“All Falls Down” is a new track by John J off his new album, “Still Howling Too.” It’s a high energy, action packed, little jam. The video reminds me vaguely of a tricked out version the opening title sequences to James Bond films. The song itself is a top tier production. For someone not particularly well known, John J shows surprising skill as a rapper and manages to put together a solid collection of songs. His assertive but measured tone gives the music a “life of the party” vibe (particularly in “All Falls Down.”) John J’s vocal delivery is noteworthy for its power and clarity. The beats and backing tracks add an ambiance of excitement and high drama.
Some of the other songs on “Still Howling Too” like “It’s the F*ck it In Me” and “5 Star 2.0″ have a bit harder edge to them, almost like the kind of mid 90′s rap you’d hear people bumpin while driving around in the golden days. “Faded,” the last song on the album, is probably my favorite. It serves as a mellow, laid back finale (and appropriately features actual howling noises in the intro.) It just seems so much more melodic and sparkly than some of the other songs. “Still Howling Too” is a worthy album and solid, authentic effort by John J.
“ELUSIVE” is a new track from experimental, Paris based singer/songwriter, TENNIN. It is minimalist in nature, with just a slight percussive backing and could probably work even if it were just spoken word. TENNIN has an excellent voice and makes creative use of pacing and and cadence to lend the song an avant garde feel. The tone of the song is delightfully hypnotic even with the somber atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed it. ELUSIVE will appear on TENNIN’s EP titled HOMNI, which it set to be released in early 2018.
New single available from rapper, “iLLy,” titled On 4 Sum. It’s a pretty straightforward hip hop song, which utilizes some moderate vocal effects processing and overall is pretty smooth. iLLY has a pretty good flow and transforms his voice into a prominent instrument. The backing music is melodic and easy on the ears. It kind of has the feel of a late night, laid back radio jam. The backing vocals add an extra dimension to the song giving it a fullness and complexity to push it to the next level. This guy’s music will likely continue to get better as he begins to experiment more with the sound.
Hip hop artist “Shifty Eyes,” from Alberta, Canada, certainly has an eye for theatrics, as is demonstrated in the recent video for his song, “Beast.” He is a highly entertaining and lively performer, and the aesthetic of his video vaguely reminds me of 90′s horror movies like Wishmaster. Production quality (on both the video and the song itself) is top notch. I’m not gonna lie, this video is pretty awesome and much more creative than one would expect from contemporary hip hop videos. Rather than cast aside hip hop cliches entirely (sexy women, over the top assertiveness, fake teeth etc,) he manages to incorporate them into his style, in a wildly unique fashion and demonic supernatural setting.
Something must be said about his actual rapping, which is solid and delivered confidently. He is the product of a genuinely troubled background, which allows him to practice his craft with a degree of authenticity that’s not commonly found among so many LARPing artists that are just looking to make a name for themselves. We’re starting to see more and more inventive hip hop artists from Canada, and Shifty Eyes is one of the better ones up and coming.
Black Bluebirds describe themselves as “an electrifying power trio from Minneapolis, Minnesota.” One of their newest tracks is titled “Love Kills Slowly” and is featured on their new album “Like Blood For Music.” The style and sound is low-key reminiscent of Bowie or Freddie Mercury, but darker, more avante garde and overall a little less flamboyant. The song features some really impressive singing, with the vocalist really going all out in ways that would have given Iron Maiden a run for their money. The whole thing is a nice eclectic mix of synthpop, indie rock and (glam?) metal, performed by some real professional musicians that know what they doing.
Vocalist Cody Daniel is a somewhat unique artist in that his music combines elements from unlikely genres, such as alternative, R&B, pop soul. Others do this, but Daniel seems much more conscious of his eclectic influences. It’s not surprising. Younger musicians today have been exposed to many musical styles in their lives through, whereas artists in the past were often limited by whatever was popular in their geographic area or what was on the radio. Cody has released a video for his song “The Night.” Shot on location in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, the video is clean and professional, on the level of what you’d see on Mtv these days. A clearly talented singer, Cody Daniel’s voice propels the song as the listener sits back and watches the action unfold. It can be difficult to tell at times what is going on at times, but a night of romance and relationship drama it surely is. This music is very marketable and Cody has the potential to go very far with the right people backing him.
Just a heads up, popular artist “Kaseeno” has released a teaser video for his catchy single “Antonio Banderas” (the song is also featured on his latest album, Trap Party Vol 1.) True to it’s name, it’s a fun party jam. Kaseeno delivers the Spanish lyrics well, managing to keep things tight even with the song’s complex pacing. Kaseeno’s laid back and easy going style combine with his energetic vibe to make the track a real pick me up. If the official video lives up to the quality of the song ( and all indications are it will as the teaser features Kaseeno getting out of a live helicopter) then it has a chance to be epic.
“Heart of a King” is a collaborative hip hop effort featuring several artists. It is a smooth and fairly laid back jam. In line with one of the creators, the song utilizes a chess analogy and that of claiming one’s birthright as the rightful heir to the throne. Despite the talk of “kings” the lyrics are delivered with a low key and humble attitude (perhaps like an honorable royal) rather than boastful and aggressive. “Heart of a King” is also a melodic enterprise that displays more musical versatility than one might expect in this genre. It is in every sense a coherent musical composition, and rises to something much more than a mere collection of rhymes.
Dutch band “Lou Patty” has a new 4 song EP out and has released a video for one of the tracks, “Hostile.” The first thing that struck me about “Hostile” is that the synths are just radical. I mean seriously the opening synths are awesome, and this trend continues throughout the song. As someone who has owned many synthesizers over the years this was like synth porn to me. Top quality gear and excellent usage. The band claims to have some 80′s and 90′s influences, and I must say the vocals do have a nice kind of 80′s analog vibe. The singer seems comfortably charismatic and has a fairly dynamic voice for this style of music. The mix and production quality here are also phenomenal (produced by Lou Patty & Marlon Wolterink – White Noise Studio, assistant recording credit to Freek Philippi.)
Other tracks on the EP like “Kings and Servants” or “Minute of Peace” are more guitar driven and remind me very much of late 80′s / early 90′s hard rock, with a lot of precision guitar work at alternating speeds and a kind of brooding atmosphere. The last song, “Molly Ray” almost sounds alternative musically. It’s a little lighter than the other songs and gives the vocalist a little more room to play around with.
You don’t have to listen to these recordings for very long to realize this is a professional band of seasoned musicians that know exactly what they’re doing. This entire release is excellent both technically and artistically. If you don’t believe me, give it a listen for yourself.
“Feather Haiku” is one of Marie Helen’s most recent poems. She is becoming known for her seasonally themed poetry. Though short in length, this haiku is nonetheless thought provoking, offering the reader a silver lining in the changing season as we head toward the coming winter. The remnant from a bird gives a subtle reminder of summer memmories and that spring will appear once again.
Marie Helen is also a songwriter who founded the Los Angeles based band “Lyrics of Two,” (which consistently held the #1 spot on the Deli Music Charts in the category of mainstream pop in Los Angeles.) She has recently completed a book of poetry titled “Celebrating The Holidays And Seasons With Poetry And The Smaller Things In Nature.”