Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rob Alexander’s new album Long Road Coming Home

Rob Alexander’s new album Long Road Coming Home is chock full of vibrant and evocative tracks that each work to capture a different element in his multilayered sound, but the record’s title track and fourth single is perhaps the most opulently vivid, emotional and relatable in its collection. Alexander doesn’t pull any punches in the lyrics of this song; on the contrary, he goes out of his way to wear his soul on his sleeve, cutting through any barriers that might exist between the music and us with his slick style of attack. For being a lethargic year in pop, this single stands out as a much needed beacon of radiance and optimism.

All four singles released from Long Road Coming Home have shown off a different angle of Rob Alexander’s multidimensional approach to songwriting, and in the title track we get to experience his more elegant side firing on all cylinders. The song plods along at the pace of a funeral drum, but its melody is anything but elegiac in nature. The crispness of the percussion and the insular hum of the instruments slinking around Alexander’s commanding voice create an atmospheric glow that is infectiously comforting. Though its climax isn’t as exciting as I’d like it to be, the brooding shadow the chorus casts makes up for it in spades.
Alexander is as vulnerable as he’s ever been with us in “Long Road Coming Home,” but he also comes off as speaking from a removed place of wisdom. Hindsight isn’t always 20/20, but what’s really trying to be conveyed to us here isn’t the concept that time heals all wounds. More than anything else, I get the impression that Alexander wants us to consider the courage that it takes to admit our faults and transcend the past in order to make a better future. After all, we’re often the ones who make the road home all the longer with our indecision and lack of self-realization
The mix of this track is a little plain for my taste, but the play from the band and Alexander himself is actually quite exceptional. It’s somewhat frustrating that the chorus is so much louder than the introductory verses are, but the absence of clarity doesn’t take so much away from the performance that the single becomes unlistenable. Rob Alexander has a wild talent that I would imagine is hard to capture within the four walls of a studio, but I think his music would benefit significantly from a slightly more concise mix in the future.

While he still has room for growth in several cosmetic areas of his songcraft, Rob Alexander shines nevertheless in “Long Road Coming Home” and delivers another rollicking soft rock sonnet to satisfy our inner lust for unblemished harmonies. Like the whole of his new album, “Long Road Coming Home” showcases the smoldering passion of a songwriter who utilizes a unique method when it comes to constructing original material. His music isn’t born out of a template nor a concept conceived by his forerunners; it comes from within his own heart.

Trevor Hopkins

The music of Rob Alexander has been heard all over the world due to the promotional services offered by Danie Cortese Entertainment & Publicity. Learn more here -

Monday, November 12, 2018

Abby Zotz - Local Honey (LP)


I value, more than all else in music, albums and artists who can transport me into their own personal vision for a time. I want it to be a fully immersive affair. Longtime folk music singer/songwriter Abby Zotz accomplishes that and more with her first solo album Local Honey and, definitely in some senses, the album marks a break with her extraordinarily rewarding past in favor of a new dawn. Many of the musical strengths defining her two decade musical career are present on this album, as well as the roots of her classical education, are in evidence throughout the collection, but she has expanded on the sound she hears in her mind with Local Honey and sounds comfortable on every cut.

Some people might find the premise behind the opener “Stability” to be a bit predictable, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as part of the joy the song produces comes from hearing how well she executes the inevitable turns in its lyrical and musical narrative plus what added personality she can bring to a familiar theme. The energy crackling off the recording never overwhelms listeners, but it’s ideal for the album’s beginning track. Zotz latches onto a funky retro vibe with the second tune “Big Hope” and the title alone reflects the inherently upbeat slant defining this album. It isn’t a Pollyanna approach to the world, however, and that’s reflected in the bluesy guitar lines cutting through the song’s mix. The production is a constant strength for Local Honey and gives these already great tunes even more dramatic punch.

“Peace Sweet Peace” and “Pirouette” are wildly contrasting songs illustrative of her far reaching talents. The light-stepping musical approach of her gospel cut “Peace Sweet Peace” strikes a pleasing universal note but the latter song is a much shapelier, tightly controlled number with a shuffle like sound that Zotz’s voice slides through with great confidence. “Pirouette” is one of the finest lyrics on Local Honey, but the later track “Be Here Now” may be the sharpest piece of writing on the release. There are some particularly winning lines near the beginning drawing together a character with a few brief strokes and the remainder of the song fleshes it out with a single wasted movement.

