My Own Thing is a new single from RED RED LIPS, taken from the group’s recently released, self titled EP. It’s tough to even know where to begin, but this song delivers on multiple levels. The sass driven, “girl power” vocals are absolutely perfect, reminiscent of indie legends like Le Tigre, occasionally utilizing creative processing in the vein of bands such as Garbage. The backing music consists of assertive guitars (which totally rock,) basically a female garage band sound with extra polished production. The band isn’t relying on marketing gimmickry or smoke and mirrors. This is competent and solid rock’n’roll music, with no corners cut. As you might have guessed, My Own Thing is about “doing your own thing,” feeling empowered and taking charge of one’s own destiny. Not only is the song good quality, but it’s very catchy (particularly the Ooh Ooh Ooh Ooh Ooh… part.) If this band ever sells out like Of Montreal, I could see this song in a restaurant commercial or something. My Own Thing is epic, and that’s why I’m giving it a more enthusiastic review than what I normally give on here. Be sure and check out the video also, which includes a hodpodge of aesthetics (including vaporwave) and is engaging in its own right.
Sacrifice is a new release from singer/songwriter, Carolee Rainey. Her sound is very organic, blending quality production with a grass roots indie style. One listen to Sacrifice though and you can tell she is an excellent, professional singer. Carolee can do amazing things with her voice, and just as importantly, she sings with passion. You get the sense that she feels a deep emotional connection with the content of her songs, projecting an authenticity which resonates with the listener. Sacrifice mixes elements of pop, R&B, blues and classic rock. The best way to describe the style is that it is like a “coffee house” activist version of Fleetwood Mac, brimming with an empowering (she also has a song called Empower) yet honest emotional energy. You can check out this jam below on Spotify, and I recommend you do.
GOLD is a melodic new single from Wavii (co-founder of the Yonkers, NY based collective The Fly Go Gettaz.) It’s a solid effort, rhythmically tight with a musically lustrous backing beat. This track makes good use of alternating speeds and lyrical pacing. There are a lot of “start-stop-fast-slow” transitions, which are handled flawlessly. I actually found myself boppin’ along with this jam. There are more effects on the vocals than what I’m used to, but the rapping itself is stellar, really a nice flow and crisp delivery throughout. I enjoyed the backing istrumentals as well, which reminded me a bit of older Wu-Tang style beats. Anyway, I’m sure Wavii and The Fly Go Gettaz are just getting started and will have all kinds of good stuff coming down the pike.
Profound Voices of Women Throughout the Movement is a poetry chapbook from author and award winning songwriter, Shavonda Robinson. The book utilizes poetry as a means for chronicling experiences with activism. It deals with intense emotions, including despair. There’s a recurring motif of “the three black women” as much of the events are presented through their eyes. The poems typically convey a kind of patient stoicism, as the women often find themselves in chaotic, even violent situations while retaining a calmly defiant attitude. While the poems seem to present in straightforward, assertive declarations, what make the book touching is how the author displays humility. Rather than fronting with nonstop bluster and bravado, she readilt reveals her fears, insecurities and doubts to the reader. This gives the book a deeper sense of authenticity and humanizes the experience. By her allowing us in, we feel as though we’re right in the thick of things as some of the events take place. The book evokes empathy, and I found it to be an engaging and worthwhile read.
Goals 2 is a brand new hip hop album from Cumlaude. It comes stacked with 10 dreamy jams. I say dreamy because these songs have a wonderfully deep, dipping wet reverb / echo that gives the vocals an ethereal character. I really dig the minimalist, often sporadic beats as well, which evoke an image of a dark room and meditative contemplation. My favorite songs on this album are High and Coco Blue, which are both creative and artful mini-masterpieces. I don’t know much about the background of this artist, but this is a case where I don’t need to. The music speaks for itself. This is high quality, artful hip hop and I know it when I hear it.
Bearing no resemblance to The Fleetwoods’ 1959 song of the same name, Mr. Blue is a new single from alt-rock band, Love Ghost. Guitarist and lead vocalist Finnegan Bell looks a bit like Alex Winter from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and does an excellent job of providing an authentically alternative crooner’s sound. The backing music rocks hard with Ryan Stevens (bass and background vocals) and Samson Young (drums) and is accentuated by hauntingly melodic synth vibes, (courtesy of keyboard player Mya Greene.) Like the band’s numerous other releases, Mr. Blue comes off as serious and polished production wise (this particular jam was produced by Carl Restivo.) It has a very “LA slick” and radio friendly sound, while still retaining enough organic and creative elements to maintain indie credibility with more avant garde audiences. It’s also refreshingly very clear. There are no aggressive filters being applied or any annoying overprocessing of the vocals. The vibrato synth parts are my favorite aspect of this song though. They really add another dimension to the music, giving it a darker, mysterious sort of intensity and separating it from what I would associate with more traditional alternative music.
