The Flock: Hip-Hop and Soul – Hendrix Harris, Deacon, The Hashassins, DNyse, AV, MastaPiece, Nostalgia, Radioplay Reach

Guys, we are so sorry about the hiatus. We’ve been active with the podcast and interviews, but had to pump the breaks on the blog for a few days to handle real life business. We are back on it though, and we figured the best way to get things back in motion is to have an infectious hip-hop flock.

Let’s go.

*Click on the artists name to go to their website*

 

Hendrix Harris – New Chains

From the second the song starts and you hear that slick little riff, you know it’s going to be one smooth ride. What follows is four straight minutes of what’s easily going to be one of the smoothest things you’ve heard this week. Hendrix flawlessly switches between three different voices: his normal register, his falsetto, and his rap voice. I honestly can’t tell you which one I enjoy the most.

Fuck. I usually try not to get meta with my writing and act as polished as possible. I was doing research on Hendrix, and I just got blown away. I knew I had heard the name and been impressed with his stuff before, but I couldn’t place it. The reason I couldn’t place it is because the song we posted of his before and this song are worlds apart. Are you ready for this? He also does this song.

You can find the blog post here.

That’s versatility. To go from a smooth track that lands more in soulful r&b than hip-hop in one song, to head busting chopper rap in another is absolutely absurd.

 

DEACON – Negritude

You guys know we like to dig into lyrics on the blog, but sometimes we shouldn’t be the ones to discuss the lyrics. With this song, you can put a broad brush across the canvas when trying to figure out what the song is about, but the root of the song is better than anything we could ever come up with. We are painting in large strokes while DEACON is as specific as da Vinci.

DEACON says, “Negritude is a word I discovered on my travels whilst in Los Angeles. I stumbled across an establishment called “Psychiatry – An industry of Death Museum”. Whilst exploring their numerous accounts on the history of mental health practices, I found their section on Racism within psychiatry’s earliest stages. “Negritude – a term used by Benjamin Rush (Founding Father of American Psychiatry) defines “blackness” as a skin disease akin to leprosy, thus deeming segregation a “medical necessity”. The song is my way of flipping that idea on its head, and claiming negritude as the “funk” inherent in the soul of the music. If you don’t want to catch the funk, you better turn off that radio…”

As you guys know, I love digging into a song and figuring out what it means to me personally, but when it’s something this heavy, I like to leave it to the artist.

One interesting line is when they’re talking about ring around the roses, an allusion to the children’s song, Ring Around the Rosies. I don’t want to get into the etymology of the lyrics of the song, but a very common thought as to the roots of the song is that it talks about The Great Plague of London. This is a really cool easter egg in a song about black people being a plague. The lyricism throughout this song was on point for me.

 

The Hashassins – C’Mon

William Wallace (best rap name ever) and Sincere make up the hip-hop duo, The Hashassins. Sometimes a flow and beat come across our radar that is so smooth that we have to stop and take notice even if the lyrics typically aren’t our style. First off, don’t get me wrong about the lyrics, they’re clean. We just usually focus on things that are a little left of center, and the lyrics to the song are pretty straightforward. They’re witty, the cadence is nice, and they change up the rhyme scheme, but they’re talking about very similar ideas that a lot of hip-hop focuses on.

The beat and their flow are both so good that they elevate this song to another level, separating it from similarly worded songs. The piano chords at the beginning combined with the turntables let you know you’re about to be in for one hell of a ride. I’m not talking crotch rocket ride, I’m talking slow-rolling Cadillac with the top down, cruising down Main Street.

DNyse – Now Until Forever

Most hip-hop artists think they can sing, but very few can actually make it happen. DNyse has some pipes. He has this crazy mixture of singing and speaking straight to your soul.

A song about chasing your passion and making stuff happen through action and perseverance, Now Until Forever is a song that anyone who is on the cusp of pursuing something great should listen to. It’ll give you that bump you need to get you moving in the right direction.

 

AV – The Rising Son

The chorus you hear throughout this song is something that you’d hear in a movie as the gladiator steps into the arena, and that’s exactly what AV makes me think of with the lyrics to The Rising Son too. A chesty and bold rapper, he has an aggressive cadence, and doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind.

What does it mean to put her before you 
What does it mean to have faith, to be loyal 
What does it mean 
to rise up for your queen 
Rise up for the teens, lying dead in the streets 
Politicians giving in to they greed 
Make a speech for a fee worth retiring 
You think they could afford to be inspiring 
Placing blame on a groups backfiring 
Blame them blame them, they complacent 
No matter where they stationed, our space taken 
Grab em up, line em up, get em out 
You don’t belong here, show your proof if you brown

With a hook that hits hard, strong lyrics, and a tough flow, the Montgomery Sisters really bring it back to a more digestible level with their beautiful harmonies, making this a song that is making its way onto many of my personal playlists.

 

MastaPiece – Endless Night pt. 1

This song is the song that’s perfect for literally any part of a night where you are wanting to party. Pregame? It lets you know the expectation for the night. Heading to the second spot? It implores you to pick a spot you haven’t gone. Get into something new. Everyone on the cusp of calling it a night? This is the perfect rally song. Seriously. This song fits every part of the evening.

A three piece collective out of Houston, Texas, MastaPiece is turning heads in a major way. Not only are these guys hip-hop artists, but they are notable artists in everything from acting to design. These jacks-of-all-trades have a great future in art ahead of them, they just get the luxury of picking which art(s).

