Darren Jessee – The Jane Room 217

There’s a strong hint of Leonard Cohen in Darren Jessee’s songwriting on The Jane Room 217. You can hear it from the first tune “Anything You Need” and it never relents. He has a strong connection with the love song tradition, in some ways, but brings an uniquely well-written power to this type of song. The song has light keyboard work in the background and Jessee’s guitar up front, but there’s some piano adding a little color as well. The strings further sweeten the mix and the work, as a whole, has a satisfying even-handed effect unlike anything I’ve recently heard. “True Blue” continues the album’s high quality with another song of companionship and endurance in the face of our own foibles, but the real thing standing out for me on this tune is Jessee’s sweet vocal performance, thoughtful and perfectly attuned to the musician’s needs.

“Dying Violins” and a later tune, for me, are the album’s peak moments. There’s some jaw dropping imagery layered throughout the lyric and the undeniable melodic qualities of the verses and choruses alike are going to impress many listeners. Naturally, the song features strings, but they play the same supporting role in the mix and latch on to a slightly elegiac quality that I loved. “Ruins” and “Leaving Almost Ready” are quite the contrasting tunes. The musical approach remains the same and they strike equal levels of excellence, but there’s much more hope in “Ruins” surprisingly given the song title, than what we hear in the latter tune. “Ruins” has an interesting guitar song with more “sparkle” than we hear on many of the other cuts while “Leaving Almost Ready” has a much more unvarnished acoustic tone. While these many not be the best tracks on the album, that’s not a knock at all, and “Leaving Almost Ready” definitely has one of the best choruses.

Few of the songs on The Jane Room 217 have a gentler, dreamy than “All but a Dream”. The dream-like effects reflected by the title are never clichéd, vary from the earlier tracks in important ways, yet maintain the same blueprint driving the collection up to now. The album’s second to last number is my other favorite cut from this release and has the best lyric. Jessee’s poetic talents are simply stunning as he delivers an emotional blockbuster built around his customary mix of the impressionistic and concrete. The keyboard performance is very good here as well.

“Go On Baby Break Down” has another slightly rough-hewn guitar sound that makes the singing and lyrics all the more effective. Jessee urging a lover, friend, or perhaps even himself, to simply let go of the pain so they can begin their lives anew is one of the best “messages” on this great album. It is quiet, yes, even unassuming in the way it takes on its musical mission, but Darren Jessee’s The Jane Room 217 flies in the face of many modern musical trends, brims over with outstanding lyrics, and never disappoints.

URL: https://darrenjessee.com/

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Room-217-Darren-Jessee/dp/B07DP9PMTN

Kim Muncie

Conceptz drops new single feat. Benny Blanco

Hip-hop has officially reached an apex that can be distinguished both literally and figuratively from its first climactic creative peak in the early 1990’s. In this scenario, the most explosively popular subgenre to dominate the commercial side of pop music for the last quarter century is being divided into two subgroups; the stewards of the old school, and the innovators of tomorrow’s hip-hop who are bound by no rules, regulatory parameters or creative restrictions set forth by their forerunners. Conceptz is a part of the latter category, and arguably one of the more important parts actively producing content today. As players, the pair’s style is unlike anyone else in the business today. As a figure behind the soundboard, their experimental tendencies make them sublimely coordinated and well-rounded artists, and the combination of the two is going to be what launches these two out of the underground and onto the biggest stage of their career: primetime pop. Their latest single “Splash,” which features the stone cold Benny Blanco lending his vocals to the mix, goes a long way towards cementing their present status as a boss in the game and ensuring a future in the scene for some time to come. Continue reading “Conceptz drops new single feat. Benny Blanco”

