Black Hurts is a new single from Chicago-based singer/songwriter, Terry Blade. Blending elements of R&B, soul, blues and folk, the song has a very organic and timeless feel. If I had encountered this song in the wild, I might assume I was listening to a classic recording. The guitar tone is rich with vintage warmth and sonic subtleties that instantly resonate. I used to work in the amplifier business, and I’ve met musicians who spent years (and many thousands of dollars) seeking out the kind of quality tone presented in this jam. Ultimately though, Terry Blade’s vocals are what fuel the song. An accomplished and award-winning artist, Terry sings with passion and sincerity about the Black experience. He doesn’t shy away from expressions of pain and vulnerability. This is a sentimental, sensitive and serious song, backed by music that is artistically constructed and has a stylishly groovy vibe.
5G (Ft. Santa Sallet) is a new single from hip hop artist, Nemizzo. This collaborative effort is ambitious and worldly, utilizing 5G technology as a metaphoric motif throughout the song. The synth-driven backing music is wavy and entrancing. As expected, the vocal delivery is solid, as both of these artists are known for their professionalism. The lyrics are witty (ie. Mike Tyson references) and exquisite, spoken with a hypnotic tone that thematically correlates with the song’s vibe.
5G has a relatively chill ambiance while still maintaining its cutting edge appeal and business-like aspirations. Some of the musical effects are really cool and genuinely original. Conceptually, I think this track is highly marketable and could potentially be a breakout song. The performances are top notch and definitely 5G tier.
Adjusting the Space is a new release from Austrian cyberpunk metal band, Pulse. Aesthetically and musically, this might be one of the most futuristic albums ever made. Blending elements of industrial, cutting edge synth rock, metal and EDM, the sound is impressive and formidable. It’s actually very difficult to bring together all of these genres coherently, but these guys have made it look easy. The band’s name is actually very appropriate, as this high octane music is brimming with pulsating intensity. This is like a 21st century space opera. It’s pretty much the opposite of “chillwave.” Songs like Points of Nibiru and Star Light have a theatrical, electric energy, but every track will get your heart beating. Thematically, the songs are dark and honest. Rich with imagery and provocative imagination, the lyrics will really confront you. The artists do not shy away from the morbid or uncomfortable. They face it head on.
Everything on this album is meticulously well put together. The production has incredible sonic clarity, on the level of a studio film or video game soundtrack. Unlike many other industrial music oriented releases, which tend to have a mechanical feel, the synths here are beautifully melodic, while the vocal and guitar performances provide the emotional depth and dramatic flair of great metal. Adjusting the Space is a polished, powerful album, and it really will take your mind on an intense journey.
Pushin’ On (feat. Frankly Speaking) is a new single from Fam Band, an Ohio-based duo. It’s difficult to classify this kind of jam. It blends elements of alternative, rock and hip hop, with a trace of Americana thrown in for good measure. The best way I could describe it is its like if you combined Modest Mouse with rap music and gave it a more classic, rock’n’roll sound. It’s worth noting that the rap on this track isn’t merely an afterthought to give the son a creative spark. The timing and delivery are phenomenal, and some of the greatest indie rapping you’ll ever hear is tucked away in this song.
I’ve reviewed releases from this outfit before, and one thing I recall is that the vocals were pretty excellent. The singing portions of this single once again demonstrate great technical ability. It’s not just that these guys are good singers, but the vocals are delivered creatively. They’re able to achieve sounds and tones with their voices that most people simply are not capable of. Musically, the song is colorful, and the melodies sparkle as Pushin’ On presses forward with its theme of spirit and determination.
PASSING THE BALL is a new single from 4N Boyz, a hip hop duo founded by artists 4NJig and 4NHammy from in Chicago, IL. 4NJig was originally born in India, while his counterpart 4NHammy is of Pakistani ancestry (but was born and raised in the US).
Featuring a trippy synth driven backbeat that’s surreal and punchy, this latest jam makes solid use of its compact, two-minute runtime. Seriously, the backing music is exotic and has an ethereal, cosmic vibe. There are a couple of strategic breaks in the track utilized to great effect, as part of the buildup to the catchy refrain/title. The vocal delivery style is lively and intense, with enough energetic charisma to keep the action high. The artists also prove themselves to be capable poets, with lyrics that are clever, imaginative and often humorous. This song really contains some choice lines, but I’ll leave it to the listener to see if they can locate them. All in all, this is a tight little party track that delivers the flavor.
With a runtime of nearly 60 minutes, Northern Lights is a collection of lofi beats from artist, Saigos Music. A blend of carefully curated tracks as well as 3 original works, this compilation cultivates a warm, analog appeal. Complete with subtle tape hiss and ambient noise, the songs correlate beautifully with the remote cabin setting and cozy, living room visuals in the accompanying video. The atmospheric elements of the music are such that it almost feels like we’re sitting right there and can hear the delicate crackling of the fireplace in the background. Most of these jams would probably classified as “chillwave” or some adjacent microgenre, but the vibe here is a little bit more organic and avant garde that what would traditionally fit neatly within a slick and futuristic framework. There are traces of jazz, psychedelia, and even “hypno” detectable.
The songs are richly distinctive and contain variety, while still remaining sonically consistent with the overall aesthetic. Nothing seems out of place. There are over 20 relaxing tracks contained in this collection, ranging from mellow to contemplative and surreal, and all the pieces of the playlist fit snugly. I would highly recommend this playlist to anyone who wants to meditate and reach a higher state of consciousness, or even if you’re just looking to wind down your evening with something superior to an ASMR vid. Ultimately, Northern Lights harnesses the cutting edge synth components and retro-futuristic beauty of vapor/synthwave yet ultimately presents with a more intimate and nature-inspired sound.
