Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Thailah - Joy



First let's talk about this beat. It's very reminiscent of tribal percussion that pull you in and keeps you right where you need to be. It's the perfect vehicle for Thailah (pronounced Ty-la) to float over top of with vocal stylings very similar to Lily Allen or Cher Lloyd and those are two of my favorite young British artists. I like that her voice has swagger and an edge to it. I think aside from her accent sliding out every so often, that's what I like the most, the fact that there's a raw edge to her voice. And I'll continue to say it over and over, there has to be something interesting and new to a voice in order to cut through the noise of ALL the other artists out there wanting attention and Thailah has it. She has it in spades.

Listening to the lyrics on this track makes me think about my own life. Makes me think about people being careless with my time and my emotions because they can. Makes me realize more about me than this afro-tinged bop would when you take a surface look at it. You start thinking about how people use you to make them feel better about themselves and that doesn't lead to anything positive or good. It generally leaves you used and abused in an emotional heap on the floor but there of us out there that do it over and over because in the long run, we kind of have to be there for those people because no one else will.

Finding her has added another set of songs to add to my summer bangers. It doesn't matter if it's this song or her other singles; "Sweet", "Bad Manners", or "Glitch" because this Londoner has created a life long fan in me. The production is slick for the style of pop music she's creating. It's like an overcast day when you're outside and you don't realize that you need sunscreen. It's drinking fruity alcoholic beverages and getting hooked on the sweet before you realize you're already knees deep in a bender. It's that feeling of being delivered a message before you know what's hit you. It's coming back on listen four or five and honing in on those lyrics and relating to the music more deeply than you thought you would.

Liquid Diet - Looking for Love



Subversive, sexy, sultry. This song is so much more than a sexy romp through anonymous sex. This song is about connection on a much deeper level but it's disguised as something super sexy and slick. Liquid Diet has always been one of my favorite groups because they don't play by anyone's rules but their own. "Looking for Love" is a new single off their remix EP, Double Life: Sloppy Seconds and you can get it anywhere but you should click here to go get it. Billy's voice is so suited for this as it goes down just like syrup...it's warm, it's sweet and it's sticky and I LIVE for it.  The most telling portion of this song...the part that takes this from a one night stand to friends with benefits is when he says,

"Blindfold me / Scold me / Don't try to hold me / That was the old me
Pursue me / Subdue me / Just use me til you find the new me"
 
This is the connection that I'm talking about. This is what elevates this song. It's the meaning behind these words. It's seeing yourself in a manner in which you're growing and learning and needing to be part of something bigger than yourself and you're willing to move from one experience to another as you grow and be part of it all. Even if that means wading through a myriad of Mr and Misses Right Nows. I think we do that a lot. We long for that touch. That electricity that makes us feel alive and in a culture of ordering up exactly what you need via app, it makes it easier and easier to stave off the long, lonely nights at times. We all have an intrinsic need to be part of it all and rendezvous after rendezvous is a way in which we can do that. Sexual liberation is needed more today than ever and in a world of pansexual polyamory, there's no better time than today than to learn as much as you can about yourself.
 
I don't know if the production design was done this way on purpose but the colors in the video make me think of the bisexual pride flag shifting from reds to purples and I think it's incredible. I like the darkness he uses with the bearded dancer. I think there is a color study in what it means to be sexually fluid and if this wasn't the purpose, then maybe they can take credit for it. We don't live in a binary world anymore and it's so important for that to be represented across the board. Billy is a beautiful soul and this video makes me adore him that much more. The visuals are amazing. From being seduced by his female costar to the bevy of beautiful boys he dances with. I like the spanking bit as I think exploration needs to be normalized much more and the fact that he shares that with both partners makes me smile a lot. I think this is probably one of my favorite tracks by Liquid Diet and if this is the quality of content they're going to put out, I NEED more music from Billy, Jonny, and Georgia. Shit the world ALWAYS needs more Georgia Haege. I damn sure know I do.

Support this group. They're important. They make important music. It's potentially easy to write them off as a gimmick but they are far more than that. Music and art challenges us. It makes us feel and that's exactly what they do. They evoke thoughts, feelings and emotions in us that we may not have thought of. The world is in dire need of more free thinking creative at the helm and it's damn time they release more music.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Iris - Wait

 
Beautiful vocals with minimal production. What could be better? I've already become smitten with Iris' vocal delivery and how she makes you feel like you've been friends forever and then you throw in some killer harmonies on the chorus and I'm done. She's honestly got one of the biggest voices I've heard in music in a long time. There's a very old soul quality to her that grabs you and pulls you close. I've talked about her previous release, "Crazy" and said many of the same things and I think that speaks volumes about the consistency between her performance and the production. When an artist has natural talent, there isn't need for a ton of post production work and I'm gonna bet there's very little if any clean up after the fact.

"Nothing you can say when you love and you lose / Telling me to leave when I can't even move / No one I can choose when I let go of you / What you want me to do / Stop telling me to
 
I wish you would stay just to stand in my shoes / It's a little hard just to swallow the truth / No one I can choose when I let go of you / What you want me to do / Stop telling me to wait"
 
That pre-chorus is pretty devastating when you actually pay attention to what she's saying. When you've put your everything into a relationship and it's crumbled down around you and all you can do is watch it fall apart; that's just about the worst feeling ever. You've invested so much time and energy and you're being placated. You're being told to wait. It's heartbreaking and it sucks. Iris has done an amazingly beautiful job of capturing those emotions and feelings in a manner that we all can relate to and while it can be difficult to hear those emotions manifested, it's one of the best steps toward healing. You have to take the good with the bad so that when the good comes back around, you're able to know just how important it is.
 
