Thousand River Sun is a new album from singer/songwriter, Rob Massard. Colorful guitars and ethereal synths give the songs a wonderfully kaleidoscopic framework. The best way to describe the music is that it’s like if you were to combine contemporary folk rock with the classic soft 60’s sound of groups like The Association and Simon and Garfunkel. There’s even a bit of piano inserted here and there. Excellent recording quality allows listeners to intimately experience every subtle detail of the guitars and vocals. The lyrics are substantive and rich with emotional narrative. Don’t let the fact that there are only 7 tracks fool you. The opening song clocks in at over 12 minutes, and most of the tunes on the album have a runtime of more than 6 minutes. Thousand River Sun is as close as you can get to a perfect release. It’s obviously well executed musically, but it also has that “intangible” artistic factor that lends itself to greatness.
What Gives is a new single from The Dead Bolts. This newly released song is set to appear on the band’s upcoming album Pretty And Burnt (which will be available on 11/26/21). Featuring a deep Earthy sound and guitar-driven tones, What Gives combines Americana with rock’n’roll. The mix reverberates beautifully and provides a haunting, powerful atmosphere.
Everything about this release is professional and high quality. Expressive vocals provide the song its sensitive, human side, while bright guitar melodies are responsible for the track’s euphoric energy, especially at the climactic 2/3 point of the song. The accompanying music video captures some breathtaking natural scenery, and the shots of the performers drive home the emotional “mood” of the track. Free of production gimmicks and quirks, What Gives is an all around great song.
Diamond Dog is a new album from Maryland-based artist, MNA (Matthew Nino Azcuy). Working with a local producer known as Nemo, MNA has created a lush assortment of tracks which blend elements of hip hop, R&B, and even rock. There’s an impressive amount of musical variety in the sound. No two beats are the same. Some are jazzy, while others are futuristic and ambient. My favorite track on the album is probably Berry, which has a classic, old school early 90’s hip hop feel.
MNA proves himself to be a rather versatile performer, capable of sincere, emotionally expressive R&B crooning, and casual, charismatic rapping. He often incorporates bits of humor into his delivery, which keeps the vibe fresh and fun. He has precise timing as a rapper, as he demonstrates on another standout jam, Cream Cheese. Ultimately, Diamond Dog is an album that’s rich with substantive musical content. MNA puts on a show that’s definitely worth your time to check out.
Heat is a new single from east coast-based music producer, Frayed. His style combines elements of general electronic music with synthwave and chillwave. This latest track, Heat, is the lead single for Frayed’s upcoming concept album (the title of which has yet to be revealed to the public). The sound is driven by laser-like synths, backed by a faint beat. Suspenseful and darkly cinematic, this music has an edge to it. What’s impressive is how the song maintains a vigorous intensity without containing any kind of aggressive or “booming” beat in the mix.
The synths have a retro-futuristic quality. It’s almost like listening to a space opera or the climactic moments in an RPG. One can only imagine the aesthetic potential if Frayed were to put visuals to this jam. This isn’t your average chillwave song. It’s fluid and flows dreamily, but there’s plenty of electro-stimulation here as well. Frayed has his own distinctive style and is consistent with it. Heat is 21st century electronic music for the “thinking individual” who lives to delve into the abstract.
Lose Myself is a new single from 25-year old independent music producer, BallerD Beats. He’s been producing jams for about 3 years. Unlike most contemporaries in this genre—who typically rely on samples and presets—BallerD Beats constructs all his beats from scratch. His latest track Lose Myself is ambient and dreamlike, with elements of synthwave and pop.
Against a futuristic musical backdrop, expressive vocals give the song emotional depth and a human quality. The title of this song is appropriate, as one can really get lost in these enchanting and hypnotic melodies. The sound is just incredibly fluid and smooth. Though this is a dance track, it’s also very meditative and calming. Ethereal, colorful and magnetic, Lose Myself is highly appreciable song.
Words of Wisdom is a new single from artist, Seth Bowman. The jazzy, piano-driven back beat is peppy and exquisite. Blending classic lounge-style music with hip hop, Seth has created something genuinely unique here. Lyrically, the song is inspirational and optimistic, encouraging people to pursue their dreams, as Seth Bowman also reflects on his own ambitions. He also chronicles the artistic life cycle, repeating the common observation that artists often don’t find true appreciation for their talents until after they die.
While maintaining good timing throughout, Seth’s delivery style is motivational and sincere. The mix has great audio clarity, and all the levels are just right. There aren’t any unnecessary processing effects on the vocals. Words of Wisdom combines a sophisticated musical backing with passion fueled lyrics to create a lively, success-oriented sound.
Spin Da Bin is a new single from Southern Virginia-based hip hop artist, Sova Black (B.L.A.C.K. = Black Leader Acquiring Capital and Knowledge), who has worked with well-known figures such as Kxng Crooked, Ras Kass, Kurupt, T-Rell, and Planet Asia. Rapping about pain, adversity, and overcoming long odds, he has a poetic delivery style and maintains an impressive flow throughout. He gives a confident and relentless performance, demonstrating an ability to rhyme for lengthy periods of time without needing to come up for air.
Tight, precise timing and vocal fluidity give the jam a rhythmically entrancing quality. The backing beat is light and ambient, providing a delightfully haunting framework for the lyrical delivery. The vocals ultimately drive the action though , and their dynamic tonal variation give the track an artistically sophisticated feel. Spin Da Bin definitely has more going for it than the typical indie hip hop track.
Buried Trasure is a new single from rock’n’roll band, Deep C Divers. With its peppy pace and polished guitars, this track is brimming with ethereal energy from start to finish. Crisp hooks and a powerful, catchy chorus give the song a larger than life sound. Effectively correlating with both the title and the group name, the mix has a dreamy, aquatic depth to it. The band’s singer, Deep Chinappa, is a solid singer, and his voice has an almost “Bowie-esque” quality. Stylish, professional and thematically consistent, Buried Treasure reveals itself to be a shiny little gem of a release.
From The Marrow is a new album from singer/songwriter, Jon Arthur Schmidt. Blended with contemporary indie undertones, the sound has a classic, 1970s quality to it, and is reminiscent of of iconic groups like Paper Lace. In fact, I’m confident that had these songs been released in 1974, some of them would have been Top 20 hits. The opening track, Library Land left a stellar impression on me and is particularly memorable. Honestly, Jon Arthur Schmidt is one of the best singers I’ve ever heard, even rivaling many of the trained gospel and R&B-tier performers I’ve reviewed. Against a backdrop of earthy, quaintly melodic guitars, his vocals are flawless. The mix has great sonic clarity, truly an audiophile’s dream. I can only imagine how pristine these recordings would sound on a high end vintage stereo system. On every level, From The Marrow is a cut above pretty much anything being released today.
Emotions is a new single from Jasmine, a singer/songwriter who hails from a small town in Florida. Backed by dreamlike synths and a groovy, ethereal beat, Jasmine’s vocals convey passion and sincerity throughout. She’s a dynamic singer, and the genuine emotion in her voice gives the song instant credibility. Her performance is both powerful and sentimental. The mix is creative and does a great job of really bringing out her voice as she holds those notes.
Lyrically, Emotions deals with themes like heartbreak and moving beyond the games people play in relationships. The song has a very personal quality to it, like a diary entry or a letter to someone specific. Ultimately, Emotions is a solid, professional track, and its presentation is artistically unique enough to stand out.