Translation is a new single from Miami based artist, Darshae Kiér. The song is an upbeat pop song with some reggae undertones. With a pace that’s swift and dynamic, you can dance to this jam. The synths accent the beat nicely, giving it a futuristic feel and enveloping the reggaeton vibes in a contemporary sound. Darshae’s vocals are fresh and poppin, and he makes full use of his voice. He often does more than just sing, as his improvised vocalizations also function as an additional instrument. The track successfully incorprates a lot of complex layering as well. This isn’t something that was just thrown together. Translation is a well crafted song, and Darshae’s romantic optimism drives the music in the right direction.
Let’s Get Woke is a new single from Baltimore based artist, Josh Christina. You don’t have to listen very far to recognize that this guy has what it takes to go far. With his youthful, hipsterish appearance, and brash and lively piano playing, he almost seems like a throwback to the charismatic stars of the 1950s/60s, such as Bobby Darin and Jerry Lee Lewis. I’m actually blown away by Josh’s performance. On this track, he shreds the piano like it’s nothing and just seems to be having a ball the entire time. His vocals fall somewhere between country and 1950s rock’n’roll. He can really sing, too. He belts out the lyrics with a voice that seems unexpectedly powerful. Josh Christina is a prodigy, a freak of nature. Let’s Get Woke is catchy as all get out and has the potential to be a hit. If you ask me, this should be the new Monday Night Footbval intro jam.
ChillHigh Music is a musical style cultivated by ALOL a producer/composer/DJ/remixer based in Switzerland. He describes this genre as a mix between “Chill, Trap, Hip-Hop and Electro.” The first thing that comes to mind when I listen to it is that it has the energy and intensity of EDM but at a more modest place and without the thumping, pulsating beat. The track, Do You Wanna Be offers an excellent example of this. The music is avant garde and ethereal, exhibiting a dreamlike quality but not something that will put you to sleep. It’s compatible with a party atmosphere while remaining subdued. While not being explicit, the music is sexually charged and emits a tasteful, sensual vibe. This particular song is also very dynamic as well, with frequent changes and unpredictable electronic twists and turns throughout. There’s a good chance we’ll hear more about this style of music, as I think it fills a certain niche and seems to parallel other trends.
I’m So High is a new single from Boston born musician, Darrell Kelley. The song deals with marijuana obviously, but the music takes on a certain ethereal, spiritual quality rather than being strictly a party jam. It is almost more of a meditation on the experience of being high. Kelley is jovial and laid back throughout the performance, just living it up and basking in his casually charismatic persona.
It’s a hip hop song technically, but Darrell sings as well, adding quite a bit of melodic musicality, and he mostly stays within his limitations. This track is pretty catchy actually, making good use of repetitive phrasing and Kelley’s memorable personality largely drives the action. I’m So High is fun, slightly spiritual and not overly flashy. Be sure and check out the video, which is fairly professional, (and they managed to get some attractive girls to show up as well.)
Holiday is a new single from Lailien (a fictional character created by his alter-ego, Brad Shubat.) There’s no other way to describe this song except that it is powerful. It fuses so many different genres and decades that I don’t even know what to make of it Holiday is what would happen if you mixed old school Ninendo video game music, indie bands like “Of Montreal,” Saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock and 70′s bubblegum pop like The Partridge Family. It’s very avant garde but not in a pretentious way at all. This music is bright, fun, and lovingly performed. Holiday is very catchy, too. I actually like this better than the popular Madonna song that shares the same name.
Get Lost is a new full length album from St. Louis based punk band, The Radio Buzzkills. The group really has mastered an authentic, retro 90′s pop punk sound. As someone who was a teenager in the 90s, this album reminds me so much of the music we used to listen to as skaters (Rancid, Dance Hall Crashers, etc.) Still, the band has their own distinct vibe and don’t sound like a copy of any particular band. The recording itself is polished and professional, pretty much major label quality. The songs are refreshingly crystal clear though. They’re not littered with autotune and other processing crap the way most contemporary studio recordings are.
The guitars are really impressive right out of the gate with the first track, Tattletale, much better technically than what one would typically expect from this genre. All of the songs are very catchy and have memorable titles. Probably my favorite jam on here is The Vampire of Sacramento, with it’s memorable lyrics and dynamic melodies. Another sleeper hit is the instrumental track Shark Surfer, which I presume is a punk incarnation of the 60s instrumental surf tune style song.
