Yin is a new album from an artist known as Sabino. The songs contain elements of rock and hip hop, featuring a really clean and crisp production. The backing music is smooth groovin and highly energetic. I should mention that the lyrics are all in Spanish, but you don’t have to be able to speak the language to enjoy the song. The vocals flow nicely, boast a voice that’s crystal clear and easy on the ears. The opening track La Magia is a solid intro and sets the standard right away. The backing beats and synths remind me a lot of old school 90s hip hop, just sleek retro style. Spanish is naturally a great language for this genre of music because of the way the words roll off the tongue at such a quick pace and in a pleasing fashion. My favorite song on the album is probably Yin Yang. It has a very ethereal beat and a stellar vocal performance, super catchy. This release is probably one of the coolest things I’ll hear all week.
A Song for Vampires is a single from Binary Drift, an artist based in Madrid whose real name is Mauricio Yrivarren. The track appears on his recent album, Pocket Tunes. While A Song For Vampires is a bossa nova song, the minimalist mix, earthy guitars and impassioned vocals also give off some magnificent 60’s folk vibes. The music has a very authentically retro feel to it, reminiscent of artists like Arthur Lee and Jake Holmes but with a more contemporary voice. Mauricio’s singing is very pleasant to listen to and thankfully comes without any annoying effects or overprocessing. The lyrics deal with the melancholy of a breakup and the case for getting back together. It’s a familiar theme, one which I relate to all too well, but it’s creatively done here, and the lyrics have more substance than what one normally expects from this subject matter. Anyway, this guy is obviously a great songwriter, and I imagine the rest of his album is worth a listen.
Destroy the World is a new album from Midnight Lands, the name for the musical project of singer/songwriter Ben Averch. The sound combines elements of rock, alternative, folk and electronic. The music is organic and a little on the heavier side, reminding me of a lot of solid, 80s-90’s rock, the era just prior to when people began using autotune and overprocessing effects. The authentic quality is really the thing that makes this sound somewhat retro. There isn’t a lot of flashy attitude or some carefully crafted image being marketed. It’s just genuine, passionate music. The songs which are guitar driven like Catch and Release give off more of an alternative rock vibe while synth heavy songs like the title track Destroy the World wouldn’t seem out of place in a late 80’s science fiction soundtrack. Most albums have either a daytime or nighttime ambiance, and this one definitely strikes me as a “night” record. The tone is dark and occasionally bleak but the pacing is very upbeat and rockin to the max. If destroying the world is going to be this energizing, go ahead and sign me up.
French rapper Sauveur Eloheem continues to crank out releases at a prolific rate, this time treating us to The Dead Tape Part II. The freshly dropped album features Sauveur’s trademarked darkly avant garde ambiance, which I’ve come to be quite familiar with. While many of the songs follow this quiet, haunting formula, in tracks like Triple 6 Catharsis Eloheem, experiments with more aggressive pacing and ups the intensity of his delivery. Also notable is Hand on the Cord which surprisingly has some lyrics in English. Where this album really shines though is in the backing music and beat selection. The eerily groovin instrumentals and samples are brilliant aesthetic choices. Particularly the last track, Sortilège, is impressive, with its vintage 1960s guitar tones providing the backdrop for the eloquent narration. Eloheen’s genre is like if you combined anti-folk lofi with hip hop. If Boyd Rice were a French rapper in another life, I’d imagine his music to sound something like The Dead Tape Part II. This album is yet another fine entry from Sauveur Eloheem.
Ten Percent is the name of the upcoming full length album from artist, Blue Soul Ten. The album is tentatively slated for release in late August, but follow the artist on Instagram for any updates. We were fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at the release, and I have to admit it’s quite impressive. There’s nothing amateurish about the recordings on this album. The production is major label quality. The music blends elements of jazz, funk, hip hop, pop and R&B to create a smooth, groovin and vibrant mix.
The intro and title track is a beautiful instrumental, which is practically symphonic in its sophisticated complexity. It’s just lovely and metaphorically makes a statement that what you’re about to hear is the work of pure professionals. Having heard the intro, I wondered if perhaps the whole album was more or less instrumental. The question was answered quickly though in the next song, Give In To Me which is a razzle dazzle synth jam that features some soulful pop vocals throughout. It’s fast paced, dynamic and danceable. The singing is really good, too. This style of music is the kind where you can really fake it. Vocal performances for these kinds of songs have to be at a certain level, or it just won’t work. Another thing I like is that the voice is allowed to remain mostly clear and organic. A lot of contemporary artists mess with their vocals too much on the production side with a lot of unnecessary overprocessing. On this album though, the vocals are allowed to flourish. They have that melodic 70s and 80s jazz vibe. They’re soft, emotionally expressive and frequently upbeat.
