The aptly titled “Directions” is a new EP from “The Singer and the Songwriter,” (a rather accurate band name for a singer/songwriter duo that spends a lot of time traveling and making music about their journeys.) As best as I can tell, their songs would be categorized as indie folk or a variant thereof. The tracks have a uniquely innocent quality to them. There’s no posturing, attempt to be slick or even preachy. This is just good quality, authentic music that reflects well on the creators. While watching the video for “Anywhere, Everywhere” one can’t help but share in the joy of their experiences on the road. It provides a perfect visualization of the song, which seems to have a message about indispensable partners and kind strangers that guide our travels and make them worthwhile (whether on a road trip or just in everyday life at home.) Vocalist Rachel Garcia lives up to her title and is indeed an excellent singer. You won’t hear any autotune or pitch correction on these recordings. The production quality on this album hits the sweet spot, where it is professional but not over processed or ruined with a lot of unnecessary effects. I recommend going to check out this group when they inevitably cruise into your city or town if you enjoy good music and friendly company.
A mysterious and thought provoking album arrived on the scene this week. MFO, aka “Man From Object: R525L,” has an EP out titled “First Contact” (released through the label of Diac Immortal Records.) Much of it the artist classifies as being “Electronic deep house music,”) but it could also be described as futuristic dance music, since it features a deep space oriented aesthetic and atmosphere. In fact, this is the kind of music I would envision actual space travelers and perhaps alien lifeforms to listen to on their Walkmans, while cruising from galaxy to galaxy, just chilling out. The songs are pristine and laid back, but still energetic and dynamic enough that you can dance to them. “Galactic Tomorrow” reminds me of the kind of music that would feature in early 80′s scifi films set in the future, like “Saturn 3.” It would not seem out of place at all on one of these soundtracks. This EP has a refreshing, “escapist’s timelessness” to it, as it is essentially stripped of contemporary pop culture references. The video for the title track, “First Contact” showcases some extensive CGI animation skill and provides some imaginative context for a song which otherwise has no lyrics. My favorite songs on the album are probably “Galactic Tomorrow” and “Love Dreams Love,” (the latter being a casually flavorful yet memorable jam.) All in all this a very professional and worthy production at all levels.
Based in San Francisco, The Wyatt Act describes themselves as a high energy, experimental SlamRock band. Their latest track, “Hong” has elements of funk and lounge music. Vocalist and bassist Guinevere Q carries the song with her chic and swanky vocals. The song also features some terrific trumpet playing and even a keytar. Ultimately the trumpet and Keytar melodies work in tandem to provide an almost psychedelic atmosphere and set the darkly contemplative mood. I was hooked in by them within the first few seconds. This is just excellent music all the way around.
Dark, fast, and retro-futuristic is how I would describe Untitled Art’s new single, “Philly to Long Branch (Part 2.)” It has elements of synth, psychedelia, punk, and new wave and is just oozing with aesthetic. Listening to this jam makes you feel like you’re in a club scene of an 80′s vampire movie, and who wouldn’t want to be there? One thing I hate about most contemporary dance music and the “EDM scene” is just how nauseatingly happy and uplifting it pretends to be all the time. It’s here where Untitled Art really find its niche in the underbelly of the Miami, Florida music landscape , feeding a healthy range of emotions back into dance music. There’s hate, sadness, love, regret, bitterness… a whole kaleidoscope of sensations out there to experience.
Untitled Art achieves an authentic avant garde sound without coming across as tryhard. If I were DJing a night somewhere I would play this track. The part of the song which gets me fired up is the line “I watch the sun go down. I watch the sun.” That’s where it really feels like it hits home, and you get that feeling where it’s like “Oh yeah this song is legit.” I’m really impressed by this recording, the material these guys are putting out and how they’re presenting it.
KAIYA, an electronic-indie-pop artist based in NYC, originally was born in the Ukraine and grew up in the European fashion world. Recently, in a collaboration effort with Brooklyn-based songwriter/producer ÅMBE, she released “GAMES,” a debut single. I especially liked the intro which had the feel of a crowd cheering at a sports event. Then the song kicks in and it’s a beautifully playful electronic tune. The backing track almost has a kind of early 90′s, carefree summertime vibe. If I had to describe this music in colors it would be pastels. KAIYA’s vocal presence is just right for this style of music. Really this is a beautiful song, and it really does relax you.
Samantha Rochford’s “So Easy” represents one of those rare opportunities where I get to review something I would actually listen to. One thing that caught me immediately was the style of the video, which refreshingly brings back the sort of playful and innocent aesthetic one would see in indie music back around 2004-2005 (think of the intro song and opening credits of the film Napoleon Dynamite, if you’re wondering what I mean.) The guitar work is excellent and Sammanages to achieve a beautifully bright and sweet tone. She’s a terrific singer as well, much better than one would need to be for this particular genre. Early in the song, there’s a point when she delivers the line “it’s a workout, but it’s never been so easy.” The musical hook at that moment of the track is where it really kicks in that you’re listening to an exceptional song. Suffice to say that I very much enjoyed this girl’s music, and hope that she makes a lot more of it.
San Francisco based musician Maxwell Powers has released an indie synthpop EP titled “6 Things.” When I read that apparently it was recorded in the “corner of his living room,” I was expecting something that sounded like it came from a 90′s Fostex 4 track. However, the production quality strikes me as better than a standard indie lo-fi creation. Another element which differentiates “6 Things” from standard indie pop music would be the unique application of effects to the vocals. Synthesized and metallic, Maxwell’s vocals themselves become a kind of instrument in the songs, adding a dimension not typically found in this genre. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it at first, but he somehow makes it work. “6 Things” is a quality debut, which has characteristics that allow it to be approachable to both mainstream normies and indie pop fans.
By Demand is a new track from an alternative indie rock band called “Guest Actors.” The song is from their upcoming debut LP Under Those Silent Skies, which is set to be released in October. Production wiseBy Demand has a delightfully full sound and is very well layered and mixed. The singer’s voice evokes a lot of emotion and dazzles with vibrato near the climactic portion of the song. The backing instrumental performance is very tight and cohesive, while the overall ambiance conjurs up a kind of “rainy day at the coffee shop” vibe. A romantic song which begins and ends quietly, By Demand houses an epic middle filled to the brim with bright musicality.
Daytona Beach, Florida based progressive Americana rock band “GREYE” have recently put out a new album titled “Windows” with the lead single of the same name. The album cover itself is impressive. Usually these types of bands are lacking in the aesthetics department but make up for it with good music. GREYE manages to do a teriffic job in both categories. Singer Hannah Summer’s dynamic vocals shine on the lead track as well as the others. There’s no self delusion or posing going on here. These people are great musicians that have created a solid work of art. “Windows” is a well-concocted blend of country flavor and indie pop. The band is currently touring the Eastern US, and I predict they will quickly develop a following if their live performances live up to what’s on these recordings.
Madelyn Victoria, a talented young singer-songwriter from deep South Texas, has released a single titled “He Only Loves Me On the Dance Floor.” Madelyn’s an authentic country girl, and her music illustrates that rather well. Only in her early 20′s she’s already opened for a lot of big names in country music, including legends like the Charlie Daniels Band. Something that sometimes gets lost in country music is the singing. There are a lot of great vocalists in the genre that don’t really get enough credit, because that’s not usually the focal point of the style. As evident in “He Only Loves Me On the Dance Floor,” Madelyn is actually a very good singer and could successfully perform in almost any musical style. On this track she comes across as extremely genuine as she articulates these lyrics of heartbreak and relationship frustration.