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The Chordaes release new single

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/thechordaes/

I’ve always hated bands that release an album to some success and follow it up with a record that’s more or less the same in its bare bones both lyrically and musically, but features a much more pronounced volume than what their previous work had contained. You can’t make something louder and consider it creative growth; it’s cheap, easy and doesn’t do much to ensure your longevity in this business. Young artists looking for guidance should follow the lead of The Chordaes, who last year released a much anticipated follow up to their debut full length album Touch the Ground, an extended play titled In Itinere, which not only ushered in a number of evolutionary changes for the band, but also highlighted all of the key themes that made their initial offering so easy to get into.

The primary single from In Itinere, “California,” is climbing through the indie ranks this summer at rapid speed, and it isn’t because it’s a more amplified version of “What Do You Want From Me,” the song that brought The Chordaes into the public fold for most of us following the New York scene in the last few years. Accented with a laid back vocal and dexterous conducting of the strings, “California” slickly invokes sentimental vibes alongside reflective ones to make a benevolent environment that circles us like a shark hunting its prey in the first stanza before devouring us during the chorus. The Chordaes aren’t trapping us in their gaze; they’re inviting us into their trance and letting the music finish us off.
The tonal balance of “California” is one that is sadly becoming all too sparse in pop music lately. So many artists are illiterately stabbing at existentialism and self-absorbed subject matter and classifying it as woke contemplations, but few are giving us much more than one perspective to observe things from. The Chordaes don’t stumble into megalomania, and they make a serious effort to avoid trite marketing devices to appeal to people’s pseudo intellectualism. “California” could have been recorded under a much more predictable premise sonically, but the band resisted the urge to splurge and we, the listeners, are the ones to benefit.

Creating a song that is mellow and yet still full of lively energy isn’t as easy as some of the greats have made it seem. We can listen to a track like this and take away from it the amiable tone of wonderment that is created by the lyrics, or we could just as well become magnetized to the conflicting melancholy in the song’s music that arguably makes “California” such a brilliant listen. When a band can create music that is as multidimensional as this is, I try not to pick at it too hard critically. This kind of music is, in essence, the basic definition of art; totally open to individualized interpretation.

The Chordaes left plenty of room to stretch out with In Itinere, and smart money says that “California” is likely just a glimpse of what’s to come for this group. As provocative and enthralling as their music is, the exotic undercurrent of their present style leads me to believe that there’s a lot more experimentation left to be done in their upcoming work, which hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to hear. Their time is now, and I must say, what an awesome time it is.

SPOTIFY: open.spotify.com/artist/5yPGAFGmYD6t57iZUl5g1X

Clay Burton

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R.W. Roldan “Falling Star”

R.W. Roldan “Falling Star”

URL: www.rwroldan.com/

As aficionados of art, we often take for granted how difficult it can be for a performer who has been around for a while to keep things fresh and original rather than trying the same formula over and over. It isn’t as easy as it sounds; just look at Queens of the Stone Age, one of the most critically acclaimed and musician-beloved rock bands of the last quarter century. I’ve been a devoted follower of everything QOTSA has done since their inception, but what has happened to the Joshua Homme-led band in the last five years has been tragic to watch. In an effort to stay relevant, the band has sunk as low as to pander to the club crowd in hopes of selling a dance rock record that is not only unoriginal but fails to meet any of the expectations that longtime fans like myself were expecting. It’s a sad ending to a band that changed my life and a lot of other people’s, despite never quite cracking the mainstream the way a lot of their fellow alternative rock bands did in the 90’s and 2000’s. Thankfully though, the same ill-fate is not shared by my favorite indie country singer, R.W. Roldan, who isn’t exactly making the most original music in the world, but is at least making something palatable that I can rely on for easy-listening.

SOUNDCLOUD: soundcloud.com/ray-william-roldan/falling-star-1/s-Xm6nV

I didn’t much care for Roldan’s first album, but I started to come around after he cut his sophomore LP dropped in the subsequent years that followed. Sometimes it takes artists a minute to come into their own, and Roldan has certainly done a lot of growing up as a composer in the last 10 years. Now, his hybrid of blues, country rock and delicate folk music isn’t coming off as choppy as it once did. In fact, his new single “Falling Star” is almost a quantum leap for an artist that I once would have dismissed as part of a dying scene. In “Falling Star,” Roldan delivers what is by far the best vocal performance of his career as a singer to date. Although it’s lacking a little bit on the visionary end, at least for what I feel like he’s capable of, this single is nevertheless a song that tells me that its songwriter might finally be ready for the primetime.

I-TUNES: itunes.apple.com/us/album/falling-star-single/1385222598?app=music&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

It’s important to give everyone in our lives a second chance to grow and learn from their mistakes and short comings. More often than not, the brightest stars in our life tend to shine the brightest when we give them that space, that room to grow. Whether you’re familiar with R.W. Roldan or not, and especially if you were dismissive of his style in the past, I sincerely encourage you to give his new music a listen ahead of his upcoming fourth full length album, Can You Feel This, which is scheduled to come out later this year. Personally, I’m very eager to hear how his sound continues to come into full color.