I adore this woman. I adore her production team. They aren't letting her take a single misstep. Her voice is gorgeous. The way they cradle her performance and hold it with the utmost care shows a group of people that know exactly what they're doing and how to best showcase her talent. I want her to be a household name because she's worth every minute of it.

Iris on the Web

Son of Cabe - Lynwood


The official video for "Lynwood" by Son of Cabe has dropped and the oversaturated live performance video is exactly what this song needed. Nothing over the top. Nothing too flashy. Just a live performance of the track in which all the colors being hyper stylized that brings a storybook vibe to the video that echo the washed out feelings of not being able to say you're sorry because you've done something you know you need to apologize for. The indie feel of the video suits Son of Cabe's bedroom production style as well. It's perfectly suited for what he's creating and I think it's genius. If you want to read what I've said about the song previously, you can do so here. This young artist has an innate ability to put meaning and message into his words that's relatable and familiar because we've all been there; at some point in our lives we've felt what he's talking about. We've been faced with similar emotions and hearing them makes it easier to process.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Megan Vice - Super Delicious EP


"I like my man like I like my underwear..... mother fucker, I don't need you at all"

There's something very special about Megan Vice. Something that someone recognized early on and know just how to make the best out of what she has to offer. Her performance quality is nothing but unadulterated start power wrapped up in a pop princess. She's been paired with a production team that knows exactly, and I mean exactly, how to best utilize her talents. There is not a single on this EP that doesn't just coming out banging. She's fun. She's playful. She's not relying on a gimmick. She's doing everything perfectly right and I'm damn glad to be living in a world where she is releasing music. Long Island native, Megan has been enamored with music all her life and would literally perform for anyone that would stand still long enough. And once she started formulating her own lyrics, there was nothing to stop her. She's had some pretty powerful musical comparisons and it's easy to see how people could compare her to the likes of Chromeo, early Janet Jackson, or even Sofi Tukker.
 
When you listen to her music, you hear an amalgamation of all these styles and influences and it would be easy for an unpolished artist to get lost in the crush of genres. You get a bit of late 80s, big haired freestyle in the vein of Sweet Sensation or Debbie Deb. You get a bit of Minneapolis in the form of Prince and Janet Jackson. You get a bit Joan Jett with her take no prisoners attitude. You get all of these different artists and styles packaged in what I feel is one of the absolute best albums of 2019. Probably in my top 5 of the year right now. I spend a lot of time talking about emotions and mental health on this blog. I talk about how music affects us and how artists are able to pull from all our deepest, darkest places and how much it's important for music to serve a purpose. And I feel that Super Delicious EP does exactly what it sets out to do. It makes you forget all the small stuff that's been getting you down and lets you relax and enjoy a musical journey in 30 minutes or less.
 
So let's get into this EP.
 

 
Super Delicious
Easily and quite simply my bop for the summer. This song is light and airy and full of funk potential (and it lives up to every bit of it). It's crazy how a song about making the same mistake over and over can be so damn danceable. The way the chorus rises up to meet Megan's voice is one of the most incredible things I've heard in a long time. I wrote a whole piece about this single over here so go read it after you finish here.
 
Hold Up (Be My Lady)
If you're in the mood for a bit of 90s R&B realness, a bit of Xscape or Jade then you're in for a damn treat on this slow-ish jam  with one of the coolest raps in the middle eight that I've heard in a long time. It shows the incredible versatility Megan has and how much swag she's leaning on and it's pretty bad ass. It's a song with a bass line that slaps hard and a groove that hits harder. Her voice is so sultry and full on this track about being hollered at and I'm here for every minute of it. Again, her producers know EXACTLY how to work with her and it's never more evident than it is on this track.
 
2 Good 4 Me
Again, we're rocking the funk groove here but we're going to step back a bit further in time with a disco inspired track that will make you dance. She's got some falsetto happening and it's an amazing contrast to her smoky voice. The bass is so sticky and funky on this that it makes all the polyester in your closet come to life and pull a John Travolta stroll down the block. This song is nostalgic and it's current at the same time. It's the best of all the influences she's pulled from and I guarantee that this sounds MASSIVE in a dance club.
 
Dressed to Kill
Here's my take....Megan is chilling in Ibiza and Kylie Minogue comes in and blesses her with all the pop power she ever needs and this song comes out. This is full on danceable gorgeousness and it makes me think of the most amazing up tempo tracks that Kylie has released. And that's not biting her style, in my ears it's a beautiful homage to a pop star with longevity and a proven formula for success. We're not straying away from what works the best with Megan's vocal stylings. We're kicking the funky grooves and beats and giving all her best friends an amazing track to dance to.
 
Nobody Freakin'
Let's drop back into that slow-ish R&B/funk vibe with this track. It's got one of the best uses of synth on the album and it has a tip of the hat to one Ms. Jackson...if you're nasty and it's great. She's got a way of creating lyrics that hit you and you go....damn..... When she says, "Never ever fuck for the fame".... I was like....Wig, snatched. Acne, cleared. Debts, paid. And I LIVE for it.
 