There’s actually a lot of variety on this album. In fact, just when you think you’ve got the sound pinned down, the next track throws you a curve. For example, with Make It Hot we get was is essentially an unexpected rap/hip hop song. It just shows the versatility that everyone associated with this project is capable of. The track has an old school hip hop vibe and one of the best backing beats I’ve ever heard, reminds me vaguely of old Playstation video game music. The song Real Love is probably the most “pop” sounding song on this release, yet even that features some rather unique guitar or guitar-like riffs.
This honestly is an album that’s full or surprises. Even the last track, which I assumed would be a brief and mellow outro, instead turned out to be an epic finale which spans nearly five minutes, combining some of the best elements of all the songs. There’s a lot of refined talent here, and I hope this project gets the exposure it deserves.
All Night is a new single from pop vocalist, RIIV, from his debut EP. It’s a passionate and heartfelt performance that reflects the artist’s desire to spread love through music, or as he says in the lyrics, “rocketships are built to fly.” This uplifting and vulnerable spirit permeates the recording throughout, both in tone and content. RIIV’s (real name Joseph Riverson) voice drives the action in the song, both up front and through usage of effects and layering. The backing music features light and futuristic synths, providing a sparse, chill atmosphere for RIIV’s vocals to take center stage. This guy has the contemporary pop formula down, and it will be interesting to see what kind of traction this gets.
In the Lead Works with the Beast is one of two new singles from Ric Santos, an artist who claims to have just recently began to create music independently this past year. The music is synth driven and atmospheric. It has a lot of soundtrack potential, either video game or film. The ambiance is darkly suspenseful, in the vein of a late night chase scene. The song is almost all instrumental, save for a few sparse vocalizations and samples. One of the elements this track uses effectively is alternating the synth volume throughout. This heightens the suspense and gives evokes moments of intensity from the listener. In the Lead Works with the Beast is both avant garde and commercially viable. Ric Santos’ upcoming EP, The Quarter Past Three is slated for release in mid August.
BE THERE 4 U is a new album from San Francisco based DJ/producer, jarradcleofe. He refers to it as a mini-album, but there are eight full and distinctive songs, so that seems pretty close to a full album and definitely more juiced up than the average EP. It’s electronic dance music, which blends a variety of styles. Philosophically, the artist believes in combining elements from different electronic sub-genres, since they’re essentially interwoven through development and cross influence one another. The intro and title track present an ethereal synth ambiance while songs like oh aye have a bouncy, retro-futuristic aesthetic. Certain tracks surprising incorporate some subtle hip hop, pop and R&B elements to round things out nicely. Parts of the album have an old school, analog quality. There’s some strategic tape hiss and record crackling on a number of tracks, which gives the album an organic, grassroots feel rather that something that’s slickly packaged. I like how each song has a unique, attention grabbing intro. Tracks start out minimalist and occasionally eerie, then build into a more grandiose dance experience. This guy has other releases as well, so be sure and check them out.
Still In the Game is a new single from Joe Kane. The track is set to appear on his upcoming album, COPACETIC, which is slated for release in January 2020. While that’s a ways away, it never hurts to get the word out early and generate a buzz. Still In the Game features a chill piano intro and then quickly kicks into a bumpin beat. Kane alternates his pacing between quick and mellow, corresponding with the musical changes. This guy can really stay on point at fast speeds, too. His delivery is crisp and confident, as he asserts himself with wit and subtle attitude. I really like the production on this. The mix is solid, but the best part is that he doesn’t mess up the vocals with a lot of unnecessary effects and autotune type junk. His voice comes through clear and present. Still In the Game ultimately succeeds in getting the artist’s message across. When Joe asserts that he’s still in the game, we can tell that he’s not playing around.
The Dead Tape was released in October of 2017 by a French rapper named Sauveur Eloheem, an artist whose more recent albums we’ve reviewed. In The Dead Tape, we’re treated to a more formative experience where we can see the artist developing his own trademarked style. Eloheem’s music is darkly ambient, often more resembling a quaint Vincent Price horror movie or Twilight Zone episode soundtrack than hip hop. However, it is this combination which makes the songs interestingly magnetic. While the intro, One Shot makes use of sparse, atmospheric piano, other tracks like Classe S Freestyle incorporate more of a ceremonial, tribal beat. A good way to describe this music is that it’s creepy but in an artistically beautiful way. My favorite track on the album is probably Femmes with its chime driven backing music, it just seems to sparkle a bit more than the others. Also notable is the last song on the album, Killuminé, gives off deep demonic vibes that are sure to unleash fresh new entities into the world with each poolside listen. Overall, The Dead Tape is a good example of an artist coming into his own and establishing his identity which he will be recognized for.