The comforting touch of “Hush Baby Waltz” is one of the album’s more elegant musical turns and the vocal for this song is framed perfectly against its arrangement. The apex of her nuance on Local Honey comes with the song “Sea Change” and the weaving of her voice, taking obvious delight in the lyrics and phrasing alike, plays off the musicians with a sparkle in her eye. I didn’t enjoy the album’s ending, at first, thinking it too light, but “You’ll Never Know” grew on me with a few listens because it’s such a confident, underplayed conclusion for Local Honey. It’s an important new turn for her musical career, but the variety of her first solo album heralds a critical turning point in her life as well.

Levi Colston

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Wave 21 releases Self-Titled LP

In their eponymous new full-length album, Wave 21 comes roaring out of the Canadian wilderness to find themselves smackdab in the middle of the Nashville spotlight and changing the game for every country music band around them. In ten elegantly stylized original songs, they assert themselves as one of the biggest players in the international pop music scene and easily the most exciting band to watch entering the next decade and beyond.

I had a chance to listen to Wave 21 ahead of its release this year, and although I was expecting to hear something pretty terrific based on the sterling reputation that the band has built up for themselves, I could have never predicted that I would be as moved as I was by what I heard. Wave 21 aren’t just making the best brand of country music to be introduced in 2018; they’re making the most charming pop music in all of the western hemisphere right now, and having a really good time along the way.
My favorite song from this record was “It’ll Be One of These Days,” but “Set Me Free” was a very close runner-up. Both tracks recall the golden age of country pop’s apex of success back in the late 1990s, and yet neither feel like a throwback to the past. Every song on Wave 21 is deeply unique to our modern, innovative times for sure, as I don’t think that most of these songs would have even been creatable with the limited palates that were producing records twenty years ago. Country music doesn’t need anyone else singing about cheating wives and drunken bar brawls in a dusty, half-yearning half-jaded voice anymore. What it does need is more bands like this one, who aren’t scared of change but instead make an entire career out of embracing it and seeing where the winds of creativity take them. I don’t think it matters for Wave 21 whether or not they get a platinum record or dominate the airwaves with their music videos. If their melodies have reached even one person, then their mission has been accomplished.
If you’re in the market for a colorful, diversely appointed record that rebels against stereotypes and the analogue way of doing things, I would highly recommend checking out Wave 21’s latest collection of country anthems. This is bar none the coolest listen of the late summer, and hopefully it will usher in a more exciting autumn than what a lot of other critics have been anticipating it could be. 

There hasn’t been a lot of great talent to really talk about in the last ten years, but now that Wave 21 is around there’s reason to get enthusiastic about country music and the artists behind its current campaign. I’ll be patiently waiting for this band to visit my town in the near future and give me a chance to see their live show in person; until then, you can count on this record being in my daily playlist for the indeterminable future.

Tyler Shaughnessy  

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina - Act 3

It wasn’t but a few years ago when I believed the best music in our culture belonged to the past and even the most talented among younger, more modern generations lacked something I admired in their older, iconic counterparts. I theorized the lack existed because the frame of reference for aspiring musicians today is so much more limited than I experienced as a young man. We are drowning in media, inundated with choices, and our reeling brains satisfying shrinking attention spans with increasingly narrow selections. No one seemed to be in it for the long haul; everything sounded tailored towards the least common denominator, and fixated on familiar themes without any individuality or invention. New York City based songwriter Ryan Shivdasani and his band The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina, however, is evidence for me and any reasonable listener that there are extraordinarily talented musicians and songwriters working today with the ambition to spread their artistic wings as far as they like.

The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina’s Act 3 has thirteen songs with a potpourri of styles. Shivdasani and his musical partners are gifted with obvious chops, but they manage what a lot of top flight musicians can’t – subvert their inclination to exhibit the extent of their skills while still utilizing what they know to extend the song’s appeal. The songs “Particle Craze” and “Watched You Out My Window” lay strongest claim to traditional songwriting, but Shivdasani skewers our expectations with a sonic landscape all his own – rhythms seem slightly off, the vocals are treated with suggestive post production effects, and the latter song may reminds some of 60’s psychedelic pop, melodic, but slightly unsettled in a way you just can’t turn your attention from.