This is a heavy contender for my album of the year. I want her to have all the fame possible. I want her to be a household name but I also am super protective of her because of how much I connect with her music. She's incredible and I know she's got an incredible career ahead of her. As long as she's taken care of by her producers, she's going to go a long way and we need more of her music out there in the world. That's for damn sure.
 
Megan Vice on the Web

Kris Kelly - Cracked Porcelain

 
Psychedelica. It's got champions in artists like Tame Impala, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Animal Collective and many others. It's pretty amazing to hear an artist that identifies as queer making his mark in the genre. There's not enough representation and we are sorely underserved in this corner of the musical universe but to have Kris Kelly creating music for queer people by queer people in this genre is magical.

"Cracked Porcelain" is a sonically gorgeous landscape in which our artist gets to create a world of love and sex and unconventional experiences. In Kris' words the song is, "the story of two gay men who find freedom in defining their relationship in an unconventional way, but who end up getting lost in the revelry and ultimately drive each other apart. I think the LGBTQ community has a unique opportunity to redefine our relationship with sex within our partnerships. Not having the traditional ways of defining a healthy partnership forced onto us grants us freedom to discover it for ourselves; but it also comes with great responsibility, and I think we often fail. In the song, the two men fulfill all of their personal desires, and get lost with the help of alcohol and drugs, but forget to care about each other, neglecting the needs of their relationship. In that seductive lifestyle, it’s easy for them to use sex, drugs, and alcohol to cover up the issues they just don’t want to deal with. It feels like ‘freedom’ but are they really in control? What are the boundaries that protect the relationship? A careful balance is required in order to nurture both carnal desires and spiritual connection with another human being (if that’s something that you value). When things are out of balance, suffering is inevitable. That’s what happens in “Cracked Porcelain”."



I think that as someone that identifies as gay, this song means a lot more to me than a lot of other tracks I've run across lately because of the implications and experiences it creates and just how easily it is for me to identify with the antagonists in the song. I've been there. I've been swept up in the rush of endorphins and serotonin that's created when you get to get entangled in someone else, especially after so many years of being repressed due to social anxiety, mores, and the overwhelming need to fly under the radar....but when that time comes and you're wrapped up in someone else; bodies exploring, hearts beating together and you give yourself permission to experience all those things - it's intoxicating. It, in itself, becomes addictive and you NEED more and when you can't chase that rush anymore then you find substitutes for those feelings and those wants. It's a slippery slope and we as LGBTQ+ people don't have the most positive role models for helping us navigate those beginning relationships and tend to make all the wrong decisions when we are first encountering choices. But the beauty is that they are our mistakes to make and as long as we have the wherewithal to learn from them they subtly turn from mistakes to growth opportunities.

Kris Kelly has a beautiful voice. He's got a hypnotic quality about him that is perfectly suited for this genre and it's an incredible match. I don't want to hear him singing any other type of music because the Technicolor rainbow of imagery he paints with his voice and artistry is brilliant. His music is the soundtrack to my dreams and it takes me to places I've never been before and I think he's just about one of the most important artists I've had the pleasure of getting to hear in a very long time.

Kris Kelly on the Web

Friday, June 14, 2019

X Ambassadors - Hold You Down


It was either "Renegades" or "Unsteady" that I heard first and then I saw the special video they created for "Unsteady' and I immediately fell in love with this band. They have a sound that's got a whole lot more soul infused in it than your typical alternative music and I think a lot of it comes from the fact Sam Harris and Casey Harris are brothers. You can feel the connection between the two of them in their music and it's never more evident than it is in their newest single, "Hold You Down" from the upcoming LP, Orion. This is the third single off the album and they brothers say it's about brotherhood and their relationship. The video is an amazing trip through the history of the Harris boys as you get the opportunity to see their lives growing up through family home movies.

I have two older brothers and I know what that bond is like. We don't get the opportunity to share it much anymore but I can honestly thank them both for a lot of how my personality developed and the man that I am today. I remember hearing Duran Duran or reading comic books for the first time thanks to my brothers. Playing video games and getting into general mischief with them as we were growing up was part of a right of passage that you can only experience with a brother so I can feel how genuine Sam is when he's singing this song knowing it's an ode to those times when the relationships are all that's important.

"We'll be the last ones dancing when the lights go out / when there's no one to hold you / I'll still hold you down"
It's that bond. It's that love for your sibling that can't be duplicated though any other relationship you'll ever have in your life. It's unconditional. It's the support and care that you can only get from someone that's been there with you since day one. It's the acceptance of all our faults, our flaws, our successes that dive us to be more than what we feel we can be and it's good and it's honest. This song means a whole lot more to me than I thought it initially would because I don't have that closeness with my brothers anymore and I miss it. It's absolutely amazing to see how the brothers interact on stage. How Sam never once let's Casey falter as they're walking on stage together. And it's that love and support that Sam has that's incredible. Casey never once wanted his blindness to affect who he was as a person. He saw it as what it was, a small obstacle that would prevent him from doing certain sighted things but never would stop him from playing piano once he learned and he's an incredible musician.
This song is incredible. I enjoy it immensely and hope that it means a lot for other people as well. Especially those that may be estranged from their siblings. Orion will be released on June 14th and it's going to be a huge record. I love what these guys stand for and love the music they create. It's important and means something to the collective music fan base at large.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Alba - Heartbeat


The guitar in this song immediately drew me in and made me need more of it and to see that it's Alba, herself, killing it on the guitar makes the song so much better. We don't have a lot of female lead singers that also play an instrument and it's a shame. I think there's something very special about doing double duty like that in a song and she's got definite star quality that makes her stand out from other singers. I'd love to hear her on tour with Haim or Joss Stone because I think they have complimentary styles that would play off each other well and strong, independent women are the coolest when it comes to music makers.

