Monday, July 15, 2019

Justin Utley - Survivors (Orchestra Version)

What do you say when one of your best friends gets to release a new video for a passion project he's been working on since 2017? What do you say when that friend continues to grow and become the man you know that he's meant to be? I've had the honor and the privilege to watch Justin work on this song and hear how it's grown into what it is today. I know how much this song means to him and I damn sure know that it's going to mean to the millions of people that get to hear it. I know what it means to pick yourself up off the ground, one more time and dust yourself off and keep on fighting. I know that it means to hear those thoughts and emotions being expressed in music and lyrics. I know just how important this song is going to be and how it's already made an indelible mark on my life.

Justin was selected as a vocalist for the 2018 Eurovision contest and unfortunately it wasn't selected which I absolutely hated for him but it allowed him to get access to the song and have the ability to manipulate it and make it even more his own and he's been working with new producers and has been digging around in the crates of his creativity had found even more tools to give the song depth and more meaning. When I first wrote about this song back in 2017, I talked about how this was an "ode to overcoming obstacles" and while that's true, the obstacles are much more personal with this release. Justin is a very outspoken advocate in the war against conversion therapy which he experienced two years of at the hands of the Mormon church. It's a vile and barbaric practice and it needs to be done away with. With this song, he's hoping to shed light on what's still happening in the gay community in not just Utah but all over the country still.

Music is a universal interpreter of our experiences and emotions. While this song means something very specific to Justin; we, as the audience, have the ability to infer our own ideals onto the words he's singing. In this orchestral version of the song with a gorgeous video to go with it, we see a little girl running through school being haunted by the taunts of her classmates and she winds up seeking solace in the auditorium where she finds Justin. I feel like the video is shot in a way that Justin can be seen as a guide, telling her not to give up. To find it within herself to keep fighting, no matter what. I adore this video. The message it sends. The cinematography. This is more than just a music video. It's a work of art. When the orchestra comes in, it doesn't matter how many times I've watched it; I get chills. It's quite literally one of the best videos I've seen in a very long time and it's not lavish. It's not over the top and it does nothing to detract what the message is. It's what we need in the world today.

I've talked about how much more music means when it has a message and a meaning. What Justin represents, where he's been and what he stands for means so much to so many people. He's creating a musical legacy that not only documents his experience and his journey but that of many LGBTQ+ people around the world. He crafts art that has a profound impact on those around him and it is a gorgeous legacy.

Friday, July 12, 2019


Guitar Solos. Can we talk about them and how music isn't music without them. This song has a killer one and it harkens back to a time when every song had one and it makes me damn happy. UK Indie Pop group, Blood Sugar have released a new single that's a gorgeous, melodic indie pop forward take on a break up and I'm here for it. There's an amazing breakdown going into the chorus that treats a drum machine like the star player it is. There are beautifully, emotionally tinged vocals that just make you feel all the nostalgic, angsty, break up feels that you've experienced. And there's a gorgeous guitar solo. This song has everything a break up song needs and yet you walk away from it not feeling destroyed and sad but resolved and resolute.

Lead singer Jack Saturn delivers this song in a manner that's gorgeously done and makes you want to know more about him and what he stands for. He creates this world where he's not mad and he's not angry about the break up. From the beginning of the song he knows that something isn't right but he knows that he's got to do the proper thing. He's hopeful that they'll find something better. Someone that they can be more themselves with because for what ever reason, it's not him. To have someone as level headed as he is during a break up, it almost makes you want to question your motives for breaking up in the first place.

This is an amazing song and I want to hear so much more from BLOOD SUGAR. I feel like I've only scratched the surface of what they have to offer with this track and I know that as a first outing, it's a damn good one.

Alus - Fuck Nudes, Send Me Your Playlist

So I adore this song for a ton of reasons. First and foremost....the idea behind it. Connecting on a level that means so much more than just physicality. A body is a body is a body. Some are more attractive than others. Some are more unique than others but once you've seen one naked person, there are only a few variations on the base model. Now, a can learn a ton about a person based on what they're listening to. I mean, come on. You're sitting here on a blog about music...of course you're going to get a definite opinion about a song about music.

New Jersey born Alus, is a musical legacy herself as her grandmother played violin with Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack so music and creativity is in her blood and you can hear it in her sultry vocal styling. She reminds me so much of 90s soul and R&B and that's an amazing achievement because there was so much great music during that time period for female vocalists. She's putting a new spin on dating with this track as she's telling you to skip over all the small talk and get into the nitty gritty. It's a smooth, soulful track that is sexy as hell and it's gonna get a lot of people's attention. I dig her for being bold and just letting it all hang out. It takes a strong, powerful woman to tell you exactly what she wants and needs and I think that it's a conversation that needs to happen much more frequently.

