Fremont,CA based artist SuriLee got her start singing Bollywood hit songs to friends and family in her native India. Her training in Hindustani classical music influences her music, which includes elements of Pop and R&B. He latest release, “Don’t Know” (from her debut album, “Wild Lily”) is kind of a mellow, yet personal song, with an ambient musical backdrop. The beat on it’s own would make a pretty decent piece of electronic music as an instrumental. Despite the song’s lyrical theme of “uncertainty” SuriLee’s vocals are expressive and convey a genuine sense of emotion. The music video is well done and features some breathtaking coastal scenery. SuriLee is a passionate performer and it shows at all levels.
Purejoypeople, a “rock’n’soul” musical duo, have just released their third EP “Southern Part of Heaven.” Recorded in Chapel Hill, NC, “Southern Part of Heaven” is meticulously well produced, as is apparent right away with the first track,”Satisfied.” The group’s vocalist, “Pure Joy,” has a terrific voice and her out front vocals drive the song soulfully and with an unassuming elegance. She belts the songs emotively and with relative ease. If she had lived in another era, she might have been a successful lounge singer. The guitars on “Satisfied” reminded me somewhat of the brooding, dark style of Chris Isaak and provide the appropriate ambiance for the theme. The remaining songs on the EP seem to also get more creative, utilizing samples and often taking things into a more indie, avant garde direction. This is a very high quality release, that doesn’t cut any corners.
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(featuring DJ Tira, DJ Maphorisa, DJ Sox – Naak Musiq)
Giver Boi, a pop singer from South Africa has a new music video release for his song,”Putu Putu.” The beats in the song are the best part of the song, building and balancing the right amount of drama throughout the song. Putu Putu is mostly a party or “club jam.” I can’t really comment on the lyrics, since I don’t speak the language. The best I can tell, “putu” is the name of a kind of porridge, but I don’t think that is what the song is alluding to, if you know what I mean. Clearly a lot of work went into the production of the song and video, and it shows. They got some decent models to show up for the shoot. The song mostly gives off the vibe of money, sweethearts and fun. Hard to go wrong with that combo.
Nega Blast X describes itself as “a trance techno industrial music project formed in 2010 by Burbank music arranger and author Dominic R Daniels. Music is inspired by Daft Punk, Orbital, The Mutaytor and Eisenfunk. Sound is similar to New Order.”
The influence of New Order is apparent right off the bat in the first track of their latest album “We Want to Rock.” The opening song though, is simply titled “Want to Rock.” It very authentically captures the kind of darker, 80s electronic sound (unlike the cheesy 80s teen movie music.) The synths in “Want to Rock” bring to mind bleak, yet energetic cyberpunk action sequences or club scenes in films like Blade Runner or the original Terminator.
Other songs like Centipede (perhaps named after the classic arcade game?) seem to have a heavier, less bouncy vibe. Some have a very full and almost industrial sound. Interestingly, the band Orgy covered New Order’s song “Blue Monday,” and at times…Nega Blast X’s sound seems like a cross between the two bands.
There is quite a bit of variety in the music though. Just when I though I had “Nega Blast X” pinned down, the 6th track “For Angels That Weep” comes along and displays some added versatility. It’s very ambient and slower paced than other tracks. In there are cathedrals or other religious institutions in the future, “For Angels That Weep” is what I would imagine futuristic church music to sound like. It is very well positioned at this part of the album, to act as a kind of intermission.
The song “Technotronic” (presumably no relation to the late 80’s / early 90’s group with the hit songs “Pump Up the Jam” and “Get Up!”…or is there?) is another kind of lite-heavy-duty industrial dance jam.)
My favorite song on the album though is the final track, “Black Journey” which almost seems like it was tailor made for an 80s sci-fi/horror film soundtrack, or even as an intro to some “Tales From the Darkside” type show. It is complex, elaborate, dark and just an extremely well composed piece of music. I kind of wish it was earlier in the album because most people typically don’t listen to an entire album, so they’ll probably miss out on it. However, those that do stick around for the last track will be rewarded.
All in all, I feel like “We Want to Rock” is a solid and coherent album that knows what it wants to be and accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Based out of Oak Creek, CO, Liar’s Lantern is a recording project founded by Robert Fitzhugh (a rather prolific artist.) Liar’s Lantern has already released three albums of original musical compositions: Aphelion in July of 2016, Walk This Road With Me in March of 2017, and most recently…Petrichor in September of 2017. Normally, I would chronicle the artists musical and artistic progression through the different albums, but this represents a difficult task with Liar’s Lantern, because all three of the albums are very good.
Let’s take them one at a time. Aphelion is a groovy, indie alternative effort. The music is particularly soulful, which seems appropriate with the song titles referencing things like “metempsychosis” and “anamnesis.” I was quite fond of the tone on the guitars on this album, which offer a delicate balance of subtle twang and mild crunch. I know how difficult it can be to achieve the desired guitar tone one is looking for. It can take years of experimenting and buying, selling and trading different gear. On Aphelion, Liar’s Lantern has gotten the right sound and makes it looks easy and effortless. The lyrics often seem melancholy, but the songs still manage to be bright and uplifting somehow.
