New Track: “Money Trees Deuce“ – Jay Rock

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Jay Rock’s new single “Money Trees Deuceis a tantalizing release for his upcoming album. The last we
heard from him was the single “Pay for It,
featuring Kendrick Lamar and Chantal. This was all the way back in late October of last
year.

A reference to his feature on “Money Trees” off Lamar’s good kid, mA.A.d. city, this time around
the song is all Jay Rock. At almost five and a half minutes, it offers ample
support as to why the long wait for his next album will have been worth it.

Opening with smooth, dark horns, the beat implies a dim
story is about to develop. The relaxed vibe is decreased slightly with the
addition of a clapping snare as Rock begins his first verse, and the final
layer of subtle bass and drum kick sets the tone for a laid-back but charged
tale.

Rock’s lyrics and steady flow convey a tough story that he
is all too familiar with. Over his three verses, a drug-laced, fatal stumble
towards the all-encompassing goal of getting money unfolds. He raps, “I’m a
locomotive, steam rolling, gotta fight to keep that money stream open”, which
paired with his usual raw inflection, conveys the exhausting toll that this
non-stop grind creates. Rapping about the harsh confines of the ghetto is
familiar to Rock, with songs such as “M.O.N.E.Y (feat. J. Black)”, “No Joke (feat. Ab-Soul)”, and “Life’s a
Gamble” off of his first album Follow Me
Home
all describing in vivid detail where he comes from.  

Towards the end of the grim song, he snarls “Had me snatch
that switch off that branch with some leaves on it, fantasizing bout some money
trees on em”. This line ultimately sums up the toxic relationship between the
chase for money in poor cities around the US, and the violence and damage
caused by this pursuit. The fantasized money tree is whipping those in pursuit
of it with the very branches being strained for.

All in all, “Money Trees Deuce” is a fantastic single from
Jay Rock, proving he is more than capable of finding shade in his own trees, no
matter how unforgiving the environment. If you haven’t listen the song already,
it’s definitely worth checking out.

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DJ Holmes

The New Tribe’s “Human” grabs your heart

Sometimes when new indie pop artists appear, I roll my eyes because it all sounds the same after while. Luckily, I found some gentlemen that seem to know how to grab a girl’s attention. 

So let’s talk about The New Tribe.

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An indie pop band consisting of vocalist Phil Cerna, guitarist Peter McMurray, pianist Jared Fritz, drummer Josh Wiedenmeyer, and bassist Joe Coburn, The New Tribe is a group that, although new, knows technique.

With one single recently just released on iTunes and Spotify, the group’s new track “Human,” written by Phil Cerna, snatches you off your feet with hints in their sound of indie pop group Of Monsters and Men.

Within the first minute of the track, the overwhelming instruments of hard electric guitar and drums give you this impression of a hard rock vibe.  Yet, instead of cringing all the way through, your face softens as the track mellows out into Cerna’s soft, tranquil voice overlaying an acoustic melody, and you suddenly realize the hard rock hook works into grabbing you to be pleasantly surprised by the raw vocals of vocalist Phil Cerna.

As Cerna, McMurray, and Fritz harmonize to sing “Nobody’s got what it takes/We’re all just fakes/Doing the best we can/Maybe we’ll make a few less mistakes/But that’s what makes us human,” there’s a heavier emphasis on the instrumentals, and you almost get a vibe similar to Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.” Yet, unlike with other artists in which instrumentals can sometimes overpower vocals, and also like seasoned professionals Snow Patrol, The New Tribe keeps a perfect balance.

There are other elements to the track that keep you from becoming bored with the typical singer-songwriter vibe: the sick guitar solo in the middle, the great way Cerna demonstrates his vocal range in the bridge singing “Nobody’s got what it takes,” and the trippy jazzy stylings on keys combined with the great harmony of vocals in the last minute of the song.

And additional to great musical technique, the lyricism of Cerna once again appeals to a wide audience on a relatable level, proving that maybe these guys know how to write music.

