Monday, April 29, 2019

K.Flay - This Baby Don't Cry

Flashback to 2011 and I got to meet the coolest rapper I'd ever gotten to see live. Opening for The Sounds and The Limousines in Cincinnati, I had the opportunity to talk to K.Flay after one of the most dynamic sets ever. This woman commanded the room and absolutely brought the energy up so high in the venue it was bananas. This was before "Blood in the Cut" and "Champagne" . This was back when she was much more indie and less of a household name. She was raw and honest and those are qualities that have never changed about her. She doesn't make music for anyone else but herself. Back in the day, I said about her:
"As an independent MC, I think she has more to prove that mainstream rappers because she doesn't have a production team writing for her and as an artist, I can see how that would be challenging.  What you don't see on paper though, is that this girl is bad.  She has breath control and can flow for days.  I don't know how many syllables she can spit per minute but she is on it.  Her voice has this raspy-ness to it that is punctuated with these stops that just enhance the her whole feel.  I want to put her in the same category as other independent MCs like Theophilus London and Matisyahu because I think that's where she deserves to be."
My opinion hasn't changed and if anything, my appreciation for her has only grown. I think she's brilliant. I think she's fearless and she not only marches to the beat of her own drum but she's sampled it, looped it and made her own gosh damn remix. I think she's brilliant and there's not been a track she's released that I didn't immediately love.

So let's talk about "This Baby Don't Cry", her latest single that's snatching wigs all over the internet. She's created a song about self love and treating yourself with the utmost respect because you deserve it and you are amazing just as you are on. She talks about all the thoughts and feelings that keep us up at night with self doubt and questioning our worth until the day you realize you don't need to be wrapped up in all that and that you should just be yourself and fuck everyone that doesn't get you. You don't have anything to prove to anyone but yourself. You don't have to put up with the bullshit and the garbage that pollutes your world and once you fully realize yourself and who you are, life is amazing.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Eli Lieb - Sober (Demi Lovato cover)

One of my all time favorite voices in music belongs to Eli Lieb. I love the emotion he conveys. I love the rasp in his voice and I think he's just a brilliant artist. His cover is similar to Demi Lovato's original and I think that the nature of this song has to not have too much changed to it as it would muddy the message. I don't know if this is autobiographical on Demi's part but it's a powerful song that's going to touch a lot of people. I feel there are a ton of people struggling with addiction that can empathize with this song regardless of whether it's Eli or Demi singing.

In Eli's video, he's singing and playing the piano while his boyfriend dances to the song and it's beautiful. Both sides of the performance, the audio and the visual and I think it's great that we get to see both aspects of this song being brought together. I really enjoy hearing the passion that Eli evokes in his vocals. Always have been fan and I always will be. Don't have much to say about this because I think it speaks for itself. Watch the video and let me know what you think.

Cloe Wilder - Overthinking

Mental health in music is something near and dear to me as one of the most important aspects of music is how the artist is able to connect with their fans and the greater populace by expressing thoughts and emotions in a digestible manner. There's a whole movement where artists are being much more open about their motivations behind music and they're sharing their journeys through the landscape of mental illness and self discovery. This isn't anything relatively new as it is receiving more publicity and the messages are being disseminated much easier due to music being available online and not just through terrestrial radio stations. So when a new artists comes along with an idea of who they are and what they want to represent, it's a breath of fresh as we get to hear new perspectives and standpoints in music.

With artists like Halsey, Lana, and Billie Eilish leading the charge into a much more emotionally fueled sphere of music, Florida based artist Cloe Wilder has a path being forged ahead of her that allows her the space to offer her brand of emotive music to the masses. Being heralded as a champion of accepting who you are and your own journey through your mind and mental health, Cloe offers her ideas on where she's been and her own experiences. With her new single, "Overthinking" she talks about something that more than one of us has done on a very regular basis. You spin a problem on it's axis over and over and over until you've run it into the ground and then you do it all over again. You come at it from different angles and you attempt to attack it over and over but you still get the same result. It causes sleepless nights and it creates havoc and chaos in our minds and we spend so much time not only beating up the problem but ourselves as well. More often than not, if we just step back from the problem and come back to it with fresh eyes, it isn't so daunting after all but we just get so wrapped up in the fight that we can't seem to disengage.

You take a concept that's as large as this type of struggle and you wonder how you're going to be able to distill it into a 4 minute pop song and it can be a daunting task as well; but with the capable songwriting skills of this young artist, it doesn't seem to be too difficult. Her lyrics and delivery are mercurial and they just slip and slide along the backing track. This is like an audio version of the lazy river where you just climb in and close your eyes and float along the soundscape she's creating. The track has a languid, easy feel to it that has an amazingly calming influence that while her lyrics are filled with anxious overtones - it all just sweeps you up and nestles you softly into a space where you can actually clear your head for a few minutes. I think this type of story telling and this ability she has lyrically and vocally to be able to guide the listener in this manner isn't something that can be taught. Cloe has a talent that shouldn't be taken for granted and I think that if she gets paired with the right producers, she'll be a household name just like Billie.

I am anxiously waiting to hear where she goes from here. I hope to see her work with some amazing people that show her that she'll be able to be much more than just the "sad girl" and I hope that her marketing/PR team see that as a box she should be climbing on top of to reach the next level instead of one they're trapping her in. Emotive music has been around forever and while it's amazing to have aspects of that in your tool belt, it shouldn't be all that you are. If you look at any of the outstandingly successful bands in history, especially through the New Romantic era of the 1980s, emotions fuel discussion but there has to be so much more than that otherwise you simply become a one note artist and that does no one any favors. She's got an incredible voice and if her songwriting skills are as impressive as I think they are, she's got a bright career ahead of her.

Make sure you give her some love on her socials and you subscribe to her YouTube for more content. I do believe she has the ability to become someone we'll go...Damn, I knew her when....

You can get "Overthinking" here --->

Cloe Wilder on the Web

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Snow Ghosts - Heavy Heart

There's atmospheric and there's ethereal....then there's Hannah Cartwright. She appears to be able to float effortlessly in a plane high above the rest of us where she's channeling an amazing amount of power through her body. I haven't been moved by vocals like these since I fell in love with another Hannah, Hannah Reid of London Grammar. There's something so special about Hannah Cartwright's voice that reaches out into the void and pulls a familiar pain and ephemeral angst from the universe which she's able to deliver in an easily digestible manner and it resonates deeply within you because you've stared into the darkness with her. I don't feel like I'd want anyone on that journey with me other than her. She's just so evocative and expressive and I don't think I've really heard anyone with a voice as big as hers in a very long time. Her control is immaculate and she doesn't waste a breath.

