Forest Robots – Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning


Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning is a new album from Forest Robots (the musical project of Fran Dominguez), being released through Emmasierra Songs and Wormhole World Records. The album has an official release date of April 2, 2021 but has been made available for preorder on Bandcamp.

With this latest collection of instrumental compositions, Fran focuses most of his attention on spirituality, ethics and existentialism, approaching them within the context of parenthood in a rapidly changing world. As with his previous releases, the relationship between humans and their natural surroundings features prominently, as Fran attempts to musically illustrate how the cycles in nature mirror our own spiritual and philosophical rotations.

It can be difficult to convey such illustrious themes musically (especially without vocals), but the titles of the songs offer the listener some direction. For example, as the track name suggests, A Church Is Religion, A Tree Is Spirituality explores the distinction between religion and spirituality. As the artist’s daughter has gotten older, apparently philosophical questions like these have become more common, adding new levels of complexity to the role of parenting.

As far as the music itself, Forest Robots once again has delivered some truly stellar compositions. The music here is avant garde, creative and technically superb. The sound oscillates between softly meditative and boldly theatrical. Songs like In The Climb, Not The Summit, Lies The Most Wisdom have a 1970s, almost eco-futuristic quality. The atmospheric ambiance could be that of either a remote part of the wilderness or the outer regions of the solar system. It’s probably my favorite song on the album and would haunt nicely in any classic, European science fiction film. We Only Die Once, But Can Be Grateful Every New Day has more of a delicate, graceful feel to it, while Mirror Your Patience From Trees, Persistence From Grass is enchantingly orchestral.

The music has an “experimental” component to it but is also well-performed in the traditional sense. Forest Robots cites Jon Hassell, Gigi Masin, Weather Report, Nick Drake as musical influences for this album. Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s Prepare Thyself To Deal With A Miracle is also listed as a thematic inspiration. Overall, Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning is a powerful work of art. It’s sensitive, beautiful and extremely moving.

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M-Dash – Tell Me (8)

Tell Me is a new single from M-Dash, a hip hop artist based in Vallejo, CA. The song is slated to appear on his upcoming album, Elevation. M-Dash is an established veteran of the hip hop genre, boasting an impressive discography that includes nine albums and twenty singles/EPs. His refined skills are evident on this latest track. He has a casual, straightforward and witty delivery style. His voice also projects very well, which is the mark of an experienced performer who understands best vocal recording practices.

He actually covers a lot of lyrical ground in the song’s modest 2:36 runtime. Throughout the track, M-Dash outlines his personal ambitions, interests and lifestyle in great detail, occasionally breaking the 4th wall to pose the question “but do you care?” to his target audience. The backing beat is fresh and robust, while the music has a smooth and lightly sensual vibe. Sonically speaking, the audio quality of the mix is impressive. It’s a chill jam, but it has enough bass to really bump if you were listening to it on the right system, especially in a car.  Overall,  Tell Me is a catchy, competent and professional single. M-Dash performs with justifiable confidence, and his affable personality is bound to win over some new fans.

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SGXJAY – Wicked


Wicked is a new single from hip hop artist, SGXJAY. This hypnotic and slightly haunting track maintains an entrancing vibe from start to finish. The synth-flavored backing beat is melodic and keeps the action moving at a modest, yet deliberate pace. The structure remains constant, but there are still surprises and creative twists in the mix. Various atmospheric effects and samples are utilized strategically to spice things up. SGXJAY’s lyrical delivery is cool and calculated. His flow is on point, and his vocal tone fits well with the song’s casually sinister ambiance. Ultimately, Wicked is a solid release with a fluid, professional and vibrant sound.  It’s coherently constructed and more avant garde than the average hip hop jam.

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OLYA K – Waking Up in Nashville


Waking up in Nashville is a new song from OLYA K, a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter. OLYA’s catchy single, Hollywood became a hit online in 2020 and gained her a lot of new fans. Interestingly, before moving to Los Angeles in 2014, she had previously lived in Nashville (“a few blocks away from the honkytonks on lower Broadway”) and was part of the music scene there. She recently visited Nashville again last year 2020 and recorded a country rock version of Eggs and Bacon.

