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.
When Twenty One Pilots released their breakout album Vessel after signing with label Fueled by Ramen, in 2011, artists within the pop punk category knew they were going to have to up their game.
So when I heard that the Ohio natives Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun dropped their new album Blurryface, I couldn’t wait to see what the artists had been up to in the studio.
If you’re a fervent fan of Twenty One Pilots, and have been since the beginning, then you know that the two enjoy blending genres to create music that is outside the normative lines of music genre. Joseph, who leads vocals, loves mashing up a mix of rap, hip-hop, pop, rock, and reggae, sometimes even screaming at times when he finds necessary.
Take a track like “Fairly Local,” on the newly dropped record. Joseph’s tendency to switch his vocals from hard rock screams to a more pop falsetto to then randomly rapping all overlain intricate beats and some synth hints at a schizophrenic nature of the duo’s sound—at least in this album.
And the question is, does this mix of genres within the tracks, work? Or at least as well as they did in Vessel? You listen to a massive amount of ukulele and reggae vibes within tracks like “The Judge” and “Ride,” and then completely switch directions to a completely different vibe in a track like “Polarized” with a chorus so built up likeImagine Dragons and a vocal inflection similar to Alt-J. There’s a lot going on, but Twenty One Pilots tries to keep the pop reggae vibe with random bits of rap leaked in.
But maybe the two do this for a reason. You compare “Homeless” with the sweet harmonies and electronic influences, reminiscent of Glass Animals with more, hard rock emotionally engaging last track “Goner,” and you can’t help but compare genres across musical lines. And with thoughtful lyricism that Joseph incorporated, it becomes apparent that maybe this album is less about the musical style and more about the concepts and themes embedded in them. Look at “Stressed Out,” in which Joseph expresses concern over everything from his music (“I wish I found some chords in an order that is new / I wish I didn’t have to rhyme every time I sang”) to growing older (“I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink / But now I’m insecure and I care what people think”). Or take a listen to “Heavydirtysoul” when he states “This is not rap, this is not hip-hop / just another attempt to make the voices stop.” He sings about uncertainties, insecurities, and fear—things not only any musician expresses concern over, but any human in the world with a rationally functionally mind. And how else would anyone express concern and insecure emotion without at least the hint of a schizophrenic, out of control nature? He’s right about this at least—uncertain emotion can’t fit within one single box.
There’s the mish-mash of genres with the track, across the track, and throughout the album, and yet you can’t really bring yourself the hate the album. The tracks and the instrumental expression, although not entirely incredibly innovative, are still creative enough for you smile, and say to yourself, “There’s Twenty One Pilots.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.”
yourself a favor and give Solace a
listen. It’s amazing.
New musicians are back, let’s dive in and straight up dig it. Holiday Mountain, anyone?
Holiday Mountain is a band that is completely out of the realm of genre. Synth pop fused with dubstep fused with the meaningful lyricism of soul? It’s trippy. Which is not a bad thing, we need some more unique eclectic sounds in our lives. Based in Austin, Texas, Holiday Mountain dub themselves as musicians that push musical boundaries, mixing dances beats, unexpected melodies, and airy vocals.
And it’s true, they’re unconventional for sure.
Taking a look at their recently released EP You be You, Part 1, there is a lot going on that you almost wonder, and “How did they come up with this?”
Number one track off their EP “My Body” is so bizarre sounding with a mix of front woman Laura Patino half rapping her lyrics “Don’t need no hates/If you ain’t down, I’ll see you later,” to underlying synth beats and heavy percussion. This group does their own sound, and they make that known to you straight up coming to the album, regarding their unconventional sound.
But you come to get used to the way Holiday Mountain mixes their sound by the time you get to sweet tracks like “Slow Motion Things,” with tangy vocals, poignant instrumental riffs, and musical timing that ironically parallels the theme of the song.
There are funky beats, and there are rich vocals for sure. You’ve got hints of Diplo and M.I.A. with the electronic dance groove and hip hop influence, but Holiday Mountain does have one distinction.
Although their sound is crazy, the themes behind their lyricism are beautiful and empowering. With lyrics like “It’s my body/Don’t need no haters” and “Equal freedom for woman and man,” you can’t help but feel inspired regarding gender equality and female empowerment. Not something typical to normal synth-pop right?