R.W. Roldan – Falling Star

Although not always on the same page, every now and again country music flirts with rock n’ roll, and I’ve found that in these flirtations, it never sounds the same way twice. Sure, there have been hard pumping southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd or Molly Hatchet that have harnessed the sheer power and rumble of rock’s blistering guitars and thunderous basses, but there have also been more acoustically minded country singers influenced by the spirit and essence of rock music as well. Often discounted as too poppy for country or too country for the mainstream charts, these artists often get lumped into the folk crowd just out of scenes giving up on finding a more suitable home for them. And then there are artists like R.W. Roldan, a Texas-based country singer/songwriter who isn’t interested in what you want to call him or his music, because he’s going to be playing regardless of what you decide to label him. Ah yes, how I love intellectually-based artistic rebellion in my pop music. This is what we live for, folks. The composers who totally reject our attempts to place them neatly in a box. Because real art just doesn’t work that way. And thankfully, thanks to people like Roldan, it never will. Continue reading “R.W. Roldan – Falling Star”

Lord & Lady release The Lift

Picking the right time to release a record can be a challenging process even for the most experienced of artists. Winter albums are designed to warm us up during the coldest of months, summer albums are usually meant to get us excited about being out having fun in the sun. All of them are set up to fulfil the sonic needs of us, the consumers, but moreover they can artistically capture the mood and feel of an entire section of the calendar, too. Lord & Lady have chosen this June to release their EP No Ghost, and anyone familiar with the aspiring dream pop duo will agree that it’s the absolute perfect time for the world to get acquainted with their stunningly romantic and emotionally poignant style.

 

Lord & Lady remind me a lot of The Vaselines. The Vaselines were an instrumental force in the development of alternative rock in the 1980s, and arguably the most melodic noise rock band that ever pressed vinyl. Coming screeching out of Glasgow, Scotland in 1986, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee developed a signature duality in their sound that was equally feminine and masculine, and it made for sheer pop magic. If you strip out their noisier, more atonal parts in their sound, you would essentially get what Lord & Lady is recording today, albeit a much more evolved, 21st century format. There’s space for their style to grow a little more into the big speakers they’re trying to fill, but their new single “The Lift”  off of No Ghost is really too inviting to really be picky over. Unlike The Vaselines, Lord & Lady have a distinctly more pop-focused drive that allows for their sound to be significantly more accessible and radio friendly then their punk rock forerunners, and it may end up doing the genre well to see this kind of friendliness with melody rising back up to the surface of the scene.

 

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsZwuz2Idyo

 

In many ways, “The Lift” and the extended play that it’s prepping us for are stylized like a soundtrack to the epic picture that is the twilight of 2010’s pop music. It’s like we’re listening to all of the sounds that have materialized in the last ten years tucked tightly under a blanket and made to simmer and create a spacy backdrop that Lord & Lady use as a template to weave their ascending psychedelic verse and gentle vocal exchanges. Having come together in the most classic of California circumstances and now creating something that we can almost universally agree is fresh and appealing to music intellectuals, the end is nowhere in sight for this dynamically attractive unit. I can see their cult following finally bursting at the seams after No Ghost drops next month, and it will only be a matter of time before we begin seeing plenty of sound-alikes coming out of the woodwork to try and replicate the shimmering resonances of “The Lift.” I for one won’t forget who the originals were, and it should be mesmeric to witness how they decide to set themselves apart further from the crowd.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/37fJ2QD1jR5zJcru9GZsJr

I-TUNES: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1387737489?ls=1&app=itunes

 

Bethany Page

 

AV Super Sunshine’s “Time Bomb”

Synthetic stripes of melody drift before our ears, and ticking of a clock reminds us that time is at hand. The pressure is on as the percussion starts to kick in on the club mix of AV Sunshine’s “Time Bomb,” and AV himself doesn’t even have to inform us that we’re going to have to act fast if we’re going to make it to our destination – dance ecstasy – in time. “I’m working on a time bomb, baby” he croons as the song churns and builds towards an anti-climactic release that is reminiscent of neo-mod psychedelia. At once we’re rousted from our seats and pushed into the heat of the volcanic core that is radiating all of these tones, and AV appears to be the conductor of this sinful symphony of noise. Every time it feels like we’re about to go off the rails and into a black oblivion, we’re swung back in the opposite direction whether we’re ready for it or not. This isn’t music for wallflowers – its purpose in life is to remind us that we’re not living if we’re not dancing. Continue reading “AV Super Sunshine’s “Time Bomb””

