Never Sober is a new album from hip hop artist, Von Ba$$. This release contains over 40 minutes worth of flavorful jams. Featuring occasional guest artists, lyrically rich content and a wide variety of distinct beats, it’s a true “full album.” Songs like Crunch Time hit with fresh, summertime liveliness, while other tracks like 2-3 Zone have more of a sentimental vibe. There’s something for everyone in this multi-dimensional epic.
Von Ba$$’s delivery is laid back and reflective, as he relates stories, makes plans for the evening and sometimes calls people out without ever losing his composure. He analyzes and reflects on various situations in his life, often with a nod to nostalgia. The backing music is smooth and mellow for the most part, but the moderately paced beats have enough punch to them to keep the party rolling. My favorite song on here is probably Fucked Up, which has one of the better intros you’ll hear in a hip hop song. Combining quantity and quality, Never Sober delivers the goods.
Strength n Dreams is a new release from artist, Hazeline Taffe. This cleverly titled reggae mini-album consists of two tracks: “Strength” and “Dreams.” Both are quite good. The first song is a celebration of the strength that gets the artist through each day and “overcomes every obstacle.” The tone is upbeat and inspiring, and Hazeline can certainly sing very well. Dreams is a tad more tender and sentimental. It’s an inspiring song that pleads with you to never give up on your dreams. The vocal track is outstanding, and the backing music is emotionally moving. I could almost see this song being used on a Disney soundtrack of some kind. All in all, this little album is brimming with talent and the sincerity. Too pure for this world, this is an artist that makes you really want to root for her. This is fantastic stuff.
Pre Game Freestyles is a new EP from singer/songwriter Ellis Blè. The songs combine elements of trap music, afro-beat rhythms and moderately paced hip hop vocals. The artist has a smooth delivery with a good sense of timing. His voice really does flow well, and the surprisingly detailed lyrics keep the listener engaged with the material. The backing music is fresh and mildly futuristic, but the area where the album impresses the most is with the “stream of consciousness” storytelling. The amusingly titled Horny Lately also features a groovy guitar intro and is probably my favorite jam on here. Pre Game Freestyles is a fine little EP that blends sexualized sentimentality with romance, personal reflection and a party vibe.
All-In-Moment is a self-titled album from the Staten Island-based hard rock/metal band of the same name. The songs sometimes begin with sparse and coy intros before hitting you like a freight train with assertive guitars and a full on rocking sound. The guitar playing is very precise and polished, which is especially impressive for this genre of music, where artists can get away with a little bit of messy play if the song goes hard enough. There’s nothing sloppy here at all, though. Numerous strategic pauses and breaks are incorporated into these jams for great effect. The songs are also surprisingly dynamic. No two tracks sound the same, as multiple different tones and cadences are experimented with. Refuse the Call has one of the more memorable melodies and some sweet guitar riffs. The whole album is solid though, with complex songwriting and a clean, professional mix. Lots of potential here for these guys.
Higher State is a new EP from artist, Highbred, courtesy of Dark Web Records. This mini-album contains two crisp and mesmerizing EDM jams. With an extensive background as both a DJ and a conventional musician, Highbred seems to have a knack for meticulously constructing dubstep beats and adjacent club-style forms of music. The production is very clean, and he demonstrates an affection for complexity as well as an attention to detail. True to the spirit of EDM, the ambiance is bright and invigorating, particularly as the songs slowly build and “kick in.” In the case of the track Above the Clouds things really intensify around the 1 minute mark. Tame Me has more of a mellow, flavorful vibe for much of the song but finally goes into maximum overdrive in a memorably epic moment. Though this album is brief, there’s no shortage of “danceable” energy. Higher State plays like a little jolt of lighting in a bottle.
Bleed 4 You is a single from Canadian artist, Blow_flyy. The track also includes a performance from critically acclaimed vocalist, Keonte Beals. With a back beat that’s thick and fresh, the song oscillates between smooth, melodic vocals and charismatically delivered rhymes. The dynamic back and forth of these two artists creates an almost perfect balance. Taken as a whole, it’s all very full-sounding, as the mix is compact and condensed into a tight musical package for maximum impact. Contentwise, Blow_flyy manages to demonstrate a world of passion and assertive attitude, without ever veering into the gutter of unrespectability. Bleed 4 You combines class, energy and raw talent to create a vibrant, high octane sound that’s not afraid to show a tender side. The song doesn’t waste a moment of its runtime. This is like an EP’s worth of material packed into a sweet radio edit.
Love Yourself is a new single from Atlanta-based artist, Buddha Man IV. This smooth and uplifting jam delivers a message of self-affirmation. Brimming with positive vibes, Buddha Man IV’s warm and jovial expressions feel like they’re just what the doctor ordered. As the lyrics tell us, self love saves the day. It’s hard to imagine anyone listening to this song and not seeing an immediate improvement in their mood. Buddha Man IV can actually sing, too. His bright and soothing vocals drive the track, and he doesn’t rely on any smoke and mirrors. Framed by a light beat and fresh electric piano, his voice conveys sentimental reassurance, and the listener can sense that every lyric is sung with a smile. The backing music is mellow, with a sweet, summertime and vaguely tropical ambiance. Instead of reading a 500 page self-help book, just play this song on repeat a few times, and you’ll be good to go.
Dwell is a new single from Joe McCann. The track is off of his latest album, Chase the Sunset. This grooving instrumental features clean percussion, melodic guitars and beach vibes. It actually reminds me vaguely of surf music but has a contemporary rather than retro feel. The guitars are delightfully saturated in dreamy reverb and delay, while not being so drenched that the tone is overwhelmed. Joe’s obviously an accomplished guitarist, and his dynamic, note-bending style makes for a meditative and chill listening experience. Just imagine yourself relaxing on a boat off the coast of Catalina while this is playing in the background. Good stuff.
Breathless is a new album from Maryland-based rock band, The Sidleys. Fronted by excellent vocals, these songs are brimming with melodic beauty. Style-wise, the sound strikes me as reminiscent of iconic bands like The Pretenders and Fleetwood Mac. Passion, emotional depth and sentimentality radiate throughout these recordings. Listening to this release made me really want to root for these artists. There’s just something about the raw emotion conveyed in the delivery that connects with the listener. The guitars have a nice warm tone and are played with meticulous precision. In fact, all performances on here are as professional as they come, and the mix is crystal clear. Seriously, whoever handled production and mastering on these tracks should be up for an award. True to its title, this album will take your breath away.
Product is a new single from Canadian-based rock band, Lucid Ending. The song offers up a subtle commentary on the consumerist hellscape we live in and the pressures of the inorganic, “modern” world. Aesthetically, it’s vaguely reminiscent of the vibe in John Carpenter’s They Live, which may or may not have been an inspiration. Yet it incorporates more contemporary elements like the quest for social media validation and dopamine hits. People are living their lives as commodities and metrics. In this sense the phrase “product of one’s time” takes on a dual meaning, hence the title. In the video, imagery of nature hints at a possible escape.
Musically, the song is pretty straightforward and robust, with crisp, assertive guitars and vocals that get the job done. These guys know how to play their instruments, and that’s always a plus. It fits pretty neatly within the realm of alternative rock, but there some subtle artifacts of pop punk as well. It’s clean and catchy, without any excess processing or a bunch of annoying autotune. More importantly though, this track should resonate with a lot of people as it accurately captures the spectre haunting millennial and zoomer life. Overall, Product is a solid single with quality production and a coherent message geared toward a certain audience.