what he releases. His voice has the ability to be big and full when it needs to be and small and gentle. He is theatrical and he's atmospheric and he fills up all the space he's given with his talent. I've known Justin for a while now and it brings my heart much happiness to hear him recording again. Especially when you've got a song that is going to be as important as this. It's going to touch a lot of people and give voice to experiences that are universal that we may not have had the words to express. And I think that's what makes music so important. It gives us the ability to share in universal experiences with people in a manner that connect us all together. That bring us closer to one another through a guided and curated experience that may only last 4 minutes and when that tour guide is someone as skilled as Justin; it's a good thing. You know you are in good hands and you know that you are going to come out on the other side stronger and more confident than you were when you started.

I really hope this gets selected to be in Eurovision because the world needs to be exposed to the beautiful message that Justin has to offer. He is one of the most powerful advocates I've ever known for equality and his story is important. Check out his other music and learn about him. You will be better off because you did.

Eli Lieb - Until You've Fallen Down

It always makes me happy when Eli releases new music. There are very few artists that have the consistency that he does when making decisions about what he wants to represent his art and his experience. "Until You've Fallen Down" is the latest in a long line of music that does much more than sound good. It means something. It's got heart and it's got soul and it's one of the most uplifting songs I think I've heard in a long time. The basic premise of this song is that there are times in our lives where we have to go through the bad before we can appreciate the good. We have to have the bitter with the sweet. We have to stumble to find our footing and it only makes us stronger. It makes us stand taller and fight harder because we know that there are things in the world that are worth fighting for.

This is the most mainstream song that I've heard from him. It's got the most mass market radio appeal and I think that's incredible. It's got a message but it doesn't beat you over the head with it. It's got depth and it's got an incredible amount of positivity that we aren't getting in a lot of tracks today. Eli rarely misses when he puts out a song and I want him to be a huge star so many more people can be affected by his message and his meanings. He's a beautiful artist and we are lucky to have him.

Animal Years - Caroline

Americana is one of my favorite genres. It blends so many things that I love about music. It's pop and it's rock and it's country and it's folk. It's everything about America that comes together in a musical format and it's good and it's pure. What we have here is a perfect example of how Americana should sound. It's got all the pieces that make an incredible song and it's done amazingly well. You may be familiar with groups like Of Monsters and Men or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Those are both perfect examples of what Americana sounds like if you were unfamiliar.

Mike McFadden has an awesome voice that's heartfelt and honest. It's perfectly suited for this genre of music and this song is a perfect vehicle for him. There is longing and a healthy amount of desire in this song. It's about two lovers that haven't seen each other in a long time and the passion between them is strong and powerful. Emotions and feelings that we're all familiar with and have experienced in our lives in one way or another. Listening to other tracks by this Brooklyn based band shows they've got a broad scope of understanding in how they best show off their talent. The live recording of "Pillow Talk", originally recorded by Zayn is one of my favorites - as it's one of the coolest pop songs to be recorded in a while. It's deeply personal and sexy and Mike does an amazing job pulling it off.

I've just found this group but I'm already a fan and can't wait to hear more from them in the very near future.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Chelsea Jade - I Have (ft. Signal)

We've all felt small. We've all felt like we were being judged and treated less than and there are times when those feelings can seem like all we have in our life but if we dig deep inside and find that voice that will lead us out of the dark, we can stand tall and strong. Chelsea Jade is giving light to those feelings. Taking the stigma out of talking about that doubt and fear is the first step in holding your head high and being proud of where you're at in life. These aren't generally the thoughts and ideas we expect to be sung about but when they are handled as expertly as they are with "I Have", it has the power to open a dialog and give power back to those that have had the power taken from them.

I was first made aware of Chelsea as a guest vocalist on grime artist Signal's track, "Basic" and now he has repaid the favor by providing a rap on this track. His particular brand of lyricism is amazing as his flow is creative and easy. His word play is thoughtful and intelligent and creates an experience within the song. He and Chelsea pair well together as they both flow across the beat like a leaf on the wind. They have an atmospheric quality to both of their styles that pair well together like they've been doing this as a group for years. Sometimes when you have a guest vocalist, it can sound gimmicky and neither one of them do on their respective tracks. They feel like they are the missing puzzle piece that bring it all together. I look forward to hearing more from both artists separately as well as together.

Plan B - Heartbeat

As a long time Plan B fan, it's amazing to hear new music; specifically music that pushes him in a new and creative direction. He has proven time and again that there's not much he can't do, musically speaking that is. This soulful track is one of the most heartfelt I've heard from him in a while. His voice is great and the message that we have to just listen to ourselves and go our own way, no matter what is amazing. We have all made mistakes and we've all had to grow. The day we realize that we have our own path to carve out and walk away from those that don't want to see us do amazing things is one of the most powerful moments in our lives. It may take us years to reach that point but it is a magnificent turning point in our lives. I feel like Ben is always pushing himself and growing as an artist. From the Who Needs Actions days til now his growth is undeniable. I came in on Strickland Banks and I'm damn glad that I did. He's an amazing artist and I can't wait to hear this new album.

Ana Matronic - Afterlife of the Party

Ana Matronic was not only the yin to Jake Shears yang, she was also one of the most hype hype-men in the industry. Seeing her do her magic on stage in front of an audience, no matter the size was so cool. I had the pleasure of seeing the Scissor Sisters on the Ta-Dah tour in Nashville and I was maybe 25 feet from the stage and this woman is sheer magic and energy. She's a gorgeous force of nature that people easily bend to her will. When I was told that she was going to be releasing original music, I was beside myself. Don't get me wrong, I adore her collaborations with Bright Light Bright Light but she is so much more than "special guest star". She is top billing on her own and it's time that she get that.

"Afterlife of the Party" is her Halloween present to her fans and it's a deliciously, deceptive song that brings you close and holds you with is slowed tempo and sultry vocals. It's not done at a frenetic pace like her previous outings with the Sisters, it's a chill song that feels like spending time with an old friend on a brisk fall evening. It's a beautiful ode to All Hallows eve and all those things that go bump in the dark without being an out and out Halloween song. It's not a gimmick. It's not kitschy. It's magic and Ana sounds amazing. Her vocals are perfect. Her voice is gorgeous and I am glad we've got new music by her. If this is the quality of work that we're going to get from her; I can't wait to hear what her new album coming in 2018 sounds like.

