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

New Release Friday: HAUS Music, Ryan Svendsen, Jesse Jo Stark, Cara Hammond, Joe Garvey, The Millennial Club, The Little Miss, The Fey

Happy official Summer everyone! To kick off this most glorious season, we have a bevy of brand new summer related tracks for you to check out. Some of you may have come here because your favorite band shared this on social media, and please, do check their write up, but stick around for a while; if we have good enough taste to like your favorite band, I bet we have more out there for you too.

HAUS Music – “Rêves Ephémères”

Let’s get this started strong here with HAUS Music. This is another one of those songs we like to share where we don’t understand any of the lyrics (because we are stupid Americans) but the vibe of the song is so infectious that I don’t think I need to. Music is a universal language. Luckily I do have a little bit of background with what they are talking about:

“Mitchell says, “Rêves Ephémères translates to Ephemeral Dreams. It is an acknowledgment that stories that we invent for ourselves to carry us forward can and will just as often carry us somewhere we didn’t intend to go. For me it is a gentle reminder that happiness doesn’t come all at once at some point in the future; instead, it grows slowly over time. Don’t get trapped in a cycle of unhappiness thinking it can bring you anything but pain.”

There’s no doubt that this song is Ephemeral, whether you know every word that is being mentioned or not. I hope we can remember his message about happiness, and avoiding unhappiness throughout this summer.

Ryan Svendsen – “One Hundred Percent Ft. Jerome Thomas”

Have you figured out the beautiful thing about these lists yet? If you come in for one band, of a certain style, you may find another band of a completely different style to also add to your list. I think this song has to be on everyone’s list. Ryan Svendsen is a talented musician who has been featured on tracks by Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato, and here you can see his creative vision taking shape under his own direction. I have to say, it’s gorgeous. Like all the songs in this list, it is absolutely perfect summer music, and luckily Ryan released this just in time for the first day of summer. Let me encourage anyone who likes horns to go check out Ryan’s back discography. It’s perfect for chilling out, background for work, or a party. It’s multifarious.

 

Jesse Jo Stark – “Dandelion”

The first thing I thought when I heard this song was how anyone who likes Lana Del Rey will almost certainly get a kick out of Jesse Jo Stark. They have similar vocal styles, and musical accompaniment. With this song, Jesse Jo Stark sings about loving something that you shouldn’t, and how complicated that quickly gets. Anyone got any theories on the title? I mean obviously Dandelions are a nice yellow flower, but I also tend to think of the seed heads, and how quickly they can blow away. Maybe this relationship is more like the latter?

Cara Hammond – “How I Feel”

How about this amazing bluesy single from Cara Hammond? This is the first song off new EP called Nice Girl, coming out in the fall. When asked about the song Cara describes it as: “How I Feel is a very relatable song about love, loss and nostalgia,” explains Cara “I think the track picks up on those little details and memories which are present in all types of relationships, making it a very powerful song” I can certainly hear that. There is a  mention of going out to bars, just hoping to see someone and ask how they are, and a lot of that terrible feeling after breaking up with someone that was once important, and no longer feeling very important to them. Really heart wrenching stuff, wrapped in a beautifully sung package.

 

Joe Garvey – “What Your Time Is Worth”

Joe Garvey asks us an important question with this smooth funk/pop song: “Do you know what your time is worth?” He begs us to consider how quickly the time passes, even a nice 80 year life is too short. In an age of increasing technology, distraction, and hustle and bustle, it seems that time isn’t what it used to be. Are you using yours the way you want to? Are you wasting days? I read once that we have about 4500 days worth of free time, meaning not work, not sleep, etc. That’s a disturbingly low number. Do you know what your time is worth?

 

The Millennial Club – “Santa Barbara”

This track is the perfect summer track. It has the perfect amount of groove to it; it even has a little bit of a California Dre whine going in the background. According to their promo materials: “At an early age, The Millennial Club has managed to blend dance-inspired 80’s pop, beat-driven 90’s R&B, and emotional love-centered lyricism to shape their original Southern California sound.” I would say that says it better than I can. These guys are on the rise, and I could even see them breaking into a top 40 style market eventually. They mix everything I love about summer into one convenient package.

The Little Miss – “American Dream”

Usually I like to get into the lyrics and try to dissect them, put my own spin on the song, etc. This song is too important to not get the words straight from the artist’s mouth. I will say this though, the irony is something that you can taste in this song, and it doesn’t taste like apple pie. The American Dream is an afterthought, a delusion that people once had, a book that you never got around to reading, collecting dust in the attic. I think it should be, at least. The thought that the American Dream has to be this perfect series of check boxes is just a way to sell more ranch style homes and Coke.

