Founder of the Toronto-based indie rock blog Aside/Beside, Est. 2009. Currently home to a team of five primary contributors , Aside/Beside aims to shed an international spotlight on otherwise lesser-known or regionally popular indie rock artists.
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- hip-hop, indie rock, metal, hard rock, punk, rock, electronic, classic rock, folk, pop, garage, blues, experimental, post punk, lo-fi, grunge
On "She's Got Love" by up-and-comers Pulsating Radiostars, the straight-shooting rockers lay down four minutes of raw, dirty southern-tinged rock 'n' roll of the highest caliber. A sound at once refreshing and nostalgic, it immediately recalls a time when rock reigned supreme on radio airwaves across the globe. Indeed, the inherent genius of the music being made Pulsating Radiostars is that they are intentionally not trying to re-invent the wheel of rock 'n' roll, but rather take the existing one for a ride. And they do so very effectively, pulling out all of the stops: tasty lead guitar licks, soloing, a pummeling rhythm section, and killer vocal delivery. In short, Pulsating Radiostars give you exactly what you want to hear from a rock 'n' roll song, and they don't mess with a time-tested formula.
On Natalie Bancroft's cover of "Jealous," fans are treated to a three-and-half minute stripped-down piano rendering of the song. Comprised of little more than a lead vocal, piano melody, and a supplemental string section, this cover is a slow-burning crescendo if ever there was one. Deeply emotive and moving, this sparse arrangement keeps the listener's ears fine-tuned on the lead vocal, which ultimately rises above the rest of the instrumentation as it rightly should. Bancroft's ability to tug on the listener's heart strings is uncanny, and has been proven time and time again on her previous musical offerings. Undoubtedly the best is yet to come from this fresh-faced up-and-comer.
On Natalie Bancroft's cover of the Bill Withers classic "Aint No Sunshine," fans are treated to a decidedly more Latin-infused take on the timeless song. Delivered by a female lead vocal as opposed to the more immediately familiar male take on the song, Bancroft reinforces the universality of the song's central theme, one of loneliness in the absence of one's lover. The Flamenco guitar work elevates this cover to new heights, ultimately pushing it into sonic territory that Bill Withers likely could never even fathom. Putting this unique twist on "Aint No Sunshine" also further goes to show that all that is old can indeed be made new again, and the proof is in the quality of the end result that Bancroft has brought to life.
On "Silently" by Emma and the Fragments, fans are treated to four minutes of moody indie-rock in the spirit of Paramore and countless female-fronted rock outfits to come before them. An impassioned lead vocal elevates this song to new heights, channeling an internal turmoil and committing it to melody and giving it a life of its own. "We must stop measuring our worth against others" is perhaps the standout lyric of the song, which also serves as a thesis statement of sorts for the song's narrative arc. Giving a voice to the voiceless, Emma and the Fragments are true underdogs. The loud-quiet-loud musical dynamic further serves to drive this message home, further emphasizing the inherent struggle built into the DNA of "Silently."
On "Aint No Sunshine" by Natalie Bancroft, the sultry singer lays down an immaculate Spanish-flavoured cover of this classic song. Her lead vocal sits front and center in the mix, with Flamenco guitar providing much of the instrumental underpinnings of the song, while an understated rhythm guitar and simple percussion hold the song together at the foundation. While Bancroft's cover doesn't deviate too far from the original, her vocal delivery exceeds it both in depth and range, proving once and for all that all that is old can indeed be made new again.
On "Tocando Em Frente" by Natalie Bancroft, fans are treated to three-and-a-half minutes of Spanish ballad delivered in a style reminiscent of early Shakira, complete with Spanish language lyrics. Impassioned and emotive with every component of her vocal delivery, Bancroft hones in on her voice as her greatest instrument, the one that rises above all others on this song. Complimented by acoustic guitar and a string section, the absence of a traditional bass/drums rhythm section allows the lead vocal to soar in the greatest way possible.
