Journey Room is the debut album from “Pixelfox,” an artist based in Los Angeles whose real name is Eddie Ozarie. He describes it is being “inspired by daily experiences, travels, new places, new experiences” and that it contains “uplifting themes.” The word “uplifting” is actually a great way to describe Journey Room. The track “Life,” for example is energetic and brims with a cheerful and bright ambiance. The song starts out light and bouncy and then builds into a more epic and emotive chorus.
A similar pattern emerges with other tracks like “Maybe the Next Time,” which utilizes empty, almost spoken word styled verses to set up lush and vibrant choruses. After listening to a couple of these songs you start to anticipate these full and colorful choruses like a dopamine rush.
Journey Room has a peppy kind of early 90′s pop feel to it. The recording quality is great. I wouldn’t have guessed that it was “fully produced and recorded in his Los Angeles apartment,” though I realize home recording has come a long way in the last 10 years. This is an excellent release, and hopefully this artist will continue to put out more great stuff.
Makoto Holmberg’s appropriately titled EP, “Slow Night,” is exactly the kind of thing I like to get the chance to review here, since its synthwavy nature puts it under the umbrella of genres I actually enjoy. You get the idea right away with “Crouched Clouds,” the opening number. It’s very chill and almost hypnotic. The songs evoke the ambiance of a dark rainy night in a futuristic city. The pacing of the songs is mellow and methodical, with the exception of the “Riccardo Noè 4th Dimension Remix” version of “Dust and Mirrors,” which has a slightly more upbeat and peppy tempo. That’s probably my favorite track on this EP, and I found myself listening to it multiple times. I’d recommend this EP to anyone going for a drive in the middle of the night.
Dallas hip hop/R&B artist “J-Hen” has a video out for his new single “On to the Next.” The direction and production is very high quality and though J-Hen is from Dallas, the music video has a very Miami kind of aesthetic. The intro itself (musically and visually) has an early 90s tropical beach movie aesthetic. The song transitions between romantic and soulful R&B hip hop that marks J-Hen’s style and assertive hip hop (featuring Virginia based rapper Yng Rell.) “On to the Next” comes across as a solid effort from J-Hen, which I could easily picture packing dance floors in hip hop night clubs, with its infectious back beat.
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.