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.