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.