3000 CE is a new EP from Fresno-born artist, Son of Satan. This darkly original release blends elements of hip hop with electronic music, singer-songwriter style and an other-worldly ambiance. Robotic vocal effects and retro-futuristic synths create a powerful aesthetic. If not for the rapping, one would be forgiven for thinking these songs were from 1980s Sci-Fi film soundtrack. Son of Satan demonstrates a talent for both delivery and lyric writing. His vocal cadence is methodical and magnetic. Thought the pacing is modest, the artist’s tone is rhythmically captivating. His voice lends these songs a charismatic presence. I was particularly blown away by the track, War of the Worlds with its jarring intensity and catchy verses. Every facet of the music fits within the artistic and thematic framework of the album. 3000 CE is both well-crafted and competently-executed.
Love is Special is a song from ThinkJr (a musical project which was created to instill strong values in kids using fun and entertaining content). ThinkJR emphasizes kindness, honesty, humility, compassion and love for all. The full title of this particular song is actually Love is Special, Love is Kind. Love is Yours, and Love is Mine. It appears on the EP, Sweet and Beautiful inspirational Songs for Kids, Vol. 2.
The melody is fun, and the chorus mantra is one that will really stick in your head. With its bright and friendly tone, this song could put a smile on anyone’s face. The music features a light beat, along with some piano and xylophone-like elements. The vocals have that catchy and familiar sing-song style that epitomizes the iconic children’s music that people love. As the title suggests, the song teaches us how wonderful love is, and how it can be part of everything around us. There’s a little more to it obviously, but you get the idea.
The life lessons are valuable, but music like this will also remind you how neat it is to be a kid. Interestingly, even though the songs are sung by children, ThinkJr’s largest audience is comprised of people of ages 23-47. That doesn’t surprise me. The themes are universal, and anyone can fall in love with these inspiring jams.
Oceans Away is a new album from Electric 85 (a Seattle-based duo comprised of Ian Piña & Kent Worthington). The album comes out officially on June 25, 2021, but they’ve made available “Side A” on Bandcamp as a precursor to the release. Suffice to say that this is exactly the kind of avant garde, retro-inspired indie music that I live for. Blending elements of disco, rock, pop and dance, the sound strikes me as a slightly darker and more artistic version of groups like Of Montreal. Ultimately though, Electric 85 has carved out its own distinct music identity, so comparisons can only tell part of the story.
Overflowing with dreamy reverb and deep ambiance, the song Phenomena feels like an instant classic. The video for this track features some incredible vintage Super 8 footage of the Space needle in Seattle, as well as a undated (most likely from the late 60s or 70s) Batman themed, kids’ birthday party. The more contemporary visuals in the video aesthetically bring to life the retro-futuristic quality of the music. Though the tone is thought provoking and not necessarily what one would consider sunshiny (this is Seattle after all), the songs still seem to convey a positive message. With its electrifying vocals and quirky disco-like synths, the upbeat jam Unify The World will definitely lift your spirits.
The best way to describe Electric 85’s music is that it offers that rare combination of imaginative creativity with technical musicianship. Some experimental music is merely interesting, but the songs on Side A are genuinely phenomenal. The full album will definitely be worth checking out.
The Cradle is a new single from songwriter, Blake Red. Backed by robust guitar rhythms, Blake Red’s charismatic vocals drive much of the action. She has a great stage presence and belts out the lyrics with both provocative intensity and melodic sensitivity. The guitar bridge about 2/3 though the song is absolutely killer, the stuff budding musician dreams about while playing “air guitar” as a kid. When you hear it, you’ll know. The ambiance is deep and slightly dark. It’s difficult to classify this song musically, as it blends elements of various rock-oriented genres like alternative, punk, garage, metal, etc. The Cradle is a hard hitting and stylishly artistic single.