YOU TUBE: youtu.be/hUUj8HxHT5E

Photo Credit: Myke Wilken

Clay Burton

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AV Super Sunshine drops a “Time Bomb”

STAR FL:EET MUSIC POOL: www.starfleetmusic.com/record_pool/index.php/featured/52-vip-featured-artist/4274-av-super-sunshine-time-bomb

Club music has changed a lot in the last four decades. When we break down the timeline of electronica dating back to its earliest roots in the discotheques of the 1970s all the way to present day artists like AV Super Sunshine, whose song “Time Bomb” gets a fascinating remix stylized and intended specifically for club play this summer, we are able to come to a couple of really important conclusions about the genre as a whole. For one, electronica is never going away, it’s only going to get bigger and more popular. And perhaps even more importantly, electronica isn’t going to stand still but rather constantly advance, and artists like AV are living proof of this fact.

AV Super Sunshine doesn’t just want to make us dance; he wants to makes us think about the very reasons why we love to dance in the first place. Bodies in motion generating heat together, creating an unseen chemistry that binds us and can even result in the conception of another human life. AV taps into this in his club remix of “Time Bomb” and amplifies the conversation into layer after layer of pure sonic bliss. In other words, he uses the studio as a tool of divine intervention.

Music can be a beacon of hope in dark days of depression and loneliness, and AV Super Sunshine has been through enough pain and trauma in his life to understand just how important his medium is to keeping the peace and sanity of the world. A survivor and not a victim of strife, AV puts all of his passion and emotions, no matter what they may be, into his music, and his attention to detail really shows up in everything he records. I’ve been following his work for a hot minute, and I must say that this latest batch of remixes could be his finest hour yet.
“Time Bomb” as a club track has a unique crossover appeal to rock music fans, and that’s something that I haven’t really been able to say about any electronica track since at least the late 1990s when industrial music briefly broke into the mainstream (only to self-destruct when left to the devices of commercial integers). AV Super Sunshine is a rockstar of the EDM world, but he swings like a Rolling Stone in this track with more ferocity than we’ve seen from him before. Could this be a hint at what future compositional experiments are to come? I really hope so.

As cinematic as “Time Bomb” is, it’s still relatively simple and to the point, which is a design that pop music is really desperate for right now. Everything is getting over the top in music right now in all the wrong ways, and despite the fact that AV Super Sunshine makes music that is bursting at the seams with color and exhilaration, he knows where to draw the line, and his restraint is worth commending. To take a page from AV’s playbook, I won’t waste any more time selling you on how amazing his work is; I’ll just tell you to go out and snag a copy of his latest release as soon as possible.

REVERBNATION: www.reverbnation.com/play_now/29911618

Clay Burton

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Streaking in Tongues – Kindergarten Prayers

URL: www.streakingintongues.com/

I don’t care how long you’ve been making music or how popular your marketing approach might be. You could be a master poet with a dozen or more publications under your belt and a knack for rhymes that would make even the most gifted linguist do a double-take; your lyrics are absolutely worth nothing if you don’t have good music to back them up. The pop music establishment seems to have forgotten this, and Streaking in Tongues have arrived to give them a little refreshment. Their new record Kindergarten Prayers doesn’t rely on delicately woven lyrics alone to touch our souls; in fact, their lyrics make up a mere fraction of their identity.

Streaking in Tongues puts a lot of value on making music that isn’t one dimensional, and even if you’re not familiar with their sound right now, Kindergarten Prayers is sprawling enough to leave an impression on even the snobbiest of music enthusiasts. Their efforts especially weren’t in vein with this record, which is stacked high with 22 different songs working together to bring the band out of the studio and into your living room through a pair of speakers and a hard working turntable. This is their best work yet, and after hearing their first incredible two albums I didn’t think I’d be able to say that.

I would love to hear these guys do a straight noise record, but it would need to be rooted in the ambience that Kindergarten Prayers highlights for us so immaculately. The tones of this album are never overstated, and while it might be a little frustrating for discriminating noise aficionados to separate the atonal from the harmonious moments of tempered melody, I see it as the most progressively minded ambient music I’ve heard in at least 15 years if not longer. Say what you will about their DIY production, but this is as virtuous as avant-garde pop gets without being totally foreign to mainstream ears.

Whether it’s making original music videos, experimenting with multimedia and modern performance techniques or just making records like Kindergarten Prayers, Streaking in Tongues has got their hands in almost every portion of the art world right now, and their ambitious reach is getting impossible to ignore. When artists make a play for exposure starting from the ground and moving up (as opposed to buying their way in via another means of recognition), their music has time to cultivate and really grow into its own. This band is doing everything the right way and they aren’t even having to suffer for it. Anyone else sense a living legend in our presence?

