Caleb’s Weekly Favorites: NeodotcoM, Six Time Users, Simon D James, An Echoic, Mending

Hey guys,

If you’re like me, you don’t really just focus on one genre of music when there is so much awesome variety out there. This post is meant to hit on 5 of my favorite songs that I just can’t get out of my head this week, regardless of genre. If you like, or already know one of these artists, stick around and check out the others, you might be surprised what you fall for.

NeodotcoM – “Manifest”

I am a sucker for hip-hop with classic 90s vibes. Call it nostalgia maybe, but this song sounds straight out of hip-hop’s golden era. With a focus on lyricism and flow, NeodotcoM impresses from start to finish (but let me point out the flow change up and effortless rhyme mechanics that start around the 2 minute mark). As for the song itself, it seems to focus on the ways that creativity is a manifestation, a discovery of truth, rather than a creation from nothing. Considering all the call backs to his 90’s heroes, I would say NeodotCom is manifesting in a way that I haven’t seen in hip-hop in far too long.

Bio: Released during the eclipse on Friday the 13th, “Manifest” from Chicago Emcee/Producer NeodotcoM, is the latest release from his upcoming Album, “Gods of Egypt.” Just like this album, Manifest is inspired by the golden ages of hip-hop and the gods of the art form. Inspired by Drink Champs, Neo has decided to give his favorite artists their flowers while they can smell them and trees while they can inhale them. Dedicated to Jay Dilla, Slum Village, Rakim, Eminem, Big L, Jay-Z and Tribe called quest among others, Neo effortlessly displays a level of emcee mastery which hasn’t been witnessed in decades. Lord Haiti freaks the original sample from Slum Village’s fantastic showing respect to Jay Dilla while making the record his own, while Neo borrows classic flows and patterns making them his own and then taking it places unimagined.

Six Time Users – “If You Know Me”

“Jesus sitting in the back of the car
I hear him whisper say we gone too far
Comet coming from the broken sky
I see a tear in my mothers eye
The preacher standing at the podium
And in the square there’s pandemonium
The crowds compelled, blood in their veins
The heat fever that will drive you insane”

I don’t know how you can start a song or poem or use imagery with more depth and intrigue than the first verse of “If You Know Me.” Six Time Users describes themselves as making “millennial bullshit blues,” if that’s what this is, I need more of it. The instrumentals have a hauntingly psychedelic quality that emphasizes reverb in creatively dissonant beauty. If you’re looking for something to capture your winter blues in a bottle, this song is it.

Simon D James – “Burn The Man”

“Wake up folk’s, Its time to dance,
The human race has one more chance.
Rip the needle, from the vein.
Lets kick the habit, dream again, and be the change we want to see in the world.”

I’ve been meaning to share this song for a long time, but I actually am really happy that the timing ended up being at the start of 2020. As we start a new decade, I think the messaging in this song is really important. Don’t let the lo-fi vibes fool you into thinking this is a sad song; this song encourages each of us to take the world into our hands and dream big. Don’t forget to check out his newest EP, Days of Heaven

Bio: Simon Started to write music at the age of 16 and has continued ever since. Three tracks on ‘Days of Heaven’ were recorded and produced by Ben Hampson, who Simon was in a band with as a teenager and it has always been a dream of Simon to work with Ben again. ‘Written By Rules’ & ‘Fooled By You’ were recorded at GreenMount Studios where Simon recorded his first EP.

Simon has busked his way around the world and has spent the last years playing music in the Brighton music scene where he started the band that recorded this EP.

An Echoic – “Love (..As I Was Told)”

“Forget her, up and move on cause deep in that pond there’s always someone better
I know there’s fish in the sea but someone made me afraid of open water”

This song explores something that I’m sure plenty of us have experienced, unrequited love. I’d like to make a quick note that whoever did the album art for An Echoic deserves a shoutout; it’s gorgeous. One thing that stands out to me about this song, and the title, is how different the experience of love and the search for your “soul mate” can be from the common media depictions of it, or “what we are told” it’s supposed to be. This song does a great job of capturing the feeling when we realize it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, and there’s a lot of pain involved in the struggle. At least we have this excellent band to keep us company in the meantime.