"Heavy Heart" is one of Snow Ghost's latest singles taken off their upcoming release, A Quiet Ritual and I can't fully express just how this song has affected me. It's massive. It's an experience and I think that it's going to affect people in many different ways. I think it's going to be exactly what you need it to be when you need it. It think that you're going to pull from your own experience and this song will touch you more deeply than just a pop tune. There's a resonance to this that stays with you. Haunting and deep, it's going to be a more profound experience than most people are going to expect on first go round. It's one of those songs that is very amorphous in how you hear it. Each play through I've heard something different. Whether it's the production or the hollow loneliness in Hannah's voice or it's how the synth bends and moves to carry her voice to you; this song is beautifully and artfully crafted.

I love how art has the ability to illicit a visceral reaction from the viewer/listener. I love how music can get inside you and become so personal that each person hears something different. I love how these artists can play upon everything you are and bring you along with them on this experience. In my life time, I've honestly had 2 "religious" experiences in conjunction with music but I have a deep seated feeling that if I had the opportunity to experience Snow Ghosts live that number would increase.

This album was recorded in a castle in Wiltshire and spent two years in the making. "A Quiet Ritual is written for an ensemble of classical and modern instruments including the carnyx, an Iron Age Celtic boar-headed horn excavated from a bog in Deskford, Scotland. This mix of instruments is indicative of the theme of timelessness common to this album and their previous work."

Christian Lee Hutson - Northsiders

Jesus Christ man.... Getting back into writing has been a flood of emotions and getting to reconnect sonically with old friends has been the absolute best part of this journey. One of the greatest and most bad ass mother fuckers I've ever gotten a chance to see live and interact with is Christian Lee Hutson. I met him back in 2014 at the Communion tour and began to follow his music and his career and fell in love with his raw emotional honesty and absolute outlaw attitude about his music. He creates music that matters to him and does his own thing and that's how he connects with his audience. He is exactly what the world needs in an artist. He's cataloging his life and experiences through music and it's pure and it's honest and it's good. I missed hearing him and I'm so damn glad I've gotten a chance to bring him back into my life.

He's got a new single and new video called "Northsiders" and I can honestly tell you that I'm a wreck after listening to it. This is exactly how important music is. The story he's telling and the imagery he's creating is amazing and beautiful and leaves you with a visceral emotional response because you know where he's been. You know what he's seen and it's similar to an experience you've had. It's a song about missed opportunities and new loves and building those connections with people and it touches all those places where you immediately start reflecting on your own experiences and you think about your youth and those times when you were new and you thought you were invincible.

I adore this man and his voice and just how it's all done his own terms and just how punk he really is. No apologies. No disclaimers. He's telling his stories and he's blazing his own path and he's glad to have you along for the ride if you want to be part of it. I am in awe, especially considering that I got to spend a bit of time with him way back when and get to know him a bit. Seeing him share space with artists like Sturgill Simpson and The Shadowboxers and create art alongside them was an incredible experience that I'll always cherish. I think I may have bought him a beer and if I didn't I damn sure owe him at least a six pack for all his passion and his unadulterated soul baring he's done over the years. If he hasn't been invited to do NPR's Tiny Desk then they don't know what they're missing and they need to get on that ASAP.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Son of Cabe - Lynwood

We mull things over and over. We obsess over mistakes we've made and we torture ourselves for missed opportunities; especially opportunities to make things right. In the new single, "Lynwood" by UK based artist, Son of Cabe, these thoughts and ideas are explored. Not having the ability to apologize after a grievance is done is honestly one of the worst pains you can feel as you're going to roll it over and over again and you're going to beat yourself up. Son of Cabe says about the song,

“Lynwood’s about trying to say sorry when you can't and the guilt that follows. I messed up and didn’t get the chance to say sorry for something that happened. The song came together after months of reflecting on this and feeling worse and worse about it. I wrote the song as if it was the end of the world which is how it felt for a long time to me”.

I think we spend so much time in our heads when we've made the decision that we've disappointed someone else or ourselves that it's amazingly easy to get trapped in the prison of our own making. To have those feelings presented in a song in a manner that you can relate to is a true talent of a songwriter and he has done an outstanding job of building something that he should be proud of in this track. The synth is great. The percussion is exactly where it needs to be and it drives the song just as it should. I think this is a testament to the home grown producer as it shows that while it's true anyone can make music with the right equipment, it takes talent and skill to make good music and this is better than just good. I like how personal this song is to him because while he's baring his soul to us, it's enabling us to draw closer to him as an artist. I love his vocals and I love how not of all of his accent is normalized while he's singing because that gives him an edge over a lot of other artists that just sound homogeneous. I like how he switches between singing and rapping in the song, again, it adds another level to the song that gives it much more bite.

Much like other artists I feature, I think he's got a lot to offer and I can't wait to hear more from him.

Monday, April 22, 2019

90s Kids - Slow Motion

We tend to get wrapped up in what's viral. You know, that thing that's happening on social media that gives us all FOMO.... the dreaded Fear of Missing Out. But when you step back to a more simple time in your life; before technology ruled the school. Before you were watching people do whatever challenge is going on, you were kicking it with the Fresh Prince and keeping your Tamogatchi alive and it was great. Ed, Edd and Eddy were on the tv and you knew exactly what was All That. Brittney and NSync weren't just Tearing Up Your Heart and Doing it Again, they were tearing up the charts.

Looking back on the 90s not only sparks nostalgia but it reminds you of a time that just seemed so much easier. Columbus, Ohio based 90s Kids want to take you back in time with music that makes you feel young again and helps you escape the hustle of today's tech heavy day to day grind. With the release of their new single, "Slow Motion", they've taken everything that is absolutely great about that decade and wrapped it up in a beautifully crafted song. The vocals are smooth and just make you groove along with them. I'd love to see them on tour with fellow Ohioans, Walk the Moon because I think they're style compliment each other exceedingly well.