Some listeners may not initially know what to make of “Cowboys and Indians”. In some ways, it sounds like a glorious riff on classic Devo and spiked with a spastic amphetamine rush. Others may hear lightly demented surf music coming through and there’s definitely a punk rock influence bubbling through the song as well. It’s one of the album’s shorter songs, under three minutes, and bristles with kinetic energy from the outset, but listening to the lyrics reveals one of the more thoughtful pieces of Shivdasani writing on Act 3. There’s an aspect of the singer/songwriter to what Shivdasani is doing and the words aren’t afterthoughts in any way.

There are a couple of quiet interludes on the album and the first of them comes with the track “Slip Away”. It’s a folk influenced song, surely a style Shivdasani has thorough exposure to through his own listening and presence in the New York City area, and the recurring vocal harmonies are all the added gloss needed for this song.

“There’s No Such Thing as God” revisits the suggestion of punk influence heard with “Cowboys and Indians” but, this time out, makes no bones about it. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but even those uncomfortable with its message can concede it’s an effective tune. “Blood Country” is a wicked good track, but not particularly pleasant – what mitigates it, however, is the cracking musical performance that manages, while paring things back to the barest of essentials for a song, still manages to pack an enormous wallop. The album closes with “Wait Behind”, the second acoustic track, and it’s a little lusher than we heard with “Slip Away” with some melancholic instrumental breaks built in. One can scarcely imagine much better in modern music, at least for a listener like me – The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina Act 3 hits all the marks for me and whets my appetite for more.

Lloyd Bear

Thursday, September 6, 2018

AV Super Sunshine drops explosive Single

 “Time Bomb” comes in two distinct mixes, the radio DJ and club cuts, and both pack one hell of a wallop in different ways. One characteristic distinguishing both versions is the five star production focusing the musical elements of each song in such a way that everything works in concert rather than listeners experiencing the feeling of different sounds and instruments pulling against each other or working at cross purposes. The club mix is very uptempo, but backs off the pace at a handful of points in a way generating tremendous momentum for the next passage and the effect is quite good for listeners. 

Electronic instruments dominate the club mix, certainly not unexpectedly, but they are always presented in such a way that it never feels overwrought – the mixes are very different from one another, but one common approach linking them is how muscular both takes are in approaching AV’s musical ideas. They come leaping to life in the club mix and it isn’t hard to hear how appreciative listeners and audiences across the world will be to hear this version.

Unlike many acts in this vein, there’s never any sense of Bradford attempting to bury the vocals in order to strengthen the sound of the electronica. Instead, he wisely keeps them equal throughout much of the performance and only restructures the singing in a major way during the club version’s second half. Guitar and melody take on important parts with this mix, although there isn’t as much emphasis during the club version as we hear with the radio DJ cut. The club mix is much longer, as well, running over five minutes long, but we never hear any sense of Bradford overreaching to make an impact on listeners
The radio version of “Time Bomb” shares some of the same mounting quality we hear in the club mix, but it likewise never comes off overcooked in any way. The same muscularity makes this work as well, but it stresses traditional instruments much more than the synthesizer work in the club version. Despite the quality of the instrumental playing, the key for the radio version ends up being the strong vocals courtesy of AV’s lead singing coupled with some strong backing vocals. It’s a much shorter number than the club take, less than four minutes in comparison to its companion, but both songs share another quality – the laser-beam push of both versions never wastes your time and involves listeners from the very beginning. 

It’s a performance designed to have the widest possible appeal, but it’s equally appealing to fans who’ve been listening to music for years. I’m not even that much of a fan when it comes to electronic instruments, but this song made me a believer earlier on and it holds up under repeated listens.