On "Wild Women Don't Have The Blues" by Natalie Bancroft, fans are treated to a five-minute piano-driven blues number that speaks directly to late night escapades and misadventures. An honest blues song of ever there was one, the instrumental arrangement is rounded out by horns, a walking bass lines, and some very restrained yet effective piano playing. In keeping with the tradition of the blues, Bancroft is not necessarily mining any new thematic territory here, but rather putting a modern twist on a time-tested tale. She delivers her narrative honestly, giving legitimacy to her songwriting and thus putting her in a league of increasingly hard to come by modern songwriters.
On "Red and Blue" by Mettle, the rocking female-fronted four-piece lay down four minutes of emotional rock music that recalls Paramore and countless other early 2000s indie rock outfits. The spare instrumental arrangement in the verses allows the vocal to soar above the rest of the track, whereas the chorus allows all instrumental elements to explode in perfect harmony, ultimately balancing out the battle for prominence with the lead vocal. The breakdown in the song's mid-section is the most pleasant surprise on this song, offering up a subtle and understated guitar solo that suits the song's mood perfectly. Definitely a sleeper hit if ever there was one.
On "Start Starting" by Carla Stark, fans are treated to three-and-a-half minutes of feel-good pop music with jazz instrumentation peppering the track for variety. With a positive message to boot, this is a self-empowerment anthem if ever there was one. Stark's lead vocal is unique, recalling no immediate comparisons, while the instrumental arrangement is a perfect compliment to what is already an up-beat composition. Like a cup of sonic sunshine, Stark taps into good feelings like a miner panning for gold, and seemingly succeeds with every attempt. Definitely a soon-to-be hit that you have yet to discover.
On "Problems" by Parlor. fans are treated to three-and-a-half minutes of synth-heavy pop balladry that exceeds all expectations. Sounding like an instant radio hit in the current pop music climate, the competitive advantage that Parlor. possess is legitimate songwriting prowess, relying less on gimmicky production techniques than their peers. The production values are indeed very high, but they at no point detract from the song or draw the listener's attention away from the underlying melody of the song. This is indeed the greatest strength of "Problems," the fact that an immaculately written pop song can be produced in a fashion that is perfectly in keeping with the production values of the day.
On "Once in a While" by Deezystep, fans are treated to three-and-a-half minutes of rapid-fire rapping laid atop chill, low-key beats. The lyrics are clever, witty, and on point, always refreshing in an era characterized by nonsensical overproduced hip-hop. Deezystep seems to be channeling a golden age of '90s rap, an experience that is both nostalgic and refreshing at the same time. "Once in a While" also succeeds in leaving the listener wanting more, cutting out just when you are ready for another verse. Well done, Deezystep.
On "Holding Guns" by Pulsating Radiostars" fans a re treated to three minutes of jangly garage rock with arena rock aspirations. A beautiful hybrid of rough-around-the-edges rock and anthemic ambitions, this is exactly the sound that the seemingly near-dead genre demands in the year 2018. Loose yet tight, the Pulsating Radiostars seem to favour the group effort over any one individual standout musician, ultimately creating a more cohesive sound. The lead vocal is largely buried in the verses, only pushing through front and centre in the choruses, allowing the lead guitar to provide the song's narrative, a narrative that largely centers on the concept of Rock 'N' Roll itself.
On "Diamond" by Winchester, the hard-rocking outfit lay down four minutes of power-chord chugging riff-friendly rock 'n' roll in the spirit of the early 2000s nu metal bands that came before them. Nostalgic and refreshing in the same breath, Winchester are a reminder that rock is indeed not dead, and that there is still hope for the genre at the dawn of 2018. Combining screamo elements with a surprisingly melodic chorus, Winchester have managed to fuse several disparate genres to create a new hybrid, perhaps the underlying reason why they sound familiar yet unlike anything that you've ever heard before. Easily the best rock song to be released in 2018, "Diamond" might just be the anthem for a new era of rock 'n' roll.
