Singer/Songwriter Andy Michaels releases new Album

The late 2010s produced a lot of interesting singer/songwriters, and among the more intriguing that I heard in 2019 was Andy Michaels, whose record Incendiary Heart raised a lot of eyebrows in his native Australia as well as overseas in the United States. A product of hybrid creativities and eclectic collaborations with singers like Tiarna Madison and Kerry Ironside, Incendiary Heart takes everything that was suggested as being possible in Michaels’ debut LP Revisited and reshapes it to fit a more surreal, boundless template, with songs like “Fireflies,” “Only Love Knows the Meaning of Goodbye,” the title track and “Emerald Eyes” exploring new musical realms for the composer behind the fireworks. It’s a quantum leap forward for this mild-mannered musician, and one of my go-to listens this January for sure.

While Revisited had some incredible harmonies, this album forces Andy Michaels to push himself to the very edge with his vocal, and the results of his efforts are pure gold. “Rambling Man,” the single “Darling It Hurts,” “Night and Day” and “I Can Fly” showcase some of his most profoundly emotive singing to date, while “Only Change Stays the Same” and “This Songs for You” allude to virtuosities still to be experimented with further in his next studio affair. He’s got so much to offer as a singer, and here, he’s giving up any hesitations he might have held within himself prior to now when it comes time to pick up the microphone (as can also be said for Carolyn Thomas and Sharon Court, who join Madison and Ironside as guests on Incendiary Heart).

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/20gQjKALuKHfuKQc7WldvJ

There’s an unspoken urgency to “Darling It Hurts” that is never elaborated upon in the music video for the song, but I don’t know that it needs to be in order for us to feel the melodically cathartic release toward the end of the track. Michaels is so good at creating moods in his music, and in this song, as well as “Sticks and Stones” and “Humming Bird” in particular, his navigation of complicated instrumental arrangements should be enough to leave any indie connoisseur on their knees begging for more. For being only 51-minutes long, Incendiary Heart feels like a stuffed double LP loaded full of songs that are both familiar and totally new to even the most loyal of his fans.

I wouldn’t have said this before hearing his latest record, but now that I’ve given the album’s 14 tracks a go, I can’t wait to hear what Andy Michaels does in the 2020s. He’s really breaking through with Incendiary Heart and tapping into areas of his sound that had seemed inaccessible to him just an LP ago, and though this recent release isn’t without a couple of flaws here and there, it’s got enough sonic gusto to make up for whatever it might be lacking on the surface side of things. I’d be really curious to hear an all-out acoustic record featuring nothing more than Michaels and a 12-string guitar sometime, but even if he decides to do the exact opposite with his next piece, I’ll be all ears for his forthcoming output just the same.

Kim Muncie 

Two (LP) by This Time Band

If guitar sizzle is your style, I would definitely recommend taking a peek at the latest record from Canadian rockers This Time, Two, the next time you’re browsing new indie titles, because from the plodding fuzz of deep cuts like “Caught You in Love” and “Something About,” to the blustery palm-muted storm of “Be Somebody” and chief single “Runaway,” they absolutely embody the core of this band’s sound more than anything else does. As the main attraction of Two, the six-string play found in all ten of its songs is the foundation of every melody, and groove, that we hear between the verses.

“Runaway,” similarly to “Around” and “Be Somebody,” is in essence an 80’s proto-alternative rock song with an updated studio varnish, but its intoxicating sway more than makes up for what the track lacks in innovation. A lot of the songs on Two seem more like novelties than they do actual stabs at the Top 40, but truth be told, I don’t see anything wrong with this – after all, This Time aren’t claiming that they’ve reinvented the very nature of rock n’ roll in their most recent release; they’re simply playing the music that appeals to their personal sensibilities (which is frankly as genuine as it gets in this business).