This song is just fun. It's a joy to just lay back into it and hear how the harmonies come together and how the synth is used perfectly to encapsulate those funky rhythms and jams that you'd hope would come out on a Hip Clip. I'm a fan of this and love to hear how they've taken all their childhood influences and created a passion project that just brings light to the music industry. I think there needs to be more music out there that's just joyful and makes you smile. It's good to be able to just let everything go for three and a half minutes and reminisce on a time where everything was easier and you didn't have as much to worry about. If we all took more three and a half minute breaks, things may be a bit easier to get through the days.

90's Kids are going to be on the road this summer with EXNATIONS and are anticipating a new music video and an EP to drop Spring/Summer 2019.

90's Kids on the Web

Drona - Space (f. Sancii)

I adore international music. I think we are in a marvelous technological age in which we get the opportunity to hear music from all over the world. You have artists from Bulgaria, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, the Middle East all making waves while staying true to their heritage and culture but providing an entry into their world, sonically speaking. I don't pretend to know everything there is about the various cultures sharing space in the musical universe but I do feel as if I have a pretty solid handle on what sounds good and what makes a good song and the collaboration between singer, Drona and producer Sancii has made beautiful work.

"Spaces" is the latest single from Indian born, Drona (Vaibhav Aggarwal) and it's a play on mental, physical, and outer space all at the same time. I do love this idea because I tend to look at life through moments and experiences. We move from moment to moment building memories with people that matter and the same can be said about spaces; especially how they're using them in this song. Spaces between people, places, events. The spaces in time grow and collapse as we become closer and further away - as separated by space. Space in time and space in geography. It's a brilliant concept that draws you in and makes you think about how you evaluate space and time. How do you see the spaces between people? How do you see the spaces that mark a moment? Do you use music to delineate time and art? Do you use experiences and memories? How do they all tie together and bring us closer to the divine?

I'm a fan of Indian culture. I've consumed a massive amount of cinema from India. I adore how life seems so much brighter and colors more vibrant within their society. I love films from Bollywood and the huge production value that's put into the films and I feel like Sancii and Drona have taken the same care with this single. The production doesn't miss a beat. It's tight and there's not a wasted moment. I love how you can hear a slight cultural feel to Drona's vocals and there's a slight pull into his heritage and life. I love that personal touch to the track as there is an international feel to it without it being a gimmick. I think that these two individuals have created a fantastic song that has staying power and will absolutely bring you closer to yourself as you dive inward in introspection and think about the spaces in your life.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Tiffany - I Think We're Alone (2019 Version)

It was 1988. Acid washed denim. Garbage Pail Kids. A ticket to the movies was $3.50. Transformers were the toy all the boys had to have and two young female pop start were battling it out for supremacy on the airwaves. You had the blonde, Debbie Gibson that was selling puppy dog eyes and 1950s sensibilities and you had rebellious Tiffany with her fiery red hair and sparkling personality fighting to be everyone's number one girl. Tiffany came out swinging with her GIGANTIC hit, "I Think We're Alone Now" and all bets were off. She was everything in my eyes as a young music fan. She was beautiful and she looked like she was having so much fun running through the malls in her video and it made me realize at an early age that pop music was the only way to go.

Flash forward 31 years. Yes, I said 31 years and Tiffany is back with an updated version of her mega hit and let me tell you, it not only hits me in all those nostalgic places it needs to but it never ever makes me feel like she's just trying to monopolize on her past career. It's current and it's fresh and it speaks to those of us of a certain age that have a bit of mileage on them. Those of us that have been kicked around my the universe but still have no plans of behaving. 40 something looks good on us and we're all still those rebellious youths somewhere deep inside. Needless to say, as I'm sitting here writing this I'm a bit giddy as this is fulfilling a pretty long life long fan of hers and pop music in general.

For me, 1988 was when I was really coming into my own taste for what music meant to me. I wasn't
listening to my parents music any more. I was branching away from what my siblings were listening to and I was finding my own way and Tiffany stood there like a beacon guiding me to a whole new arena of music that would become the foundation in which I based the majority of musical interactions throughout the rest of my life. I could talk for hours about "Should Have Been Me" or "Promises Made" or "I Think We're Alone Now". I still to this day know the words by heart and I know I consecrated a cassette to the ground at some point after I wore it out listening to it over and over in my Walkman. It was a glorious time as I was discovering so many new ideas and making my own mind up for the first time.

So, let's talk about the 2019 version of "I Think We're Alone Now". Simply put, it doesn't miss a beat. It's still fresh and current. It's modern but it harkens back to those times when things were so brand new. She sounds amazing. There's not an off note in the track and I think the production team behind the updated version have something to be exceedingly proud of because they've created a fantastic song. She talks about her influences for the update as being, "the Foo Fighters, and maybe a little Go-Go's and Blondie mixed together" and you can hear that clearly. The guitars are a bit heavier. The synth is a bit stronger and it does a brilliant job of representing all that she stands for.

Having a bit of experience under her belt and having lived an incredibly full life she also says about the song, "It incorporates fun and family. They're wearing 'children behave' t-shirts. We're starting a new nation of 'children behavers!'” With a twist, though: "It's an adult version. 'Let's not behave. We've made it to our 40s. We're rockin' it!' Let's have some fun, shall we?" I think we all can use a bit more fun in our lives.

Delta Rae - Heart Won't Break

A new single from Delta Rae dropped on YouTube today and it's brilliant. It proves that a band can shift their footprint but stay true to who they are. The heart of the band stays consistent and honest while the packaging has a bit more pop appeal to it. The vocals are still beautifully harmonized between Liz on main vocals, Brittany, Eric and Ian on backing and harmonies. That's where they shine and shine beautifully; when all four voices combine into this beautiful singular voice. It's so amazing and I am damn glad that they're still growing and reaching new demographics.

In their new single, "Heart Won't Break", they've created an awesome fusion of so many genres that help keep them firmly planted as an Americana band. I've always considered Americana one of the most misunderstood genres out there as people just want to write it off as country or folk and it's so much more than that. It's the Mississippi Delta of music. It's where rock and roll meets folk and combines with urban influences and a "take no prisoners" sensibility just like the heart of our country and the never give up attitude that makes being part of this country so strong and great. They've taken all these influences that seemingly don't work together and they're all blended into one amazing song here, whether it's the squeezebox or it's the mandolin which brings that earthy sound or it's the slight beatbox and the upbeat pop influences that push it toward a whole pop direction, they are still the same band that's grounded in emotion and feeling that they've never ever shied away from.