It’s a solid first debut as original artists, and although you get more of an alternative rock serious feel than the bippy-boppy vibe of indie pop, there’s no doubt these guys can take it far, no matter the direction they take their sound. Phil Cerna’s beautiful clear voice does the band a true favor at vocally leading this single that the musicians plan to place on their upcoming EP in the near future.

The New Tribe could just have been lucky with this first single, and only their future EP will really tell whether these guys have a shot or not. But I’m not going to be skeptical yet, with knowledge that Phil Cerna and Peter McMurry take turns at the role of lead vocalist. With all this talent in one bunch, they’re bound to do something rad.

Take a listen, have a treat, because like I always like to say, you want to get their autograph now so you can sell it for millions later.

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Ariana Rivera

New Album: Holly Miranda

I’m picky when it comes to female vocalists. It takes a certain combination of honed skill, raw talent, and lack of nasally pompous tone to really capture my attention.

Holly Miranda has seemed to captured my attention.

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A laid back alternative singer-songwriter who’s been kicking it with the music industry since 2004, she’s come into her own as an artist, and knows her sound. And I’m not surprised, with her skills as a trained pianist and self taught guitarist and trumpet player. An 11-track album, Holly Miranda’s 2015 self titled album is one for the books. A strong start to the record, “Mark My Words,” is a track that begins with hints of a Explosions of Sky-esque guitar instrumental leading into some dreamy vocals and calming bells in background. The way Miranda rifts off into “You were just what I needed” in the first minute of the song is a beautiful demonstration of the very clean tone to her voice. The song is quiet and calming, and is a great hint to listeners of the overall vibe of the album.

And for the most part, her sound throughout the entire album is pretty consistent in terms of vocal and instrumental arrangements. She’s simple. She likes to coo and draw out her soft lilting voice with the help of a piano, and hey it works in a song like her last track of “Hymnal.” Fully demonstrating her vocal range on this track, you see this girl can almost take it to the opera level and you’re impressed.

Leading into the next track, “All I Want Is To Be Your Girl,” I get a more upbeat folk pop vibe, almost reminiscent of The Mowgli’s, but I think what I dig most are the chilled out tracks that have an Ingrid Michaelson feel, especially with the drawn out lovelorn vocals in songs like “Everlasting,” and “The Only One.”

“It’s not until we’re faced with death that we truly understand,” sings Miranda in Heavy Heart, overlain by a beautifully simple piano melody, a track which brought tears to my eyes. These tracks are too real for words, and it isn’t because of some phenomenal innate musical composition (although that is present). Miranda discusses themes of love, heartbreak, and that sense of not being to get someone off your mind, and these concepts if not relatable, are at least ones that evoke emotion.  

Best track of the album by far  “Desert Call.” Starting it off clean with Miranda’s vocals and some clean, clear cut guitar, “Desert Call” also takes you back to childhood in the summer. The saxophone near the latter half of the track makes you swoon with the sheer amount of jazzy sophistication coupled with Miranda’s suave vocals.

Think Ingrid Michaelson. Think stripped down Florence & the Machine. Think girl next door singing to you about love.

But in actuality, stop thinking and just listen because the album just dropped TODAY on iTunes and is most-definitely dope.

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Ariana Rivera

New Song: Alina Baraz & Galimatias – Can I

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The chill duo have released another track, and “Can I” is in
keeping with the glue-covered sound they have created. This track sounds as if
it was composed in the warm depths of a tropical ocean, swaying softly to the current,
only to surface when ethereal singer Alina Baraz needs a breath of air.

Much
like the rest of their work, the new track sounds as if it is meant to be heard
when under the water of the swimming pool, floating lazily as the warm lights dance
beneath the calm surface.

Alina has a beautiful voice, and the airy way in
which she sings really compliments the tracks Danish producer Galimatias creates. The mixing of
sultry voice and sultry instrumentals laden with piano riffs and smooth bass could make any cloudy day feel warm.

