Of every genre in modern music, R&B is arguably the most eclectic in its body of artists. From soul crooners to the furious high tech beats of club DJs, R&B has become a blanket term for virtually every kind of music that incorporates smooth, dance-inspired rhythms with the sizzle and brooding tinge of the blues. Mikey See, a rising star in the west coast indie pop scene, has often been described as one of R&B’s more experimentally minded young voices, and his single “Love My Body” definitely lives up to his burgeoning reputation as one of the most fearless artists in the entire genre. If urban music is truly in need of a hero right now, one won’t give in to the commercial interests of big marketing firms and archaic establishment figures who don’t want to see music progress unless it involves making a whole lot of money in the process, Mikey See is nominating himself for the position, and singles like this one are definitely enough to fuel his campaign. Continue reading “Mikey See releases “Love My Body” (single)”
Just over a year after Indiana’s Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band turned in their last record the trio is back with another full album of sublime, stripped-down American Blues. Continue reading “Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Poor Until Payday”
2018 has been the year of rock n’ roll revivalism, and no one has been taking charge of the movement to bring chest-pumping rhythm back to the forefront of pop music than Elsewhere. Elsewhere are a band based out of New England and originally started back in the 90’s, but their sound is about as far from grunge and proto-alternative rock as Boston is from Seattle. Their latest EP, Multi-Man, is out this August 31st everywhere than independent music can be streamed or purchased, and to say that their fans have been eagerly anticipating its arrival might be the understatement of the year. I braced myself to be slightly disappointed by Multi-Man in light of the massive hype surrounding its release, but to my delight I found that I didn’t need to; Elsewhere seriously delivers the goods on this one. Continue reading “Elsewhere Band release EP”
For more than two decades, Canada’s long-running punk band Knucklehead put out a slew of ferocious, tight punk rock anthems. So, it’s no surprise that Territories, the new outfit comprised of alumni from Knucklehead, would be just as impressive. Continue reading “Territories – Self-Titled (Pirates Press)”
The Silent Wish is a new, joint album from extreme flutist Bill McBirnie and jazz magnate Bernie Senensky, but to say it’s simply another record would be the understatement of the decade. The Silent Wish is a 12 song journey into the heart and soul of Canadian jazz as played like no others can, and if you’ve got the sonic capacities to take the leap, this listening experience is one you won’t soon regret. I’ve never been the biggest jazz fan in the world, but this album was so addictively hypnotizing I can’t help but nominate it for album of the year. Continue reading “Bill McBirnie releases “Silent Wish” (LP)”
Joss Jaffe’s new release Dub Mantra Sangha Remix blends together reggae, EDM, and soulful vocals. Aloha features Sophia Mae Lin to draw deeply upon Island rhythms and Italo dance styles. Robin Livingston’s remix of Durga has an insistent quality and a similarly sunny demeanor. The complexity of the arrangement ensures that listeners will be able to play it multiple times while unearthing new styles and approaches. Timonkey’s Remix of Sri Ram (featuring Wah!) adds a bit of dubstep and wobble to the mix, spinning the second half of Dub Mantra Sangha into a trippy, hyponotic journey. Continue reading “Joss Jaffe – Dub Mantra Sangha Remix”
Countrified singer/songwriter James Lee Baker has become quite the cult favorite of the Midwestern indie folk and alternative country circuits over the last couple of years, and with his new album Home Again audiences worldwide finally have the opportunity to experience his ethereal charms in all of their magnetic glory. Divided into ten equally stylish tracks produced with the upmost care and attention to detail, Home Again is a supremely affectionate look at one of America’s most talented young songwriters in the prime of his career and ready to take on the whole planet one epic song at a time.
If any critics need confirmation of Baker’s incredible abilities as both a master composer and a skilled vocalist, I’d have to point them in the direction of Home Again’s “Disappear for the Weekend,” which is easily one of its most fascinating highpoints. Showcasing its songwriter’s knack for generating catchy hooks out of otherwise simple structures, “Disappear for the Weekend” might be the best candidate for a lead single from this record thanks to its memorable chorus and freewheeling beat. It’s far from the only alluring track on Home Again, but its strength alone makes the record a more than worthy acquisition.
James Lee Baker’s music is quite exotic in comparison to his peers and he incorporates a variety of intriguing influences into his sound. There’s a touch of rock n’ roll tenacity in his guitar play, but it isn’t laced with pomp or bravado. The same can be said for his country music edge, which is only implied through the twang of his instrumentation and not in the concentration of his subject matter. If you’re in the market for a predictable album that recycles the same themes and song designs as its contemporaries, you’d better look somewhere other than Home Again, which is possibly the most original album I’ve heard in years.
In the song “The First Time,” James Lee Baker shows us that he can shift the tempo towards a more sensitive, loving side without losing the vibrant energy that drives his more anthemic songs. The textured harmony between Baker’s voice and the backing band in “The First Time” is a fine example of his ability to mesh with any different set of musicians, regardless of style or background. Performers like him don’t concern themselves as much with the rules of songwriting as they do making impressive melodies at any cost, and we as an audience benefit from this attitude immensely in the resulting content.
After listening to Home Again a number of times in the last week in preparation for writing this article I came to the conclusion that the only way Baker could top this record would be to take it out on the road and play it live – which is exactly what he’s doing right now. This album would make for an amazingly nimble set list in concert, and I can’t think of any artist more adept and able to express its narrative than James Lee Baker. His devotion to his medium is evident in every note he pens, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for us next.
In his first extended play and fourth overall release, entitled Rusty Strings, Peruvian singer/songwriter Brown Kid struts with a swaggering confidence through a plethora of colorful material that is instantly memorable and contagiously optimistic. Rusty Strings sees Brown Kid’s signature style of easy going folk music and reggae-influenced pop advancing to a new level of conciseness and clarity that was hinted at in previous releases but comes to fruition in this latest offering, which could be described as his most streamlined and polished record to date. In the six songs it contains, audiences are given front row seats to a spectacle of audiological wonderment they won’t soon forget. Continue reading “Brown Kid – Rusty Strings (EP)”
Cantabile’s new album ‘Naked Soul Opus 2’ has Nika’s inimitable violin imbuing each composition with life. The depth of Alchemia Story will have listeners on the edges of their seat as the theme continues. Code Geass – Colors benefits immediately from a robust instrumentation that melds together strings and a funky bass line. Cantabile’s take on the opening from No Game No Life imparts the same highs and lows of the original while calling back to electronic and instrumental genres. There is a cohesion that is present throughout Naked Soul Opus 2 that will turn listeners of Cantabile’s music into fans. Continue reading “Nika Cantabile – Selections from ‘Naked Soul Opus 2’”
TOZ Antonio Piretti’s ‘Heroes’ is a single that deftly brings together 1980s synth-pop with modern instrumentation to facilitate a truly epic sound. The full instrumentation stands up to repeat spins; listeners will need to strap on a pair of headphones to hear every nuance and interaction that Piretti has inserted within. TOZ’s vocals during Heroes pull double duty in the sense that they both convey a narrative while adding mightily to the overall instrumentation of the effort. Together, these two faces combine to make Heroes into one of those rare experiences that will stick with fans long after the track ceases to play. Check out the video below. Continue reading “TOZ Antonio Piretti – ‘Heroes’”