Wonderchild is set to be released this month. It’s a new 7 song EP from “SEDA,” an R&B/Pop & Latin artist from The Bronx, NY. The lead single for this upcoming EP has already dropped. It’s called Deserve and is available on Spotify. If there’s one thing that’s evident from this track, it’s that SEDA can actually sing quite well. Unlike so many artists in this genre, SEDA’s voice comes through bright and clear, without assistance from a bunch of vocal processing and autotune type effects. You just can’t fake it with this style of singing. If you’ve got it, it’s apparent immediately, as it is on this recording. Musically, the song is very minimalistic and ambient. It’s SEDA’s emotive vocals amidst an echoey, dreamlike mix of piano and light synths. This isn’t a club jam. It’s more like music for a romantic, candlelit dinner, with the song invoking a soothing atmosphere. You can tell that someone put their heart into making this recording.
Don’t be fooled by the title of Bye Bye Banshee’s new EP, Deathfolk Magic. There’s nothing horrifying about this recording. It’s actually quite beautiful and cerebral. It’s pleasant pacing and calm demeanor are accentuated by the sparse yet enchanting vocals of songwriter, Jezebel Jones. These peacefully poignant songs approach the subject of death abstractly with a kind of minimalist, meditative mindfulness. My favorite song on this release is Skull Rattles which contains the artists premonitionary declaration upon death that “graymatter don’t matter no more” and was simply “a temporary condition.” Intellectually I find this album to be pretty engaging, and musically I found myself entranced by it. This is neo-folk music at its finest.
The Ladder The Climb The Fall is the latest album from InCrest, a Danish grunge-rock trio. With a sound that takes it’s influence from the early 90′s golden age of alternative rock, the album manages to capture that essence completely, while still leaving enough room for the band to have a distinct musical identity. One might not expect that a Danish band could emulate the Seattle sound so convincingly, but InCrest has done just that. The Ladder The Climb The Fall often alternates between grunge and hard rock, sometimes blending the two. The opening track, No Second Chance has a peppy kind of “speed grunge” feel to it, in contrast to some of the dreary, dragging pace and whiny tone that’s often associated with lighter alternative music. The faster pace songs on this release remind me a bit of stuff from groups like Rollins Band. It’s cynicism and commentary but with balls. After the opening song, the album settles into a more conventionally paced heavy grunge style with Nightcrawler, (a song which boasts an excellent, attention grabbing guitar intro.) This is actually my favorite track of this release and from a quality standpoint ranks right up there with the top hits of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam (though it’s probably not going to get the same level of exposure and recognition.)
One criticism that’s often (usually unfairly) leveled at grunge bands is that they’re less skilled at playing their instruments, and that this is masked by the heavy distortion. That’s certainly not the case with InCrest. On this album they give a polished performance, displaying a lot of artful musical detail and precision timing. Even the vocals are right on point. The final song on the album, Neversleep is a good example of the softer, delightfully detailed musicality the band is capable of. One final note is the production quality on this album is major label tier. This is not some lo-fi, Sebadoh styled kind of obscure, indie art project (although I love that stuff.) In the right place and at the right time, this music would be on the radio and the band would be giving jaded performances in stadiums.
It was a pleasant surprise to discover that “The Interplanetary Acoustic Team” isn’t a bunch of dudes sitting around playing acoustic guitars (not that I’m all that opposed to that sort of thing.) In fact, they describe themselves as “a group of musical explorers whose mission is to listen to the stars, to record the deep gravitational waves rolling across the wide sweep of time, the voices carried on those waves.”
Their debut album, 11 11 (Me, Smiling) is a creative tour de force. Incorporating collage, retro-futurism, obscure sampling, groovy synthesizers, space ambiance, and occasional guitar, vocals and who knows what else, this album is nothing short of an avant garde, cerebral masterpiece. Others have likened it to the sound of a Kubrick film such as 2001, A Space Odyssey, however, to my ears it’s more reminiscent of soundtracks from late 70′s, early 80′s scifi films, such as Saturn 3(music by Elmer Bernstein) or maybe the movies of John Carpenter. It’s like an arthouse version of Buck Rogers. This music is very meditative, almost entrancing. While listening to this album I wanted to line up my crystals on the carpet, close my eyes and see if I could open a stargate portal through my third eye…
I’m not sure if they used all analog synths for this project, but they certainly have captured the best of “the analog sound.” There’s lots of warmth and just the right amount of tape hiss in these recordings. My favorite songs are the title track, 11 11, and also…Islands in the Cosmos. I’d love this album even on aesthetic grounds alone, but unlike so many avant garde, experimental musical creations, the music on 11 11 (Me, Smiling) is actually extremely pleasant to listen to and very good.
Terry Milla’s It’s Bangindo is more than just a geniously titled hip hop track. It’s a lively, piano driven jam with enough going on musically to keep the listener engaged the whole way through. The song features both male and female vocals, with Terry leading the way with rhymes and “Flossy Mae” providing some excellent accompanying hooks. Her expressive, emotive delivery gives the song some dramatic flair. According to Milla,It’s Bangindo “is about the music being dope even if it’s not on the radio.” True enough, but I would also add that it deals with the drive to get things done and the frustration in waiting for others to come through and get the ball rolling. Some people are just “always on” and rather that wait for everyone else to finish doing the hokey pokey, they have to just move forward and do everything on their own. Anyhow, It’s Bangindo is a solid jam and marketable. Terry Milla strikes me as a fun going, entertaining performer that takes care of business.
