Thursday, September 6, 2018

AV Super Sunshine release Time Bomb

AV Super Sunshine release Time Bomb

The musical time bomb driving the verve and gusto of AV Super Sunshine’s latest song “Time Bomb” takes the form of two distinct mixes. The club mix is the longer of the two songs, clocking in over five minutes in length, but it’s an overwhelming tour de force of electronica without a single extraneous musical movement. Much of the credit for this, naturally, goes to AV Super Sunshine for penning such a convincing synthesis of EDM and rock, but AV’s longtime collaborator Michael Bradford definitely deserves the spotlight as well. He turns a dynamic radio track into a full throttle, careening blast of electronic musical genius while retaining the elements making the radio version so effective., yet utilized in a different fashion.

The mix rarely skirts the edge of distortion and, instead, puts an “overdrive” effect on AV’s vocals only sparingly. One thing that leaps out, among others, about this particular version is how Bradford resolutely refuses to push the envelope too far. He has a clear vision of what a club mix of this song must sound like and, as a result, his take on AV’s radio mix has confidence and artfulness many other such efforts lack. It’s interesting, when juxtaposing this against the radio mix, which elements Bradford chooses to accentuate and those he chooses to submerge into the heavy synthesizer thrust of the song. Nonetheless, this is obviously an apt track for a club setting, but even more intimate settings will receive quite a kick in the pants from this mix. It should be played loud – it DEMANDS to be played as loud as your system can handle.

AV Super Sunshine’s radio version is a much different animal, but clearly cut from the same cloth. The synthesizers are understated here, in comparison to the other version, but their presence is strong throughout and it’s apparent how many of the building blocks this take on the song supplies for the club mix. Overall, the radio vision for this song is much more “traditional” than we hear from the club version. The melodic strengths of the track are framed much more decisively and the vocal has a much different flavor with the female backing vocals contrasting well with the lead vocal. The presence of piano cascading through the mix lightens the song’s touch a little without ever sacrificing its modern edge.

‘Time Bomb” has a fantastic sound in both versions and the varying takes on this tune never lose sight of the great song beneath all of the glitz and flash. In the end, that’s what it comes down to – AV Super Sunshine is more than just a gripping performing unit for modern audience, it references the current and past in a highly charged balance that sets it apart from virtually anything else out there in 2018 or, even, in recent history.

Matthew Johns

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Conceptz “Splash (featuring Benny Blanco)”

Conceptz “Splash (featuring Benny Blanco)”
When you’re as good at your profession as the brothers in Conceptz are, the people who depend on the quality of your work come to expect a lot out of you, whether your business is medicine, fabrics, or in Conceptz’ case, making earth-shatteringly good music. If you’re a big fan of their style, you won’t be let down by what they’ve put together in their brand new single “Splash (featuring Benny Blanco),” which has taken the pop music world by storm is collecting more attention on the pair than they could have ever dreamed of coming up in Orange County, New York. 

Emerging from one of the most diverse and competitive scenes in the entire world, Conceptz have been relentlessly producing, recording and writing since 2011 and now have a notorious reputation as one of the hardest hitting names in east coast hip-hop. Now they’re dead set on conquering the rest of America and bringing their sound to an international audience, and “Splash” is effectively facilitating their conquest.
The thing is, hip-hop as a DIY identity actually died about 20 to 25 years ago. The flames of its implosion, brought on by the violent feud between the east and west coast scenes, smoldered for almost a decade and produced a myriad of acts whose level of talent ranged widely. As the smoke cleared around the ash heap that remained once the last embers remaining from the war were completely extinguished, a lot of wannabes started picking the bones of legendary hip-hop moguls with the aspiration of creating, or maybe even becoming, something similar to what Biggie or Tupac represented. For the most part, their efforts were in vein. But recently, out of the ashes, we’ve started to see a reincarnation of the aesthetical ghosts who gave birth to records like The Score. It isn’t that groups like Conceptz are trying to look or sound like their heroes, but that they’ve adopted their free-spirited outlook, and that is what is giving life to the phoenix that is modern indie hip-hop.
In the 2020’s, pop music is going to be completely rife with the experimentalism hinted at in “Splash,” and the artists who are going to experience the highest level of success are going to be the ones who aren’t scared of change but embrace it with luster. That is why I’m positive that Conceptz are going to continue to produce hit after hit in the next couple of years, and will most likely end up being one of the landmark hip-hop acts of their time. 