On Oddnote's "Money Comes, Money Goes," the rockers lay down two-and-a-half minutes of Southern Rock in the spirit of many great rcokers who have come before them. The power-chord heavy track chugs along with brutal precision, quickly locking into an unrelenting groove that carries the listener to the song's conclusion. This song is as streamlined as it possibly could be, without an ounce of fat or a wasted note to be found anywhere. The song's only shortcoming is that the guitar solo at the song's conclusion is more of a tease than anything, being cut mercifully short as the song ends.
On "Shadowpasser" by Voxsomnia, fans are treated to a slow, brooding track that at times sounds like a reprise of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters." A beautiful, delicate melody threads its way through the song, while a sparse instrumental arrangement holds everything musically together by a thread. One gets the feeling that a great amount of restraint is being exercised by all musicians involved here to create a very specific sombre atmosphere. Hauntingly beautiful, they are indeed successful in this venture, striking a perfect balance between vocals and instrumentals.
On "Feet on the Ground" by Samira, the powerful vocalist lays down three minutes of sheer power and beauty. A delicate piano melody dances underneath a serene vocal melody to great effect. The sparseness of the instrumental arrangement works to the song's benefit, keeping the primary focus on the song's powerful, delicate vocal narrative. Ultimately, the song commands the listeners utmost attention, as the beauty in the details is quickly missed if only given a cursory listen.
On "All the Reasons" by Jess Suilenroc, the soulful singer lays down three minutes of pure heartbreak atop a simple beat, allowing her powerful voice to float atop all other instrumentation on the track. Melodically sparse, "All the Reasons" reads more like a diary entry read aloud than a traditional verse-chorus-verse song structure. Nonetheless, this downtempo song does capture the raw emotion of a breakup, and does so without any hint of artifice.
On "Part Stoner" produced by CXDY, fans are treated to two-and-a-half minutes of low-key hip-hop influenced soulful pop music that is indeed as much of a stoner experience as the title suggests. The song is equal parts swagger and contemplation, the kind of next-level thought process that only occurs when one gets high. Thematically the song relies heavily on the "part stoner" theme established in the song's title, there are nonetheless hints of deeper themes residing just below the song's hazy surface. Overall more of an "experience" song rather than a straightforward narrative, "Part Stoner" is just trippy enough to warrant repeated listens.
On "Incompleted Neighboring" by Austin, the listener is treated to two-and-a-half minutes of serene multi-layered vocal harmonies atop minimal ambient instrumentals that recall early Broken Social Scene. The effect is both hypnotic and enticing, lulling the listener into a peacefully pacified state. In the song's final thirty seconds, the hypnosis is broken by abrasive up-tempo synths that serve to bring the song to a dramatic finish, while at the same time breaking the initial spell that the song holds over the listener. A mini-masterpiece to be sure, there are a lot of creative ideas packed into a small sonic space.
On "1991 VHS Tape Nostalgia (Law of Love)" by Austin, fans are treated to the outfit's trademark brand of hypnotic synths and looping instrumental passages laying directly underneath a sea of reverb-laden vocals that are mostly incoherent but are nonetheless used to great effect. The end result is both dreamy and beautiful, the kind of cinematic treatment that one would expect to see on the silver screen, or at the very least in a television commercial. Austin also stretches time and treats it as yet another medium within his creative pallet, using the nearly eight-minute running time to both condense and expand time as required. The song's mid-section is peppered with spoken word audio samples, which ultimately serve to enhance the disorienting effect of the song, a treatment that ultimately works well. By the time the song hits its final minute, it is already amid a transition into something laregly unrecognizable from the song's first half, playing out like a VHS tape or audio mix tape of different song samples recorded in tandem.
