Category Archives: Reviews

DJPE and Venissa Santi – Songs With Venissa

ocean-of-emotion

Ocean of Emotion is a track from Songs With Venissa, a new 6 song EP from Afro-futurist producer “djpe” and Pew Award winning Cuban American jazz vocalist Venissa Sant. It is very difficult to pin this music down into a category. It defies compartmentalization. The best way to describe the sound is that of an avant garde, jazz-folk futurism. Though the songs develop in unpredictable ways, the excellent musiciansmanship is apparent throughout. djpe and Venissa managed to bring in some talented guest soloists who contribute trombone, flute trombone and saxophone playing into these songs. This is the kind of music that can’t be faked. I mean, either you can play the flute or you can’t. These people are the real deal.

Some songs, like Ocean of Emotion start off gently, with Venissa’s phonogenic, soothing, spoken word-like vocals leading the way, as the track slowly adds elements, building into a complex piece of musical machinery until before you know it you’ve got something you can dance to. With other songs, such as The Edges, are action packed from the opening bell and retain the same level of energy for the duration of the recording. If I Could Write You a Letter probably has the grooviest musical backing on the album. It gives off a trippy, kind of Halloween party vibe. My favorite song on the album, is My Schwinn, partly because it features some great lyrical depth, but also because I had a Schwinn bicycle when I was a kid. In fact I feel somewhat guilty that I didn’t appreciate it. Being a bratty 80′s kid, I always wanted something like a dirtbike or BMX. I didn’t recognize the superiority of the Sparkly Schwinn’s aesthetic and the comfort of the banana seat until I got much older.

Anyway, Songs With Venissa is a nifty little EP. It’s one of those albums that will receive instant critical acclaim and recognition for it’s artful mastery from anyone who stumbles onto it. In a just world these recordings would be broadcast to the masses. We don’t live in that just of a world, but if you’re reading this at least you’ll know how good these songs are.

For more info:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/songs-with-venissa-ep/1419715080
https://soundcloud.com/djpe-1

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Amaru – Champagne Attitude

AMARU - Low On The Dough (Radio Mix)

Low On The Dough is a new single from AMARU’s debut album, Champagne Attitude. The song utilizes a lot of symbolism and conveys the emotional fallout one experiences emerging from a toxic relationship with a with a partner with materialistic gold digging tendencies. Champagne Attitude is an apt title for AMARU’s album, as he delivers this touch of bitterness with class and charisma. It’s hard not to be drawn in by his upbeat and energetic persona. AMARU takes bad relationship experiences and romantic drama and translates them
into party fun dance tunes. His original fashion style and precision trimmed beard distinguish him as an artist and recognizable personality. Low On The Dough documents a genuine struggle of being with someone that values commercial brand names over caring and affection. You can feel the impeding doom / sense of frustration in these lyrics:

Dolce & Gabbana
Coco Chanel, Prada
Trinkets you buy at the store
I wanna dress you up in my love
But that’s not enough
Now you’re running to the door

I have no doubt that the rest of AMARU’s album is every bit as entertaining and passionate as this jam. What separates AMARU from many aspiring pop artists is that AMARU’s personality is part of the music, and he is willing to share a more vulnerable side with his audience…while more generic artists work to sweep their romantic mistakes under the rug.

AMARU - CA Promo 1

For more info:
http://www.amaru-music.com/

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Sherise

alone

Sherise is an eclectic vocalist and songwriter who draws from a wide variety of musical influences, including everything from classical to country to indie pop. She’s set to release her upcoming album, Dimensions of Beauty, sometime in the near future. She can certainly sing, having come through a substantial choir and musical performance background. Her vocals kind of remind me of a cross between Sheryl Crow and Ace of Base, with songs like On the Dance Floor representing the conventional dance music style and other tracks like Unfinished Business demonstrating alternative rock sensibilities while retaining a danceably pop dynamic. It’s my favorite of the songs I listened to. Divided utilizes some creative structure and probably the most dynamic vocal range. Alone is surprisingly peppy and upbeat musically, in contrast with it’s rather somber title. Sherise is clearly a talented songwriter and performer, and there is definitely an established market for what she’s offering.

For more info:
http://www.sherisedsouza.com

Amazon Music: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_srch_drd_B075KPTRJX?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=Sherise&index=digital-music&search-type=ss

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/on-the-dance-floor-single/1424983964?app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

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The Blankz – (I Just Want to) Slam

the_blankz

It was only recently that we wrote about The Blankz’  instant Arizona classic,  White Baby  The impressiveness of that release set the bar pretty high. Bands often change, experiment and grow, which isn’t always a good thing if what they already have is working.  So when I discovered I had something new to review for The Blankz, I was curious if they had retained the magic that was captured in White Baby.

Thankfully, their brand new EP, (I Just Want to) Slam wisely sticks with the same formula of weirdo pop punk + synth, which won them some small scale critical acclaim. The first thing that came to mind when listening was that (I Just Want to) Slam would have been a perfect for one of the obligatory slam section parts of  just about any 90′s skateboard video.  It’s kinda too bad they don’t really make those kinds of skate videos anymore, and it’s all pretty much on youtube now (or maybe they still do, and I’m just too old and out of touch to know about it.)

