Orange County based artist Luke Fox has a new album that drops today, January 9th, 2018. When I say album, I do mean full album, as The Art of Sound contains over 25 tracks. Are all of these on the final release I wonder? If so then score. He doesn’t cut any corners on quality either, with each jam having a comprehensive and mostly professional sound.
One pattern that emerges is the artist seems to focus on a number of recurring emotional themes in his songs. Loneliness, romance and dreams feature prominently in the lyrical content. It is tough to categorize this music as The Art of Sound doesn’t quite fit neatly into any one genre. It has elements of indie, piano driven coffeehouse music. The tone, pacing and overall ambiance seem to gravitate in that direction. The vocals however have a pop, or even lite hip hop quality to them, both in delivery style and effects selection. I couldn’t help but think that with different backing track instrumentation, this could be marketed as a completely different style of music. This is what makes Fox’s album interesting. He really does have a unique, recognizably distinctive sound.
Since there are so many tracks on this album, it seems appropriate that I should talk about some of them individually. My favorite song on this release is Spell, which sports a haunting, minimalistic melody and memorable hooks. It also has one of the best vocal performances. Not a Regular Guy is one of the catchier songs. It’s in the form of a peppy and fun, singsong format, almost like an updated, contemporary incarnation of 70′s pop sing along classics like those of The Partridge Family or The First Class. It may be a stretch, but it does reach. Rhythm Rhyme is a song you can dance to, despite it’s relatively measured pacing (these songs are all fairly mellow.) It has a bouncy feel to it, enough to play at a dance club in between EDM bpm blitzkriegs.
Ultimately, I have to say that The Art of Sound lives up to its ambitious title. Luke Fox provides an epic experience. There is just an incredible amount of musical content for one to sift though here. I can’t help but be astonished at the amount of work that must have gone into this project. It would be impressive enough for this reason alone, but the artistry itself is solid, too.
Multi-talented entertainment personality, Keldamuzik (AKA Diva,) thrives as a recording artist, actress, TV Show Host and producer. Her music is animated and exuberant. It combines her lively personality with some pretty catchy beats. One of my favorite jams of hers is That’s Why which has a musical backing track that’s reminiscent of video game “chip tune” music but which features Keldamuzik’s epic lyrics such as:
“up top, I’m blessed with a c cup, down there I keep a lil’ peach fuzz”
These are enhanced by her delivery and “matter of fact” tone. It should be said also, that Keldamuzik isn’t all attitude. She’s also a decent singer and her single Queen For A Night showcases her vocal abilities and reveals a side of tender sincerity. Keldamuzik comes across as an ambitious and more than capable performer.
Miami based artist Artdayn new single “Home Movie” combines a wide range of genres to produce a unique sound. Artdayn is well known for being a “singing Uber driver” and demonstrates his versatility on this track. There are elements of hip hop, pop, rock, R&B and even EDM here. He’s also a genuinely good singer, who doesn’t rely on a lot of sound manipulation or processing. One gets the sense that he could go full acapella, and it would still be worth listening to. Home Movie deals with themes of lust, being high and sexuality. On his website, he declares he “loves women,” and this song makes no secret of that. This guy has a lot of vocal talent, and it will be interesting to see how his music progresses.
Gerard Edery’s descriptively titled double-album, Best of Gerard Edery is noteworthy in it’s versatility. Like a musical chameleon he manages to impressively switch back and forth from a wide variety of ethnic folk styles, seemingly at will. He demonstrates a mastery of these various styles rather than coming off as someone with merely a “jack of all trades” level of competency. What’s remarkable is how authentically he is able to incorporate folk sounds from throughout Europe and the Middle East. Some songs have a distinctly Arabic vibe, while others like Los Ejes provide a Spanish ambiance. There is a certain blend to many of these tracks where they transcend boundaries to form a Pan-European / Middle Eastern sound. Music is one of the few areas where people are able to set aside differences and discover mutual appreciation. Gerard Edery achieves this with his compilation, and the result is an eclectic masterpiece. The pacing on these songs is very relaxed and tempered, and much of this music has a meditative quality, almost New Age at times. I would certainly recommend this music to anyone who appreciates exotic and esoteric folk music, performed at a very high skill level and professionally produced.