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/thistimeband/

The production style throughout the entirety of Two is a little jarring compared to what one would expect to hear in a standard pop/rock record, sort of in the vein of Steve Albini’s early 90’s output, but its abrasiveness just might be its saving grace when considering the stock stylizations of “Street Walking Blues,” “Solace Unexpected,” “Mother’s Son” and “The Turnaround.” These compositions definitely needed a bit of outside the box-type grooming, and because of all the grit on the master mix, they sound a lot more accessible and intriguing both together and individually.

For being a relatively short album (39 minutes total), there are a couple of unfortunate moments where Two feels rather bloated by its band’s ambitiousness. Take “Right in Front of You” for example – it’s a really great song, but because of how stacked its bassline feels, it sounds so suffocating as it lurches forward that it leaves us exhausted and unable to appreciate the stomp of “Caught You in Love,” its tracklist neighbor. This Time could stand to embrace a little creative conservatism, but at the same time I can see where some of their longtime listeners, not to mention the band themselves, might disagree.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5RrPxQ3f4Aih1Aj9xAWLRm?si=-Q2iFzesRpmMUYrQOnV2xQ

Two presents us with a This Time that, as I see it, are biting off a little more than they can chew in some spots while playing it really, really safe in others, but despite the deep contrast in the material, I’d say it’s an album you should definitely examine this season if you dig guitar-driven rock n’ roll. It’s probably not going to segue the band from the underground into the international mainstream, but I don’t think that was this group’s intention here. For better or worse, they’re playing the music that makes sense to them, and that’s (sadly) something to be commended nowadays.

Kim Muncie

“Moses” by Jonathan Emile

The last couple of years have been a great time for fans of acoustic pop music. From the United Kingdom to the United States and beyond, artists have been coming out of the woodwork with roots music of the most erudite variety, and although the new single “Moses” from Jonathan Emile might not qualify as being the most prolific acoustic song I’ve heard in the last year, it’s undeniably one of the more melodic of its kind to come from an underground performer on either side of the Atlantic Ocean in 2019-2020.

URL: https://www.jonathanemile.com/

Emile’s vocal in “Moses” is focused and unrestrained almost simultaneously, alluding to the importance of contrast in his work while also highlighting how magnetic his brand of melodicism can be when there isn’t a lot of excess to come between an artist and his audience. He doesn’t need a loud electric guitar riff and crashing drums to make the kind of stadium-shaking impact on his listeners that a big shot rock n’ roll band would, and in keeping things to the bare minimum in this track, he proves just how efficient and disinterested in commercialized fluff he is as an artist and as a songwriter.

The music video for “Moses” encapsulates the emotionality of the source material beautifully, but I don’t think it needed to be made in order for us to pick up on the youthful spirit behind the lyrical content, and specifically, the harmonies that bridge words to melodies in this song. Singles aren’t always a representation of an artist’s soul; in fact, they’re often a representation of who an artist wants to become through the commercial channels they penetrate. That isn’t the case with “Moses,” and after listening to some of the other song he’s released in his career, I don’t think it’s the case with any of the work he puts his name on.

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/jonathanemile

Though relatively unknown to most indie fans in the United States, I think that Jonathan Emile has a legitimate shot at making some big noise with American audiences if can continue to turn out smashing songs like “Moses.” Emile is going to have a tough time going against some of the formidable competition that both the underground and the mainstream are producing as the 2020’s get started, but if he’s able to bring this kind of emotion to every single that he records from this point forward, he’ll be well on his way to making a big mark on the world.

Kim Muncie 

Natasha Wallace’s The Conscious Effect: 50 Lessons for Better Organizational Wellbeing

Any study of how personal wellbeing, a larger issue than just physical health, influences the overall direction of any organization would be lacking if it did not likewise explore how effective leadership shapes that aforementioned wellbeing. Natasha Wallace’s The Conscious Effect: 50 Lessons for Better Organizational Wellbeing leaves nothing out in its discussion of the issue. Wallace’s long experience as a HR professional, a respected voice regarding leadership and personal development, and her own journey leading to the formation of her business Conscious Works buttresses her point of view at every turn during The Conscious Effect and helps make its fifty “lessons” even more convincing for readers.