On "Sleeplessnessjesus's" by Austin, the experimental artist warps traditional instrumentation to paint a vivid and hallucinatory three-and-a-half minute sonic painting. Akin to a warped vinyl record spinning at the wrong speed, the effect is disorienting yet strangely soothing. A masterful exercise in bending time and space through music, Austin transports the listener to another place effortlessly. This song is further evidence that Austin's approach to music-making is far from straightforward, which might just be the reasons why he is at the cutting edge of something entirely new that defies traditional genre categorization.
On "Pull-Over Blac" by Donas, the French singer-songwriter lays down four-and-a-half minutes of Serge Gainsberg meets Johnny Cash meets Leonard Cohen spoken-word country art-folk. Never raising his voice above a near-whisper, Donas commands his audience with his inherent bravado and inherent sense of "cool," an intangible quality that radiates from the very essence of singer's persona. Instrumentally sparse, little more than an acoustic guitar rhythm section and driving drum beat keep this song propelling forwards. Likewise, the backing female vocals bring some much needed melodic backing to what is admittedly not the most melodic song, but then again its not trying to be. "Pull-Over Blanc" succeeds in every measure in increasing the shroud of mystery and cool around the largely unknown Donas.
On "Life Begins" by Winchester, the rock-tinged outfit lay down four-and-a-half minutes of melodic 90s-influenced balladry of the highest caliber. The vocal delivery is both wordy and dense, almost delivered in a near-rap cadence, but the inherent melody keeps the song firmly footed in the sphere of rock music. The heavy chorus recalls much of the hard rock and nu metal of the late 90s and early 00s, bringing a sense of nostalgia to this song. The rap rock delivery only becomes more apparent in the song's second half, when it morphs into a full-blown nu metal anthem, complete with screaming and rap-rock vocal delivery. Overall, "Life Begins" recalls a long lost era in rock music that is as overdue for a revival.
Electronic artist David Rosen is back with another instant classic, the instantly memorable "Secrets." Less overtly EDM influenced than much of his early work, this song features more traditonal instrumentation, such as piano, keys, and even guitar. This is arguably Rosen striking his most effective balance musically in his career thus far, creating a piece that is compelling for both fans and non-fans of the increasingly broad umbrella of EDM. Paired with a titillating and scandalous music video, Rosen has created the perfect pairing as a means to transmit his musical message to the masses. If ever there was an artist worth keeping an eye and an ear on at the end of the prolific year that has been 2017, it is indeed David Rosen.
On "3rd of a Kind" by SP Presley, the Classic Rockers lay down three-minutes of pure instrumental prowess in the spirit of every 80s prog-leaning hair metal band that came before them. A tapestry of influences, one can detect Van Halen guitar work colliding with Rush melodies, all underpinned by a sound so familiar that it instantly transports the listener back in time to an era when rock reigned supreme on FM bands across the continent. A perfectly constructed instrumental piece, "3rd of a Kind" sounds like the intro to an epic album, a battle cry for future material yet to come. To be sure, SP Presley are a band hell-bent on bringing classic rock back at a time when it is most severely needed. In this cause, I can only applaud them and say Godspeed!
On "Higher Than Sweet Heaven" by Gumshen, the electronic outfit lay down three-and-a-half minutes of undeniably dance-friendly EDM that recalls early Daft Punk and more contemporary electronic influences simultaneously. Sounding akin to the world's greatest New Years Eve dance party, one gets the sense that Gumshen aim to bring this celebratory dance party to every day of their fans lives, in an instant turning the daily slog into one big party. A lofty and noble aim, Gumshen effectively pepper this song with enough variety to avoid the EDM trap of falling into overly repetitive, boring, or dull musical structure. Indeed, this dance party offers something for everybody, and all are invited. Lace up your dancing shoes and hit the floor to the sweet, sweet sound of Gumshen.