The original version of her latest song Waking Up in Nashville was originally a lighter track which featured an acoustic guitar and tambourine. I’m sure it was excellent, but this latest version simply rocks! It’s lively and vibrant, with peppy pacing, grooving guitars and a robust beat setting the stage for OLYA K’s vivacious vocals. If you’ve heard her other songs, what will immediately impress you is the versatility she is capable of as an artist. Here she is delivering a professional and praise-worthy performance in a completely different genre. She comes off as such a natural country-rock singer that you’d almost never suspect she had successful synthpop and EDM-style releases as well.

One thing that remains consistent is OLYA’s positive and upbeat tone. Her songs convey a genuine enthusiasm for life, and this jam will definitely inspire you to seize the day. In fact, she got the idea for opening lyrics while setting her alarm clock radio one evening and asking herself “”should I wake up with a song or with a beep?” After listening to Waking Up in Nashville, it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out which one she chose.

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Colt Sterk – Grandpa’s Truck

Colt Sterk

Grandpa’s Truck is a new single from Colt Sterk, a country singer/songwriter from Eagle, Idaho. This is some of the most polished and well-performed country you could ask for. The mix is clean and bright, allowing the full richness of the recording to shine through. Colt gives a stellar vocal performance on this lively yet sentimentally nostalgic track. His singing ability really is a cut above. The female backing vocals enhance the chorus and correlate nicely with the song’s romantic elements. The real star of this show is the truck itself, which Cole feels a deep connection with. The truck is a source of personal liberation, reflection and adventure. It also operates as a central motif tying everything together. Musically, Grandpa’s Truck is a solid and radio-ready single that deserves a spot on the charts.

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Ryan Lagup – Beat Shop (7)

Beat Shop is a new album from Hawaii-born singer/songwriter, Ryan Lagup. Blending elements of pop, R&B, reggae and dance, the tracks on this release are jam packed with club energy and emotive vibes. The actual beats employ some creative rhythm styles, giving Ryan’s music a distinctive and recognizable flair.

On several tracks, ambient synths take a prominent role in the mix, cultivating a retro-inspired dance pop aesthetic. Other songs, such as Better Off are more reggae oriented, though they maintain robust, danceable backing beats. Ryan Lagup sings with sincerity and passion. His voice has a subtly sensual quality as well. Containing over 15 musically comprehensive jams, Beat Shop is a worthwhile listen and showcases some impressive songwriting.

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DJMSK – Scuba-Dive


Scuba-Dive is a new single from artist, DJMSK. Interestingly, the song is a personal reflection on DJMSK not being able to scuba dive due to ear problems he’s struggled with his whole life and how if he were to scuba dive he could go deaf. The music has an ambient, almost aquatic vibe, with its synth-driven backing, while vocal processing effects give the vocals an underwater quality. Tropical tones and a mellow beat provide the appropriate framework. Everything about this recording is thematically and artistically consistent. The melodies are calming and meditative like the ocean itself. At the end of the day, Scuba-Dive is a creative and intensely personal song that refreshes this genre with sensitivity and substance.

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Bludgers – Dirty Laundry

Bludgers FIVE_phixr

Dirty Laundry is a new single from Bludgers, a band from Champaign, Illinois. This latest track appears on the group’s recent EP, Bludgers Five. The sound on this particular song is described as “country-rock jangle.” It certainly is that, but it also gives off a solid, power rock vibe with classic appeal. This is great bar music. The mix is clean, loud and professional, and these veteran musicians have clearly spent years on the ground cultivating their skills. The guitar tones really shine, and their robust presence supercharges the entire recording.

I won’t go into the details, but lyrically, Dirty Laundry features a rather intriguing premise that interweaves a narrative/storyline with sentimental metaphors, incorporating the title in multiple ways. The singer is quite good and has just the right kind of old school rock’n’roll voice to credibly carry the song where it needs to go. I’d recommend checking out the rest of the EP as well, because the band is competent in a variety of different styles, and the other songs on here are definitely worthwhile.

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