Brad Byrd – State Line

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State Line is a new single from alt country/folk artist, Brad Byrd. With its subtle intricacies and delicate melodies, this track obviously bears the mark of a professional. Enveloped in a modest paced and musically minimalist framework, Byrd’s performance is expressive and emotionally deep. Atmospherically, it captures the timeless spirit of travel and the open road.

The action slowly amps up over the course of the song’s nearly 8 minute run time. It really does convey the feeling of being on a journey. The backing music at times is ambient and more synth-driven than you’d expect from this style of music (I suppose that’s where the “alt” comes in). Ultimately, State Line is a dazzling release that’s full of heart and skill.

Birthpush – i kno


i kno is a new single from Kiernan Hutchinson’s Kansas City, Missouri-based project, Birthpush. Combining pop, R&B and alt-hip hop, this slick track is flush with sensuality and smooth vibes. Production on this jam is really clean, with excellent sonic detail. Backed by a modest, colorful beat, the vocals are eloquent and fluid. The audio clarity on the voice is refreshing. There isn’t a bunch of unnecessary processing or autotune to ruin the ambiance. The singing is quite good actually and really elevates the song to another level. Lyrically, the content oscillates between sexual, romantic and even spiritual. It’s all expressed rather candidly. i kno is a highly advanced track, and there is definitely a future for Birthpush in this niche musical genre.

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YLD $taxx and Jake Haze – #Yldlyfe


#Yldlyfe is a new album from artists YLD $taxx and Jake Haze. This collaborative hip hop effort is fresh and action packed. With epic track titles like Lighta Fluid, and Vybe Checka, it’s hard to go wrong. The songs have more going for them than just cleverness and aesthetic sensibilities though. The beats are tight and the delivery style is genuinely creative. With an ambiance that’s delightfully haunting and even slightly sinister, this album almost has an alternative vibe. My favorite jam on this release is Totally GAS which features a futuristic beat, complete with laser-like sound effects. #Yldlyfe is a cool little album that’s surprisingly memorable. It’s fun and serious at the same time.

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Juśtin – Music IS Color


Music IS Color is a new full-length album from Florida-based artist, Juśtin. Interestingly, he created this album dealing with a chronic sinusitis, (a condition I’m all too familiar with). It’s difficult to overstate how sweet this album is. The songs are harmonious, smooth and upbeat as Juśtin blends elements of R&B, hip hop and soul. Featuring groovy melodies and an impressive array of vocals, the opening track The Way You Move is stellar, one of the best songs on the album.

Up against a looped sample and minimalist backing beat, Juśtin showcases some real rapping talent on the next track, Zone 6. He maintains a consistent flow at high speeds, and there’s nowhere to hide in the mix. He offers up a solid, no-nonsense performance showing just what he is capable of. Another notable track is Soul Food Freestyle, a well-choreographed and musically satisfying jam, with vocal sets that are expressive and truly a cut above. The album closes out on a contemplative note, with the lengthy, avant garde outro Bonus! Patricia’s Questions. Music IS Color is a very balanced and complete album. It’s stylish, sentimental and classy from beginning to end.

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Jon Oshone – Sound Right

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Sound Right is a new single from hip hop artist, Jon Oshone. This song rules. Oshone’s style is avant garde, and the track has a stylish, sophisticated feel. Backed by a jazzy, retro-futuristic beat, the vocal delivery is impressive. Jon Oshone may not be overly flashy, but he has genuine skills as a rapper and lets his performance do the presenting.

This is really just a very classic song. It almost reminds me of the kind of artful old school hip hop you’d hear in 90’s coffee houses and galleries. The backing music is excellent. It’s melodically exquisite while retaining an underlying intensity. Sound Right straight up sounds rad.

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TT (TopTier) – Lemme


Lemme is a new single from hip hop-pop-trap duo, TT(TopTier). This vibrant jam has a fresh and upbeat feel, featuring performances that are brimming with jovial vibes. The song is creatively structured, with a range of vocal effects being employed to give transform the track into a dreamlike, rhythmic collage. It’s complex and well choreographed. I’m not sure how the artists managed to stay on point with the timing, but they did.

Musically, there’s a sweet blend of crisp hip hop and melodious vocals, making this a delightful listen. The lyrics contain elements of romance, sensuality and even nostalgia, juxtaposing neatly with the song’s bright tone. Lemme is a cool, casual track with a hefty dose of stylistic originality packed into its 4 minute runtime.

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Rockstar Marcus – Toxic (13)

Toxic is a new single from New Orleans-based alternative hip hop artist, Rockstar Marcus. Backed by an ambient beat, this jam is smooth and surreal. The visual effects in the video enhance the musical atmosphere, giving it a dreamlike quality. Rockstar Marcus’s lyrical delivery is sincere and sentimental, as he ponders the toxicity of his relationship. He’s just very reflective.

With expressions of longing and vulnerability, this is ultimately a romantic song. This track almost has an emo vibe. Musically, the synth-driven backing is very pleasant to listen to and is somewhat calming, while the beat still has enough kick to it to keep things lively. It’s refreshing to see hip hop like this that’s willing to explore artful sensitivity and tap into a broader range of emotions.

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FLVRWLF – The Ninth Dimension

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The Ninth Dimension is a new album from FLVRWLF, a band comprised of Los Angeles-based rapper/producer Myka 9 and Silicon Valley-based producer, Freematik. Both of these artists are long time veterans of the music scene and have many projects under their belt. This album is slated to for official release on 4/20 but is available for pre-order in the meantime.

Bold and experimental, the songs blend elements of hip hop, rock, thrash and even industrial. The vocals are entrancing and avant garde, with snippets of poetic narration interweaving with traditional hip hop delivery. Meditatively hypnotic, the voices really pull you in. The backing music is trippy and futuristic. At times, it almost has a mechanical feel, as though you’re listening to the inner working of a haunted spaceship. The Ninth Dimension an intriguing album aesthetically. My favorite track on here is Escape! which creatively incorporates some exotic motifs and sound effects to create a mini-masterpiece.

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Ramona + the Riot – 2020

Ramona and the Riot cover art

2020 is a new single from Ramona + the Riot. From the album Law of Contagion, this single is majestic and hauntingly beautiful. The vocals are positively enchanting. Really this is one of the best singers I’ve ever heard, and the entire band seems to be comprised of all-stars. This track could almost be a James Bond theme song. It’s just very powerful and the audio clarity is delicious. 2020 has a jazzy, lounge-like ambiance, and if this were being performed live, the audience would be captivated by the song’s magnetic energy. This is top-tier. You’ll be hearing more about this band, I guarantee it.

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Arnold Mitchem – Solo

Arnold Mitchem Solo

Solo is a new single from artist, Arnold Mitchem. An established and well-known musician on many fronts, one interesting tidbit about Arnold is that he has also written songs for television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This latest release, Solo, melodically blends elements of rock, Americana and blues. Driven by groovin’ guitars and a charismatic vocal duet, the song features a strong lyrical narrative about a relationship going awry, with the woman going off on her own and the man presumably dealing with the new reality of being alone. Musically, the performances are phenomenal. This is pure professionalism in songwriting. It is solid from a technical standpoint, but Arnold Mitchem also brings a genuine sensitivity into the song. Great stuff.

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