Category Archives: Reviews

Louie Lahana – Sad But True

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Sad But True is a brand new jam from Louie Lahana, an artist whose recent single, Taxi we wrote about back in April. Much of what was said there also applies to this release as well. Lahana’s rare blend of indie alternative / acoustic folk and hip hop is memorably distinctive. Sad But True feels more personal and intimate than some of his previous work. Knowing a little more about Lahana and the context, his sound, which resembles a slightly grittier, east coast version of a cross between Cake and Modest Mouse, is more familiar to me now. This combo of indie folk and hip hop does have a slightly 90s retro feel to it, and it appears the era had some formative effects on Lahana.

This particular song deals with the artist’s time spent living in Greenwich Village in the late 1990′s. It’s a nostalgic, romantic flashback track that is sincere and heartfelt and should resonate with listeners. The lyrics paint such a vivid and detailed picture of the events that they could almost be used as time travel coordinates, if you wanted to go there and recreate the experience for yourself. The song is relatable to me because I lived through that time period (though not in Greenwich Village) and also share a nostalgic fondness for the developmental relationships and interests I had during that same time. Just the other day I spent several hours online trying to locate the exact style of Adidas track jacket, which served as my daily uniform throughout most of 1997-1998.

The music is very organic and raw without being abrasive, really a “true” indie track. The female backing vocals do a great job of softening the tone and enhancing the song’s romantic ambiance, which might otherwise have been minimized if one were listening without paying attention to the lyrics. For his part, Lahana’s delivery is lively and animated througout, treating us to a full spectrum of emotions in an actional packed personal retrospective that clocks in at over 4 minutes long.

For more info:

Website: https://louielahana.com/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1ZZ4wLyYk5QPdlg3uoEXnr

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KAATO – Slam!

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Slam! is a new album from Nashville based rock band, KAATO. This album is powerful stuff, and it really does rock. The sound falls somewhere between classic rock and glam, reminiscent of bands like Poison, Iron Maiden and Motley Crue, but with a little bit of groovin guitar and Southern flair. It has a very late 80s feel to it, if only because the instruments are played with such meticulous precision, and the singer’s epic voice goes above and beyond the call of duty. I mean wow, this dude (Kurt Lowney) can really sing, and he just belts out these lyrics with an impressive level of ease, holding notes at will. Everything about this record is world class. It’s stylish, oozes with confidence, and is backed by substantive technical prowess. My favorite jam on this album is Communication which features some vintage housephone sound effects and a high energy, rhythmic rock’n’roll vibe. It would make a great track to race to down a desert highway while driving Charlie Sheen’s car from The Wraith. Anyway yeah, this album is legit.

For more info:

Website: http://www.kaatomusic.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kaatoband/
Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/slam/1454586665

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MASS – Marta

marta byron jones

Marta is a new single from native Virginian hip hop artist, MASS. It’s part of his freshly released project, Phase 1. Marta opens with an eerie musical backing, which sets us up to experience the tenebrous ambiance of the track. The song is surprisingly catchy, frequently repeating “Marta” and rhyming is with “harda” in a way that really sticks in the listener’s brain. When he says “I move like Marta,” it makes me wonder if the song is actually referencing the Atlanta bus and rail system, “MARTA.” The lyrics are also interesting in that they interweave high stakes action with everyday activities like “online shopping” and “calling an Uber.” The rapping here is engaging and the lyrical narrative is genuinely interesting to follow. The delivery style is chill and laid back, balanced with it’s casually serious undertones relating to the daily grind of life in the city.

Check out the new music video for “Marta”. It has a gritty, old school vibe that takes you back to the ‘90’s. It’s fun and uncompromising at the same time.

For more info:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/couslikefam/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/couslikefam
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN4DPaDmObMKubc1sKhVKiw/feed

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Claro – Fifteen

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Fifteen is a new album from Claro, an R&B/Pop artist from Sydney, Australia. The album consists of 15 flavorful jams, which range from peppy and upbeat to sentimental and romantic. In fact, most of the tracks deal with relationships on some level, but the tone varies from optimistic to somber. Even the lyrics that chronicle heartbreak are couched within playful and rejuvenating melodies. They aren’t depressing.

I really like the album intro, which almost reminds me of 50′s Doo-wop. It’s just very classy, well done and managed to grab my attention immediately. While the intro gives us a taste, the 2nd track Get Me Easily unleashes the full power of Claro’s vocals. It’s really a fantastic performance. There are some real high notes here, hit without even the hint of a strain. His vocal dynamicism is on display from start to finish. Claro’s voice has a refreshingly innocent quality to it. It doesn’t convey any of the cocky attitute or pomposity we’ve come to expect from budding young pop stars. This gives his songs a rare touch of sincerity and lends the subject matter an air of credibility. For example, Don’t Waste Your Time is one of the most humble attempts to court a female romantically that I’ve ever heard in a pop song. It has a great, bouncy, Nintendo-like beat, which the lyrics hop along to nicely.