Expect to hear a lot more about this up and coming band. They sound very tight and cohesive together. This is a group that has all their ducks in a row and is poised to hit the jackpot with one of these releases, maybe even this one.
Samuel Yuri’s new instrumental track Nuvens Claras is mellow and hypnotically meditative. That’s not to say this guitar and drum driven jam doesn’t rock though. The song is just peppy and assertive enough to give you some motivation. As it relates abstractly to the clouds, this is mood music for the optimistic daydreamer whose just come through a rough patch of turbulent times. Nuvens Claras has a good old fashioned quality. The result is a mindful foray into stripped down, musical innocence, and it’s quite enjoyable to listen to.
Dynamite is a new single from the Martin Brothers, a DJ and producer duo. Their aesthetic is a kind of 80s LA night club influenced, dreamy dance pop. True to the title, the song Dynamite makes recurring use of the “explosive” motif, with lyrics like You make my heart go boom boom boom. We could blow up the moon moon moon. You get the idea. The track has a sparkling, synthed out retro backing, while the female pop vocalist delivers the catchy lines. This song really is catchy, too. I only listened to it a couple of times, and it got stuck in my head. Dynamite has all the ingredients of a potential pop hit: distinct lyrical theme, awesome beat, and charismatic female vocals. The could be described as a cross between Katy Perry’s Firework and The Beepers’ Video Fever. The Martin Brothers brothers already have a number of other releases under their belt and seem to be on the right track artistically towards reaching the next level.
Monster is a new single from Nashville based hip hop artist, TIO. This track is set to be part of a full album titled The Age of Christ (which will be forthcoming at a later date.) The first thing I noticed about Monster is that this jam has one of the coolest beats I’ve ever heard in rap music. It’s robotic and minimalist and just has a really sweet retro-futuristic sound, like you’re in a spacecraft’s control room. The song does a good job of gradually building up like an amusement park ride, and when it finally kicks in you can really feel the full effect. The same is true with TIO’s delivery, which starts off slow and casual-like as he humbly rants about his struggles and frustrations. Then he kicks into high gear. and you realize this guy’s got it. True to the title, he let’s a little bit of the monster out, like a rattlesnake giving off a warning. Really a solid jam, and it left me feeling impressed with TIO’s songwriting ability and theatrical performance instincts.
Release is the name of the second single by musical artist and former marine, Ian Hendrix. The song features Katie Shorey (a notable singer formerly signed to Interscope Records) on vocals. Produced by Robert Heibach and Ian Hendrix at Del Oro Music Studios, the song presents as a kind of fantasy electronique musical adventure. Beautifully and passionately sung yet deeply enigmatic lyrics which occasionally express despair (and take a turn for the dark) are backed by a vibrant and action packed synthpop beat. The bleak atmosphere is transcended by the emotionally moving vocals and surreal tone. This dynamic gives the track a duality, but it goes beyond that.
This musical “release” (it’s awkward getting used to the fact the title of the song is also Release) corresponds with a video series, with this track being associated with Episode 2. It makes more sense in this context, since we realize what we’re experiencing is part of something greater. This is only a portion of a long journey, with all the ups and downs that entails. Judging by the story depicted in the video, this is the “down” part of the adventure when prospects aren’t looking so hot. Still we find ourselves entertaining a sliver of hope that the young protagonist will find that “release” they’re seeking from the dire predicament they are currently caught up in. Though the video tells a story of the solitary survivor of a spacecraft crash landing on some desolate, desert planet, it’s likely that the song is not meant to be merely a scifi-fantasy soundtrack accessory. Rather it’s intended to be applicable to equivalent emotional experiences we encounter in our earthbound lives right here, as we appeal for a release from the pressures imposed on us and those we’ve place on ourselves.
Release is an excellent song, which lives up to its cinematically epic presentation. Ian Hendrix and everyone else who worked on this project should be proud. The anime-like story material in this series is actually quite engaging, and after watching the first two video episodes, I find myself anticipating Episode 3.