Bio: In December of 2016, Martin Kihlstedt released An Echoic’s self-titled debut EP, and shortly thereafter signed to Rexius Records for his second project. The new release presents us with a chamber of thoughts in the form of experimental songwriting (recording spoken word and sampling traditional folk instruments, for example) and unimaginable stories.

Mending – “Alan at Emma’s Cradle”

I hope you have headphones on for this one. This song is epic. Mending is proof of true artistry in the classical sense. This is apparent in this song, that combines echoey vocals, dissonant drone sounds, piano, and subtle percussion. This is also apparent in the overall vision of Mending, where we see ambitious projects that explode in scope and narrative. If you like the vibe of this song, you have to listen to the full project, https://open.spotify.com/album/6catKVmxNPk9oMs0ySKFNN?si=qAMvDFOjSr-XyRmqSmZIXg

This is only the first chapter, as of the end of 2019 Mending has released 8 Chapters worth of EPs that span a 40 year period in an ongoing narrative. There is one Chapter left to be released in 2020, so catch up with the story now before it is complete.

Bio: We Gathered at Wakerobin Hollow is a four hour, 40 song speculative narrative, being released in nine chapters over 18 months. Combining folk songwriting with drone and noise, the songs trace the lives of a family and friends over a 40 year period in a series of connected vignettes. The broad narrative, told chronologically from multiple points-of-view, is set in motion by a catastrophic fire at an oil refinery in Odena, Alabama. From there we follow a handful of characters, as children become adults, spread out to Asheville, New York, and Bennington, get jobs, fall in and out of love, families grow, until coastal flooding and other impacts of climate change transform their day-to-day lives, eventually leading them all to Odena and Wakerobin Hollow.

 

-Caleb

Morning Commute: Blush FM – “Clipper”

 

Image result for blush fm

 

Good morning B-Side Ballers, I have a great chill track to get your day started. I’ve been playing Blush FM’s new EP, Project A so much as I start my 2020 off on the right foot. The thing that “Clipper” in particular, but really every track impresses me with is the atmosphere it creates. This is a project that needs to be heard through some nice over the ear headphones.

Each track feels so full and swelling, with mixes of 80s synth sounds and modern pop sensibility, and then you add in the gorgeous vocals and it is easy to see why this project is one of my favorites at the moment. This is what I imagine mixing Daughter’s haunting vocals and lyricism with the guys who wrote the music for Stranger Things would come up with, and I’m 100% on board with that.

 

 

TOTD: Intellect – “Then There Were Two”

“Then There Were Two” has been nominated for best hiphop song for this year’s Independent Music Awards, and I can see why. The beat is immediately so captivating, with the interesting use of ghostly vocals and I love the inclusion of horns here and there, especially at the end. Intellect claims this is the song that turned the whole album on it’s head (the whole album is wonderful by the way, I have a copy at home, you should too). This song is a conversation between the artist and hip-hop, who he has given feminine qualities. During the chorus you can see him asking for just a few minutes to talk to hip-hop. He seems to want to both revive and evolve hip-hop and it’s direction, and I think he’s fully accomplished that with this song and album. I love his flow change up around 1:45. This track shows the best of Intellect, and I can see why this was the turning point of the album. I hope he can “live forever through these verses” in all of your ears.

-Caleb

Bio: Hip-Hop / Cross Over / Neo-Soul / R&B Recording Artist Intellect aka ~Lect. Not only is he an ingenious songwriter and singer but he’s a “think outside of the box” entrepreneur. Intellect has quickly become successful in the competitive fields of both modeling and music. His music style is Intelligent, Classy and Eloquently spoken, and remains true to the essence of Hip-Hop. Intellect has a fierce loyalty to hip-hop and consistently delivers raw unabated energy in every track he conceives.

