Freakshow is a new single from artist, MRIZ. The song appears on the album, Chimera, which was just released yesterday. Set against a piano/synth and harpsichord (!) powered musical ackdrop, MRIZ’s emotionally expressive vocals manage to combine elements of affliction and empowerment. “You called me a freekshow. You’re not wrong, but I’d rather be a freakshow than what you are,” she proclaims profoundly, but with an underlying sense of having been hurt. The song has a certain tender angst that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt out of place or misunderstood. Freakshow is less edgy than it appears. It’s a very sincere and quietly moving song that really cuts through and gets to you. MRIZ gives an impressive performance and manages both to convey and evoke genuine emotion.
Lay Low is a new single from artist, Lily Frost. Not only do we have yet another example of fantastic, stylish cover art, but the actual song is refreshingly creative and structurally unpredictable. A synth-driven track with a modest pace, Lay Low is artfully enchanting. This is an incredibly complex song musically, and it’s impressive how all of the components and layers fall perfectly in place. Lily’s vocals remind me a lot of Debbie Harry, and as with songs like Rapture, this has subtle elements of hip hop incorporated into the mix. Stylewise, I could see this being adjacent to Tegan and Sara or Le Tigre but with its own distinct vibe. Ultimately, Lay Low has energy, attitude and really just stands out as being something different and worthwhile.
Let Me Know is a new single from artist, Creeping Charlie (real name Julia Eubanks). The track appears on her freshly released EP, Asymmetrical. First off let me just say how much I love the cover art, which has a colorful, retro avant garde aesthetic. The song itself represents the best of what indie pop/rock has to offer. Featuring light guitars and pleasant vocals that go far beyond the level of skill required for this genre, this is just a delightful jam to listen to. If this had been released in the 90′s or early 2000s, Creeping Charlie would be an indie household name. There are elements of alternative, twee, and folk, but honestly this is just a beautiful indie rock song. I love that music this artistically pure and good still exists. Let’s hope it gets the exposure it deserves.
Mistakes is a new single from Italy-based artist, Ed Golfo. It’s actually his debut release, but you’d never guess from listening to it, as this song’s very well written, polished and professionally put together. The complex and dynamic electronic backing music has been compared to artists like Daft Punk, but it also gives off a somewhat retrofuturistic “Buck Rogers” vibe. The tape recorder on the album cover hints at the vintage inspirations of Golfo.
Contentwise, the song concerns itself with how mistakes “can weigh people down” but ultimately the right path for each person will reveal itself. The vocals have a lot of processing, but it is mainly done to give the voice a robotic, synthesized quality for artistic effect, rather than for pitch correction or EQ reasons. The track also contains what I believe is a spoken word sample from Alan Watts’ The Inevitable Ecstasy, Part 9: The Aversion to Death, which really accessorizes nicely with the song’s underlying message. Above all, the tone of this song is fun and uplifting. The backing music is fantastic and I could totally picture myself (and many other people) dancing to this.
UberDriver is a new single from Chazz G, a producer, engineer and recording artist from the DMV area. His experience in production really shows on this recording, as the sound quality is pristine, and the mix is fantastic. The song is very advanced, both technically and in terms of performance. Featuring a melodic and slightly groovy, retro sound, this track blends elements of golden age hip hop, R&B and maybe even a little disco. The vocals are dynamic and stellar, somehow managing to live up to the ultra impressive musical backdrop. The rapping interludes that feature “Mouse Sucks” enhance the song further, giving it a pleasant, mellifluous vibe, often summoning the energies of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.
Though the keen attention to quality and musical fundamentals in UberDriver sometimes makes it sound like it’s from a superior era, it’s very much a relevant, contemporary song (just look at the title). It combines a relatable 21st century lyrical “adventure” narrative with great music and performances that bring it all to life. The best of all worlds. Seriously, this jam is so good, better than anything you’ll hear on the radio in 2020.