Jake Shears - Creep City

It is indeed a glorious Halloween for me. Not only do we have a new track by Ana Matronic but a new single by Jake Shears. I was lucky enough to be at the first date of his limited American tour during the summer so I got to hear a lot of his new music and this was not one of the tracks he played that night. I'd damn sure remember that sexy sexy sax solo. Jake has been spending his time between Louisville Kentucky and New Orleans Louisiana and it's very apparent in the influences he's showing in his new music. It's like the muddy waters of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers are flowing through his blood and this music is about as American as you can get.

"Creep City" is full of metaphors and witty word play that you're used to hear from Jake's songwriting. It's a song about seeing yourself in a situation that you thought would be something more than it is but it ends up being a horrible place that you just need to get out of because it's smothering you and your creativity. It's about trying and giving the best you can to a situation you know is never going to change. It's not beneficial to you and it's time to get out. This song, like many that Jake has written, strikes a chord with me and hits pretty close to home. I cannot believe how much I missed having Jake in my life but it's true and he brings so much reflection to my experiences that I feel like he is one of the most important musical voices in my life. This song is funky and it's all Jake. It is so cool to hear new material from him.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Gabriela Francesca - Blah Blah Blah

Released October 18, 2017, a new track by Los Angeles based, Mexican-American singer/songwriter, Gabriela Francesca that's set to cause a scene in the music industry. "Blah Blah Blah" is a cool track produced by GEO and jumps right into the world of basic bitches in their cashmere sweaters and Tiffany pearls with nothing better to do than mind someone else's business. Co-written by April Bender, the track is a cheeky examination of gossiping and teaches a valid lesson in just brushing off what people have to say about you. One of my favorite quotes that this song brings to mind, "Those that matter don't mind and those that mind don't matter" comes into play as we need to spend more time focusing on what makes us better people instead of the meaningless things that people say about us. Another quote the song brings to mind is "What other people think of me is none of my business" made famous via tweet by RuPaul.

Gabriela has an infectious quality to her singing. It just makes you feel good even when the subject matter is gossip. We've all been there. On one end of it or the other and if you're the one being gossiped about it can be hurtful but just remember, unless they're paying your bills - pay them bitches no mind. Another quote by RuPaul. I feel like Gabriela is preaching the same type of message here. Talk about me all you want, all you're doing is making my legend grow and grow. You may think poor of me, but I don't think about you at all and I think that's an amazing way to look at life. This is an important message that we should all take the time to learn and to hear and incorporate into our lives and the manner in which Gabriela gives it to us is slick and easy to hear and makes you want to come back for more.

Nick Fradiani - I'll Wait For You

I don't follow American Idol or The Voice or America's Got Talent so when I'm told someone was on one of those shows, I just immediately believe them. When I hear they won the show, I am surprised and want to hear at least a song. When they are as talented as Nick Fradiani; it's more than just one song I listen to and then I become shocked to see their latest video has less than 7k views on Youtube and I just don't understand.

Strip away the tv shows and all that and let's just focus on this young man and his incredible voice and talent. "I'll Wait For You" is Nick's latest single and if you're not tapping your foot along with him by about 12 seconds, I don't know if there's much hope for you in the happiness department. This song is such an upbeat anthem to romance and love and it's a quality pop song. It's big. It's fun and it'll stick with you long after you've listened to it. I don't necessarily like the video as I am not a huge fan of the imagery they're using to evoke emotion. There are so many other avenues they could have taken. Going off to college or anything other than military deployment. I feel like that cheapens the video because it's way too on the nose. It's expected and I honestly don't like the feelings it creates but I can listen to the song and ignore the video.

Nick is far too talented to be relegated to the annals of simply being an American Idol winner. I mean, the only American Idol winners that are even on my radar are Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. And there have been at least 14 other winners and I can't even name one of them. If he can break away from their control and release music on his own terms and create music that he feels passionate about, he has the potential to reach those same heights as Kelly or Carrie.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

L.A.W. - Grow Old

Dreamy vocal delivery from a male and a female singer? Count me in. I was hooked right away as this song started. The members of L.A.W (love @ war) are calling this their demo and if this is the quality of work they are considering a demo then these young artists have a massive career ahead of them. This piece of work is sublime. It's got all the most amazing hallmarks of a song that you're going to come back to over and over. It's evocative. It's nostalgic. It's new. It's has a depth and a breadth of consciousness to it that just makes you come back to it. To give it multiple listens. I don't know much about this group aside from that they are Jordan Cather and Sam Cook and I want more from them. I want a lot more. I really hope that they get noticed because this was a phenomenal track that deserves a ton of attention.

Jerry Williams - Velcro

"I'm stuck to you like honey, you could be sweet like cinnamon"
Ethereal. Airy. Sublime. Jerry Williams has a voice that just floats in the atmosphere and feels like a cool breeze. I adore this song. It's very ephemeral and it lifts you up. It's a song that I feel is about longing and moving on from one experience to another. It's about creating connections and finding the ones in our lives that matter and make us better people. We develop relationships and we build a lifetime of experiences that help us be the people we were meant to be.
The song is slow and syrupy like honey. It just meanders and you just get caught up in it. It's a beautiful song and I adore how every so often you can hear Jerry's accent punctuate syllables. It's not often that you hear a song that's got everything in it. Minimalistic production that highlights Jerry's vocals, lyrics that evoke emotion, and an artist that knows exactly what she's doing in the realm of her art. This song is gorgeous and I can't wait to hear more from her. 