One of the more satisfying aspects of this book, however, is its potential for universal application. Wallace, obviously, gears it more to serve the reader’s professional life, but the lessons contained within its pages can produce positive effects applied to the reader’s personal life as well. Following the examples and principles Wallace advocates in this book has a trickle-down effect just as someone floundering can negatively affect an organization or those close to them.  Her lessons are never obtuse or difficult to comprehend. These are things leadership, front line employees, and individuals can begin practicing in their everyday lives now and see immediate results from in many cases.

BUY ON GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46276547-the-conscious-effect
 

She does not expect readers to accept her ideas and words without supporting evidence. To that end, Wallace draws from multiple sources, all documented at the book’s end, to support her point of view and companies who faced related dilemmas and how they answered their challenges. This is another important factor in the book’s success. Her prose through the entirety of The Conscious Effect is another reason why this work should enjoy an appreciative audience for many years to come.  It, likewise, deals in the reality of these issues rather than fanciful situations lacking any real bearing on the day-to-day lives of its target audience. Wallace understands we have busy lives, as does she, and never wastes the reader’s time with self-indulgent digressions.

The book provides many chances for readers to self-reflect along the way on what they are reading and ask probing questions about the subject at hand. Wallace never employs these devices in a heavy-handed or laughable way; these opportunities are practical and laid out in concrete language rather than high-flown rhetoric. The recaps and case studies she includes at the conclusion of each section in the book underline this, but there are numerous graphics included throughout the course of The Conscious Effect contributing to our understanding of the material.

Wallace writes with the self-assurance of someone who accumulated these lessons over a professional lifetime, but she also brings to bear unique insights marking her as a student of human character. The latter is an important facet of what makes this book work so well and The Conscious Effect: 50 Lessons for Better Organizational Wellbeing would be a good but lesser work without those attentive glimpses into what drives individuals and makes them tick.

Kim Muncie

Ian C. Bouras and Dion Abraham, Refractions of Sound

Slowly creeping out from behind the shadows of silence, we find the traces of an otherworldly melody in “Extemporization,” one of the eight songs comprising the new record from Ian C. Bouras and Dion Abraham, Refractions of Sound. Boldly venturing beyond limits that most artists would fearfully stick with, Bouras and Abraham explore the depths of the sonic universe without stripping away the personality from their colorful harmonics in songs like “Extemporization,” which, alongside its seven counterparts in the tracklist of Refractions of Sound, summarizes the identity of a collaboration less through blunt aural tones and more through the monolithic textures that come from two powerful forces colliding into each other. It’s not meant for everyone, but for the audience it was tailored for, this is an LP that’s hard for anyone to top.

“Invention,” the self-explanatory “Ad-Lib” and extended opus “Creation” all exhibit some of the most experimental structuring you’re going to find on the underground ambient spectrum right now, but none of these three songs feels so far removed from mainstream conceptualism that the casual listener couldn’t potentially enjoy them just as much as the seasoned audiophile undoubtedly would. There’s a lot of layers to the sound that Bouras and Abraham are attempting to forge for themselves in Refractions of Sound, and if you’re at all familiar with the back catalogue of Bouras in particular, you already know just how sophisticated an article his recordings can be even without the assistance of an able, and clearly gifted, musician like Abraham there to balance things out.

QOBUZ: https://www.qobuz.com/ie-en/album/refractions-of-sound-ian-c-bouras-dion-abraham/ft46hulvlrkkc

Melodically, “Soundscape,” “Improvisation,” “Wrinkle” and “Concoction” were the most intriguing of this entire set, for me at least, and I think that they tell us a lot about the sort of stylization the duo was looking to establish in this LP. There’s an aesthetical juxtaposition taking place here that isn’t completely defined by the substance of the instrumentation; from where I sit, it’s created more through the pacing of this tracklist than it is anything else, as one would typically find in a progressive rock opera, classical sonata or similarly continuous content. It’s not as sprawling as some of the more abrasive noise albums I heard in 2018 and 2019 were, but it doesn’t need to be; in adhering to somewhat minimalist standards where it counts the most, Bouras and Abraham made a record that is listenable more than once (which isn’t always the case in this genre).