The four vocalists in the band all have tremendous strengths and it's incredibly smart how they're used. Brittany can offer so much power and emotion to her vocals like in "Bethlehem Steel" or "Bottom of the River" while Liz brings comfort and warmth to songs like "If I Loved You" or "Heart Won't Break." Eric tends to be much more the male counterpart to Liz offering a similar perspective but from a male voice while Ian is the counterpoint to Brittany. They're all versatile enough to pull off any vocal task given them but they are the best when the song they take the lead vocal on matches the breadth and scope of their voices. Liz always amazes me with how hearty her vocals are, even on songs where she's breaking up with you - you still feel like things will be ok and while the hurt may be strong and fresh, it's not going to last forever.

I've been writing about this band for seven years. I've seen them grow and become the group they are today and it's because they are smart and wise and choose their own path and they're the group they want to be on their own terms. They explore and grow and they forge their own path while staying true to who they are and the narrative they have to tell. I adore them. I'm lucky to be able to call them friends and I think they continue to inspire and amaze me. I've seen them live 3 times and that's not nearly enough and I need to make a point to get back out there and see them more because they tell the stories that matter and they're crafting a legacy like no other.

Sour - Separate Ways

So let's talk about this new track, "Separate Ways" by Essex based trio, Sour. You've got a vocalist in Connar Ridd, a bassist: Jonn Downham, and Sam Mumford  on drums. Which is all you need to get a party started. So then you take 21 year old Connar and you inject so many vocal influences into this new, hip voice. I hear influences from artists ranging from Andy Bell to Glenn Tilbrook and even a bit of Marc Almond. It's brilliant and it's reminiscent of a much simpler time in music. He's also got just a bit of that whole Eastern UK feel to it. The swag and attitude that comes with it and it's great. On this track, his vocals come in a rapid fire delivery that almost imitates a percussive instrument and it's an incredible way to show off his talent. I honestly think these 3 young men compliment each other quite strongly and if this is the quality of music they're going to put out, I'd love to hear then I can't wait to hear more.

Connar says this track is an exploration into his own sexuality and I think it's a beautiful vehicle for him to be able to do that. I talk about how music is a medium and a language that we can all speak and it's what brings us all together and enables us to see how we are more similar than different than people around the world. We've been represented in so many ways across the musical spectrum and we desire so much to hear our struggles and our own lives reflected back to us in music. So however Connar identifies, I hope that someone out there hears this and feels like he's speaking directly to them. I know the very first time I heard a love song sung by a man to a man, it was like my eyes had been opened for the first time and it was beautiful and it was new and made me want to hear more and more. I hope that someone out there feels similar when they see this video or they hear this song.

They state this isn't a break up song but I think I'd classify it more as a growth song. Knowing that regardless of how you feel, you have to do what makes you happy with people that make you happy. If that means going your own separate ways, that's what you have to do. You have to take care of your heart and your feelings and find those people in your life that help you become the most fully realized version of yourself and that especially rings true in any relationship. If you're not getting what you need with the partner you have and communication isn't doing what it needs to do, then you have to step back and analyze the situation and make a change.

This is an infectious, funk filled pop tune that makes you just bob along with it and enjoy the message without realizing you've been delivered a message. It's a cool jam that will hopefully open quite a few doors for these artists and allow them more of a platform to be able to tell their stories.

Sour on the Web

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Podge - Yuka-Peno

I spend a great deal of time talking about feelings and emotions. Talking about how artists represent a deep seated part of ourselves that we may not have even thought about but there's also a whole side of music that is there to lift us up and just take us on a journey for a couple minutes. Just to help us escape from the day and drift off. 20 year old artist, Podge has created a dreamy track, "Yuka-Peno" that just sweeps you up and allows you to forget the world as you slip-slide into this landscape he's painting with beautiful, glitchy synths and syrupy vocals.  He says he's influenced by the Japanese maga series, Nichijou and Japanese musician, Cornelius.

I feel like this could be a track in a sequence in an anime series as it's quirky and fun. Just helps you escape for a minute.  He released an entire album of tracks he's been recording in his bedroom called, "A Hero Appears" and if they're anything like this, that whole album will just be something cool to drift off and forget your cares for a while. Get out and support him and show him love. I feel like fresh voices are always welcome as are unconventional points of view in music as it helps us explore worlds outside ourselves.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Ferris & Sylvester - Flying Visit

"If you're gonna stay then you bring your suitcase and you make it ten days cause I hate these flying visits."

This isn't my first rodeo with Ferris & Sylvester and it's amazing to get back in with them and check up on them, musically speaking as it were and I am not disappointed in the least. Velvety, smooth, comforting....all adjectives I've used to describe Issy Ferris' vocals and they've only gotten better over time. Their harmonies are so gorgeous and they just make immaculate music together. I am in awe of just how powerful this duo is together and how they make some of the most amazing Americana music I've heard and I guess the ironic thing is that they're a British folk group.

This is a love song for the ages as it touches on the longing and the absolute need for physical intimacy that we all crave and need in every aspect of our lives. Don't just run into my life and then out again. Please stay because so much has happened since we saw each other last and I can't stand to go without you a minute longer. You can hear the passion they share, not just for the music they're creating but for each other as well. The way their vocals intertwine and build off each other can't simply be created by two singers that are just sharing vocals. This is music that is made by people that have a vested interest in each other and if you listen you can hear shared moments between them.

Music brings us closer and closer to each other and it's that thread of interconnectedness that helps make us part of something bigger. This song is going to touch a lot of people. It's going to matter in a lot of people's lives because so many of us have had feelings like this. So many of us have hated to watch a loved one walk away, whether it's a significant other or a mother or father or just a relationship that touches us and nurtures us. It's the fear of missing out on the little things like learning something new on a kick drum or seeing how high you can climb. While those things seem like very small things in the grand scheme of things they can be amazingly large when you can't share them with those that help us be more fully realized versions of ourselves.

