In addition to working to her commitment to making a social impact in the world, Jessalyn is also talented singer, and she uses her musical ability to help spread her humanitarian message. Her compassionate spirit comes through in her voice on her impressive new single “Want Me.” Her voice is incredibly refreshing in that it is mostly natural. It has a soothing quality and doesn’t rely on unnecessary effects or processing the way so many contemporary R&B pop songs do. There’s nothing fake about this music, and Jessalyn doesn’t ruin her beautiful song by injecting a lot of egotism or aggressive attitude. The musical backing is almost space-like at times and provides a pleasant ambiance while maintaining energy and a lively pace. “Want Me” revels in its sincerity, which comes packaged with great talent.
An accomplished musician and producer, Jason Achilles Mezilis has just put out a video for his song, “Panhandle,” which is one of the standout tracks on his recently recorded vinyl record, “Comedown.” The video production quality for “Panhandle” is extremely professional and well put together, indicating that Jason has made the most of his time and connections in Los Angeles. It’s directed by David Urbanic and features actor Micah Fizgerald waking up in a rather desolate desert and wandering around. The black and white is a nice touch, and the whole thing sort of has a Chris Isaak / David Lynch kind of vibe. The song is entirely instrumental, a sort of brooding and contemplative rock. It seems very much open to interpretation by design, and all in all this is just a very well done and polished release. Clearly a lot of thought and effort went into this project, and it paid off.
R&B singer Amber Renee has unveiled her debut single and accompanying video for her song “GoGo.” Amber resides in California and was a prominent college basketball athlete prior to pursuing music full time. Some of her athletic ability is evident in her video, which features her in a lot of well choreographed dancing with a couple of male backups.
The song has a cool vibrato synth intro with an almost eerie quality that sets up the jam nicely. The lyrics have a number of biblical references, indicating that Amber’s faith plays a role in her musical inspiration. The musical backing of this song is particularly impressive and could even stand on its own. Great quality production. Amber Renee has a great voice, which she demonstrates in full effect at certain climactic points of the song. She has a lot to be proud of in this debut.
After a somewhat mysterious, synth intro “Man On Fire” opens itself up and transition back forth between R&B styled pop chorus and rap verses. The transition is handled between various styles is handled very well, and nothing sounds out of place. Where Absoloot really shines though is in his speed rapping flow. It comes across as flawless and on point and is illustrative of a lot of natural ability. It’s not quite as fast as old school Bone Thugz but what makes Absoloot impressive is the way he effortlessly manages to change pace on a whim without missing a beat.
New mixtape out from Danjah 317, an Indianapolis based rap trio. Normally when I hear “mixtape,” I’m not usually expecting much of anything interesting, but this is actually pretty rad. The intro is some spoken word over a backing of someone turning the radio dial (or at least emulating that effect.) It works well and got me interested. The track “Guess Again” is fast paced and engaging throughout, with clear and on point vocal delivery. Their popular song, “Stress Free Zone” is aptly titled. It’s a mellow jam with a loungy backbeat. Quality vocals without any unnecessary effects and that complement the background music help make this mixtape superior to similar efforts by other artists.
A rapper who goes by the name Mirlo – The Writer’s Writer AKA Donne Darko has a new EP coming out called “Good Day to Die.” The main single is titled “Worth it All.” The video for this song utilizes a fish eye lens reminiscent of many 90′s videos. It features an array of colorful graffiti backdrops which help to establish the tone. The song itself has a mellow vibe and a chill tempo. Stylistically, track contains elements of reggae influences as well. With these kinds of rap releases, the video is crucial to success, and the quality of Mirlo’s video for Worth it All is good enough that I can see it gaining some traction if it reaches the right people.
Compass has a new song out titled “Dead Presidents.” I prefer the verses to the chorus portions of the track. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the chorus, but the verses are crisp and clear. I just happen to really like the vocal effects used, the backing and the overall mix in those parts of the song and found myself looking forward to them on repeat listens of the song. Compass doesn’t come off as an amateur at all on this release. He seems rather confident and polished. I won’t get into the politics of the lyrics other than to say that Compass clearly doesn’t feel that any of the candidates represent his interests! Despite the title, his style doesn’t come across as overbearing or aggressive, and there is still plenty of focus on craft. Probably my favorite part of this song is how he manages to creatively incorporate the term cyclops from Greek Mythology into the rap.
Texas based rapper Mel has released video out for his new jam, “Late Nights.” It’s a laid back, kick back sort of song, with a pleasantly mellow and entrancing beat. The video production isn’t overly flashy and doesn’t contain any unnecessary effects. Mel keeps it minimal but with some decent color usage (whether intentional or not.) His rhymes have a capable flow and the chorus “I can’t forget them late nights” it catchy enough for the song to stick in your head. Pretty straightforward and smooth jam.
Well traveled Swiss artist and self described “citizen of the world” Lars Rüetschi has released a new solo piano track titled “Merry Go Round.” For a minimalist piano song to work, the piano playing must be able to stand on its own. Fortunately, “Merry Go Round” does just that. The melody is emotive and complex enough to entangle the listener’s attention and win them over. Piano recording technique is a kind of art in and of itself, and Lars manages to capture a clear and warm natural tone without any of the abrasive clanky sounds typically associated with “indie” piano music.
Even without lyrics, one can sense that “Merry Go Round” is an appropriate title for this release. The song creates an atmosphere of calm and innocence not unlike the sort of actual Merry-Go-Round sequence that would be depicted in an art film. There’s certainly nothing epic about this song, but it is a measured and capable addition to Lars’ growing collection of conveyed musical experiences.
This 11 track debut album by Charles Luck is a team effort and contains a lot of variety as far as sound, as a features a number of musical contributors that vary in style and tone. Luck wrote the songs, and his fellow comrades performed them.
Some background info on Black Astronaut:
Black Astronaut Is A Hip Hop Collective Comprised of Lead Songwriter Charles Luck, Rapper/Singer Tino Red, Rappers Gyro, InZane, Sticky Bud, Vedo, and B Daz. Ex Members Include Pastor C and FlipLeaf. The group has 4 singers: Muze, Jonathan BT, Zack David, and Addie
Conceptually, the whole release seems meticulously put together as an ambitious and visionary project. One thing this album doesn’t do is disappoint. It is very high quality throughout and Luck and crew leave something for everyone. The songs range from hip hop to adult contemporary rock to spoken word poetry, and yet none of it really seems out of place.
Track 2, “Life on Mars,” featuring the terrific singing of Jonathan BT, is the most impressive song in my opinion, and its placement near the beginning is a wise choice, as it sets the tone for this being a polished and professional endeavor. The main single, “Is the Galaxy Just Pimping Me” is catchy and contains a bright and colorful musicality not normally found in most modern hip hop songs. The sparkly and curiosity driven delivery by rapper Tino Red fits perfectly with the question posed as the title of the song. Tino features on several tracks on the album. He maintains a thoughtful, unassuming style consistently, without ever coming across as preachy or lowbrow.
All of the performers are solid, and nobody weighs down the ship. Another memorable song is “Stardust,” a minimalist piano number with Ft. Muze providing a stellar vocal performance.
Black Astronaut hip hop collective claims they want to “reintroduce lyric focused rap music to the new generation.” This album certainly succeeds there, but what it also manages to do is reintroduce artistic minded songwriting to hip hop, something that the genre (which is mostly bogged down in mindless materialism) sorely needs.
Admittedly, there is a lot of competition in the universe of alternative or “indie” hip hop, but if these tracks were as aggressively marketed as they were produced, I could see the potential for some real hits here.