My favorite track off the entire EP is “With You” (featuring Wild Child), and that isn’t due to just the slower tempo and more ethereal sounding vocals. It’s about self-love, but it’s also about love in general and the beautiful feelings that comes with love. There is a very airy feel to the entire track as Patino sings “With you, I am young/With you, I am free.” The layered vocals with the softer percussion and overlay of violin is beautiful. It’s a little hippie, with the underlying chorus and synth, but it’s a beautiful end to the EP, and makes you wistful for just a little bit more.
It’s nice seeing the versatility of these musicians, purely because not everyone can necessarily automatically groove to Holiday Mountain’s aggressive dance jams. But at the same time, not everyone may not want to sit and mellow out to a more airy, acoustic tune either.
They’ve got a little bit of everything, and that’s what matter when they’re singing about themes of self-love, empowerment, and overall acceptance—something we can all relate to.
You Be You, Part 1, available here to jam to. Go groove.
Hey, hey, hey, hey friends. Sometimes it’s good to acknlowledge oldies as goodies.
So let’s just talk about Milky Chance.
A German folk duo with reggae and electronic music influences made up of Clemens Rehbein
(vocals and instrumentals) and Philipp Dausch (production and DJing),
Milky Chance is badass. Their album, Sadnecessary,
released just last year in October, has 11 tracks that you will either love or
hate. I don’t really think there’s really an in between with Milky Chance. They’re
chilled out dance pop, they’re a German folk jazz duo. It’s hard.
Chance,” a more upbeat tempo track is the song that made it for Milky Chance,
is catchy with a dance beat of synchronistic claps, funky bass, and on- beat
drums. The vocals are more harmonious, and the -lyrics instantly just get
anyone to groove, with Rehbein crooning, “And I want you/We can bring it on the floor/You’ve never danced like this
before/We dont talk about it/Dancin’ on do the boogie all night long/ Stoned in
paradise, shouldn’t talk about it.” It’s chill, but it’s a boogie song with an
electro-tech vibe finishing out the song.
Rehbein has a
very distinct vocal style, and production wise, the two create this blend of
folk, reggae, and pop with almost this electronic aspect thrown in there for
kicks. “Flashed Junk Mind” and “Stunner”
on Sadnecessaryare some easily
the most relaxed tracks on the album, delivering beautiful broken up rhythms
and scratchy, raspy vocals. Quickly, you
learn to discover the aesthetic of Milky Chance and you wonder if their sound
will become repetitive and old. But then there’s tracks like “Becoming,” that
instantly give you vibes of old Southern jazz, mixed with indie folk, and
you realize there’s no way Milky Chance can bore you.
The best track of the album is easily “Down by the River.” Rehbein’s scratchy croons of his lyrics of “Down
by the river, I
was drawn by your grace/ Into tempest of oblivion and to the Lovers place"
overlaying some rhythmically guitar melodies.
It’s probably a song that is the most pop on the album, but has good rhythm and sound.In comparison to “Feathers” and “Sweet Sun” has a sense of dissonance and non-conforming rhythm. It’s free-flowing, it’s a song you listen to when you just don’t care anymore.
I’m not going to lie, I definitely don’t listen to these
guys for their lyrical creativity. It’s lacking a little in that department. It’s
their instrumental rhythms that I love, and I can admit, I love the sound of
Rehbein’s raspy vocals, reminiscent to me of The Tallest Man on Earth. These guys have already gotten big, but
if you’re fan ofvocally distincty Gotye, or the instrumentally dreamy XX, you’ll like this German sound.
They’re on tour this year, so if you have tickets already to
see them somewhere throughout the U.S., then you’re a cool cat. Boogie to “Stolen
Dance” for me.
Young musicians are awesome. They bring so much passion and energy and creativity to their projects, and I honestly think that’s great, becausewhen you’re listening to their music, you can almost feel that.
That being said, meet killer newbies,Hollow Wood.
I saw these guys open a couple of weeks ago at a Kris Orlowski show and I was blown
away. Originally from Boise, Idaho, these guys do strive for honesty and
purity, with their bio stating they work to “express music in an honest way.”
Two EP’s right now, both 6-track records. I can only run
through the highlights of each, but I just want to say, that for the most part,
what these two EP’s collectively do for me is just fully demonstrate how mature
these guys are at artists. They’re not very old, they’re all 18-22 in age
range. And they’re from Idaho.
But it’s good.
