Described as having folk influences, Cranky George is an indie rock band from Los Angeles. The band actually features famous actor Dermot Mulroney, (known from contemporary classic movies like Young Guns and My Best Friend’s Wedding.) They have a new single out called “Nighttime,” which will also be part of their upcoming full length album, “Fat Lot of Good.”
Nighttime is a well polished release, that doesn’t show any of the lo-fi, abrasive, acoustic quality production that’s often associated with the indie folk genre. The music is reminiscent of a late 90′s, early 2000s flavor of indie music, but blending in some newer twists. The tone comes across as striking an even balance between melancholy and uplifting, reaching a comfortable and elegant middle. The vocals and overall sound are easy to listen to, and I found the melody to be one that stuck in my head after only two listens. I predict that their full length album will worth checking out.
Atlanta based artist Stori Brooks has released a song “Say Hi” from her upcoming EP titled “Everything is Gr8 (in space.)” She describes her music as “alternative hip hop,” which is good way to put it. It has more of a artistic and melodic quality than most hip hop. I especially like the backing of “Say Hi” which is mellow and futuristic. Without the vocals, this song could easily just be classified as synthwave. Her lyrics are poetic and almost abstract. Stori Brooks’ singing style is eloquent and calming, matching the mood of the music perfectly. I would recommend this song even if you don’t like hip hop, as it doesn’t fall into the stereotypes or cliches of the genre. When one thinks of Atlanta hip hop, this isn’t what typically comes to mind, but it’s actually better.
Singer Christopher Vincent has recorded a cover version of The Chainsmokers’ hit song “Don’t Let Me Down.” Vincent’s vocals take center stage in the song, steering it it toward more of an R&B and gospel sound, while retaining the Caribbean elements as well as the track’s dance club appeal. He draws from an eclectic range of influences, from Motown to hip hop and can be difficult to pin down into a genre. Vincent comes across as a professional in his singing, clearly having some formal training under his belt. The production quality of the video itself is also very good.
Hip Hop artist Baltimore Ledge has a new single and video titled “One High.” The song is fast paced and flows easily. It mostly manages to avoid a lot of rap cliches seems to aim for a higher artistic quality. The cinematography for the video is particularly good and illustrates a level of professionalism and seriousness that’s not usually seen in these types of videos. This release strikes me as something that is as good or better than most hip hop you’d heard on the radio. It’s definitely more genuine.
Artist Stig Gustu Larsen has a new album out called “Lifelines + Echoes.” It’s a very personal album which contains several songs and deals with losing someone close. Though the songs grapple with sadness and have a slow pacing, they don’t come across as depressing. The tone is actually very uplifting. The style of music is sort of an adult contemporary pop, acoustic “singer/songwriter” variety. His vocals are on point and a good fit for this genre. Stig’s many years of musical experience are evident in the overall high quality of the arrangements. Everything here sounds very professional. It’s good music for a rainy day.
Hip hop artist Mel has a new jam out called “Late Nights.” It’s very smooth and the jazzy background grooves actually do give the song a feel of being on a late night drive through the city thinking things out. The production quality is very good and Mel’s delivery is measured and easy going. A lot of times, a rapper’s tone or volume doesn’t fit with the mood of the music. This isn’t the case with Mel, whose style lends itself well to the theme and vibe of the music behind it.
You can find more info on Mel and listen to some of his tracks here.
As of midnight tonight, Queens artist Mikey Shyne has a new single out titled “I Really Want.” Mikey describes his music as a “blend of pop,rock, hip hop and urban” genres. “I Really Want” comes across as a very upbeat and energetic track. Parts of it almost seem to have a Caribbean pop vibe. These are probably my favorite portions of the song. The production quality is top notch, as professional sounding as anything you’d hear on the radio. You can find more info about Mikey Shyne’s music on his website, here.
Big Chris wants you to know he’s returned after being out of the scene for a few months. He released a mixtape a few years ago called “In One Hand,” which some people might remember. His latest single is called “F the World,” which despite the bleak title, is intended to be motivational and promotes the idea of overcoming the adversity life throws at you. It has an RNB/hip hop club vibe. It has a radio pop quality to it, but the vulgar lyrics would probably preclude it from being played at your local mall’s background music. The track is available to listen to on Spotify, here.
Los Angeles based songwriter and guitar player Kal M is releasing his second EP, “Kalmworld.” It contains six songs, but the standout track to me is City Nights, for which a pretty solid video was produced. One thing that makes this song work so well is how it perfectly captures the ambiance as implied by the title(of both the track and the EP.) With it’s clean production and mellow pacing, “City Nights” has a calming effect. You get the feeling of driving around the city late in the evening, when the nightlife has died down and you’re just cruising and thinking. In that sense, it’s almost a futuristic R&B, like if you mixed rhythm and blues with something like vaporwave. Other songs like “I’m ready” and “Hands Out” are more peppy and energetic, but have a similar vibe. Kal M is a very talented songwriter and deserves some more recognition.
The song “Shine On” delivers its message in a refreshingly upbeat manner. It’s performed by Darick DDS Spears, Natalie Jean, and Dennis Sy, an unlikely trio, with each coming from different musical backgrounds. They bring it together to create a positive sound which mixes light hip hop with elements of jazz and with a bit of Caribbean flavor. It reminds me somewhat of late 90′s pop classics like Vitamin C’s “Smile,” only with more substantive content. The song conveys its subject matter in a unifying and friendship seeking tone, which should allow listeners to be more receptive rather than feel instantly alienated the way they would with less tactfully presented material. The performers all balance each other very well, and nothing seems out of place. Musically, “Shine On” hooks you in right away with it’s funky and festive intro and is never boring. The only downside to this jam is that it’s just a single. It’s a good one though.