Newcomer Spotlight: KIDD JAY


KIDD JAY is a budding young hip hop artist from Atlanta, GA. His real name is Jordan Alexander Rivera, and he was named after the famous Jordan River in the Middle East. No official releases yet from this young talent, but KIDD JAY does have a couple of tracks under his belt. Rumor has it, he’s getting ready to shake things up and handle biz. Given that he’s only 14 years old, this potential hip hop prodigy has a head start on most artists in the industry. Some traumatic events in his life helped inspire his passion to create music. To give you an idea of his style, he lists some of his influences as Lil Goat, Ybn Cordae, Jcole, Xxxtentacion, Juice Wrld, and Eminem. This kid is hungry for success and experience. Keep your eyes peeled for any upcoming releases by following him on Instagram

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Dream States – Something Borrowed, Something Groove


Something Borrowed, Something Groove is a new album from Akron-based band, Dream States. Apparently, the group started a few years ago with a cover of the iconic jam, Kokomo. They’ve become something of an ensemble, and a musical representation of the trans community.

The songs on Something Borrowed, Something Groove blend elements of EDM, synthpop, and emo but are not by any means genre restricted. What they have in common is that they’re all high energy and feature some incredible backing beats. Almost everything maintains a peppy pace that’s bright and brimming with emotional intensity. The lyrics are catchy and passionately delivered. The artists even break the fourth wall occasionally in a meta fashion, toying with the concept of writing catchy songs in tracks like Hooks. One of my favorite songs on this album though is Next Halloween which feels like it should be the backdrop to a car chase scene in 80s action/romance movie. It’s powerful stuff that really gets the juices flowing.

Another notable track is Unlimited Love, which in my view is the most “polished” of the bunch. Surprisingly, it incorporates Blondie-style hip hop verses (delivered at speeds that would make even Bone Thugs-N-Harmony blush). These are juxtaposed with a dreamy disco ambiance that channels euphoric gems like It’s Love, Love, Love, from The Space Angels in the original Battlestar Galactica. Production on this tune is clean, clear and all around pristine. Unlimited Love a mini-masterpiece, and I don’t throw that term around lightly.

The most mellow songs are near the end of the album. Both Love’s World and There We Go (introducing Jasper Lee) help to wind things down with a touch of tenderness. Reflective, sentimental vibes permeate throughout these starry-eyed jams. The beats are bright, with a xylophonic quality and the vocals are melodically dynamic.

All in all, there’s a lot of talent here, excellent songwriting and (in my opinion) some genuine hits on this release. I highly recommend this album.


Natalie Martin: songwriting, vocals, piano, bass
Madeline Eckhart: songwriting, vocals, ukulele, guitar
Jo Heil: vocals, aux percussion, writing assistance
Jasper Lee: vocals, aux percussion, writing assistance, graphic designer.

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Prxscott – Northeast Legends


Northeast Legends is a new album from Portland-based hip hop artist, Prxscott. This five song EP features sparkling synth-driven backbeats and a casually dreamy ambiance. The songs often build in intensity as Prxscott’s crisp and no-nonsense lyrical delivery keeps the vibe action-packed. Solid rapping fundamentals are demonstrated throughout, and it should be noted that the album includes contributions from several worthy guest artists: Tony Ro$e, Tedd Lokc, Yd Laze and Cabbage.

Part of what makes this release enjoyable is that Prxscott doesn’t neglect the musical aspect. The focus isn’t restricted to the lyrics or to his persona. These songs are complex and melodic, at times incorporating elements of R&B and pop in a mesmerizing fashion. The most musically dynamic tracks are What I’m About and On My Own, both of which showcase some impressive vocal serenading. (What I’m About is sampled from an artist known as Cool Nutz, who is recognized as a pioneer in the Portland hip hop scene.) The guest vocals serve to enhance the songs melodically but also help to convey an image of a friendly, party-like atmosphere.

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There’s a lot to be said for the lyrics themselves though. Prxscott’s verses are rich with substance, specificity and detail as he relates stories and pays respects. There’s more than just flash here. His performance maintains an underlying sincerity and continuously demonstrates a sense of community. Lines like “Everything we did was to protect the essence,” exemplify this abstract commitment to friendship, family and even the city.

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In fact, My City (featuring samples from Portland rap group, Kant B Caught) pays a realistic homage to Portland itself. Prxscott’s punchy delivery combine with a catchy chorus (“ain’t no squares in my city, just lions and tigers and bears in my city”) to make this song and instant local classic. My favorite track on the album is probably Gotti, which has a perfect intro, and Prxscott picks up the torch and carries the momentum all the way to the finish line. Each song is distinctive though, so listeners will be able to choose their own flavor.


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Red Brick Road – Bobby Joe


Bobby Joe is a new single from Detroit-based band, Red Brick Road. It’s a solid, straightforward American alternative rock song. The production is professional and clean, with no autotune, no BS, no smoke and mirrors. This almost feels like it’s from another era. Bobby Joe is one of those “narrative” tracks that (in this case) tells a story about a guy who kills an innocent kid whom he suspects of being a thief. Reminiscent of classic songs like Take the Money and Run, the storyline is well written, memorable and genuinely captivating. All of this is bolstered by the fact that the band members can actually sing and play their instruments. A lot of the technical guitar work is incredible and features some legit shredding. The video is well made, as good as anything you’d see on MTV in its golden age. Much of the footage takes place is in some kind of abandoned building structure, contributing to the gritty rock’n’roll ambiance. Anyway, Bobby Joe is an impressive release all-around. These guys have their genre mastered and just need to keep getting their name out there.