Their earlier EP Seasons,
which was released just this past summer in August has some of my solid tracks. “Forget me Forgotten” plays it up with some
mournful intro piano chord progressions, and the lead vocals coming in “One
more time across the empty sea/Promise me you won’t sleep.” Then bass comes in,
with underlying vocals and we get to the harmonies. So…Hollow Wood’s lead
vocalist, is a guy with a cool different sound in his vocals. It’s folky, it’s throaty,
it’s different. Solid drum rhythms, harmonica, violin, and some bass thrown in
for the quick instrumental and we just fall into this mournful state. It’s a little
depressing, maybe, but it’s introspective. This is a kind of song that really
makes you sit. Make you write, makes you think.
Their later EP, Wallflowers
has one of my favorite tracks of theirs, “Little Bird.” It’s soft, with sweet
guitar melodies creeping in under the intro vocals. Then bam! Listen to the way
belts “Oh don’t you cry, no don’t you cry, without me by your side/I gave you
my all, I gave you all, but that world was just way too strong.” The
juxtaposition of this strong, harsh, hoarse chorus with the sweet first and
second verses accompanied by simple guitar melodies is brilliant. The rhythm of it all keeps you on your toes to build up
to a fantastic bridge of grand instrumentals. Ending the track with resounding
chorus and a strong drum set brings it home. It’s the best track they have.
Other tracks on both EP’s are also great. Check out “Memento
Mori” on the Seasons EP if you want a
sense of indie folk and soft harmonies. There is a definite sense of unity
within the band in this track however, especially as they build up throughout the
chorus. What is best about Hollow Wood is not only their originality, but the
fact that all the vocalists have such distinctly definite sounds in their
voices. Yet they make it mesh.
They remind me of a young Typhoonin other tracks like “Wallflower”
on the Wallflower EP where they have more synchronicity among the vocals, while keeping it soft and unique.
These guys like soft guitar harmonies, they like moody vibes, but they’re not
afraid to jam it out like they do in “Families” on the Seasons EP.
It’s rough trying to give you a taste of everything, but for
the most part, Hollow Wood, for being young, is good. They’re tryin to keep it
100 with us, and I dig that. Check em out.
So these guys are not what I usually cover, lots like Doja Cat. They’re
funky and psychedelic and have this element of retro, disco dance pop, but they’ve
got soul. This isn’t all natural acoustic, it’s very artificial, but they’ve
got these reminiscent elements of other funky co cats like Electric Light Orchesta,
MGMT, the Bee Gees, and maybe even Prince.
It’s hard to categorize. They are hard to put into a box. What do I want to say? Indie electro R&B? Modern
soul? I don’t you know, you decide for yourself.
“Time,” a track that I particularly like on
their 12-track debut album, Jungle
(which released just this past July), is on the lighter dance pop side of their
album. I think their best part is their
chorus of “Say it again/Just hold on tight/Don’t let in,
yeah/I’ll run alright/Don’t let me/Oh just let it out,” but not for their
lyrical creativity. This song, like every other song on the radio is computer
generated, filled to the brim with pinched falsettos, slap bass, and crazy
instrumentals. It’s euphoric and filled with funk.
These guys also just make great music videos!
And for the most part, that’s how a lot of this album works. I’m not
getting the sense that these guys really dig their fake horns and electric
funk. They like getting people to want to get up and groove. And I dig that. What they do lack, however, is a
sense of creativity. Lyrically, it’s very repetitive, and even composition
wise, “Busy Earning” is so similar to “Time,” as is “The Heat” and “Platoon.”
It gets to all be the same.
Is this bad? Yes and no. Jungle is new duo, made up of childhood friends, Tom
McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson. They’ve been kicking it since they were nine
years old. I can sense the chemistry, and I’m glad the two are working
together, I like their vibe. Creatively, they have a long way to go, but they’re old enough producers to realize
that the debut album that they do have is solid and work their way up
We do get a little something different when we hit tracks like “Drops” and “Julia.”
There’s some more bass in there, and instead of just dance funk, it’s gets a
little soulful and mournful. I love when “Drops” hits, “I’ve been loving you
too long.” I’m getting some tastes of Paolo
Nutini-esque blues in there, and I like the turn from dance pop to some
“Julia,” is the best track on their debut in my opinion and I think a track
they put some serious effort it. I love the overlaying, faded vocals, that
goddamn organ playing in the background, and the rhythm they’ve got going. It’s
a little darker, it isn’t really a song to groove to, but it’s a lovesick,
lovelorn track where I can fully see where these guys are going. They’ve can do
And their video, choreographically is amazing. These guys like modern
dance. Check it.
