Songs of the Night is a new EP from Rhett Repko. Rhett’s appreciation for the authenticity of classic rock manifests itself in these songs, which favor precision craftmanship and genuine emotion over the plasticity of excess in contemporary pop production. That being said, this EP is very well produced, as good as any label quality recodng, while retaining its organic sound. Tracks like A Broken Song exemplify the album’s intimate feel, with minimalist guitars and heartfelt vocals giving the listener the sense of listening to a dedicated performance in ones living room. Other jams like Out of My Head feature a heavier, rockin ambiance with stylish arrangements and powerful melodic choruses. The vocals are pretty impressive. Rhett can hit some high notes, and his voice is really pleasant to listen to tonewise. I’ve reviewed releases by Rhett Repko a couple years ago and definitely saw a lot of potential. It’s good to see Rhett and the band continuing to progress and make a name for themselves.
Holy Prophet Elijah is another fun filled, action packed electronic track from Jamit, this time a collaborative effort with fellow artist Kætäwi. The jam is a groovin’ retro-futuristic dance track with synths stylistically reminiscent of those of the fictitious group “Andromeda” from the television show, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. One definitely gets some post-disco vibes from this track. It’s positively galactic. The subject matter is the prophet Elijah, and the listener is left with intrigue as to the significance, whether a religious statement is being made or whether the usage is more abstract, conveying a manner of the song’s spirit and vitality. One thing is certain, this jam is poppin’ and makes me want to install a light-up dance floor in my living room.
Friction is the debut EP from Django Riders, a soul/funk band from Portland, TN. They managed to pack a lot of vitality in this 4 song release. The guitars stand out here as especially phenomenal. I’m not sure what kind of gear setup these guys work with, but they really do capture that authentic vintage tone. Some musicians will spend thousands of dollars experimenting with vacuum tubes and never come close to achieving this kind of tone. The guitar performance on these jams is dynamic and elaborately groovin. It’s funky rock’n’roll with a little bit of swinging country flavor.
Each track is lively as all get out from start to finish. I would have never guessed that the EP was recorded in three different studios over a year period, since everything sounds cohesive, and the songs all vibe as if they’re part of the same set. The vocals are a thrill a minute. The singer does more than just croon. He puts on a wild show with his voice, and you can just tell this dude loves to perform. This style of music is hard to sing well given the exotic voice changes and delivery dynamics necessary, so I have to give props to the lead and backup vocalists for pulling it off. My favorite song on this EP is probably Musky Funk, which has a sweet 70′s style intro, a catchy chorus and memorably quirky lyrics. Don’t be fooled by the fact this is their debut EP. These guys are all pro musicians, and this release punches well above its weight.
Keys To The M.O.E is a new album from ex-bodybuilder and longtime music artiste, Kilo M.O.E It doesn’t take long when listening to this record to realize Kilo M.O.E. (real name Maurice Jones) has a talent for writing catchy songs. The title track Keys To The M.O.E is attention grabbing, with Kilo’s deep and commanding vocal presence leading the way. A lot of indie rappers and hip hop artists are unorganized and simply bust rhymes into the void, just throwing stuff at a wall and hoping it sticks. Kilo on the other hand demonstrates impressive songwriting craftsmanship. Whether its through innate intuition or just the fact that he’s a seasoned veteran who has been at this game a long time, I have no idea. The songs have clever hooks, strong verses, and memorable chorus phrasing all structured within a complex musical framework.
There’s a substantial variety of beats and instrumentals on this album. Usually it’s synths or some kind of piano and samples, setting a mood and ambiance that’s a little on the darkly mischievous / diabolical side. The track In Em is probably my favorite in terms of musical backing. It has a kind of 80′s Sci-Fi synth and is just all around badass. Though Feel Inside gets an honorable mention with its melodic disco vibes. Something must be said for Kilo’s delivery. He doesn’t just go through the motions. He’s never content to just spit out lyrics. Rather, like an actor he delivers his lines with a performative pizazz that enhances the songs in ways which less creative people would be incapable of. The song which really stands out on this album is still the title track, Keys to the M.O.E It’s just so damn catchy, and it was still in my head hours later after only hearing it one time.
It may not seem very scientific, but sometimes I can tell I’m going to like something just by looking at the cover artwork. Such is the case with Wicked Love, a song from solo indie pop artist and poet, “Junior Love.” According to Junior, the song is inspired by a long distance relationship he experienced (which was also the subject of his poetry book 10 Hours to Mexico.)
Wicked Love is a dance pop song. It blends spoken word poetry with a chillwave ambiance. With authentically expressive lyrics and a pleasantly haunting atmosphere, this song hits a sweet spot. The track oscillates between high energy dance pacing and mellow reflective interludes, almost mirroring the roller coaster ride of a long distance relationship itself. Wicked Love is a solid effort from Junior, who comes across as a likable, archetypal romantic hero who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s not afraid to take chances, musically or otherwise.
