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.
Born in Wichita Kansas, JJ McGuigan is a songwriter focused on “lyrical creation.” His latest EP titled “Dissociative” showcases his songwriting ability. What’s refreshing about JJ’s music is that he isn’t just another one man band trying to mediocrely do too many things himself. He sticks to what he’s good at and does it well, leaving other parts of the song to be handled by those with corresponding skill sets. “Dissociative” strikes me as quality and “grown up” alternative rock for people who have grown out of teen angst but still grapple with emotions. The guitar tone has a really nice clean and bright shine to it without any abrasive elements. Some tracks like “Letter” have a mellow, echoey vibe which is kind of relaxing. My favorite track on the EP is probably “Home,” which is peppy and features some highly creative guitar work.
Often times when I review albums from certain genres I don’t normally have much familiarity with, I have to try and put myself in the artist’s shoes, imagine their target audience and try to get a feel for what it is they’re going for and to what extent they’re achieving their desired sound. However, in the case of Canadian based singer/songwriter Ed Roman’s new album “Red Omen,” I don’t really have to do any of that because his music is the sort of thing I actually like and listen to. He describes it as an “earthy, funky and magical mix of music,” which seems accurate to me. It comes across as “funky folk.” It’s occasionally fun, sometimes serious/sad but always down to earth and above all…well made.
Side note: When I saw the name “Ed Roman” I thought it seemed familiar, because I remembered a somewhat infamous guitar maker with the same name ( he died several years ago.) This is not the same guy obviously.
Anyhow, Ed Roman’s “Red Omen” is a gem of an album. The title track is probably my second favorite song on it. It reminds me a little bit of quirky 90′s indie pop songs and stuff like The Aquabats. It is creative, fun, and impressively performed by the standards of this genre of music. Another standout track is “time itself” with it’s psychedelic backing that almost gives you the actual sensation of traveling in time (I can only speculate.) The best song though is “I Wish the Wolfman Was Back,” which should be an instant classic. Great work by Ed Roman. I enjoyed this music thoroughly and expect to hear more about this guy in the future.
One thing that impressed me right off the bat with Henry Metal’s “The Maestro Abides” is how authentic it is. This captures the exact sound of metal as I remember it was when I liked it in the late 80′s, early 90s. Listening to the track “Rock N’ Roll Rebel” made me feel like I was transported back to a late summer evening in 1989 watching Return of the Living Dead II on HBO, enjoying some pop secret microvave popcorn. Henry Metal’s music is refreshingly melodic in a way that most metal isn’t today. The vocals on “The Maestro Abides” are expressive and emotive.
When listening, one understands that the artist here doesn’t merely “like” metal but actually understands metal and how to achieve the precise tone technically at every level. Often times bands and solo artists might be influenced by a particular genre, but their attempt to emulate or channel the sound ultimately spins off into something similar but not quite what they were going for (although sometimes still great.) What Henry Metal manages to do is what every artist aspires to. He actually achieves the sound he appears to be striving for and does it quite proficiently.