Nostalgia – Alone

Soulful crooning isn’t usually what we share on the blog, but there’s no way we were going to pass over this one. This Australian vocalist is essentially The Weeknd of the Eastern Hemisphere. With a similar sound to some of the most popular artists of today and a music video that had me wondering what was going to happen next from the very beginning, this is the song that would be playing in an adult version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Stick around to the end for a Shyamalan-esque twist.

Radioplay Reach – Big Money

Radioplay Reach hits us with the song, Big Money, a hard flowing song that was written behind bars in memoriam of a friend who lost his life. The words drip with emotion as he laments the loss of a friend while realizing that this loss only fuels his drive to be successful.

With a heady beat and honest lyrics, Radioplay Reach has a familiar hook in a totally new package.

The Mashup Flock: The Rungs, VON GREY, Dan Lyons, CONDORE, Darren Jessee, Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite, Basement Revolver, Reza Cage, Dylan Seamus, J Pee, Feiler, mA’RouGe, Wanderingted, Savannah Gardner, Marie Nafah, Wayne Graham, Jordan Max, MALMØ

*Check out these artists and every other artist we’ve featured on the blog this month on our Spotify playlist for this month.*

Let’s start off August right! This is a HUGE edition of The Flock. Usually The Flock focuses on one specific genre, but sometimes we throw all the rules out of the window. The goal is to give you enough music to make it through your work week and beyond. We’ll hit quite a few genres, subjects, moods, etc. so that you can have a soundtrack for whatever this week throws at you.

*click on the artist’s name to go to their page*

 

The Rungs – Trees

With 18 new artists on The Flock today, I wanted to start off with an energetic and fun song. Lyrically, Trees is the synth-pop equivalent to The Lorax. With fun, off-beat cadences and a structure that feels new and fun, The Rungs have made a song that is a taste of familiarity mixed with something exciting and different. We posted a song a few weeks ago that revolved around the idea that your bed sees so many pivotal moments of your life, and this video captures that same idea sans beds, and replacing them with trees.

Bio: The Rungs are a female fronted alt-pop project who blend rock with synth pop. They record and produce everything in their home studio and draw inspiration from the sounds and stories that surround life in Brooklyn NY.

VON GREY – 6 AM

Sometimes you hear harmonies in a song, and think, “If they aren’t related, they’ve definitely been friends for a while.” I mean, that might just be me, but some harmonies are so cohesive and symbiotic that it feels like the artists have all played off each other for years. That’s definitely the case with VON GREY, three Atlantan sisters who created a seamless layered blend that seems two steps away from a Harmonix Voice Box. With very direct and pointed lyrics, these sisters arranged the song in a way that the instrumentals take a backseat to their voices and words. It’s a very mature move considering the fact that no sister is even 25 years old yet.

CONDORE – Love Zombies

It’s hard to make a complete song in less than two minutes. There’s usually something missing that makes it feel incomplete. That’s not the case for CONDORE’s “Love Zombies.” Coming in at 1:38, the song has much more heft to it than the time stamp would tell you. In fact, it almost seems like it meanders at its own pace, never cognizant of the time, only worried about the journey. CONDORE’s voice is interesting and has this beautiful tone that could be in an indie folk track, but could also just as easily take on a Joanna Newsom vibe and haunt your dreams.

Dan Lyons – Gargoyle

Dan Lyons hits with a track that has some of the most interesting imagery I’ve heard in a long time. With instrumentals that swim upstream and fight the current of typical composition, Dan tells a story of being a cog in the machine. Reminding us that most of us are being worked by invisible hands, guided through our life with the illusion of free will.

Darren Jessee – Anything You Need

If the name Darren Jessee is familiar to you, it’s because he was the drummer for Ben Folds Five, and carried a good bit of the songwriting responsibilities as well. With a morose voice, and similar lyrics, Darren keeps the focus on his intent and keeps the accompaniment sparse and solely there to provide support for the bigger picture. His first solo album releases on August 24th, where it will solely be Darren’s voice, and string arrangements from Trey Pollard.

The vibe’s gonna be
him and Trey
giving everything we need

Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite – Electrified

Right now we are in the middle of a 4 day thunderstorm, and all I want to do when the rain stops is roll my windows down in my car and listen to this song as I hug sharp turns and drink a Fanta (or an equally happy drink). I mean, the lyrics fit the current rain too, with a message that says no matter what happens, you have to keep pushing. I mean, I know a rainstorm seems trivial in comparison to what the song is about, but I’ve been wrapped up in my feelings lately. Once this rain stops, I’ll definitely apply this song to the bigger picture.

Basement Revolver – Knocking

If you are new to the blog, you may not remember the last time we shared a Basement Revolver song. If you weren’t, CLICK HERE. Even if you were, it’s a pretty good refresher. One word that immediately came to mind when I listened to Knocking after listening to Baby was “versatility.” I mean, you can tell it’s the same band (mainly because of the unique and gorgeous timbre of vocalist, Chrisy Hurn), but the songs are worlds apart. Baby is the grandiose display of what the band can do when they crank it to 11 while Knocking is a more intimate song that drips with pain and beauty, hurt and redemption. I don’t want to butcher such a personal song with my interpretation, so here are words of Chrisy on the meaning behind the song.

Knocking is probably the heaviest song on the album for me, personally. I often still can’t sing it without crying. I wrote it after writing my family a long letter that came clean about my past, and about some of the shit that I have been through. Hard things that left me feeling shameful, or like a disappointment to them – things that made me feel like I wasn’t the “good Christian woman” that they had hoped I would one day become. The letter came after a few years of hardcore wrestling and rebelling against what I believed in response to a traumatic event in my life. I got to a point where I didn’t recognize myself, or all the anger that I was holding inside. I basically kept telling myself that I was garbage, broken, unlovable, used and a whole other slur of things.

