Category: Single Review

New York-born and based emcee Homeboy Sandman is arguably one of hip-hop’s most prolific, inventive and uncompromisingly challenging artists, and unsurprisingly over the course of this site’s history, the New York-based emcee has been a JOVM mainstay. Now, since  signing with renowned indie hip-hop label Stones Throw Records in 2011, the Boy Sand has recorded and released 3 full-length albums and 6 EPs — with the most recent release being a collaboration with Aesop Rock titled Lice. And with each effort, Homeboy Sandman along with a growing list of collaborators have managed to push the boundaries of what contemporary hip-hop should be, sound like and concern itself with thematically; in fact, few contemporary emcees can tackle sociopolitical issues with such a creative and witty use of wordplay and incredibly complex rhyme schemes.

Simultaneously, Homeboy Sandman has developed a reputation as being a highly sought-after social and cultural critic who has an thought-provoking pieces published in Gawker, Huffington Post and The Guardian among others. And as the New York-based emcee explains in press notes ,”I don’t want to write something to be a conversation piece. It has to help change something.”

Kindness for Weakness, the Boy Sand’s forthcoming full-length effort is slated for a May 6, 2016 release through Stones Throw Records, and the album’s title is informed by the New York-based emcee’s personal saying that “mistaking kindness for a weakness is a weakness I need to have more kindness for.” Reportedly, the album thematically focuses on Homeboy Sandman’s discomfort within his own comfort zone and addresses his personal insecurities, rapper stereotypes and morality among others. “Talking Bleep,” Kindness For Weaknesses‘ first single was produced by Edan and pairs a warm, glitchy and psychedelic-leaning soul sample with some scratching with Homeboy Sandman’s ridiculous flow. Throughout the song, the New York-based emcee discusses a series of ridiculous situations that have recently occurred to him including fans who desperately want to him to continue releasing the same exact songs without considering the fact that as an artist, his sole duty is to evolve and challenge himself, and in turn his fans; Huffington Post asking him to write about his thoughts about a rap beef, after he had written and then published a controversial article linking mass media and private prisons; producers who want him to guest spot for free or very little money; corny emcees who try to give him career advice; and more. It’s arguably Homeboy Sandman’s most incisive and riotously funny song while being pointedly and thoughtfully sociopolitical with playful inner and outer rhymes.

Simply put Homeboy Sandman is one of my favorite contemporary emcees and although he’s not as commercially successful as the likes of Drake, Meek Mill, Fetty Wap or Wocka Flocka Flame, that may be a boon to those who love real hip-hop with dope emcees, who actually have something significant to say, rhyming over insane productions. Real hip-op will thankfully never, ever die; it’s just more difficult to find when listeners are inundated with bullshit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i

Advertisements

Comprised of Aaron Closson (guitar and vocals), best known as a member of The Hourly Radio and multi-instrumentalist Nolan Thies, best known as a member of N?TIONS, Brooklyn-based shoegaze duo The Blessed Isles specialize in a sound that is heavily indebted to 80s Brit Pop, New Wave and of course, shoegaze; in fact, as you’ll hear on “Caroline,” the first single off the duo’s long-awaited full-length effort Straining Hard Against the Strength of Night, the band’s sound seems to draw from New Order, Slowdive and Cocteau Twins as the duo pairs Closson’s plaintive vocals with shimmering delay pedal fed guitar chords, propulsive boom-bap 808s, and ambient-like synths to craft a swooning and introspective song with an urgently anthemic pulse.

 

 

 

 

Initially comprised of cousins Jamie Turner (vocals, bass) and Matt Williams (guitar), along with Mike Mutt (organ) and Adrian Macmillan (drums), Perth, Australia-based psych rock quartet The High Learys can trace their origins to when Turner and Williams met Mutt in high school, with the band recruiting Macmillan to finalize the band’s original lineup back in 2011. With the release of a full-length album and a number of singles the Australian psych rock quartet have received praise both across their native Australia and internationally for a sound that had been described as a contemporary take on 60s psych rock, bubblegum pop and large rock that seemed to draw influence from the likes of  The DoorsThe Who Sings My Generation-era The WhoThe Animals, The TurtlesThe Beatles and contemporary acts such as OasisThe Black Angels, Elephant Stone, Sleepy Sun and others.