Dance With Me is a new album from the prolific Hesperia, California-based artist, Morgan Gavin. A true “full album,” this release contains 16 hearty tracks. Synergistically, the songs combine to form a broader narrative, which tells a story about a man who falls for a woman in a nightclub setting. Beginning with his first infatuated glimpses of his new romantic interest, Dance With Me basically gives a play by play of his various attempts to get her to dance with him. Spoiler: He is ultimately successful. Though there have been countless albums with similar themes, I guarantee you’ve never heard one like this before.
It’s difficult to even classify Gavin’s delivery style here, because he’s just such a versatile performer. The best way to describe it in the context of this release is that he presents as a kind of late night disc jockey, blending voice-over monologues with Tom Jones-style romantic singing, resulting in a vocal style that is both genuinely appealing and truly one-of-a-kind. It’s worth noting though that Gavin identifies as several different characters throughout the album, each offering its own distinct flavor and eccentricity. The musical backdrop has a loungy and mellow vibe. It’s like high octane elevator music you can dance to. One of the most powerful tracks is Dance Till She Love which incorporates some sweet synth sounds and invigorates with its quasi-disco energy. Another memorable jam is the haunting Supreme Natural, which channels the ghostly narration of legends like Bobby Pickett and Vincent Price. The snazzy Give You Rainbows has elements of hip hop and R&B and dazzles with a virile, fresh beat.
The storyline creates that classically charming, awkward, yet sincere character we often find ourselves wanting to root for. However, Morgan Gavin transcends the cliches of the genre through his wild and unpredictable presentation. Suffice to say, the creativity employed in this album is off the charts. While most songs on here deal sequentially with the events of the story, certain tracks which represent the dreams of our protagonists are interspersed, adding an imaginative, ethereal component to the machinery. Though I have focused mainly on style, I think it’s important to mention that Morgan Gavin’s actually a fairly good singer, and his performance is compelling on multiple levels. Dance With Me demonstrates what is possible when an imaginative artist has enough technical skill to make his creative vision an sonically enjoyable listen.
A Better Place is a new jazz album from trumpeter, singer and producer, David Longoria. As the title implies, the release aims to inject a sense of optimism and positivity into what has been considered a rather dreary year for most. This ambitious project manages to lift one’s spirits almost immediately with the opening track, Make The World A Better Place, which already has amassed more than 300,000 plays on Spotify. Backed by exquisite piano (Rique Pantoja), upright bass (Maciej Sadowski), light drums (Tony Jones) and a mellow ambiance, Longoria’s vocals are brimming with hopeful sincerity. He has a classic, personable delivery style that’s reminiscent of the great lounge singers. His voice is delicate and personable yet also bold and reassuring, as he makes a plea for unity and understanding in our world. The song also contains an artfully spectacular trumpet solo, where David offers a glimpse of his true musical power level.
Don’t Let Another Mother Cry is a jazz ballad that touches upon the subject of street violence in the city of Chicago. With vivid expressions of empathy, it’s a heartfelt appeal for us to respect the value of human life. The piano melody has a haunting, Johnny Mathis-like quality to it, while a mournful trumpet intro sets the tone for a sober and fresh idealism. Summertime (a contemporary version of the iconic George Gershwin song) is another notable track, as it features the supremely pristine vocals of neosoul recording artist, Promise Marks. It captures the carefree “summertime” spirit of youth and reminds us to appreciate the joyful possibilities of life that lie ahead, as well as those in the here and now. One of my personal favorite jams on this release is Terra Pax, which has a worldly and avant-garde framework. The introductory atmosphere is almost futuristic, with classic Star Trek-inspired vision for humanity and mother Earth that takes on a jazz form. It’s really quite innovative.
All of the songs on this album are extremely professional. It can be somewhat difficult to review music from artists who are this experienced and whose talents are this refined, because it is almost self-evident how good the music is just by briefly listening to a few snippets. However, it must be stated that this album is laudable not just on a technical level, but it also spiritually therapeutic and emotionally satisfying. In these turbulent times, A Better Place will definitely give you some perspective, calm your immediate anxieties and get you thinking about the world in more optimistic terms.
Polaris is a new single from Puerto Rican singer/rapper, Enyel C. It’s a Lo-Fi trap track with a bright and tropical vibe. Enyel C has an excellent flow. His delivery is casual, yet he has a natural gift for timing. The lyrics are mostly in Spanish and roll beautifully from start to finish. Featuring a sweet summertime melody that goes down like lemonade, Polaris offers a highly enjoyable listening experience.
Thematically, the song deals with someone taking a journey through Puerto Rico, while relaying a story about a relationship with a person who became consumed with material possessions. Enyel C classified the song as a pseudo-romantic track. Released under the La Buena Fortuna Music label, Polaris is available on all major streaming platforms. It’s really a pleasure to listen to.
Fallin’ is a new single from South Carolina-born artist, Shaud (featuring Sean Eversen). The song combines elements of pop and R&B with a touch of hip hop flavor to create a sound that’s both mainstream friendly and sophisticated. The performances are superb, featuring rich harmonies and professional vocals. Seriously, the singing on this track is clean and very high caliber, without a ton of unnecessary processing or “enhancing” effects to get in the way. There’s a lot of emotion packed into the lyrical delivery. You can feel the deep passion and sensitivity in every word.
Despite being vocally driven, the structure and choreography is impressively elaborate. When it kicks into high gear, this jam comes at you like a geometric equation. Something must also be said for the synth-driven backing beat. It’s fairly minimalist at times but also retro-futuristic and gives the song a certain cutting edge vibe that distinguishes it from more traditional R&B. Fallin’ is a supremely romantic song that’s musically flawless and probably deserves to be nominated for an award of some kind.