The Witches is a new single and video release from Tampa based three-piece band, Vetnough. This synth oriented indie gem is captured vividly in a neo-psychedelic visual style. Stylish and avant garde without trying too hard, the video makes excellent use of color and narrative to create a darkly kaleidoscopic viewing experience. The group’s sound reminds me a bit of one my favorite indie bands, “Magic Wands.” Ambient, hypnotic synths that build into an explosive, rock energy. I would describe both the music and video as retrofuturistic. There are elements of 80′s synthpop and contemporary darkwave. Visually, this video is a great example of what can be achieved with color manipulation and creative editing. The actual setting and props don’t even really matter, as the colorful visions of motion cast their spell on you and transport you to another dimension.
Heart On My Sleeve Stunna is a new EP from artist, Stunna Quad. This soulful, R&B mini album has a smooth and melodic energy. The pacing is mellow and the vibe is chill, yet the ambiance is bursting with charisma. Thematically, much of the content conveys Stunna’s reverance for sincerity. The message promoting honesty living and openness is hinted at in titles like Real One,Cheating, and of course, even the title of the album itself. The mix does a fine job of blending in backup vocals, adding layers of complexity to the tracks which effectively lend the album an impressively sophisticated feel. Where Stunna really shines though in my opinion, is in the lyrics. He has a knack for writing relatable and catchy lyrics, rattling off a plethora of pop culture references (X-Box, Redd Foxx, etc) and memorable one liners like “working 9 to 5 got you feeling like an old lady.”Heart On My Sleeve Stunna is filled with these kinds of gems. Doin It contains probably the most straightforward “hip hop” elements in terms of beats and lyrical delivery, while Cheating is almost entirely R&B. This EP punches above it’s weight and the theme makes it an excellent item for Valentine’s Day.
Sunshine is the debut single from criibaby, a multi-talented, socially conscious singer/songwriter. With the aim of cultivating a more inclusive Valentine’s Day experience, this (self identified) queer artist has released a song which may succeed in redefining, perhaps even expanding the scope of the budding genre of inclusive music. Honestly, this song blew me away. Often times, noble intentions can be accompanied by a lackluster recording if too much consideration is paid to the theme/message and not enough to the substantive musical aspects. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. Everything about this track is stellar. Stylewise, Sunshine combines elements of neo-soul, jazz and R&B. The best way to describe it is it’s like if you took a 50s-60s soul song and gave it a modernized, contemporary production sound. While the track has a deliciously retro feel, it will dazzle and impress today’s audiences with its timeless talent and “major label” quality mix.
I’m amazed that this is criibaby’s debut single, as the vocal performance is so flawlessly professional that if one were to randomly hear this song playing on the radio, they’d assume they were listening to an iconic recording artist with framed platinum records on the walls. Seriously though, this is better than any music I’ve heard on the radio in the last few years.
Colorful, peppy and optimistic, Sunshine channels that universal feeling of falling in love with someone new. The strength of criibaby’s vocals ultimately drives the song, backed by jazzy melodies and D’Angelo-influenced backup vocals. Brimming with creative structure and stylish layering, this track represents a songwriting, production and performative tour de force. Sunshine is an inclusive song on both a social and musical level. It’s truly a listening experience that anyone in the world would enjoy. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Credits: criibaby (vocals, music, lyrics)
Mixtape Seoul (producer, music)
Big Soda (bassist, producer, engineer, mastering engineer)
Pandaraps (contributing engineer)
Alberto Rodriguez (contributing composer)
Peaches is a new single from Brazilian-American artist, Jubilee. This stylish and avant garde jam features laser-like synths and entrancing vocals, creating an exotic atmosphere that’s ripe for dancing. The song is futuristic and cutting edge, while maintaining some culturally Brazilian musical elements to give the track its organic flavor. Jubilee’s voice is effectively magnetic against the mysterious backdrop, which is comprised mainly of a hodgepodge of synth sounds and metallic beats, creatively layered to enhance the brooding ambiance. The pacing is mellow but the substance is full and energizing to the core. This darkly expressive track takes pop to a heightened level of artistic suspense. Peaches is pure 21st century.
Alright with Me is a new single from folk singer, Kolby Knickerbocker. What’s extraordinary about this particular release is that the recording of the vocals and guitar were recorded live. It’s just one single, full take. Anyone who has recorded music before knows what a difficult achievement that is. This is especially impressive as the song is rather minimalist, so you can hear every delicate detail of the acoustic guitar sound. It’s not as if everything is processed and buried in some distorted mix. Kolby’s vocals are also clear as a bell, and his performance would earn him a rightful round of applause at any cozy little forest venue. Alright with Me is sentimental, inspired by his daughter, who gives Kolby him strength and purpose in life. Even in its calm tenderness, the song is uplifting and filled with emotional spirit. Kolby Knickerbocker has the technical skills and the heart to be successful in the crowded contemporary folk music scene.
