Mid-Week Mixdown: United Grind, Tonique & Man, ttypes, Hotel Hugo, Madelyn Read, Jay Ssandri, Luke Elliot, Aryeè the Gem, Joe Little, and JAF 34

Welcome to another edition of the Mid-Week Mixdown on B-Side Guys, your sonic sanctuary in the middle of the work week grind. Here, we embrace the magic of music to break the monotony, casting our net far and wide to reel in tunes that enthrall, soothe, and inspire. In our ongoing quest to unearth new sounds and revisit familiar ones with a fresh perspective, we travel across genres, from the pulsating rhythms of electronica to the soulful croonings of R&B, the invigorating beats of hip-hop, and the melodious strummings of indie folk. Each track has been handpicked to reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the current music landscape.

Whether you’re searching for a tempo boost to combat mid-week lethargy, or a tranquil melody to wind down after a busy day, there’s a song in this mixdown for you. Our carefully curated selection is a testament to our belief in the power of music – not just as background noise, but as a vital component of our daily lives. So, slip on your headphones, crank up the volume, and let our Mid-Week Mixdown transport you to a world where beats, melodies, and lyrics blend into the perfect auditory escape. Dive in and discover new favorites, unexpected earworms, and tunes that hit just right for this moment in time. Enjoy the journey!

United Grind – “Ambush Ballad” feat. HiJinks & Lena Jackson

“United Grind’s ‘Ambush Ballad’ featuring HiJinks and Lena Jackson is a detonation of raw lyricism and explosive delivery. Set against the intoxicating beats crafted by Deryck/Colorful Mind of Bratislava, Slovakia, HiJinks and Jackson launch a rhythmic ambush, not just taking the mic, but seizing it with palpable authority. Their distinct vocal deliveries wrap around the hard-hitting beats, creating a symbiosis of sound that stirs a gritty, hip-hop elixir. The music video, directed by HiJinks’ own Reel Dope Cinematic venture, provides a tantalizing glimpse into their electrifying stage presence, the energy of United Grind crew members elevating the ambiance, reinforcing the track’s pulsating heart.

The song ‘Ambush Ballad’ features in the ensemble’s latest album, ‘Grind or Die (Vol. 1)’, a testament to the prowess and unity of Midwest-based indie rap talents. The album straddles an impressive range of styles and perspectives, from the hard-hitting ‘Cut Throat’ to the commanding ‘Give It Back’. The artists’ commitment to the evolution of hip-hop, and their desire to demonstrate the strength of their movement, echoes through each track. ‘Ambush Ballad’, with its lyrically charged verses and captivating performances, underscores this ethos, showcasing the tenacity and talent embedded in the United Grind collective. From start to finish, ‘Grind or Die (Vol. 1)’ is a vibrant journey through the contours of hip-hop, and ‘Ambush Ballad’ is a standout stop along the way.”

Tonique & Man – “You Make Me Feel So Good” (Mi Man Bossa Remix)

“Tonique & Man’s remix of ‘You Make Me Feel So Good’ captures the quintessence of a balmy summer day with the refined elegance of Bossa nova. This remix is not merely an alternate version; it’s an entirely new narrative, like a languid nap under the coconut trees on a warm, sunny day. Jean Tonique and Mi Man, French musical maestros, synergize their talents and channel their inner Brazilians, turning the original track into a dreamy Bossa ballad that pulses with voluptuous sweetness. From the serenely strummed guitars to the mellow trombone, and the whispery percussions, each element feels like a gentle ocean breeze on the listener’s skin.