Morning Commute: Vincent Randazzo: “When It’s Raining”

 

Good morning merciful B-Side Bounty Hunters (I’ve been watching too much Mandalorian). I have a nice chill beginning to your day to introduce you to today. This is a great track from Vincent Randazzo that feels just like it’s namesake. I don’t know if it’s raining where you are, or if you like when it is, but Randazzo will make you feel like the only thing to do is cozy up with a nice book in your warmest pajamas and refuse to move. This song is full of creative one-liners, puns, romance and heartbreak. I think my favorite section is the end:

“Cause you could sweat balls under the apple tree
Y’all could make out- just wake up with me
Sometimes that white light shines on me
But I write more when it’s raining”

I know all of you other creative minds have to agree with Vincent’s take that you “write more when it’s raining.” No matter how much I wish I could write a book full of happy poems, I think the darkness and the rain will always be my best muse. It’s good to be back guys, more music coming very soon, but for now, play this on repeat.

-Caleb

Bio: Indie folk singer-songwriter Vincent Randazzo, 24, charms beholders with his spellbinding lyrics and spirited performances. “Real Plan,” Randazzo’s third and latest full-length album, is not just an extension of his striking musical style, but a milestone in terms of his remarkable growth as a budding artist. In addition to hiring seasoned session musicians, Chris Shlarb, founder of esteemed cult band Psychic Temple, produced “Real Plan,” a momentous change for Randazzo compared to previously self-produced albums. The overarching result is a polished mix of similar artists like The Mountain Goats, Leif Vollebekk (of Montreal) and even the country music supergroup The Highwaymen. – Matthew Hable

 

Video of the Day: Tash Sultana – “Harvest Love (Live Lounge Recording)”

I feel like this artist really needs no introduction. Tash Sultana might be the most well known artist we’ve ever featured here, and she’s only blown up more since we got this song in our inbox several months ago. That being said, this song is a perfect introduction to everything I love about Tash Sultana. It strips everything down to it’s basic elements and allows her raw voice to carry the passion and intensity of the song, and she nails it. Her voice is one that makes you a little angry at god that you’ll never have it, but so blessed to witness it. I just want to emphasize some of my favorite lyrics for a second:

“I had a plan ‘Cause I had a plan, you see.
It was based on the rules that my mother and father taught me.
Press the iron when it’s hot, you jump right in.
Because the unfed mind devours itself,
water your garden”

I think most of us that don’t necessarily sync up with all of our parents’ teachings can empathize with these lines. Once that carpet gets ripped out from under you (and really thank god it does), you are left in sort of a painful, scary place for a while until you can rebuild your own mottos, maxims, viewpoints, even if that means you think there are none. Water your garden.

Bio: TASH SULTANA is a dynamic young artist who has commanded world attention since homemade videos of her jamming went viral. A true virtuoso, Tash was soon selling out big theatre shows globally and playing at the world’s biggest festivals including Lollapalooza and Coachella Music and Arts Festival. When playing live, Tash appears on stage entirely solo, creating vast and amazing soundscapes using an array of equipment and live instruments – but absolutely no laptops or backing tracks. She plays an incredible 18 different live instruments during the course of her show.

Tash – “I wrote Salvation when I realised I could be better than the things that I’d done in my past that I regret. That I am the creator of my own narrative and can always continue to grow and move forward into being a better person and can always make better decisions, that it’s okay to accept you’ve fucked up from time to time.”

All of the songs on ‘Flow State’ are produced, written, performed and arranged by Tash herself. She plays every one of the 15 instruments and sounds that feature throughout, including saxophone, pan flute, grand piano and guitar to name a few.

To date, Tash has amassed over 175 million streams globally for her previous EP ‘NOTION’, topped the iTunes charts in multiple countries, achieved gold sales for EP ‘Notion’ and platinum sales for single ‘Jungle’ which also featured in FIFA 18. Her meteoric rise has been entirely via word-of-mouth without support from traditional media

 

Salvation is available here: http://smarturl.it/TS.Salvation

-Caleb

Caleb’s Mid-Week Mixdown Featuring: Freedom Fry, Galapaghost, William Fitzsimmons, and Freddy and Francine

This is a grab bag of all of my favorite artists from the week to carry you through those Mid-week blues. No genres, no themes, nothing. I mean, I guess the theme is that I love these songs.