London-based singer/songwriter Alba has released a new single, "Heartbeat" and she says, "Heartbeat was inspired by the feeling of synchronicity of a crowd with the beat of the music during live concerts, when everyone's heart seems to beat to the rhythm of the kick drum, and also takes inspiration from the sense of synchronicity between the pounding hearts of two lovers. I wanted to be the one setting an energetic and positive beat to which an audience may synch to. The kick drum at the start of Heartbeat is actually mixed together with a human heartbeat sample."

I love the bluesy feel to this song and her voice. It's smoky and it's got depth to it that you don't get in pop music today. Stack her vocal talents up against her guitar playing and she's an incredible talent. She does cross over from pop to rock to blues and it makes her an exceedingly well rounded artist. It's very cool to hear the influences pour out of her music and how authentically her own the art she's creating is. There's not many other artists out there that have a vibe similar to hers and I can't honestly think of many female artists to compare her to. I'd be more apt to say she's similar to Stevie Ray Vaughn or Johnny Lang than comparing her to artists like Halsey or Lorde. And I think the world needs a whole lot more of her. She's unique and she's blazing her own trail.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Matracia - Slow



I ran across a Twitter post pointing out this song and decided to take a chance and am damn glad that I did. I am unfamiliar with Dylan Matracia as an artist but I guarantee that I'm going to spend time getting to know him. The lo-fi, Twin Shadow, shoe gazey vibe of this song is a complete mood and this video just is amazing. Echoing that lo-fi, David Lynch-esque art house aesthetic, the video follows what appears to be a romance that ends in the potentially untimely death of one of the partners.

Dylan's languid and mercurial vocal stylings fill the space with an atmospheric calm that is reminiscent of relationships we've all had. There's a lazy, ease at which he works. He's not forcing anything and he's not rushing it. When he gets to where he needs to go, sonically, he'll be there. There's nothing laborious about this. There's nothing overproduced. It's just easy. It's exactly what I needed for this song and video to be. The visuals are stunning and the cinematography is great. Both Dylan and Benwa Kramer (his hirsuite love interest) play off of each other exceedingly well and there is chemistry between the two of them that's tangible. You feel a bit voyeuristic watching their time play out. There's enough there to want to know more. There's a story behind all this and it's one that would be very cool to see play out.

I like his style and what he evokes. It makes me want to be more invested in his story and his progression as an artist. He's having a good time creating art and you can feel it in the music. Even though this song is under 3 minutes long, it's all it needs to be and it gives you exactly what you need to get you to where he wants you to go. I want to spend more time with his music and get to know more about him as an artist.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Daniel - Best Damn Party


Being an independent musician is a blessing and a curse. You get to do things on your own time with your own creative freedom but you don't have the support of a label helping you market your work. So you have to be the A&R department, the marketing department, your own publicist as well as getting everything together for record releases and all the stuff that goes along with it. So it doesn't hurt my feelings at all to receive an email a year after an single has been released looking for coverage. I opened my email this morning to find a very excitedly written email from an independent artist from Salem Massachusetts, Daniel. It didn't give me much information other than there was a party in his head and everyone was invited. I'll be honest....it's the fastest I've clicked a link in an email because he didn't spend 4 paragraphs talking about how unique and how his music was "insert overly flowery hipster description". He let me hear him and he let me make up my own mind about him in as an unbiased manner possible.

So let's talk about "Best Damn Party". To compare him to artists like Andrew W.K. or Foxy Shazam or The Darkness would be fair. But there's a lot more to Daniel than that. Sure, he's a bombastic rocker like the above mentioned groups and he's got his very own style that isn't taken seriously. Scrolling through the comments on YouTube give an example of how people don't necessarily know how to respond to an artist that doesn't take a conventional approach to making music. With Zac Efron good looks and an unabashed sense of self, Daniel has the makings of an amazing rock star. This song and video are unabashedly fun. It's got a rapid fire energy that sweeps you up and takes you to the best damn party. It's high energy and the heavy guitar riffs just set the song off as more than just a gimmick.

Much like the flack and misunderstandings Andrew W.K. got when he came onto the scene, I think Daniel is going to face similar trials and tribulations but much like the survivors of the Salem witch trials (and potentially some of his ancestors), he's going to do alright. He doesn't just march to the beat of his own drum, he create the instrument. He's not following any play book and he's not trying to be anyone other than himself. If you've been a fan of this blog for any time, you know that's exactly what we celebrate here. Being you. Without hesitation. Without doubt. Be you and create the music that you need to. Not that you want to create but the music that burns a hole in you if you don't get it out of your body. Doesn't matter if people rush out and buy it. Doesn't matter if the masses get it. What matters is that you've got something that has to be released into the universe.

So he's unconventional. He's unique. He's all those things that hipster musicians describe themselves as but in the end what matters is that he's got a voice and a point of view that's ultimately his own and absolutely deserve to be heard. Like those above mentioned bands, not every one is going to like him. Hell, far fewer people will like him that he'd probably really like but those of us that do and that really get what he's out here doing will be loyal throughout his career and will support him through thick and thin. And he's got a life long fan in me.