Richard Spradley

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Conceptz drops new Single

There’s been a lot of debate over what’s going on with hip-hop right now. Everyone in the music media seems to be convinced that hip-hop is under siege from external influences who don’t have its best interests at heart. If you ask me, in addition to all of this pointless arguing, it’s the big egos tug-of-warring over stylistic and financial control over hip-hop as a commercial entity that is what’s really killing the scene right now. Indie rappers like New York twosome Conceptz often seem like the only ones swimming against the current when it comes to megalomania in hip-hop, and in my opinion their new song “Splash” is their greatest contribution to battle yet, embodying the true essence of what it means to be focused on making art for the sake of art.
“Splash” is an grand, anthemic call to push shyness to the side and get a little crazy, but it’s less of a party jam than it is a straight up missile fired point blank in the direction of the remaining northeast hip-hop elite who stand between Conceptz remaining underground heroes and becoming a world-wide smash. The damage is extensive; I haven’t heard anyone banging out this kind of red blooded thunder with nothing but a beat and a microphone in years, which is odd considering that this aggressive approach to rapping is probably what made the genre so appealing and addictive listening back in the 90’s.
Conceptz has mad attitude, but “Splash” isn’t as threatening or severe as what some college radio rappers often produce, making this song far more accessible to the casual hip-hop fan than the average track of its class. It’s possible that Conceptz decided that they needed to take things in a slightly more polished direction as this decade ends and the next one dawns, but I don’t think the decision was one that was solely based on a market strategy. In fact, I think that this refined addition to their discography is more characteristic of a band maturing and growing into their sound a little more, which is something that doesn’t always happen, even when a group has been together for as long as Conceptz has been.
I’d recommend “Splash” as an excellent starter track for anyone just getting into Conceptz huge collection of recorded works. It’s a great way to get a glimpse at the full scope of the pair’s almost limitless abilities both as producers and as songwriters, but most of all, it’s could get a lot more people previously disinterested in hip-hop to give the genre another chance to have the impact on their lives that it’s had on all of ours. It’s a commendable and quite honorable notion, and in my gut I can feel the pride that Conceptz takes in knowing that their music is having the effect on pop culture that it is at this present moment in time. Who knows what will come next for these two as their story continues to be told before our very eyes.
Casey Logan

Monday, August 6, 2018

“Losing Me” by Llauria

“Losing Me” by Llauria

Let’s be perfectly clear, “Losing Me” from Canadian newcomer, Lauria, is not New Age music. It’s not meditation music. Nor is the song the next big EDM track ready to pounce the dance floor and invade your ears. The song is relaxing, yes. “Losing Me” is reflective and contemplative, yes. Is it ready to invade your ears? Definitely. Yes.

Combining quick but sharp lyrics and a soulful voice, Lauria’s debut song is refreshingly honest. While other singers/songwriters pander to a specific formula or stamp of approval, Lauria’s cool factor and fearless artistry comes across seamlessly in the three-and-a-half-minute tune. As a listener I at first felt like the music bed sounded familiar or even a bit generic. The more I listened to “Losing Me” the more I felt enveloped and surrounded by the overall vibe and calming presence. Lauria has this underlying confidence that put me at ease. The music warmed up to me and I like its little nuances.

Born Florie-Laure “Lauria” Zadigue DubĂ©, her emergence to the music scene is surprising since she’s currently a student at Montreal’s Concordia University. Maybe that’s why she’s only released a single and not a full-length or EP. Here’s to hoping she can slam out some more songs and works between classes. Her youth and inexperience, like New Zealand’s Lorde, doesn’t deter your listening experience. In fact, this makes her all the more interesting.

I sensed a hint of a French accent, but just a faint whisper. I think Lauria comes across very confident for someone her age (presumably) and worldly. With lyrics like “I deserve better than this” and “at the end of the day you’re the one losing me,” I felt very connected to her voice and her overall surroundings. “Losing Me” creatively intertwines a hum-along chorus with a stirring music bed. This song stirs the soul and the mind. Your hips might move a little, but it’s your mind that travels across the tonal waves. Lauria’s voice is never over-the-top and certainly not overproduced. She’s downright relatable.

In some ways, I’d like to think this song is a female empowerment ballad. She’s giving the finger to her former lover and basically saying, it’s your loss, not mine. Lauria goes as far to sing, “this shit is crazy.” I loved that she went there with her phrasing. Or maybe she’s singing about losing her own identity in the relationship? The other person doesn’t get to know the real her and it’s their loss. It’s hard to say, and perhaps at different times and different days the outcome is different. There in lies the beauty of this song – it takes you to different spaces both in your head and in your heart.

I highly recommend Lauria’s “Losing Me” for your summer playlist. Sit back and relax, enjoy the sunshine rays, and one of Canada’s newest and brightest artist. This song is a great addition to your Spotify selections. I’m feeling it, and I’m betting “Losing Me” is on track to become a head turner and soul keeper.