Though I haven’t heard a lot of his work before now, the collaborative piece that Ian C. Bouras is turning in with Refractions of Sound is definitely a worthwhile listen for those who call themselves fans of the avant-garde, and with any luck, it won’t be the last occasion on which he works with the brilliant Dion Abraham, who gives just as much of an effort in every song as his counterpart does here. Refractions of Sound takes a couple of pages from Ethan Gold and Reed Stewart, as well as deep indie albums like Jazz Anarchy and Epoch, but make no mistake about it – this is as original a piece as I’ve heard in the year 2020, and it’s definitely something that has made me interested in following Bouras more in the future.

Kim Muncie

Pianist Joseph Seif’ releases stunning pair of Sonatas

Like a flickering light in the midst of an endless sea of darkness, we find the first glimpse at a stunning piano melody in “Adagio in A Minor” as we find the others that join it in Joseph Seif’s Piano Sonata No. 1; spilling over with an untouched emotionality that cannot be replicated, even within the tracklist of this simple classical record. Much like “Piano Sonata No. 1: I. Allegro in C-Sharp Minor,” which opens the record in a blistering haze of keys, “Adagio in A Minor” floods our speakers with a dose of expressionism that you just can’t find anywhere other than inside the realm of contemporary classical music, and more specifically, the works of a brilliant pianist on the cusp of breaking through.

URL: http://www.josephseifmusic.com/

“The Fountain at Huntington Park” is perhaps the most dominantly physical track on Piano Sonata No. 1, and though it’s rivaled by its Sonata No. 2 counterpart “Piano Sonata No. 2: I. Allegro Moderato in C Minor,” I think that it currently stands as the most muscular piece currently in the Joseph Seif discography. This artist strikes me as someone who values substance over skyscraper-sized melodicism, but that doesn’t stop him from putting down some really interesting bits in both of these new records worth taking a second and third look at (especially if you enjoy the classical model, or better yet, the manipulation of it, as much as I do). He isn’t stretching himself too thin here at all – nor is he in “Piano Sonata No. 2: II. Adagio in D-Flat Major.”

Where Seif often gets himself into the most intriguing of territories is when he is working off of a minor-key melody, such as in “Piano Sonata No. 1: III. Presto in A Minor” and “Piano Sonata No. 2: III. Allegro Assai in C Minor,” both of which qualify as two of the more moving pieces I’ve had the chance to take a peek at recently. It’s clear that he isn’t interested in holding anything back from us in either of these tracks; in fact, there’s a sense of willingness on his part to put something into the ache of a melody that embodies the very essence of pain, and more importantly, the pleasure that can exist on the other side of it.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/5Z2qWyBKvqaO0kT3rq3JrU

No matter whether it’s “Piano Sonata No. 1: II. Andante in D Minor” or any of the other seven tracks spread out between Piano Sonata No. 1 and 2, you’re certain to find something stimulating in the pair of new records that Joseph Seif released just this last year to acclaim from critics and fans alike. Structurally speaking, both of these sonatas are of quite the superior quality, but what they hint at for their creator is perhaps even more important than what they actually offer us in terms of cosmetic value. Seif is entering the spotlight at a crucial time in the history of classical music, and with the kind of spirit that he’s bringing to these two records, he’s sure to be a key player in its development as long as he continues to play as passionately as he has here.

Kim Muncie

Sitting down with Mark and the Tiger

Hello! We are excited to chat with you today. Fill us in on what you have been up to in 2019!

Hi! Thanks so much for talking the time to talk with me! Honestly, 2019 has been the year of getting my shit together. I’ve been making music and half heartedly getting myself out there for a few years now but it wasn’t until this year that I’ve really started to put the push on. It feels amazing!

You have released some amazing music this year. Do you have a particular favorite song you have put out? If so, why?