DanielfromSalem on the Web

Monday, June 3, 2019

Megan Vice - Super Delicious

Vanity 6, The Mary Jane Girls, Seduction, Sweet Sensation and all those amazing freestyle groups of the late 80s, early 90s had this take no prisoners attitude the endeared them to millions. Coupled with the ability to make amazingly poppy music that had your ass moving to the funk grooves, these groups were trailblazers for upbeat bubblegummy pop stars and they're damn important in music history. It's groups like this that have paved the way for New York native, Megan Vice. "Super Delicious" is her latest single and just like all the guilty pleasures she's singing about in this track, I damn sure want more and more. It's one of the most amazingly fun songs I've heard in a long time and it's now my pick for gorgeous summer bop.



If this was just a song with no substance and was just all filler, it would be totally different but she's got a voice that won't stop and she's working with a producer that knows exactly what to do to elevate her to new heights. I've listened to other tracks on her SoundCloud and she's not just a flash in the pan. She's got the vocal talent and the savvy it takes to be a superstar. You can hear how all those artists I've mentioned have influenced her sound and she'd fit perfectly at Paisley Park in the late 80s. It's like all the best people have come together to create an amazing track that has you so freaking happy by the time the pre-chorus kicks in. There's not a misstep in this song. From the nostalgic 80s style freestyle beats to her smoky voice to how the layers and levels are all perfectly crafted to make an rad dance track. I bet this song would sound absolutely amazing in a club and since it's already got a near perfect start, remixes are only going to send this song into the stratosphere.

It's such a tongue-in-cheek song that doesn't take itself too seriously and I think that's something we need more of in the music world. I talk about music with a message a lot. I talk about songs that help our mental health and this is no different. It's upbeat and it's fun and makes you smile so hard. Even though it's not tackling hard issues, it's still got a perfect purpose in any playlist. It's a beautifully put together summer song and I'm glad I have it to listen to as I have my windows rolled down bopping down the street.

Night Lights - Habits



With members hailing from Japan, Mexico, and Norway; Night Lights not only have a unique perspective on creating music but they also have a multitude of cultural differences that bring them together in a very unique way. Vocalist Mau Jimenez, guitarist Yusuke Sato and drummer Dag Eirik Hanken have come together through their mutual love of music and have created some of the most thought provoking Indie pop in the Los Angeles scene in quite sometime. Yusuke Sato says, "As we are all international and all come from different backgrounds, it is really important to us to be able to reach more than one demographic." And if "Habits" is an example of the music they're creating, I don't think they're going to have any issues whatsoever.

"Habits" is a song that every single person that hears it can identify with. Whether it's coffee or binge watching tv or illicit substances or feelings....any time we keep going back to the well for more and more, we all have found ourselves in a position to be addicted to something. I think more than one of us out there have found an addiction to appreciation. When you are told that you're good enough or smart enough or good looking enough, the amazing feeling that's elicited in our brain makes us want more and more. Especially in a time when likes and a curated world view through social media is upon us, we spend so much time making sure we secure that validation because it makes us feel good. Doesn't matter if it's the gains we've made in the gym or how proud we are of our children's accomplishments, we crave those thumbs ups.

The chorus is gigantic in this song. It hits you like a wall of sound and it's great. Mau's vocals are brilliant and the production on the song just draw you in and it's good. It's a song that delivers a message that resonates pretty damn deeply and it's packaged in a song that makes you bounce along with it instead of feeling like you're being force fed a message. The bright and poppy guitars are a blessing on top of the synths. The percussion is done perfectly. I am a huge fan of this song and I'm grateful it just popped up in a SoundCloud station by total random happenstance. It makes me want to hear more and more music from these guys and am glad to have found them.

Night Lights on the Web

Friday, May 31, 2019

Robert O'Connor - Real Good Fight


The more and more I think about it, the more I gravitate toward music that stands for something. Whether it be catharsis, expressing emotions that we are able to connect with, or empowering people and reminding us that we aren't alone out there. We get so wrapped up in the day to day grind that we forget that through it all, we are fighters and we are survivors. Robert O'Connor is here to remind us that as many shots as life and the universe want to take at us, as long as we're willing to stand tall and continue the fight, we're never really alone in this world. It takes perseverance and determination but with drive and people in our lives that matter; there's not much we can't do.

I think the video for this song is an incredible representation of what it's like to walk around this world as an adult with all the stresses we have on us. At the same time it's a spectacular reminder of how we can dig deep within ourselves and find that ounce of hope to keep climbing. We never really know just how strong we are until we're put in a position to find out on our own. We often let all the little things that are simple annoyances pile up and then they become seemingly insurmountable but they're not. We just have to take a step at a time and we can get through them. It's not a flashy video. It's not over produced. It's like the song in that manner. It's exactly he treatment the song needed. I feel like there's a whole lot of Robert's heart and soul in this video and this single.

Now, let's talk about Robert as an artist. In this video, and his performance, he's every man. His voice is familiar and there's barely any post production on it. It's honest and it's full of conviction. It's like having a conversation with a friend you've not talked to in a while but everything just falls back into place. He believes in what he's saying and it comes through in his singing. He's approachable and he does this with no pretention. You can hear that he does this because there's no where else he'd want to be and nothing better that he'd rather be doing. He's not doing it because it's going to bring him fame and fortune, he does it because it's part of who he is.  I wasn't familiar with Robert before this video but I've stepped back through his other works and it's just honest songwriting and the world needs a whole lot more of that.