“I wrote ‘American Dream’ at a time when the tension in our country felt palpable. This was five years ago. Now, seemingly more divided than ever, I questioned whether or not I should release a song that sounds so blindly idealistic. To be clear, “American Dream” is not an endorsement of this country as it stands now. I don’t think that it is unpatriotic to think that we can do better than this. The American Dream, as it has been fed to us – Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – has not delivered on its promises for many (if not most of us). So, while the song yearns for this made-up, sepia-toned time that never existed, it notes exactly that: that it never existed. We’re enchanted by our own, but very limited folklore – the pioneers, the Wild West, the civil war, the nuclear family, the moon landing, etc. We have romantic notions about who we are and who we’ve been, and it is tempting, for all of us, to want to wear those rose-colored glasses. But in order to become better, and in order to progress, we need to take off the glasses and take a good look in the mirror. We all want the same thing: to feel proud of the country we call home – we just need to accept the fact that it might be healthier to learn from our history rather than glamorize it. The lives of so many depend on it.”

 

The Fey – Contender

What is this?!? I seriously have no idea. It blends so many different genres into one crazy rollercoaster, and I loved every second of the ride. I read the bands description of their sound, and it reads as follows: “Dominantly a new age American rock-soul-r&b band, The Fey, also expresses a touch of the contemporary vibes of hip-hop and pop.” As a guy who listens to over 20 new bands a day, when you read a statement like that, you think, “Yeah, okay. Which part do you do well, though?” Most of the time it’s like a restaurant that has 50 menu items, and all of them are average. This is not most of the time. These guys know who they are, and they do rock, soul, r&b, hip-hop, and pop equally well. With strong guitar riffs and organs, smooth vocal runs, and a nice hip-hop verse, The Fey is the true definition of a multi-genre group.

 

-Caleb and Seth

 

As always, check out all of these tracks and more on our June Spotify Playlist. 

Video of the Day: Handshake “Crawling”

We have a delightfully upbeat and strange video for you today, complete with puppets, snow gear, color shifting objects, and social commentary, among others. I’d definitely be interesting in hearing your thoughts in the comments on what message is being espoused. I mean other than just how visually stunning all of it is, which is certainly true. I tend to think there is some sort of angle about social media, and our relationships with technology, but I also think it could just to be some witty and creative shots that go well with the electronic rock style.

-Caleb

As always you can find this song and more on our June Spotify Playlist. Right here. 

Caleb’s Favorite Releases June 15th: Jah Movement, David Myhr, Maddison, Johnny Conqueroo, Mikey Wax

Favorite Summer Song: Jah Movement “To You I Pray”

I always find myself getting into Reggae vibes in the summer. It’s just music that sounds like you should be sitting in the sun, with a spritzy drink in hand. This song particularly seems to focus on some Rastafarian elements of love and spirituality. There are some excellent instrumentals, with some fun melody matching with a lead guitar (or maybe a synth, not positive, but you’ll hear it). Another thing I like about this song is the message, self-described as: “With all the trouble that is going on in the world today. We hope and pray to Jah that it will get better for our Youths.” Who can’t get behind that?

Favorite Video: David Myhr “My Negative Friend”

I mean I assume after you watch 2 seconds of this video you can get what I like about it. The music itself is exceptional and upbeat, but the really cool animation style just pulls you in. The clunky FPS give it a surreal vibe, and then once the chorus kicks in, and by extension all the flowers and colors kick in, you’d have to be soulless not feel completely powerless to be a “negative friend”. I hope this song/video leaves you feeling better than when you entered. “We only get one chance in this world we’re living in, so make it a good one.”

Favorite song for my morning Bike Ride: Maddison “Lose My Mind”

So the best thing for me when on a bike ride, is a consistent beat that has me nodding my head, and something upbeat. This song checks all the boxes. It is upbeat, has a choir effect on the vocals reminiscent of The Black Keys, a sick guitar solo, and a rocking drum beat. This should be added to everyone’s workout playlists, or summer windows down playlists, your choice.

 

Favorite lyrics: Johnny Conqueroo “Why?”

Sometimes I’m a man who loves depressing lyrics. The bluesy vibe of this song, with the emotive driven vocals really add to the desperation found in these words, that ultimately end, without resolution, with a suicide attempt in a hotel room. If I’m feeling optimistic, maybe the sick outro riff, and organ give us a glimpse of redemption, or maybe that’s what death sounds like. Either way, here are the lyrics in full: (note, if you are thinking of suicide please talk to someone, you are not crazy for feeling that way, but you also aren’t out of options)

Some people think I’ve lost my head

Some people wish I was dead

and just maybe, just maybe it will come true

Checked into my motel room

looked through the phonebook

and I couldn’t find nobody I could call

And I said Why, why why, is everyone so cold?

And I said why, why, why is everyone so cold?