Christopher Eaton

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Cathy Hutch – Free Wheelin’

Cathy Hutch – Free Wheelin’

If you’re looking to catch some of the hottest country music in Canada this upcoming summer, I encourage you to find your way to one of Cathy Hutch’s live performances in support of her new album Free Wheelin’, released earlier this year. An epic homage to her blues-rock roots, Free Wheelin’ is everything that Hutch’s longtime fans have been waiting for since her first record Not Goin’ Back inspired her initial cult following. Her underground status is certainly looking to short lived, as Hutch is not only generating buzz throughout all of the North American independent music community, but inviting plenty of airplay on specialty radio with her catchy, carefree lyrics and masterful command of the guitar.

Free Wheelin’ starts us off with the anthemic “Carry You Along,” which essentially sets the tone for the entire record with its boisterous acoustic guitars and Memphis style blues swagger. “Good Friends Like You” follows it up with wonderfully authentic balladry that reminds us of the important part that our dearest friends play in both our everyday lives as well as our toughest of moments. “Know it All” is the first red-blooded rocker of the album, equipped with a machete sharp vocal from Hutch and a lead guitar that epically dances back and forth between punk rock abrasiveness and blues rock boastfulness. Just as the virtuosity of the six string is getting to be more than our ears can process all at once, suddenly we come to a screeching halt and are met with a George Harrison-style guitar lick that serves as the introduction to “Reflections of My Life,” the most inward looking song on the record. The sorrow that our singer is experiencing weighs heavy on our hearts, but it isn’t to last. Instead there’s an emerging strength, a motivation to climb higher that’s grabbing us as we make our way into “In My Life.” This fifth track plays like a dawn breaking away the darkness in the early morning on a deserted open plain. Steady palm muted riffing seems to be following us in the shadows. Hutch’s rich vocals a reminiscent of what I imagine a heavenly choir to sound like. “To Say Goodbye” and “Sweet Dave” should really share the same track, as the melancholic elegy that is “To Say Goodbye” needs the charming, bittersweet support of “Sweet Dave” and its Bayou-lent tempo.

The album begins to draw to a close by the time “Attitude of Gratitude” comes walloping through the speakers and wakes us back up and drags our feet back to the earth to embrace the heat coming off of the amplifiers. “The Best of Me” starts off in what feels like a dark, red light-covered bedroom before it becomes clear that this isn’t about dedicating your love to someone else, but rather finding a way to learn to love yourself. Hutch doesn’t want to draw from a well that you’re expecting her to, instead she wants to provoke your thoughts and make your ears anticipate what’s coming next. The title track serves as our final rush of liberation before

“Lullaby” peacefully closes the curtains and leaves us to reflect on everything we’ve just heard. If you’re looking for a record that is pleasing to far more than just one of your senses, Free Wheelin’ is one of 2018’s finest offerings to date.

John McCall

Monday, June 11, 2018

Conor Gains – Compass

Conor Gains – Compass

A good record is a lot like a good movie. There are characters, an essential narrative, and enough depth in both to take the audience from the edge of their seats and place them right in the middle of the current scene. And from the depths of his soul, songwriter Conor Gains masterfully directs the story of his debut album, Compass, in a performance that would be worthy of an Academy Award in the film industry.

Our story begins as we shadow a set of footsteps on the track “I Know.” A rhythmic snapping starts. Is this some Philly soul revving up the engine? The band is tuning up, and the anticipation is getting ridiculous. Out of the foggy night; enter Conor’s voice. He’s searching, yearning for something different. To find the treasures where there has only been trash. The urban landscape in springtime, the feel good energy that comes with a new season, it’s all around us. Our intuition, like some sort of deity, is guiding us forward to where we need to be. It’s a fresh start.

The amplifiers start to warm up a little bit, and we step into a swanky blues club in “Walking Alone.” Tides of bittersweet melancholy start to wash us out to sea. In the isolation we find a place to think. The heavens open up and let us know we’re not alone. The irony is how alone we had to get just to discover this. Gains picks up the beat in “Dance Like It’s Your Birthday,” and suddenly it’s like we’re sitting piano-side to Stevie Wonder during the prime of his electrifying career. Horns get peppered in, and it’s starting to feel like a sunny summer day on Bourbon Street.