Robert O'Connor on the Web

Matt Taylor - Volatile

"...when did the all this silence get so loud / give me a second, I need a second to breathe before I lose my mind"

Hearing voices, opinions, attitudes from all over the world from people of all ages is one of the best things about having international access to music in today's technology driven society. Getting to hear 21 year old singer/songwriter Matt Taylor's new track, "Volatile" all the way from Brighton is one of the coolest things that's happened to me this week. Releasing his EP on 7 June, Matt is surely going to make a name for himself with his upbeat and effervescent brand of pop music. As a matter of fact, I think this track and the EP as a whole are pop perfection. Generally when I hear music that's this up, it's female vocalists I want to hear as in my ears, I appreciate more stripped down production from male vocalists but this dance/pop brand of music that Matt has created is brilliant. This can absolutely stand beside the Jonas Brothers, Bruno Mars or any other pop artist out there and this guy is 21....he's got a long career ahead of him if he keeps creating music this damn good. I am honestly in awe with this album.

So let's talk about the single, "Volatile"... The build up on this track is nuts. From his vocals from kind of speak-singing stand point to the track build up to the first pre-chorus and then just taking off. The "drop" is crazy good and the track as a whole makes me think of a roller coaster. Climbing up that first hill and then just holding on until it comes back around to the station. Matt's vocals are amazing and this song is just great. I want so much for this song to be gigantic because it's that good. The song is about a relationship that's on the rocks and that if both partners come together and talk and have open and honest communication there is still something there that can be salvaged and made good but as it stands, things are just so volatile. And as volatile things tend to do, if not cared for, they'll explode. I cannot stress how good this track is. He's doing amazing things after he charted on the Irish Singles Chart on iTunes and has actually has written songs for Ariana Grande and Charli XCX. I'll have a full review on this album when it releases June 7th.

Charli XCX - Blame It On Your Love (f. Lizzo)


I've been a fan of Charli XCX since she released her mixtape, "Heartbreaks and Earthquakes". I think she's a brilliant performer and producer. With the fame she's garnered in the past and events like sharing the stage with Miley Cyrus at the Big Weekend recently only serves to remind the world that she's a force to be reckoned with. So to have her collaborating with Lizzo is honestly the most logical step in her progression. Two powerful female artists with nothing to prove to anyone, just out there making the music they want and creating a legacy that is incredible.

"Blame It On Your Love" is Charli's latest single and it's a bouncy banger of a pop song that is so familiar in the pantheon of the world of Charli's work that it's a welcome addition to any playlist. It's about the dangers of finding yourself in a relationship that's progressing too quickly. Self sabotage is something I think we've all experienced from time to time and while it's not a positive defensive mechanism it's something that we have fallen into easily. We make decisions based on emotion that aren't necessarily positive and we explain it away because we're afraid to take ownership of those emotions. This song is a great example of those times in our lives and it's massive.

Lizzo's rap is amazing and I hope we get to see so many more songs with her included in the middle eight. Whether she's singing or rapping, she's dope af and it makes her being included so cool. I'm glad to see her getting much more recognition. I think the lyric, "I'm tryin' to catch millions, I ain't tryin' to catch feelings (bitch)" is one of the coolest I've heard in a long time. I hope she gets to be the new Nicki Minaj of including artists in tracks.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Rosie O'Sullivan - Take Me As I Am

Day after day, we are so wrapped up in presenting ourselves in the most perfectly curated view to our friends, family, fans, followers on social media and it can be toxic. It becomes pervasive in every aspect of our lives and we have to make sure we are smiling correctly, we aren't struggling too publicly with our inner demons, we are being the absolute best version of ourselves even if that means we sacrifice who we are in order to be the person that we think we need to be.

Birmingham, England native, Rosie O'Sullivan has been on a helluva journey from losing almost 250 pounds to being a semi-finalist on Britain's Got Talent, this young woman is on a journey of self discovery and self love and it's one that we all can identify with. She's being compared to Adele and Kelly Clarkson and while I see those I would say she's more Paloma Faith or Sophie Ellis-Bextor or Lizzo like. Honest, soulful, and true to herself; Rosie says, "Take me as I am or watch me walk away" and that's a lesson that we all need to have echoed daily. We spend so much time trying to be the person that everyone else wants us to be we forget that we're perfect as we are regardless of how many likes we get. This is the only life we get and chasing validation is exhausting and there are many other pursuits we need to focus on.

Songs of self empowerment are my absolute jam. They are uplifting, they're powerful and they bring light and joy into this world in a manner that we all need to hear often. We are so caught up in the daily grind that we don't have time to remember that we are loved and we are beautiful and we don't have to change or compromise to be the person that we were intended to be. Thank you, Rosie for sharing your experiences with us. Thank you for holding up a mirror and reminding us that we are strong and we are powerful.

SMALLTALK - So It Goes

 
 
It's not often that an existential crisis is presented in such an upbeat and poppy manner but Smalltalk has done just that with his latest single, "So It Goes". What comes after this? What does our faith tell us? What do our beliefs say? Is there a promise of a better tomorrow in an infinite lifetime of paradise or will we be sent to a "darker place"? It's not often that I tackle matters like this on the site. Most of the time, I tend to work more with music that doesn't go straight into this particular discussion but what if I didn't? What if I actually used this platform to make a dent in the taboo nature of the conversation? I spend a lot of time talking about mental health issues and looking to destigmatize that topic so why not other topics that are on the "do not talk about in public list"?