Tyler Sarfert - Sorry Not Sorry & No Promises (f. Camille Peruto)

You know how I feel about covers. The artist covering the track has to bring something new and fresh to the production to even get me to listen to it. I don't want to hear a karaoke version of someone else's song. Then there's how I feel about mashups. They ALSO have to bring something original to the table so to have me posting about a cover/mashup; it must mean that I enjoyed it. And in this case, I did. A lot. It's Tyler's voice. It's got an edge to it and I love to hear that smokiness to a singer's voice. Camille is amazing too. She stands as an equal with Tyler and they work amazingly well together. I hope to hear original tunes from him soon because I feel like he's going to do fantastic when he's expressing his own art.  The cool thing about Tyler is that he is an absolute go-getter. He has spent the last two years writing and recording ALL the vocals and instruments for his debut EP, "Transitions". I feel like he's got the talent to hopefully get him recognized very soon as it's important to have artists with fresh potential and ideas.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hana Brooks - Leave It

I don't have any issue with mainstream pop stars. I enjoy Carly Rae and Taylor and Selena but generally I want something with a little more tooth. Something with a little more grounding than what the standard pop line is. Hana Brooks has just that. Her voice and her sound are more mature and has a much fuller featured sound than a lot of her pop music counterparts. I love the earthy quality to her. She sounds like she's had some experiences that have lead her to where she is. She's got some life to her and she's still standing. She's been working her way across London on the Sofar Sounds circuit and she's building her fan base and making a name for her honest storytelling on stage.

"Leave It" is the latest single from Hana and it's got a bit of a Haim like quality to it. The chorus has a pretty amazing build to it and it's catchy as hell. She sounds absolutely amazing and it's a pleasure to listen to her sing. Her brand of upbeat, pop music is what I want more of in my life. I want her to be big. I want her to have a following because when you have songs that are this good, they deserve to be heard all over the world.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Kiira - Last Time (f. Noah North)

Unf.... I get it. This song is about self empowerment. It's about standing up for what's right and not being used. But it's so damn sexy. It's this syrupy, sultry, adventure into finding your own power and not being taken for granted. This is another one of those dangerous songs that gives you so much life and meaning that you don't even know you've gone to church until it's over. Kiira has such an amazing voice and juxtaposed against the dubstep type track, this is a perfectly contemporary pop song. It's got that Halsey quality of knowing exactly who you are and owning it. Noah North sounds like a much more capable and qualified rapper than G-Eazy and I don't think he'd try to kiss Britney on stage. I want more of this. I want more of Kiira. This is a fantastic track and deserves all the mainstream airplay it can get.

Albin Loán & EKKO - So We Can Sing

Summer songs. There's something about them that just make you happy and lift you up. They're warm. They're easy. They make you happy. Albin Loán is the vocalist that is tearing up the beats that EKKO, a Swedish born producer/DJ, is laying down. If you've been around this blog for any length of time, you know that I ADORE Swedish music. There seems to be an inordinate amount of talent in that country that expresses itself in so many ways and this song is no different. It's a track that leaves you with all the good feelings to get you through a grey autumn day.

Johny Dar - Be Free

"What happened to us…We used to be free."

Whether it's reminiscing over a lost romance or it's wanting to remember a time in which we were less constrained, Johny Dar has created an ode to nostalgia. This track just resonates with me on a very deep level as it makes me reevaluate decisions I've made in my life that have led me to where I am now. Decisions that caused me to feel trapped and feel less free. Music like this is dangerous because it has a very deep, important message wrapped up in a fluid, mercury-like package that's shifting and moving as it works it's way into our psyche. It's not a bad thing but you get so caught up in how the song moves and pulses that by the time you understand that you're being reflective of your own experiences it's wrapped it's musical grasp around you and it's taken hold.

I've listened to the track over and over for about the past 15 minutes now and from the way the song is constructed to Johny's vocals; there doesn't seem to be a misstep here. It's not overworked. It's not beating you over the head with a message. The thoughts and feelings it evokes are not done in a ham-fisted manner. The exposition of the song lets you make up your own mind where it takes you but in the end you are left with a feeling of calm and peacefulness. There's a new wave quality to Johny's vocals and the production has enough of a synthwave quality to it that it has a nostalgic quality to the overall track but it's also got a future leaning quality that makes it new and inventive.

Ferris & Sylvester - The Room

Soulful, easy, an old friend that you haven't seen in a while and things just click like you've never missed a beat. Ferris & Sylvester, the newest singer/songwriting duo from London have released the latest single from their newest EP, Made In Streatham and it's a brilliant bit of storytelling"The Room" was "...written in our bedroom in Streatham Hill. It’s a simple portrayal of what we were going through at the time. It seemed everyone around us was experiencing something similar; bad jobs, bad relationships, long days, crumbling ceilings. We wanted to capture that mix of feeling desperate yet hopeful for the future, something all of us have experienced. We then recorded it in our front room with our favourite musicians. It’s part of a collection of songs that represent a defining moment in time for us, so it was only right to record it our way in our South London flat.”

It's evocative of a much simpler time with it's slow, silky beats and gorgeous harmonies. The slow, methodical bass creates an easy feeling that makes you just close your eyes and go with the flow. Their vocals play off each other so well. There is a grounded, humble quality to the smokiness of Issy Ferris' voice that wraps around you and pulls you in close. She creates this atmosphere of welcoming and acceptance that is just free and easy. Then you add Archie Sylvester to the mix and they blend together so seamlessly. It creates an experience that's familiar and nostalgic without sounding like something you've heard before.

This song is a fantastic example of looking around your life and not wanting more than what you need. Things may be tough and the chips may not be falling as you'd like them but as long as you've got the people in your life that matter; things aren't so bad. It's about making the best of what you've got and appreciating your own accomplishments and sharing those with your loved ones. The grass may be greener but sometimes it's about being proud of your own garden and your own experiences.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Michael Oakely - Turn Back Time

Retro New Wave music is either hit or miss for me. A lot of time, producers and content creators will stick to an instrumental track forgoing finding a vocalist as 80s vocals are trickier to create than an 80s inspired track. There are a handful of artists out there that have the ability to pull off both and from what I've heard from Michael Oakley, he's now one of the lucky few that can replicate a fantastically 80s inspired track. From the brilliant use of the synth to the guitar solo that shreds the track, this is a prime example of how to create a great retro new wave song. His vocals have that soft, easy, romantic vibe that so many artists in the New Romantic movement had. The song isn't overly complicated. It's a very straight forward track and I think that's a damn smart move on his part as it holds up the ideals of a lot of the music from the time period.

