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.
“America” is a new track out from a talented 4 piece band from New York known as Quantum Split. The video has a somewhat late 80′s VHS-like glitch aesthetic which is clearly intentional and a good artistic fit for the music, which is a quality blend of classic rock, glam and soul. The guitar solos are reminiscent of bands like Guns and Roses, but Quantum Split clearly draws from a variety of styles and manages to create their own unique sound. The contagious energy and enthusiasm in “America” along with the charismatic female vocals provide the listener with a positive and mood uplifting experience.
Sakis Gouzonis is a Greek, electronic music composer, and “Amazing Space” is his 10th studio album. The songs are all instrumental and would be suitable as both intelligent dance tracks, but I could see myself listening to this while on a long, late night drive out of town. It provides an energetic spacey ambiance, but one that you could “think” to as well as dance to. My favorite song on the album is “Into the Stars” which is reminiscent of some of the more epic tracks from classic video games like Final Fantasy VI.
New Orleans based rapper Nyko Bandz has a new video out for his jam, “Lift Off.” It unexpectedly features a cute little dog in the opening. The song itself showcases Nyko’s unique and somewhat unconventional delivery style helps to distinguish him from other similar rappers. The strategic repetition of certain lines such as “I feel like Rick Ross. I’m about to lift off” combined with the slow, deliberate and methodical beat give the song almost a hypnotic quality. Pretty solid video from a rapper with a memorable brand.