There’s good variety with the backing music. Every song has its own distinct musical personality, and the instruments vary as well. Some songs have a light, funky dance music vibe, which others like Just In Time and Never Got the Chance have a traditional and straightforward piano backing. Since they are mostly all romantic songs, the pacing is on the slower side, but there are plenty of moments where the action picks up and gets your pulse going. My favorite song on the album is probably Sunsets, which has some excellent hooks and chord progressions of course but really just seems to contain that intangibly magic ingredient of a memorable, hit song.

All in all, Fifteen is an impressive album from an artist who performs at a very high level. Some of Claro’s songs are good or better than what is currently being played on the radio. Perhaps more importanly his music comes across as genuine, and that makes you want to root for him.

For more info:

http://clarotungul.com/fifteen

http://clarotungul.com/

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Katiah One – Fight The Good Fight

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Fight The Good Fight is a new album from Katiah One, a hip hop artist raised on the Upper West Side of New York City. The songs have a nice old school feel to them, with that warm, analog sound, complete with subtle tape hiss and record crackle. The album opens with an instant classic, We Livin the Dream…(Nightmares.) In addition to Katiah One’s enjoyable deadpan delivery, the song features a very well placed vintage sample from British philosopher Alan Watts’ seminar on how to “still the mind.” It’s a while since I’ve heard hip hop artists incorporate these kinds of samples into their work, and I kind of miss it.

The thing I like about this album is that Katiah One doesn’t neglect the musical side. The songs are very melodic and pleasurable to listen to, and the artist doesn’t make it all about himself. It’s not some spoken word slam poetry indulgence. This album reminds me very much or early to mid 90′s “golden age” hip hop, making use of samples, electric piano and some downright symphonic atmosphere. The tracks are pretty laid back but Stop This is probably the most epic in terms of dramatic suspense. All and all this is just very impressive, and Katiah One has released the best hip hop album I’ve heard so far this year.

For more info:

https://www.youtube.com/user/inspired07
https://twitter.com/OKayNyC
https://www.instagram.com/okaynyc/

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Midas Well – 3AM

Midas well

3AM is a new single from Austin based singer/songwriter, “Midas Well.” There are hip hop elements, but this is more of an R&B pop jam. The backing music is delightfully haunting and ethereal, creating a dreamlike atmosphere for Midas Well’s sometimes soft and always smooth vocals. What really works in this song are the well executed harmonies. These really complement the backdrop of the eerie cinematic ambiance nicely. A great job was done on the mix here, with everything blending together cohesively. While Midas Well’s voice has a naturally soothing quality to it, the mix succeeds at matching the tone from start to finish. There’s still enough action and vitality though to make this a tune worthy of the dance floor.

For more info:

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/midaswell.getit/
Website: http://midaswellmusic.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jurnt_Ent

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Wav-Legion II – Wav-Dr and Bonnie Legion

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It was only back in January, when I reviewed Wav-Legion, an album from Wav-Dr and Bonnie Legion. The prolific musical duo is already back with new full length album, imaginatively titled, Wav-Legion II. When I say full length, I do mean full length, as this record includes 16 action packed tracks. Several songs on here also feature the talents of other artists like Miss eFeMBy, Robert P.Kreitz II and Metropolis Music.

The songs on Wav-Legion II blend a wide variety of genres, including pop, hip hop, electronic, rock’n’roll, singer-Songwriter, and soul. Despite the fact that some of these stylistic ingredients may not inherently go well together, the artists manage to make this concoction work. A big part of that alchemic success is in their technical ability and talent as musicians in general (which is apparent if you watch any of live their video performances.) These are trained professionals on a closed road. Don’t try this at home. The music varies widely from one track to the next. For example, Escape the Mundane is a retrofuturistic electronic track, which sounds like something they would play at the Love Shop in the film, Logan’s Run. Just a few songs later, Money Crime comes across as a soulful cross between synthwave and Fleetwood Mac.

My favorite track on the album is probably Fear of Flying, which is a pretty straightforward electronic rock song, catchy and memorable. Note that they also do a live acoustic version of this song (video is below,) which has more of an Americana vibe. A lot of artists who claim to be multi-instrumentalists or chameleons are full of crap, but Wav-Dr and Bonnie Legion are the real deal. They shapeshift in and out of different genres effortlessly and in a way that makes them credibly appear as experts in each one. Bonnie Legion’s singing is incredible. She probably could have even made it past the obnoxious judges on American Idol. It must be a joy to record with her as I bet she’s a one take wonder.

Anyway, this is obviously a very impressive album, a case of quantity and quality. There’s a lot of richness to the songs. None of the tracks feel like “padding” or throwaways. The “tone” of this album has a subtle, emotional darkness to it, creating just a hint of edge. Wav-Legion II closes with Stop Thinking (featuring Robert P. Kreitz,) a rather poignantly haunting song which (despite the title) will leave this album lingering in your thoughts well after you’re done listening.