We try to group artists with similar artists, but the fact of the matter is that most music fans don’t solely like one genre. If you’re like me, there are very few genres that you don’t get into in some capacity. What I’ve found is that a lot of people cross paths with the same people in their musical taste. Seth and I have a lot of crossover, but one distinct difference right out of the gate is that Seth gets more into the folk scene, and I get way more experimental with what he likes. Some of what he listens to sounds like Elvish chants in the woods to me, and some of what I listen to probably sounds to him like what Michael Caine listened to  in Children of MenYou’ll probably start to notice a trend in these posts at some point. We have a lot of crossover, especially when it comes to hip-hop and emotive indie rock, but there’s a lot of music that Seth and I don’t necessarily agree on. We both know that objectively they’re good tracks, we just don’t subjectively like it as much as some other stuff. Without further ado, here are my favorite tracks of the week.

Freedom Fry – “Classic (Acoustic)”

This song is the epitome of nostalgia, albeit with a slight twist. There is the obvious examples like sipping on a glass bottle Coca-Cola, but it seems like it’s actually about how someone can give you that nostalgic “classic” feeling. Just their presence gives you that good feeling that feels like the world is as simple as enjoying each other’s company. To me there’s really nothing better than that feeling, and this song captures the vibe perfectly. You hear this structure in the chorus when it mentions “living in the past with you”, but then is followed with “jumping in the bed with you.” Maybe they are doing nostalgic activities together, but any act has that glow to it because they are doing it together. When you realize that Freedom Fry is a married French/American duo (hilarious name for that mixture by the way), the chemistry apparent in the presentation of this song makes a lot of sense. They are just sharing their love with us, and hoping we can relate, and on my best days this summer, I know I absolutely can.

Bio: Freedom Fry are Marie Seyrat and Bruce Driscoll, a married French & American musical duo. They write and record everything themselves and usually direct and edit their own music videos too. If you like what you see & hear, subscribe and say “hi.” Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat: @freedomfrymusic. They released their debut album, “Classic,” on June 1, 2018.

Galapaghost – “Jellyfish”

Any of you who have followed us for a while should be familiar with this guy. He was featured on our very first podcast episode (Hope)I am very happy to share some more music with you guys today. Galapaghost is the solo project of a very prolific songwriter, Casey Chandler. He’s released 5 albums so far, and seems to be ramping up some new music earlier this year already. The unique thing about “Jellyfish” and the album, Sootie, is that it is Casey’s first electronic album. I love the spacey atmosphere of this song, and given its place on the album, which is primarily about childhood, I can’t help but feel a sense of innocence from this song. The lyrics though, paint a different picture:

“When you told me you might need something more exciting
Well I guess I should get dressed
Cause I guess I got some expenses
Spending all the hours of the day
Working until you don’t recognize your face”

So as an adult reflecting on this innocence, it can’t help but feel but lost, when you are working all day, “until you don’t recognize your face.”

Bio:  Casey has no label, manager or band, so he produces all of his music himself. When he can afford it, he flies to Italy to record with his Italian brother from another mother, Federico. He hails from the small hippie town of Woodstock, NY. He toured Europe and North America with John Grant for 6 months in 2010, which included a prestigious slot on Later…With Jools Holland. He has released five albums. His first two albums were released on a small Italian label called Lady Lovely. He self-released his 3rd album I Never Arrived in 2016 and it already has over 2 million streams on Spotify and many rave reviews from Paste Magazine, Substream Magazine, The Big Takeover, AXS and many others. His 4th album ‘Pulse’ was self-released in January 2018. It received rave reviews from Alternative Nation, Huffington Post, Your EDM and many others. His 5th album ‘Sootie’ was released in August 2018.

William Fitzsimmons – “Distant Lovers”

This song is so haunting. Taken off his album, Mission Bell, Fitzsimmons breaks down a rough year marked by a decade-long marriage falling apart. This song in particular, questions monogamy, and how to forgive (or not) infidelity. As someone who had a marriage fall apart for similar (out of my control) reasons, I can’t help but ache in empathy with the content of this entire album. This is for anyone who has dealt with loss, and needs that bittersweet reminder of how deeply humans can love, hurt, forgive, and hopefully begin to heal.