This hits so close to home for me, it’s unreal. Dealing with the expectations of family is one of the most brutal things you can put yourself through, and Chrisy lays it all out on the table for everyone to see. I probably grew up in a very similar household as Chrisy if she has a family who is disappointed in choices she made that steered her away from Christianity. There was a single event that made me think, “If this is what the church is, they suck, and I don’t want to have anything to do with that.” It turns out that it was solely the people involved in the event, and they were just shitty human beings. I didn’t realize it until years later though, and by that time, I had already “strayed from the path.” It’s a very hard thing to reconcile when you have these people who are objectively great people telling you that the way you are doing your life is wrong. I mean, granted, a lot of the things I was involved with were objectively wrong and it leaves you feeling bitter and broken. After years of fighting and resisting, my mom and I are very close now, and my sister is one of my best friends. I still don’t live up to their Christian expectations, but we have all figured out our best way to maneuver around each other. It seems that Chrisy is on the right path, at least with her own healing. Nobody should have to go through this pain over someone else’s religious beliefs.

Reza Cage feat. Telfair – velvet drapes

Everyone has that one ex. At least. A lot of people have way more than that. They never seem to go away. The memory always lingers, and you see them in your day to day life. I don’t mean that you see a ghost or anything, but a song reminds you of a time you guys danced in the kitchen together, the smell of a bakery reminds you of the time you guys attempted to make your own bread and failed miserably. The problem is that it’s definitely a one sided affair. They aren’t concerned with you, and when it seems like they are, it’s a facade to get what they want. This song is imploring the ex to be real, and just give the singer a pardon so he can move on.

you love a trivial game 
stopping my heart so i can’t feel pain 
one touch, you’re flipping your shade 
like the velvet drapes 

Dylan Seamus – Flying

Dylan didn’t know this when he asked us to check out his music, but I am a huge fan of music where the protagonist is someone you want to root for. You want this guy to win. He doesn’t quit, and he finally achieves his goal of flight. I think there are a lot of really cool lessons here, and I want to touch on two of them. First, there’s the obvious one; if you really want to accomplish big goals, you’re going to fail, and you’re going to fail a lot probably. Keep pushing through the shit until you come out on the other side. Second is the more nuanced lesson. Think outside the box, be unconventional, and whittle away until you succeed. The attempts at flight that ended in failure were all band-aids for an idea that required stitches. The guy throws on angel wings, tries to build a plane, and gets in a spaceship when the answer the whole time was to build an infinite ladder, one rung at a time. It may not be flying, technically, but the goal was to touch the sky. Do whatever it takes for however long it takes.

J Pee – To The Kids That I Might Never Have

J Pee pours his heart out into a letter addressed to his possible children, but it’s more of a song that focuses on the idea that we are absolutely destroying the future for the younger generation. Overpopulation, pollution, political dissidence, wars, and the battle of heart vs. head are only a few of the things discussed in a letter that tries to open up eyes to the fact that our choices today impact future generations.

Feiler – Ruse

There is so much to love about Feiler’s song, Ruse, and for me personally, it’s only partially due to what is presented in the track. A huge part of what I love about the song is the backstory behind it. When Austin Smith, the man behind the music, was asked about the creation of Ruse and the EP that it’s on, Dry Rot, he said,

When I finished college I packed all my gear into the back of my car, got on I-80, and drove 3500 miles to a very old house in the rural woods of Northern Georgia. I’d been living in LA for the previous four years and had a couple of different musical projects but nothing really stuck. This project had been sort of coalescing in my mind for the previous year or so and I had some vague ideas about the kind of music I wanted to make out there, but mostly I was looking for something. I made a little DIY studio and spent five months out in that house, covered in vines, from summer to fall. That’s where I started this project and made most of Dry Rot. Expect another single and an EP in the next couple of months.

What I love about this is that he took a step back to assess what he was doing in LA, didn’t like what was happening, and made a robust step to fix that. I love homespun projects, and this is a perfect example of when that goes right. Feiler creates a morose and tangible soundscape, putting thought into every piece of the track. I’m usually not a fan of “oohs” in songs because they’re usually an afterthought or a space filler. This song wouldn’t be complete without them, and that’s a testament to the forethought put into every piece of the track.

mA’RouGe – Put It On Your Phone

There are very few songs that surprise me anymore. This is one of the few. There’s just such a perfect groove in everything from the bass, to the celestial synth background, to the offbeat cadence that the vocalist sings with. There isn’t one choice in this song that is expected, and they’re all beautiful choices. The sample at the end, even though I understand very little of it, goes perfectly with the funk provided by the instrumentals.

Wanderingted – The Water of All My Days

It’s nice when a love song doesn’t follow the tropes of love songs, but it still has the same weight as hyperbolic ballads. I would much rather hear a song about how the thought of a person and their idiosyncrasies puts a smile on my face than to hear about how a person’s eyes are bluer than the bluest ocean and their voice could make angels cry. The former is what love is, the latter is what a stalker writes.

Wanderingted has a voice that walks this wild line between familiar folk and operatic classical. It’s new, it’s fun, and the timbre of his voice isn’t something that any schmuck can replicate (we all know the kinds of bands I’m talking about). The new voice combined with a creative writing style has me excited about the future of Wanderingted.

Savannah Gardner – Blake

Savannah Gardner has this alto rasp to her voice that only has one comparable sound that comes to mind: Zooey Deschanel. Savannah Gardner could easily play the Will Ferrell counterpart in Elf, nailing Baby It’s Cold Outside just as well as Zooey. Anyways, Savannah has written a song that is part affirmation and part hesitation. She knows she is strong, but she doesn’t try to pretend that the world and the current she’s swimming against isn’t strong too. With empowering lyrics and a powerful voice, Savannah sings a pure song of resilience that will be making it onto my personal playlists for quite a while.