If I ever have the chance to see Streaking in Tongues perform in a live setting, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Bands like this one only come around every great once in a while, and more frequently than we like to acknowledge, they don’t get the attention that they deserve until they’ve stopped recording and playing all together. I wouldn’t dream of missing the opportunity to see history before my very eyes, and I think that anyone else who has listened to Kindergarten Prayers knows exactly what I mean.

SPOTIFY: open.spotify.com/artist/1yMeAzPQ6ku0XOH4o6ZBM8

Clay Burton

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Conceptz – Splash (single) feat. Bennie Blanco

Conceptz – Splash (single) feat. Bennie Blanco

DIGITAL DJ POOL: digitaldjpool.com/Songs/177700/Conceptz-ft-Benny-Blanco-Splash-Dirty

In a sexy, smoothly crafted bevy of colorful vocal tones and rhymes melded directly into the music, Conceptz drops another masterpiece in their latest single, “Splash,” which sees the hip-hop duo teaming up with fellow lyrical genius Benny Blanco in what could easily be described as the breakout song of the year. “Splash” is a slick hard jam steeped in swirling ambience and guaranteed to get even the most dedicated of wallflowers out onto the dance floor, led by a hard funk beat that doesn’t stop once it gets started. As a devout hip-hop fan, this is exactly the kind of track that I look for every summer, and it delivers all of the white hot goods that I look for in any relevant pop song.

“Splash” surprisingly contains some of the most original rapping that I’ve heard in years, which really says a lot considering all of the remarkable fresh talent hitting the music scene today. What shouldn’t surprise anyone is the work ethic that Conceptz brings with them into the studio all day, every day. You don’t just compose a song like “Splash” out of thin air; you write a basic outline, develop the rhythm, experiment with the samples and modulate everything until the listener is completely hypnotized by the sonic oasis that they’ve just entered. Conceptz doesn’t cut corners on anything. They’re all in, even on a track designed to be a radio-friendly single that will introduce a wider audience to their exciting sound and style.

You can tell that Conceptz is comprised of two men who clearly have more chemistry than your average music duo, but you may not know that the pair are actually brothers by blood. In the last seven years, including a brief hiatus, they’ve been consistently creating intensely satisfying music without borders or barriers, and there’s a lot for younger artists just starting out to learn from these two performers. Amateurs try to do what Conceptz does, while true pros will take a page from their innovative stylization and chart their own route away from the rest of the crowd. I think that’s the ultimate narrative behind all of the music that they create, and it would be nice if the rest of pop music reflected their sincerity.

I’m so eager to hear a new full-length from Conceptz in the near future, having just gotten into this hip-hop sensation recently. Going back over their previous work, you can see an evolution in both their songwriting and their presentation of the finished product, and time is proving to be on their side in terms of artistic development and evolution. Snag a copy of “Splash,” which is available everywhere this summer, and see for yourself why critics and fans can’t stop talking about what this pair of lyrical magicians are dispatching these days. If you’re a fan of catchy, memorable music that leaves you feeling a little more upbeat and energetic about the day ahead, you won’ be disappointed in what this song has to offer.

PANDORA: www.pandora.com/artist/conceptz/splash-single-explicit/splash-clean-feat-benny-blanco/TRlrqvr3xg34946

Clay Burton

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Lord & Lady release Single

Lord & Lady release Single

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

It’s not even our first date, and I just want to kiss you” Rachel Panchal sings in the opening bars of Lord & Lady’s new single “The Lift” from their debut extended play No Ghost, out this summer. “I know I don’t know you to well, but don’t leave unless I’m with you,” Scott Oatley (the other half of Lord & Lady) replies, as if to second Panchal’s motion directing the two ever closer to the warm radiance of a new, inspiring love. “Love is a long way down, but I got a chance to land safely,” Panchal goes on to tell us, and her articulate verse is a brilliant depiction of the comforting break to our fall that someone special can provide us when we take a big gamble on being vulnerable and in love. Their voices begin to intertwine, and before we know it, we’re lost in the enchanting forest that is their affections for one another. Falling for someone is a lot like getting lost in your own heart, being led only by the tuneful praises and little accentuating nuances that make your relationship special and different from anyone else’s. There’s a jazzy sway that swings back and forth through the track, almost like we’re strutting down the sidewalk on a bright sunny day, looking at different people laughing and having fun basking in the ecstasy of being alive and among one another.

