Johanna Breed has just released a video for her song, Mister. The track is from her latest EP titled Is It Too Late? She describes her musical style as “future soul.” That’s certainly how I would characterize Mister which combines earthy, organic instrumentals and bongo-like drums with piano and synth. The result is a kind of post-apocalyptic new age, nature pop. The video exemplifies this aesthetic perfectly (playing keyboards in the middle of the wilderness, etc.) She has terrific voice, expressive and very at ease. Her voice sort of reminds me of what Vitamin C would have sounded like if she had made more avant garde music. Johanna’s got some real talent, and Mister has potential to break through as a single if it manages to land on the right person’s desk.
Night Before the Dawn 2.0 is an album from Katrel Kelly, released on GalacticOnes label. With 13 fun filled and action packed tracks, the album offers a full listening experience. Katrel’s (also known as “Trel Mack”) delivery style is slow-mid paced and charisma driven, reminiscent of many popular 90s hip hop icons. He has a knack for coming up with catchy and sometimes amusing lyrics, making his songs memorable, even while he makes it clear he’s all about handlin biz. Warren Buffett and I Hate These Rappers are tracks which include some of the more choice lines. The songs on this album are more musical and melodic than the average hip hop song. Each track has a uniquely complex musical backing. There’s no padding and cutting corners here. Musically my favorite song on this album is Make You Love Me, which features some absolutely killer female backing vocals. When this jam kicks into high gear is when I made up my mind that this album has “the good stuff.”
Most of the tracks on Night Before the Dawn 2.0 are pretty solid, carried by Katrel’s personality and skills as a poet / entertainer. Wisely, nothing is neglected on the musical or production side. The complex musical elements enhance this release significantly, elevating it to the upper echelons of indie hip hop.
Jenn is a new R&B single performed by Black Hebrew. The song was written and produced by Gino, whom was inspired by meeting a woman at his workplace. This track expresses a deep and relentless admiration for a particular female. Brimming with positivity, the song presents a musical and lyrical showering of affection, amounting to an enthusiastic celebration of nearly everything about this girl. Even the synth driven backbeat is bright and uplifting. It’s fitting that I’m writing about this song on Valentine’s Day, since the messaging contains what nearly every woman would probably say they want to hear from a guy they’re interested in. Office romance can be tricky and awkward though, especially if it doesn’t pan out. The beauty of this song though is that it will resonate with all kinds of women, especially those that may feel like they could use an admirer of their own.
Vocalist “Black Hebrew” has a lively delivery, great timing and flow. He sings with confidence while retaining sensitivity in his voice, which makes for just the right combo for this song. The pacing is fairly quick for a romantic R&B song, elevating the intensity of the moment as the artist pours his heart out and lays his cards on the table. It’s nice to see a song which has actual depth, meaning and genuine passion behind it.
One time a few years ago I was at a bar in midtown Phoenix, chatting up some random girl when she took out her wallet and handed me a business card. I thought maybe she was giving me her number, but when I looked at the card it was completely blank…all except for the words “STOP TALKING,” which were printed in bold lettering. I may or may not have gotten the message.
Anyway, I only reopened that wound today because STOP TALKING is the name of a new single from NorCal punk artist, A G E N T (who also has a full live band.) A G E N T is apparently influenced by local legends like Green Day. Thankfully, STOP TALKING bears more resemblance to early 90′s Green Day like Kerplunk and 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, when the band was at its finest, truly a golden age. Though the vocals remind me more of NOFX or Folk Implosion.
However, this song really has a lot more going on creatively than the first 45 seconds would let on. It actually kind of breaks off in this really cool way into a kind of avant garde performance piece. Taking a dreamlike, psychedelic turn with groovin’ reverbed out guitar sounds and vocal declarations of insanity, ( “You Smoke Too Much…”) the whole thing becomes rather surreal. The song concludes poignantly with the playing of a voicemail box recording.
I was expecting something more like a straghtforward punk jam, but this song pleasantly surprises with its artfulness. Even as the song seems to have a structural mind of its own, the music never suffers. Listenability isn’t sacrificed for the sake of making a weird artistic statement. STOP TALKING revels in its unpredictability. Production on this track is organic and has that warm, analog, 90s indie feel, like it was recorded by someone who didn’t have the most expensive gear but still knew what they were doing.
A G E N T has also recently released an album called SUMMON THE JUICES, which is probably worth checking out just based on the title alone.
Waiting for Your Call is a new track from Plastic DJ, a Barcelona based DJ / producer. The song is a mellow, dreamy experience which at first seems like it will be an instrumental dance track but incorporates vocals partway through the song. The beat asserts itself in the mix like a backbone and vaguely resembles the drumbeat of a marching band. It gives structure to the ambient synths. In line with the song’s subject matter. The synths themselves have the quality of tones from a retro-futuristic telephone. The vocals are hypnotic and stoic, expressing a yearning which may never be fulfilled. Clocking in at nearly 7 minutes, Waiting for Your Call is an aesthetically captivating enough song that the listener won’t mind waiting along with you.
