Don’t Panic is a new EP from Datastar, a songwriter/producer team based in Queens, NY. One of the tracks, Blackheart, features a darkly retrofuturistic, scifi synth sound, similar to that found on soundtracks for films like The Thing and Saturn 3. The backing beat is mid-paced, ambient and dangerously hypnotic. Other songs like Nardo have a different feel. Nardo is brighter and more colorfully contemporary, something you’d expect to hear at an EDM festival. The title track, Don’t Panic combines elements of all the other songs. It’s easily the standout track on the EP, with its sleak and “Rad Racer” style beat and ultra catchy vocal phrases. The EP closes out with Just Like That, a softer, slightly less dark number that otherwise is comparable stylewise to the first song. It gives off the same retro vibes but with a whispering, lower intensity. This is a solid electronic EP, and Don’t Panic really is a catchy song and has some potential to make its way around the club circuit.
TONIGHT is the latest release from A G E N T, NorCal punk artist. This single has more of a hard rock vibe than the other releases I’m familiar with from this performer. It features power guitars and deep, reverberating vocals. This jam reminds me a lot of the kind of music you’d hear in late 80s horror/action movies like The Wraith,Night of the Demons or The Lost Boys (minus the 80′s cheesy synth action.) The song is intensely surreal if you allow yourself to be swept up in it. It’s hypnotic and fast paced, with those bold and unapologetically romantic lyrics that only a song that rocks this hard can get away with. There are plenty of traces of NorCal punk aesthetic in here, particularly around the one and a half minute mark, where the guitars take on that classic early 90′s punk tone. If you listen closely, the vocals also have a hint of that mysterious NorCal punk accent recognizable from so many classic recordings. The title and cover manage to capture the ambiance of the track accurately. This really does feel like a nighttime driving song, especially if you’re driving at high speed around dangerous curves or drag racing in the middle of the desert. The best way to describe this recording is that it falls somewhere in between NOFX and an avant garde version of Van Halen. Everyone associated with this project has a lot of experience in making music, and it shows.
Hell No! is a new single from Wembi, a singer/songwriter/producer based in California. The track is from his full length album, Perspective. Hell No! is a political song, but (despite the title) its messaging is subtle enough that one could listen to it and apply it to relationships or other non-political situations. In fact, if you weren’t watching the video, you might assume the song is about a struggling friendship or something. I sense on some level that perhaps it has a dual meaning, a personal one for the artist as well as a political one.
Musically, the song is difficult to classify as it blends many genres, such as neosoul, JazzFusion, R&B and pop. I haven’t heard his whole album, but this particular track gives off a jazzy early 90s tropical vibe. Wembi’s vocals are upbeat and delivered with a touch of wit and attitude. He excels at writing clever and catchy lyrics. Even parts of the political messaging which I disagreed with I still had to marvel at how memorable the lyrical phraseology was. I guarantee you that portions of Hell No! will get stuck in your head after even just one listen. Wembi is a surprisingly skilled singer and carries himself with a light-hearted jovial demeanor, which helps to soften the harshness of the political content, keeping the ambiance bright and upbeat. The crux of Wembi’s message is essentially that people didn’t listen, and he’s not responsible for having to clean up the mess.
The video for this jam juxtaposes various footage form political rallies with shots of day to day life in society, though people who spend a lot of time following politics will pick up on the subtle phrases in the lyrics like “no collusion” even without the accompanying video. One refreshing aspect of Wembi’s performance is that unlike many contemporary artist, he doesn’t focus on himself. There’s not a lot of detectable vanity or ego here. He’s just making music and writing about subjects’s he’s passionate about. Hell No! is indeed a catchy song, with the potential to be used for something bigger if it gets discovered by the right audience. Be sure and check out the rest of his album, Perspective if you get a chance. I would imagine the quality is up there, if this song is any indication of the artist’s abilities.
Embers Inside is a new single from auvic, an electronic musician, producer and writer based in California. The song features some truly stellar vocals from Caroline Kim. Starting out with an ambient and melodic intro, the track escalates in intensity throughout, culminating with a mechanically complex electronic beat around the 3/4 mark of the song. That portion is reminiscent of epic boss battle music from games like Double Dragon and is well worth the wait. This song does a great job at blending surreal, tender beauty with energetic and powerful dance music. Embers Inside has a softness to it but still manages to rock enough that it will induce you to dance.
Stares is a new EP from E-SQUARED, an urban hip hop/R&B group from Vancouver, Canada. It features 4 songs of bright and colorful goodness. The male and female vocals balance the tracks nicely and are blended in creative ways. The tracks feature quirky and dreamlike synth backings, providing a sweet backdrop for these candylike pop jams. Gettin’ Paper is a solid opening track with a downright surreal beat, with the girl’s voice brimming with charisma. The track Bouncin probably has the best intro. It’s sparse, minimal and intriguing. One interesting gimmick the group uses is to incorporate their name (E-SQUARED) into the songs themselves, which is kind of memorable. All in all, Stares features some catchy tunes, and this duo has mainstream appeal.