“The Lift” is a song that makes it very hard to stay gloomy or forlorn despite even the bleakest of situations that we’re apparently living in according to the world news. We spend too much time as a society getting lost in the macabre rather than the playful, uninhibited love that Lord & Lady share with us in this new single. Wouldn’t it be something if all of us had the same innocent optimism that envelops all of the harmonizing between Oately and Panchal’s duets? “The Lift” spins gently through the mayhem and takes us to that supernatural place the two singers are living in, and like a fairytale, we start to feel like happily ever after could actually be an attainable frame of mind by the end of the song. The acoustic guitars that find their way into the spotlight in the track’s terrific climax could have been a little louder and more pronounced, but I think that we can get the general idea of what Lord & Lady were going for in this specimen from their impending EP.

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

Throwback albums are creating a very stale and stagnant culture in pop music today that at their start was annoying, at their heightening popularity were concerning, and at this stage have straight up become downright dangerous to the future developments and progression of music as a whole. Thankfully there are still artists who want to try something new like Lord & Lady, and god willing, this won’t mark the last time we have music to talk about that doesn’t instantly evoke memories of artists long past their prime.

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

Clay Burton

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Esteban Alvarez releases new heartfelt single

With the calm plucking of a few color drenched notes on a Spanish guitar, Esteban Alvarez wastes no time setting a sensuous tone in his superb new single “Has Amado Una Mujer de Veras” (“Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” in English, a cover of the mid-90’s Bryan Adams track). The band rallies behind him and we start to descend into an oasis of harmonious piano no more than thirty seconds into the song. It’s recognizable and familiar yet strange and mysterious, as if we’re walking down a street we once visited when we were younger only to discover how developed it has become in present day.

In place of Adams’ crooning is Alvarez’s strutting piano, which sways and flows with a swagger that is exclusively his own. The song clicks to the pace of a rollicking mariachi ballad, but is frequently punctuated by a somber, introspective piano part that is striking and echoes through the course of the entire song. We’re exploring the inside of our own heart, and it looks like the street we’re walking down is leading us to romance, self-discovery and an awakening that is only possible in the warm glow of the southwestern sun.

In the music video that accompanies “Has Amado Una Mujer de Veras,” Alvarez cinematically portrays a lovesick figure whose only aspiration is to have the hand of his soulmate, a woman removed from his world and at the same time all-consuming of it. It’s a theatrical piece that spellbinds our attention as much as the music itself, and in all actuality it lives up to the aristocratic standard that both the critics and his most loyal fans come to expect when they listen to any of his music, whether it be an original composition or a creative translation of another artist’s work.

I went back and listened to Bryan Adams’ version of this song quite a bit after giving “Has Amado Una Mujer de Veras” a few spins and found that while you can tell that they are in fact the same composition, there is little more than a basic verse-chorus-verse framework that binds the two in the sonic universe. Alvarez went out of his way to pay homage to Adams with this piece, but he also spent just as much time making sure this wasn’t a reprint of the original. This isn’t the “Latin version” of “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman,” it’s the Esteban Alvarez version.

I sincerely hope that Alvarez makes this a standard part of his repertoire when he performs live from here on out, half because I think it adds a terrific rock influence to his overall sound and half because I plan on seeing him play on stage at some point in my life and would really love to hear this song in particular. Even listeners who don’t often listen to this style of classical pop should give this musician a chance to do what he does best. Everyone I’ve introduced to this song has found themselves just as captivated as I am with its star’s warm energy, and if it finds its way into regular rotation on FM radio, I think the whole world will follow suit.

YOU TUBE: www.youtube.com/channel/UCK8INpzGodLa-eDfa4CYm3A

Clay Burton

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Crack of Dawn – Spotlight

Crack of Dawn – Spotlight

AMAZON: www.amazon.com/Spotlight-Crack-Dawn/dp/B0778QR2Z3

I truly believe that the number one reason why hip-hop, once the biggest and most lucrative style for the pop music establishment to count on to bring home the bacon year round, is experiencing such a tumble creatively and financially at the moment. Hip-hop is suffering from a complete and total lack of humility in 2018, and that’s really unacceptable when you think about the place that the genre holds on the mantle of western pop culture as we know it. This is an exciting time in music. We’re seeing dozens of new, hybrid genres built on the same foundation of experimentalism that once produced hip-hop’s forefathers and is very well producing some of the most important artists of this current generation as I write this article. If I were to make one suggestion to the biggest figures in the scene as to what to do or where to go next in terms of salvaging their sound, I would point them in the direction of a band that isn’t even trying to make rap music or hip-hop records. I would in fact send them to Crack of Dawn, Canada’s premier funk group that is changing the landscape for R&B right now and doing a lot to bring that genre into the future with slick production, sleek, danceable tracks and a mood that doesn’t fall into the self-absorbed hazards of commercialized overindulgence. Their new album Spotlight is setting the table for the 2020’s, and I can absolutely endorse it as my personal pick for most creative and forward looking LP of the latter 2010’s.