A lot of these tracks have somewhat emo, romantic lyrics, but it’s difficult to tell how much of that stuff is serious and to what extent it’s merely a component of the ambiance. Similar to groups like The Aquabats and old school Blink 182, the emotional expression is often couched within outlandish lyrics (“She Died on That Deathstar.”) This keeps the material fun and approachable, while at the same time telling a story. I think what I really like about this album is the way each song has it’s own narrative. It’s like a pop punk audiobook collection of short stories. They all have that timeless teenage vibe, complaining about girlfriends, loneliness etc. Nothing dreary about any of this though. The music is lively and upbeat, although the songs themselves vary in speed, often kicking in and out of high gear multiple times within each track. I really enjoy the vocals as well. The singer doesn’t overdo the pop punk “whiny” voice the way cheesy bands like Blink 182 used to do. Instead he has a nice and gravelly voice that’s actually pleasant to listen to, and he can even sing.
All in all, this is really high quality output from a band that has totally mastered the aesthetic they’re trying to capture. This album is a work of pop punk art.
So Emotional is a new single from Chicago based soul singer, Brandon James. The song is in fact vocally driven, with Brandon’s captivating vocals driving the action in an otherwise fairly minimalist mix. The backing music which does exist though, consists of some phenomenal brass/horns, which give the track a emotive, lounge kind of atmosphere. James sings with absolute passion, really belting out these lyrics and holding notes for long periods of time. As I’ve said before, with this style of music, you just can’t fake it. There’s no place to hide in the mix, and this is where Brandon’s confidence in himself shines. He clearly has plenty of vocal training and almost makes it look easy when he delivers the goods. Perhaps even more important than ths singing though, is Brandon’s willingness to engage in heartfelt, emotional expression. So Emotional is true to its title in that it is brimming with emotional authenticity and intensity. If you wait for it, the best parts of the song are when James reveals his power level by hitting some very difficult notes. This jam is smooth, classy and professional all the way.
Through My Window is a new single from Tyler Hutton, a singer/songwriter whose style is a mix of rock’n’roll, blues and folk. Tyler got his start in Atlanta but is now based in Los Angeles. Right off the bat, Through My Window distinguishes itself with warm, vintage guitar tones that feature just a hint of twang. I’d like to know what brand of vacuum tubes this guy uses. His amp sounds really good. Tyler’s vocals have a very bluesy vibe, almost resembling a rockin’ version of lounge music at times. The sound is very smooth and professional, the voice of a guy whose played a zillion gigs and has his act down to a perfection. It reminds me a bit of old Elvis Costello. You can feel Hutton’s charismatic stage presence permeate through the music. The song begins in a minimalist fashion but slowly builds in passion, fullness and intensity, culminating in a powerful emotional finale. Anyway, this is a solidly energetic song from a musician whose been around the block and obviously knows what he’s doing.
Flowers Bloom is a new single from singer/songwriter Lena Mond. Lena resides in Germany but was born in Kiev, Ukraine. The song has a very minimalist feel to it. Featuring light guitars and a subtle beat, Lena’s softly passionate vocals are at the forefront, carrying the song. Lena’s expressive voice manages to naturally convey emotion very well. The music is very dreamlike, a quality which is amplified by the video visuals (clouds, crossfades etc.) This corresponds with the content of the song, where longing and introspection feature heavily. The backing music is very colorful, giving the song a childlike innocence. All in all Flowers Bloom is a straightforward and beautiful indie pop song. Lena takes a chance and opens up her heart in this track, and listeners will respond to that.
Scary Times is a new single from Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Caesar Osiris. It’s a tropically futuristic jam with meditative vibes and a deep ambiance. Let me just say though that the video for this song is incredible. It features some great “dead mall” aesthetics, utilizes a number of iconic settings in the Los Angeles area and just generally does a nice job of capturing a hauntingly dystopian atmosphere. The cinematography and effects add to video’s dreamlike ambiance. The music is strangely calming and reassuring, though it definitely boasts a danceable, pulse generating beat. It’s difficult to classify this kind of music, but the best description for me would be “dreampop.” The video is very avant garde, at times seeming more like a performance art show than a standard music video. Caesar maintains a very mystical presence throughout the video, seemingly in contemplative reflection but always still in motion.