I love My Magic, it was the first song that I really got to hear come together in such a way that it really reflected what I had originally heard in my head when I had originally written it. But my FAVORITE songs are all coming out in 2020! I feel like I’m really hitting my stride with this new music.

Tell us if you had to pick one – what would be a good theme song for your life?

Haha “Shake it Out” by Florence and the Machine IS the theme song to my life.

How would you describe your perfect day?

I would wake up early. Go out to the barn where I work and ride a few horses. Then go into the studio and work on music all afternoon! And then a really bougie meal at a fancy restaurant to cap it all off!

Looking ahead where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I want to be doing music and more music. Traveling the world for pleasure and for gigs. And I want to have released 2 full length albums by then! I’m so ready for this decade! I want to go to work!

Anything else you want to share?

2020 is bringing a lot of new tour dates and a lot of new music!

On Friday Jan 3rd I’ll be playing at the legendary Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles! I’m so excited for it! I’ve also got three new singles coming out in the first half of the year! They’re all leading up to the release of my first big EP at the end of May. Check out my website so you can buy show tickets and sign up for my mailing list so you can keep up to date!

List your social media link and Spotify please so our readers can find you.

https://www.markandthetiger.com/tickets

https://www.instagram.com/markandthetiger/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/43Djxh8LfUgD8xWlEvLvCZ

Joey Stuckey Interview

Hello Joey! So happy we could chat today. Can you walk us through your musical journey?  Give us the story of where you started and what is going on now for you.

Thanks for inviting me to chat!

I had a brain tumor when I was around 2 years old. I survived though most of the doctors didn’t think I would or if I did, I would never walk or talk.

Though the tumor took my eyesight and left me with a host of other health challenges that I still work daily to overcome, I have been able to make my life what I wanted it to be and have had a career in music that I am proud of.

While music has always been part of the Stuckey household, I honestly never thought of being a musician as a career as my early life was a daily fight to survive and go to school. When I was in school as a child there weren’t any of the specialized programs we have today to assist those with different needs, so I just went to a regular high school and toughed it out.

When I was 13 years old, I had pneumonia and had to stay in the hospital or at home recovering over the entire summer. I discovered old time radio shows, like “The Lone Ranger” and “The Shadow”. This was a revelation for a blind child as the stories were told through music, sound effects and dialog. And I thought, I can do this! I thought I would try to record sound effects for film and TV. So I went to the local Radio Shack and bought some primitive recording gear and started just figuring things out through trial and error. I should also say that the DJ that played those radio shows on the local public radio station became a mentor for me and taught me what he knew. His name is Rob Tomas and I’ll never forget him or be able to thank him enough!

From there, I got my first job at 15 as the sound tech for the local planetarium. Other young people that also worked at the museum heard I had some recording gear and started asking me to record their garage bands. I did and within a few years I had moved out of my attic and into a real building and started a real studio.

Around the same time, I realized that music was the vehicle that I could use to tell my story and so I started taking guitar lessons. And that was that! I have never had another job except for recording sound and music and I am so grateful!

Right now, I am winding up the tour from the 2019 album “In The Shadow Of The Sun” and finishing up the radio campaign for my Christmas EP “A Santa That Plays Guitar”. I am also getting ready to plan our tour schedule for the summer of 2020 along with starting on a new studio space which is going to be a true distination studio. You can follow our progress by visiting www.shadowsoundstudio.com

We are already starting off 2020 right by performing on January 3rd at Whisky A Go Go in LA on the Sunset Strip. I will also be back in LA durring GRAMMY week performing and hanging out with other amazingly talented creatives. 

You have accomplished so much in your career, what big dreams are you chasing next?

Well, I have to say I would like a GRAMMY—LOL. But mainly I just want to be of service to artists that need a place to record and be nurtured as they start their careers! I take pride in being that studio and producer/recording engineer. I would also love to work on some bigger projects with some of my heroes, like Paul McCartney or Neal Finn, Ellie Goulding and Bruno Mars, just to name a few!

