Category Archives: Reviews

King Du – Survival


Survival is a new single from King Du, a hip hop artist representing Brockton, Massachusetts. This tenacious anthem exlores the suffocating struggle of our “survival of the fittest” world. Embracing the realist mentality of “doing what you’ve gotta do,” King Du’s action oriented lyrics focus on perseverance and overcoming obstacles. The song is catchy and his use of a football running back as a visual metaphor is effective in conveying the central theme. He’s out there breaking tackles and just pushing whichever way he can to get those few extra yards ahead. King Du’s delivery is assertive and subtly motivational without coming across as arrogant or preachy. He presents as a humble guy just “aiming for a goal.”

The song has an unexpectedly cool guitar intro before the beat kicks in (for a few seconds I momentarily wondered if this might turn out to be an alternative rock song). Then track quickly transitions to a high octane beat and removes all doubt. There is some light processing on the vocals, as is common in contemporary hip hop and pop music, but it isn’t particularly excessive or distracting. For his part, King Du actually can rap well and at an impressive pace. He’s a skillful lyricist as well and does a fine job at constucting a cohesive narrative. While Survival doesn’t try to position itself as being profound, it absolutely captures the zeitgeist of the times we live in.

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J D – Isolations Vol. 1 (EP)


Isolations Vol.1 is a new EP from 16 year old UK based artist, J D. This mellow lo-fi instrumental album is sonically pleasing. Analog warmth, subtle tape hiss, and the occasional crackle give the songs a classic, retro feel. Light synths/electric piano give these tracks a quietly roaring sound while the effects envelope them in an avant garde, rainy day ambiance. While the album is instrumental, certain song like Friendship do contain vocal samples (including a famous line from the film, Casablanca). My favorite track on this release is probably Bliss, which sounds like a cross between vintage video game music and a Super8 art film soundtrack. It’s just very beautiful. The final song, No New News features Farfisa like organ sounds, giving it a subtle Napoleon Dynamite vibe.

This EP is classified as “lo-fi,” but the production is so well done that even the most discriminating audiophiles would concede the sound quality is quite high end. Isolations Vol. 1 almost serves as a musical homage to old black and white movies. It captures their atmosphere with such clarity that you’ll feel like you’re right there in the frame. It’s a mood.

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alexandrïa – 1993 EP


1993 is a new EP from East Coast based artist, alexandrïa. This lo-fi alternative pop release is an avant garde mini-masterpiece. The vibe trends towards the dark, with alexandrïa’s vocals marked by jaded honesty and subtly seductive undertones. Her voice is hypnotic as she demonstrates lyrical depth and conveys afflicted sincerity. Her delivery style at times almost resembles an energetic spoken word poetry performance. Ultimately the songs deal with heartbreak in very authentic and realistic terms. It’s refreshing to see an artist with the aesthetic attributes of a popstar forgo all the overblown production and hype in order to create something organic and real. alexandrïa’s a creative and talented songwriter, and her endearing angst captures the spirit of lo-fi alternative. Raw emotion reverberates through these recordings. I haven’t heard anything like this in a long time. 1993 punches well above its weight.

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Trivon – Without You


Without You is a new release from China-based artist, Trivon. A mere teenager, Trivon is something of a child prodigy in working with Ableton and has been creating music since the age of 11. I have to say, I listened to many different versions of this song from various artists, and this is by far the best one. This piano driven jam features crystal clear vocals and excellent production. Trivon wisely avoids utilizing a lot of abrasive processing and sound gimmicks, opting instead to focus on sonic clarity and warmth. The whole thing just sounds very professional and achieves major label levels of mix quality. Without You as conceived by this artist is more of a radio friendly pop track than a high octane dance mix, but the song still contains enough energy and pep that you can dance to it if you’re in the mood. Trivon has also done similar remix style versions of songs like Ariana Grande’s Don’t Call Me Angel. I recommend you check out those as well. Trivon appears to be expanding into experimentation with other genres and musical forms. He’s very young but has demonstrated advanced skills so far and will only get better.

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LaBronn Conner Jr. – Freedom on My Mind


Freedom on My Mind is a new single from artist, LaBronn Conner Jr. This ultra cool blues jam features lush backing music and a loungy ambiance. The song is largely driven by LaBronn’s emotionally charged vocals. A dynamic vocalist, he demonstrates he really has some singing chops in this recording. His performance is not only competent on a technical level but passionate and deep. You can really feel the energy in this track, which could liven up any night club even on the slowest evening of the week. LaBronn has a knack for storytelling and an attention commanding persona. His accessible music and undeniable skill allow for enjoyment even as he interweaves sensitive subject matter. Heartfelt and sincere, this artist clearly put everything he had into this creation, and the results speak for themselves.

