W.A.V. is a new EP from Silas Luster, a filmmaker and hip hop artist based in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The album was produced by @TmacTheDJ and recorded locally. Silas is a member of a creative collective known as “The BuLife,” which claims to value honesty and transparency.
W.A.V. is pretty solid musically. The eerie, synth driven backing beats provide a heightened tension for the songs. Silas has a crisp delivery and impecacble timing. While other rappers “spit rhymes,” Silas Luster delivers them clearly and melodically. His voice can be subtly emotive and dynamic as well. This isn’t a guy who yells and postures into the microphone, and yet still you can tell he means business.
One of the best songs on this EP is What’s Love? It’s a flawless spoken word poem with only light “waves” in the background. Other notable tracks are 2004 (it was a great year for me actually) and Moldamensions.Moldamensions the backing music for which sounds like something you’d hear in an episode of Tales From the Darkside. Anyway, W.A.V. is an impressive little release, and you should probably check it out for yourself.
Cannot Listen is a new single from rapper/filmmaker The Don Kap. Though it is done in the style of a “diss track,” the song fuctions as a more general diss toward fake friends rather than targeting a fellow rapper or specific person. It was however, inspired by The Don Kap’s ending of a 25-year friendship with someone he finally determined to be a fake friend.
Cannot Listen is very direct and straightforward. The Don Kap lays it all out there in a simple equation “No love = insecurity = jealousy = fake.” When I saw the title “Cannot Listen” I assumed it would be in reference to a friend who was unwilling to listen. In actuality, The Don Kap uses it to refer to himself. He “cannot listen to you” because he “ain’t got time for fakes.” He recognizes that false friends are time wasters. Even genuine friendships can be taxing and time consuming enough, but when you discover the friendship was nothing but a house of cards, you start thinking about all the time you’ve lost that you will never get back. This kind of refreshing lyrical clarity pervades thoughout the song.
The Don Kap’s delivery skills are decent, and his voice has a commanding presence, holding its own during the parts of the song where backing music is minimal. He also has a laid back charisma about him without displaying a lot of flash or excess. Cannot Listen is actually quite catchy and continues to grow on you after a few listens. The accompanying music video for this song is well produced and features some terrific shots of the city of Tel Aviv.
Midnight Oil is a new full length album from artist Jonah Kue. With its ethereal and ambient backing, I would describe the musical style here as “dreampop.” Occasionally there are some elements of hip hop and light rapping. Jonah’s voice is soothing in tone but energetic enough so that it won’t put you to sleep. The hip hop interludes are well placed and neatly intertwine with the rest of the music adding another dimenstion to the songs at just the right time and transitioning out smoothly.
In fact, the word “smooth” is a great way to describe this album from start to finish. Everything flows cleanly througout, with Jonah’s laid back, contemplative lyrical delivery providing a poignant and enjoyable listening experience. The Dance Floor in particular is a track which has an excellent beat. It’s like elevator music you can dance to. Jonah is a pretty talented singer, and this is one of those genres where you definitely can’t fake that sort of thing. The song Brendan is the catchiest and from a marketing perspective probably has the most pop appeal. It just packs a little more punch and grabs you more than some of the other songs.
Again is a new EP from Keren Botaro, a Tel Aviv born artist who currently lives in the US. I expected this to be a rather standard “pop” release, but it turned out to be much more impressive and interesting than anything I anticipated. Keren’s (and her fellow performers’) eclectic range of rock influences and keen sense of style are on full display here.
Botaro may photograph like a pop star, but the music blends elements of psychedelia, lounge, blues and even mod. The awesome Farfisa sounds incorporated into these songs are the stuff of a combo organ fetishist’s dreams. Everything just sounds so authentic. If I heard this album on the radio, I would genuinely think these songs had been recorded in 1968. These people really have nailed the vintage tone and classic rock essence flawlessly. The guitars are awesome and made me feel like I was listening to a Jefferson Airplane record in an old coffee house. I highly recommend watchng the videos for these tracks because they really do a great job of conveying the ambiance.
Keren’s vocals certainly keep up their end of the bargain as well. Her voice is excellent, and stylistically she’s like a rock’n’roll version of a lounge singer. She projects passionately and belts out the songs with confidence and emotion. Her voice is full and combines with her dynamic visual stage presence to really make a performative statement. Really, not enough can be said about what a fine vocalist Keren Botaro is. Style, substance and technical singing ability, most singers tend to find ways to compensate for whichever one they lack, but she actually excels in all three categories.
The first two tracks Fire and Free Bird are guitar driven and the most hard hitting (rock wise,) while Drops in the Rain and Again are more mellow paced and indie pop, kind of like The Velvet Underground and Nico if I had to make a comparison. All in all, this is a powerful little EP that punches well above its weight musically. I don’t even have any criticisms or nitpicks of it, but I will say that I’m jealous when I watch the video and see the room full of amazing vintage musical gear these guys have at their disposal.
Toronto based lyricist “7even 2wenty 8ight” recently released a video for his single, Holy Water. The video was filmed at The Happy Place in Toronto and was directed by CanadianYardy. D.W1ZE & Trixx Beatz produced the song. The video has a very retro vibe, with VHS style elements and performance art style edits. It actually reminds me of a lot of early 90′s hip hop videos, which is a great aesthetic. The song is darkly ambient and socially conscious. The backing music is haunting and ethereal, unusually refreshing for a hip hop jam. This is one of the better hip hop music videos I’ve seen in recent times. It’s very dreamlike, a virtual kaleidoscope which juxtaposes well with the subject matter of the song.