On "Youthful Fancy" by Clark, the EDM artist lays down four minutes of high-speed electro bliss rounded out by a complete vocal narrative, a rare feet in the electronic music community. The instrumentals are varied enough to keep the listener guessing where the song will go next, while the lead vocal takes the song to an entirely new level. This fusion of the traditional song format with an otherwise instrumental EDM track is a territory that has not been explored nearly enough, and is indeed a wide open field for exploration and discovery. Imagine Bob Dylan roaming through Greenwich Village with a KORG synth and a laptop and you will find artists like Clark pushing the envelope of what the EDM genre has to offer.
On "The Night Will Stand Back" by Fred Burdey, the French singer-songwriter offers up a three-minute EDM jam sung entirely in French except for the songs refrain. A compelling song nonetheless, Burdey delivers an impassioned vocal that transcends all language barriers. The man clearly has serious vocal range. As the song reveals more of itself to the listener, fans are treated to a bridge section sung entirely in English, making the song a true French-English fusion for fans in both language. Underpinning all of this is the underlying truth that the music itself is the universal language, and in the case of "The Night Will Stand Back", the music is truly memorable.
On "Black Mirror" by Wave the Flag, the pop-punters deliver a surprisingly upbeat pop song that subversively serves as a social commentary on the current state of affairs in the world, namely the crossroads of social media and real life concerns. It speaks to the surface-level vanity of a generation glued to Facebook and Instagram. The black mirror itself may be the most reflective surface of all, the one that reveals the inherent flaws in our present society. Musically, the song is an accessible sing-along that is bound to go over well when performed live by Wave the Flag at their shows.
On "One Step at a Time" by Donna Balancia and Vince Conrad, they duo lay down three-minutes of pure throwback classic rock power-pop, keeping the chord changes fun and ever-changing. Oddly enough, the song seemingly should be subtitled "One Drink at a Time," as this refrain is repeated more frequently than the song's actual title. While the song in its own right is so nostalgic that its challenging to derive anything new from it, the pure energy that is brought to the table is raw that the end result can't help but be anything less than memorable. Relying on a time-tested songwriting formula to be sure, Balancia nonetheless makes the listener sincerely believe that there is still a place for this classic music in today's increasingly bleak musical landscape.
"Delirious" by Nightpulse delivers on the promise of EDM by fusing the genre with accessible pop music. Equal parts sultry and dance floor-friendly, Nightpulse have tapped into a sound that sounds equal parts nostalgic and fresh. Carefully crafted hooks find their way deep into the listener's mind, resulting in uncontrollable fits of toe-tapping and head-bopping. Better than the strongest over-the counter medication, Nightpulse are easily the best cure for whatever is ailing you right now!
On "Betty" by Ten Minute Detour, the band channel their inner Cage The Elephant while brining their own entirely unique energy to the long-established indie-rock genre. The sound of early Black Keys likewise rattles around all over this song, primarily insomuch as both bands are characterized by the same frenetic energy that propels their songs forward. Ten Minute Detour cannot be faulted on their songwriting or musical ability, as they deliver both in spades. Rather, if there is a single fault that can be found in a song such as "Betty," it is simply that it sounds like material that has already populated the airwaves in recent years. Luckily, it is likewise a sound that is time-tested as rock 'n roll itself, and thus remains equal parts nastalgic and refreshing.
On "Motionless Move" by Bam Hatson, the singer-songwriter weaves a delicate lyrical narrative with an equally restrained yet beautiful instrumental melody. Horns and wood winds dance in perfect harmony, while a simple rhythm section underpins the entire song and holds each of the disparate musical elements together. The vocal delivery is simple and understated, matching the muted intensity of the instrumental arrangement. Beautiful in every sense of the word, Bam Hatson has tapped into something most artists spend a lifetime trying to discover, namely the strength in simplicity and understatement.
