Mango is the debut EP from Austin based artist, Jony Shelby. It combines elements of pop, hip hop and electronica to create a very contemporary and accessible sound. Unpredictable usage of synths and samples keeps the listener on their toes, never quite knowing which direction a track is going to go. The songs on Mango are notable for their attention grabbing intros. Lobby Party, which gives off a darkly haunting, trip hop vibe, is a good example of this. Faux is closer to a more straightforward pop song, yet with with a delightfully dreamy and surreal synth backing throughout. Ash Heart on the other hand seems more like an indie dance track, where industrial electronica is at the forefront and hip hop merely accentuates the song. Production wise, Mango is very good. All in all I’d say this is a fairly solid , genre transcending debut entry that grows on you after each listen.
The artist behind the project known as “Feather Thief” grew up in a cold and wooded area of Northern Minnesota. He had played in a band for many years, and when it broke up he considered quitting music altogether. Well thankfully that didn’t happen, and Feather Thief was born. His impressive new single is Slip-Dodge, a calmly emotive and cerebral indie jam. The song blends light guitar with synths and vocals set to a dreamlike reverbial backdrop. The pacing of Slip-Dodge presents itself as slow and methodical. Clocking it at over 4 minutes, the track is always engaging, with the synths positioned for dramatic effect at strategic moments of the song. Feather Thief’s vocals are almost haunting in their authenticity. You can sense the genuine emotion in his tone. Just a sold effort all the way through. Feather Thief is scheduled to release an EP in 2019.
The Blankz continue to crank out quality releases at an impressive rate. Their latest is Getting Over You a two track single, which also features a song called Barfly. One might expect a song called “Getting Over You” to be a dreary and sappy romantic number, but in fact this song is energetic and action packed. It does in fact deal with the theme of getting over heartbreak, but in an upbeat and triumphalist kind of way. The sound could be described as “pop punk,” but musically these songs are much more sophisticated. This band more or less has its own style which combines golden age punk authenticity with genres like new wave.Getting Over You features a killer organ/synth bridge about two-thirds into the song. What’s interesting intellectually about this track though is the way love is described in terms one would normally use to describe experiences with drugs. With lyrics such as “when your love was pumping through my veins and “once I had you in my brain” we get the sense that getting over this particular instance of love is the equivalent of finally making it out of the withdrawal phase of having to give up any kind of vice. The language is very clinical, thus further illustrating his growing detachment from the failed romance.
Barfly deals more with the creatures of the nightlife and their hunger to keep busy (“gotta find something to do!”) and find reprieve from the drab day to day and mundane punching of the clock. Even the term “punch the clock” evokes imagery associated with the most boring and soul crushing jobs…the ones where you can’t wait for the day to end so your actual life can begin.
Both of these songs are musically phenomenal and the production is excellent. The Blankz are quickly becoming one of the most prolific bands in Arizona. I’ve reviewed several of their releases now and have been impressed every time.
Forest Robots is the musical project of Francisco Dominquez. He describes the endeavor as being a “letter to his daughter about the wonders of nature.” The name “Forest Robots” itself offers a clue as to the nature of the sound of his latest album release titled Timberline and Mountain Crest. What’s immediately notable about the music here is that it strives to capture the spirit of the outdoors while not conforming to stereotypical tropes of what we’ve come to expect with “nature” music. Instead of the cliche, serene meditation music, wind instruments, and other bromides that one commonly encounters while perusing the tarot card section of an incense filled, New Age bookstore, we’re treated to futuristic synths and some genuinely stimulating ambiance. What “Forest Robots” seems to be telling us here is that the wonders of the outdoors are every bit as exciting (if not more so) as the latest smart phone technology that’s at your fingertips.
In fact, the opening track, Sudden Bioluminescence sounds more like something you’d hear in a dystopian, John Carpenter science fiction film than what one would expect to be listening to on an office nature retreat. From my perspective, that is a very refreshing development. Another excellent example of this is On A Desolate Shore Under A Full Moon, which is subtly dark and captivating. It could even be considered a low-key dance track. The closest to a familiar kind of sound associated with outdoors on the album is the open and eloquent The Sun Rises Between Timberline And Mountain Crest, a song that embodies the quietness of the morning. The album covers all its bases and leaves the listener with a complete experience. The juxtaposition of the natural world with what is typically deemed futuristic music is a poignant concoction in that it provokes the listener to think of parks and public lands not as a weekend getaway or relic of the past to be appreciated, but something which should be thought of as an integral part of an exciting future.