Crack of Dawn picked the right name when they were putting together their crew. Just like the start of the day, when anything and everything is possible for us as we embark into the unforgiving world that is our own, Crack of Dawn steeps their style in optimism and the belief that the musician, and not the culture around them, is the one in control of his or her own creative destiny. There isn’t an A&R influence, or a vibe that they were under some serious pressure to get this wrapped, pressed and out the door in time for a specific marketing season. Spotlight feels like an open house jam session, where we’re invited to sit in on a masterclass of artists playing music for the sake of the music and leaving their inhibitions at the door they came in through. Their American counterparts could certainly learn a lot from them as well, as when we juxtapose Spotlight beside the best and brightest that the States’ Billboard Hot 100 has to offer, there really is no comparison. Making music that is accessible to fans of all backgrounds is hard to do, but Crack of Dawn never get hung up on the details that surround making a thoroughly appealing record. They let their play and all of its illustrious rhythm do the talking for them, and that is more than enough to satisfy anyone who appreciates great music.

SPOTIFY: open.spotify.com/album/3coh1QMgL5E23arZk6H7gM

Clay Burton

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Honest Men EP

Honest Men EP

SOUNDCLOUD: soundcloud.com/honest-men/sets/honest-men-ep/s-Ju1xX

The greatest artists in the history of American music, and all music for that matter, have always been the storytellers; the songwriters who can literally snatch us from reality and take us on a journey of their own magical creation. Texas-based Honest Men have definitely established themselves alongside some of the best in the game today with their new EP, Honest Men, which is due out on May 25, 2018. Despite grinding out six songs in an Austin studio on a limited budget, their latest recording offers a very sophisticated sound that can stand up to anything on the Billboard Top 40 this year. And with their zealous brand of garage rock revival meets electro pop, you can bet they’re going to bring the house down in any context that they’re place in.

SPOTIFY: open.spotify.com/album/6wGPa4HRyGB9iEmZyRhfQG

The story of the Honest Men EP starts with a rollicking guitar blaring out of the feedback of an FM radio in the single (and first track) “Mad Love,” and emerging from the noise comes the lustrous vocal of Seth Findley, timed out almost robotically with the furious percussion of drummer Zach Solomon. “You’re needing some peace of mind,” he repeatedly insists in the bridge, as if to speak to all the chaos of the static between the stations that is not unlike our own hearts sometimes. A sizzling guitar solo follows, and it’s like we’re blazing across the white-capped surf of Miami Beach on a tepid summer evening. With a shake and a twist we shift focus and jump into “Lose My Head,” where Findley strikes a defiant blow into other pretentious pop singers with his massive vocal range. “I’m taking all the cheap shots/I feel the fever from within” he sings with feverish anticipation as the band lurks in the background, ready to pounce as we ascend back into the chorus. The weight of trust, friendship and emotional restraint finds an easy release when axe man Brooks Whitehurst steps back into the front with another solo, and it starts to feel like we’re listening to a musical proclamation of freedom.

YOU TUBE: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPoPcUDWv4s

“I’m Okay” bounces between your headphones with an exuberance that is as 80’s as a John Hughes movie, but in the best way. It also makes for a fitting single from this EP, demonstrating just how funky and danceable HonestMen can get. On the flipside, “I’m Okay” is immediately followed up by the subdued sonnet “Rose,” that uses a futuristic backdrop of synthesizers and velvet-smooth vocals to create a romantic, endearing picture of two soulmates for us. Findley’s sincerity oozes from the microphone and is well matched by his band, who meticulously add additional shades of color to the ballad, including an intoxicating bassline from Nate Wallace. “Lacy Lake,” a letter of commitment wrapped in a punky groove that borders on clubby in its beat, is a well-placed follow up track, continuing the theme of deeper love started by the band in “Rose.” Things come to a swirling, ethereal conclusion of the final song “Sam,” a gripping elder’s perspective of the father-son dynamic that opens with an entrancing guitar lick that will leave anyone with an ear for music feeling totally mesmerized.

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/honestmenmusic

When it’s all said and done and the record player comes to poignant stop, there’s no question that Honest Men may not be the only indie band in Texas looking to top the charts, but they certainly have the best chance of any of their contemporaries.

Clay Burton

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Phillip Broussard – Wavelength (EP

Phillip Broussard – Wavelength (EP)

SPOTIFY: open.spotify.com/album/5J92SQBZG2xhPXJiLPGOtE

For some people, summer is all about hitting a sunny beach or blazing up a barbeque with some close friends and a hot day, but for those of us who live and breathe music, nothing can ever beat a fresh summer jam that inspires us, gets us dancing, makes us think or just soundtracks the little moments that make life special and grand. Phillip Broussard isn’t a DJ or a rapper, and he isn’t the frontman of a new rock outfit, but he’s leaving his mark on the summer sound with Wavelength, a five song extended play released last year that is just beginning to find its footing in college radio and indie scenes across the country. Broussard is a Seattle singer/songwriter, but don’t assume that he’s a coffee shop anti-hero. His music combines country, pop and sentimental folk to create mellow vibes perfect for introspective fodder and appreciating a freewheeling, boundless spirit that made roots music so successful in the late 1960s.