From his press kit, "Hailing from Glasgow Scotland, dance/electro artist Oakley has successfully created an innovative style, defying the mainstream with the combination of minimalistic yet memorable melodies with electronic synth-pop. The result is a body of work which celebrates the 80’s - an era of revolutionary artistry but yet feels modern and dynamic." I agree with this. I think that he does have a love for the music of the time. He handles it with a reverence that not many people do and it's apparent in the quality of his work.  

Felix Hagan & The Family - Attention Seeker

"And I don’t like to show my soul to strangers - But show me yours and I’ll show you mine"

Felix Hagan & The Family have quickly become one of my favorite groups. They create music that builds experiences. It's theatrical and it's bawdy and it harkens back to a time of vaudeville and drawing the audience into the performance with the band. They create music that's bigger than your standard pop tune and it's music that leaves an impression on you.

"Attention Seeker" is an incredible piece of social commentary on how we are living our lives. We are so connected in a world of social media and technology but we are less connected to the people in our lives more now than ever. The song talks about two individuals in situations that we've experienced in our own lives in some form or fashion. We long for the ability to connect, to be part of something bigger than our own lives. We are shouting into the echo chambers that we've created; hoping against hope that someone hears us. As much as the song is an up tempo pop track, the message is much bigger than a simple chorus wrapped around a few verses.

I feel like this is a way to get people involved in understanding what the artist is trying to put out. Wrap the message in a very digestible package and before the listener knows it, they've had an experience greater than just listening to a song. And this is such an amazing piece of work. I am in awe of the breath of work that Felix Hagan & The Family are creating.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Frida Sundemo - Gold

I first wrote about Frida four years ago. It makes me so happy to see that she's still releasing music that is good and creative and fresh. I love her voice. Have since I first heard it. You know that I love music from Sweden and Frida is a prime example of how great music from Sweden can be. It's passionate and it's easy. It's not overworked and it's not over produced. We, in America, would consider an EDM artist but she's a pop star and should be treated as such. I think the small quiet moments in her voice are what make me the happiest with her. She has such an expressive quality to her voice that you don't hear in the swath of "indie" singers today. She stands apart from the crowd and her production team knows how to properly utilize her instrument. There's a theatrical quality to what she puts out and the way the song builds and swells into an experience and then slowly fades out is pretty incredible.

This song is a single off her latest album, "Flashbacks and Futures" and it's inspired by space with a little science fiction thrown in. The video has been met by continued high critical praise, with the likes of Clash featuring it as their Track Of The Day saying, "The record is a superbly creative piece of pop innovation... 'Gold' is just wonderful, recalling everyone from Pet Shop Boys to The Knife in its sheer sonic splendour... The visuals deftly expand on this, conjuring visions of intergalactic solitude."

Make sure you check out the video and give her a follow on social media. She's an incredible artist and she's got longevity and staying power that a lot of up and coming pop stars don't in the industry today.

Tom Walker - Heartland

It takes at least 2 viewings of this video to appreciate it. I recommend more than that so you can appreciate the cinematography of the video on it's own as a mini-movie with a fully realized concept and then you need to watch it again just to focus on Tom Walker's incredible, soulful vocals. The video is full of tension as Tom appears to be an agent with nefarious connections and intentions but his plans go all pear shaped when he runs across our damsel in distress. He has a job to do. He's got something that has to be taken care of so he gets her to stay put while he completes the job. After leaving her, he makes the decision to take her to heart and choose her over the errand that he's supposed to complete. Going back to find her; she's no where to be found. Frantic, he goes back tot he places they've been together and can't find her. Just when he gives up; he opens the boot of the car and there she is hiding in plain sight.

I really feel the video reflects that song perfectly. It's soulful. It's gritty and it has heart and personality. I don't know much about Tom Walker but I do enjoy his voice. I enjoy what he's doing with music and I'll make sure to listen to more of his stuff.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Haim - Little of Your Love

Watching the Haim women dancing their hearts out makes my day. Nothing is better than being able to enjoy other people enjoying something. This video looks like it would have been incredible to be part of because everyone looks like their just having the time of their life. The song is wonderful. Haim can really do no wrong in my book. Danielle, Este, and Alana are just amazing performers and they inspire me every time they step in front of a camera or a microphone. Watch the video, smile, and watch it again. Well done ladies. Keep doing what you're doing and keep releasing music that is important.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Maggie Szabo - Don't Give Up

Inspirational. Beautiful. Important. 3 words that come to mind while watching this video for Maggie Szabo's latest single, "Don't Give Up". I feel that we are in a very hectic time right now and it's important for songs and visuals like this to remind us that we aren't alone. In a world where representation is crucial and being able to see ourselves reflected in media; it is important for music like this to exist. The video is done is such a careful way as to not be ham fisted with the material but present it in a way that is accessible and honest to the viewer. Maggie's vocals are stunning and create such a beautiful backdrop for this story of acceptance and finding yourself. Our trans brothers and sisters are at such a risk for not only marginalization but suicide that videos like this give a voice to the struggle that so many young people face on a daily basis. The young transman in the video is treated with dignity and respect and shown that he matters and he is important. And it's damn important that we show our extended family in the LGBTQIA+ family this every day. They matter and they are valid and their existence won't be swept under the carpet.

I like how this video was realistic in the fact that the couple didn't go to the prom and were immediately accepted by their peers. I like that it didn't show the couple as an object of ridicule or violence either. So often in the LGBT+ world, we are shown that the only way to be made feel part of something is to have graphic representations of coming out where violence and shame happens. And that doesn't do anything to help people learn and grown in themselves but having a portrayal of care and affection where the couple can express themselves, even by themselves is honest and realistic.  Any proceeds from this video will go to the Ali Forney Center, who strive to make everyone feel welcome and part of something and end the plague of homelessness within the LGBT+ community and our youth. Check out the video and share it with your friends and family. Start a dialog about trans education and let's make a positive impact on those people who are so malleable and are in need of a voice.