Marie Naffah – Bones

I have no idea what to say about Marie Naffah. Seriously. I write 20-30 reviews of artists/tracks every single week, and this one got me. I knew a girl in high school who had the most beautiful voice I had heard to that point. She had this really strong and rounded out alto voice that had this resonating body on the end of every note. When I first heard Marie’s song, Bones, I immediately thought of my high school classmate. When Marie sings, “I would tear my lungs,” I smiled due to familiarity, but when Marie flips to her falsetto and says, “if the air wasn’t shared with you, my love,” my eyes literally got big, and my smile curled to a stink face that I usually reserve for exceptional hooks in hip-hop songs. The falsetto that Marie has, flawlessly flipping between her diaphragm and her head voice, is something that still gives me chill bumps even after multiple listens.

Her lyrics tell a story of dependency. When the song starts out, I thought I was in for another love story about the depths that someone would go to be with their partner/lover/muse; I mean, building bone homes and tearing lungs out is a pretty big commitment. Then it takes a different direction, talking about how the protagonist really doesn’t want to need the partner, and they’re only going to bring them down. It honestly started reminding me a lot of “Cigarettes” by Noah Gundersen. Hell, this song could definitely be about cigarettes just as easily as it could be about a person. The point of the song is that there is a dependency, an addiction, and ultimately, two parasitic relationships dependent on the other one to survive. I mean, that’s what I pulled from it. I could just be projecting.

Either way, stop smoking cigarettes, people. If you’re under 55, you don’t have an excuse. Science has been pretty definitive in the fact that it definitely leads to early death in a lot of cases. I got in trouble for hopping on that soapbox fairly recently, but I don’t care. It’s a bad habit that can kill you. This wasn’t supposed to turn into a post about cigarettes. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Wayne Graham – Bloody Montana

When I first saw the video, I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about it. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s a raccoon getting some food from a trash bin for almost four minutes. It took me watching the video twice to really realize what wasn’t sitting right with me. I actually really enjoy the video and I enjoy the simplicity of it. The raccoon is the star of the show, and an adorable one at that. The part I felt weird about was the fact that the raccoon is digging around in a City of Knoxville receptacle while the song talks about bloody Montana. I know they don’t shy away from that fact, even labeling it at the beginning, but I still found it weird. Now, I said all of that to say this; once I figured out what wasn’t sitting right with me and I could listen to the song in earnest, I absolutely fell in love.

The track is this meandering new Appalachia sound that is somewhere between country and folk. If you’ve read the blog or listened to the podcast at all, you may think, “Well I’m not sure that’s a good thing considering you guys aren’t really into country.” I would respond to you, “Well, you’re right, and I honestly can’t tell you what it is about this song that has me pining for more.” I think it’s part track, part video, part backstory, and part personal connection that has me so invested in these brothers from southeast Kentucky. Let’s break my enjoyment down into quick little bullet points.

-The track takes the few things that I like about country, and wraps them in a folk timbre. Storytelling, saloon piano, and honestly, this is a weird one, but it’s a personal quirk, songs with geographic locations in them. Don’t ask me why, but country musicians are the kings and queens of writing songs about geographic locations.

-The video keeps it simple, letting you focus on the tune itself.

-Their backstory is interesting. First off, I’m always a fan of family member bands. We’ve featured plenty on the blog, and they always hold a sweet spot for me. Also, I was looking through the ideas behind each of their songs, and these guys write about their lives. When I say that, I don’t mean these guys are writing love songs about exes. These guys are writing songs about everything from cassette tapes that belonged to their grandfather to a theoretical (and quite literal in some towns) apocalyptic wasteland caused by coal mining companies taking advantage of towns and their inhabitants.

-That last part about coal mining leads me to the last point of why I love these guys: personal connection. My wife has a lot of extended family that lives in coal mining country in western Virginia in a little town called Wise. They all live on huge family lots that are all part of this communal property. It’s one of the most picturesque places on the planet. We have visited her family countless times, and each time, I have been welcomed in like I’ve been in the family forever. They are the most selfless and thoughtful people you can come across. The town of Wise is a coal mining town, and while none of my wife’s family works in that industry (to my knowledge), it is a huge industry that keeps many families in their homes. The stories that these brothers tell are the same stories that the people in Wise have because Whitesburg Kentucky, the hometown of the brothers in Wayne Graham, is less than 45 minutes from Wise. That may not be an ending fit for a Shyamalan film, but I thought it was pretty neat.

Jordan Max – War

Children of Men. That’s what this song and video makes me think of. I know that seems really out there, but stay with me. It’s a song about being terrified of the future and what it will bring, the music video is all taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, and the whole video was done in one continuous shot. If you haven’t seen the movie, watch THIS CLIP for a frame of reference, and then go watch the movie. Then go back and watch these two clips that you may not have realized were done in one take. CLIP 2. CLIP 3 (my favorite).  Anyways, now you have some kind of an understanding of my connection between the song and my favorite movie, let’s get back to the song.

With vulnerable vocals and an instrumental track that gives you the powerful yin to Jordan’s yang, War gets into the mind of millions of soldiers all around the world. They aren’t stoked about going to fight and risk their lives, but if it means that the people they are about the most are protected, then sleep and time aren’t such difficult things to give up. Now, I don’t know if they lyrics are as on the nose as they seem. At the very least, they can apply to a plethora of other things in someone’s life. The song is just about the general feeling of uneasiness and uncertainty of the future.

