Book Me For a Show is a brand new solo mixtape from Erie, PA based artist, Mucho Dinero. At 11 tracks, the listener is sure to get their time/money’s worth out of this release. It comes jam packed with all sorts of flavorful jams like Day 1 and No Snake Zone. What jumps out at me about Mucho Dinero is that he has a distinct sounding voice, which will make him recognizable. He’s soft spoken and has a laid back delivery, but the actual tone of his voice is very unique. A lot of indie rappers sound almost exactly the same as one another, but I really can’t think of another rapper that sounds quite like Mucho Dinero. That is something that works in his favor. I’ve reviewed quite a few mixtapes before which had featured multiple artists, and it can be difficult to tell the who’s who and what’s whats. That’s not the case on Book Me For a Show. The pacing of the songs is somewhat varied. The opening track, Have Ya is chill and subdued, almost coming across like spoken word poetry at times. Other tracks like 2 More are a little more peppy and fast paced. Anyway, this release should definitely be enough to get this dude booked for some actual shows.
Más Allá is a new single from Los Angeles based artist, Caesar Osiris. It was created with the intention of inspiring environmental awareness. The song’s aquatic ambiance and sea breeze aesthetic illustriously showcase the beauty of the oceans Osiris seeks to preserve. Musically the track could pass as a fairly decent pop single, bio-fueled by Caesar’s more than capable singing abilities and some energizing tropical synths. The production value is very good, on par with a professional label release. The video also features some choreographed dancing as well as some creative costume choices. This is a solid effort by a determined artist, and it’s for a great cause. We all need to do a better job of taking care of our oceans. Not only is water necessary for our lives, the sea creatures do not have anywhere else to go if we ruin their home.
Breaking Away is a pretty smooth and straightforward pop song from up and coming vocalist, Cody Daniel. It comes from his EP, The Calm. Cody has a few releases under his belt already in which he has already established some talent. Breaking Away hits all the marks in terms of what makes a contemporary pop song a hit. It’s catchy, competently produced and performed by an artist that fits the mold of a pop star while retaining some stylistic originality. Cody Daniel’s energetic yet laid back persona gives his music both a relaxed and upbeat feel. The quick witted lyrics flow nicely,the whole song just has a nice ring to it. The only missing ingredient here is a label to back this project with some heavy marketing (and money.)
Singer/songwriter Richard Wadsworth gives new meaning to the term “prolific.” Claiming to have created over 1,300 songs since the age of 19, his latest album, Eternity is stocked with a whopping 77 tracks. You might think that with an album which contains so many songs, the tracks themselves would be very short to compensate. That’s not the case though. The opening track, Heavenly Starway, clocks in at just over 77 minutes. The remaining 76 songs average between 3 and 5 minutes each.
Wadsworth describes his music as “Christian-themed rock and roll featuring angelic vocals and gentle electric guitar strums.” Religious themes aside, musically his songs remind me a lot of obscure 90s indie folk and avant garde LoFi artists. The sound is very raw, almost like a live recording. There is very little editing. The songs consist of some rather creative strumming of out of tune guitars, with accompanying vocals in various forms and tones. The lyrics can be difficult to make out at times, but I don’t think it really matters. This is an experimental recording, so pretty much anything goes.
I could find almost no info on this artist other than what is listed in the press release except that he may be from Philadelphia. There’s no website or social media presence to speak of. Eternity is one of the most bizarre recordings I’ve ever listened to, and I couldn’t help but wonder whether it was all an elaborate troll. Icy Love is probably my favorite track, though admittedly I did not listen to all 77 of them. The “album cover” is just a 19th century painting by William Rimmer titled Evening (The Fall of Day.) The same painting was also the basis for Led Zeppelin’s label, Swan Song. If you’ve got some time to kill, give Eternity a listen.
HOFFEY, a male/female pop twosome from Vancouver Canada, recently released their debut single, titled Love is Wild. The often synchronous yet contrasting vocals of Erika and Jordan Toohey complement each other well enough. There are a couple of ways in which this track differs from a conventional pop track though, both of which are positive. For one thing, the artists are genuinely partners in a romantic relationship, which gives added sincerity and meaning to the lyrics and how they’re expressed. This is unlike most common pop songs, which typically are written by third parties and just simply manufactured for public consumption (there are a few exceptions.) The other noticeable distinction here is the unique synth backing on Love is Wild. It has more of the feel of an artistic collage than a standard pop/dance beat. In fact, if this song were released without vocals it could pass for a very good chillwave track. True to the song’s theme, the interesting pacing and unpredictable breaks almost seem calculated to correspond to the tempestuous, yet beautiful wildness of the relationship experience itself.