Record sales have nothing to do with, and honestly neither do the reviews or critical analysis that my colleagues and I are going to pen. All that really matters is the effect that they have on the artists around them, whether it be in their native New York scene, elsewhere in the United States or even abroad. That is the true measure of their artistic worth, and judging from where they currently stand, their own legend has only just begun being written.
Drew Blackwell 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Crack of Dawn release Spotlight

Crack of Dawn release Spotlight

Crack of Dawn’s new record Spotlight opens with a song titled simply enough, “Crack of Dawn,” a track that immediately jumps right into the same, reliably charming funk that gave this group their infamous start in the 1970s and is keeping them pumping as hard as the heart of a young lover in 2018. “Wake me up at the crack of dawn, we gonna get it on” we’re told, and never have I felt so eager to break into this new day that’s awaiting us in the nine tracks to follow; this is the long overdue trip that fans Crack of Dawn have been waiting to take for some time now, and at as “Somebody’s Watching” starts up, it’s clear that our moment has finally arrived.

“Somebody’s Watching” gets us lit up with some white hot guitar riffing that’s punctuated with a bass that goes for a walk around the vocals and driving drum beat. It’s a great buffer and intro into the equally spellbinding and funky “Booby Ruby,” a boisterous number that evokes Stevie Wonder’s grinding keys and methodical pitch attack. Even with the shifts in the tempo between the first three songs, Spotlight features an ambiance that remains the same throughout its entire play, without getting too monotonous or stuck on a certain theme. Take for example the way we practically catapult from “Booby Ruby” into the thumping, ambitiously agile “Keep the Faith,” a song that I think needs to be a single up for consideration at this year’s Grammy Awards if the judges manage to develop any sort of sense. Unlikely, but we can still dream can’t we?

If there were anyone worth their wits in the American music establishment, a song like “It’s Alright” would already be towering over the charts as we head into the summer season – which has pretty much always been the primetime for sensuous love songs of its high caliber. It’s matched in creativity by “Ol’ Skool,” my favorite song on Spotlight. “Ol’ Skool” is a very autobiographical song for the band, but not once does Crack of Dawn give us the impression that they’re lamenting how much time has gone by. Actually, I think they’re in love with the history they’ve been able to make, and they’re still down to keep the party going into the next generation and beyond. “Seasons Change” keeps up with this theme, and makes for a very welcoming melodic break from all of the strenuous beats we’ve experienced up until this point of the record.

The title track from Spotlight is easily the most relaxed moment of the entire album, dimming the lights and letting the illuminating pipes of our lead singer direct our attentions further towards the opulent and sumptuous. It’s the perfect segue into “Your Love” and it’s all out eroticism that’s planted right into the melodies it so proudly boasts. As the LP draws to a poignant close with the enchanting “Changes,” everyone who has been listening might take away a slightly different interpretation of Crack of Dawn’s intentions with Spotlight, but one thing remains universally agreed upon; their reemergence really is the best thing that could have happened to pop music right now.

Thomas Patton, III

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Lauria – Losing Me

Lauria – Losing Me

Lauria, aka Florie-Laure Zadigue DubĂ©, brings her new single to the world with a bold and vibrant debut that cuts through the noise of the day with a vibe that changes everything from moods to minds once you hear it. “Losing Me” is a hit song by a hit artist in the making, as it comes before what should be a string of others to go with it at the rate it hits the senses. Not that Laurie is trying to come on too strong, but it does its own magic either way, as she eases her way into a music career after playing in a band with her cousin and being around her producer-  uncle a lot, who now manages her. 

It really plays like a great little earworm that her vocals top off and make an anticipating ballad that consistently builds as it goes and simply does the business by the time it’s over. The vocals soar and spar back and forth together with a sultry, very relaxing result. It comes with lyrics that the title sums up and further elaborates with the cause and effects of losing the love that deserves better care. Lauria’s voice is something to behold as she pleads for the cause and helps make the song, as that what her vocals alone can do. Simply amazing to say the least. 