Esteban Alvarez – “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman”

A lot of artists who are just starting out often wonder what it takes to create a solid Launchpad for their career, and it really boils down to several pretty basic qualities that can’t necessarily be taught. The first is having a good image for promoters to market, whether that be an image shrouded in mystery, vulnerability, happiness or depression. You’ve got to have some kind of identity. The second is that you’ve got to have an approach to recording that is unique and with that a sound that is stylish and discernable from other artists in your medium. Very few have one of these qualities by nature, and almost none have both. Esteban Alvarez is one of those very rare few in the latter category. Continue reading “Esteban Alvarez – “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman””

Brendan McMahon – About Joe

“Home” opens Brendan McMahon’s fourth release, About Joe, in slightly audacious fashion. The mass of backing vocals beginning the song with a choral arrangement is a bit of musical sleight of hand before the song shifts into a straight forward singer/acoustic guitar mold. This is brief, however; “Home” soon expands into a widescreen number with great melodic virtues and lyrical content that locks tightly into the musical mood. There’s some melodically appealing lead electric guitar woven into the piece, but it never obscures the song’s other elements and McMahon’s songwriting penchant for keeping a myriad of components well orchestrated separates him from many of his peers. The EP’s second track and longest, by far, is “Gentleman Joe” and showcases McMahon’s stellar talent for crafting memorable characters through his lyric writing. The arrangement, however, isn’t merely a glorified vehicle for McMahon’s writing; instead, the way this song escalates from a muted beginning into About Joe’s most invigorating musical tapestry. The lead guitar takes on a more prominent role here than we heard in the opener, but never at the expense of other elements in the song’s musical attack and makes for an effective adornment. Continue reading “Brendan McMahon – About Joe”

Sundodger – Bigger Waves

For as much creativity and immersive artistry that has emerged in the last decade, one aspect of the entertainment business has continued to suffer, almost, ironically, in silence. I’m talking about pop music, specifically it’s more electrified rock n’ roll realm. Pop’s heavier side has been going through some particularly rough times since the fusion of electronic and urban subgenres to create super-scenes that know no boundaries both sonically and geographically. While this has undeniably been good for music as a whole, it’s stamped out the flame that once burned within rock music. But this year, with their new album Bigger Waves, Seattle’s Sundodger are reigniting that flame with a passion that is unparalleled in all of music today. Continue reading “Sundodger – Bigger Waves”

Captain Ledge Band – Rumors of the Great White Skunk

Rumors of the Great White Skunk, the third album from Oklahoma based duo Cliff and Jeana Downing, builds on the success of Captain Ledge Band’s first two albums with a collection that shows their exponential growth as songwriters since the band first formed. The duo’s journey to a third album has been well chronicled and you hear a lot of the gratitude they share for making music together coming through, in its own way, on each of the album’s ten tracks. Their Southwestern based touring schedule, active by any measure of the word, looks to expand with the release of this album. Continue reading “Captain Ledge Band – Rumors of the Great White Skunk”

Mark Huff’s Stars for Eyes

When people are living in harmony and love is plentiful, communities at peace and joy is more common than fear or hatred, there is always music. In times of distress and chaos, where no one seems to want to get along and there isn’t any singular uniting shelter that we can come together under from the storm, there is always music. Music is in fact the one element of our world that is all-encompassing of our world and all-embracing of each of us, regardless of any surface stuff like race, age or upbringing. And as anyone that is alive and well in the year 2018 knows, sometimes music is the only thing that can drown out all of the complaining, the discord and general sense of discomfort that seems to come standard with just turning on the television. Nashville’s own Mark Huff is a singer/songwriter who understands the power that music has to heal our wounds and celebrate our greatest victories. His new album Stars for Eyes happens to do a little bit of both. Continue reading “Mark Huff’s Stars for Eyes”