Gabrielle Aplin - Waking Up Slow

Sometimes we just need to step outside ourselves and get swept up in a good pop tune and Gabrielle Alpin's new track is just what the doctor ordered. In a world where we are so caught up in the fast paced technology based call and answer of social media, there are times when we just disconnect and recharge. We may not be able to sleep or we may just need to take ourselves on an adventure. This track and video both blur the lines between the dreamer and reality and help us see that there is something larger to connect with in the world. The visuals are deliciously 70s from the feathered Farah Fawcett hair to the big blue eye shadow to the wardrobe. Gabrielle is as comfortable in these clothes as she is in fashion of today. The juxtaposition of the wardrobe to the vocals brings this together as an incredible video for a pop song that will certainly get tangled up in your brain for a while. I will be going back for more and enjoying other releases from this London based singer.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Walk the Moon - One Foot

It makes me happy to see when a band doesn't let success affect their ability to be themselves. This song sounds as good as anything off their other offerings and it doesn't at all feel like it's been manipulated by any outside factors. I've been a Walk the Moon fan for quite some time. I've seen them in concert numerous times and Nicholas and crew sound amazing. They have a knack of creating music that is expressive but gets buried in your subconscious and you can't seem to get rid of it. That's what happened the very first time I heard "Tightrope" and I've stuck around with them since. It's an incredible song and I can't wait to hear what else they've got in store for us. The video is gorgeous. The visuals are very Walk the Moon and I am super proud of these guys from Cincinnati.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Felix Hagan & The Family - HEY I WANT YOU

I was going to write a piece on this hours ago but then I started digging through their video catalog and I fell down a rabbit hole I didn't want to climb out of. Felix Hagan & The Family are a seven piece band from the UK that is one part Hedwig, one part vaudeville, one part Rocky Horror and equal parts amazing. They are incredibly theatric and they have a huge sound and amazing presence. Whether it's this song and video where you want to be in that glitter soaked fallout shelter or it's in the boxing ring in the "My Little Lusitania" video; these are the people that know how to have a good time and you want to be involved in every minute of it. Felix Hagan is a carnival barker, he's a performer, he's a storyteller and he's a wish granter as he creates music with his merry band of misfits that touches every part of you that needs to be touched. They have created music that deserves to be heard by the masses because it's good and it's fun and it's inventive. "Kiss the Misfits" is an incredible song about throwing off the shackles of what ails you and finding your place along the lost and the cast offs and being one with your people in a world that doesn't understand you.

But let's talk about the latest single off their forthcoming album. "HEY I WANT YOU" is a country twinged, party, rock song that comes screaming out of the gate and doesn't stop until you're in a writhing mass of sweat and heaving bosoms on the floor. It's a song that makes you want to dance and have a good time and it seems to be a recurring theme among their music. They just want to curate an experience and take you on a journey outside yourself that helps you escape the mundane and the soul crushing existence that this world can sometimes be and I, for one, am all for it. They've got a pretty impressive back catalog on their Bandcamp and it is my sincerest desire to purchase their entire library so I can become more fully immersed into the legacy and the legion that are fans of The Family. The vocals are amazing. The production is out of this world and I cannot wait to hear what the rest of this album sounds like.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Gigi Edgley - Closer

I honestly didn't know that Gigi had recorded music. Once I heard this track, I knew that it was an amazing thing that she did/does record music. Her voice is so cool and this song is one of the coolest things I've heard in a while. The video is amazingly sci-fi and fits into her already established fan base but the fact that it's a good, and I mean really good, future pop song only helps solidify her as an artist in the genre, not just an actress that wants to record an album. Visually, the video is gorgeous. Thematically, it's super cool and it fits with the electro vibe of the song seamlessly. I want to hear more from her. I want to see more videos. Hell, I want to see her perform at DragonCon next year on one of the big stages to an audience full of Gigi fans screaming her name and chanting the lyrics.

Having the opportunity to meet her in 2012 was one of my greatest fan moments and she gave me an incredible hug that meant the world. She let me share my experiences with her and we had a small moment that I cherish forever. Now, hearing her sing, I have a new appreciation for her and I think that this is going to add a lot to her repertoire as an artist and a performer.

TyC - Now or Later (f. Sonny Step)

Every so often, a song comes along that is so sultry, so sexy that it makes me stop all that I'm doing so I can just dive into the groove. Producer TyC has done that with Philadelphia based soul singer, Sonny Step in a new single called, 'Now or Later'. This song is so smooth and sexy that it's got more game than most people I see in clubs put together. It starts out slow and easy and builds into a slow burn that takes your breath and by the time the chorus hits, you are under it's spell. It takes a hold of you and spins you around and makes you all light headed and is definitely a song that can get things started. It's been since Jodeci or Johnny Gill since I've heard a song this smooth. Sonny's voice is the perfect complement to the production work laid down by TyC and if this is the quality of work they can put out together; they are a powerhouse duo that can set the scene on fire. I really, really dig this song and can't wait to hear more of what they have to offer as a team.

I don't want to talk too much about the track because I want it to speak for itself but trust me when I say that this is one of the coolest songs I've had the opportunity to write about in a long time.

Friday, September 15, 2017

JUDAS - Ceasefire

Solid pop rock doesn't come along too often and when it does, you should grab ahold of it and not let it go. London based quartet, JUDAS has released their latest single after coming off a tour of amazing headlining dates at festivals around the UK.

Cutting through the press bits and the standard blog talk bout this group, this song is really amazing. It's a fantastic commentary about dating in today's society where we all have had one too many bad experiences and how we are all so guarded in that we don't want to divulge too much of ourselves because we will invariably get hurt. We are so protected and we don't want to put ourselves out there but every now and then, we are met with someone that just wants to be let in and be part of something bigger. They want to get to know us and they want to drop all the pretense and the agendas. They come to us bearing open arms and no ill will but we are still apprehensive.

This is a beautiful musical allegory about modern experiences and it's so well put together. Musically it's got one of the catchiest beats I've heard in a very long time. Vocally, this is one of the tightest vocal productions. The way the song builds into the chorus is brilliant and it makes you want to listen to the track over and over. If this is an example of what JUDAS has to offer, I want to hear much more from them. There are so many artists they can be compared to but I feel like they have the talent to stand on their own without comparison to other artists. They are creating their own path and making music that will take them to the next level, artistically. If they are able to continue writing music that has a universal appeal and taps into experiences we've all shared, they are going to rise quickly to become one of the biggest groups in the game.