Bio: Singer-songwriter and music producer William Fitzsimmons’ latest record Mission Bell is a chronicling of the tumultuous last year of his life, particularly of the separation from his second wife. An initial version of the album was originally recorded in Fitzsimmons’ home studio in the summer of 2017 but was subsequently abandoned during the course of, and as a result of, the separation.

In 2018 Fitzsimmons moved to Nashville and spent a month’s time rebuilding the lost record with producer Adam Landry (Deer Tick, Los Lobos, k.d. Lang, Vanessa Carlton). The resulting 11-song album tells the story of a decade-long marriage destroyed and eventually rebuilt from the ground up.

Mission Bell includes songs about betrayal, but also reconciliation and forgiveness. Choosing to go deeper than mere absolutism and fate, these are stories of people doing their best, but still managing to destroy each other in the process.

Freddy and Francine – “Half a Mind”

“Everyday I’m waging war
On who I am and what I was before
But all I want is to forget
But these memories open doors
And I want you all the more

Well if I don’t say it
Well then I’ll go crazy
I am paralyzed by the thought of you just passing by
Oh honey if I don’t say it
What’s the price I’m paying
I got half a mind to make you all mine”

 

I like putting this song right after the previous song because it shows the other side of the coin, the risk involved in not saying yes to love, even if there’s a risk of it eventually not working out. This song seems to be about that moment when you get absolutely overwhelmed by someone, and you just to have to let them know how you feel, regardless of the potential outcomes. The way this duo mixes their vocals with a twangy blues sound keeps me coming back to this song over and over. I got “half a mind” to add it to every playlist in my rotation as soon as I finish writing this.

Bio: “We’re performers. We’re not just folk musicians who play and sing mellow songs with little voices … there’s screaming,” Caruso said. Don’t call it Americana either. They don’t wear hats. Besides, Caruso says, “The minute you think one of our songs is an Americana song, it can turn into a retro pop song.”

Despite the reaction of most roots music fans to the dreaded “P” word, Caruso says she doesn’t mind Freddy & Francine being labeled a pop band. “Pop music gets a bad rap, but it comes from the word ‘popular.’ I’d love to be popular,” she said. “I never discriminate against a song because it’s popular if it stays in your head … every Beatles song is a pop song.”

But mostly, Freddy & Francine sounds like Freddy & Francine. It ain’t the easiest thing to explain, but it makes sense when you hear it, and finally, it makes sense to the two people who matter most. “I’m really happy with who I am and I’m happy with the life I have,” Ferris said.

-Caleb

Video of the Day: Noya Sol “הבלוז של בנות חורין – The Blues Of Freeborn Women – Empty Bed Blues”

Do you ever wish they made music like they used to? Complete with decade appropriate attire and a horn section that trails the melody? Well, I have good news for you. Watch this video from Noya Sol. Set with a sepia background that makes you want to smoke one of those new fangled cigarettes from France sonny, this song captures the blues of the turn of the 20th century with the utmost authenticity.

Press Release:  “Noya Sol brings to life the original, early 20th century women’s Blues: This is the Blues that emerged as the expression of black women who, for the first time in history, found themselves free – a legal, financial and sexual freedom. And the full meaning of freedom includes also the realization that freedom does not take care of you – it only allows you to take care of yourself, as best you can.
The discrepancy between hopes and reality gave rise to a new type of music: powerful, bold, beautiful, unabashedly horny and forthcoming about all aspects of life, both good and sad.
Noya Sol fearlessly steps into the shoes of the queen of the Blues, Bessie Smith. She ought to be admired for the sheer audacity of doing so, but then – she also does it in the best way possible: her own way, imbuing the songs with her own personal interpretation, giving a very up-to-date touch to the sounds that, 100 years ago, changed the world, with all due respect and with a liberating sense of here and now.”

As someone who only knows a little about the history that this song is attempting to step into, I have to say it sounds like the real deal to me. The confidence in the singing rings out of a youtube video to create a time machine.

-Caleb