I wrote about Ferris & Sylvester way back in 2017 and it brings my heart much joy to have them come across my desk again. It makes me realize and know that the music they've been creating is sustaining them and an audience because I love them as much today as I did then. I hope you love them as well because it's hard not to.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Countless Numbers - seconds ep

Music has gotten complicated. Well, music hasn't but classification of music has. Where do you put a group? How do you identify what genre they fall into? Then on top of that, we now have so many options of where to consume our music, how do bands get heard? Don't get me wrong, we live in a marvelous technological age in which we are exposed to music from every where. Every continent, every country but because there's not one massive faceless overseer funneling music to us, there are bands that get lost in the shuffle or may not get the chance they deserve. In a time when there are so many choices and music is churned out assembly line style, where do you put a four piece rock group that is reminiscent of The Replacements or Elvis Costello? I say you put them in the forefront because they have life experiences and a point of view that needs to be heard.

Cary Parker and his band of merry makers from Toronto have been putting music out in the world for over twenty years and it's that mileage that gives them their honest and ultimately unique sound in today's landscape of overproduced electronic based music. There's no replacing guitars and basses and there's no amount of sampling that can come close to the authenticity of a group that has been busting their asses in local bars for as long as they have. So they've released their second EP, seconds and it's pretty brilliant in it's simplicity and honesty. It's a four track ep that strips away all the over hyped production that we encounter so much with popular music these days and what you're left with is just pure, real, rock and roll that I think the world is sorely missing these days. You hear every single instrument and it's amazing. You hear just how the production was put together and how much care was taken in giving everyone their moment to shine.

It makes me want to get back to the days of The Gin Blossoms and The Goo Goo Dolls. They make me think of The Philosopher Kings or The New Pornographers in just the overall vibe and feeling they evoke. It's easy to see how Cary's vocals can be compared to Elvis Costello and that's something amazing I feel (as I am a huge fan). Their brand of rock and roll is just easy and it's something you want to just throw on with the best people in your life and let it fill the space. You can see how their live shows would be raucous events where people of all ages just make new memories and meet new friends. 

1. Twice as Hard
I really, really dig this track. It immediately gave me all the Paul Westerberg vibes that I've been missing for many, many years. I like the lyric, "maybe love's a diamond but twice as hard". I think that we've all been there. Standing in the middle of a relationship going....."Damn....why is this shit so hard" and they've succinctly expressed that feeling with one turn of phrase. I adore the guitar solo. There aren't enough guitar solos in music today and there need to be so many more.

2. Texas
Cary's vocals are brilliant and engaging on this track. It's that hint of gravel in his voice that draws me in and just captures everything. I'd like to know their thought process behind this song.

3. Tarmac
Come on.... how can you not love this song. I easily found my head bobbing along and foot tapping as I knew that I didn't want to come back either. I wanted to go where the rest of the guys were going. I like how you can hear just the small amount of synth in this song. It's that tiny bit of something that takes it to a new level.

4. Machine
Huge track. The production on this one going into the full on jam session in the middle eight is so freaking good. I love the idea behind the track and just everything about it. It's got this feeling to it were it's that song on a soundtrack where our hero has made a huge revelation and their running back to where it was they went wrong to make things right again. I think this was the absolute right song to end the album on because the other three tracks built you up to here.

These songs are old friends of yours that you haven't seen in a long time but conversations pick up right where you left off. You know all you need to know because they've never truly left you and you're able to just slip right back into the flow of things. For those of us of a certain age, this is nostalgic but current at the same time. This is the music you just sit back to with a beer and forget everything for a while. You can hear just how perfectly these four men interact with each other. You hear the trust in their relationships and you know that they've created lives that always come back to what brought them together initially, music.

Countless Numbers on the Web

Liz Cirelli - Ultra Violet Awakens

Conversations don't have to have words. Sometimes it's not what's said but what is in the moments in between. It's taking the time to hear everything that's going on around you and being open to the universe and what's in your own orbit. Generally instrumental tracks aren't the highest on my list of music to dive into but what Liz has done with this sweeping, atmospheric gem is incredible. It's a conversation all on it's own and it builds and it creates spaces for you to be and it's easy and it's surprising. When she steps away from the synthesized beats and goes to the piano and the sounds coalesce into this beautiful melody that lifts this song up higher than before.

I think it's people like Liz Cirelli that make an amazing difference in the world. She has a created a place in this world to express herself and to share her creative vision with the world. I love her energy and her overall vibe. It's very much in the vein of someone that wants to give back more than the universe has given her. You can tell that she effortlessly draws people to her with her spirit and people leave transformed. That's what music and art do. They dig into the heart of you and help you find those things that you didn't necessarily know you were missing or looking for and when you do find them and they resonate so truly and deeply within you, you know yourself a bit better.

By the time I was finished with the track, I wanted to know more about Liz and what she stood for because I feel like I already know her a bit through her art. So I took the time to check out her website and I wasn't wrong about my assumptions. She is a light in this world that wants to inspire others through her experiences and her tribulations and those people are the ones we have to take solace in. People like Liz who have been kicked around by the universe but continue to grow and learn and share their gifts with the universe are the people that make all the difference and make you smile and want to listen when they speak. People like Liz are the artists with the deepest palates that paint with all the colors to mark the passing of one experience to another and more often than not, they simply get dismissed by the populace but they are the ones we should be listening to.

So check out her work and support her art. Sign up for her newsletter and offer gratitude to the universe for letting us hear the beautiful message of growth and peace and love that she has to offer.

Also, take the time to accept a gift she has given my readers. It's a short experiential e-book she wrote about what it takes to achieve your dreams. It's a totally free download (no email sign-ups needed!) and it can be found here:

Liz Cirelli on the Web

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

YSSY - Sooner

I like things that are natural, raw, and honest. Soul of the earth kind of vibes. Digging your toes into the grass and dirt. It makes us much more interconnected and much more grounded and when you hear Elliot Caroll's vocals on YSSY's new track, "Sooner", you are immediately drawn in and you listen to every word that comes out of her mouth with rapt attention. You want to hear more. You want to have her tell you stories and share experiences with her. Her voice is impressively expressive in almost a nonchalant manner. It's effortless and it's like she knows exactly what words to say and exactly how to say them in conversation and again, it brings you closer to her and it makes you want to be there with her as she comforts you.