They’re disco, and they’re not really disco. They’re funk and soul and
electric. They’re party music at times, and then at other times, they’re jams
you have existential conversations to. They start their South American tour soon and I’m bitter I won’t be in Santiago, Chile jamming out, but I hope when they release some new grooves, I’ll be with them live.
Check out their album on Spotify. It’s a solid debut, they’re solid
Londoners. And they make solid music videos, which is what’s important, right?
It’s been rough lately, and honestly I should be writing a paper, but I’d rather write about music, so let’s just procrastinate together.
I’ve fallen in love, recently. It’s that time of year, you know? And I realize that I fall in love quite often, I’m a romantic, but this guy is worth it, I’m telling you.
Let’s meet Taylor Berrett.
As I write this, I literally can feel myself become giddy,it’s almost unreal. It’s crazy. Is this how love feels?
Okay, so this is actually really strange because I first
discovered Berrett a couple of months ago when I went to an Alex Clare show at Neptune Theatre (remember that show
preview?). He was the opener, and I remember, at the time thinking, “He’s good,
young, but this kid’s got it.” I took a couple photos, swore he was going to go
far, and then just vaguely forgot about him. Here’s a photo of him performing,
he’s a pretty rad guy.
But anyway, then I followed him on Facebook, just for news
updates and slowly Berrett began to come out with more of his own music. When he
performed a couple of months ago, he had a couple of his songs, so I knew he
could write, but I was basing his vocal ability off his Beatles covers.
So I knew this kid has talent.
It’s a little crazy I’m reviewing
this guy so soon because his debut album doesn’t even come out for another two
weeks, but the tracks and the EP that he has out now are just too good to not
talk about, and I expertly assume they will be on his debut album.
But let’s talk about my favorite
tracks first, which aren’t on his 2012 EP Anchor
Chasing. “Those Days,” a track that he just released this year, starts off
just the way I like it: with some finger snaps, simple acoustic harmonies, and a raw,
The rhythm on this track is so brilliant and the lyricism that
this man has is so natural, I am reminded of singer-songwriter (and one of my
favorite musicians) Kris Allen. We
start off easy with “Slow down, turn around/Tell me what’s tearing your heart
out baby,” building up the main chorus “Everybody has, everybody has those
days/ Feeling like an ocean, having trouble making waves.” As we build up to
the chorus, we get a little trumpet and sax into the mix, and my heart drops into
my stomach. Then bam, xylophone, and the world just stops.
It’s this perfect mix of acoustic
folk with jazz and it just feels easy
you know? You get the feel of just chilling on the beach with this guy,
drinking some margaritas, with a guitar and a guy playing saxophone in the
background. When we get to the sax solo, you know Taylor Berrett is a classy
musician and not one to be reckoned with. He knows instrumental composition,
and he knows it well.
Okay, so now for my absolute favorite
track that he has out so far. “The Heat,” a track that he released,also, just a
couple months ago is just a game changer.
It’s a little more upbeat, but it’s probably, and this may be a stretch, a
track that I would say is one of the best new singles I’ve heard this year. He starts drumming out some awesome beats,
leading in with some great vocals that just has excellent rhythm and a sense
of, once again, jazz and blues. Listen to the part when he sings his chorus, “Got
no place that I can go/ Got no money to my name/ Got no scars that I show/ Got no
bad luck I can blame.” The way he weights his vocals rhythmically is not just
catchy. It’s brilliant. The electric guitar mixed with his drummer is all so
cohesively in sync with his vocals, that you would almost expect Berrett to be
someone who’s been in the business for years. Taylor Berrett labels himself as acoustic pop,
and definitely, I can see why he would want to brand himself that way; he wants
to be commercial. But don’t let that fool you, this guy knows solid blues. He
knows solid jazz. He is catchy, but he is skilled and talented. You see it in
the last track I discussed, you see it in the bridge of this track when he
sings “They say man take it easy, enjoy it while you’re free/ I said the heat I
can stand is, is standing still against me.”
And the acoustic version is even
better. Here’s a look.
This voice. Please. There is
control, there is great tone, there is great pitch, and there is just a
When I listen to this guy, a smile
forms on my face. Is this what love feels like?
Maybe it’s the combination of the fact
that I’ve seen this guy start it out live, and then have listened to his more
matured singles, and maybe it’s the fact that I know he is the real deal
because I have seen him sing. I’m not
sure. But this is probably my favorite artist
to review thus far, and I love a lot of musicians.