Possibly is the latest release from San Jose based band, “God Analog.” Despite the name, “God Analog” is a rather humble minded musical group consisting of Adam Days, Christian Jaeger, and a guitarist simply known as “X.” Their sound is like if you were to combine Depeche Mode, Marilyn Manson and some ’00s hipster garage band like The Faint and manage to make it all blend together cohesively. While, the band may have started as a bedroom musical experiment, Possibly demonstrates that the group can achieve label-tier production quality. Seriously, whoever mixed this did a hell of a job cause it sounds smooth and crystal clear. There is a lot of stacking and layering going on in this track, but the best sound always seems to be brought out.
Christian Jaeger’s mid-to-high pitch vocals are easy on the ears, while the lyrics oscillate between emo yearning and jaded disillusion, with Adam’s backup vocals rounding things out. The backing music is driven by drums, guitars and a variety of snazzy synths which contribute to the ambiance and give the song a little more moxie. Anyway, these guys are tremendously talented. It’s kind of disheartening to think how hard of a road bands like this have to get recognition, but the potential is there.
Fronterror is the latest EP release from a rock outfit called “Harmless Habit.” It’s tough to pin this group down to a particular genre. It’s basically metal / hardcore but since there are a million subgenres that doesn’t really tell you much. The band seems to blend rock’n’roll styles from the 60s-90s. Their new EP, Fronterror, could best be described as a mix between alternative punk, classic rock, glam, and even screamo. The title track reminds me a lot of the kind of music you’d hear on late 80′s, early 90s horror movie soundtracks (think Night of the Demons,Return of the Living Dead 2, etc.) Other songs like Freakshow display more of a pop punk feel. The most classic rock sounding track in my opinion is Damage Control, which is also my favorite on the album. Production wise, this release sounds nice and warm, and everything in the mix is right where it needs to be. Musically, the performances are very polished. These guys aren’t faking it. Some great technical guitar distortion on this EP, and the vocalist can actually sing. I went on the band’s Facebook page, and a lot of people seem to have become fans after seeing their live shows. That’s a good sign.
Veteran musical artist C-WILL121 is an architect of what he dubs “New Vibe Music,” a genre which fuses future, soul and hip hop into new niche sound. He has a few new summer singles that are floating about out there on the airwaves.
Stuck offers an ambiance that’s both somber and upbeat at the same time. Stylistically, it’s vaguely reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it on, only with a more modern and futuristic backing beat. The song combines a rather uplifting musical tone with lyrics conveying the metaphoric distress of feeling “stuck” on a desert island (within a romantic context.) Stuck makes good use of harmonies and layering, with everything sounding where it should be in the mix.
Your Portal is easily my favorite of theses singles. It features some killer, spacey synths and has a very minimalist vibe. It isn’t just a boring, straightforward beat. There are a lot of changing bits and pieces, and perfectly timed, tiny musical components are added throughout. This is a solid dance track, but more importantly it demonstrates C-WILL121′s level of creativity and penchant for the avant garde.
Change Your Mind also comes equipped with some impressive synth hooks, almost sounding like early 90s video game music at times and tropical surf music at other times. The overall tone is slightly brighter than the other tracks. I think this song could also be released as an instrumental version, which would make a great commercial jingle or film soundtrack piece.
C-WILL121 definitely has a knack for composing interesting songs, and I have to admire his willingness to explore new creative angles and fresh sounds.
His full length album, Music Hero (which includes the above tracks,) is scheduled to be released December 7, 2018.
Time to Spare is a new single from Leo Salom, a DJ/producer who divides his time “between Rome, Italy and Los Angeles, California.” Time to Spare is a medium paced dance track with a light ambiance and quite a bit of musical dynamicism. There are a lot of elaborate, somewhat unexpected transitions and vocal layerings in this song, as Leo manipulates the sound effortlessly. He could have gotten way with just having one steady beat and playing it lazy with stylistic monotony…and the song still would have been pretty good. Impressively he utilizes breaks and transitions to transform different parts of the track into substantially different musical components, which he manages to piece together in a manner that doesn’t seem forced or awkward. Indeed, this is a very slick production. It’s energetic party music but very ambient and calmly cerebral. Time to Spare is dance music for club-goers of a slightly elevated consciousness. If I had to make one mild criticism, it’s that the words of some of the vocal samples can be difficult to understand. It doesn’t really matter though, because this kind of music is intended to be more abstract. It’s promotes a certain carefree, vibrant state of mind, and in this case, it is very well done.
Sweetest Surrender marks the 7th independent album release for singer/songwriter Amy Loftus. This 10 track collection of songs is notable for its embrace of positivity. In fact, after listening to this uplifting album, one might be convinced Amy doesn’t have a negative bone in her body. That may or may not be true, but Sweetest Surrender is a romantic anthem that treats the listener to the joys of allowing oneself to fall in love with someone completely.
The songs have quite a bit of contemporary pop flair. The best way I could describe the style of music is that it is very sentimental. It reminds me of the stuff you would hear in commercials that deal with any kind of uplifting or togetherness kind of message. The song On The Inside fits this mold very well. I envy Amy Loftus because she strikes me as someone who has found balance and inner peace. She has a very sweet sounding singing voice, but ultimately I’d recommend her music to anyone that just wants to develop a more positive attitude toward their life.
Amy also hosts the podcast Something Better (of which the album’s title track Sweetest Surrender is also the theme song,) a show which targets both singles and spouses. She’s also a certified yoga teacher, and I have no doubt that whatever she charges for yoga classes, it’s well worth it.