One thing to keep in mind when listening to a track like this is that there’s not a single person who has it all figured out. We’re all just making this shit up as we go along.

MALMØ – You

What do you get when you cross Joanna Newsom’s timbre with Ingrid Michaelson’s range and vocal acuity? You get something pretty damn close to MALMØ vocalist, Maria Malmoe. She has one of those voices that you hear long after you stop listening to the track.

The song lyrics are fairly ambiguous, but the overarching theme seems to be a lesson in polarities. The first verse is all about being lost in a world of green, while the second verse is about being lost in a world of grey. Both verses have the main character being lost until “I found you.” The main feeling I get from this is that this is talking about the seasons of a relationship. You go through new growth, and you go through dead times, but the key is that you always keep searching for the other one. Keep chasing them even when things seem bleak.


As always, support these guys. Follow them on tour, buy merch, keep up with upcoming releases. All of these things can be done by clicking on the name of the artist above.

We also have a Spotify playlist that puts all of the songs featured on the blog that month into one convenient package.

Check out Episode 17 of the podcast

The Flock: Singer-Songwriter/Folk – Leonie Kingdom, Winslow, Spazz Cardigan, Danny Starr, Chamber Band, Matt Millz

*Check out these artists and every other artist we’ve featured on the blog this month on our Spotify playlist for this month.*

The Flock is an idea that we had to help fans of a specific genre find multiple bands they love in one post. It helps us provide value to you, the reader, by putting more of what you want in one place. It also helps the artists. Fans of their music come to the page and become fans of other similar artists, growing their fanbase more efficiently. It also helps artists connect with other artists who have a similar feel, so they can help each other out, work together, play shows, etc. Our goal here is to help promote artists that we believe in and want to see succeed. The Flock is a great way to help with that, and we’ve seen some really cool things happen because of it. Let’s get into this edition of The Flock.

*click on the artist’s name to go to their page*

 

Leonie Kingdom – Night Terrors

This song actually made me cry the first time I heard it. If you know me, you may know that I experience night terrors, and this song is a beautiful song of hopelessness against them. I had just woken up from another night of sleepless turning, and this was one of the first ten songs I listened to that day. If you know someone who has night terrors but can’t really empathize with what they’re going through, Leonie Kingdom has written a song to help you understand how people feel when they have this haunting, reoccurring dream that they can’t wake themselves from.

You’ll shiver to the bone
It’s the thoughts that come alive when you’re alone
And it brings you to your knees
Like a current that’s raging through angry black seas

Don’t fight it
Don’t deny it
Don’t run, don’t run
They’ve already won

There’s nowhere to hide when they’re living inside
There’s nowhere to hide they’ll eat you alive
There’s nowhere to hide they hear all your cries
There’s nowhere to hide you’ll never survive

When Leonie sang the line, “It’s the thoughts that come alive when you’re alone,” I lost it. She has this tonality to her voice that makes her pain a tangible quality to her vocals, and when the haunting harmony comes in, it really sweeps you up in emotion. I’m not sure if this is about Leonie’s personal struggle with night terrors or if the night terrors are a symbol of something else in her life, but I like to think it’s about the actual terrors. It’s a song of hopelessness against them, but it’s also a song that reminds you that someone else is going through the same thing you are too. Knowing you aren’t alone is enough for most people to find solace through the struggle.

 

Winslow – Look at Me Now

I was dancing along to this track, having a great time, when the 2:10 mark hit. That’s when it went from me really liking this song to loving it. It’s amazing what a few moments of cacophonous dysfunction can do to make a poppy singer-songwriter track stand out. I love the fact that I also get part of the story through choices like that. It’s almost like you hear the story of their transition from who they thought they’d end up being to who they turned out being through the swirling portal of sound at that 2:10 mark because after that you start hearing paparazzi fighting for their attention on a runway, and the protagonist of the story says that all they’ve wanted is for people to call their name like this. First, I want to post their bio, and then I want to talk about what the song is possibly about.

BIO: Kate Miner (of folk band MINER ) and Briana Lane make up the new LA based indie duo, Winslow. Miner was working on a solo project when she heard Lane sing live at a Christmas show in 2016 and asked her to join forces to finish the album. After a year and half writing and recording in a garage studio in Silverlake, on a street appropriately named Winslow, the two are releasing their EP this fall. With its modern, synth heavy soundscapes and echoes of Miner’s folk roots, self titled Winslow is a compilation of stories of heartbreak and loss in Los Angeles.

First off, let’s get this part out of the way. If you haven’t checked out Miner, check them out hereSo good.

Okay, back to this song. The part I want to focus on is the story behind the lyrics. I missed the key phrase about halfway through the Alice in Wonderland transition because I was so focused on the instrumentals. The person who is becoming famous sees the paparazzi starting to descend upon them and notes how stressful everything looks on that side, but convinces themselves that it’s everything they ever wanted. I know nothing about being famous, or the pursuit thereof, but it honestly sounds like a nightmare to me. I believe that’s kind of what this song is talking about since it’s “a compilation of stories of heartbreak and loss in Los Angeles.” Everyone thinks that they want to be famous until they actually are. I mean, don’t get me wrong, fame comes with a lot of benefits I’m sure, but those are the only things people focus on. They don’t think about the fact that they don’t really have alone time anymore. I mean, once you reach a certain level of fame, even your family vacations have some creepy people following you to the beach, a sunscreen strip on their nose and camera in hand. It’s oftentimes not the life that people envisioned from the other side of the fence.