How You Say is a recent single from hip hop artist, LOCK DA DON, (which also features CEO Elchapo). The beat has a summertime, tropical vibe. That same ambiance is conveyed visually in the video for this jam, which appears to have been shot in both Miami and Atlanta. LOCK was actually born in Bainbridge, Georgia. His primary motivation is not just notoriety but also that he doesn’t want his family “to experience the average struggle any longer.” As a rapper, he has excellent timing, a slightly southern delivery style and a distinct voice. The title How You Say refers to when people make bold claims about having money and status that aren’t backed up by the facts. LOCK DA DON calls these people out throught the song in a very no-nonsense manner. I really like the beat used on this track. It’s super crisp and succinct. Production on both the song and the video are good as well. The often repeated phrase How You Say becomes quite catchy after a few listens. Be sure and check out the video below.
ROT IN PISS (RIP DISS) is a new “diss track” from Texas-based artist, “Rich Cholo.” It’s a response to local rap outfit, RIP THE CLIQUE and is part of an ongoing social media feud between the artists. I’m not familiar with the precise nature of the dispute, but the song itself seems pretty legit. Rich stays on message throughout, getting in as many digs as he can at these guys. He has a decent flow and manages to pack a lot of lyrical material into this 3 minute tune. It’s definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart, but for those who thrive on keeping up with these intense back and forths, this song delivers the goods. The local news report samples that feature in the backdrop were a nice touch and definitely upped the coolness factor on this jam.
Us is a new single from Oh Well, a Chicago based “anti-pop” project. This is rad and definitely superior to contemporary “normal” pop music. The song mirrors the vapid nature of pop music, while at the same time offering up a refreshing ambiance of realism. This is like one of those pop songs about a situation not working out, but the artist basically just says “Oh Well.” When he ramps up the emotional intensity and expressiveness, he’s still not really saying anything substantive. It’s actually kind of brilliant, in a quirky and avant garde way. One thing I will make note of is this guy sings better than most actual pop stars, which lends this project more credibility than if it existed merely as experimental performance art. He really has a good voice and doesn’t add a bunch of abrasive processing and cheap autotune. I could totally see this guy gaining some traction underground.
2AM Drive is a new EP from Pennsylvania R&B artist, Fitch Means. Written after a breakup, the album is inspired by the artist’s late night drives, which Fitch claims help “clear his mind.” I can certainly relate, since I often go on long walks in the middle of the night for the same reason. From both a technical and artistic standpoint, Fitch can really hold his own as a singer. There’s no question about that. What further elevates these songs however, are the hooks and the excellent songwriting. The title track 2AM Drive has one of the most perfectly choreographed choruses in recent memory. At the moment it hits, you just nod your head and realize, “Yes, this song really has it.” Other tracks like Pretend incorporate some creative and unexpected sounds into the background. All of the songs manage to capture a nighttime, Blade Runner style ambiance of desolation, solitude and quiet reflection (but in a positive way). The music is smooth and the performance is stellar. 2AM Drive is a solid EP, and clearly a lot of thought and effort went into this project. You know what they say, “you get out of something what you put in.”
Piano is a new single from AYAM, an artist from Clearwater, FL. This song was actually written by her older brother. They obviously make a great team because both the backing music and the vocal performance are phenomenal. The musical backdrop (which features much more than just piano) is exquisite and even groovy at times, in a slightly retro kind of way. It has a very “elegant lounge” vibe. AYAM can absolutely sing. In addition to being solid technically, her vocals also convey emotional sincerity and contain a haunting, expressive quality that really connects with the listener on a deeper level. The song is also artistically interesting, as the “piano” in this instance serves as a metaphor for being mistreated in a relationship. “You’ve mistaken me for something you can play. I’m not your piano.” The lyrics are creative, well-written and empowering, and AYAM’s vocal delivery gives them the treatment they deserve. Piano is a terrific song at every level.