The Judex, a rock n’ roll band out of Philadelphia, has just released a double A-Side single. It’s their only release so far, but it’s apparent after listening to it that these guys are focused on quality. My first thought while listening to the track “Witchface,” was that this music reminds me a lot of the kind of punk rock that you’d hear in 80s horror movies like Return of the Living Dead. The recording has that polished, 1980′s analog engineer professionalism that you just don’t hear anymore. It’s the sound of musical and recording pros that know what they’re doing. Mark Plati did a fantastic job mixing/mastering this and capturing the ambiance the band was going for perfectly. There are no corners being cut here.
The guitar work on here is incredible and the singer can really sing. You can’t really fake it with this kind of music. One of the reasons a lot of the bands from the 70′s and 80′s resented the grunge and “alternative” music of the 90′s was because a lot of the bands were not very good technically. For example, when I was a kid, people would often have debates over “who was the better guitar player” or “who is the better drummer” in popular punk or metal bands. In the 90s though, people never cared or talked about that stuff anymore. They just talked about personality or “meaning.” The Judex marks a return to the tradition of well crafted songwriting and superb technical execution in indie rock’n’roll. They have a new EP coming out in August. I recommend you check it out, because they are legit.
Atlanta based artist King Saylee has a new EP out, titled “Elevation.” The second track “Saucin” is the prominent single of the album. Saylee’s style is very vocal oriented, with the backing music and aesthetics lending itself to an almost psychedelic style of hip hop. Vocals are cleverly and smoothly layered to create a “hearing voices in my head” effect, adding the the cerebral nature of the song. King Saylee flows nicely, and there is some good potential here.
Florida based solo artist Nate Utley has a new single out titled “What Up,” off his new EP, “Infinite Potential.” Utley describes his music as “a combination of Rock, Reggae, RnB and Pop.” He also sports a rather impressive full beard, which is worth noting in itself. Though his music is acoustic guitar oriented, after listening to “What Up” I would have to concur that Nate’s artistic style is a blended one, which is more flavorful and peppy than what one would expect from the typical acoustic driven song. The track starts off making you believe it’s going to be a straightforward, Earthy vibed indie rock song, but it slowly intertwines elements of RnB and even light hip hop. It does this very skillfully and more importantly subtly through delivery and attitude so that nothing feels forced or out of place. The acoustic rings with a full, bell like, “chimey” tone and the backing drums give the song a substantive framework, that more minimalist indie guitar jams often lack.
The video is colorfully and beautifully shot in areas like Flagler Beach along the Florida coastline. Nate has clearly worked very hard on this release and accompanying video, and it all comes together nicely. If the rest of the songs on his new EP are even half as effortful as this one, it will be worth picking up a copy.
Wow and Flutter is a new album from Amilia K Spicer, a well established songstress with quite a few accomplishments so far in her career. If I had to describe her style it would be something like avant-garde country. Her music is very organic even while being flawlessly performed. The first track, “Fill Me Up” sets the bar pretty high for the rest of the songs on the album. Musicians often lead with their best foot first, but in Amilia’s case every song on the album is just as good as the opening one. There’s plenty of variation and some pleasantly creative surprises in these songs as well. This isn’t just your run of the mill “girl with an acoustic guitar” album. There’s some genuine artistic genius floating around in these songs. You just have to listen to them. She has a uniquely precise style of picking that creates a distinctive sound. My favorite track on the album is probably Windchill, which was so good it literally gave me goosebumps.
If you’re looking to catch a live performance, Amilia is currently on tour with John Gorka in Michigan from June 1-5 and in Massachusetts on June 9 and 11. Check out her website and social media to stay up to date with her upcoming performances.
Former American Idol contestant Jerome Bell is still pushing forward. He has a new single out called “Helpless.” The singing is as good as you would expect from someone who was able to pass through the rigorous and brutal audition process of a network talent show. Wisely, Bell limits the musical backing to some minimalist piano playing, allowing his well trained voice to lead and carry the song. Jerome’s vocals are brimming with complexity and emotion, creating a top shelf quality soul/pop ballad. Good stuff here.
Jordan York from Pittsburgh wants you to put down your phone. That’s literally the message of his new hip hop song “Put Down the Phone,” where he laments the de-personalization of social interaction with the advent of modern technological gadgetry. Personally I like the way tech allows me to avoid interacting with people I have no interest in communicating with (of which there are many,) but I will admit it can be annoying hanging out with someone who is texting nonstop or obsessed with obtaining validation on social media. The aesthetic of the video is well done, with the boardgame scenes being highly effective at communicating the artist’s message. Of course there is some irony in the fact that this public service announcement is being promoted in a Youtube music video, but better to use the machine against itself than throw a note in a paper airplane that no one will read. York is a capable rapper and it’s a pretty good song overall. My guess is that many people will find it refreshing and vocally applaud the sentiment while ultimately not putting down their own phone.
Some impressive synths on this new track from “Daku Lights,” a London based band in the UK. It’s interesting that the band members are wearing shirts that say Miami in their photos, because my first thought when listening to this was that the music gave off kind of a 1980s Miami vibe, combined with a newer more EDM oriented Miami sound. The production quality on this release is excellent and the vocals are all solid. The band should consider releasing a separate version of this that’s all instrumental, as it would make great soundtrack music.
The Country music world produces some of the best performers in the world. Some of them fly under the radar and don’t always get the recognition they deserve. “Promised Land,” a new release by Russ Still and The Moonshiners (off their album “Still Cookin”) is a prime example of the excellence contemporary country music has to offer. Russ Still has been playing in bands for over 40 years, and his musiciansmanship and arrangements are clearly displayed in this release. In the lyrics of the song there’s a reference to him being “30 years past his prime.” There’s no indication that anybody on this recording has lost a step musically though. “Promised Land” is brimming with energy and enthusiasm, combined with the skill and professionalism of well worn country scene veterans. Great quality stuff here.
It’s obvious from listening to singer-songwriter Leah Capelle’s new track “Joshua” that she’s extremely talented. Her voice comes through with crystal clarity on the recording. Despite being extremely well produced, the song doesn’t utilize any needless overprocessing or “autotune.” Capelle is a pro singer with awards and high profile showcases under her belt, and I’d be willing to bet this jam sounds every bit as good live. The song itself is kind of a mix between “adult contemporary” and pop but with an organic feel to it. The free spirited outdoorsy ambiance of the video certainly accentuates this. Solid music video from a legit performer.
“And you, Brutus” is an impressive new song from the band Cranford Hollow’s album “Color/Sound/Renew/Revive.” Within the first few seconds of listening, you can immediately tell these guys are professionals. One can sense a lot of working class, mid 70′s classic southern rock influences, but the sound itself maintains a contemporary appeal rather than coming across novel or from some kind of retro tribute outfit. The vocalist is stellar, and his voice vaguely resembles that of early Bruce Springsteen on stuff like “Atlantic City.” The lyrics are imaginative and highly detailed, transcending all the cliches that are associated with this style of music. The recording itself is clean and polished, with excellent musiciansmanship all the way around. Just a solid band. Support them and buy their album.