Elliot and Simeon of YSSY (
So then you take this beat and track that producer Simeon Abbott has crafted that has this progressive feel to it that just opens the door and helps deliver Elliot's lyrical performance to you in a beautifully wrapped package. He's created this undercurrent that just drives the beat into the heart of you. It's simple in design but again, there's an effortless complexity to how he's structured it to carefully carry Elliot. It gets soft when it needs to and when it needs to highlight what she's singing and it rises and builds into this atmospheric swell that adds a whole new level of excitement to this easy song.

So I think we've all had experiences that they're talking about in this song. You're in that beginning phase of a relationship were everything is new and exciting and sexy and you are doing everything you can in your power to just not blurt everything out and make the other person think you're just a freaking weirdo but all of your experiences have brought you to this very moment and everything is perfect and you just want to tell them all the things in your head and you need to do it as soon as possible but you know you need to be patient. (and yes, that run-on sentence was intentional because you're supposed to read it at the fevered pitch at witch your brain is processing all the emotions you're doing your dead level best to not just vomit all over them) But you're fighting with yourself to maintain your composure and you know you want to just shout it to the heavens but you wait.

Emotions are one of the most powerful forces on earth and to have them all succinctly pulled together in this song in a manner that you're able to connect with is pretty damn cool. It does ground you and make you think about those similar times in your life when you're struggling for the words to properly emote and Simeon and Elliot have done it for you. This is what music is about. This is what is important about being part of a creative collective. You are part of something larger than yourself and you're able to accept the help that you're given by other members of the group. Music is that group. It's those people that bring you into the collective unconscious and help you express those thoughts and feelings. YSSY has an amazing future ahead of them if this is the quality of work they're putting out. They have an EP coming this summer so I'll damn sure check it out and bring it to you guys as well.

You know I'm always hopeful and optimistic about new bands and want to check back with you guys about how a band is doing and this Toronto based group is no different. I want to hear more from them. I want to share their music with you and I want to see where they are. I think they are going to do great things. When the track releases to the public, I'll make sure I tag them and bring the song over so you all can hear it

Monday, April 8, 2019

Lizzo - Tempo (ft. Missy Elliott)

How can I possibly not talk about Lizzo and all the amazing things this woman is doing with her platform. Whether its just spreading a little black girl magic or it's talking about representation or not giving a fuck about what people think, she's doing her thing and doing it in her own manner. You can't hate on that ever. She's a trailblazer. She's a trend setter and she's making a whole generation of people feel good about themselves and doing her own damn thing. Marching to the beat of her own drum doesn't even begin to cover it. She's created her own brand new instrument and she's wearing it out.

Her latest single, "Tempo" is hot. It's fire. It's all the things that a song needs to be to get your ass up and moving. Hell, she's even held auditions via a social media contest to find her next back up dancers by having people submit videos of them dancing to the track and tagging it with the hashtag #fuckituptothetempo and that's what people have been doing. Rushing out to their social media platforms, dancing and giving it hell and just living their best damn life in hopes to be part of something historic at Coachella this year.  In "Tempo", she starts off with a bang and says

"Slow songs they for skinny hos
Can't move all of this here to one of those
I'm a thick bitch, I need tempo
Fuck it up to the tempo"

It's a straight up banger of a track and it will get a club hype in no time. Lizzo describes her music as "church with a twerk" and that's exactly what this is. It's just a damn hype song that will fit in perfectly with her other singles and just makes you feel good. Damn good.

Look Mum No Computer - Groundhog Day

Life is so weird sometimes. Last night, I ran across the most bizarre video I've seen in a minute. This intellectual punk looking guy was building an organ out of Furbys and it seemed like something you'd find greeting you at the gates of Hell. Welllllllll it turns out that the intellectual punk guy is actually a music artist that goes by the moniker, Look Mum No Computer or you can call him by his Christian name, Sam Battle but I think he'd actually prefer to answer to LMNC. He's this weird, quirky, musical genius and he's damn good at what he does.

"Groundhog Day" is his first official release as a single but he's got a ton of stuff on his YouTube and various social media platforms that will just make you want to go deeper and deeper and see just how far his rabbit hole goes because it's all brilliant. His cover of TLC's "No Scrubs" is so good and different but still pays homage to the original source material. His voice is super cool and his whole method of performance art is one of the most killer things I've gotten to experience lately because it's new and it's innovative and doesn't fit into any sort of conventional box. It's pure expression and it's art and it makes you feel things because that's what art is supposed to do. It's unexpected and it's nothing that you've heard before.

So back to "Groundhog Day"'s a brilliant single. It's got a killer beat and the production tight. It slaps. From start to finish and it's just a hot take. It's funky and LMNC's rapping and singing are on point. It's got this fresh feeling with it being one part performance piece and one part whatever the fuck LMNC wants it to be. It's put together with the same care that he has his other pieces of work and it makes you want to just hear more and more of his point of view. I damn sure know I want to. I want to know more about what drives him and what makes him create the music that he does. His YouTube is full of great content from How to's to his music and his experimentation. This is what happens when creativity and inventiveness collide and the result is just fantastic.  Support creators like him because he's actually doing things in this world. He's creating new things and building a whole new genre of art and it's beautiful and it's mental and it's good.

Look Mum No Computer on the Web

Delta Rae - Hands Dirty

Delta Rae have never been a group that shies away from socially conscious issues. They have taken the power of their platform and used it to help spread awareness on issues that are important for not only their demographic to hear but every one that has the power to hear music or read lyrics. Their latest single, "Hands Dirty" is no different and they've done not only an outstanding job highlighting gender inequality but giving Brittney a vehicle for her powerful voice. That's always been one of my favorite things about Delta Rae, all four vocalists bring something distinct and honest to the table and when they're unified, it's pretty damn incredible. Brittney's voice just tears through all the rhetoric and bullshit that we have to put up with in the media and it's so strong and means so much to so many under-represented people in the community but she also has the ability to harness those quiet moments and just wrap you up in warmth and it makes me swoon.

I've said over and over that music doesn't have to have a message as theirs merit in all music but this is the stuff that sticks with you. It's going to build bridges and it's going to open doors because it's presented in a manner that delivers the message in a meaningful way. The visuals in the video are as equally as powerful as the song and you know that this is a labor of love for all the members of the group. This isn't just an agenda that one member wants to foist on the world. This is important and this matters. And if you don't think their message is important, I beg you to open your mind and educate yourself on what's happening in the world. Whether it's women in the workforce or the #metoo movement, these are some of the most important social messages that we need to be as open as we can so that healing can begin.