The Pop structure she weaves is really-just the outlining genre in which she has no qualms about being listed, but Lauria aims beyond classification and doesn’t bottle herself into any. This is a slow song with a slow groove and the music setting complements her vocals without dominating the arrangement, placing her more along the lines of R&B and even hip hop that is sung without rapping. If she can be all three, then that is what she is. But I can also imagine her singing jazz as well because her voice suits just about any type of music and she makes no secret of that, so it’s no accident. 

For a break-up song played like a love song it has the best of both worlds and the singer with just the right shops for it, and the songwriting is excellent so it’s easy to assume there’s more on the horizon from Laurie, with only one single so far to sense that. You can tell there’s a lot more in her, but you have-to start somewhere and this is a monster start. Put five to ten more of these down and Laurie won’t be looking back, she’s a force to reckon with. 

It’s not very often that you come across such impacting debut single releases anymore, but Laurie has-the ability to blend in with the times without losing old fashioned values. And coming from Montreal it’s an exotic sound that isn’t often heard everywhere, which she classifies as an artist too. That’s some of the difference between Lauria and some other singers of the day with less eloquence, and eloquence is a good way to describe both her vocals and the music on “Losing Me.” Don’t miss this killer new cut by an extraordinary artist that sings with the passion of the best around.

David Ricks 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Edenn “Thinking”

Edenn “Thinking”

So many songs, so little time. So many decisions on what to add to your playlist, or dance to a on Saturday night. What are you thinking? Well, doubters beware, Edenn is ready to pounce with the super chill, but contagious pop – dance track “Thinking.” This song at just over three minutes’ holds your attention from the get go and keeps you moving.

Born in Togo but now calling Europe home, Edenn’s background is in journalism and screenwriting. While you won’t find much storytelling in the lyrics of “Thinking,” per se, you do find a delightful and celebratory music beats and rhythm. The song has a fresh, island-like feel. No, not like reggae or even dub music, but rather a breezy pop-dance meets R&B vibe. “Thinking” fuses all the modern tricks in dance music (the beat is infectious) with the simplicity of pop song lyrics.
“Thinking” rises to the occasion and has subtle Afro-pop flavorings.

Fans of Sia will definitely dig “Thinking.” While Edenn’s voice is not as unique as Sia’s delivery, his presence is head turning. There’s a sweetness and almost innocence in his voice. His vibe is so welcoming and joyful. Still, there’s a sexual tension that as a listener you’re left wondering, and trying to complete the puzzle pieces, if he’s thinking about a girl, an affair he’s having, or just being a cool guy and thanking his support system. His press materials state he’s so moved by his fans and supporters that he wanted to write “Thinking.”

Shhh,  I think “Thinking” is about a torrid love affair.

“Thinking” leaves you with an experience. It’s not about the lyrics necessarily, but getting lost in the entire track. You are instantly immersed into another sensory artistic world. That island feel becomes such a clear indication of the enjoyment. You feel a part of a dance party at midnight; you feel a part of the intimate moments on the beach.

Overall, Edenn’s debut track “Thinking” is a clear hit. Right out of the gate, he got me dancing and loving the beat. I wish there were more depth to the lyrics, but it didn’t distract me from still repeatedly listening. With so many similar electronic pop songs sounding the same, Edenn sticks out the crowd just enough to be noticed. I fear he will be plagued by his voice not having the falsetto wave like Jason Derulo or the smoothness of Ne-Yo, but Edenn stays in his lane and does what does. And he does it very well. He charms without being too insecure, and is very relatable.

Gwen Waggoner approved by Mindy McCall

Monday, June 11, 2018

Cathy Hutch releases LP

Cathy Hutch releases LP

Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada is home to singer and songwriter Cathy Hutch. In addition to volunteering her musical talents for autism fundraisers and her community, Hutch has found the time to release her second album, Free Wheelin.'

The 11-song album is foot tapping and soul-searching journey ready for summer listening and perfect for country-blues-rock playlists.

The title track gets you behind the wheel and ready to roll down the road or along the coast on your motorcycle. Hutch’s band is equally deserving of accolades. This tune could fit nicely into an Americana-roots rock genre. The guitar riffs, as well as the piano and percussions on all of the tracks are flawless and tight. Free Wheelin’ gets two thumbs up for setting the mood for a nice, easy going summer.