I
can’t stress enough the amount of warmth that comes from their tracks. They bring to mind the soft flames that would sway back and forth in slow motion on the candle
wick at night. They’re like the sunlit patch of kitchen or living room floor
that you would take a nap on when you were a kid. They’re the warm steam coming
out of the showerhead, the warm touch of a loved one. 

The pair have been working together
for around a year now and have gathered quite a following after their debut, “Drift”. Below is their most popular tracks, “Fantasy.” I
highly suggest taking a listen, they’ve created something absolutely beautiful.

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Alexander Bonilla

New Track: Earl Sweatshirt – Solace

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Earl
Sweatshirt
is one of the most talented rappers out right now. He
produces a lot of his own beats and flows over them like none other.

Earl is plagued by
depression. He talks about a lot of his issues in his music. His latest album was aptly
titled I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go
Outside.

With Solace, he bares himself like never
before. Earl dropped Solace on
YouTube earlier this week, without warning. He raps about
his sadness and pain with brutal honesty. Solace is a ten
minute voyage into Earl’s stormy mind. I’ve never heard anything quite like it,
simultaneously stark and beautiful.

The YouTube
description for Solace is succinct: “music from when i hit the bottom and found something.”
There isn’t a video to accompany the song. There’s just a plain, pink square
for us to stare at.

Solace doesn’t have a hook. It doesn’t
need one. Haunting instrumentals ebb and flow and transform. Earls three verses
are mostly mumbled and slurry, to good effect. His voice conveys his
hopelessness better than any words could.

Which
isn’t to say that the lyrics here aren’t powerful. Bars like “I spent days
faded and anemic/You
could see it in my face, I ain’t been eating, I’m just wasting away” and “My
brain split in two,
it’s raining a bit/I hope
it’s a monsoon, my face in the sink” are visual and cutting.

The
piano-heavy instrumentals create a dark, claustrophobic vibe. Disembodied moans
mingle with eerie chords. Shrill screeches pierce through, at points. Despite
all the melancholy elements, the beats are as smooth as melted butter. Earl’s production never ceases to impress.

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Earl
is mired in regret and it keeps him up at night: “I done stayed up the whole
night…It’s me and my nibbling conscience.” He misses his dead grandma: “I got
my grandmama’s hands, I start to cry
when I see ‘em/Cause they remind me
of seeing her”

Earl’s
honesty pays off, because Solace is real
and relatable. The YouTube comments section is full of praise for Earl. Some
commenters even thank Earl for Solace. It
“strikes a chord” and “speaks volumes.”

Do
yourself a favor and give Solace a
listen. It’s amazing.

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Pranav Shivanna

Show Review: Shlohmo in Seattle

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I’ve
been a Shlohmo fan for years now,
so I bought tickets to his show as soon as he announced a tour. That was way back around
the start of the year.

I whiled away the months
leading to the show by revisiting his impressive discography. I’ve long
considered his Laid Out EP to be a
masterpiece.

In March, Shlohmo dropped his new album, Dark Red. The
album was a stunning departure from his previous releases. But it still had all
those classic Shlohmo elements, like menacing basslines and warped notes.
Definitely an album worth checking out.

Shlohmo’s electronic
music isn’t the dance-y kind. His music reminds me of dark basements and scary
nights and pain and zombie apocalypses. It’s pretty great. That’s why I was
surprised when I started dancing at the show. Everyone was dancing. It was
probably because Shlohmo’s basslines were even more immense on Neumos’s bumping sound system. Shout
out my ear drums for not exploding.

I love it when electronic
artists bring out a band. Shlohmo brought out a drummer and a guitarist and
also occasionally wielded a guitar himself.

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The light show was crazy
intense. The lights and the music complemented each other beautifully, surging
and receding in harmony. At times, shrouded by the spotlights, Shlohmo seemed angelic.