In the song “All Over Again,” Broussard treats us to some of his best poetry to date and eloquently summarizes the cycle of love with a poise and swagger rarely found in his genre of music anymore. Similarly, the moving “Best Friend” leaves a lingering sense of justice and regretful hindsight that is emotionally charged and displays a maturity not typically associated with a man of such young age. Using his colorful textures and bold acoustic harmonies though, Broussard gets us lost in his enigmatic storytelling and opulent melodies and still allows us to find where we stand for ourselves somewhere along the bewildered path. Sure, it is an ambitious premise for an extended play, but from where I sit, he’s just good enough to get away with it.

It’s pretty hard to find music that isn’t hung up on its own ego these days. Everything that’s dominating the pop charts gives us the idea that big egos, and all of the frivolousness and illogicality that come with them, are the only thing that sell when that simply just isn’t the case. The pop establishment pushes this stuff because it’s cheap and easy to produce and when set to a catchy enough beat can be marketed as “empowering,” which is something that people desperately go after in this age of self-loathing and collective, post-technological revolution depression. But even listeners with the most generic and questionable of tastes have to admit that this current climate for music is getting awfully stale, and the cries for new blood are becoming deafening and universal. That’s where Phillip Broussard enters. We don’t need more artists who abuse self-conscious prose to market disingenuous love songs and pseudo political anthems. What we do need is artists like Broussard, who put everything out there and do it without lyrical, musical or social self-admiring and ego stroking. Anyone who’s hip to this kind of direction would be smart to give Wavelength a listen when possible, and artists of his peer group in every genre and scene should consider taking a page from his book when it comes to professionalism.

SOUNDCLOUD: soundcloud.com/phillip-broussard

Clay Burton

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Fate Under Fire – La La Love

Fate Under Fire – La La Love

YOU TUBE: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KcQpPX9wYY&feature=youtu.be

Fate Under Fire’s newest single “La La Love” capitalizes on the quality of the band’s previous two singles, “Parachute” and “On the Water”, with an even more winning effort demonstrating how this talented Sacramento, California headquartered four piece has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to innate talent, a busy touring schedule, and a commitment to writing songs with real value. It isn’t just tinsel and formula that makes Fate Under Fire so memorable. Instead, their songs stick in the memory thanks to their melodic virtues, the cinematic sweep the band achieves with seemingly minimal effort, and David James’ vocal topping everything off with a mix of entertaining vocal pyrotechnics and genuine pathos in his voice. The mix of the song’s musical and vocal strengths makes this one of the most important singles released yet in 2018 and “La La Love” will likely conclude the year retaining that lofty status.

SPOTIFY: open.spotify.com/track/5GEwxfbxRee1dSEHapyJBk?si=L5e08JiBRyCqqtlnHtYkvQ

It’s because of an all around band effort. There isn’t a single individual component of their presentation on “La La Love” that feels or sounds lacking. Everything has been developed to its logical end and the band has clearly realized the potential of this song by applying their talents equally to each of its elements. There’s never any studied sense to this; instead, “La La Love” feels nothing less than natural despite the heavy presence of electronic instruments and the traditional instruments present in the mix blend well with those aforementioned electronic elements. There’s definitely a strong sense of dynamics powering this song in a classic style, despite the modern sound, and that confluence of time-tested fundamentals alongside a wholly idiosyncratic approach to music making makes for an invigorating listen. Fate Under Fire never overreaches with the song either – instead, they pare their musical vision down to a totally economical and focused three minutes and change without ever leaving listeners feeling short-changed.

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/fateunderfire/

Vocalist David James caps all of those aforementioned strengths off with his best vocal performance yet that carefully straddles a line between entertainment and full blown art. His talent for getting inside both the lyrics and musical structure means he’s working with the song all the time, never generating tension, and enhancing everything around him with his powerfully emotive vocal skills. He really takes off with the song’s chorus, but shows his maturity as a singer by never leaving that moment too outsized in comparison to what’s come before. The lyrics are conversational, but a cut above the typically half formed thoughts and turns of phrase compromising most modern pop songs. Bringing all of these previously mentioned qualities together in a seamless package makes this song one of the more impressive listening experiences I’ve enjoyed in some time and there’s no sign with Fate Under Fire’s “La La Love” that they won’t be able to sustain and even expand on this excellence with future releases.