Shavonda Robinson’s book, I Am a Free Woman: Poems For a Little Girl uses poems to chronicle the struggle of women who have suffered abuse, often at the hands of their own family. Shavonda describes herself as a “poet activist for abused women.” Poetry is a useful medium to deal with the subject of abuse, because it allows for people to discuss subjects they might otherwise be uncomfortable expressing in straightforward conversation. While the subject matter of the book is somewhat dark, Shavonda Robinson wisely choose to give the book an inspirational tone. Her poems serve to motivate these women and help them to reclaim their confidence.
I Am Beautiful Like Me
By Shavonda Robinson
I am not beautiful like you
I am beautiful like me
And what makes me beautiful
My scars, My mistakes, My opinions
My struggles, My fears, My insecurities,
My Confidence, My learned lessons
A self described “multi-genre artist from Arizona,” LUURK showcases his production and songwriting skills with his latest release, Ain’t Coming Back. Had the song been released as an instrumental and without vocals, it could easily pass as a pretty decent summertime EDM jam. The vocals manage to transform the track into more of a pop/R&B/dance combo song. True to his form, LUURK does in fact span different genres with his music, and Ain’t Coming Back succeeds in walking the line between remaining accessible to a wide range of listeners and alienating those who may favor one style heavily over another.
Production and mixing on this are top notch. While the lyrics are not very extensive, the vocals that exist are performed well. LUURK is also wise enough not to ruin them with a bunch of over-processing and auto-tune. The song also does something interesting in that it combines an uplifting musical arrangement with a seemingly ambiguous or negative lyric, “No, we ain’t coming back.” I’ve noticed this is fairly common in EDM, creating a positive experience and celebrating optimism as a mood regardless of what life throws at you. If you’ve ever attended an EDM event, one thing that stands out is how happy everyone is compared to other concerts. This song radiates with positive energy, but just as importantly, it is very well put together musically.
Singer/songwriter J. Sariah’s eleven song release The Journey
Musically it reminds me a lot of old school TLC, but with a lot less negativity and hostile attitude. While relatable songs like Friendzone give voice to the familiar feelings of heartache, The Journey’s tone is more inspirational than confrontational. Even tracks like Revenge reveal more of a genuinely afflicted sorrow of a woman yearning for someone who understands her pain than a vengeful soul that truly wants revenge. The “revenge” is just the desperate means to extract empathy from the one she cares for.
In fact, The Journey takes the listener through a wide range of emotions, featuring everything from recklessness to sorrow. In addition to demonstrating some dynamic vocal ability (she is quite a good singer) J. Sariah also manages to convincingly convey an array of emotions through her tone and diction, even when one doesn’t take into account the actual lyrical content. The instrumental backing displays a similar versatility as each song is musically distinct from the rest in a substantial way. This isn’t just someone singing to several variations of the same generic beat.
J. Sariah has a lot to be proud of with this release, which in every sense qualifies as a “full album.”
Circle is a new EP from Montreal based artist, “Tiiiger” (the new alias of musician Mikey Dorje.) The album’s unique sound stems from its successful amalgamation of acoustic/synth. This creates an almost “electro folk” atmosphere. The opening track, Space is an ambient, mostly electronic intro that functions well to get you in the meditative mood to experience this kind of music. The songs are all instrumental by the way, something which actually enhances the songs. Vocals would have I think detracted a bit from the sense of quiet mystery one feels when listening to this EP. Home is personally my favorite track of the bunch. This is going to sound like a bizarre thing to say, but the way I would describe Home is that it made me think of what an avant garde, instrumental version of LFO’s Summer Girls would be like, (minus any of the frosted tips fueled, boy band cheesiness.) The EP closes out with Movement,an appropriately titled, relatively fast paced jam that left me feeling energized after checking out with this nifty little release. One final remark is that the song names are each single words, and they do a successful job of abstractly conveying the emotion/experience relating to the word each track corresponds with.
Already established for his roles in classic groups like “The Headhunters” back in the 1970s (and since then working with legends like Carl Carlton and Rick James,) Deryo has been around the block musically. These days he’s flying solo, making his own jams, which he describes as being “funk mixed with pop and r&b.” His solo tracks carry the precision marks of a old pro, with backing music that manages to be creatively quirky in expressing its retro grooviness. I’ve always thought that the test of an instrumental backing is whether you’d want to listen to it even if there were no accompanying vocals. Deryo’s songs easily pass that test, and I can’t help but think how great they would sound on vinyl. His 2013 track, Anytime is an excellent example of this, and I just love the futuristic synth hooks on it, which wouldn’t seem out of place on a Buck Rogers soundtrack.
Deryo’s vocals are passionate and delivered with an unpretentious charisma. They are really the driving force in his songs. The lyrical themes are usually positive, romantic and upbeat, though tracks such as I Must Quit convey a sense of melancholic humility. This is in every sense “mood music,” in that it gets you in the mood to enjoy life’s experiences and get in touch with your emotions while dancing to some smooth jams with your significant other…whether in the club or in his/her apartment living room.