Boomerang is a new album from Itamar Borochov, a world renowned jazz trumpet player. The listener will immediate recognize aura of professionality that is apparent immediately with the poignant first track, Tangerines. The sound is incredibly smooth and soft while maintaining a lively pulse. The pacing is more fevered and animated in later pieces like Jaffa Tune. Part of what Itamar celebrates in his music is the eclectic blend of different cultural influences and fashions which give take a little bit of the best of everything. The tracks are a musical representation and culmination of his experiences and absorptions. The result of this is an incredibly radiant recording, which is excellent at all levels of production and performance. Usually I can find something in a musical release to criticize, but every composition on Boomerang is top tier for this genre of music, in which there is little margin for error. These songs are meticulously constructed and performed with style.
“Kickin’ Shit”(ft. CityBoyNarley and Produced by AdamOnTheTrack) is the opening track off CityBoySizzle’s EP, Just a City Boy. It’s a very creative and esoteric jam that begins as a kind of sample collage and then slowly transforms into a more straightforward hip hop song. The backing beat has a hypnotic chime to it. CityBoySizzle has a great sense of timing, and the interplay with the backing vocals is well done, giving the song another dimension of complexity. “Kickin Shit” is laid back, mellow and pleasant to listen to. It still has enough of a kick that you can dance to it.
Hailing from Port Arthur, TX, hip hop artist Earl the Monarch released his first album in February of 2017 titled, Pain On the Rocks. He is slated to release a new album, This Will All Be a Memory, and one of the jams set to appear on it is “Hold Ya Head” (featuring Elan Noelle.) Producer LWilliams gives the track a clean, pro sound. Everything in the mix is right where it should be.
Earl the Monarch has a laid back, conversational delivery style and relatable persona. His lyrics are substantive and tell a story rather than relying on flash, ego and gimmickry. The video for Hold Ya Head (shot by Team Rich Visuals) provides context. The interesting thing about Hold Ya Head is it features Earl the Monarch confidently giving words of encouragement and helpful romantic advice to a depressed female over the telephone. At the end of the song though, he arrives outside her apartment only to find that she is opening the door for another man who has brought her flowers. He puts his head down briefly, and we realize that he too is going through a struggle and must hold his head up.
Earl the Monarch wisely defies a lot of hip hop stereotypes and cliches and in the process manages to make a genuine connection with the listener.
Hip hop artist “Maid” has an assertive new track out titled, Straight Action. It has a full sound, and Maid’s delivery maintains it’s intensity throughout. Like the title suggests, the song’s protagonist sticks to handlin biz and has no patience for any nonsense or chumps. He “feels like it’s his last night” and lives as though it should be action packed. Maid has some solid rap skills and gives a charismatic performance. This is not a jam for laid back chillin or the sentimental but for the focused and determined individual with a take no prisoners attitude toward living life.
The Band of the Hawk and Houey Freeman, (a Hip Hop producer formerly known as Ash Ra,) have released a debut single Dirty Dollars (Reloaded.) It’s a collaborative effort which features several artists: Breeze, Yeaux Majesty, Noah Archangel and J Hope. This single is set to appear on an upcoming LP titled Godbody Jones.
The synth backing on Dirty Dollars (Reloaded.) gives it a kind of dreamy cerebral quality. The rappers on this track are stellar, with on point timing and a flow that never seems awkward. Even with multiple voices and personalities, the song stays the course and doesn’t go all schizophrenic. There are also some memorable choice lines such as “Like my whip clean when I’m riding dirty.” This song is more proof of the budding new hip hop scene that is rising out of these young collective efforts.
Jo Oliver is a one man band in the most literal sense. A veteran musician, he sings and plays all the instruments on his latest single, Shine On (You) and he does it with a great deal of enthusiasm. The energy he displays in his performance is infectious, and it’s almost impossible not to like this guy. Jo Oliver hams it up for the camera and has a ball, all while managing to play all his instruments very well. Shine On (You) is a little bit of rock, mixed with funk and soul. He certainly puts his soul into making these recordings and it shows.