Locked In a Kiss is a new single from DRE., a singer/songwriter, multi-faceted performer and producer based in Grand Rapids, MI. If you’re looking for that authentic 80s aesthetic, this is where it’s at. Even just the beat for this jam will make you want to crank up the boom box, put on your best pair of jelly shoes and dance ’til you drop. Blending elements of pop, funk, soul and R&B with a voice that could stand alone as its own instrument, the song is exhilarating. The vocals manage to hit some stratospherically high notes that left me in awe. The ambiance is energetic, charming and exciting, like a romantic afternoon of mall madness.
The release actually contains a second track, Let’s Paint the Town. This one has a funky, disco vibe as the artist gets you amped up for the nightlife. Really the beats on both of these tracks are just fantastic. People don’t appreciate the amount of skill it takes to accurately recreate this kind of time tunneling atmosphere. DRE. has captured lightning in a bottle with these gems.
Twenty Twenty is a new single from Palestinian (but based in UAE) jazz artist, Doc Jazz. Released on the heels of his contemporary classic album, Love In the Time of Corona, this latest track cleverly juxtaposes the year “Twenty Twenty” with a medically inspired metaphor centered around “20/20 vision.” It’s a great example of how an artist can incorporate their personal experience and knowledge (Doc Jazz is actually a real-life surgeon) into the creative process.
One thing I like about this song is how bright and vibrant the tone is, even when the lyrical narrative deals with subjects like deception and betrayal. The beat has a smooth, electro-bounce to it. This is definitely jazz for the 21st century connoisseur. It has a very retro-futuristic and approachable quality and will appeal even to people who might not normally have a strong affinity for jazz. You can really shake it to this track, which at times ventures dangerously close to EDM/disco territory. Doc Jazz is technically very proficient, with a meticulous attention to musical detail (as one might expect from a surgeon), but the emotional component to the song is just as strong. The vocals are brimming with afflicted passion and sincere sentiment. Doc’s delivery is soulfully dynamic, and his voice is just naturally very expressive.
The production quality is professional, with a sound clarity that would more than satisfy the average stereophile. More great stuff here from Doc Jazz, who is proving himself to be a rather prolific songwriter. Also credit to Hugo Lee from Australia for contributing a solid saxophone performance, which definitely enhances the song. Be sure to check out the highly creative lyric video for Twenty Twenty, that features an exquisite dance routine from Lily (China).
Deep End is a new single from artist, JPOPD1. It’s slated to be officially available on youtube and all major streaming platforms on September 10. Contentwise, Deep End explores the relentless need to satisfy one’s desires, regardless of the circumstances. It deals with infatuation and the lustful pursuit of someone who isn’t interested (or simply has gone away). As you can see, JPOPD1 dives a little deeper than most pop artists and is willing to tap into feelings of vulnerability rather than merely present some carefully crafted marketing image. While the pacing of his songs is moderate, the beats are crisp and the delivery is emotionally expressive. One of his recent tracks, Taste Your Lips similarly features themes related to romantic longing and loneliness. Be sure and follow JPOPD1 on Instagram if you’d like to keep up with his latest releases.
No Vision is a new single from Eat Greedy G. It’s a collaborative effort with artist, BTE Tavii. The track features a minimalist, synth-driven beat and dreamy reverb on the vocals. It’s honestly refreshing how mellow and ethereal this jam is. The artists don’t bombard your senses with noise and attitude. Everything is very fluid and the delivery has a delightful “stream of consciousness” quality. Sonically speaking, it’s just very pleasing to the ear. With a focus on substance and realism, this is a true underground hip hop song. The dual vocals create a conversational dynamic, with the voices echoing and trailing into one another. It all culminates in an alchemic musical blend that just works. No Vision definitely resonated with me right from the intro.
Trapikal Gawd is a new (and first) full length album from 1st Klase. Featuring 16 tracks and an ensemble of supporting guest performers (including Trinidad Ghost, Nico Banks, Sykaflo, Hey Choppi, Coutain, and Ding Dong), the album could be described as the ideal, “end of summer” collection for 2020. The sound combines trap, hip hop, and R&B musical genres with an island/Caribbean ambiance. In terms of delivery, the skill level is high across the board. Each performer brings a particular flavor to the mix and the vocals are tight with the beat. There’s some very meticulous timing on display here that strikes me as natural. As the fabulous cover art implies, the music is more fun and melodic than typical hip hop oriented releases. Clever and witty lyrics are backed by fresh and tropically fruity beats. In fact, the backing music is so good, this could just as easily work as an instrumental album. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the vocal talent though. This is some of the best rhyming you’re ever going to hear.
No Love is a new single from artist, Taj. Taj has plans to launch a website for his upcoming brand, I.M.O.B. (I’m My Own Boss) Global, where he will have merch available and release various projects. This particular jam incorporates vocal effects processing to strategically transform the voice at various points, giving it an instrumental quality for effect. Musically, No Love blends elements of R&B and hip hop with a slightly tropical vibe. The beat has colorful chime to it and is layered with vocal harmonies. For his part, Taj gives a sincere and heartfelt performance as he offers up sentimental social commentary relevant to current affairs. The video for this track is professionally shot and features some fantastic murals as scenic backdrops.