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Party Pants – Party Pants


Party Pants is a new single from the musical artist of the same name. This is one of those songs that seems perfectly engineered to go viral. It’s catchy, well produced and revels in its own delightful obnoxiousness. True to the title, this track is pure unadulterated fun. Party Pants describes his music as “hard pop.” It basically fuses elements from hard rock and pop music. It reminds me a bit of Kid Rock’s or Andrew WK’s style but with better music and less controversy. Party Pants has all the ingredients of a hit, and the music video is even better than what you see from major label artists. Clearly a lot of effort went into the production and the resulting aesthetics are phenomenal. They managed to get quite a few attractive girls to show up, too. I really wish I knew what the budget was for all this. I thoroughly enjoyed this jam, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Embrace your guilty pleasures and rock out to this bombastic musical extravaganza.

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GhostWryter – Big Raggedy

big raggedy

Big Raggedy is a new single from hip hop artist, GhostWryter. This high octane, adrenaline fueled track is action packed from the opening sirens. GhostWryter’s “on point” delivery is brimming with intensity and charisma throughout. The backing beat is fiercely powerful and keeps you on the edge of your seat in suspense. There’s nothing mellow about this tune. Big Raggedy is a bold statement in musical form. The timing is impressive as everything is in perfect lockstep with the robust beat. This jam will get your blood flowing. With this dynamic and assertive release, GhostWryter is putting the hip hop world on notice that he’s arrived.

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Matthew J Van Howe – Emergent Narrative


Emergent Narrative is a new album from Chicago based artist, Matthew J Van Howe. An excellent piece of abstract musical art, this avant garde/ambient release has retrofuturistic vibes. Stylishly vintage synths that wouldn’t seem out of place in a 1980s science fiction film combine with contemporary sounds to create an ethereal aesthetic. Some tracks have a suspenseful and haunting vibe, while others are on the bright and uplifing side. Thoroughly cinematic and theatrical, the album functions as an instrumental soundscape.

The tracks all have single word titles (Sand, Rain, Merlot, etc) which serve as clues to their distinctive atmospheric qualities. If one allows themselves to be absorbed in the recordings, the listener is treated to a meditative, interdimensional journey. Van Howe gives us a comprehensive range of emotions and memories to delve into: heartbreak, ecstasy, loneliness, danger and nearly everything else in between. Songs like Peacock have an eerie, John Carpenter soundtrack feel while Mimosa is like an extended version of one of those mood elevating jingles used in telephone company commercials. I would love to see this album accompanied by visual performance art in a live setting, complete with dancers, costumes and set design.

From a technical standoint, production quality on Emergent Narrative is very good. The sound quality easily rivals that of most studio motion picture soundtracks. In addition to maintaining a high level of audio clarity, the album really does achieve that stereophonic, surround sound that’s pivotal to providing the listener with an immersive, adventurer’s quest. Of course, all of this is aided by the fact that Matthew J Van Howe is a talented songwriter who does a meticulous job of stucturing compositions and is proficient at playing the piano. The whole thing is just very professionally put together.

As a meditative and hypnotic album, it’s refreshing the way Emergent Narrative makes for a more intense experiece than the typical “flowers and relaxation” fare. These songs will actually challenge your imagination, daring you to face some of your darker memories and fears, while still allowing room for you to experience some jubilation in the process.

Matthew is currently mastering an improvised piano album entitled, “memories i would otherwise forget,” which should prove to be another enticing entry in his release catalog.

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Kevin Watts – Defect


Defect is a new EP from San diego based hip hop artist, Kevin Watts. One thing that immediately stands out about this release is the quality of the beats. The backing music is top tier, which each track featuring a high end piano or synth intro that really pulls you in. Each track is musically distinctive, while Watts’ delivery remains consistent throughout, holding the recordings together into a cohesive work. Kevin displays some solid ability as a rapper, blending emotion and energy with a good sense of timing. The pacing ranges from moderate to quick and overall is probably faster than most contemporary hip hop. My favorite track on the album is Process, which incorporates a vintage sound sample recording dealing with the subject of “anxiety.” The song has some delightfully eerie synths, and Watts’s performance on this jam is particularly impressive. The album is a respectable entry in the hip hop genre but is further elevated by the excellent backing music.

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Deluca – Over It


Over It is a new single from Deluca, a 22 year old artist based in New York. This Deep House, EDM jam is rich in its musical complexity. Ranging from ambient and ethereal to pulsepoundingly exhilarating, this dynamic track dazzles and mesmerizes from start to finish. There are quite a few transitions, and the beat alternates throughout, sometimes unpredictably. There’s practically an entire album’s worth of sound variety packed into this one 3 minute song. The portions where the beat really kicks in offer up supreme danceability. Production is very clean and professional, with the mix juggling a complicated blend of elements quite well. The song combines surreal and futuristic synths with tight beats to create a sound that’s slick and powerful but never overbearing or pretentious. In that sense, it’s very true to the EDM spirit. Over It is an impressive release all around. It’s becoming increaingly difficult for artists to stand out in this crowded genre, but as far as music goes, you really can’t ask for much better than this.

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