The middle child album is “Walk This Road With Me.” As the title suggests, it is less meditative reflection and takes the listener on more of a mental journey. Songs like Autumn Mountain and Mariner’s Curse connect with the listener and offer such a vivid experience, that you almost feel like you’re part of a remote viewing experiment. Another thing I noticed was the guitars have less of the rhythmic groove style on this album and slightly more of a “chimey” tone, seeming to emanate from a passionately well played acoustic guitar. Just when I thought I had picked what would be my favorite song on the album, I’d listen to another one and think, “Well gee, that’s a pretty great jam, too.” I have to say that i was most impressed by the track “Aokigahara – Three Apologies,” as it seemed the most epic and was creatively structured.
The latest release is the third album, “Petrichor.” (Note: I listened to each of these albums in the order they were created to get a sense of the artist’s progression and direction.) It would be a tall order to improve on the first two albums, which strike me as polished and professional, but one thing Petrichor does demonstrate is some added complexity to the songs. They are just slightly fuller and richer than those on the first two albums. Additionally, the melodies and instrumental combinations are much more intricate and detailed. A good example of this is “Little North Mountain,” a beautifully composed production that would seem right at home on the soundtrack of an academy award winning nature film. The tracks on Petrichor often synergistically combine the best musical elements of Aphelion and Walk This Road With Me. One thing I haven’t talked about much are the vocals. I haven’t had much to say for them, because they speak for themselves. The singer is highly capable and performs emotively. He doesn’t overwhelm you with his singing either and often chooses to let his voice take a backseat in the mix to the other instruments.
Having released three high quality albums within the timespan of less than two years, I fully expect Liar’s Lantern to keep producing new music, and I hope they do.
Florida based hip hop artist DJ DYL has a new single out titled “Happy to Be Here” (featuring Boogs Malone and Murc Jones.) It’s an uplifting song, and the best way I could describe it would be the hip hop equivalent of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Musically, “Happy to Be Here” is quite good and easy on the ears. There are some terrific ambient sounds in the background, and I found this jam to have a relaxing and almost meditative quality to it. It’s very mellow but still performed with energy. “Happy to Be Here” is a catchy tune that’s filled with positive vibes. Check it out if you get a chance.
With an upcoming official release date of November 24th, “Conceited” is a new EP from hip hop artist, Miztuh Chazs. My first impression of this album is that the production quality is very high. I can remember a time when indie hip hop artists recorded on 4-track cassette, but such is not the case really anymore. The quality here is as good as you would find on a major label. I personally don’t care much about production, but for those who do, “Conceited” is legit.
What I really want to stress about this EP though is how much fun and entertaining it is. Miztuh Chazs’ fun going, party personality is evident throughout the tracks. He makes frequent use of humorous, attention grabbing samples and sound effects. His lyrics are often creatively unpredictable, with gems like “Pussy smells like cotton candy, and she be going down smooth like her name is Brandy.” The song “Push to Start” even contains a Domino’s Pizza reference.
“Conceited” is an entertaining listening experience, but one shouldn’t overlook the fact that there’s some genuine artistry here. The whole project is very well put together.
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19 year old rapper Marquis Demps hails from Killeen, Texas. His new jam is Hot Shit (that’s actually the title,) and I have to admit, it is pretty damn good. Demps has a solid flow and assertive delivery style. The backing is an intense theme that kind of vaguely reminds me of the theme from the film, “Halloween.” In fact, listening to “Hot Shit” I got the mental image of Demps and his crew rolling around town, engaged in an epic battle with their enemies, while the theme from Halloween playing intently in the background. Marquis has some genuine talent, and the production of this track is very good. It’s right up there in quality with the most popular hip hop artists in this genre. Check out his music if you get a chance.
London based Finnish artist Timi Alexander has a new self-titled album available. His songs have an ambient, avant garde indie quality to them. His 90’s alternative influences are evident with the tone and pacing of the music, along with the melancholy mood and poignant aesthetic of the video for the lead track, “The Ballad of a Keg Heart.” Visually, the video would not seem out of place in 1994-1995 (he is even rocking a flannel shirt for part of it.)
This album is a particularly creative effort, with some very well chosen synths strategically utilized for the musical backing (in addition to piano and other instruments.) Timi is actually decent singer, much better than one typically expects in the indie alternative genre (which is not known for caring about great vocals.) The songs would still be enjoyable even if he was just half as good. London is a pretty difficult place to succeed in music, but this is an artist who at least deserves some more recognition. It is kind of a shame, because this artist is more interesting and talented that those you’d typically hear on the radio.
Album on Spotify:
For more info:
Artist Teddy Hayes’new track “Love Come Rainin Down,” (from the CD “The Professor of Love SongOlogy) is an excellent example of what a talented, seasoned vocalist can achieve musically if they keep it real and don’t ruin their sound with gimmicks and effects processing. Hayes combines soul, jazz and rap in a way they comes off as natural and authentic. What particularly stands out is the way he delivers his performance so confidently. He sings as though it is second nature to him. It’s easy to not notice that he’s rapping in some parts of the song, because his delivery is more melodic than what we’ve come to expect with much of modern hip hop music. Teddy Hayes is one of those musicians that could probably manage give a great live performance without any instruments at all. He’s “got what you need, and he’s got it by the pound.”