On Amateur Night at Club Stupid's long-overdue full-length offering, the aptly-titled Better Late Than Whatever, the experimental outfit deliver their trademark hip-hop flows atop meandering jams reminiscent of The Grateful Dead. When this experimental genre-bending approach works, as it does on the album's opening number, it elevates the genre to new heights. Likewise, the songs that place the instrumentals front and center tend to fare better than the primarily vocally-oriented song, which is not to sleight the vocals in the least. Rather, it is to highlight the understated importance of the live instrumental element in the Amateur Night at Club Stupid's musical equation. Experimental doesn't even begin to describe the sonic terrain that the group are plowing here, and the fact that comparable musical groups for comparison are hard to come by speaks volumes about the uniqueness of Amateur Night at Club Stupid have achieved. The fact that the songs range from jangly garage rock, as on the standout Pixies-tinged "Where is my Gun," to the straight-up spoken word hip-hop of the album's opening song demonstrates the true range of the group. Things even get jazzy at times, recalling soundtrack contributions to Cheech & Chong films of years gone by. While it may seem goofy at times, it is important to remember that even stoner anthems are as integral to the cultural fabric in the year 2017 as they were at any point in the 60s and 70s. Indeed, if there is one underlying cultural theme holding this diverse collection of songs together, it is that of the cannabis culture, and the anything-goes aesthetic that accompanies it. There are moments that sound like they could have been lifted straight off an early Santana record, not so much because of any specific guitar virtuosity, but rather because of the psychedelic mind-expanding quality that they conjure in the listener. In short, what Amateur Night at Club Stupid have managed to achieve with this LP is nothing less than the synthesis of over four decades of musical influence, from classic rock psychedelia to modern-day hip-hop and various indie-rock influences for good measure. While no one element musically stands head-and-shoulders above the rest, this says more about the group's ability to play off of each other's strengths, rather than using this musical vehicle to showcase individual talents over those of the entire group. Given that the group have opted to explore such singularly unique sonic terrain, the future is wide open with respect to future possible musical direction for the group. Ultimately, a more stream-lined and genre-specific approach would yield a wider audience and a more mainstream appeal, but it's safe to say that Amateur Night at Club Stupid likely don't concern themselves too much with either of those factors. If anything, the group are likely to keep pushing the sonic boundaries further with each successive release, finding pockets of die- hard followers along the way, who with any luck will stick around with the group for the duration of their sonic journey. Ultimately, Amateur Night at Club Stupid are a group for the musically open-minded, so when things get heavy towards the albums conclusion, it is no more surprising than the decision to open the album with a hip-hop number. If mainstream appeal was the goal for the group, they likely would have opted for a different name and a genre-specific sound. In the year 2017, adhering to a single genre is probably the most stagnant approach a musician could take to their career, so Amateur Night at Club Stupid might surprise everyone and sell multi-platinum units of Better Late Than Whatever, but if not, at least their fans will know that they never compromised their sound for any record labels, radio stations, or hipster online music publications. Long live Amateur Night at Club Stupid.
On "Poison The Well" by The Pulltops, the throwback rock 'n roll outfit deliver a perfect two-and-half minute radio-ready single, complete with a soaring horn section in the chorus that elevates the song to new heights. Dynamically diverse, a mid-section breakdown highlights the band's ability to play both quietly and loudly as required, exercising the band's mastery of constraint when needed, as well as their ability to unleash their full sonic fury in an instant. Overall, the results are memorable from both a lyrical and musical perspective, ultimately occupying real estate in the consciousness of fans and soon-to-be-fans the world over.
On "Spotlight" by Instant Empire, the indie-rock outfit deliver four-minutes of angular post-rock compete with spoken word verses and soaring choruses. Akin to The Strokes and early Bloc Party, this dose of nostalgia is highly refreshing in an era when traditional rock instrumentation seems to have been discarded outright in the name of synthesizers and EDM samples. Infectious and instantly memorable, "Spotlight" hinges on a series of repeating riffs and melodies that quickly permeate the listener's consciousness. While the song is by no means reinventing the indie-rock wheel, it nonetheless provides a worthy building block in the temple that is Rock music.