SMALLTALK aka Jakub Vanyo is a Nashville based singer/songwriter originally from Cleveland and you can hear the best of the Midwest and the South in his work. He's got that Walk the Moon feel to his work that makes him immediately accessible and it makes you smile as you're doing some introspection. "So It Goes" directly discusses what comes next. When this life is said and done and you've been interned forever, what happens next? I think we all spend a lot of time in our lives consciously or unconsciously wondering these exact questions; whether or not we discuss them openly. We are brought up in our parents particular faith or absence of and we have to make the decision when our lives become our own how we're going to proceed in life. Are we going to continue the study, are we going to explore other options or are we going to walk away from it all?

We spend so much of our lives studying who we are and what we stand for and it feels good when we find other people that have similar questions. We become part of something bigger than ourselves and it give us a renewed purpose to look for answers to those huge questions in our lives. I don't think there's a right or a wrong answer as long as we are honest with ourselves. Maybe in the end, we'll get it right or maybe we won't but at that point there's not much we can do either way. It's still good to know we aren't alone in the quest for knowledge.

SMALLTALK on the Web

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Justin Ferre - Life on a Wire

It's not very often that I have a legitimate visceral reaction to an artist. It's rare, actually. But when that one out of a million artists comes along and pours every single bit of who they are and what they stand for in their music; it's magic. Lightning in a bottle. Justin Ferre is one of those very few artists that I've had to listen to his album for days on end just to be able to fully grasp what it is he's done and what this music means to be because it's special. It's raw. It's honest and it's so minimally produced that it shows just how real what he's doing is.

His voice, sonically and idealistically, is beyond reproach and what he's weaving together through his outpouring of emotion is one of the most beautiful things I've heard in a long time. He's created something that people chase all their lives and it's here in eight songs. This isn't all there is to him and I know that with this much swirling around inside of him; I would be honored to say he's one of the most important singer/songwriters of our time.  It goes to prove that sometimes all you need is a desire and a guitar and the rest falls into place. Justin Ferre is an artist from Albuquerque and I have absolutely fallen head over heels for his voice. There's so much passion and honesty to every syllable he utters. It feels like he's taken every emotion I've felt and found the most amazing way to wrap them all up in these eight tracks.

The rasp in his voice is one of my favorite things ever. It's like the raw edge of fabric or the edge of paper after you've torn it apart. When you close your eyes and listen to what he's saying and just how precise he is with his inflection it feels like everything. It's a light in the darkness. It's guiding you through your blackest days and it's pulling you up after you've fallen. It's salt of the earth. It's roots and it's leaves and it's all of those things. It's sometimes frantic and it's like there's just so much he has to say that the words are coming out at a rate he's not expecting but he's fighting to keep them all in order. It's every thing you've waited for him to say to you as you've made your way across the trials and tribulations life has thrown at you and he's wrapping his arm around you telling you that every thing will be ok.

I may be biased. I may have swooned and have had to take a minute after each of these songs to compose myself but what he's given the world is so much more than glitz and glamour. It's not sold out stadium shows. It's sitting in Grand Central Station listening to a street performer because if they don't get this out of them they'll explode. It's the tear stained notes you passed in high school to the first person that ever took your heart. It's the laughter you share with your best friends as you've had one too many drinks and you know that the next day's hangover is going to be worth it. It's the quiet moments you share because you know that there's nowhere else you should be than sitting there with them while they fall apart and are crying on your shoulder. I think this is the most important album I've heard this year. So let's talk about these tracks.



Finding
This song comes in easily and gently. It's almost as if he's asking permission to be part of your life for the next little while. And the fact that in the song he actually says he doesn't want to be a bother echoes the sentiment of the quietness of this song. Justin builds a landscape of emotion in minutes that so many people can't do in their lifetime. There's a politeness to this song that's honestly heart wrenching because it feels like he's willing to walk away from everything to give you the space to find yourself in spite of how he feels about you. He knows he doesn't want to and he knows that it's not what is necessarily easy but it's best.

Once a Day
Uplifting doesn't do this song justice. When I heard this for the first time, it was every affirmation I'd ever needed in my life. It was all the emotions I've felt in my smallest of moments when every bit of self doubt and every single feeling of worthlessness fell over me but there he was. Sitting with me. Letting me breathe. Letting me exist and reminding me that I'm not alone in this fight. It was every thing I've ever needed to hear and it was the unequivocal feeling that yes, things would get better. Every ounce of darkness was wiped away from my eyes and I could hold my head high and take that healing step forward again.

All I Hide
Simplicity and emotion. Acoustic guitars and violins combined are two of the of the most humanistic of all the instruments and he uses them like a genius in this track. There's a give and take in all relationships. When communication fails and all you have to rest on are actions and deeds, there are times when you lean on those feelings and the effort you've spent building toward today. And you are left with hope that even though you've made the best decisions you can through out it all; sometimes you have to let it go.

Fight for You
This album feels like it came from a place in Justin's life where he had to pick up the pieces of a relationship that was in the process of being dismantled. While he's heart broken that everything he's worked toward is slipping through his fingers, he knows that the best thing to do is walk away and let this man that he's loved walk away. He doesn't want to. He wants to fight. He wants to be reminded that there's something worth fighting for. That underneath all of it, there's still something there worth it all. All the pain. All the self doubt. All the conflict. It's all been worth it but he just has to look at Justin and tell him that yes, there is something there.