I saw my only friend today

he didn’t have nothing to say

So I guess I’m here all alone

And I said why, why, why is everyone so cold?

And I said why, why, why is everyone so cold?

Put the belt around my neck

smoked my last cigarette

and I felt my skin turn so cold

And I said why, why, why is everyone so cold?

And I said why, why, why is everyone so cold?

Favorite composition: Mikey Wax “Big Little Life”

This song is just so perfectly constructed. The beat is fairly consistent throughout, but the guitar work progresses really nicely, and you hear these moments where a slide is happening in the background, either with a guitar or a synth emulating it. That’s not even mentioning the lyrics which focus on building a life and growing old together with bubbly vocals. This song is going on all of my summer playlists (and also our monthly playlist which you can find here.) Also, if I’m not mistaken, Mikey is getting married tomorrow (June 16th) so congrats on “building that big little life”.

Morning Commute: Madge – “Alice”

 

 

Alright guys. Let’s get weird this morning. This song blew me away with how unique it is. I hear a 90s Dre sort of whine going on the background, there are sing-songy children vocals, there are so many instruments I can’t even point them all out. This song is truly unique, which is something that I rarely can say even about a lot of the music I’ve always liked.

After reading up on her background a bit, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising how unique this all sounds.  From her press release:

“Delving into the legacy of her Mormon upbringing in Utah, contemporary spirituality, and a passion for 80s dark wave, Madge has created her own lane with a DIY approach to maximalist pop, drawing comparisons to Grimes and Charli XCX along the way.

On ” Alice ” an unforgettable bassline sets the foundation for witchy vocals that float atop wood-block percussion, wood-winds, and a cat’s meow. The song is interjected by a call-and-response made up of childlike voices, representative of the self-destructive voices inside our heads. The line “…boys be wary, Alice gonna check you like a good library” is about as badass as it gets. ”

I really wish I could say anything nearly as neatly intricate as that summation, but I’ll just say this: Very few artists are being as simultaneously experimental and catchy as this track is, and I’m very anxious to see how this develops over time. In the meantime, go listen to this song over an over on her SoundCloud or on our Spotify playlist, which you can find here. 

TOTD: Pandarama – “Toxic”

Hey guys, we are going to try to share tons of music with you over the next few days. I’m stoked for you to hear this track from Pandarama. I thought the vocals were really unique, and I really like the guitar work. You don’t hear too many acoustic riffs that don’t get boring and repetitive, but this one keeps me interested and it’s impressive how clean it sounds.

Image result for pandarama music

This band, full of recent college grads, are definitely one to keep your eyes on. And I’m really excited to see where they go from here, with such a strong debut effort. If you are in Miami area, you should definitely try to see them, because I expect them to be branching further and further out as time goes on. On September 3, 2016, they released their first EP, “37.5%”, which is available both as physical copies at their shows and on digital on all the major online retailers and streaming services, including iTunes and Spotify.

After performing many live shows and writing new songs, the band had enough material for an album and decided to record again. Before officially recording their new songs, they wanted to showcase their softer side and record acoustic versions of their songs, leading to the more ambient and experimental approach used in their new EP, “Mixed Messages”, which is where this song stems from. Check it out now wherever you enjoy music.

-Caleb

Want an easy way to find this song on Spotify? Check this one and all of our June tracks out right here.

Did you know we make a podcast? It’s pretty good. You can hear our latest episode here. 

 

Video of the Day: Alex Cuba “El Dia De Hoy”

Alright guys let’s get weird and symbolic. I do encourage you, if like me you only know enough Spanish to get you through high school classes, to copy paste the lyrics (which you can find in the video description on youtube) into Google translate. I do not encourage you to do that until after you’ve watched the video in full though. Sometimes we just need to let visuals and symbols tell us an abstract story that allow us to get something out of it without too much explanation. So what do you get out of these strange colorful creatures being hidden away in a black and white world? What is this song saying to you about creativity? The powers the be/the status quo? Artistry? Maybe I’ll give you some hints in a minute, but sit with it yourself first.

Who can explain me
This great illusion
That has no end
It's the sea
Is the sun
It's today
It's starting over
And let the night
And let the night
Allow us to dream

For other stupid Americans, like myself, that is the English translation to some of the lyrics. Like any great poetry, it seems to translate quite well, though I’m sure it’s always better in the native language. To me it seems this song, and this video is very much about keeping your dreams alive, despite the world’s best attempts to capture/destroy them. I think that’s a message and inspiration that we need more than ever in these trying times, and I am so thankful that Alex Cuba shared this with us, so we could share it with you.

-Caleb

If you’re looking for more Alex Cuba, I have good news, he is very prolific. He has several albums spanning many years on Spotify. We’ve added this song to our monthly Spotify playlist to get you started. Check it out here.