But anyone, one more, let’s talk.
Let’s take it back two years, to another
track, also not on his EP. I like his EP, and we’ll get there, don’t worry. But,
honestly? I really just dig these tracks that he chooses not to publicize as
much. They’re rad. “Fair Warning,” takes it back a little bit more to his folk
roots, but he still rocks it, like usual.
You get this banjo, tambourine, campy
feel, but once again, his lyricism of, “Call me the wanderer/ Write me away/ I’ll
be the mountain you cannot escape,” never fails. This a track I’m pointing out
just to emphasize Berrett’s versatility as an artist. I’m sorry, but I don’t
care how campfire folk he gets, the man has vocals and the man can write. And
why is it surprising? This 22-year old singer from Virginia started writing songs at age 13,
so he’s had plenty of practice.
Quick note on his EP, Anchor Chasing, because I feel like I
should comment. It’s alright; I’m not trying to disregard his first published
accomplishment. Style wise, it’s more lowkey than the other tracks I’ve talked
about, simple. When you listen to it, you can hear in his voice that he still
very much new, and hey this is an EP from two years ago, so it’s
understandable. We all mature as artists.
Of the five tracks on the EP,
there are only two that I truly love and know will make it to his full length
album. “Whole Heart” is definitely a track I love best and a song I think
Berrett is exceptionally proud of especially since he keeps promoting it. It’s
full of those beautiful piano melodies that you all know I love, so points
right there. It’s two years old, but I think this is a solid original
composition of his, and personally, I’m proud. “Pomegranate Sky,” another great
one on his EP is dreamy and acoustic, but solid with some violin and piano in
the background. You feel relaxed listening to this. You have to let his voice just
take you away, and he does, successfully.
By the way, please, please, check out all his music on his soundcloud here!
All in all, this man is going to
top charts. I’m not predicting that, I’m guaranteeing it. He knows what he’s doing,
and seeing as he is already signed to Warner Brothers, and seeing as his album is
about to be released mighty soon, it’s only a matter of time.
In this dreary period of somber winter nights, I’ve felt a little melancholy. I’m pining for sunshine, for sweet summertime nights, for nights around the campfire drinking some lemonade. I’m pining for the days of cool relaxation and no stress. Mostly, I’m pining for cool, fresh new music, and I think I found it.
So… we should meet JUNGLE FIRES.
A New York based duo composed of artists Menashé David Israel & Kéren Or-Tayar, JUNGLE FIRES is a brand new artist that puts indie pop and indie soul on the map. With beautiful piano harmonies,some chill electric guitar, and soulful vocals, their debut album Bliss Point is sure to take center
It’s a six-track album with its number one track creating
the perfect interest into their record. Brilliant song, “Nothing Can Be
Changed,” JUNGLE FIRES builds this track up softly, quietly, but very, very
clean. Kéren, one of the artists in the duo, dominates in terms of vocals with Menashé
backseating it. However, the two harmonize well, and Kéren’s voice is beautiful
as she rolls on with excellent control. This track is full of acoustic
harmonies and some nice piano melodies that hints to me of some jazz
influences. This song sounds cool and all, right? Yet, I think what makes it
excellent is its free-flowing rhythm and very distinct lack of catchy “boppiness.”
This is no Alex & Sierra piano pop duo in which you take hold of the
predictable chorus and happily sing along. The melody in this track takes turns
you wouldn’t expect, but the artists do it very masterfully with soft vocals
and strong instrumentals reminiscent of instrumentalist artist Explosions in the Sky. Ending the first
track with some echoing whistles, I got the campfire, classy soul vibe and I
I’m not going to spoil the entire album for you, as you should
take a listen for it yourself. But, we definitely need to talk about my favorite
track off this new record, “It’s Okay.” There are so many reasons I love this
track. It’s a little more fast-paced, and we hear more of Menashé’s vocals and
it’s great. But more than that, the two did something awesome, and added horns into
this track. The trumpet that’s going on gives this Middle Eastern/Spanish vibe,
and it creates this song as jazz, soul, and pop all in one. I think what I love
most of about this track is its ethnic reminiscence and its musical diversity.
They have soft vocals, and they have good vocals, but I could definitely see the two going off in this direction that is
very acoustic guitar pop, very cookie cutter radio style. And the fact they are
doing their completely own sound makes me very happy.