Respect the Game is a new single from Maryland based (and part time DC) hip hop artist, Nyke Ness. With all the market-tested, choreographed and manufactured hip hop tracks out there today, it’s refreshing to see a guy who is still down to freestyle and demonstrate some musical spontaneity. The song opens with a Denzel Washington sample quote from the film, Fences, a solid, attention grabbing intro. With a smooth transition, Respect the Game kicks into high gear. Nyke doesn’t waste any time. He gets right into it and delves into a quick witted, continuous flow. The backing music alternates between dramatic synths with a thumping beat and periods of minimal, quaint ambiance, featuring occasional breaks where only Nyke’s vocals can be heard. It’s a very effective mix, and I found myself pleasantly surprised by some of the unpredictable changes in the music. For his part, Nyke Ness never lets up. He rhymes skillfully, with passion and keeps it creative throughout. This is definitely a performance which commands respect.
Ready is a new single from Litty Rik, an artist from the outskirts of Los Angeles, CA. This impressive and polished club/pop/R&B jam has a slick and well-produced sound, with elements of hip hop as well. The song is constructed to a very high standard, making excellent use of precision timed vocal layering. With a peppy pace and aerodynamic flow, Ready seems ripe for radio airplay. It boasts an upbeat, feel good ambiance and the snap-crackle-pop quick rhythm will induce clubgoers to dance. Litty Rik’s lyrics are witty and catchy, peppered with occasional pop culture references, (energizer bunny, etc) and he demonstrates a dynamic vocal presence. R&B is one of the most difficult genres to sing. It’s just not something you can fake, and not only is the singing on this track good, it’s performed capably at impressive speeds. The talent is there. This artist just the right people to notice, and he’ll be in business.
Vito’s Revenge is an EP from hip hop artist, Vito Storm. There are a couple of singles released from this EP, including War Cry and Buddalicious. This artist definitely isn’t playing around. Production is at the level of a major label. Vito Storm has a natural “star quality.” In fact, if someone heard these songs without knowning anything about the artist, one might assume it was the work of a famous pop star. The lyrics are delivered with eloquent confidence and a charismatic attitude. Oscillating between a casual coolness and cinematic intensity, the music strikes a professional balance, hitting the sweet spot. Buddalicious has a fun and instantly catchy beat, and Vito’s playful and sometimes audacious vocals will grab and hold your attention. War Cry (as you might ascertain from the title) features a bolder, and more “edge of your seat” ambiance and also features some crisp interludes from fellow hip hop performer, “Bumpy103.” The thumping bass and suspense driven, symphonic backing magnify the theatrical elements of the track. Both of these jams are super tight and ready for prime time. Keep an eye on Vito Storm, as this ambitious and entertaining artist may be going places in the hip hop world.
Knockin is a new single from Austin born hip hop artist, Ro$ewood Renegade. My first impression of this track is that it has an incredible, retro-futuristic synth driven backbeat, featuring all sorts of radical “chiptune” bleeps and bloops. In fact, the backing music could stand on its own as a worthy electronic music piece. Ro$ewood Renegade’s delivery is fast paced and on point. One thing he does really well is utilize strategic, well-timed pauses in between his snappy rhyme segments, expertly engaging in a hip hop game of “red light green light.” It’s tough to even point out all the ways in which this song is good. I really like the music, and Ro$ewood Renegade delivers and presents like an old pro, with fresh, clear vocals and a natural charisma. Supposedly his father is a street legend in Austin and several other family members have substantial musical backgrounds. Perhaps that’s where the talent stems from, but one thing is certain, this jam definitely lives up to the family name.
Arm Full Of Roses is a new single from Nashville based singer/songwriter, Mark Henes. This minimalist, 21st century Americana jam keeps its presentation simple, but that doesn’t make it any less musically fulfilling. The mix offers such clarity and detail, that you can enjoy every sound (no matter how subtle) emanating from the guitar. Likewise with the vocals, which are emotive and articulate. Of course, this kind of ultra magnified performance doesn’t leave room to conceal weaknesses in the mix or drown out weaker elements. Fortunately, the performance here is stellar, so there’s nothing to hide. The guitar tones are incredible, containing that delightfully chime-filled charm, and Mark is an expressive and capable vocalist. Sonically, this recording a high end audiophile’s dream, while artistically Arm Full Of Roses easily qualifies as a mini-masterpiece.