On "Big Celebrity" by Sweet Soubrette, the female singer-songwriter lays down three-and-half minutes of big band and jazz influenced pop that is genuinely infectious and clever, effectively working its way deep inside the listener's brain. The instrumental arrangement is lean, relying primarily on horns to carry much of the melody, while a tight rhythm section keeps everything ticking along in lock-step time. Soubrette's vocal delivery is both powerful and subtle, possessing both range and restraint in an effort not to overwhelm the instrumental underpinnings of the song. Complete with a catchy, memorable chorus, "Big Celebrity" is likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy for Soubrette, who indeed has harnessed her undeniable talent to great effect.
On "Rhapsody In Black" by The Coffinstuffers, the morbidly-titled rockers lay down six minutes of world music-influenced psychedelia the likes of which is rarely heard. The musical arrangement is indeed quite diverse, rounded out by strings, pianos, and bongos in place of the more conventional rock instrumentation. Lyrically, the song is quite deep, recalling a lover who is seemingly torn between good and evil, with the song's protagonist seemingly holding the balance of power in his hand. Relying heavily on extended ambient instrumental passages, "Rhapsody In Black" makes excellent use of space within the song to allow the listener's mind to wander and explore the sonic terrain that The Coffinstuffers are erecting with every passing note. Overall a highly contemplative song, The Coffinstuffers successfully rewrite the rules on conventional rock instrumentation and musical arrangement with "Rhapsody In Black," ultimately begging the question: where will their muse take them next?
On "The Disguise" By Effbfabz, this smooth-rhyming rapper lays down four-minutes of lyrical flow in the spirit of Drake and The Weeknd, two undeniable forces who have come to shape both the rap and RNB genres as a whole. Relying on a simple looping synthesizer sample and drum machine beat, this song makes excellent use of repetition to drive itself deep into the listener's brain. There is an economy evident in the production that makes the best possible use of limited instrumental elements to the greatest effect. By the song's end, the chorus is firmly entrenched, allowing the final thirty seconds to play out as an extended instrumental outro. Definitely a chill, low-key rap song not soon to be forgotten.
On this live rendition of "Along The Way" by the Pulltops, the rockers lay down four minutes of powerful, guitar-driven rock that draws equally from 90's alternative influences in equal measure with 70's classic rock. A tight instrumental arrangement and a powerful, soaring lead vocal come together to form a perfect symbiotic relationship, each fueling the other to new heights. In particular, the lead electric guitar weaves its way masterfully through the cacophony of rock 'n roll bliss to emerge unscathed on the other side of the song. In the spirit of Page & Plant, the guitar and vocal share equal responsibility in carrying the song's melody, and ultimately do so to great effect. By the song's end, the listener truly feels as if they have transcended their immediate reality and have entered an entirely new sonic dimension. To pull off such a feat in the live setting no less reveals the true powers possessed by the Pulltops.
On "Love Love Love" by PDS, the 80s throwback act lay down three minutes of drum machine driven new wave. A true blast from the past, synthesizers dominate the musical arrangement, save for a much needed scathing electric guitar lead. A truly refreshing dose of nostalgia for an era defined by now distinct sound of its own, PDS have capitalized on the ever-fluid and blurred genre lines that have come to characterize the 2010's.
On "The Claw" by Chasbo Zelena, the country-tinged blues rocker lays down three minutes of memorable rockabilly-infused rock 'n roll of the purest variety. Settling into a steady groove within the first few bars of the song, Zelena's vocal rides low in the mix, neither overpowering the solid instrumental underpinnings of the song nor getting lost in translation along the way. Clearly backed by a group of well-practiced and tight-knit musicians, the instrumental arrangement comes together effortlessly, as if these guys have been playing together from birth. Over all a memorable song and a true beacon for all the old school rockers who haven't yet given up on the genre in the year 2017.