I also have a host of venues I would love to play like Carnegie Hall, The Cavern and so many more. But I am checking one of those off my bucket list—as I mentioned the band is performing the Whisky A Go Go this January 3rd of 2020!

If you were given a one-minute ad slot during the Super Bowl, what would you fill it with?

No doubt it would be something silly! If you haven’t had a chance, check out my video for “Blind Man Drivin’” and you will get what I mean—LOL. Here’s a link for that video: https://youtu.be/hkhLDuMj2t0

I would probably fill the spot with some of my favorite personalities as well— mainly so I could sit down and chat with them. I admire so many folks and would love to just hang out and have coffee and wax philosophical about the universe, Michio Kaku, RuPaul, Rachael Maddow, Iliza Shlesinger (who I have met), Eddie Murphy, Chuck Rosenberg– people like that!

Things have changed so much the past 10 years, tell us how do you think the industry will change over the next decade?

Good question.

A lot of new things are on the horizon. With ATMOS and 5G networks, we will see a lot more power with streaming very high res content. This will most likely become ubiquitous around 2024 or so.

The “Utility Model” of streaming is almost here. In 2018 and 2019 we saw the first increase in music revenue in some time and it was all due to streaming. Downloads started to decline for the first time since they came on the market. Now that you have Amazon and Tidal offering 96/24 streaming of music, I think you will start to see a lot more of that, which is a good thing for while MP3’s are convenient, the fidelity isn’t great.

Now you will still see a few folks buy CD’s as part of boutique boxsets that also include vinyl and Blu-ray. But I think we’ll start to see fewer physical products for music.

The only caveat for that is that people will now see vinyl and CD’s as souvenirs of being at one of your live shows, especially if you sign it for them. Just remember, what is old becomes new again in about a decade or so. We all thought vinyl was dead and gone forever but it has come back with a vengeance and there is even a slight resurgence with cassettes, but GOD knows why!

Streaming is going to change the music business for sure, but if we can get streaming royalty rates up, it is probably for the best.

Tell us what you do best? What sets you apart from other artists?

I think I am best at bringing out the best in others as a producer and engineer. As an artist, I think my best quality is honesty. I tell the truth as I see it even when I don’t like the answer I get when I ask myself the hard questions. This honesty and willingness to be vulnerable give my art greater accessibility because the listener knows they are part of my journey and they can relate part of my life to their own and perhaps find greater truth for themselves.

Do you have any dream artist that you would like to write a song with? If so, why?

Again so many greats! I would love to write with artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Bebe Rexah, Adele, BT and Tory Amos. The reason is simple, I am a fan of their music and I am also a professional writer and composer, so it would be fun and maybe even make some money LOL!

Where can we catch you online to follow and support you?

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/SenateRecords 

Twitter https://twitter.com/Jstuckeymusic  

IG https://www.instagram.com/jstuckeymusic/ 

FB https://www.facebook.com/JoeyStuckeyMusic/ 

Hunting Memories is a full length release

Hunting Memories is a full-length release of the same title, by visual Artist, Tahiti Pehrson, the sole creator of what is an excellent collection of songs that take you through some of the stories of life and things that happen with people along the way. The outcome is a very fresh and well-balanced perspective from an Indie Singer/Songwriter who does things his own way and hangs his hat on his own work. There’s a lot of compelling songs even though it’s a long album most would normally contain more filler but not this, as it turns out worth the price of admission before it’s even half over with.

“Smoke Screen” starts off in old fashioned piano and stand up bass style at first, then cuts back to a less obvious movie soundtrack sound, the atmospheric sort of sound that wouldn’t be far off in a 007 picture. This is a good thing for starters that pretty-much guarantees the rest will deliver, as it does. “The Horse and the Hay” is one of the stand-out songs and there are several of them, so it’s a matter of simply hanging on for the ride and you never know what’s coming next but it’s always good.