Spazz Cardigan – Medicine & Make America

Spazz Cardigan had a couple of tracks we wanted to share with you guys. The guy is like if Jason Mraz and Mat Kearney had a baby, and that baby liked to actually sing about real stuff. The guy has a really smooth voice, nice beats, and a look that gets picked up by major labels all the time. That’s what makes his lyrical prowess so refreshing and exciting. He could sing love songs with a stupid fedora on and make millions of dollars, but he’s choosing to use his voice and his platform to say real things and to open up real conversations. He could still make millions, but it won’t be by selling out.

Medicine is a song all about owning up to your wrongdoings and making them right. It’s definitely going to suck to do and can be painful, but I like that it doesn’t shy away from that. It’s no fun to take medicine, but it’s definitely going to make you feel better. The same can be said for admitting when you’re wrong.

From what I understand, this is a free-form spoken word piece that is meant to follow closely behind the ideology of Medicine. We as a country have obviously made mistakes when it comes to gun culture in the United States, and Spazz is wanting to start talking about it. Seeing students and other people in everyday life being gunned down every single day has kind of numbed us to the conversation. I mean, a perfect example for me is the fact that I saw the murder and standoff that was committed in the Trader Joe’s in LA, and I didn’t read past the headline. It’s not that I didn’t care; I just didn’t want to read about another senseless tragedy. Stuff like that has become so commonplace that you would have to read multiple articles every single day to stay caught up. I have been very clear on my stance on gun control, and I think Spazz and I are in pretty similar camps. There’s a lot to unpack in this song, so instead of me trying to do it all myself, I want to do a live interview with Spazz Cardigan so we can have a conversation about this. We always stress the importance of having uncomfortable conversations, and he’s right,

Nobody wants to talk
and when we do
we just shut off

 

Danny Starr – Double Red Line

Have you guys ever heard that a bar is the worst place to find a spouse? I’ve seen it work for some people… for a while… I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a relationship that started in a bar lasting forever. I’m sure there are tons of cases where it’s happened, but it’s a situation that is built for disaster. Two drunk people with crazy sex drives and impaired judgement deciding that this person is their soulmate seems like a really strange way to tell the grandchildren that you met. I’m not saying it can’t happen, and neither is this song. It’s just talking about the thousands of relationships that start in a bar, or honestly not even in a bar, just in an inebriated state, and how they’re almost designed to fail because the real version of you and that other person are not in the initial conversation.

With disarming vocals and a soundscape that creates a palatable atmosphere, Danny Starr’s, Double Red Line, is a song that is going to make it onto quite a few of my playlists for the foreseeable future.

Chamber Band – Before Iping

Ellen Winter, lead singer for Chamber Band, has created something really cool here. The whole band is phenomenal, but for me personally, it’s the timbre of her voice that brings everything together. When she flips to her higher register, it sounds like her voice could give out any second, giving it this brutal, gut-wrenching honesty. Judging from the strength of her voice throughout, this is a brilliant stylistic choice on her part. Somewhere between folk pop and sea shanty, Before Iping is a song to listen to while half a bottle in with your closest of friends, gathered around a table discussing exactly what it would be like to feel weightless.

The band is currently working on their fourth studio album, and Ellen has a solo project releasing at the end of the year. Keep up with these guys. They’re perpetually churning out great tunes.

Matt Millz – My World

Matt Millz has created a song that will pull at the heartstrings of fathers all over the world. A moving homage to fatherhood, My World is the song that all fathers feel in their hearts but aren’t sure how to put into words. As a father with one son and a daughter on the way, I can relate to this song in a real way. Matt has unique voice that resonates in your mind long after the song is over. I find myself repeating lines hours after every listen, and even sang it to my son last night while we were putting him to bed.

“…the man that I used to be, has fallen away. You’ve made me the father, that I am today”


Alright guys, follow the artist’s links in their names above to find out about tours, merch, upcoming tunes, etc.

Check out the newest podcast, Episode 17: Warmth

We also have a Spotify playlist of the month where we feature every artist we share on the blog. Check it out here.

Seth’s Tracks of the Week

This is a grab bag of all of my favorite artists from the week. 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. Caleb and I are going to start posting our favorite tracks of the week, and you can start to figure out whose musical taste you like more. Caleb and I have a lot of crossover, but one distinct difference right out of the gate is that I get more into the folk scene, and he gets way more experimental with what he likes. Some of what I listen to sounds like Elvish chants in the woods, I’m sure, and some of what he listens to sounds to me 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 Caleb 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.

*click on the artist’s name to go to their website*

 

Glassmaps – My Head My Heart

This is the eternal struggle between what the head wants and what the heart wants. Usually on two opposite sides of the fence, it is a constant battle on whether to give in to what is smart or to give in to your passions. If anyone knows me at all, they know which way I tend to lean. I’m a guy that jumps straight into the deep end without checking the temperature of the water… or checking for sharks. I pursue my heart, and I do it with gusto. It seems that the folks in Glassmaps may be a little more cautious than me, or at least they take pause before deciding to go with the heart.

The song starts out with what almost sounds like an organ from an early ’90’s video game, and immediately goes into the stomp clap chants that always get me going. They stay there throughout the song, adding a beautiful fuzzy guitar at times, but staying pretty constant until the ethereal breakdown that carries until the song draws to a quiet and abrupt close. I have this habit of trying to envision a scene in a movie or tv show that songs would fit in, and this is the perfect fit for a young adult blockbuster like Maze Runner or Hunger Games where the protagonist is deciding between pursuing their ultimate goal or battling 15 bad guys to help the love interest that was just kidnapped. Cue the music montage of them slicing through bad guys while this song plays in the background.