JUDAS on the Web

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lucky Thief - Equator

There's an undercurrent of violence in this track that's both sexy and the smallest bit unnerving. Like you're not sure just how rough the sex you've just consented to is going to be but you're damn sure willing and ready to find out. One of my favorite songs of all time is 'Sex Type Thing' by Stone Temple Pilots and this song and video give me the exact same rush of emotion that I had when I experienced STP for the first time. It's a combination of the plucky bass and Thief's voice and the percussion. It gives the song this tension that fills the room and it's good. Music should have this type of effect on you. You should feel something. You should let it worm it's way into you and it finds a place to live. This song does that. It makes it's home in some of the darker recesses of your mind and I don't mind it at all.

There is a power in this song. In the performance and in the fact that all parts have been sung and recorded by Lucky Thief. From the percussion to the guitars and everything in between. There is definitely something to be said about being able to do all those things and be in complete control of your creativity. It says a lot because it gives you the freedom to express yourself as you feel the need to without compromising your morals or beliefs. I think this is the beginning of amazing things for this young man and I think that he is going to continue to create music that makes you feel alive and experience those parts of ourselves that we relegate to the darker areas of life.

Lucky Thief on the Web

Sofi Tukker - Best Friend (f. NERVO, The Knocks, Alisa Ueno)

THIS! THIS! THIS! This song is some of the hottest shit I've heard in a long time. But when you look at who all is involved, it's absolutely impossible for it to not just be fire. Sofi Tukker, NERVO, The Knocks, and Alisa Ueno all together on one track makes an amazingly strong powerhouse of creativity and I know that I'm just kind of stuttering and repeating myself but I mean..... just listen to it. From the track to the vocals and the lyrical content to every single piece of this song as it's put together. The only thing I have issue with is that it's not nearly long enough. It's a 3 minute song but it should be at least that and then some. The groove that this song lays down is one of the craziest I've heard in a long time. Sofi Tukker and NERVO both have worked with Scissor Sisters in the past so you KNOW that I am all about them. The Knocks is one of the most prominent production teams in music today. I've been in love with them since I saw them on tour with Alex Clare. I can't even express properly how amazing this song is. Just listen to it and you will be wrapped up in the vibe. It's not hard to see why Apple decided to use it in the launch of the iPhone X because this song is so vibrant and dynamic.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ellis - Okay (In The Morning)

From the beautiful orchestration to Ellis' sultry delivery, this song starts out in the most amazing of ways. I immediately get a Leona Lewis, Sophie Ellis-Bextor type of vibe from her vocals and that does such an incredible job of cutting through wave after wave of indie pop singers that all have a very similar breathless delivery and it is so refreshing to hear power in a voice. Her musicality and knowledge of how to properly use her instrument is brilliant. Universality is what we always strive for when listening to a song or writing about it or even when the artist is singing. We want to be part of something. We want to be part of something bigger and when the artist taps into a shared experience that we've all had, it makes it so much easier to relate and look inward in our own lives to see how they've now put words to what we've felt so deeply in the past.

When we've made the realization that it's time to let go and move on; a lot of powerful things happen. We have confidence and a strength of conviction that we may not have had previously. We know that as dark as things may seem at the time, after a good night's sleep and a bit of distance; everything will be 'Okay (In The Morning)'. Ellis does an incredible job expressing all those feelings and thoughts in this song and does it in such a heartfelt, soulful manner that we get swept up in the swell of the music. A song about powerful affirmation and introspection is what we need sometimes and there are times that we don't need it until it's given to us. This up and coming Nashville based singer/songwriter has an incredible future if she continues to put music out like this. Check her out and let me know what you think.

Ellis on the Web

Friday, September 8, 2017

Dutch Party - Blade Runner

Infectious guitar riffs and a vocal quality that rivals that of Ezra Koening of Vampire Weekend or Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit, Ken Franklin of Dutch Party is carving his place in the world of Dream Pop with the first single off their upcoming EP, Combat Pop. The video for 'Blade Runner' is set in a very near future and follows Ken as he's delivering a package before falling into shenanigans and being rescued by our intrepid video heroine. The song is a fun romp through how proper Alt Pop should sound. It just makes you bop along with it and you find yourself coming back for more when it's done. It's sugary sweet but not so much so that you're not willing to go in for seconds. I really dig their sounds and the very intelligent use of the synth in this track gives it a much more realized sound than a song that is just more synth based. It's good to hear instrumentation of an actual band opposed to just a song completely and totally constructed via the use of synths and drum machines.

Hana Brooks - Someone New

I've lately been inundated with dream pop and indie pop and while it's all amazing work, there gets to a point where you're searching through every whisper in a song to try to distinguish it from the next amazing artist that deserves your time and energy as much as the one before. So it's really quite awesome when you get something that doesn't fit into those same categories. I would still classify Hana Brooks as an indie singer/songwriter but there's more rock in her veins than just pop. You know that one of the things that immediately makes me take notice of an artist is their voice. If there's a quality to their voice that makes them stand apart from other artists, I will gravitate toward that. Hana Brooks has just a bit of a raspy voice in the same vein of a Vicci Martinez or Melissa Etheridge and it's gorgeous. It's earthy and it's full bodied. It is expressive and it's full of emotion. There's a longing and a hope in her voice at the prospect of "dancing with someone new" and it resonates with us as listeners because we've experienced that feeling.

I love the overall upbeat, rock vibe and after working with a producer like Nick Bennett, who has worked with another one of my favorite females with an incredible voice; Hannah Reid of London Grammar, it stands to reason why she's been making a name for herself around London. She's even been featured by Huw Stephens and has been touring with Sofar Sounds around the UK. I like the cleanliness of the live production of this song. It doesn't sound like there's been any, if all, post production work. It all sounds like what she's created and what she's putting out there for us to hear. There is so much passion in what she's doing. You can watch her face as she's singing the chorus and see just how much she's putting out there. It doesn't just come across in her music but in her performance as well. I think she's got the potential to be an amazingly successful recording artist and if she is paired with producers and creative types that foster that grounded, earthy sound she's got; she will easily stand apart from so many of the other artists that are releasing music right now. Make sure you check out this track and follow her on her socials. She's going to be big. I can feel it.