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He mostly played cuts off
his new album, but didn’t forget fan favorites like Places and Later. Later is my favorite Shlohmo song ever.
I cried sweet tears of joy when it came on. Well, maybe not. Nonetheless, I was
super happy.

About an hour into the
set, Shlohmo and the band just ran off the stage without warning. “Is that it?”
I wondered.

Hell no. The lights flared
up and Shlohmo ran back up on stage. He grabbed the microphone and reassured us,
“That was a joke. This is real life now!” He played us one last amazing song.
Then, unfortunately, it was over.

My one beef with the show
was that the two openers, Purple and
Nick Melons, had sets that lasted
about an hour each. That’s a bit long, as openers go. I was restless, standing
on sore feet waiting for Shlohmo to come out. But the openers were pretty tight
so it was cool I guess.

Definitely a night to
remember.  

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Pranav Shivanna

Purity Ring – Another Eternity

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In 2012, Purity Ring’s debut LP, Shrines, garnered critical acclaim for its surreal take on synthpop. The record was focused and dark, with eleven fantastically produced tracks each adding to the overall occult aesthetic. Another Eternity departs from this spooky brilliance in favor of a brighter and poppier sound, while thankfully maintaining the great production values of the first album.

Unlike on Shrines, Megan James’ voice takes the front seat on Another Eternity. While the heavily processed vocals of the first album make a return on a few tracks, such as “Dust Hymns” and “Stillness in Woe”, they’re as a whole overshadowed by James’ more memorable melodies on songs such as “Heartsigh” or “Sea Castle”. MIDI vocal samples are also featured throughout the record, but are rarely the focus and serve as more of a tool in Corin Roddick’s instrumental arsenal than the lead voice.

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With less of an atmospheric vibe and brighter vocals, Another Eternity takes a step towards the mainstream and, seemingly sensing this, Roddick has slotted in elements of popular house music throughout the album. At the same time, he tries to maintain some of the weirdness that made Shrines the hit that it was. The result is what occasionally feels almost anti-EDM: A lone siren and percussion roll in “Heartsigh” among the otherwise synthpop instrumentals or a build up to a drop that never comes in “Dust Hymn”. On first listen, these sounds are jarring and feel out of place, but they quickly meld into the overall tone and are barely noticed on subsequent listens.

Aside from the house influence, Another Eternity’s instrumentals are fairly similar to those of Shrines, albeit brighter, and that’s a good thing. They’re every bit as polished as those on Purity Ring’s debut LP and leave little to be desired.

Though Another Eternity is a departure from Shrines, it is every bit as memorable. A change in tone this drastic is sure to divide the fanbase, but Corin Roddick’s fantastic production values ensure that this record sounds great and maintains a sense of cohesion between Another Eternity and Shrines. All in all, Another Eternity does well to avoid the “Sophomore slump” that is all too apparent in indie bands today.

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Garrett M

Coming Up: Toro Y Moi – What For? (Album Preview)

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Earlier today, Toro Y Moi surprised us all with a track we never expected! “Buffalo” (available on SoundCloud below) premiered on The Fader this morning along with a few insights into TYM’s creative process:

When I started writing this song I was experiencing a bit of writer’s block and this song was what pulled me out. As soon as I wrote it, I knew it would set the tone for the entire album.

And so it did. Comparing this track with TYM’s last release from this album, we can hear similar vibes of snares and solidarity. Both “Buffalo” and “Empty Nesters” rely on a driving rhythm beneath insightful lyrics. ‘Cause you love it all / ‘Cause you’ll find a way / To keep on… Check out the video from the January release below:

Stay tuned (on Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for more coverage of Toro Y Moi’s latest endeavor! I am excited to see what other singles are planned for release before the album (tracklist below) drops in April!