“Ordinary Love” takes us sailing away from the Crescent City and into a sultry love scene. Giving someone everything, receiving so much ecstasy in return. No matter the pain you’ve got to go through to get this feeling, it’s worth it every time, as Gains so intelligibly relates to us. We start to descend into the macrocosm of questions that this love poses in us in “I’ve Been Looking for Your Heart;” what will it take for us to get that happy ending we always have chased after. How will we conquer love together when we’re so completely different? The band omits a brooding moan that is shattered by guitar feedback and an explosive climax. In the traces of notation left, “In My Head” takes us deep within our singer’s psyche, and the twists and turns created by the thousands of synchronized sounds. Just when we’re in the grip of insanity, “Back to You” arrives to rescue us and bring us back to the forgiving land that we started our quest from. “Miracle” cranks up the heat on the amps once more to see just how much paint we’ve got left on the walls, stepping swiftly into your consciousness and leaving the debris of burnt and bashed guitars in its wake. “Darkness in the Light” and its spiritual sequel song “Mexico” draw the curtains closed on the record through a vivid black and white lens that stylishly slips back into the night like a character from a classic noir picture.

If Compass has but one flaw, it is that after its ten song collection comes to a fitting end, it leaves me desperate for much, much more output from its enigmatic leading man.

Gary Williams 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite – Electrified

Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite – Electrified

On the impending release of Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite’s flagship album Canyon Diablo, the unit has dropped their first single, “Electrified.”  The song is accompanied by an appropriately psychedelic and totally trippy video that showcases everything from last 60s style hallucinatory imagery to a funky 70s dance vibe dousing the musicians in warping, changing Technicolor.  It all lines up perfectly with the song itself because musically and vocally speaking it’s a call to arms to get bodies out of their seats and shaking madly with whatever dance that comes to the top of their heads first.  

Brimming with pulsating, propelling bass licks, a locked-on percussive smack and numerous swirls of synthesized light, it’s no wonder as to why fans of the group have cited everything from Pink Floyd to Beck as a possible point of reference.  Sung vocalist, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Dee and given light, shade and numerous other musical tricks by the production team of the Grand Brothers, “Electrified” is constantly shape-shifting and morphing into unusual rhythmic cadences, swaying tempo changes and bold vocals that emphasize equal measures of melody, soul and heart.  There’s a rhythm n’ blues touch to Dee’s booming pipes that convey his positive, almost 60s hippie movement themed lyrics with ultraviolet life.  It’s a glorious display of changing and constantly varying brushstrokes that take taut instrumentals but still manage to render them as “upbeat” and “lively” when all is said and done. 

The Grand Brothers have already made a huge splash in the music industry and so has front man Dee.  The Brothers co-wrote and co-produced BranVan3000’s surprise international hit single “Astounded” in addition to co-producing BV3000’s full-length record, Discosis.  This grand twosome has also sold over a million units of their music worldwide.  Dee has had a successful career and has been produced prior by the Grand Brothers on his second solo effort, Day by Day.  Together, this team-up obviously fits like a hand in a glove as the music production and mixing are in complete congruence with one another throughout the entire course of the “Electrified” single.  Every note and each individual quirk of sound mingles harmoniously and the song builds to a rousing chorus that delivers the vocal goods purely and powerfully.  Anybody that’s lived a life of sweat n’ swagger can jive with the working class funky swing that the music brings to the table here. 

All in all, Canyon Diablo is already poised to be one of the finest albums of the year based on the strength of this track.  There’s absolutely no reason for fans of everything from funk to soul to rock to rhythm n’ blues and folks to not get on PATM’s bandwagon.  These cats cook up one of the most deliciously inventive musical brews currently going on today.      

Mike Saulman

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jiggley Jones – Not Your Typical Day Out

Jiggley Jones – Not our Typical day Out

Warren Zevon was probably the most misunderstood songwriter of his time. Too grizzly and vulgar for the Top 40 crowd, far too indulgent for the punks and too unkempt and experimental for the folk scene, Zevon has spent a great deal of his career revered by the intellectual music “weirdos” and dismissed by a lot of mainstream critics during his prime and later audiences as a one hit wonder. But Zevon’s dare to be different was ironically the most academically “folk” thing about him, apart from his use of lyric-driven songs to create the macabre moods he became so legendary for.