 

Ezra Vancil – Complicated Man

I love themed/concept albums, and Ezra Vancil has created something really interesting here. He released an album that chronicles the story of a ten year marriage. As easily understood by the lyrics (and the fact that it’s track two of the album), you can tell that this is the beginning of everything. This is the beginning of his world. We see a young man who is wild about a girl, and she has no idea he’s alive. I mean, she knows he’s alive, but she doesn’t know that he lives for her, if that makes sense. I suggest listening to the album from start to finish, and watching this saga unfold right before your eyes.

Ezra Vancil makes emotive music with a message. It’s really nice when songs don’t paint hyperbolic pictures of love (I like those too, I just need something more realistic a lot of the time), and they just say, “This is the chain of events. Do with them what you will.” People sometimes confuse poetry with depth. If I say, “Her eyes were as blue and as deep as oceans, and my love for her could outshine the sun,” I immediately tune out. Why? Because it’s not true, and it’s not something that I can really envision because it’s so wildly outlandish. Tell me a story about love with your music. Love is laughter, affection, and connection, but it’s also awkward misunderstandings, fights, and sometimes tragedy. That’s the story I want to hear. Ezra Vancil is a great storyteller.

 

Lossapardo – Sleep (3 a.m.)

This is one of the most interesting music videos I have seen in a long time. I thought that it was just a still when I first saw it. Then, when the lyrics kick in, the song comes to life.

I’ve tried to get to sleep
but nothing came
Sandman and I
playing hide and seek
for too long
I’ve tried

It’s already 3 am
and as usual I won’t sleep tonight
every time it’s the same
I’ll be a mess in the morning

This has been me more nights than I care to admit. Tossing and turning, falling asleep just long enough to have a nightmare scare me awake, and keep me reeling for the next couple of hours. Rinse and repeat. Lossparado has this quiet conviction to his voice that makes you understand exactly what he’s going through even if you sleep like a baby through the night. I mean, I guess “sleeping like a baby” doesn’t make too much sense seeing as how when my son was just born, he slept in oscillating two hour shifts, rotating between wide eyed screams and restless sleep. Maybe I should say “even if you sleep like a drunk frat guy after 3 too many.” Anyways, Lossparado has a vulnerable voice that instantly makes him relatable and endearing to listeners. I can’t wait to follow his ascent.

 

The Lifers – New Eyes

This is the kind of song that you have to listen to with your eyes closed. Don’t know what I mean? Pull the car over, stop doing whatever you’re doing, close your eyes, and let this song be your only focus for four minutes. If you don’t, you’ll miss something. There are so many layers to this track. They’ve truly created something unique but familiar, and they’ve done an excellent job of layering the track. Whoever mixed and mastered their album needs a raise.

The beginning starts out like something you’ve heard numerous times with a picked guitar and a really clean vocal track, but then it goes off the rails almost immediately, opting to take the path less traveled. Flutes (probably? I’m not super familiar with my woodwinds. Could be piccolos for all I know.), a symphonic string section, and one of the most interesting resonating guitar parts I’ve heard in some time are only a fraction of what is going on in this piece. I’d really love to know who arranged this song and thought of all of the neat tricks to incorporate.

I was going to try and wrap it up with that last paragraph, but I just have to say one more thing about this song. The key change is one of the most subtle and interesting parts of the song. I usually get really burnt out on key changes because they are made to be this grandiose event where it’s a “look at me, I know about music” moment. This key change is almost a tertiary piece of everything that is happening at that point in the song. It’s perfect, and that’s coming from a guy who thinks that 99 out of 100 key changes should just stay home.

 

Baba Sonya – Enough

Baba Sonya is the emotive and raw combination of songwriter/vocalist, Rachel Gawell, and producer/engineer, Mike Costaney. They started as a “he sings, she sings” singer-songwriter duo, but soon realized that they were more suited for the roles they have now (and there are fifteen million duos like that). I never heard their original stuff, but I’m glad they abandoned that project because that decision is what got us to this song. This is new. Gritty and fuzzy instrumentals with clean drum kit overlays combine perfectly with Gawell’s vulnerable vibrato to give us a track that makes for a perfect introspective, lonely night tune. This is the kind of song that I put a notebook on the table while listening. I don’t expect epiphanous moments, but when they happen, it’s usually to songs like this. I want to be ready.

I’m not sure entirely what the song is about because it’s obviously personal to a specific story in Rachel’s life, but the overarching feeling I got from it was the feeling of constant inadequacy. In relationships, platonic or romantic, we tend to measure our worth by the people around us, and we give extra emphasis to the people we care about the most. If you feel like you’re inadequate, stop listening to those voices. Whoever you are is enough for who you need to be and who the people who actually give a shit about you need you to be. That may not even be closely related to what the song is about, that’s just good life advice.

 

Raena Jade – Forever in my Pocket

This song hits an interesting perspective, and makes my track of the week for two reasons: it’s a self-aware song, and it’s the perfect crossover for me and my wife’s wildly different musical tastes. Raena Jade tells a story about knowing she’s in the wrong. Well, not necessarily in the wrong, but she knows that her actions are the cause of someone else’s pain. She’s tried again and again to convince herself that she loves this person who is madly in love with her, but she just can’t do it. She can’t force love. With honest lyrics and a defenseless demeanor, Raena writes an apology letter that makes me feel like she ripped my heart out of it’s socket instead of the person in the song.