Blacklight Invasion is a new single from Sepsiss, a New England-based, female fronted heavy metal band. Taken from the group’s upcoming album, Almost 11, the track combines classic metal vocals with formidable guitars and a slick 21st century rhythm. The pacing of the song may be moderate, but the impact is ample. While the vocals maintain a delightfully demonic quality, they’re also quite melodic for this style of music. Charismatic lead vocalist Melissa Wolfe belts out the lyrics with equal parts electricity and angst. The mix is full and rich, achieving a cozy balance between euphorically bright and broodingly dark tones. The overall atmosphere is hypnotic and pulls you in with its shadowy magic. Blacklight Invasion is a respectable metal entry and intrigued listeners will be eagerly awaiting the release of the full album
The CHiLDREN is a new single from Kilo House, a well known trap artist from California (and alumni of the Icon Collective College of Music). A man of eclectic tastes, he cites his influences as ranging from Blink 182 to Borgore.
High octane beats and laser-like synths hit with pulsating intensity in this powerhouse jam. This bad boy will get your heart racing and keep the spice flowing all night. The ambiance is dark and sinister (reflecting Kilo’s background in the deathcore genre) but the underlying current is playful, and the song doesn’t take itself too seriously. It just offers up some casual electro-horrorism for your enjoyment. Though I’d recommend cranking this track up to experience the “full blare” of The CHiLDREN, one should take some time to appreciate the sonic subtleties and dynamicism of the beat. The song also makes sparse yet strategic use of voice samples, which add a touch of dystopian atmospheric flavor to the mix. Ultimately, The CHiLDrEN makes the most of its concise 2:27 runtime, packing quite a loaded serving of fruit punch into its cup. Speed and action-oriented bass make this track a compact pocket party favorite. Enjoy!
Little Secrets is a new album from singer/songwriter Brian Erickson. Slated for release on September 18, 2020 (courtesy of Mint 400 Records and Aqualung Records), this album is simply dazzling. It was recorded during the COVID-19, with classic homemade LP’s like Paul McCartney’s Ram and Clean by Soccer Mommy serving as the artistic inspiration. There’s nothing cheap or “homebrew” about the audio quality though, which is sonically phenomenal. When most (indie-minded) people think of home recordings, they imagine something along the lines of the late Daniel Johnston’s albums, flawed, raw and somewhat abrasive recordings that capture your heart with their authentic charm and unappreciated songwriting genius. Brian Erickson’s Little Secrets contains all of the positive characteristics but without any of the negatives.
Musically, the best way to describe the sound is that it’s bright and sparkling indie pop, in the spirit of Ben Folds or Of Montreal. Brian humbly categorizes it as “old fashioned,” but really it just represents a time when music was more authentic and performers could actually sing without relying on all kinds of post-production tinkering and gimmickry. It has that 1960s-70s songwriter quality to it, but also resembles the early-2000s indie revival which flourished before the current wave of over-processed corporate pop swallowed everything whole and never looked back.
Organic guitars and subtle synths blend with daydreamy reverb to cultivate the ideal ecosystem for Brian’s voice, which ultimately carries the album. Brian Erickson’s vocals are pristine. This guy can sing better than any contemporary indie pop musician I’ve ever known. Tracks such as Hit or Miss (not to be confused with the viral Tik Tok meme) actually remind me a lot of Simon and Garfunkel’s music. The sentimentally innocent yet sunshiny afternoon ambiance really hits the 60s’-70’s bubblegum pop sweet spot. Indeed, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think of Brian Erickson as a sort of “one-man Partridge Family.”
Seriously though, this is so good. The title track Little Secrets is a surefire hit. My personal favorite song on this album is the ethereal gem, Mall Madness, which also manages to successfully incorporate a hint of twang in its outro. Some singles which appear on here like Another Unfinished Novel and Shore Towns are already available on major streaming platforms for your listening pleasure. Rumor has it, that Brian Erickson will be performing a virtual concert on the evening of the album’s official release (Friday Sept 18), so mark your calendars and save the date.
Haven’t Been There is a new single from Los Angeles based producer and singer/songwriter, Manny J. Moreno. The song is from his upcoming album, Where Do We Go From Here, and is scheduled to be released officially on September 18, 2020. Manny is highly experienced in music and production and for a while even owned a recording studio on the Sunset Strip, (in a building had once been Charlie Chaplin’s home!)
As the title implies, Haven’t Been There is actually a sentimental song about a father hoping to reestablish his relationship with his daughter. He expresses remorse over having not been around for some the the important events in her life as she’s grown up. Musically, the song features delightfully meticulous guitar playing, setting the tone and creating a solid framework for the track. Manny’s recording experience comes into play here, as you can really hear the stylistic subtleties and details in the notes. The vocals are heartfelt and sincere, with Manny laying it all out there. His capable voice gets the job done. What makes Haven’t Been There powerful is the emotional realism. This is further enhanced by watching the video, which consists of a montage of family photos that put faces to the lyrics and bring them to life. This a great father-daughter bonding song but will resonate with anyone who might be looking to reconnect with family members and loved ones in almost any context.