In his tradition (but perhaps sans the devilishness), emerges Pennsylvania’s Jiggley Jones and his debut LP Not Your Typical Day Out, which is available now for streaming online. If you haven’t heard of Jiggley Jones, then you haven’t been following the indie music scene on the east coast lately. JJ, as a lot of his fans call him for short, has been building up quite the reputation with his live stage presence in the last decade, on the heels of a pair of extended plays and a couple of singles that exploded onto the indie charts in 2012 and 2014. Just in the past five years he has been nominated for a litany of prizes at the Artist Music Guild Heritage Awards, Independent Country Music Association Awards and the International Music and Entertainment Awards, winning “Songwriter of the Year” in 2013 following his debut EP No Spring Chicken. While all of his work leading up to this brilliant culmination in his sound has been quite stimulating and made for fun listens, personally I think that Jiggley Jones takes it to the next level on Not Your Typical Day Out.

My favorite part of Not Your Typical Day Out was probably its total lack of complacency, which is a big hazard I feel like we as music fans run into on a lot of newer, hipster-influenced singer/songwriter albums. JJ never comes off like a smug, holier than though artist whose judgmental leer burns even coming through headphones; instead, throughout every bright shining light and down in the dark dirge on Not Your Typical Day Out feels like an intimate fireside performance shared by a vintage troubadour sitting right by your side. The strain in his voice tells you that he’s got a lot of miles under his belt, and the longing of his guitar speaks to that universal thirst for life that exists in all of us regardless of age, race or gender. This vastly powerful appeal makes Jones’ rookie LP incredibly reachable to new fans while also satisfying and exciting longtime supporters with this new sampler of Jones’ future direction. Whether you’re new to his sound or have been following him since day one, Not Your Typical Day Out is a mandatory buy for diehard Americana and singer/songwriter enthusiasts, who haven’t had an ambitious record to get excited about in a long time. Check out Jones’ upcoming tour schedule and additional multimedia content at his official website and Facebook page.

Jennifer Hertzler

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Monsieur JOB - Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow

Monsieur JOB - Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow 


Monsieur Jobs’ “Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow” is an energetic single from a largely Columbian outfit joined by the vocal talents of No Mercy front man Martin Cintron. Springing from an idea first hatched by label executive Jose Fernando Holguin, Monsieur Job is a four member project featuring the talents of Stan Kolev, Leo Jaramillo, Toby Holguin, and Charlie Illera. Kolev and Holguin are the songwriting talents responsible for this particular confection and their inspired take on modern pop mixed in with vivid Latin strands makes for a release with rare physical presence mixed with understated melodic strengths in its edited for radio version. There’s a second version of the song, a remix helmed by Kolev, included with the release and provides an invigorating alternate take on the song demonstrating the band’s elastic artistic vision. “Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow”, in the end, is more than just a glorified rhythm track with embellishments laid on top – it’s a bonafide song that’s malleable and alive. 
The percussion opening the radio edit and remix alike certainly emphasizes this. The radio edit, in particular, ends up bringing a small drumming army to bear on the listener’s attentions and there’s an appealing mix of live sounding percussion building the song alongside more digitized beats. There’s a nice, understated layered effect that the production and arranging achieves for the drumming in the radio edit imbuing the song with a strong sense of dynamics distinctly different and idiosyncratic compared to similar efforts from other bands and performers. There’s a number of dramatic shifts and small screen climatic moments in the radio edit before the performance reaches a satisfying conclusion. Martin Citron’s efforts make an enormous difference in the final product’s appeal and his forceful way of gliding through the verses, his harmony contributions to the song, and the balance he strikes working alongside the music makes this one of the most impressive outings he’s had in an already impressive career.
His presence manifests itself rather differently in the remix. Kolev reacts to his voice less as a singer, but more as another instrument in the mix akin to the pre-programmed percussion thumping away in the background. The percussion for the remix isn’t nearly as nuanced as what we hear from the radio edit, but it needs to be effective in a much different way and succeeds. One can easily envisioning or hear this song making a big impact on a crowded night club dance floor, but don’t mistake its excelling in that style for an absence of substance. The construction of the remix is every bit as impressive, in its own fashion, as what we’ve heard from the radio edit. Monsieur Jobs’ “Chow Chow eyyy Pow Pow” announces the arrival of a first class modern dance and pop act that cross cultural lines with undeniable flair and skill. It’s undoubtedly the first big step for a project that will blaze a trail for others to follow and entertain everyone who comes into contact with their music.

Wayne Toole