The rest of the album is pretty fantastic for a debut. Their
October 2014 single, “Hold,” is a track that is a bit more folk based, but has a bit
more traditional harmony with Kéren leading the vocals. I like it though, and I’m
glad they put in the record. “Open Eyes” is beautiful as Menashé softly almost
whispers “Shouting as loud as a siren of war/ Just to desperately reach to your
world” over the hints of tambourine, violin, and guitar. “Best of Me” ends the record
on a fantastically high note, with a much more pop vibe, and I’m not complaining.
These guys know what they’re doing.
Agh, have I converted you yet? Hopefully, enough for you to
listen to their album here:
I’ve never really been a fan of vocal competition shows, especially in today’s day and age, just because I tend to fall in love with a lot of artists, and if they don’t make to the top of the show, or on the pop charts, they fall off the grid and I never hear from them again.
But that being said, a lot of shows have brought some good artists. Which leads me into topic of the week, some pretty people singing pretty songs.
I was just minding my own business the other day, listening to Andy Grammer, getting ready for his show in February, and while checking out the show, I decided to take a listen to the opener, just to get a feel for them before the show.
And I feel a little grimy, and very white girl right now, but I had a bit of a fling with a folk pop duo. Please try not to cringe tooooo much.
Gang, meet Alex & Sierra.
They won season three of The X Factor USA last year, and just this year in October released their debut album It’s About Us. And I’ve gotta say, it’s got some good tracks on it.
Let’s just start off with my favorites, because we all know I’m some weird moody, soulful ballad lover.
The first track off the album, Little Do You Know. Sierra has this incredibly beautiful velvet voice that has a pretty limited range, but I still think is very pretty. We’ve seen that I am not particularly prone to having a preference for female artists, because for the most part, little whiny girl voices tend to annoy me, but Sierra’s vocals when she intoned “Little do you know I’m still haunted by the memories/Little do you know/I’m trying to pick myself up piece by piece,” honestly draws me in. In this track, Alex doesn’t come into the song until the chorus, which he sings himself. The two don’t harmonize until the second crack at the chorus, and they fit together nicely (Thank god for that, because they’re dating, so…). But regardless of this point, it’s still a pretty mournful, song. It’s soft, a little sad, not very creative lyrically, but the two sing well together. Harmonizing well is difficult, but I think, just going off this first track that Sierra’s vocal are going to take lead in this vocal duo.
Let’s move on. “Bumper Cars” is probably my favorite track in the entire album, and probably because there’s a lot of simple piano melody throughout, and because the duo start off the track singing together, which highlights more of the chemistry and just well round harmony skills between the two. They know what they’re doing. This is also a sad love song, with a bridge that Alex cries out, “This was supposed to be fun/ This was supposed to be the one,” to which Sierra responds, “Maybe we stayed too long/Maybe we played all wrong.”
Okay, so yes, for the most part, this album is very piano pop, with a lot of love ballads (cue the track “I Love You”) that are unimaginative in lyrics, but very clean and pure in vocals. There are some other great songs on this record though! “Just Kids” is the one track on this album that seems to gain a little bit more of a mainstream pop feel, and I get a hint of LIGHTS or Ellie Goulding or something like that from Sierra. I liked this track because Alex takes some of the lead vocals here and he does some great things with the arrangement. It’s also a little different from the rest of the album because they’re not just expressing love or heartbreak, so I’m glad they experimented there a bit. “Broken Frame,” also a great track, has some more interesting instrumentals, and a little bit more overlay of vocals rather than choppily cutting up verses per person.
The record takes a weird turn when they hash out this country inspired track “Cheating,” which just seemed really strange and a little creepy since the lyrics were literally “Do you ever thinkabout cheating on me?” Honestly, that’s a strange song to write with someone you’re dating. They finally end the entire album on this jazzy, saxophone laden tune, that I like, but seemed very out of place. But they really used their vocals on this track, so good for them for trying something different there on the end.
By the way, you can listen to the whole album here:
I like them. They remind me a lot of James Morrison or Kris Allen and Lenachka in their “Prove it to You” duet on his record Horizons. When they keep it simple with their voices and some piano, I think they do what their voices are good for. They definitely try to attempt every genre possible in this record with hints of indie, folk, pop, country, and jazz, and for some parts it works, and for other parts it doesn’t. Overall though, as a debut album, they did a solid job, and I’m excited to see what kind of future music they’ll create when they mature a little as artists and come into their own.
And hey, at least now I know I’m not going to see a crappy opener.