 

Tru Vonne – Crazy Love

BEFORE YOU WATCH, READ THE CONCEPT BELOW

The concept of the video was to capture 4 different type of realities; What you wanted to happen, what you feel inside, what’s going on through head, and what actually happening in a conscious space. In creating that virtual consciousness, each color represents each of these realities. I would want you to decide which is which because based on how the video makes you feel will determine which color means what to you. The entire video is up for interpretation. When writing the treatment, I wanted to make sure that each of these concepts were properly shown.

I have to be careful with this interpretation. This is something that I haven’t really seen before in a music video, and I absolutely dig it. I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole with this one because I want you to figure out what the video means to you personally without any outside influence, so I’ll keep everything objective. This story reminds me of the old adage, “There are three sides to every story: one person’s side, the other person’s side, and the truth.” Let me know in the comments what you got after you watch the video, and we can talk about it more.

Tru Vonne has such a smooth, sultry voice. She drips confidence, and hits every single note with a slight rasp that gives her words a reel, pulling you in closer with every word.


As always, go to these artist’s sites, spend money, go see their shows, become their #1 fan. The sole reason that we do this blog is to try to shine a spotlight on artists who deserve it.

We have a podcast. Click here to listen.

We have a Spotify playlist that has every song we’ve featured this month. Give it a follow. 

Video of the Day: Rotana “Crime”

Rotana steals the Video of the Day even though the video itself is a simple loop. That tells you two things: the loop is appealing to the eye, and the song is absolutely stellar. Rotana’s voice comes from the most vulnerable part of a person, and the lyrics are open and honest.

If nothing is for keeps
Can I keep you close for a minute?
I don’t know what’s real,
But I really want to feel you now.

Get a little close
Can I stop your heart for a minute?
If we don’t give a fuck,
Is that really such a crime?

The chorus speaks to object impermanence and how life is a finite structure with a definitive end at an undisclosed time. We’ve been on a kick of talking about pursuing what is going to make you the happiest and worrying about the consequences later, and this song is no different.

Rotana’s voice held onto me for over two minutes as minimal instruments backed her up, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. What a great track for when you’re hanging out with someone you love, or at least moderately like…

Mid Day Music Blast: Elliot Taylor “Different Somehow”

In the middle of a US tour with The Pierce Brothers, this UK singer-songwriter is turning heads with his raspy vocals and authentic lyrics. The thing that turned my head though was when Elliot told us that this song was recorded in a single take with just one microphone. If you have any experience recording anything at all really, you know how elusive the “one take” is. Elliot absolutely nails it with this track.

Elliot weaves a tale of a relationship, or honestly, maybe not even a relationship, but a tale of two passing ships. They know that their time could be limited together, so the song embraces the idea that we should live in the moment and take advantage of our opportunities. It goes into the idea that even throughout different parts of their time together, there are very distinct points where life was different for them both; from the butterfly stages, all the way to the breakup at the end. I just finished a semi-relevant episode of Black Mirror last night, so that could be my mind forcing a connection. In the episode, most people have this chip in their head that records their whole life. Long story short, and without ruining any plot points, the protagonist of the story rewinds to see various points of his relationship with his wife, good and bad. This song is like that episode. It’s snippets of their life together, and each one is very clearly a separate stage in how they felt about each other.

Elliot Taylor is a raw and talented storyteller with the perfect blend of soul and control. His debut EP, Live from Hell’s Kitchen, released four days ago, and I am absolutely hooked. If the above song didn’t immediately get Elliot added to your Spotify playlists, check out the music video below.

Also, if you want to listen to all of the bands we have featured for the month of June, head over to our Spotify playlist to check that out.

Video of the Day: Blue Child Collective “Wake Up to the Sound”

There are bands out there that I see them perform, catch a music video, or listen to a song and immediately think, “I’d love to hang out with these people.” Blue Child Collective falls with a resounding bang into that category. This Australian funk/psych rock group has so many endearing qualities that include, but go well beyond, the song itself.

Let’s start with Dan White, the frontman. His voice is much deeper than I was expecting when I heard the groove kick in, but it is everything I didn’t know I needed. The pure, ringing notes add to this “exploration of vibration” much more than if someone was taking the more popular approach of being a fifth or even an octave higher than Dan. It is a unique and soul seeking sound that has found it’s home in the perfectly balanced instrumentation provided by the instruments and nature behind him. After watching the documentary about the creation of the album, “Saturn Saw the Seaside” (which will be posted below), it is abundantly clear that this is what Dan holds most dear: finding a like-minded community of musicians and creatives, and digging in to make something they can all be proud of.

And what a group of musicians it is! I mean, seriously. First, I need to start off by giving OJ Newcomb insane praise for one of the slickest bass lines I’ve heard in a while. This song is what pure collaboration looks like. Every instrument, from the trumpet to the keys feels like an integral featured part of the song while keeping the cohesive unit in tact. I also have to touch on the saxophone solo from Lindsay Baker at the 2:30 mark. Damn. Knowing very little about the saxophone, I feel like that’s the only word I can use to really sum up what I saw. I’ve seriously gone back to watch the video just for that part. This Collective is something really extraordinary all the way around.

Lastly, the lyrics. The whole point of this song is to “reveal the cosmic doorways you never realized you’ve always known,” and it holds true to that summation. Music has been a huge crux for me when defining my faith, spirituality, and who I am as a person. They go into that, but make sure to make it clear that they don’t care what truth you find in music, just as long as you search for it.

“I don’t care what you believe. Believe whatever you want.”

“Really, at the end, the conclusion that I come to is that we are the sound.”

-Seth

Check out Blue Child Collective and every other artist featured on our blog in June on our Spotify playlist.

Check out Episode 13 of the podcast where we talk about Bad Luck and bring you your new favorite artists.