Canadian artist Blow_Flyy’s single BLEED 4 YOU packs a lot of punch into its 2:40 run time. Off of his freshly completed album, BLOOD N HONEY this jam gives you a taste of what kind of delightful goodness is in store. The melodically eerie and attention grabbing synth-like intro draws the listener’s consciousness into the music immediately. The song doesn’t waste any time. Like a confident chess player bringing out his best pieces early, Blow_Flyys colab partner Keonte Beals’s vocals appear toward the beginning of the song. His voice dazzles and leaves an immediate impression that the song is a professional endeavor. The harmony and dynamic tone of his delivery are stylistically comparable to legends like Usher. The singer can hit some high notes. For his part, Blow_Flyy’s delivery is crisp and punchy, right on point. His voice helps to anchor the track and adds a second layer of emotion to balance out the female expression.
Blow_Flyy prides himself on having clean content. BLEED 4 YOU is a genuine song which never veers from the realm of respectability and occasionally touches on sensitive issues like loss and family quarrels in a very personal way. There’s real passion here. The song is the expression of a man pursuing ambitious dreams while maintaining an eye for doing the right thing.
Hazey is a new album from hip hop artist Jake Haze. A good way to describe it is that it’s almost like a family photo album in musical form. With intensely personal lyrics and touching anecdotes the release serves as an ajar window to one man’s world. At 15+ substance filled tracks, the sheer volume of content in Hazey is impressive in and of itself. What is uniquely awesome about this album though is that the level of creativity (especially in formatting) is off the charts. For example, Voicemail to Savannah isn’t simply a metaphor, it’s a song that’s literally in the form of a voicemail on someone’s answering machine. It is artfully done though, in a way which the musicality captures the awkwardly genuine romanticism of the moment. None of these songs are “cookie cutter” either. There is a great deal of musical variance with the backing tracks, and none of the tracks feel like padding or filler. Jake’s delivery comes across as humble and unassuming. He keeps his ego in check and is not shy about revealing his vulnerabilities in these lyrics, which deal with family issues, the pursuit of dreams and often just the mundane struggle to make ends meet. This album is a genuine work of art, one which deserves much more exposure than it is likely to receive in mainstream hip hop circles.
Give Me More, a new single from Alisa Chirco, hypnotizes like a kind of slow motion disco. The background music in this jam is laser-like and ethereal. This song is a light show in musical form, and Alisa’s charismatic vocals take center stage. Her voice has enormous presence and she sings passionately and professionally. With advancements in recording technology, it’s very easy for people to record pop songs nowadays that sound decent. However, this track is top tier and if it accomplishes one thing, it manages to establish Alisa Chirco as an artist who’s a cut above the vast majority of aspiring vocalists.
I Will Find You is a new track from Kevin Edward. It’s a laid back, summertime pop song. It offers a bright romantic ambiance with tropical vibes. After listening to this song a few times, I admit that it kind of grows on you. The chorus lyric, “I will find you” is quite catchy and gives this jam a legit pop hit feel. The best way I could describe this music is that it reminds me of something that might be playing in the background at a store like Hollister. They usually have pretty decent soundtracks with a lot of indie cred compared to places likes H&M, so that is a good thing. Musically, I Will Find You is pretty groovy and has elements of surf, though my perception of the sound is likely influenced quite a bit by the high quality video, which is positively aquatic. Kevin Edward is actually a decent singer, too and isn’t afraid to take chances, pushing his vocals to the limit. The song is set to be released on the live album, “The Kev & Janis Show” on Thanksgiving.
In case you didn’t notice, Taeb Ecnad is “Dance Beat” spelled in reverse. This latest track from Jamit pays homage to the late King Stitt (a DJ in Jamaica.) One can detect some slight Caribbean vibes in this dance music. Taeb Ecnad combines a dreamlike space ambiance with tribal undertones, all wrapped into a crisp analog sounding mix. The laser like synths contributes to the song’s retro-futurist aesthetic. This is another solid entry from Jamit. It’s casually dreamy while retaining an engaging nightlife intensity and offers 5 full minutes of meditative dance floor goodness.
Golden Spiralverse is a genre defying debut single from “APKLYPZ,” a musician who has been around the block a few times and paid his dues. A conceptual electronic track, Golden Spiralverse has elements of retro futurism, at times reminiscent of ambient video game music. It’s very cerebral, the kind of jam one would hear in the background of a performance art presentation. APKLYPZ has described the mix as “dense,” and the sound strikes me as being loosely similar to industrial techno music from the early 90s. The difference being that this recording emits brighter, more positive vibes. Don’t be fooled by the run time of the track either. There are a lot of dynamic changes, as well as unpredictable musical twists and turns packed into this abstract little jam. It’s like an entire album condensed into one song, almost like someone’s life flashing right before their eyes just before the apocalypse. The artist also has a background in video production, and it shows. The production quality on both the music and the video is top tier. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this picked up for usage in a television commercial or something. It’s very lively and engaging.