Delta Rae has been and will continue to be one of my most favorite bands of all time and they continue to impress me and astound me with their passion, their love and what they know to be true in this world. Whether we're dancing in graveyards or running or chasing twisters or knowing that love wins in the end, this group of young people will never ever shy away from what matters and will always deliver messages of love, hope, and support that we need more of in this world.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Charlotte Sands - I Love You, But

Conversations are being had more and more about mental health and self care and they're damn important. I absolutely love that people are being more open about the struggles they've been dealing with because the more we talk openly about them the less stigma surrounds mental health. If you have a broken arm, people can see the cast and they know that you're healing but when it comes to mental health - all the symptoms and signs manifest in so many different ways from person to person that it's so hard to fully understand how we struggle.

Charlotte Sands is a 22 year old singer/songwriter from Nashville and her new single, "I Love You, But" is nothing but a straight up bop that helps you heal as you listen to it. She's a young woman with a platform and she's using it for the absolute right reasons. Throughout the song, she's expressing how she's been through it and she knows the way she needs to go to be the person she knows she can be but it's going to take work. She says, "I love you but I love myself" and that's important because it doesn't matter who the subject of that sentiment is, it's important to love yourself and accept you for you before you love some one else. This song is super fun and bouncy. The production makes you dance and smile and you just feel so damn good listening to her sing about her imperfections and learning how to work with them to be a better version of herself.

"I'm not perfect but I'm getting well / yeah I love you but I love myself"

I mean, come on..... This is incredible, simply acknowledging this part of her life and saying it out loud is one of the most amazingly healing things that she can do. This is a young woman that is going to do a lot of amazing work if this is how she uses her gift. I could quote line after line from this song because she's speaking a lot of truth and people that hear it are going to adore her. The production on this song is super fun and makes you smile especially the vocoder work at the end. It's unexpected and just adds a bit more excitement and an overall sense of not really giving too many effs. I'm gonna do what I want to do and if that's hop on this T-Pain train, then that's what I'm gonna do.

Just like the last 4 songs I've written about, there's something in the universe that is pulling these tracks to me. These artists are telling me that I have a lot of work to do and there are people out there that need to hear this music because I'm not the only one that needs to hear it. Music connects us. It brings us together and it heals us. This track is an amazing example of that and I'm grateful I got to hear it before the release date of April 17. Come back then and I'll drop the track so you can hear just what I've been talking about.

Tadhg Daly - Hit the Ground

Vocals are a gigantic portion of what makes music so special to me. Voices and sounds and emotions shown through vocal expression more specifically. Male artists tend to have a bit of a tougher road to hoe with me as I want to hear something new. Something I haven't heard in a voice before and Tadhg has absolutely done that. His voice has a depth to it of some one that has experienced life beyond his years. He's got some mileage on him and it resounds through his voice clearly and draws you deeper into him. I don't like making comparisons between artists but it's been said that he could be put beside James Bay and while I hear that, he fully and wholly stands on his own two feet.

Life has a funny way of giving you exactly what you need even when you don't know you need it. I've said in a few of my latest write ups that I've been in a pretty rough patch for a while and now that I've come back to music, it seems that the majority of songs that I've been exceptionally attracted to are uplifting, inspirational, empowering pieces of art that feel as if the artist is standing there singing to me and only me. "Hit the Ground" is no different, in fact it's probably exactly the song I need to hear right now.

"And I've been dancing on my own
Running a like there's no one there to watch me
if I hit the ground

And I've been dancing on my own
Running a like there's a someone there to catch me
if I hit the ground
I'm ready to live now"

Giving yourself permission to accept the help that's been offered is one of the most difficult things a prideful person may have to do in their life and it's something I've faced quite a bit as of late. Making the decision that we can't do this all on our own and that we all need some one is powerful and it's cathartic and it's freeing and you don't have to shoulder the burden all by yourself. Tadhg has so beautifully expressed this sentiment. Learning, growing, becoming a more fully realized version of ourselves is what we all have to aspire to if we are going to make the most out of this thing called life. I could easily quote every single lyric in this song and they'd all be a reflection of everything I need to hear.

This is what music is for. Music like this allows the listener to dig into themselves and become part of something more. It's anthemic. There is power in his words and it's transformative. It builds and swells and it wraps you up and tells you that it's perfectly ok to make mistakes and to fall but you have to get up over and over and you have to keep getting up. He's reassuring you and he's there, not to offer you a hand up but to help dust you off once you've gotten back on your feet.

Tadhg Daly on the Web

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Michael and The Michaels - Choose to Be

I don't generally buy into gimmicks except when they're done amazingly well and I'm able to see the merit in the work that goes past the gimmick and Chicago based, Michael and The Michaels have done that. So the whole deal with Michael and the Michaels is that they're all Michael. Not like Negan or maybe they are like Negan in that sense? Who am I to say...

So like other amazing Chicago indie based bands like Homer Marrs and the Excellent Adventure or The Private Instigators or Jinx Titanic, Michael and his crew are doing things their own way and they're making music that has a social conscious but are packaging it in an artful, creative way that allows them the freedom to do what they want. They're dramatic. They're unhinged. They're a bit They Might Be Giants meets The Flaming Lips with Gordon Gano's blessing. They're just this really cool and funky group of guys that want to tell their stories in their manner.

So I'm going to talk about their music going forward but we are going to start with "Choose to Be" because it struck me when I needed it. I'm working on building me again. Finding what it is in this world that brings me joy and reminding myself that I have a purpose and a direction so this song did an amazing job of helping strengthen those feelings. Quite simply, they say "Choose to Be is an upbeat fun tune about doing what you love. So listen. Enjoy. Then go out and do something that you love."

I think we get wrapped up in our own shit to remember that we aren't just put on this earth to toil away. We have one shot to do something and make our lives worth remembering.  Irvin Yalom said, "Some day soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That's when I will be truly dead - when I exist in no one's memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies, too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?” It's this concept that I strive for. A small piece of immortality. A place in the world where I'll live on after my body is gone. We have to choose to be something; something greater than a drone. We have to carve out a place in this universe because no one is going to do it for us.