Happiness is Hard is a new album from artist, Keith Curtis. Scheduled for an official release of 06/20/21, this acoustic driven Americana album is rich with delicate detail. The recording quality is such that you can hear every delightful note of the guitar. There’s almost a folkish quality to this music. It has an outdoorsy, open road feel. The songs are slightly romantic and convey a beautiful sense of innocence. The song Taking Off And Landing is a perfect duet featuring male and female vocals. Had it been released in the mid-1970’s it would probably be a top ten hit. Keith has a naturally cool voice, at times sounding like a country/Americana version of Lou Reed. Even though this EP contains only three tracks, it punches well above its weight musically. This is award winning caliber material right here.
Memory Trip is a new album from Space Engineer (the indie pop project of Sydney-based songwriter, Terry Lyndon). Much of the sound is has a dreamy and ethereal feel. One of my favorite tracks on here, How Everything Works has almost a 60’s psychedelic quality, with soft-spoken vocals reminiscent of classic groups like The Zombies. Other tracks like Circus World are poetic and boast a slightly mysterious atmosphere. Every song on here is “good,” but Modern Architecture and How Everything Works strike me as potential indie classics. Memory Trip is indeed transport you into a meditative musical odyssey and is a phenomenal album. This is an indie masterpiece from a genuine artist.
The Stillness is a new EP from Nashville singer/songwriter, Richard Schroder. This is a well established country (though this could also be classified as Americana) artist, and as such the songs on this release are commercial quality and top-tier. The tone is bright and upbeat. At their climactic points these tracks can be downright euphoria inducing. Though he’s a professional in terms of skill, the music has an organic and down-to-Earth quality. His performance comes across and very sincere, without any flashy gimmicks or smoke and mirrors. The mixes are brimming with rich melodies. Some of these jams have romantic and sentimental themes within their lively framework. My favorite song on here is probably Time’s A Wastin’ with its stellar guitar riffs, inspiring message and energetic ambiance.
Is Anybody Out There? is a new album from Wisconsin-based rock band, Mars Hall. This is clean, passionate and powerful rock’n’roll. The album itself is already making a splash with its amplified cover of the Beatles’ classic, Eleanor Rigby. The band definitely does the song justice, while giving it an energizing upgrade. The vocals on the songs are terrific. The lead singer’s voice has a 1980’s “hard rock” quality, with its emotive expression and technical prowess. Really though, the guitars make up the meat of these recordings, maintaining a peppy pace and providing catchy melodies. I couldn’t find any info to look up the backgrounds of the actual members, but these guys are so good at playing instruments, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they were involved in some prior, legendary releases. Is Anybody Out There? is as solid and real as it gets.
ThinkJr (Sweet and Beautiful Inspirational songs for Kids!!) is a new EP that’s exactly what its title claims. The music is catchy, upbeat and fun, while offering inspirational lyrical content. This is of course children’s music, but the songs have heartening lessons that anyone could benefit from. Each track has its own theme. For example, there’s a “kindness song,” “an honesty song,” and a song which emphasizes the importance of respect. Other songs deal with embracing individuality and a willingness to try new things.
Musically, the melodies are colorful and innocent, and you’ll quickly find yourself singing along with the lyrics. The pace is peppy and kids will definitely not get bored. This is really an ideal children’s album. It manages to cover all the bases in its 17 minute runtime and balances enjoyability with learning.
Tales From the Edge of the Universe is the debut album from GRIF, a 24 year old musician from the suburbs of Philadelphia. You get the idea right away with the first track, Marlboro Memories. The sound is groovy, with a hint of funk rock. There is a subtle, stylishly employed tape noise/crackle, which gives the music a vintage, analog quality. Other tracks like the ledge have a jovial, sparkly, summertime vibe.
GRIF’s vocals blend fun, free-spirited innocence with sentimentality. His voice is upbeat and naturally good-natured. The lyrics are often humorous, but in a quirky, indie way as the recordings never descend into “singing comedian” territory. Tales From the Edge of the Universe is a good old fashioned indie album, but GRIF brings his own unique stylistic twist to these song by incorporating elements from other genres not typically associated with this kind of music. These jams would be ideal to listen while drinking lemonade with your friends in the backyard and reflecting on life.