On "Type A" by Future/Creature, the electronic outfit lay down five minutes of electro-folk fusion, driven in equal measure by acoustic guitar and drum machine. A strong narrative lead vocal propels the song forward thematically, while a combination of distorted electric guitars and acoustic rhythm guitar juxtapose to create a fantastic loud/quiet tension reminiscent of 90's grunge set in a future dominated by synthesizers and drum machines. A true musical hybrid, Future/Creature have tapped into an entirely new sonic terrain yet to be fully explored.
On "Back Into The Dark" by David Rosen, the experimental musician weaves his darkest tapestry to date, a brooding four-minute instrumental composition that delves progressively deeper into Rosen's psyche. It makes for a rewarding listen for fans of Rosen's earlier work, as it illuminates a different side of the artist's muse. Like much of Rosen's work, "Back Into The Dark" unfolds as the song progresses, revealling subsequent layers of depth and texture with every passing movement. By the song's end, white noise feedback bleeds into emptiness, until the organ intro makes one final reprise to end the song as it began.
On "Good To You" by HAULA and VRS.US, the Beyonce influence runs deep, with elements of Rhianna and SIA thrown in for good measure as well. Instantly accessible and familiar, HAULA has crafted her sounds very carefully for maximum appeal. Underpinned by a strong EDM backing track, HAULA and VRS.US have managed to catch the current wave of strong female vocalists pairing up with EDM artists to great effect,
On "One Sided Fist Fight" by the Flat Stanleys, the group lay down four minutes of xylophone-tinged plain-spoken indie rock that recalls early 21 Pilots, with voice mail female co-lead vocals thrown in for good measure. At times sounding like turn of the century indie rock in the spirit of the Unicorns, the Flat Stanleys have tapped into a sound that is just old enough to conjure up feelings of nostalgia, which on the verge of 2017 isn't necessarily a bad thing. Minimalism in the songwriting and arranging department serve as this song's strong suit, as every instrument is given room to breathe without every feeling cluttered or busy. Overall a very strong outing by this otherwise up-and-coming outfit.
Qyko is back with another banger of an instrumental track, the four-minute EDM masterpiece "Hard In Your House". Unlike much of Qyko's earlier output, vocal samples are used more freely here, adding an entirely new dimension to Qyko's music. Definitely a high-energy song, "Hard In Your House" is perfectly suited for a club enviroment, perhaps less contemplative than previous output. Regardless, by the end of the song the listener is left with the feeling of complete euphoria, having experienced an entire evening's worth of clubbing packed into four dense minutes. To paraphrase the song, the listener knows it!
On "Scirocco" by the Midnight River Crew featuring Cat Marshall, the band lays down three-and-a-half minutes of serene acoustic beauty, a laid-back summer anthem if ever there was one. The song is hypnotic, insomuch as it emerges out of nowhere and seemingly doesn't distinguish too sharply between verse and chorus, rather feeling like one long continuously repeating chorus. Like a siren lulling the listener into a false sense of security, Cat Marshall uses her angelic voice to pull the listener away from their day-to-day reality into a parallel universe where all is well.
On "Inevitable" by Jaklyn, fans are treated to nearly four minutes of throwback R&B, complete with well-rounded back up vocals and a live-off-the-floor instrumental backing track. The song is definitely an exercise in nostalgia, bringing to mind Amy Winehouse and Duffy, as well as the generations of artists that inspired them. One of the subtle strengths of "Inevitable" is the drum track, which effectively serves as the heart beat of the song, propelling forward a song that could otherwise becomes mired in minimalist instrumental arrangement.
On "When You Truly Love Someone" by John Galea, fans are treated to nearly four minutes of impassioned piano balladry, an exercise in both vocal and instrumental prowess. Contemporary artists that come to mind include the likes of John Legend, and perhaps hints of Sam Smith. The instrumental arrangement is extremely dynamic, relying on a driving piano melody for the majority of the song, and then exploding into a full arrangement in the song's chorus. The overall effect is uplifting and spirit reaffirming, which seemingly is exactly the point that Galea is driving home in this song,