Their forthcoming album ‘Opening Soon’ promises a culinary journey woven with gourmet grooves. Much like a buddy movie, their musical camaraderie is front and center, their joint virtuosity creating an ambiance reminiscent of an acrobatic pizza trick spectacle. The album brims with feel-good tracks, characterized by Tonique’s funk-laden guitar mastery and Man’s harmonic sweetness. The duo’s passion for disco, and their seamless blending of luminous orchestration and electronic textures, results in a sonic tapestry that is as varied as it is cohesive. ‘You Make Me Feel So Good (Mi Man Bossa Edit)’ is a taste of what’s to come, and the anticipation for the full course is palpable.”

ttypes – “I Remember in the Time of Dangerous Groups”

In “I Remember in the Time of Dangerous Groups,” ttypes crafts a rich tapestry of melancholic nostalgia with a luminous undercurrent of contentment. The track is an exploration of the paradox of joy in recalling past sadness, steeped in the themes of unrequited love and framed within a dreamy, sci-fi narrative. The deeply emotive lyrics narrate the saga of a poignant longing, expressed through the ethereal veil of interstellar metaphors. The repeated assertion, “Didn’t you believe me? I swore upon the moons I named for you,” beautifully captures the essence of the love-lorn narrative, the protagonist’s pleas echoing through the vast cosmos. This line’s power is amplified through its repetition, acting as a refrain that underlines the track’s melancholic core.

ttypes, the brainchild of Michigan-based songwriter Tim Krauss, extends beyond the boundaries of conventional indie music, venturing into a vast terrain of styles that makes every track an unexpected journey. Drawing inspiration from the vivid universes of Ursula K. LeGuin’s literature, he imbues his compositions with a sense of otherworldly grandeur that’s both captivating and intriguing. The range of musicality in this track, from the contemplative verses to the emotionally charged chorus, reflects this kaleidoscopic creativity.

“I Remember in the Time of Dangerous Groups” is a delicate balance of sadness and joy, a cosmic dance of emotions and memories that creates a sonic universe where love and longing coexist. The lyrical complexity layered over the dream pop backdrop generates a sense of timelessness, while also evoking a wistful retrospection. It’s as if ttypes has captured the spectral beauty of a distant star, which, although it may be long extinct, still glows with a light that transcends time and space. As the lyrics declare, “I remember when it was that day and it was that way,” the listener is gently pulled into this universal narrative of love and loss, resonating within their own constellation of personal memories.

Hotel Hugo – “change”

Bathing in the warmth of nostalgia, “change” by Hotel Hugo is a vibrant blend of rock ‘n’ roll and 70s pop that perfectly encapsulates the joy of a summer drive with windows rolled down. The track is a sonic journey back in time, showcasing an affectionate nod to the melodies and aesthetics of past decades. Despite its retrospective leanings, the song feels fresh and modern, embodying an enticing sense of escapism that resonates strongly with contemporary audiences. The joyous instrumentation and infectious rhythms effortlessly compliment the song’s lighthearted, carefree atmosphere, creating a soundscape that invites listeners to immerse themselves in Hotel Hugo’s radiant energy.

The brainchild of Garrett Williams, Hotel Hugo is a testament to the enduring vitality of indie rock, infused with an unmistakable flair drawn from the 60s and 70s. Supported by a troupe of local musicians, Williams’ songwriting strikes a delightful balance between heartfelt honesty and playful mischief. He crafts evocative narratives that find beauty in the mundane and celebrate the power of friendship, setting them against a backdrop of lush, nostalgia-tinged melodies. As Hotel Hugo continues to evolve and refine their sound, the anticipation for their forthcoming studio work remains high. In the meantime, “change” serves as a captivating snapshot of the band’s unique, retro-inspired sound, a musical offering that promises to bring a touch of summer to any season.

Madelyn Read – “What I Know Now”

n “What I Know Now”, Madelyn Read weaves a captivating narrative of bittersweet longing and quiet introspection. Set against the potent backdrop of city-to-city migration, the song captures the inherent dichotomy of youth: the thirst for exploration and the inevitable cost of such adventures. The protagonist’s partner leaves for Toronto on a red-eye flight, initiating a poignant meditation on love, distance, and regret. “Just this morning we were sharing coffee/And now you’re gliding over the prairies,” Read sings, her voice brimming with a wistful melancholy that echoes the transient nature of shared moments.