Translator Signal is a new album from Optivion. It features 16 tracks, mostly instrumental, but a couple which include vocals. Most of the release could be described as a retrofuturistic odyssey, with action packed electronic beats that wouldn’t seem out of place in an 80′s science fiction film. A few of the tracks have Asian elements, particularly prevalant in Future Geisha and Space Kuma Chan. This isn’t surprising, given that the artist spent time teaching in Japan to earn money.
One thing which separates this album from most contemporary electronic music is that it’s very avant garde. It’s not just beats thrown together for cheap party jams with generic, contrived meaning. Translator Signal was clearly made by a depth driven artist with technical proficiency, not some club DJ looking to plaster his name all over the nightlife. One gets the sense that there is a broader, abstract artistic vision at work here, and that this album is part of a longer spiritual journey. The content has a certain richness to it. The pacing varies througout and often changes within individual songs, but the music is consistently entrancing. When I say the album is “16 tracks” I mean it. The songs are brimming with variety and musical complexity. We’re talking a high level of difficulty here. Ive reviewed hundreds of electronic and instrumental oriented releases, and this is one of the most advanced I’ve ever come across.
Letter To Cecil is a new single from Delaware based hip hop artist, “Royal.” Royal is known for being community conscious, having performed at many schools and often donating revenute from concerts to various causes. Letter to Cecil is really well produced. The clarity and fine mix on this track make it easy on the ears. Royal has one of those voices that just naturally sounds good. He projects well and would make a great public speaker. His delivery style is a combination of conversational and musical. The whole thing is very “stream of consciousness” in nature. There’s both passion and frustration in the lyrics. It’s almost like if someone were writing a heartfelt letter to someone and working out in their head what they’re going to say. Letter To Cecil is explicit and frank while remaining uplifting and quietly motivational. Hockessin, Delaware is lucky to have this guy.
What Matters is a new single from avant garde, multi-genre artist, songwriter and producer, Sienná. She is a Japanese expat living in Norway, which is only noteworthy because she combines traditional japanese music with electronica. In fact, when What Matters begins it seems as though it’s going to be a lovely spoken word / Japanese folk song, but then it bursts into an artful, full blown, electronic pop piece. It manages to accomplish this eclectic blend while retaining some detectably Japanese elements in the musical backing as well. The song is very surreal, presenting as a kind of dream sequence or out of body experience in musical form. The editing and imagery in the video for the track contributes to this sensibility. What Matters is a sensitive, softly expressive song which has the capacity to evoke a kaleidoscope of emotion. It’s a delightful listen, really.
Frozen Fasho is a new single from hip hop artist “Kaseeno,” featuring Kade Fresco and produced by Mon Dillinger. The chill beat that backs this track is minimalist, making this feel almost like a spoken-word poetry jam at times. Frozen Fasho is catchy through use of repitition. I didn’t count the number of times I heard the word “fasho” but it had to be a lot, enough for me to remember this song forever in fact. There’s a lot more substance lyrically though than meets the eye, as the song breaks in and out of crisply delivered dynamic verses. The rapping on here is tight with the beat and just very precise. Frozen Fasho is one ice cold and conceptually creative jam. Great performance, solid production… If this were being backed by a major label, I guarantee you every kid in school would be repeating the catchphrases in this song, driving the teachers bonkers.
California based DJ, Kid Loose has been a staple of the dance scene since the mid 1990s. Having performed at zillions of raves, club events, private parties, pro sports games and prominent Bay Area radio stations, this guy has probably seen it all. Pretty much anyone with a MacBook can call themselves a DJ these days, but Kid Loose is a product of the days when being a DJ represented a mastery of actual turntable skills. There were hands-on mechanics and craftsmanship involved. The barrier to entry is lower now, but the artful craft of DJing endures with Kid Loose’s latest endeavor, LIVE Mix on Ghetto House Radio, which consists of a 27 minute dance mix featuring 8 fun-filled tracks.
This mix is crisp and bears the mark of pure professionalism. This eclectic collection is danceable from start to finish, with smooth transitions and a high energy ambiance througout. The substantial amount of vocals in these mixes differentiates this piece from straight up techno or more typical “dance club” music, and also gives the listener something to sing along with while gettin’ down. The tone ranges from funky deep groovin’ to hypnotic and ethereal. There’s plenty of musical variety packed into this 27 minute, chewy chocolatey mix treat, but it’s all very cohesively put together. I honestly don’t recognize many of the songs, but without question my favorite jam in this collection is Nicola Fasano, Dual Beat – Macaco Mata El Toro, which is the most “retro” sounding dance track, bringing back memories of the stuff I used to dance to at quasi-raves and all ages dance club nights in the early 90′s. It just has the perfect combo of melody and energy and really gets you going.
Overall, I’d recommend this entire mix to any wouldbe party-thrower looking to light up a dancefloor or just anyone curious about what it’s like to witness a seasoned professional, and all around legit DJ in action.