Bonfire is a new single from Club Roulette, a band from Gold Coast, Australia. Produced by UK producer Reese Szabo, the song achieves major label audio quality, actually better than much of what you’d hear on the radio. It’s difficult to classify the band’s sound, but it basically blends elements of pop, rock and even emo. It’s too clean and melodic for something like screamo. Bonfire is very catchy and repetitive, in a good way. The band is only a 3 piece, so the minimalist mix emphasizes the vocals and harmonies, which are dynamic and pleasant to the ear. Stylewise, the music reminds me of that of “boy bands” but more rockin and for cooler people. This is a really professional sounding jam, which is impressive considering how young these guys look. I could see this band going somewhere if they stick with it and play a lot of shows.
Nothin’ Near is a new single from Salt Lake City based producer, Adept (featuring Blue Oni Sin and Elsha.) It’s a hip hop jam, but it’s unconventional in that it creatively blends other genres. The song contains elements of synthwave and dreampop, incorporating female vocals and surreal synths into the mix. After the build up, the pacing of the beat is fast and lively, creating a very danceable experience. Adept’s rapping and lyrical delivery are on point. His voice comes through crisp and clear, and he employs a nice reverb/echo effect to contribute to the dreamy ambiance. Nothin’ Near is an energetic and poignant hip hop track that offers something a little more avant garde than the average dance/hip hop release.
Swipe Rixh 2 is a new EP from Lil Dream, an alternative hip hop artist based in the Washington DC area. Multiple producers were involved in the project, including Good Intent, Pentagrvm, Captain Crunch Beats and Moonman Johnny. Another artist known as Lil Gray also performs on the album. Swipe Rixh 2 is notable musically for its unconventional, mostly synth driven surreal beats. Thee track Out has some of the best backing music I’ve ever heard on a hip hop song. This album has a slightly eerie ambiance, but in a good way. It’s just quietly dark and hypnotic. The lyrical delivery makes good use of layering. The tone is subtle and conversational, with an underlying seriousness. Lil Dream doesn’t come off as flashy or obnoxious. He has a good flow and his voice emanates a quiet professionalism. I found this album to be very soothing, but it has enough pizazz to make you wanna jam out if you’re in the mood,
One of These Days We’ll Go Get Us One is a new album from Dick Aven, a singer/songwriter from Franklin, Tennessee. It’s a full length release, and the professional production is apparent on the first track, Do What I Say. The best way I can describe the sound is that it’s like if you blended 60′s vibes with contemporary recording quality. The music has a very organic and Earthy feel, like folk rock. There’s a bohemian element to it all but as some of the songs build they become more “full” and often transition to a kind of groovin’ funk.
I can’t stress enough how good this is. Aven describes himself as a multi-instrumentalist, and that’s an understatement. There is a plethora of different instruments on these recordings. I have no idea if he’s the one playing all of them on this album, but if you watch his youtube videos you’ll see that he can play all these instruments. He’s a great singer, too. I love it when vocalists outperform the level that’s required for a genre of music, and that’s certainly the case here. He creatively extends notes and uses his voice in ways which ordinary artists would never have thought to do, and the songs are enhanced with personality as a result of this.
There’s quite a bit of musical variety here as well. Your Love has a smooth, jazzy, aesthetic. I would almost characterize it as lounge music. The most unique song on here is Jawbone of Jack Real, a minimalist, “synth” driven instrumental that sounds like something out of a 70′s scifi film. It turns out however, that the synthlike sound is actually generated not by electronic keyboards but by jaw harps whistling. I’ve been informed that Dick Aven is some sort of expert whistler. Yes, this guy can really do it all. My favorite track on the album is probably Common Ground. It’s a pure and lovely acoustic folk jam that’s stylistically reminiscent of stuff I’ve enjoyed from artists like Jake Holmes.
One of These Days We’ll Go Get Us One is a very impressive and comprehensive release. Dick Aven is one of the most multi-talented individuals that you’ve never heard of. I’m glad I found out about this guy.
It’s a mystery to me why musical duo “Pistacho Gods” (hailing from Dallas and Los Angeles) have less than 200 subscribers on youtube. They deserve way more. There are a lot of bands which make quirky, humorous and entertaining music, but these guys do this shtick very well. Stylewise, they remind me a bit of the group Grand Buffet, only there’s a lot more variety to the sound here. One of their tracks Cactus Juice incorporates a plethora of differest styles. It’s like if you combined late 90′s Vitamin C beats with country, reggae hip hop and LFO. It is just a very unique blend. The music is very bright and fizzy, leaving you feel all funny inside. Cactus Juice has a very summertime vibe. I could have easily seen this jam as a hit in the summer of 1999 along side LEN’s Steal My Sunshine. It could have easily made the top 20 on Total Request Live with Carson Daly. A lot of musicians who make humorous music like this do it to compensate for a lack of skill. Pistachio Gods on the other hand, are impressive musicians. Im particular, they manage to do all kinds of different voices and characters while still performing at a top tier. The songwriting and backing music are solid as well. These guys don’t cut corners. The songs are fun and pleasant to listen to. Apparently these guys have been making music together since they attended high school, and their experience as a team is apparent to anyone listening to these well crafted tunes.