One thing which defines The Blankz’ songs is how catchy they are. Even after only a single listening sesh, I find myself repeating the choruses in my head over and over. Hell, i’ts been almost a month since I heard White Baby, and that’s still annoyingly stuck in my brain. Time will tell what kind of mental staying power (I Just Want to) Slam has. It’s like they put drugs in these songs or some kind of MK Ultra style, subliminal mind control messaging. Anyway, potential listeners beware: these songs will stay with you.

I suppose I should talk about the actual substance of the music here. The title track (I Just Want to) Slam is fast paced right from the opening bell and maintains the same level of energy throughout. The vocal performance is among the better I’ve heard for this genre of music. Vocals are clear, on key and delivered with balls. What more can you ask for? This is music for moshing, just letting loose and having a blast in the pit….but of course it can be a metaphoric anthem for how to approach other areas of life.

the_blankz_band

There is a second song on the album, called Baby’s Turning Blue. It’s a short but punchy jam which gives a brief and peculiar narrative of a punk rock “baby” growing up to fall victim to drug abuse. The guitars in this song are awesome, tonally and technically. The timing here is great, with frequent breaks and pace changes which all go off without a hitch. This band is tight. Everyone is on the same page. If I have one criticism it’s that I wish this song was a bit longer and elaborated more on the interesting lyrical premise. The vibe of Baby’s Turning Blue reminds me of early 90s Orange County or San Diego punk music, even though there is nothing explicitly retro about this music, and I can’t think of any specific examples of bands these guys sound like. It’s more of a feeling.

Listening to The Blankz is like if you were to resurface a fond memory of being at the Warped Tour sometime before it started to suck. The good news is that The Blankz are in the here and now… and continuing to crank out cool stuff. Cover art has a great aesthetic by the way.

For more info:
http://theblankzband.com/
https://soundcloud.com/theblankz
https://www.facebook.com/theblankzband/
https://www.instagram.com/theblankzband/

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Console Clone – Rewind Mankind

console_clone_rewind_mankind
Cover Artwork by Leah Davis Art

Console Clone is a synthwave electronic music artist from the United Arab Emirates. The jams from his debut album Rewind Mankind wouldn’t seem out of place on the Cherry 2000 film soundtrack in 1987. What that should tell you is that this guy does synthwave very well. The title track, Rewind Mankind, is the archetypal, action packed synth sound. It’s one of the most straightforward songs on the album, high energy and engaging to the max.

The album features a lot of samples and references to science fiction, which listeners may or may not pick up on. For example, The Video Dead contains well placed samples from the film, Night of the Living Dead. Klendathu is presumably titled after the bugs’ planet in Starship Troopers, while Electric Sheep is a nod to Philip K Dick. You get the idea. Almost all of the songs are fairly fast paced and maintain a consistent level of cinematic intensity. Yet, musically there is a lot of variation in terms of sounds utilized, as well as the often unpredictable structuring. You really are not quite sure what you’re going to get with each track you click on. You just know when you push play that it’s going have that familiar, darkly energetic ambiance in some enticing new form and that it’s going to be good. These recordings are just phenomenal. They sound very 80s but authentically 80s, unlike when a store tries to bring back some old clothing style but everyone who was around then can tell it’s just a tad off. This guy has the genre and aesthetic nailed down and also manages to incorporate some structural originality.

The album can be purchased here:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07G68JRK7

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Brielle Monique – Hallucinate

Brielle_Monique_artwork

San Diego born singer Brielle Monique’s new single, Hallucinate (scheduled to be released on August 31, 2018) showcases her classically trained and well curated vocal abilities. Her voice certainly doesn’t have anywhere to hide in the mix. Musically, Hallucinate is a very minimalist jam, and Brielle’s vocals really do carry the tune. The track slowly builds from a near acapella beginning and blossoms into a sprightly intricate pop song. It’s a trick to maintain the balance between displaying soft emotion and demonstrating vitality, and Brielle Monique manages to accomplish this both lyrically and musically. What instrumental backing there is does an excellent job at complementing Monique’s voice rather than obscuring it.

For more info:
https://www.instagram.com/brielle.music
https://www.facebook.com/officialbriellemusic

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Hoffey – Love is Wild

Hoffey - Love Is Wild

HOFFEY, a male/female pop twosome from Vancouver Canada, recently released their debut single, titled Love is Wild. The often synchronous yet contrasting vocals of Erika and Jordan Toohey complement each other well enough. There are a couple of ways in which this track differs from a conventional pop track though, both of which are positive. For one thing, the artists are genuinely partners in a romantic relationship, which gives added sincerity and meaning to the lyrics and how they’re expressed. This is unlike most common pop songs, which typically are written by third parties and just simply manufactured for public consumption (there are a few exceptions.) The other noticeable distinction here is the unique synth backing on Love is Wild. It has more of the feel of an artistic collage than a standard pop/dance beat. In fact, if this song were released without vocals it could pass for a very good chillwave track. True to the song’s theme, the interesting pacing and unpredictable breaks almost seem calculated to correspond to the tempestuous, yet beautiful wildness of the relationship experience itself.