What For? (Expected Release Date: April 7, 2015)
01 What You Want
02 Buffalo
03 The Flight
04 Empty Nesters
05 Ratcliff
06 Lilly
07 Spell It Out
08 Half Dome
09 Run Baby Run
10 Yeah Right

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DJ Desman

A solid find: Hollow Coves (New Artist Update)

I was recently just doodling around on the internet like we like to do when paper proposals should really be written, and I stumbled across these two beautiful gentlemen who, quote, “have that chilled vibe about [them].”

Such truth.

I’m a fan of acoustic sets and I’m even more of a fan of acoustic duos. Pretty clean, pure stuff to me, and I find that if you just have a guitar in hand and your voice, there are no real opportunities to BS your music.

Hollow Coves do not disappoint.

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Meet Ryan Henderson and Matt Carins, two dudes from Brisbane, Australia. Recently just releasing their debut EP, Drifting, indie-folk duo Hollow Coves keep it simple and keep it classy.

Just listening to the first song on Drifting, “The Woods,” is beautifully simple with an intro of a slowly building beat that develops into simple guitar melodies and soft piano chords, vaguely giving a Kris Allen feel to the song. The two boys picked each other well as both their voices truly complement each other as they bring the song alive with their relaxed tone and lyrics of “And we all sit around the fire/ We feel a little warmer now/And we all sit around the fire/ We feel so much better now.”

Drifting – EP by Hollow Coves

Take a listen, and if just chilling around the fire and feeling better and warmer doesn’t give you a “chilled” vibe then I don’t know what will.

In “Home,” the second song on Drifting¸ simple subtle guitar melodies combined with the duo’s intertwined voices also just brings you home as they sing “Take me home/To the friends I’ve always known/Take me home/Back to the place where I belong.”

Such simple lyrics right? I mean, yes, don’t get me wrong here, these pieces of music are not the most complex musically and lyrically, but the overall vibe these two have is what I think they’re both trying to achieve: simple, clean and beautiful. And hey, indie folk isn’t Bach.

I think in the last song, “Heatwave,” is actually the song that is the most complex of the three on the EP with more complicated instrumentals, but at the same time, it’s also my least favorite.  Why? 1) There’s only one person doing vocals on this song, which for me, causes the song to lose depth, and 2) The last half of the song is guitar strumming and humming which gets boring. Nonetheless, the one guy doing the vocals on this song, either Ryan or Matt (I can’t tell), does show a wider range of vocal capability, so cool to know for the future if they decide to release a full album.

Where to listen?! http://hollowcoves.bandcamp.com/releases 

Overall? I like them. I like this. I like indie folk and I like their simplicity and the beauty that comes with it. If they keep to the simple melodies of both their instrumentals and their voices, then Hollow Coves will be a duo that makes it to the top.

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Ariana Rivera

New Video: Jesse Romo – The Beauty of One

Jazzy and slow, Jesse Romo, starts off his latest track, “The Beauty of One” with a casual collection of guitar and drums. As the vocals begin, a wave of relaxation washes through all the instruments at once. Although the music isn’t technically difficult, it does challenge the listener to take in the message that Jesse strives to convey. “It is about feeling lost and alone, having a spiritual experience, and coming to find connectedness with the Universe,” the artist shares in the description of the song’s music video:

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A compilation of various Yosemite and Joshua Tree time lapses accompany the song as it drifts through various states of calamity. Check out the music video on Facebook or in the stream above.

This track is decidedly different than the music that can be found in Romo’s previous releases. While mixtapes like Listen, Love (Epilogue) and Afterthoughts rely heavily on sample-based production around jazz and hip-hop, other projects like happykid vibes out like old school Nintendo. This single ushers the first time that Jesse’s voice has appeared on a track – needless to say, I am glad to hear it.

To explain the inspiration behind the song, Romo states:

I started writing this song last summer, during a difficult couple of months in my life. Facing trials and tribulations again recently, but now with a greater sense of hope, I felt it was time to complete the song.”

There’s plenty of more beauty to be found in this artist’s work on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Feel free to stream and download anything as he has gladly offered it all up for free!

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DJ Desman