For more info:

http://www.wav-legion.com/

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Deane Nesbitt Jr. – Tracking the Soldier

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A lot of musicians have had strange day jobs over the course of their lives, but Deane Nesbitt Jr is one of the first artists I’ve heard who once practiced law for over a decade and co-founded an investment management company. His latest single, Tracking the Soldier appears on the aptly titled EP, Soundtracks in the Sand. This is indeed soundtrack music. It’s multi-instrumental ambiance which has a classic feel. Tracking the Soldier is not boom box roaring, action sequence material. Rather this song is more mellow and contemplative. In fact, this particulr track would be ideal for meditation and wellness exercises. It’s very relaxing but also has the power to evoke emotion and pull thoughts out of you. Unlike many contemporary instrumental songs, this one doesn’t consist of “synth beats.” There are actual organic instrument sounds being used here. It’s just good old fashioned world music. The cover image of the beach really captures the mood, as my first thought while listening was that this reminds me of the music you’d hear in exotic desert and island related films of the 40s and 50s. Be sure to check out the rest of Deane’s EP, because the songs are all quite different and interesting.

For more info:

Website: http://nesbittmusic.com/
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/29SbLZ0JBBPOCZAHvRUAnT

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TexMex Shaman – Fever In the South

texmexfever

Silly me! When I sat down to review Fever In the South, (a new EP from Dallas based artist, “TexMex Shaman,”) I naively assumed it was going to be a standard country or “roots americana” type album. Spoiler alert: It isn’t. What it is precisely, I’m not quite sure… other than that it’s very powerful stuff, the kind of music you can astral project to.

The lead single on th EP is Roll over Matryoshka, a 6-minute kaleidoscopic musical odyssey, with elements of synthwave, rock’n’roll, psychedelia, noise, disco, and maybe even a hint of twang somewhere in there. Despite this eclectic amalgamation, the song doesn’t sound like some sort of jumbled collage, because the track delineates these elements in various “phases” along the way. This leads one to suspect there’s some type of epic abstract journey or underlying narrative at play here. The artist also reveals a few clues in the description of the video:

boy chases girl
boy loses girl
boy fights off hell demons with disco power

If one were to visualize this song, that does seem like a plausible characterization of events, but I would also say that it’s open enough to interpretation to be whatever you want it to be. Just use your imagination and get into the zone. My favorite part of Roll over Matryoshka is when the disco kicks in, partially because I love disco (and this disco segment is particularly good) but also because this is the point in the song where you realize there is actually something grander or cohesive at work here. It’s the point where I made up my mind that this track was a splendid little work of abstract art. I can’t help but think that this song must have taken a lot of work. There are lots of instrumental hooks, beats, guitar riffs and imaginative transitions, which have been meticulously put together in a coherent way. There’s nothing shoddy or amateurish about this mix. TexMex Shaman plays all the guitar and bass stuff himself and does so quite well. His tone and style reminds me of late 60′s early 70′s bands like The Pretty Things and Jefferson Airplane, basically post mod era but before classic rock. It’s just very groovin.’

The rest of the EP is a worthwhile listen as well, as each of the other songs stand on their own with distinct identities. One particularly entertaining track is Peking Bass, the sound of which could best be described as C+C Music Factory on acid. There’s also a nifty, mini outro titled You look kinda like my neighbor Gordon (lol,) which sounds like it was made from 1950′s spaceship sound effects like those you’d hear in movies like The Forbidden Planet or old Twilight Zone episodes.

This guy clearly doesn’t give a crap about musical conformity or industry standards. That’s a good thing, because 99% of what is played on the radio today is garbage and isn’t interesting at all. TexMex Shaman’s Fever In the South is on another level and will attract the audiences who dwell on those wavelengths which can’t be purchase with mere money (you should still buy the album though.)

For more info:

https://soundcloud.com/texmex-shaman/sets/songs

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Peripheral Method – Runner (DLMD remix){2019 version}

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How many layers of remixing are you on? The question comes to mind with Runner, a new jam from California based sound artist and producer, Peripheral Method. Runner is described as a “new version of a remix of The Chainsmokers’ Don’t Let Me Down,” by Peripheral Method, a California-based sound artist and producer. It ultimately does’t matter many musical derivatives are sliced and stacked into this collage, because the end result is something beautiful. This avant garde track is thick with ethereal ambiance. It retains a meditative quality while also boasting enough peppy synth activity for one to dance to. This is artful EDM for the thinking man (or woman,) falling somewhere in between indie folk and dreampop. The song flows continuously for the 6 minute duration, like a mini-wave on a desolate beach. In true collage form, the sounds all feel like they are part of each other. With heavy usage of echo/delay, nothing is separated here in the mix. Everything feels like one long dreamy motion. Peripheral Method strikes me as an abstract perfectionist. This version of Runner is a keeper.

For more info:

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