The chorus strikes a chord with its universal resonance, navigating the crossroads of youth and maturity: “I know we said we’re young and that’s all right/But I don’t know if I knew then what I know now.” This refrain, repeating like a mantra, becomes the heart of the song — a quiet admission of the pain that comes with wisdom. The lyrics convey a tension between wanting to express genuine feelings (“Maybe I should call you up and tell you/What I feel is true”) and the dread of the potential aftermath (“But even if I did, what could I say to bring you here?”). These thoughtful confessions, coupled with the immersive soundscape, present “What I Know Now” as an evocative diary entry set to music, demonstrating Read’s adeptness at intertwining personal stories with universally relatable themes.

Jay Ssandri – “Change of Pace”

With the open road anthem “Change of Pace,” Jay Ssandri manages to distill the essential elements of wanderlust and introspection into an acoustic-laden journey of escape and self-discovery. It’s a song laden with raw sentimentality, itchy-feet yearning, and deliciously contagious melodies, evoking the sense of breaking free from monotony and the audacious spirit of impromptu road trips. Ssandri’s voice, both soulful and contemplative, earnestly articulates lines like “Heaven knows I’ve been searching for tomorrow, god might only know what it will bring,” manifesting a sense of poignant desperation, the quintessence of a soul yearning for something beyond the daily grind. The lyrics have an evocative quality that paints a vivid landscape of escapism – a sentiment that resonates universally.

The touch of bilingualism in the lyrics, adding a distinct yet seamlessly integrated flair, further amplifies the track’s universal appeal. It showcases a spectrum of influences from folk to alternative, imprinting his admiration for artists like Bon Iver and Jack Johnson in every strum and lyric. The chorus line, “Cause I’ve been dreaming of a sweet pine air everyday. and throwing pebbles over sunny lakes,” beautifully encapsulates the simple yet profound joy that comes with stepping out of the comfort zone, hinting at Ssandri’s aspirations to make an impact on listeners. A recurring theme throughout the song is the dread of routine and the desire for a “change of pace,” alluding to his own transformation from a quiet kid in the back of the room to an artist striving to create songs that resonate for generations. “Change of Pace” is an authentic, engaging, and visceral exploration of restlessness and aspiration, highlighting Ssandri’s potential as a powerful voice in the contemporary music scene.

Luke Elliot – “William Tell”

Luke Elliot’s “William Tell” is a murky journey into the depths of humanity’s darkest corners, an evocative murder ballad steeped in a macabre fascination with American beat writer William Burroughs. The single, which serves as a grim cornerstone for Elliot’s forthcoming album “Let Em All Talk”, is a poignant reflection of the incident where Burroughs shot his second wife, Joan Vollmer, while trying to reenact the legendary William Tell act in Mexico City, 1951. The track’s chilling narrative is masterfully delivered, underscored by Elliot’s signature cinematic musicality, eliciting a sense of creeping unease as he sings “This song is about him killing his wife by placing a glass of whiskey on her head.”

Elliot’s eclectic mix of influences – from John Coltrane and Dylan to The Cramps and Gun Club – adds a rich tapestry of sound to “William Tell”. His talent for blending elements of folk, rock, and Americana, along with his penchant for film noir, infuses his music with a unique atmospheric charm, reminiscent of the work of Tom Waits and Nick Cave. His cinematic sensibility, evident in his previous works and highly acclaimed LP “The Big Wind”, takes center stage in “William Tell”, revealing an artist comfortable in his craft, pushing boundaries and exploring new thematic terrain. The haunting narrative of “William Tell” is both a testament to Elliot’s songwriting prowess and a compelling glimpse into his upcoming album, positioning him as an intriguing force in the contemporary music scene.

Aryeè The Gem – “To It”

Atlanta-based songstress Aryeè The Gem makes an unapologetic return with her evocative R&B single “To It”. The track, a precursor to her highly anticipated debut solo EP, is a melodic musing on the challenges of navigating life’s transitions and coming to terms with emotional discomfort. Produced by the accomplished Trakmatik, “To It” flawlessly fuses a progressive soul core with elements of R&B, soul, hip-hop and indie to deliver a multi-dimensional sonic experience. The artist’s lyrical prowess is evident as she pensively explores the pressures of adulting, candidly sharing her struggles with loneliness and financial worries. This potent and deeply introspective narrative draws listeners into a vulnerable yet relatable space, establishing an emotional resonance that transcends the sonic experience.

