MKED, Vol. I is the debut EP of MKED (the project of Milwaukee-based artist, Mike Dentice.) The collection of songs is the result of a collaborative effort between Mike and a diverse group of artists from around the country. I actually grew up on the east side of Milwaukee (I attended grade school in Shorewood), so the tribute song Back to Milwaukee is relatable on a personal level. Sonically, these tracks have elements of pop, rock, R&B and electronic music. The colorful and upbeat jam, Wake the Dead has an almost EDM vibe. It’s synth-driven, bright and features some electrifying vocals.
The songs on here are well-written, with catchy, pop friendly hooks. MKED, Vol. I is a high quality production. Despite there being a multitude of artists working on it remotely, the EP remains impressively cohesive, both musically and thematically. This is definitely a working formula. Keep it up.
WorkHard is a new single from artist, C.Garrett. This hip hop jam features colorful melodies and an exotic vibe. The ambient, retro-futuristic backing music is smooth, and C.Garrett has a legitimately unique style. Combining spoken word poetry with singing and rapping, his delivery is very sincere. He has a knack for writing catchy, clever lyrics, and a couple of the rhymes made me chuckle a bit.
C.Garrett also makes use of some interesting vocal effects in certain parts of the song, transforming his voice into an instrument in its own right. He doesn’t merely “rap.” He actually gives an all out performance with his voice. This is artistic hip hop. It’s cool to see someone willing to experiment like this with sound and structure. There’s a good energy here. Humble, sincere and creative, this guy really makes you want to root for him.
Love & Conflict is a new album from New York-based singer-songwriter, actress, and producer, Martha Walsh. Lively, and dynamic, this release is on another level. Blending elements of jazz, lounge, R&B, soul, and disco, it’s difficult to even classify the sound. The songs are very complex, containing a lot of different musical components, yet everything is extremely well-choreographed.
Martha Walsh is an iconic vocalist, and her voice is truly powerful. She sings with remarkable passion and spirit, while also managing to express a more vulnerable side on songs like Roaring Free. The opening track Glamour Flows really sparkles. Another notable track is the sweet and soulful, Honey My Friend. This album is rich with musical variety, all of which is exquisitely performed. Pretty much every song on here is worthy of an award.
New Horizon (feat. Craig Sayer) is a new single from emo-positive singer-songwriter, Meghan Pulles. Delicate and inspirational, this track is brimming with optimistic vibes. The piano-driven verses have a light, minimalistic feel, setting things up for the climactic moments, which feature full, bright, and downright euphoric mixes. Even with the production being as high end as it is, the music has a very avant garde and organic quality. There’s something very pure about this song. Meghan’s a terrific singer, and the sincerity in her voice alone is enough to lift your spirits.
Redemption Road is a new album from songwriter, Greg Smith. Featuring meticulous guitar playing and sentimental vocals, the songs often have a soft, folkish rock quality. This music is reflective and poetic, but still has plenty of adult contemporary rock’n’roll spirit. Some tracks like Redemption Redux – Redux contain piano elements, which cultivate a delightfully haunting ambiance. Redemption Road is an intensely personal album. Both the performance and lyrics are rich with illustrious detail. It’s like listening to someone’s diary. Greg Smith is an accomplished musician, and this release is professional in every way possible.
Taboo is a new single from pop singer/musician, Alana Rich. Musically, this track is rich with colorful melodies and boasts a lively sound. The synth and piano-driven backing beat is energizing, primed and ready for the dance floor, while the funky bass enhances the mood. Alana Rich has a dynamic voice, and her tone is extremely pleasant. She’s actually a solid singer, right up there with some of today’s most iconic pop stars. Her passionate, romantic and powerfully sensual vocals carry the song. Just listen to the way she hits those climactic high notes. This is a highly professional production and Alana Rich clearly means business.
Transcendental Cowboy (Acoustic Demo) is a single from artist, Phil Robinson. The video for this jam is for a worthy cause. Associated with the hashtag #SaveOurStages, this benefit video expresses support for NIVA’s Emergency Relief Fund, which is geared to help struggling venues stay open after the pandemic. The song itself is swell, too. Phil Robinson gives a lively and jovial performance. You can even tell from the video, that this guy just loves live music and he lives to perform. He plays the guitar and harmonica simultaneously, making it look way easier than it is. Transcendental Cowboy is an invigorating crowd-pleaser, but it also does have a meditative, surreal quality. Pay close attention, because according to Robinson, there may even be a secret message hidden in the video.
Ain’t Afraid is a new album from musical duo, Aint Afraid. Blending elements of hip hop, pop, and R&B, this album is pure poetry in motion. The songs are artful, upbeat and pretty. Listening to these jams just makes you feel inspired and optimistic. The production quality is quite good, evidenced by a colorful mix that sparkles and shines. What really makes this album though are the performances. Not only do these artists have a positive message, but they can actually sing well. Their voices are melodic and the hip hop portions are delivered with precise timing. Ain’t Afraid is truly unique in both style and form.
Yes is a new EP from Because Villains (a “genre bending rock project” led by artist/songwriter Travis James). Blazing guitar riffs and dynamic vocals make this mini album an instant classic. Seriously, the guitar tones are killer. While Yes contains only 3 tracks, these songs are powerful and packed with emotion. The vocals are really excellent, much better than most of what you hear nowadays. There is a certain swagger and confidence in the performances, which really capture the timeless spirit of rock’n’roll. The final track, The Feeling has more of an emo or reflective quality while maintaining the same musical intensity. Even for just being an EP, this release is formidable.
Slated for release on May 7, 2021, Keep On Climbin’ is a new album from West Side Joe & The Men Of Soul. This is one of the coolest and funkiest little rock’n’roll/blues releases out there. Rhythmic and catchy, these jams will knock your socks off. Some tracks like Easier Than You Think have a mellow pace and groovin’ vibe, while other songs like Vacate My Heart have a wild, old school rock’n’roll energy. Still, the sound offers even more variety with such bluesy gems as Colorado Mama and Raindrop Don’t Care. The sound is totally professional, and these guys obviously have a lot of experience with their instruments (as is fairly common with this kind of music). The album is top-tier, but West Side Joe & The Men Of Soul also manage to keep things fun.