Playful Secrets is a new single from artist, Fin. A 28 year old active duty member of the Army, Fin creates music with the goal of empowering people who may be dealing with issues like anxiety, family addictions or the pain of losing a love one (Fin cites his deceased his father as being an inspiration for his artistic endeavors). These are all delicate subjects to tackle, but the tone of Playful Secrets is empathetic and uplifting in the way it encourages people to face their demons and free themselves, while at the same time recognizing the struggle and emotions people typically face along the way. It is a very honest and complex song that explores these issues from a variety of angles, speaking a language its target audience will understand.
Musically, Playful Secrets features a crisp, unconventionally structured beat that’s memorable and cutting edge. The vocals are passionate and dynamic. The song’s biggest strength though is in the lyrics, which are elaborate and thought provoking. Nothing superficial here. This track digs much deeper than what is typical of the genre. Playful Secrets is a strong track that conducts itself with credible sincerity.
Midafternoon Melancholy is a new single from Belgium-based artist, Wild Other. At a runtime of just 1:29, this track is short and sweet. It’s beautiful, actually. As the title suggests, the song features a sentimental, rainy-day atmosphere. A warm analog tone, and subtle background noise give the track an organic, vintage character. The music is minimalist yet effective and creating the artistic framing. When you hear it, you understand the sound the artist is going for. This is like listening to an old 45 record gem. It’s right up there with the best love songs on classic indie film soundtracks. Ultimately, Midafternoon Melancholy is vocally driven, and the voice on the recording is indeed excellent. The vocals, which manage to be both technically terrific and creatively avant-garde, carry this song far beyond its meager runtime. The lyrics deal with the subject of loneliness and longing in a very sincere way. I recommend watching the video for this song, as it visually captures the essence of the music accurately. This song is wonderful. I just love it.
I Like Girls is a new single from artist, Jimmy Spittz. His interest in downtempo “coffee shop” beats and elevator-style music was apparently inspired by his trips to the city of Chicago, though he credits his faith in God as the spiritual influence behind much of his work. The song features smooth groovin’ lounge music with a beat that has a robust kick to it. The vibe is jazzy, and the recording it well-polished. There’s a classy, almost 70’s retro quality to the melody, while the bass affirms the track’s 21st century identity. Stylishly romantic, I Like Girls is both vibrant and sensual. In what could be described as an abstract, artistically impressive feat, it manages to cultivate its intended ambiance through instrumentals alone.
This is one of those songs that would be great to hear on vinyl. It’s the perfect record to play at an evening cocktail party. The music is versatile enough that you could either get your dance on to this jam or listen to it while winding down on the sofa with a glass of wine. I Like Girls is simply stellar, and Jimmy Spittz has established himself as a promising young master of this genre.
The NOW Project is a new EP from hip hop/soul recording artist, Danielle Blaiq. This release is much more advanced than standard musical fare in that it contains an actual storyline/narrative. It chronicles the experiences of an intelligent young woman who becomes romantically involved with a therapist. The songs represent the emotional highs and lows she experiences during the relationship. This avant-garde and intellectual effort isn’t without its musical charms either. Danielle Blaiq is a formidable vocalist, really a gifted singer. In addition to demonstrating a high technical skill level, her voice is also dynamic and emotionally expressive. The recording is very clean and clear. There are no production tricks or obfuscating effects. We are allowed to appreciate the album’s natural greatness and beauty in its full capacity.
In terms of content, the album could best be described as a kind of audio diary (that just so happens to be musically enjoyable). We as invited eavesdroppers are privy to the intensely personal thoughts and feelings associated with the relationship. Danielle takes listeners on the journey and confides in us along the way. My favorite parts of the album are when she drifts into thoughtful, spoken word monologues, which slowly build and culminate in euphoric musical spectacles. The best example of this can be found on the track Here Now, and is truly powerful. There’s a lot of material and lyrical substance packed into this album, so I would urge readers to check it out for themselves. I guarantee you will find things here which resonate with you and treat yourself to some well-performed music in the process.
CITI is a new single from hip hop artist, Sxee Finesse. This prolific artist has really been cranking them out lately. We just recently featured one of Sxee’s other tracks, YOURS TRULY. The backing music in CITI features a sweet retro-synth, vaguely reminiscent of classic 16-Bit video game soundtracks. The beat itself has a nice “snap, crackle and pop” rhythm. In terms of delivery, the substance that Sxee brings to the table is a unique blend of artful timing and sentimental lyrics. His demeanor is cool, and the vibe is conversational. He’s a good vocalist, too. There’s more musicality in his voice than what you’d get from more “attitude and image-oriented” hip hop. As the title implies, CITI has a late night, metropolitan ambiance that’s perfect for closing out a club or going for a relaxing drive. The song finishes strong with some fresh bass. Once again, Sxee Finesse delivers as advertised.