In fact, the band quickly became a JOVM mainstay as I wrote about a handful of singles on this site — including “Letters to Alice,” a song comprised of intertwined, twisting and turning guitar and organ chords paired with a propulsive rhythm section and Turner’s  Liam Gallagher-like vocals; “I’m A Fool For You” was their most bubblegum pop-leaning single, which possessed an infectious and sweet melody paired with even sweeter lyrics; and “Clear My Mind,” a single that sounded as though it could have been written, recorded and released sometime during the Summer of Love. Now, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve written about them and in that time the band’s lineup has been shuffled — Macmillan has been replaced by Mitchell J. Benson on drums. And interestingly enough, the band’s latest single “Cabinet” not only marks a change in sonic direction for the band that pushes their 60s-leaning psych rock sound closer to the 21st century and is the first time that the band produced themselves in the studio. Sonically “Cabinet” sounds as though it draws from My Gold Mask and Elephant Stone’s most recent releases, as the band pairs guitars and organ played through distortion and effects pedals, thundering drumming and an anthemic hook. In some way, the song sounds as though it were recorded in an enormous empty room with the instrumentation reverberating off the walls and back down to the musicians and listener.

As the band notes in press notes “‘Cabinet’ explores the insecurities of a young mind. Someone who feels lost in their ways, but at the same time shares the burdens of adolescents with their other half.”  And although the song possesses a trippy feel, at its core is a plaintive heartache that should feel familiar — it should remind the listener of the fact that love is almost always awkward but perhaps even more so when you’re trying to figure yourself out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 year-old Simon Ebener-Holscher is an up-and-coming German jazz pianist, singer and producer, whose solo production and recording project Moglii has started to receive attention for a sound that employs the use of analog synthesizers, soulful vocal samples, live, acoustic instrumentation and self-made field recordings — that frequently include recordings of coffeemakers, shopping bags, cactuses and other random things. Ebener-Holscher is also the creative mastermind and founder of Moglebaum, a quintet who has performed at festivals across their native Germany, Bulgaria, The Netherlands and India.

19 year old NOVAA is an up-and-coming German singer/songwriter and producer and pioneer of a a new, attention-grabbing subgenre that she has dubbed “Organic Electronic” — a sound that draws from electronica, electro pop, folk and pop. And as a result, the young German artist has been compared favorably to the likes of Björk and Grimes. The two German artists bonded over a shared love of organic, natural soundscapes and higher thinking and as a result they began collaborating on their forthcoming 5 track EP Down Under.

“Down Under,” the EP title track and the EP’s latest single is a glitchy and wobbling track that thematically “”focuses on the connectedness and circulation of energy that is felt, rather than seen” — and sonically, the song pairs shuffling and skittering drum programming, fluttering and undulating synths, wobbling low end, ambient and swirling electronics and raindrops with NOVAA’s and Ebener-Holscher’s vocals bubbling up and then serenely floating over the surface. The song’s shifting rhythms and time changes add to a woozy and trippy feel while keeping the ethereal song from floating off into space — while being remarkably subtle.

 

 

 

 

If you had been frequenting this site during the end of 2015 and the beginning of this year, you may recall coming across a couple of posts on Chicago-based R&B vocalist and singer/songwriter The Elle and her collaborations with Minnesota-based singer/songwriter and emcee Blaccout GarrisonHungry Soulful EP — in particular, “Strawberry Cheesecake Dessert.” which was produced by Dthr33 and featured Jackson, WY-based emcee Abstract, had Abstract and Garrison trading charmingly old-school-inspired lyrics about the ladies they loved over, while The Elle sang the song’s soulful and sensual hook over the soulful and jazzy sample that comprises A Tribe Called Quest‘s “Bonita Applebum.” Hungry Soulful‘s second single was the  P-Soul-produced “Wishing On A Star,” which paired a subtly chopped up old-timey, twinkling piano sample and boom-bap drum programming with Garrison rhyming about focusing on one’s dreams and overcoming life’s frustrations and obstacles. The Elle contributes the song’s introductory verses and the soulful and thoughtful hook.

 

Slated for release next month, Soul Art Music is the Chicago-based vocalist’s forthcoming full-length effort and the album’s latest single “Your Love” was produced by South African producer Keith Virgo. The track begins with an introductory sample of Eartha Kitt, setting up the song’s theme as the legendary actress and singer candidly shares her thoughts about love — and in her mind, real love is essentially a process of learning how to share yourself with yourself and others. The song pairs Virgo’s subtly cosmic and trippy production consisting of layers of twinkling and shimmering synths, tumbling percussion, boom bap drums,  electronic bleeps, bloops and beeps with The Elle’s sultry vocals about a love that has made her narrator feel as though she had found her truest self. Within the turn of a phrase The Elle reveals a narrator who is strong yet unafraid to be vulnerable and open, and absolutely appreciative of stumbling about this person at this juncture. Lucky and rare are those who experience such a love.