Hana Brooks on the Web

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

M.R.J. - Cali High

An amazing voice juxtaposed against a solid backing track leads to success. With choreography learned in one day in Cologne, British dance/pop artist M.R.J. has released his latest video for one of the catchiest songs of the summer, "Cali High". Having a background in dance, he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to work with famed choreographers, Tommy Franzen & Xena Gusthart. The video is a bit of Kevin Bacon in 'Footloose' and a lot of self expression from M.R.J and the choreographers. He's a talented singer and dancer and it shows in his effortless ease of movement.

Taking chances and risks only pay off if you make time for them in your life. You have to live like today is all we have. We set goals and we chase after our dreams because without them, we stagnate and never grow. I feel that's what M.R.J. is saying with this track. You have to make time for the things in life that help you achieve your hopes and aspirations. I adore his voice and I think there's something to be said about his metaphor of getting that California high once you've made strides to achieve what you were setting out for.

M.R.J. on the Web

Friday, September 1, 2017

Bright Light Bright Light - I Only Want To Please You (f. Ana Matronic)

Ana Matronic, people. Ana "Most powerful hype person in the biz" Matronic. I believe Rod has now worked with every member of Scissor Sisters, therefore he is an honorary member of the band. I love this song. It's one of my favorite off "Choreography" and I adore Ana so much. She's an amazing singer but I think this style of delivery is my favorite. It makes me think of the breakdown in "Any Which Way" of her addition to "Filthy Gorgeous" and the mixture of nostalgia and excitement makes me enjoy this song that much more. Rod says that the inspiration for this video was a movie titled 'Murderock' by Lucio Fulci, which I am not familiar with but I'm assuming it's about a murderous dance instructor - played deliciously by Ms. Matronic.

It's another brilliant song by Bright Light Bright Light and you know I am a huge fan of his work. Let me know what you think about it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Wide Eyed Boy - Loving You Is So Easy (Acoustic Version)

Sometimes I have to do a little digging before I feel comfortable expressing an opinion about a band. I was contacted to talk about a new acoustic version of a single by Liverpool based, Wide Eyed Boy and since it was my first exposure to them, I thought I should get to know them a little better. I listened to the single version. I listened to another track called, "Wolves" and then I came back to the acoustic version of "Loving You Is So Easy" and I feel like I have a much better appreciation of the band. On it's own, "Loving You Is So Easy" is a brilliantly performed ballad about love and that feeling of comfort and security "even when I'm down".

We think that all love songs have to be about one aspect of a relationship or another. It either has to be about the jubilation of young love or falling in love or sustained happiness. Or it has to be about falling out of love and breaking up and moving on. No one talks about how love doesn't stop. No one talks about how love feels when the rest of the world isn't spinning quite right. And I think that this song does an excellent job of doing that but when you strip away the electric production and take it down to an acoustic version of the song, that's when you see magic. The tempo of the song is slowed. The melody is a bit more melancholic. The vibe is a little more down and that gives the song much more gravity than being an upbeat pop song. This particular song was made better by having it done acoustically. Sometimes, artists will release an acoustic version of a song and it sounds almost identical to the original but in this case, this song has it's own legs and it stands separately yet equally to the original release.

I highly recommend you listen to the original recording. Listen to "Wolves". Get a feel for the band. Support the band. They've got a lot to give and if this is a sampling of how they're going to do that, then I see a great future ahead for them.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Signal - Basic (ft. Chelsea Jade)

Life in the shadow of the tower block has never been easy for anyone and the best you can do sometimes is the best you can do. Seeing Signal in his environment with his friends and family reminiscing about life and where he's come from and what's influenced him are all at the heart of his track. Seeing archival footage of a young Signal coming up against the slow, methodical jam and brilliant guest vocals by the lovely Chelsea Jade make this video a stunner. It's a slow burn that mirrors the attitudes and opinions we have when people think they know more about us than they really do. It takes them and makes all the noise and static void and they get passed onto the basic category. People that spend more time minding your business than they do their own, passing judgment on you and deciding for you what's best in your life. Those are basic bitches. People that have nothing better to do than to make assumptions about who you are and where you've been and the kind of stuff you're made of. It's a frustrating situation but you have to continually remind yourself that those that matter don't mind and those that mind don't matter.

The song is this boozy, slow burn that just meanders from start to front. It doesn't get in a hurry for anyone. It takes it's time and does what it needs to do. It's got a message and it delivers it as it needs to. Much like people deciding for you, this song doesn't care what you think It's going to get there when it gets there. Hearing Signal talk about his life and his crew and being accepting of all even when there are those that don't offer the came courtesy is a pretty astounding thing. Instead of get bitter and hate on those that have hated on him, he's taken his experiences and turned them into something better. Working on making himself something more. And that's what we have to do. Every day has to be a little better than the one before and we have to shake off the negativity and be part of something bigger.

East of Eli - Child's Play

Funk. Groove. A chorus that grabs you and doesn't let go. East of Eli (Nathan West) has created a song about first love and all the emotions that go along with it. A time in our lives that we have all experienced trepidation and a mass of confusion that leads up to understanding what we are feeling. The pre-chorus is the perfect build up to an amazingly well crafted chorus that just swells and takes over everything. The song has the perfect blend of funk and pop to make it this super crazy song about love. West confides "the reason behind the song was to help my son navigate the next five years of his life as he winces ever closer to the 'coming of age' years in his life. I felt sharing my experience would give him much needed insight and perspective on what he may expect and also let him know he has someone on his side that can relate to on his own journey”. Not only does wife Chyler Leigh provide amazing background vocals on the song she has a spoken part where she asks West if he loves her and it becomes this perfect pause that slows the song down just enough to give it a sultry feel that leads into Nathan's rap that is the perfect puzzle piece in this song. There is no wasted energy in this song, everything is done for a reason and it's done beautifully.

