“Mildred Pierce / Millard Filmore” is a song from the DIVINATION album. It begins with a cover of Mildred Pierce by Sonic Youth and then continues into Millard Filmore which is an arrangement of the notes in Mildred Pierce in reverse order. The video is a variation on the Alice in Wonderland story with a twist on the relationship between the White Rabbit and Alice.
Big Chris is back with an album titled, “Bad Timing.” In addition to some smooth RnB vocals, these new tracks contain more of the quality synth work that has become a staple of his songs. The synth backing often creates the impression at first that you might be listening to a high energy, radical 80′s dance jam. Then the light hip hop / RnB singing kicks in and you get a sense of the eclectic mix. The combination of groovy, seemingly retro styled dance tracks with Big Chris’s smooth and assertive lyrical delivery give these songs an original style. Big Chris has carved out his own niche here and continues to develop himself as a true artist.
Hip hop artist Keveaux, from South Atlanta, has a new track out. A musician known as Future handled the instrumental and the video was shot & directed by ToadGod. Keveaux confidently delivers his lines with crystal clarity. His freestyle skills are pretty solid and the production quality on the song as well as the vid is top notch. The video is only shot in what appears to be 2 or 3 locations. However, it is instantly appreciable for the car that’s in the background, which appears to be a late 80s or early 90s vehicle that features an awesome menacing mouth with teeth, painted on the side. This was a brilliant creative choice and will be memorable to viewers, to go along with the clean and professional sound of Keveaux.
Oxaï Roura’s experimental track “Afro-Himalayan 01: GanEshou” is one of the more unusual tracks I’ve heard. It’s kind of a mix between tribal spoken word (with multiple voices layered,) and synth. It’s very minimalist. Oxaï lists filmmaker David Lynch as one of his influences, and this music would not seem out of place in a Lynch-like movie. I imagine these songs would also work well in tandem with an artistic dance performance art of some kind. Wisely, the artist keeps these songs to a relatively short length so that they hold the listener’s attention for the duration.
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Chicago based artist “Kid-Ro” has a track out titled “New Keisha” (produced by Niko the Great.) He describes his sound as “new age hip hop with an international feel.” Kid-Ro comes across as a capable and solid rapper. Throughout the song he maintains an intuitive pacing. His delivery is articulate, with well timed vocals accentuated by some echo type effects, yet none of it is obscured by over processing. What makes the song memorable for me though is the terrifically eerie synth backing, which is reminiscent of something in between a 70′s Italian horror movie soundtrack and 80′s video game music. The background track is good enough to stand on its own as an instrumental. It’s good to see hip hop getting more creative and branching off into new sub-genres. Kid-Ro’s music is helping to contribute to that welcome trend.
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“Comes a Moment” is a brand new release from Jonathan Cavier’s new album, “Premier.” Both the video and the song itself are highly impressive. Cavier’s music reflect a contemporary sound, influenced by pop and rock of the 80s and 90s. Despite Jonathan’s 80′s influences, “Comes a Moment” doesn’t come off as retro or “gimmicky.” This is a polished and well put together track from a seasoned professional. The theme of the song seems to be how time flies, relayed through a story of two parents’ amazement at how fast their daughter has grown up. It deals with both the struggles of change and the promise of the future.
One New Spirit’s song, “Follow Peace” brings something new to the table in that it’s part of a growing yet not often talked about genre of “indie” new age music. As more people seek relief from the ever increasing toll of modern life takes on the psyche, there is a yearning for the transcendent, for meditation and most of all…for inner tranquility. “Follow Peace” is there to fill the void. The talented Krista Gardner’s naturalistic vocals seem to be tailor made for this style of music. Producer Marko Fazio wisely allows Krista’s singing to take center stage and doesn’t muddy up her performance by tinkering with a lot of unnecessary effects and processing. True to its title, “Follow Peace” is a very calming song, which invites contemplative meditation and reflective solitude. The same thing goes for the lyric video (see below.) While the aesthetic is minimalist (lyrics set to a vaporwave styled ocean backdrop) it’s perfect for meditation, and anything more would probably distract from reaching any higher level consciousness.
There is clearly a high level of talent associated with this production at all levels. I expect Krista and the rest of her team will continue to dream up more of these great electro new age songs in the future.
I’m always pretty stoked when I get the chance to review a metal band. In terms of contemporary music, metal sometimes seems like one of the only authentic genres. The artists tend to be less concerned with hype and superficiality and more passionate about music.
“Judgemetal” is a four piece metal band, based out of Essex, UK. Their new single, “Belong,” was just released on Hydrus Records. It’s a high quality, high energy track that doesn’t disappoint. It captures the ambiance of metal perfectly and the technical aspects of the song are all very solid. Wisely the band keeps with the traditional sound and doesn’t ruin the recording with a lot of obnoxious vocal effects (unlike so many newer artists.) What really impresses me though is the video for the song. It actually has the somewhat vintage aesthetic of a late 80′s-early 90s music video(whether intentional or not) and would not be out of place on an old episode of Headbanger’s Ball. “Belong” is a respectable release from an up and coming metal band. Expect to hear more from them in the future.
Hip hop artist “Absoloot” has delivered a new track titled “The Truth.” It’s very well produced and would be worth listening to even for the groovy musical arrangements alone. Absoloot’s pacing and tone flows well throughout. Despite the provocative title and cover, Absoloot’s political message comes across as rather nuanced, as he levels his constructive criticisms at multiple sides and doesn’t fall into the trap of cliched predictability. Regardless of your views on the state of current affairs in these tumultuous times, this is a great quality song, and the political message is conveyed in a manner that won’t rub you the wrong way if you don’t agree with parts of it. Expect this guy to continue to put out good material in the days ahead.
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Gilbert Engle continues to display his music versatility and technical proficiency, the latest example to come across my desk being his 2016 “Piano Sonatas” release. These tunes maintain a feverish pace throughout and convey a lively, bright and upbeat mood. One can envision a scenario where crowds of people they are moving briskly through the sidewalks of a bustling metropolis, set to this music. “Piano Sonata 8,” one of the best tracks on the album, is an excellent example of this. All of the songs are simply numbered this way rather than given esoteric abstract titles. It gives a certain businesslike and perhaps modernist quality to the overall aesthetic. Engle delivers pure substance and never seems to rely on catchy titles or sloganeering in his work. His focus is entirely on creating the best piece of music possible. This is extremely refreshing when one considers that a good portion of contemporary music is almost entirely based around the marketing and image, with little attention paid to actual songwriting or even the music itself.
Engle’s piano handiwork is meticulously performed with an articulated precision. My favorite track is “Piano Sonata 4″ I listened to several times in a row. It gave off the vibe of a hypnotic roller coaster ride with it’s teeter-totter of highs and lows and ups and downs. Even though the piano is the only instrument being used, this is by no means a somber or light album. The fast forward pacing gives these songs all the heightened energy of a downtown afternoon. It’s a terrific collection of tunes which are yet another representation of both the prolific level of output and quality that Gilbert somehow manages to maintain.