Under the Weather
The way the vocals are layered in this song gives so much weight and depth. They feel like the small voices in your head when you're being swallowed with self doubt and insecurity but when you think about those people in your life that have been there with you through it all, it doesn't seem so insurmountable. This song feels like so many times in my life where I've felt like I've lost my way and don't know which way to turn.

Dead Ends
The production in this song is perfection. It's Justin and his guitar. And it's beautiful. I'm taken to a time in my life when you miss someone so desperately but through geography or loss or heartbreak it feels like the whole world has fallen away. It feels like there's a person sized hole in your heart that you want to fix but you just don't know how. It's saltwater tears and hundred yard stares out across the horizon.

Falls Away
"I watch you look for tomorrow / while I'm standing right here"
Fuck. The words in this song just absolutely wrecked me. It doesn't matter how many times he walks away, you're going to take him back. This is it. There's nothing more. But he just leaves every time and you're left watching it all fall away. You know that this is right and this is good but it's never going to be enough.

Life on a Wire
When you're spending so much time balancing everything; love, career, adult responsibilities, relationships it's easy for your life to get out from under you and to feel like there's nothing left but the tightrope you're on. It feels like there's no one else that understands what you're going through and even though you stumble and fall, you have to get back up and do it all again. You brush off the bruises and the hardships and you continue fighting but when you know that you aren't alone. When you know that some one is there to catch you; it makes all the difference in the world. We all live our lives on a wire and most of us operate without a net and it's terrifying but the other side of the void isn't too far away when you've got support.

I feel like this album was a process of catharsis for Justin. I think it's going to touch a lot of people and it's going to resonate with anyone that's found them in a situation similar. I don't know any of the particulars in this album as to what his meaning was other than what I was able to personalize and infer into. I may have been in a totally different ball park of emotion but what he's been able to do is allow me the space to explore my thoughts and emotions while he lays out the soundtrack to my introspection and I'm thankful and grateful to him for that. I want you to listen to his album. I want you to buy this album. I want you to support this man because I think he's expressing things and telling stories like no one else in the music industry right now.

Coco and the Butterfields - Monsters EP

When I was introduced to Coco and the Butterfields, I had no idea what to expect. What I was handed was probably one of the best unknown groups of all time. While they are touring all over the UK and becoming one of the biggest touring groups ever, they don't get any radio play in my area of the world and that's a damn shame because the music they make is important and it's valid and it's good. On 24 May 2019, they released this EP and it just builds and swells inside of you as you listen to it. Coco and the Butterfields aren't simply musicians; they're storytellers. They have an innate ability to craft emotions into auditory art and it's more than just a toe tapping good time; don't get me wrong, it's an incredible experience musically but to say they're only musicians diminishes what they're doing at the core. It's one of the most incredible records I've heard in a long time. From the production to the lyrical content to the small quiet spaces they give you; this is so incredibly good. Tom and Dulcima's voices blend together in such a beautiful, rapturous harmony that you just settle in and let them tell you all the stories they ever wanted to. I don't like to make comparisons to other artists but like other bands with amazing co-vocalists: Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Of Monsters and Men, Delta Rae; they are such artisans when it comes to knowing exactly how to blend their vocals together and they give each other enough space to tell the stories they need to tell.

I fell in love "Monsters" as soon as it was sent to me to review. It doesn't matter which version of the song I hear, each gives me a different experience and they're all beautiful and it's amazing how a band can create a song that touches different places in your experience. I recommend you listen to the 3 different versions of the video on YouTube and see how much minor changes in a song can make in the over all presentation and feeling.

"Puppets" is such a cool conversation between Tom and Dulcima. It's this playful take on young relationships. The song starts out with Tom saying how she looked into his eyes and promised she would never leave and she responds by saying she couldn't make up her mind and was scared at what he meant to her. The song continues to go on about how all the little lies in a relationship add up but you have to make a decision to deal with them or just look at them as part of the relationship.

The tempo and pacing on "Animals" is frenetic. It's this amazingly charismatic song grabs your hand with the rapid fire percussion and you take off running from start to finish. Dulcima's lyric, "I'll dream of diamonds and you give me broken glass" is one of the coolest things ever. I think it says a lot about expectations versus reality. It's the most folk infused song on the record and it's amazing. Such a brilliant fusion of genres with the small addition of some synths and the vocals are so on point it's not even funny.

"Giants" is really the only song on the EP that I'm having a hard time discerning the meaning to. It's an amazing song and I adore it but I think I'm maybe getting lost in the overall feeling and vibe of the song versus focusing on the minutia of it. Maybe that's actually what the song is about, looking at life and relationships from a macro view instead of getting caught up in the small stuff as it all tends to be small stuff.

If you don't get lost in Dulcima's voice on "Robots", I don't think there's much hope for you. This song is gorgeous. Her voice is sublime. It's pure magic and to be able to be here, at the same time that she's creating art is an amazing honor. I want more and more people to know her name and to hear the power in her voice.

At the heart of this album, it's all about relationships and the various positive negative aspects that go into them. The building of trust to the breaking of those bonds and it's a powerful and evocative  journey from start to finish. You can get the album anywhere you consume media and I feel like if you don't, you're missing out on one of the best releases of 2019.

Coco and the Butterfields on the Web