 

Zak Waters is a Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, DJ and producer, who has started to grab the attention of the blogosphere with his solo recording project Pretty Sister, a project that specializes in what Waters had dubbed Z Funk, a sound that is equally indebted to Parliament Funkadelic and 90s G-funk hip-hop; but with modern production techniques and a shamelessly frank lyrical sensibility that focuses on things like booty-call texting, long distance love and sexual frustration and so on. And with Waters’ latest single, the sensual come on “Come to L.A.,” you’ll quickly see why the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, producer and DJ has received praise from the likes of Vice Noisey, HillyDilly and others as the song consists of a sinuous bass line, silky and cascading organ and keyboard chords paired with Waters’ sultry and effortlessly soulful vocals. Sonically speaking, the song strikes me as being the oversexed lovechild of Rick James and Parliament Funkadelic while fitting in comfortably with the contemporary neo-soul and funk movements that have won over the blogosphere lately.

Lyrically, the song and its narrator is focusing on sexual frustration of his long-distance love not being near — and it’s full of naughty sexual innuendo, double entendres and outright sexual come-ons that will make the listener both blush and get incredibly horny, while being a two-step worthy, slickly produced jam.

 

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’d be familiar with JOVM mainstay, the Berlin, Germany-based producer, electronic music artist, DJ and Boys Noize Records label head Alex Ridha, best known in electronic music circles as Boys Noize; in fact, his 2012 effort Out of the Black landed at number 8 on this site’s Best of List that year. Ridha has been rather prolific since the release of Out of the Black as he’s collaborated with mega-hit electronic music artist Skrillex, renowned pianist, composer, experimental pop artist and emcee Chilly Gonzalez among others — and along with that Boys Noize Records recently celebrated their tenth anniversary with collaborative efforts featuring the work of Tiga, Johnny Sack, Totally Enormous Extinct DinosaursAtom TMPilo  SCNTST and others.

Last month, Ridha released “Overthrow” a single that revealed the German producer, electronic music artist and DJ expanded upon his signature sound — glitchy samples, wobbling, tweeter and woofer rattling beats and bass, and enormous drops are paired with industrial clang and clatter and ominously swirling electronics in a song that stomps, struts, swaggers and then throws haymakers, while reminding electronic music fans that Ridha may arguably be one of best and sadly under-appreciated electronic music artists and producers around. His latest single “Euphoria” sounds as though it draws from house music pioneer Larry Levan — a repetitive chanted vocal sample is paired with skittering and propulsive drum programming, heavy breathing and shimmering and glitchy keyboard keys as the song evokes a woozy and euphoric rush of blood to the head on the dance floor and under strobe light.

 

 

Comprised of Graham Patzner (vocals, guitar, violin and piano), Will Lawrence (bass and mandolin), Nick Cobett (drums and guitar) and Charles Lloyd (guitar and sitar), Oakland, CA-based quartet Whiskerman quickly developed a reputation in the Bay Area for a unique folk-rock sound that paired lush instrumentation and profound lyricism — and for a passionate live show that often featured Patzner singing at the top of his lungs while playing the fiddle.

The quartet’s 2011 self-titled debut was the culmination of several years of songwriting and performing; however, over the subsequent few years the band has expanded their sound as the material has drawn from a wider array of influences, and the individual members of the band have had more freedom to showcase their unique talents. And as a result, the band has found ways to eschew easy categorization — 2014’s  Bad News EP featured funky, soul-leaning material, complete with a horn section while last year’s Nomad featured orchestral string arrangements and electronic flourishes around art school rock. Whiskerman’s forthcoming album Champions will further cement the band’s reputation for a genre-mashing, difficult to categorize sound as the material reportedly draws from barroom rock ‘n’ roll, blue-eyed soul, pastoral folk, blues, and ragas while thematically the material focus on life and love, success and failure, and what it means to be alive in a world in which everything is seemingly small and insignificant.

 

The album’s latest single “Waking Up in Providence” is a bluesy and soulful song that sounds as though it were deeply indebted to the classic rock sound of the 70s, AM radio rock, and singer/songwriter confessionals as the song balances swaggering, arena-friendly bombast, complete with a horn section and a slick guitar solo with a hard-won and earnest introspection, as the song’s narrator talks frankly about the ups and downs of his life — and how love was the force that pushed him through every single thing.