Band-Aid is a new single from Cincinnati-based singer-songwriter, Frankly Speaking featuring Kelsey Ray. The song blends elements of folk, alternative, indie pop and even a bit of light hip hop. The vocals of Kelsey Ray are phenomenal. She has one of the better voices I’ve heard in recent memory and gives a technically strong and endearing performance. The tone of the track is balanced out nicely with Frankly Speaking’s casual, sentimental and creative delivery.
In terms of songwriting, the track has a rich and complex structure, making use of vocal layering and a plethora of organic instrumentals. While the lyrical content reflects fallout of a bittersweet romance, the ambiance is pretty and bright. This is a classic folk duet, updated stylistically for 21st century appeal. Production quality is top notch, and the mix is brimming with sonic detail. Frankly Speaking is obviously a gifted songwriter, and everything is weaved together here masterfully.
Not All There is a new single from artist Lil Wondr Boy. The song exists as part of a growing new genre that blends emo and UK drill music. Indeed, the song is brimming with emotion as Lil Wondr Boy passionately lays it all out there. His vocals really are in that authentic tone of “emo” that I would recognize anywhere. It’s odd to hear it combined with hip hop style beats, but the sound works. Musically, it’s melodic with a hint of synth sparkle, while the rhythm has a healthy pulse to it. You can dance t this. In terms of ambiance, Not All There has a sentimental, rainy day vibe. The lyrics are reflective, sincere and ripe with anguish. It’s a pretty decent release, with bonus points for creativity. Lots of budding potential here.
The Murdercrows is the second album from experimental hip hop artist, Billy Blackgoat. His non-traditional approach incorporates rock, alternative, metal and even spoken word to create in genuinely unique sound. The ambiance is delightfully delightfully brooding and the music has a Tales From the Darkside vibe. Billy has one of the most distinctive voices I’ve ever heard in hip hop. His delivery is emotionally expressive in a manner not typically associated with hip hop. There are traces of despair, urgency and anguish int the vocals.
The songs dive deep into spirituality and symbolism. Listening to this album is almost like listening to a fantasy adventure, as we feel like we’re right there in the parallel netherworld the artist has constructed for us. Motifs such as insects, crows and various mythological creatures serve as metaphors and set the scene. My favorite track on the album is Pesticide, which I think is the catchiest jam on here. Billy’s vocal delivery is somewhat jarring (in an artistically effective way) initially but really starts to grow on you after you get used to it. It’s great to see hip hop like this that takes a more avant garde approach, rather than be centered around cliches and ego. Billy Blackgoat has released a total of two studio albums, as well as a live album. His third album is set to be released later this year.
Kaleidanoyse V is a new album from Kaleidanoyse (an EDM project started by 2012 by Aureus Nova Solis). The style was apparently influenced by 90s night club music. It does have a bit of an old school techno vibe and reminds me of some of the cassettes I used to own and play in my car in high school on late night drives (I graduated in ’96). The ambiance is abstract and dreamlike. It’s just very meditative and hypnotic. Though it incorporates futuristic, psychically intense synths, there’s an earthy quality to the music. It’s subliminally calming and doesn’t feel “mechanical” in the least.
Kaleidanoyse V is an escapist’s dream. The most distinctive elements of this album are the beats, which have precise, speedy rhythm and a catchy “roll” to them. Certain tracks, like Starstruck have a more delicate and quaint charm, while recognizably retaining the stylistic thumbprints of the other songs. My favorite song on the album is Metal Temple, which is beautifully melodic and makes you feel like you’ve recently discovered a new world in an RPG. I highly recommend this release. Not only is it musically enjoyable, but it is one of the more artistically pure I’ve heard in recent memory.
Master of Illusion is a new album from Michigan-based metal band KILJIN. I hesitate to refer to their sound as “old school” because it makes it seem dated or retro or something. However, it’s old school in the sense that it is very high quality and on par with many of the truly iconic metal bands I remember from the late 80s-early 90s. Even the album cover art measures up to all those classic covers (Megadeth, Testament, Acrophet etc), the imagery of which has been etched in our brains forever.
This is metal in its purest form. By almost any conceivable metric, the performances are impeccable. Despite the fact that the fact that KILJIN was formed in 2020, these are established musicians with strong technical ability. They don’t cut any corners. The vocals are sung in that dramatic, theatrical manner reminiscent of Iron Maiden, one of the most challenging styles for any vocalist. Yes, this guy really does sing that well. I used to watch Headbangers Ball on MTV back in the day, and this is as good or better than anything that ever aired on that program. The guitars feature some robust distortion, but it doesn’t obscure the sonic detail or rhythm.