Never Let You Down is a new single from “Chase the Jaguar.” the indie rock musical project of brothers David and Sebastian Fox. The song is off their upcoming album, which is currently in the making. The two brothers are trained classical guitarists who’ve toured extensively throughout Europe, but as Chase the Jaguar the main focus is on their passion for minimalist indie rock.
Above all things, Never Let You Down is a vocal driven song. The voices are at the forefront of the mix, so much so that they could almost stand alone as a spoken word, indie opera track. We are obviously dealing with a very good singer here though, who is able to carry the recording with ease. Nearly unthinkable high notes are reached on this recording that would physically impossible for most people. Don’t try this at home, folks! The backing consists of light guitars and a mid paced, anchoring beat. The tone is very ambient and contemplative, slightly reassuring and soothing but with enough energy have a bit of a kick. Creative vocal layering features heavily as well, with the backup vocalizations forming a synth-like “instrumental” element of their own.
The title of this song offers a hint to the ambiguous subject matter. The message David is conveying lyrically is that even though he may be going through a rough time (which his concerned loved one can sense,) he urges his friend / loved one to pretend that everything is fine, giving reassurance that he ultimately won’t let him down. In a famous song Hey Jealousy by the Gin Blossoms, there’s a line which goes If you don’t expect too much from me, then you might not be let down. The theme there is similar, but in that song the singer is merely hinting that they’re capable of exceeding expectations if their loved one is willing to set them low enough. In Chase the Jaguar’s Never Let You Down, the request is of a different nature. It’s as if he’s just asking for space to deal with some things on his own, believing the storm will all blow over without the added pressures of concerned people wanting to help or fix things (whether or not this will turn out to be the case remains to be seen.) We only have his word to go by, after all.
This is a powerful and emotive song. The complex narrative will resonate with listeners who yearn for more than cookie cutter solutions and predictability. The music has cross-genre appeal, certainly appreciable by anyone who enjoys indie rock (a huge demographic as it is,) but also of interest to adult-contemporary fans or people outside the rock sphere altogether.
Chase the Jaguar has released other music, but Never Let You Down is their first single associated with M.E.G. Records (in tandem with Florida’s Neurodisc Records.) I recommend you check it out, as well as the duo’s other songs.
Marton Juhasz’s new full length album Discovery is something else. The poignantly haunting intro track, Sea of Uncertainty, clues the listener in to the fact that this is going to be a record which is a cut above the average recording, both intellectually and musically. The Curve has a more jazzy vibe as the aesthetic of the album begins to take shape. The music can be described as similar to what one would hear on a 1960′s film soundtrack. In fact, if you were to watch an older movie with this playing in the background, it would not seem out of place at all. The sound here is classy, jazzy and cerebral, with hints of abstract psychedelia. There’s expert musicianmanship on display here at all levels, from vocals all the way on down. Songs like Little Prayer and Spellbound have elements of contemporary flavor to remind you when and where you are. My favorite song on this album is Camels in the Sky, which is majestic and memorable. I don’t usually give overly gushing reviews, but this release is absolutely flawless, manifesting as a perfect storm of style, substance and professionalism.
Lies is a new song from MMFB (real name Marco Basso,) a Swiss based DJ, musician, composer and producer. It’s a lively dance / pop track which is brimming with upbeat energy despite dealing with the sensitive topic of calling someone out for “lies.” It features EDM styled beats and synths mixed with dynamic vocals that carry a hint of sass. Lyrically, Lies takes the subject to task for dishonest behavior, laying out a clear and concise confrontation, while at the same time expressing a frustrated for the person to let go and tell the truth. Ultimately this is a club party jam, but the vocals carry more of a pop flair, like if Prince had been an EDM star.
Production on this track is of professional quality, and it’s well mixed, with neither the vocals or the beat too far out front. Despite the title and subject matter, Lies will leave you feeling refreshed, like you’ve just let loose and finally got something off your chest. This artist has a number of other releases, and I recommend you check them out.
Mix in a Water is an ambient new jam from “Flo,” a Toronto, Canada based producer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. The title of the song is accurate in that this funky musical concoction has tropical vibes and a bit of that surreal, beachy keen sound. It’s music for a futuristic Weekend at Bernies. The midi-like synths and subdued vocals give the track a delightful underwater pool party feel. Mix in a Water is hip. It’s groovin. It’s cool, refreshing music, and it’s comin’ to a deserted island rave near you. Apparently Flo has some new stuff lined up for March so be on the lookout for that as well.
Ain’t Givin’ In, a new single from German music producer Echo Lair, is a defiant musical statement where the artist rails takes a stand addressing many of the cultural and political pressures of contemporary society. His charismatic vocal presence drives the action against a smooth groovin’ backdrop. Echo Lair is an impressive lyricist, managing to pack a lot of substance into an average length song and then delivering the words with passion and timing. This isn’t a frivolous kickback jam or recreational chit chat rap about hooking up with women and taking fun pills. Rather, this song commits itself completely to the subject of social change. It’s more of an “anthem” really, a wake up call. Ain’t Givin’ In is like like a monologue plea encouraging positive action. It’s also a well-produced hip hop song that someone could probably still enjoy even if the message doesn’t resonate with them 100%.