I-TUNES: itunes.apple.com/us/album/la-la-love-single/1362470444?ls=1&app=itunes

Clay Burton

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Lauria “Losing Me”

Lauria “Losing Me”

URL: www.lauria-music.com/

For artists, connecting with their audience is a lot tougher that it might look from afar. While it might be easy to make a beat or a rhythm that can inspire people to move and dance, making a song that they can genuinely, honestly connect with on a much more spiritual level is something that doesn’t just require skill, but a ton of heart as well. It’s not a question of whether or not the likability is there, but the relatability; it can’t feel like a singer is just performing something for us, but expressing a feeling or a large emotion that we share and are bound by. Singer/songwriter Lauria is proving that she’s got the charisma and the organic identity to be one of the best in the game, and right now she has her white hot new single “Losing Me” to thank for all of the attention.

A smoky bassline throbs against the funky beats administered from the backing track in “Losing Me.” It adds a layer of mystique over the otherwise totally accessible Lauria, who sings with a gusto that could leave her mistaken for a divine angel instead of just an earthly songstress. She’s good, and what’s even better is that she doesn’t have to pile on a lot of additional frills to convince you that she’s the real article. “Losing Me” is a pretty simply constructed song, but the modesty of its design is rather deceiving when considering the ambitious nature of Lauria’s approach to making music in the studio. Her voice would work well in almost any setting because it’s clear that she puts in all of the blue collar, old school working musician hours to make it perfect and tailor made for her target audience.

It shouldn’t go without mentioning the overt reggae influence that exists within the bones of “Losing Me” that is consistent with a continued celebration of the exotic stylings of Caribbean music that we’ve been seeing in the latter half of the 2010’s in R&B. What sets this particular arrangement apart from some of the similar tracks that I’ve heard in the last few years is in its understated delivery, which makes it sound a lot less derivative than the best of what some of Lauria’s closest competition can muster. And yes, I do call the fellow artists of her scene her competition, because now more than ever before thanks to the advent of social media and international connectivity through the internet, it’s practically harder to break into this business than it is to become a surgeon. Strike that; it is harder, because in music there isn’t a school or a set of regulations that you can follow a clear path of study to attain proficiency in the field. She’s ready to play in the major leagues, and if this is just a mere glimpse into her capacities as composer and a singer, then a full length album is going to need to happen very soon. Lauria has a chance to move up to the next level faster than anyone else in her aesthetic class right now, and “Losing Me” just might be the song to usher in her reign over the charts.

SPOTIFY: open.spotify.com/artist/2uaAxtUAERovgO6bwebn7r

Clay Burton

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Edenn releases new Single

Edenn releases new Single

URL: edennmusic.com/

I’ve been a glutton for electronica most of my life. It’s that fickle genre that some people like to rip on for being almost completely digitally-engineered, but I’ve always defended it as more complex, more calculated than the average casual music fan could really understand or properly appreciate. The most erudite of electronica’s many scenes that scatter across the entire globe is the collective world of European house music, which is not only the most diverse collection of artists anywhere on planet earth in my personal opinion, but also the most enigmatic and reclusive. Yes, there have been enormously successful entertainers to come out of the Euro circuit, but it’s the tens of thousands who have remained in obscurity that serve as the real cream of the crop in this genre. And while Parisian melodic hip-hop artist Edenn doesn’t go all out on the synth and sample front with his new song “Thinking,” if you’re a student of the electronica gods, it’s practically impossible not to see the effect his geographical surroundings have had on him.

Edenn moved to Belgium back in 2018 and is now an established journalist and multi-faceted artist living in Paris. During his time on the continent he’s expended a lot of energy constructing a unique approach to tonality that isn’t the most common for western-stylized R&B singers. But that’s where things get interesting, you see. I have this theory that Edenn doesn’t consider himself an R&B singer, at least not entirely. There’s such a myriad of tones and sharp percussive explosions that indicate to me that he’s much more interested in making avant-garde pop that doesn’t fit into any category other than experimental.

If I’m right, here’s how all of that works out in the benefit of urban music and electronica equally. For one, Edenn will not only be regarded as a champion of the underground who responsibly used the most DIY means available to him to bring experimental pop infused with R&B into the mainstream, but he’ll be in the perfect position to be the face of R&B as the transition of power takes place over the next half decade. When things change, and they always do, they tend to change for the better when the right minds are given the task of taking charge over the masses and guiding them into the safety of the future.

None of this means an insular future for R&B or the death of yet another corner of underground music. What it does mean is that we’re moving forward in pop culture, and love songs that are progressively styled in the vein of “Thinking” are a lot more exhilarating than one that are steeped in tired, recycled drum beats and tracks “featuring” appearances by cheap, sound alike colleagues that do little more to add to a track than put their name in the credits list on the back of the album. If the future is now and this is what it sounds like, then I have no idea know we waited so long to make this move into it.