Johanna Breed has just released a video for her song, Mister. The track is from her latest EP titled Is It Too Late? She describes her musical style as “future soul.” That’s certainly how I would characterize Mister which combines earthy, organic instrumentals and bongo-like drums with piano and synth. The result is a kind of post-apocalyptic new age, nature pop. The video exemplifies this aesthetic perfectly (playing keyboards in the middle of the wilderness, etc.) She has terrific voice, expressive and very at ease. Her voice sort of reminds me of what Vitamin C would have sounded like if she had made more avant garde music. Johanna’s got some real talent, and Mister has potential to break through as a single if it manages to land on the right person’s desk.
Night Before the Dawn 2.0 is an album from Katrel Kelly, released on GalacticOnes label. With 13 fun filled and action packed tracks, the album offers a full listening experience. Katrel’s (also known as “Trel Mack”) delivery style is slow-mid paced and charisma driven, reminiscent of many popular 90s hip hop icons. He has a knack for coming up with catchy and sometimes amusing lyrics, making his songs memorable, even while he makes it clear he’s all about handlin biz. Warren Buffett and I Hate These Rappers are tracks which include some of the more choice lines. The songs on this album are more musical and melodic than the average hip hop song. Each track has a uniquely complex musical backing. There’s no padding and cutting corners here. Musically my favorite song on this album is Make You Love Me, which features some absolutely killer female backing vocals. When this jam kicks into high gear is when I made up my mind that this album has “the good stuff.”
Most of the tracks on Night Before the Dawn 2.0 are pretty solid, carried by Katrel’s personality and skills as a poet / entertainer. Wisely, nothing is neglected on the musical or production side. The complex musical elements enhance this release significantly, elevating it to the upper echelons of indie hip hop.
Jenn is a new R&B single performed by Black Hebrew. The song was written and produced by Gino, whom was inspired by meeting a woman at his workplace. This track expresses a deep and relentless admiration for a particular female. Brimming with positivity, the song presents a musical and lyrical showering of affection, amounting to an enthusiastic celebration of nearly everything about this girl. Even the synth driven backbeat is bright and uplifting. It’s fitting that I’m writing about this song on Valentine’s Day, since the messaging contains what nearly every woman would probably say they want to hear from a guy they’re interested in. Office romance can be tricky and awkward though, especially if it doesn’t pan out. The beauty of this song though is that it will resonate with all kinds of women, especially those that may feel like they could use an admirer of their own.
Vocalist “Black Hebrew” has a lively delivery, great timing and flow. He sings with confidence while retaining sensitivity in his voice, which makes for just the right combo for this song. The pacing is fairly quick for a romantic R&B song, elevating the intensity of the moment as the artist pours his heart out and lays his cards on the table. It’s nice to see a song which has actual depth, meaning and genuine passion behind it.
One time a few years ago I was at a bar in midtown Phoenix, chatting up some random girl when she took out her wallet and handed me a business card. I thought maybe she was giving me her number, but when I looked at the card it was completely blank…all except for the words “STOP TALKING,” which were printed in bold lettering. I may or may not have gotten the message.
Anyway, I only reopened that wound today because STOP TALKING is the name of a new single from NorCal punk artist, A G E N T (who also has a full live band.) A G E N T is apparently influenced by local legends like Green Day. Thankfully, STOP TALKING bears more resemblance to early 90′s Green Day like Kerplunk and 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, when the band was at its finest, truly a golden age. Though the vocals remind me more of NOFX or Folk Implosion.
However, this song really has a lot more going on creatively than the first 45 seconds would let on. It actually kind of breaks off in this really cool way into a kind of avant garde performance piece. Taking a dreamlike, psychedelic turn with groovin’ reverbed out guitar sounds and vocal declarations of insanity, ( “You Smoke Too Much…”) the whole thing becomes rather surreal. The song concludes poignantly with the playing of a voicemail box recording.
I was expecting something more like a straghtforward punk jam, but this song pleasantly surprises with its artfulness. Even as the song seems to have a structural mind of its own, the music never suffers. Listenability isn’t sacrificed for the sake of making a weird artistic statement. STOP TALKING revels in its unpredictability. Production on this track is organic and has that warm, analog, 90s indie feel, like it was recorded by someone who didn’t have the most expensive gear but still knew what they were doing.
A G E N T has also recently released an album called SUMMON THE JUICES, which is probably worth checking out just based on the title alone.
Waiting for Your Call is a new track from Plastic DJ, a Barcelona based DJ / producer. The song is a mellow, dreamy experience which at first seems like it will be an instrumental dance track but incorporates vocals partway through the song. The beat asserts itself in the mix like a backbone and vaguely resembles the drumbeat of a marching band. It gives structure to the ambient synths. In line with the song’s subject matter. The synths themselves have the quality of tones from a retro-futuristic telephone. The vocals are hypnotic and stoic, expressing a yearning which may never be fulfilled. Clocking in at nearly 7 minutes, Waiting for Your Call is an aesthetically captivating enough song that the listener won’t mind waiting along with you.