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Monotronic – Kids of Summer


Kids of Summer is a new single from New York-based band, Monotronic. Featuring a high octane, colorfully kaleidoscopic beat, this is a true “summertime jam.” The song is much catchier and more emotive than standard contemporary EDM songs, largely because passionate vocals play a prominent role. It’s like if you were to blend synthpop with emo. The beat is unconventional and utilizes some unique sounds. I don’t think I’ve heard anything quite like it but it’s extremely powerful at the climactic points. I can feel the adrenaline and euphoria kicking in even as I’m sitting in my chair. True to its title, Kids of Summer is a very youth oriented song, exploring themes relating to the (seemingly) limitless opportunities and possibilities available to young people looking to seize the moment. Curiosity and a yearning to get out and experience the world are hallmarks of coming of age for a type of Bohemian young person, whom this song will certainly resonate with. I know because I used to be one. The track has all the ingredients of an underground dancepop hit. It can get there.

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Sven Andrew – Can’t Wait Till This Is All Over


Can’t Wait Till This Is All Over is a new single from Nuremberg, Germany based artist, Sven Andrew. Written during the COVID-19 lockdown, the track is from his upcoming album, Created in Quarantine. The song is a crossover/synthpop jam, notable for its pristine production (both the song and the video) and solid songwriting. What distinguishes this song from other lockdown related releases is that Sven captures the existential angst and anxiety associated with these bizarre times. The video helps to accentuate these elements through the artist’s expressions and the surrounding settings. The ambiance is peppy and upbeat, while being refreshingly honest about the situation. There’s an underlying unease about the future but also an anticipation. The content is topical, but Can’t Wait Till This Is All Over is a top notch pop song and can stand on its own. Sven is a capable vocalist, and this track will still be musically enjoyable long after the pandemic related material seems dated.

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Ashton D. Rose – Ripped Jeans

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Ripped Jeans is a new single from Mechanicsburg, PA based artist, Ashton D. Rose. It’s safe to say that this sort of jam has a lot going for it. The song has an authentic indie intro, featuring guitars, strategic noise and vocals with enveloped in a nice, deep reverb. Then a beat kicks in and we’re treated to some danceable indie pop goodness. Ashton strikes a nice balance between the avant garde and the stylish. He doesn’t come off like he’s trying too hard. The ambiance is hypnotic enough for one’s mind to get lost in. This is just the sort of track that girls love to vibe out to on the dance floor. It’s subtly emotional, slightly sensual and thoroughly enjoyable. Ripped Jeans is refreshing to listen to and reminds me of being young. It’s cool to see that indie songs like this are still even being made.

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Cool Ass – Fuck You Covid-19


Fuck You Covid-19 is a new single from artist “Cool Ass” (real name Marc Marut). Out of all the recent COVID-19 related jams I’ve reviewed (and there have been many), I have to say that this one is the best so far. Given the title, one might suspect that it’s a joke song that was just thrown together, but it actually really rocks. Featuring robust guitars, clever lyrics and a rich, invigorating sound, the track is an instant contemporary classic. My favorite parts of the song are the synth interludes, which sound like something out of a Leisure Suit Larry soundtrack. The lyrics humorously incorporate COVID related motifs (washing hands, wearing masks, don’t touch your face, etc) and lament the inability to go out and do things with friend. It’s a fun song obviously but with an underlying message that’s intended to lift people’s spirits in a rather dreary time. Musically, the sound reminds me of 90’s alternative pop/rock bands like Cake. This artist really has a lot of talent. The video for this song compiles participatory footage that people submitted for it, all of whose contributions managed to add something to the ambiance. Seriously, this song is damn good.

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Stan Stubbs – I’m Free


I’m Free is an upcoming single from Chicago-based gospel artist, Stanley Stubbs, which is being released on My Father’s House Records. Stanley got involved in music at an early age, and he formed his own band, “Sudden Impact,” in 1979. A few of his influences are Duke Ellington, George Duke, Andre Crouch, and The Hawkins Family. That should give you an idea. His sound is smooth, classy and liberating in a positive way. Titles like I’m Free and I Release To You are not merely titles but also serve as a metaphor for the vibe of the performance. He really puts his emotions into the vocals and just lays it all out there for the listener. It’s powerful, passionate and uplifting. This is the kind of vocally driven music where you can’t fake it. Stan can sing well, and he belts each verse out of the park. You can also tell he cares a lot about his craft and the meaning behind the music. There’s some great energy and sunshine in these recordings.

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Stan Sitwell – Broadcast


Broadcast is a recent album from Ottawa-based artist, Stan Sitwell (aka DJ Tim Mills). A well-traveled DJ who got his start in Tokyo and has been in the game for over 20 years, Sitwell has cultivated a unique and avant garde sound. A lot of dance party songs are a dime a dozen, but there’s nothing cliche in these recordings. Stan describes his genre as “blendstep, ranging from trip hop to house.” The blended elements definitely make for a memorable concoction. Combining retro-futuristic synths with fresh house vibes, organic percussive sounds and string instruments, the result is a surreal, (and pleasantly jarring) musical fun house. This is like 21st century ice cream truck or circus music but with an edge.

Complex and artistic, the songs almost feel like sound collages at times. The production is solid here, but that’s obviously not the main attraction. It’s tough to say what my favorite track is, because there are so many changes and components within each song. Every track had at least a couple of parts that I found really engaging. The synth-driven opener I Try, and the future-folk gem I’ve Done It All are both miniature masterpieces though. Broadcast is one of the most creative and amazing dance music albums I’ve heard in recent memory. I could listen to this for hours.

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