In the accompanying video, directed by Los Angeles-based MOM, Aryeè The Gem manifests her journey towards self-reflection and freedom. The visuals employ symbolic imagery to capture the singer’s tenacious spirit and the liberating process of self-discovery. As she asserts, “the video represents freedom, hope, and experiencing that place where the weights of life feel lifted from my shoulders”. The artist’s ability to gracefully negotiate this balance between personal turmoil and personal growth is a testament to her raw talent and charisma. Strikingly similar to the works of Victoria Monet, Syd, Ari Lennox, or Solange, “To It” stands as a beacon of Aryeè The Gem’s transformative potential as she prepares to etch her name in the contemporary music landscape. Rooted in her rich heritage and influenced by the likes of Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, and Brandy, Aryeè The Gem’s music is not just about artistry, but it also offers healing through musical expression.

Joe Little – “Stars”

“Stars,” the latest offering from the burgeoning singer-songwriter Joe Little, is an intimate exploration of the fleeting yet impactful moments of a past relationship. Infused with a poignant blend of nostalgia and yearning, the track delves into the paradox of love, of cherishing the beauty of togetherness while acknowledging the evanescence of such moments. Written in solitude within the confines of his bedroom, Joe teamed up with CJ Pandit to produce this evocative piece, which is a testament to their combined artistic prowess.

“Stars” was conceived as a time capsule of those magical periods of quiet companionship in a relationship, a potent reminder to be present and treasure the transient moments of intimacy. As Joe recounts, the song embodies a bittersweet sentiment, particularly when looking back at those cherished instances in hindsight. It’s a deeply personal narrative that resonates universally, drawing listeners into Joe’s emotive sphere while encouraging introspection on their own experiences of love and loss.

Joe’s distinctive approach to his music, with its genre-bending exploration into love and pleasure, emanates a dark passion that’s both artistic and dazzlingly cinematic. His craft, reminiscent of the intimate portrayals by Chet Baker and the expressive nuances of PJ Harvey, displays a rapidly evolving sophistication. Having won a live-performance competition and subsequently worked with notable producers and engineers like Adam Rust and Finn Lomax, Joe’s artistic journey is gaining formidable momentum.

JAF 34 – “Ex[hAle]” feat. Himalayan Dalai Lama

On Easter day, a symbol of resurrection, the JAF 34 project emerged anew with an intriguing remix of the original track, Inhale Exhale, titled “ex[hAle].” JAF 34’s collaboration with the electronic downtempo duo, Himalayan Dalai Lama, significantly shifted the sound spectrum, leaving the confines of shoegaze for the ethereal realm of indie electronica while preserving Viktoria Marksová’s mesmerizing vocals. This new dimension of sound, though unexpected, proved to be a welcomed change, an exploration of sonic depth where the line between the organic and digital blurs. The mix’s inception, intriguingly, can be traced back to the spontaneous strumming of the original track’s main riff on an acoustic guitar, highlighting JAF 34’s constant quest for innovation and reinvention.

The “ex[hAle]” remix is not just an audio experience; it’s a visual journey, brought to life by an AI called Midjourney, a project devoted to developing the power of human imagination. By feeding the AI the original video for Inhale Exhale, JAF 34 allowed the program to create a fresh, visually stunning narrative that spans the realm of the real to the psychedelic cosmos. This AI-generated video, coupled with the track’s NFT accompaniment, is a testament to JAF 34’s commitment to bridging art with new technologies, further enhancing the immersive quality of his music. As the last pieces of his artistically crafted debut album, “Empty,” remain available, it becomes clear that JAF 34 is not just creating music—he is building an artistic legacy, one track and remix at a time.

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