Official release link:
https://fanlink.to/HLIW18

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LUURK – Ain’t Coming Back

luurk

A self described “multi-genre artist from Arizona,” LUURK showcases his production and songwriting skills with his latest release, Ain’t Coming Back. Had the song been released as an instrumental and without vocals, it could easily pass as a pretty decent summertime EDM jam. The vocals manage to transform the track into more of a pop/R&B/dance combo song. True to his form, LUURK does in fact span different genres with his music, and Ain’t Coming Back succeeds in walking the line between remaining accessible to a wide range of listeners and alienating those who may favor one style heavily over another.

Production and mixing on this are top notch. While the lyrics are not very extensive, the vocals that exist are performed well. LUURK is also wise enough not to ruin them with a bunch of over-processing and auto-tune. The song also does something interesting in that it combines an uplifting musical arrangement with a seemingly ambiguous or negative lyric, “No, we ain’t coming back.” I’ve noticed this is fairly common in EDM, creating a positive experience and celebrating optimism as a mood regardless of what life throws at you. If you’ve ever attended an EDM event, one thing that stands out is how happy everyone is compared to other concerts. This song radiates with positive energy, but just as importantly, it is very well put together musically.

For more info:
https://fanlink.to/ACM_

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Tiiiger – Circle

tiiiger

Circle is a new EP from Montreal based artist, “Tiiiger” (the new alias of musician Mikey Dorje.) The album’s unique sound stems from its successful amalgamation of acoustic/synth. This creates an almost “electro folk” atmosphere. The opening track, Space is an ambient, mostly electronic intro that functions well to get you in the meditative mood to experience this kind of music. The songs are all instrumental by the way, something which actually enhances the songs. Vocals would have I think detracted a bit from the sense of quiet mystery one feels when listening to this EP. Home is personally my favorite track of the bunch. This is going to sound like a bizarre thing to say, but the way I would describe Home is that it made me think of what an avant garde, instrumental version of LFO’s Summer Girls would be like, (minus any of the frosted tips fueled, boy band cheesiness.) The EP closes out with Movement,an appropriately titled, relatively fast paced jam that left me feeling energized after checking out with this nifty little release. One final remark is that the song names are each single words, and they do a successful job of abstractly conveying the emotion/experience relating to the word each track corresponds with.

For more info:
https://tiiiger.bandcamp.com/

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Phteven Universe – Space Parachute

phtevenuniverse

A while back I reviewed the single, Space Parachute which had initially been released by Francis Nally under the moniker “King Trode.” Well, now the song is officially out in the form a the title track of a new EP, falling under the umbrella of Nally’s Phteven Universe project.

There’s no point in re-reviewing the song Space Parachute, since my original remarks on it still stand:

What a sparkly little synth hook this jam has! It’s as if someone threw something together really quick, chucked it at a wall and it bounced in my direction and stuck in my head like a superball to the brain. Basically, this track is the little orphan Annie of hidden indie pop hits. King Trode’s Space Parachute is exactly what it would sound like if you took Sega Genesis video game music and added vocals that sounded eerily similar in style to those of Dal Winslow of The Trashmen singing the 60′s classic, Surfin Bird (aka “The Bird is the Word” song.)

However, it’s worthwhile to discuss the other content included on the EP. The second track, Ralph Was a Homosexual is an electronic dance jam based around a sample taken from a bizarre 1961 PSA titled Boys Beware, which warns against the dangers of “homosexual predators.” There are no lyrics to speak of other than the voice from the sample saying “Ralph was a homosexual” at various speeds (and sometimes abbreviated.) It reminds me of techno songs from the early 90s, which used samples from old movies during a brief break in the music, followed by the beat kicking back in. L.A Style’s hit, James Brown is Dead is a classic example of this, as well as Euphoria’s I like Noise. However, Nally’s song is more of a laid back, hypnotic space synth than any kind of intense opera techno. My favorite part of the song is the Simon Says / Close Encounters styled synth that makes an appearance at the 1:36 part. I wish it had come earlier in the song, but it’s worth the wait.

The next song, MACH!NEZ is a brief one, clocking in at just less than a minute, but it makes good use of panning and the beat is impressively memorable. I could actually see MACH!NEZ being used as some kind of techno-futurist or transhumanist national anthem, to be played before animatronic basketball games someday.

The EP rounds out with a 9 minute live recording of Phteven Universe performing at The Sound Hole in Philadelphia, PA. For a live venue performance the music comes through surprisingly crystal clear. I was expecting it to sound kind of shitty with a lot of drunk normie voices and feedback in the background. So, even though this EP is technically four tracks, it actually includes several “bonus” songs within the live performance track, each of which are of excellent listening quality.

Space Parachute is a solid EP in its totality, but it is worth it even for just the opening song.

EYES ACUTE, SPACE PARACHUTE,
WAS WONDERING, IF YOU LIKE TO DO IT AGAIN!

Yes, I think I will listen to this again. Don’t mind if I do.

For more info:
https://choamcharity.bandcamp.com/album/space-parachute

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