So yeah, take a fun, quirky song about being more and throw a bit of philosophy behind it and it becomes more. It' becomes a conversation that we should be having and it was presented in a 2 minute package that makes you smile and bob your head along with it.  Thank you, Michael and The Michaels for starting this conversation. You have made an impact in my life and you've made a fan out of me. Spend the two bucks on this song. Support indie music. Choose to be someone that sees beauty in the world.

Felix Hagan & The Family - Gene Kelly

I've been a massive fan of Felix Hagan & The Family since I stumbled across them on YouTube because of the absolute joy they exude in everything they do. They're a band that I would love to see live because I know that they would just put on the most massive show ever and it would be incredible. They take the piss when they can and the world needs so much more of that. They're theatrical. They're over the top. They're everything a pop act should be and on top of it all, they have the talent to back up everything they do. They put out fantastically produced music. They bring so much excitement and energy to their videos and their art and the world is a better place for it.

About four months ago, they released a lyric video for a new track, "Gene Kelly" and I am right back to where I was with my love affair with this band. The song is so freaking cool. It's a story about a young entertainer building his career and finding his purpose in life and damn do we need music like this today.

"I want to dance like Gene Kelly
Dress like Elton John
Give those kids that get me
a star to wish upon

Tell the world I'm ready
to write their favorite song
so folks that never met me
will miss me when I'm gone"

Give those kids that get me a star to wish upon...... That lyric in itself is what this is all about. It's what music is for. It's so that the kids that are listening to all this amazing art will aspire to be more than what they are. It's to have hopes and dreams and see someone just like you that reminds you that you aren't alone and that you can do amazing things if you set yourself to and you put in the work.

I've said it over and over, music doesn't have to have a meaning. It doesn't have to stand for something but damn it, when it does... that's magical. That's when it's important and it's good and Felix Hagan and his merry band of merrymakers know just how to do this and build something that will last and mean something.  I wish they were a much bigger household name, especially here in the States but in a way - because they aren't, I feel a certain brand of ownership and a bit of pride knowing that I have them in my back pocket and can share them with people.

Listen to this track. Get a little inspired and go out and create something. Share a bit of Felix's excitement with the world.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Fred Seul - Capable

Again, this is the power of music. This is exactly what music is out in the universe for. Fred Seul is a Danish based artist and he's using his platform to talk about the rising of the oceans in a manner that is easy and free. You just close your eyes and you get washed away in this story he is beautifully telling. I feel like I just need to take a huge breath and sit down and let him guide the journey that we are both on. It's emotionally evocative and introspective and just creates this space in time that brings you back over and over. Fred's voice is earthy and honest and the backing track isn't over produced. It's just easy and free and like other artists that speak multiple languages, his English is amazing.

His voice is familiar and comfortable. It's got so much heart and soul in it and listening to his other tracks on his Soundcloud, he's got an incredible grasp on his instrument. I highly recommend "More Than I Am" as you hear a whole new side of his voice. More direct and commanding. It's deliberate and forceful and I quite enjoy the dichotomy of what I've heard so far. He's a brilliant artist and I am grateful that he reached out to me to give him a listen.

SOMA - Don't Believe Them

Easiest way to get me hooked on a track before I've ever listened to it? Have it produced in Sweden. I have a strong love affair with most all Swedish pop music and Finland transplant, SOMA is absolutely no different. I am in awe of her modern take on disco. The production on this song is fantastic. It's nostalgic and has so much that's rooted in the 80s but it's modern and it's current.

The chorus just slams. The way that the track rises up to support SOMA's vocals is brilliant. You are right along with her through the song but when the chorus comes around, it's just a whole new ballgame. I really enjoy how this song is about empowerment and she just stand up and says, I'm just done with all this bullshit. I'm tired of having to defend myself because that's not who I am. I'm a grown ass woman and your petty drama isn't going to even come close to touching me anymore. You are the person that I want to be with and you have to trust in me. Trust in the fact that you are the only one. If you can't do that, then I'm not going to beg you.

Music like this so often gets dismissed because it's "just pop" and that's not fair. This track has merit and worth and stands on it's own as a powerful piece of art. Take the emotion that SOMA is evoking here and find another medium that is as easily disseminated as music is. The means in which she's reaching people through this art is far reaching and will stand the test of time. Sure, there are people that will simply write this off but they'd be wrong to do so.

I look forward to hearing more from SOMA and will absolutely share her so we can continue on this journey together.

Alex Gontar - Forever (ft. Anat Elbaz)

Sometimes music is just about simplicity. It doesn't have to be complicated or overproduced and it's the skill of a craftsman to be able to walk that line between too much and not enough. When you have an artist that is untested, it can sometimes be a gamble of whether or not they have the ability to find balance and it appears that Israeli artist, Alex Gontar has done just that.

In his new single, Alex lands firmly on his feet with a simple yet complex tune in a language that is not his native tongue. When artists that speak English as a second or third language decide to record an English based track, sometimes idioms and phonemes can be tricky but in the case of "Forever", he stuck to simplicity and made it beautiful. The song doesn't have a lot when it comes to lyrical content but there are times when you don't have to write Shakespeare in three and a half minutes.

Alex has proposed a question in the quiet moments of this song. What would you do if you lived forever? He's experienced magic and he's had regrets but he doesn't want to get older because how could you live forever and watch all the things you love and have become part of your life wither away while you could only watch it all happen. I feel like this is a song about living life while you've got it. You have to make the best of what you have and you have to build your legacy while you've got it in front of you.

I love the guitar and just the ease of it. The production of this song is top notch and rivals anything Charlie Puth releases. I enjoy his voice and Anat Elbaz as well. I'll be honest, I know nothing of either of these two young people but I have watched some of his other videos on Youtube and music truly is a language that we all speak and it's incredible to see him from half a world away. I really hope that he is able to find success not only in Israel but internationally as well and as talented as he is, I don't see it being too difficult. I don't want to sound like an ignorant American that doesn't know anything about the rest of the world but I really enjoy his songs in his native language. I'll be honest, I am not sure if it's Hebrew or Arabic and I feel horrible for not being able to distinguish them, maybe he'll reach out to me and correct me but I think it's beautiful.