In terms of content, the songs reference a lot of familiar fantasy motifs like warlocks, wizards, death and magic. The track Beard of Wizard is particularly creative with its ominous spoken world monologue and killer guitar shredding. It’s a masterpiece. My other favorite jam is the opener, Path of the Warlock, which has an instantly impressive guitar intro and is catchy in a way that’s not typical of this genre. Anyway, I’m obviously a fan of this album. It’s awesome, and you should check it out.
Brown Boy is a new single from hip hop artist Ali Kulture, featuring Jay Beato. The production quality on this jam is excellent, boasting a pristine mix that’s brimming with sonic clarity. There’s no annoying static or muddled noise. It’s mostly just a clean and legit studio sound. The vocal delivery is crisp and punchy, as the artist offers up some forthright social commentary, relating it personal experience. He really lays it all out there in a storytelling fashion. His flow is straightforward, on point and he holds nothing back. Blending emotions like angst and anger with sentimentality, the track balances itself out nicely. Brown Boy should be a hit with contemporary hip hop audiences. It hits all the marks while maintaining a deeply personal touch. Be sure and check out the video below. It’s professionally made and correlates with the narrative of the song.
No Kingdom is a new single from NYC-duo, Cyborg Asylum. This futuristic jam dazzles with its well constructed complexity and rich songwriting. These guys obviously know what they’re doing. Featuring melodic synths, guitars, well-chosen samples and a plethora of radical beats, this track is stacked. It’s like a piece of musical machinery that runs with precision. This is balanced by the emotionally expressive and soulful vocals, which are sung quite impressively. Everything in the mix is so well choreographed. The overall ambiance is slightly dark and atmospheric, a vibe which is enhanced by the band’s aesthetic choices and imagery. The song slowly builds and ultimately culminates is a rather epic finale. Everything here is recorded and performed to a very high standard. This release should turn some heads, even in a place as competitive as New York.
Down the Drain is a new single from Clara Zimm. This delightfully haunting track entrances with its exotic charm. While Clara is obviously a gifted vocalist at the technical level, it’s her cadence and avant garde delivery style that gives the song its mesmerizing appeal. Her performance is jazzy and soulful, and the way the backing vocals are strategically layered just makes this a class act. It’s almost like a 21st century lounge tune. It’s dark, passionate and has that sultry spirit. Clara keeps things quaint and mellow in some parts of the song, but in those moments where she reveals her voice’s true power level, your jaw will drop to the floor. This is a terrific recording. It’s mainstream audience friendly while having enough substance and cutting edge appeal to retain artistic credibility.
I Deserve Better is a new single from artist, Chaylyn. This heartfelt and sentimental track features a dreamlike piano/synth backing. The ambiance is very theatrical, almost like you’d hear in a dramatic sequence of a romantic film. Chaylyn can actually sing, and her voice is the driving force that carries the entire song. There’s nothing flashy here and no production gimmickry, just naturally beautiful vocals.
In terms of performance, Chaylyn demonstrates the kind of purity and genuine expressiveness that money just can’t buy. As the title implies, I Deserve Better is characterized by a relentless romantic longing and an underlying touch of angst. It’s bitter sweet, but more of the latter than the former. Ultimately the song encourages empowerment and self-affirmation through honesty. For those of us on the outside, listening to this jam is like finding someone’s break-up letter to their significant and reading it to ourselves. The production is studio quality and ready for prime time. I Deserve Better deserves a spot on the charts, and Chaylyn has what it takes to go far in this industry.
No Tomorrow is a new single from Louisiana-based hip hop artist, A1 DA DAWG. He lists his primary (current) influences as being Rick Ross & Drake, but when he was younger was originally inspired by artists like Cash Money and No limit. This latest track from A1 DA DAWG has an ambient, mellow and even philosophical vibe. It features a bright summertime beat that’s chill and melodic. A1 DA DAWG’s delivery style is natural and easy going. He’s very effective without coming across as trying too hard. The lyrics blend mundane aspects of daily life with deeper thoughts about life. This is done quite well, and the lyrics themselves contain some choice lines. The video for this jam is brand new and is set to a warehouse backdrop a lot of colorful graffiti visuals. Follow A1 DA DAWG on social media to keep up to date with his latest releases and shows.