It’s interesting that Hutch makes you feel like you’re moving and there’s a sense of nature and certainly the human spirit in her songs, but it’s really an album that is best-experienced sitting down and not being distracted. You fall into her vocal spell.  She will color your day with grace, light and rapture.

Songs like “Know It All” and “Sweet Dave” are amplified, and Hutch seems to dig deeper into her vocal arsenal for edgier deliveries. Her originality is refreshing and she’s not trying to be anything she’s not. While some might compare Hutch to the legendary Tanya Tucker, Pat Benatar, or even Melissa Etheridge, Cathy Hutch stands her ground in an already entertaining splendor. She’s genuine and passionate. Most of all, her caring smile comes through in all the tracks.

At first listen I didn’t think “Carry You Along” would be my favorite track. It’s very wholesome and almost children’s programming or Christian rock. It’s an upbeat song, and like the final track “Lullaby” her passion for the human spirit shines through. “Lullaby” is certainly timely and reminds us that we have to get together. In a motherly way, she sings to us as if we were sing out loud an evening prayer. Both of these songs stuck with me throughout my day and her voice seemed to remind me to keep my head up and move forward.

Hutch serenades the listener with her angelic voice in “Good Friends Like You” and again in “Reflections.” While some listeners might find it hokey or even silly to fall into these feel-goodery songs, Hutch reminds the listener that she can keep her listeners moving and listening with her quick upbeat tracks like “Sweet Dave.” She’s a true artist. Her vulnerable voice channels the idea of personal growth and taking personal inventory of a who’s who in your life. “Good Friends Like You” might appeal to mostly females, but it’s still an open diary. Props to Cathy for sharing her words and her voice.

Colin Steele

Conor Gains - Compass

Conor Gains - Compass

A musician’s life is only driven by two things and two things alone. One: the need for food and water to sustain survival. Two: the need to express, and express, and express more, as freely as the universe allows. Like a river crashing between the rocks and slowly but surely breaking them down to dust, Conor Gains’ debut record Compass will rock your world with its giant guitars and finely textured percussion, horn and key arrangements, but it’s the long term effect of its inspired lyrics that will impact you at the highest threshold.

Conor Gains is a pretty easy going guy. Even if you don’t pick that up from his very happy go lucky style of play, he’ll be the first one to tell you that he doesn’t sweat the small stuff. In the past few years he’s been developing the material for what has ultimately become Compass, weeding out anything that he didn’t deem to be up to his high standard of music output. According to Gains, he wrote approximately a hundred different sonnets, ballads and poems that he ironed out over and over before finely deciding on the ten tracks featured on his debut album. Chalk it up to perfectionism or simply fate, but the results are well worth the wait that industry peers and critics alike have been waiting for.

Even for the most intellectually-resistant, casual music fan, Compass offers a buffet of qualities to be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone from kids to seniors. There are a lot of jazz workings in the structure and plenty of psychedelic noodling to keep things interesting, but it’s probably the world music influences that stand out through the funk and blues more than anything else. There’s a well-traveled smokiness to Conor’s voice that is as sexy as it is as mysterious, and it makes for an exciting layer in addition to the many other cultural accents on this album. The diversity of sounds, tones and themes in Compass might strike some as a little cocky for a rookie release, but Gains is not your typical up and coming singer/songwriter. The cohesiveness of the songs remains without fracture despite vaulting from danceable (“Dance Like It’s Your Birthday” and fresh single “I Know”), to the reflective (“Miracles” and “I’ve Been Looking for Your Heart”) and willfully abstract (“In My Head”). Compass is as nimble as a four song extended play but with the IMAX sized vision of a double full-length record.

Conor Gains isn’t just dropping new music on the charts for sport; he’s engineering a new style of relaxed, free jazz that welcomes the spirit of experimental indie rock with open arms. The combination is nothing to take lightly – we’re looking at the next phase of alternative music packaged into a single record here, folks. Who knows why it took so long for the scenes to find each other, but now that it’s capturing the attention of audiences from one side of the Atlantic to the other, Gains can rightfully take his place as the king of post-millennium swing.

Trace Whittaker