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/teamclermont/hunting-memories-bunny-monique

“Bunny & Monique” is a must hear for anyone who likes this, and once I heard it, I had to play it over again, twice. Then it’s another great outing on “Through The Walls” with a heavier handed almost spooky vibe to it. And that continues-on with the undeniably awesome “Dolphin Blue” which describes the color of a girl’s dress. It’s really-good stuff you’re listening to by now, so it’s important to keep it up, even if you have to take breaks with this album. “Love and Real Life” comes with a nice long intro and it’s all very steady between the words and the music.

“Proud of the Girl” might be the magnum opus for me, but that changes with each listen, so it’s not something I can nail yet, it’s hard to be sure yet but this is certainly another great one, especially the vocals. “Keep Holding On” and “1985”end the first half of the set with flying colors, and they’re both fantastic, it’s just a lot of music to cover and talk about, so it’s not worth spoiling but it is important to get the concept of the album anyway and another reason to buy it.

The piano playing, vocals and guitar all have something substantial to write home about when it comes to Hunting Memories, which shouldn’t surprise when you wrap your head around this huge package of stories. “Part of the Love_Panic” makes you question your dreams before you’re out of control, when things seem fine, but they might not be, and I find this to also be one of the stand-out songs. “You Can’t Beat the Critics” is ironically followed up with “The Beating of Hooves,” and you can’t make that you, you’ve got to appreciate it. In fact, you have- to appreciate something about every minute of the album, and don’t miss “Joan Of Art” for all it’s worth.

Kim Muncie


Jupiter in Velvet releases EP

Chords with big, burnt-ends come slashing through the silence in “Forever & a Day” like Jupiter in Velvet’s life depends on it, but as captivating as the guitar parts are in this track, they’re just as potent a force to be reckoned with in the Brit rock-inspired “A Cooler Shade of Mad” without question. Jupiter in Velvet puts the dynamic string grooves at the forefront of the mix in “If Not Peace… (Then it’s War)” in the same fashion that he champions his lush lead vocal in “We Are All One.” If he’s not crushing us with a flamboyant melody in “Stand Up,” then he’s marrying magnificent harmonies together like nobody’s business in “The Greatest Gift,” and from beginning to end in the new record Anthems 2 Love, there’s scarcely an instance where we aren’t getting the complete scope of his skillset at full capacity. Anthems 2 Love is an extended play that was conceived with longtime fans in mind more than anyone else, but even if this is the first time you’ve heard Jupiter in Velvet’s music, it’s an EP I would rank as among the smartest of the season at any rate.

Nothing in this record strikes me as being designed for mainstream airplay exclusively, but I would be lying if I said that “If Not Peace… (Then it’s War)” and “The Greatest Gift” didn’t sound like tailor-made college radio fodder. “Forever & a Day” might be the most efficiently constructed song that Jupiter in Velvet has ever put on a studio release, and yet there isn’t even a trace of arrogance in his swift execution.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1ZbOiQrEFn0GYtX4CyZ5Pd

There’s a humbleness to the lyrical content of the music here, and while I don’t think that every track was meant to bear a certain political narrative, there’s no getting around the rebellious, punk rock-style attitude that JiV is pummeling us with in Anthems 2 Love. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot for us to marvel at in “A Cooler Shade of Mad” and “We Are All One” from an instrumental perspective, but in terms of powerful lyricism, this could be described as being Jupiter in Velvet’s most expressive recordings so far.

I was only somewhat familiar with the music this mysterious singer/songwriter had released before dropping Anthems 2 Love, but you can bet everything you’ve got that I’ll be keeping better tabs on his output from here on out. He’s got a lot of raw energy and passion that could stand to be refined a little bit more than it already has been, but even if he keeps the rough around the edges style that he’s got in this record, it’s hard for me to imagine his career slowing down anytime soon (especially when taking into account the kind of momentum that it’s had as of late). Only time will tell for certain, but if the right audience finds their way to Jupiter in Velvet this December, I wouldn’t be surprised if he attracts even more success in the 2020s than he has throughout the 2010s.

Kim Muncie