Serena is a new single from pop artist, Kidd Clxoud. The self described “Prince of Pop” has pioneered a unique and refreshingly unconventional sound. Featuring a synth-driven beat and a full sound, the backing music is fairly standard for what you’d expect in a pop jam but does have a slightly “groovy” twist. The mix is high octane and warm. It really has a lot of energy and will most certainly entice you to dance. What really gives the song it’s character though are the vocals, which have a delightfully “wavy” quality to them. The best way to describe it is that it’s like hearing melodically pleasing voices in your head. Serena has a very collage-like structure. Everything sort of blends together into one large, energizing beam of sound. This song is an original work of art, in the purest sense of the word. It’s just a track, it’s a vibe.
Real 2 Reel is a new album from hip hop artist, Flippin’ Gothic Fabp. Backed by synth beats that often have a somewhat industrial and electro-goth feel, Strategic noise and light processing give the recording a raw mysterious vibe. Flippin’ Gothic Fabp’s delivery is straightforward and assertive, yet he maintains a contemplative and cerebral tone. His effective usage of “quick repetition” in the vocals adds a bit of catchiness to the tracks and gives him a distinctive style. There seems to be a lot of freestyle here, which is refreshing in an age where performers rely on carefully crafted images. As the title implies, this album is the real deal.
Mountains is a new single from Chicago-based artist/producer, Benya Vya. The song blends elements of summertime pop, R&B and light hip hop. With a peppy pace and bright, colorful sound, this track dazzles with its complex melodies and well choreographed structure. Maintaining a carefree and innocent vibe, the song sets us to remind us of the way that love has the ability to move mountains. Perhaps Benya Vya’s fruitful zest for life can be traced to a near-death experience he once had, after falling in the Arno River in Florence, Italy. He cites this incident as one of the primary catalysts for his decision to pursue music. Musically speaking, Mountains has a bit of an old school, retro flavor to it. The backing music is smooth groovin’ and the beat has a nice hop to it. Really it’s an excellent song. It’s a “fun in the sun” jam and will make you smile, but there’s an underlying sentimentality there to tug at your heartstrings as well.
Cup of Tea is a new single from Italian (but based in Singapore) singer/songwriter, Matilde Girasole. This is about as close as you can get to a perfect pop song. Unlike many contemporary stars, Matilde can actually sing. Her voice comes through crystal clear on this recording. It’s not all loaded up with autotune or “smoke and mirrors” processing. The vocals here are clean and pristine. I have to say this production is extremely polished and sonically pleasing. Matilde gives one of the best pop vocal performances in modern memory. The song itself is melodic and dynamic, with a complex, imaginative structure that’s layered to magnificence. Musically Cup of Tea is largely synth-driven and—when combined with Matilde’s vocals—culminates in the musical equivalent of a laser light show. The sound is full, bright and exhilarating, comparable to that of acts like Chvrches (whom she cites as an influence). This single is impressive on every level.
What’s Wrong? is a new single from Los Angeles-based artist, Mzra Eiller. As part his background, he studied psychology, which has helped him to achieve greater depth in his artistic endeavors. One thing that becomes immediately apparent in What’s Wrong? is that Mzra is a strong vocalist. Not only is he an excellent singer technically, but his voice has a certain stylish and jazzy lounge quality to it. His delivery is emotionally expressive as each word is subtly accentuated and enhanced. The backing music has a warm analog feel, with a hint of tape noise and record crackle, securing the track its organic, avant garde identity. The humble sentimentalism and quiet detail in the audio help to distinguish this track from so many flashy and lifeless R&B style pop songs. Refreshingly, this is not another dime-a-dozen, ego-driven artist. What’s Wrong? has a personal touch and is brimming with sincerity.
Lyrically, the song is romantic and reflective, filled with sentiments of longing, hopefulness and regret. The mood oscillates between somber and celebratory, in the sense of recognizing how great someone makes you feel while agonizing over what went wrong. It will ultimately resonate with anyone who’s ever faced a similar situation.
The music matches the ambiance perfectly, and Mzra Eiller’s approach really does engrace itself deeply to the “psyche.” What’s Wrong? manages to complete a successful trifecta of talent, substance and tone. The production value is professional quality and certainly radio friendly but doesn’t come off as “manufactured” for consumer consumption the way most contemporary major label releases do. This song maintains its indie cred while also being approachable to normies. Mzra Eiller claims his goal with music is to “create something that people can connect and relate to and by doing so feel less alone in the world.” I think What’s Wrong? achieves that, but just as importantly, it is also an enjoyable listen and very good musically.