Listen to single: edennmusic.com/music

Clay Burton

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Project Grand Slam – Trippin’

Project Grand Slam – Trippin’

URL: www.projectgrandslam.com/

The best thing about summer, at least for music enthusiasts like myself, is the massive tidal wave of the releases that the season brings with it. Typically summertime is when we see more output from all genres than any other time of year as artists prepare to embark on vigorous tour schedules to get people excited and invigorated throughout the heat-inspired passion of the three months wedged between spring and autumn. One of the most anticipated albums of the season this year is Trippin’ from jazz virtuoso Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam, which I had the immense privilege of sampling ahead of its June 29th release date. Featuring the prolific stylings of Miller, vocalist Ziarra Washington, guitarist Tristan Clark, percussionist Guillermo Barron Rios, saxophonist Mario Castro, the incomparable Baden Goyo on keys and Joel E. Mateo on drums, Trippin’ offers some of the most imaginative sounds that the new wave of jazz fusion is brewing up these days, and is led by the enchanting single “Lament,” a song so tremendously epic that it plays out like the jazz equivalent of a Queen song.

Jazz music, especially for art aficionados, is a lot like fine wine in its rich complexities and calculated tones that take a great deal of time to reach their full potential. It’s more than obvious that this group put in a lot of old school, blue collar labor into their newest LP, and “Lament” sort of serves as a signature salutation for newcomers unfamiliar with the character and integrity that Project Grand Slam is becoming legendary for. I’d even go as far as to suggest that this is a great song for people who are new to jazz fusion in general, as its accessibility allows for even the most casual of listeners to be able to enjoy and appreciate the cerebral qualities that make this style of music so fascinating to study.

Materialism and the influence of corporate greed is killing music more than we ever thought it could. As early as the end of the 1950’s, industry pioneers were getting concerned about the corruption of the artistic soul of popular music by external influences, and we’ve seen a downward trend in the last half century that has now resulted in songs about soft drinks being number one hits on the Billboard charts. As someone who came up listening to classic jazz records as a kid, punk rock as a teenager and avant-garde classical music as an adult, I find it a little insulting to our collective intelligence that the establishment thinks that’s all we’re capable of digesting. Thank god for what Project Grand Slam is doing in music right now; we need more artists who are actively taking a clean approach to composing and performing instead of leaning so heavily on financial interests. It doesn’t take big dollars to make an amazing record that will change people’s lives. It does however take big passion, and as long as this group is around, we can count on there still being a little bit of energy to keep the lighthouse beacon lit going into the next era of popular music.

I-TUNES: itunes.apple.com/bz/album/trippin/1385709468

Clay Burton

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That Summer, Vol. 1 – C.K. & The Rising Tide “Friends”

That Summer, Vol. 1 – C.K. & The Rising Tide “Friends”

C.K. & The Rising Tide “Friends” cktherisingtide.bandcamp.com/track/friends

C.K. Flach and his group The Rising Tide are about impossible to avoid these days if you’re a fan of alternative country music, and it’s no wonder why every critic in pop has made at least one mention of their latest single “Friends” since it dropped earlier this month. In a genre like country music that doesn’t have as much variety as some of the other big genres that are popular in music today, alternative groups like C.K. & The Rising Tide stand to benefit the most from tailoring their craft around the more neglected fans of the Nashville scene. This is unquestionably, the look, the feel and the delivery of the newest incarnation of country rock that will dominate the charts in the next decade to come, and luckily for us, it’s looking to be the most provocative and exciting addition to the American songbook yet.

There’s no denying that C.K. & The Rising Tide sound like more of a live band than they do a studio act, but nevertheless, that didn’t stop them from banging out a real, genuine treasure in their new song “Friends.” Flach is a really gifted poet, and it’s on the strength of his prose that this group seems to really spread its wings and fill up all of the empty spaces that sometimes plague country bands that try to make such pastoral, folk-influenced music. Structurally, “Friends” is a pretty straight up country song, but there are so many layers of sonic disruption and discord that add to the textures of this track that it’s hard for me not to shelve it in the alternative section. There are moments that, dare I say, the group even touches on experimental territory, and to say that they’re anything less than the brilliant innovators that they are would be flat out criminal.

A song like this really encourages me to feel safe in saying that we can believe in music again. For a while there, it seemed like the big box corporate interests of the MTV generation had completely eclipsed any sort of organic DIY ethics that were still existent in our modern times, and that was a pretty heartbreaking concept to try and grapple with, at least for those of us who had come to depend on commercial free music to get through our lives and thin out the monotony that FM radio can sometimes cram down our throats in the most uncompromisingly droning of fashions. But we’re seeing a change this year, and C.K. & the Rising Tide are one of the finer examples of the revolution in audio that we appear to be riding into. I’m not a huge country music fan, but if this band lights enough of a fire underneath Nashville to inspire other bands to go out on a limb and try something different like these guys did, my patronage of country music could change very, very drastically in the near future. Art makes you think, and great art makes you think a little differently.

That Summer, Vol. 1: open.spotify.com/album/2BuQkIZjet7yHSU7cGroKj

Clay Burton

 

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