This is a perfect combination of everything that makes pop music great. It's got such amazing mainstream sensibilities that should have it blaring on every pop station on the dial as well as many guest spots in as many TV shows as possible (Looking at you Stanvers shippers). I've listened to this song at least 20 times in a row so I can hear every nuance because every time you listen to it you hear something different. Nathan has an incredible voice and it never feels overworked or overpowered in the song. He has another song on Soundcloud called "Nowhere" and it's gorgeous. I don't know why I haven't heard about East of Eli before now. He should be a major player in the pop market today because his songs are perfect for the demographic and perfect for anyone that loves good pop music.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Moxi - Figures Bathed In Light

Those synths!!! And don't get me started on just how perfect Anna Toy's voice is for this specific genre of music. This inspiration for this track came from the members of the band (and couple), Anna and Andy Toy surviving a near fatal car crash. I think that an experience like that would absolutely create an experience that you could draw from.

As far as they're overall inspiration goes, Anna explains, "our inspiration comes from a myriad of sources and ideas, but the underlying themes come from our emotional response to art and life experience”. The track highlights the band's dreamy, floating quality of music and fascination with the supernatural. "Behind all the drifting soundscapes, I always build a violence and tension into the music, even if it’s not overtly present at first”, admits Andy. “We bring all of these elements together in a way that is hopefully relatable and memorable because ultimately, we want people to feel understood through our music.”

You can hear every one of those influences in this music. This is a very solid entry in the dream pop category. It's ethereal. It floats and it's just light and airy. I think those are the hallmarks of a damn good dream pop song. It straddles the line between indie and psychedelic. It elevates your mind and makes you just close your eyes and float along with it. But like Andy says, the song does evoke a bit of anxiety and taps into those parts of your brain that make you more hyperaware of the things around you. There's a synth underneath, that rides right above the drums that has this melodic hum to it and I think that's where the stress comes from. It's an almost constant drone that's just under the surface of the song that helps dictate the flow of your experience while listening.

Moxie on the Web

Natalie Major - City of Gold

There's something about disillusionment that comes with chasing your dreams. The hopefulness and the faith that you hope everything will work out can always be twinged with just a little bit of sadness and malcontent. I think that we always want to focus on the positive but in the back of our minds there's always that bit of self doubt. The slow, methodical tempo leads an air to the whole feeling of anxiety and uncertainty. Sometimes we are in need of songs that aren't necessarily bubblegum because life isn't always sunshine and rainbows. Here's the thing.... you can't reap the rewards without the chances and risks. They may be the most terrifying and uncertain things and you may find yourself in a situation where you can't predict the outcome but those are the times when you grow and learn more about yourself than you knew before. You open yourself up for opportunities and experiences that you may not have had previously.

"City of Gold" is the latest single to be released by Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Natalie Major. While this song may have a bit of darkness woven through it, there's also that Yan to the Yin in that you have to hope for the best and you have to make sure you're going for the risks to make sure you're getting out of life what you put into it. She's got a voice that is beautifully haunting with an eloquence to it that you don't find in many artists today. She doesn't have that post production feel to her vocals where you can hear where the track has been cleaned up and made to sound better. I like the easy feel to the song. It's not a song that you're going to dance to but you're going to get sucked in and hear every nuance in Natalie's vocals and her presentation. I feel like this is an incredible track and it could be remixed into something darker or something more upbeat. The single releases on Friday August 25th and it's going to be a huge release for Natalie. With a voice like hers it's not hard to think that she's going to be crashing the major pop markets soon. Catch her on the rise because I have a feeling that she's going to be huge.

Natalie Major on the Web

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Penelopes - Leave It All Behind

This album is the most incredible thing I think I've heard in quite some time. I am almost at a loss for words to describe how much I am in love with this album. This evokes so much nostalgia and fondness that I immediately felt a connection with the music. From the Sisters of Mercy influences to Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave with a smattering of Concrete Blonde and Siouxie and the Banshees, this album is stunning. It's not often that I absolutely geek out over an album but I've been listening to this nonstop for about three days now. I've been trying to wrap my head completely and totally around this but every time I listen to it, I get some new sound or I hear a different progression through a song and it just makes me swoon all over again.

So let's talk about this masterpiece. The vocals are absolutely spot on point with their execution. I love groups that have shared vocals between a male vocalist and a female and this is just an incredible example of how the difference between singers can be an experience that elevates the tracks to a whole new level. The way their voices compliment each other at different ends of the spectrum is so cool. His voice is like a shadow of hers and it gives such an earthy quality to the songs. They're grounded. They've got bite to them.

The synths and the production on the tracks are the perfect blend of darkwave and new wave and there's something so forward thinking about the tracks that doesn't keep them mired down in nostalgia. Yeah, there's plenty of sense memory built into all these songs because they sound like something you would have heard some where in the recesses of your memory but they are new and innovative. The use of brass in the production gives this bright and vibrant note that is super refreshing and it rounds out the sound and gives it more body.

This album seems like it's a soundtrack to a movie that you've never seen but you know you need to. I don't know who Tina is but I am genuinely concerned for her well being. The way "Mulholland Drive" ends with Tina being told to wake up is a bit worrisome. This is so perfectly put together that it evokes so many emotions and by the time you get to "Time to Shine" and it's huge, swelling, builds... you are spent - in the best way. "Time to Shine" is this song that is so massive. It's got a Sisters of Mercy feel to it with the way the vocals are sharp and precise and how they are layered over all the instrumentation. The spacy sound effects and the percussion make this song have an otherworldly feel to it. I am so enamored with this track. The rest of the album is gorgeous and has so many moments to talk about. "Roses" is a beautiful up tempo pop song that has an underlying feeling of hope and perseverance. The guitars and the "ooo oo oooo's" on "Leave Them All Behind" are just so funky that you're tapping your feet along with the song before you realize it. You hear the influences of the Cocteau Twins and so many other artists on "Tina". It's this breathlessly beautiful song about growing up and making it the best way you can.

If you aren't in love with this album by the 30 second mark in "Mulholland Drive", then I just don't know. This is EVERYTHING that a pop album should be. It's so evocative. It's fun. It's big. It's just a perfect moment in music. I am so amazed with this and if this is what they can do, I cannot wait to hear more.

The Penelopes on the Web