Stepping back into her original tracks catalog shows so much depth and power to her voice and I think she has so much more to her than just being a flash in the pan or releasing a song like this strictly for shock value. She's got an incredible breathless quality to her voice that a lot of people could potentially compare to Ariana Grande but there's so much more to her than that and she shouldn't be immediately be pigeonholed into a category like that. I think she's incredible and I want to see and hear much more from her.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Palm Ghosts - The Golden Age

"Some days were sunlight, some were rain"

Joe Lekkas can do no wrong in my ears. His voice is like honey. Warm, nostalgic, familiar, honey. Palm Ghosts are that amazing group that I wouldn't have fully understood as an angsty teen in the nineties but I would have been wholly into them but as an adult, I would have looked back and gone...."Damn, I get it now" but as an angsty adult, I don't have to go through all that. Their particular brand of shoegaze, dream pop, new new romantic new wave or whatever you want to classify it as makes me so damn happy. This is the music that I want to just put on repeat and get lost in my own world to. It's everything I need it to be and then some. It's warm and it's a hug from an old friend and it's got the exact right amount of synth in it to tap into all those pleasure centers that make me feel like we've been on this long journey together listening to Bauhaus and Echo and the Bunnymen and we've finally come to the end of the trip and our road trip of a movie has come to fruition.

I get so damn hyped up when I hear them but it's not an off the chart level of excitement but something more subdued that just makes me know that everything will be ok. That all the shit that I sweat will fall away. It's just good and I know that I'm not the only person out there that's experiencing this rush of contentment when they listen to their music. I just read the lyrics of the song and I'll be damned if this track isn't describing everything I'm experiencing right this very minute as I listen to the song for the fifth or eighth time. The Golden Age in a relationship when everything is where it needs to be and everything has perfectly fallen into place through thick and thin. It's the good times and the bad that are necessary for you to fully understand and appreciate what you've got. It's the sour and the sweet that come together to balance  life. It's that person, those people, that experience that connect you to everything bigger than yourself and it's all wrapped up here in 5 minutes and 4 seconds.

I don't know if they know just how important they are in today's climate. I don't know if they realize the impact they are making on fans of a certain age and new fans alike. Palm Ghosts have become one of my favorite groups in a relatively short amount of time and it's not hard to understand why.

Palm Ghosts on the Web

Kit Taylor - Persephone

Writing about a songwriter is one of the more challenging aspects of this job than others because you have to totally ignore the vocal performance and judge the song strictly on the words alone. And when the vocal performance is as good as it is on this track, it's damn hard. So looking that this song from Hades perspective makes it a bit easier. If you know anything about Greek Mythology, you know that Hades abuducts Persephone and takes her to Hades (he's not only the lord of the underworld but it's also the name of the underworld) with him. Her mother, Demeter, is heartbroken and stops the crops growing and the people begin to starve so Zeus intervenes and tells Hades that Persephone can return to the surface during the spring and summer months the facilitate the harvest. History lesson over. So looking at this song from Hades perspective, it's a love song about the woman he adores and misses during the summer because she's out doing work.

The lyrics are great. The production is great. It's a damn fun song. It's a fantastic love song and it makes you smile (especially since he worked the word necromancer into it). Joey Diggs Jr. is a beautiful vocalist and he does an amazing job on this track. It makes me want to hear and artist like Ne-yo singing this in an animated movie. Not that I'm taking anything away from Joey at all but a lot of time, the studio vocalist is a stand in for bigger artists to hear what the song sounds like to determine whether or not they wanna go for it or not.

I've listened to a ton of Kit's work this morning as I've been investigating him and he's a damn talented songwriter. He has a way with stringing ideas together in a very cohesive manner and it's brilliant. Whether it's the gospel/soul "Strip It All Away" or the theatrical, "Be Still My Heart", Kit knows exactly how to write an amazing song that takes you exactly where you need to go. He's recently won several prestigious awards via the Great American Songwriting Contest as well as being inducted into the 2018 Hall of Fame and it's easy to see why. He's able to capture all these amazing emotions with his words and he's able to walk among so many different genres but it seems that he's at his very best when he's tapping into a story to tell. World building and painting environments with his words all make perfect sense under his pen. I think he'd do an absolutely amazing job being a book writer for a Broadway style musical and if you listen to a handful of the tracks in his catalog, it's easy to see one being created potentially without his knowing. Listen to the words he's penned along with the artists he's chosen to give his words life. He's doing amazing things.