Category: Single Review

New Audio: Easy Star All-Stars Tackle Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust

Founded and led by producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist Michael Goldwasser, Easy Star All-Stars have established themselves as one of the top reggae acts on the international scene for the better part of two decades. During that same period of time, they’ve managed to tour in over 30 countries on six continents while brining together fans of reggae, classic rock, dub, indie rock and pop into one big family as a result of their collection of critically acclaimed reggae tribute albums that includes 2003’s Dub Side of the Moon, 2006’s Radiodread, 2009’s Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band and 2012’s Easy Star’s Thrillah — and 2010’s remix album, Dubber Side of the Moon. They also have two releases of original material, 2008’s Until That Day EP and 2011’s First Light.

Continuing their run of reggae tribute albums across classic rock, dub, indie rock and pop, the acclaimed local reggae outfit will tackle David Bowie‘s beloved classic, 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. Slated for an April 21, 2023 release through their own Easy Star Records, Ziggy Stardub is a reggae re-imagining of the beloved album, featuring guest spots from Macy Gray, Steel Pulse, Maxi Priest, Fishbone, Living Colour‘s Vernon Reid, The Skints, Mortimer, The Expanders, Samory I, and a lengthy list of others.

Pre-order packages of the album are available here, including royal blue colored vinyl along with CD and exclusive t-shirt offerings.

But in the meantime, Easy Star All-Stars have shared two singles from the album:

“Starman,” featuring Maxi Preist, who’s one of two British-born acts to have a #1 Billboard here in the States with 1990’s smash hit “Close To You.” By the way, for you trivia heads, the other British act was UB40 with their cover of Neil Diamond’s “Red Red Wine” back in 1983.

“Starman,” is a warm and soulful dub take on the original that retains the rousingly anthemic hook everyone and their grandmother knows but places it within a shuffling, reggae riddim paired with warm blasts of Rhodes, some cinematic strings and Maxi Priest’s effortlessly soulful delivery.

“Moonage Daydream,” which features Naomi Cowan and the legendary Alex Lifeson. Cowan is th daughter of impresario Tommy Cowan, a producer, songwriter and former road manager for Bob Marley — and the internationally beloved reggae vocalist Carlene Davis. Touted as one of the top rising female artists in Caribbean music, Cowan won the Breakthrough Reggae Artist Award at 2019’s Jamaica Reggae Industry Awards. Building upon a buzz-worthy profile, her single “Paradise Plum” has topped several reggae charts and has quickly become a staple in the new wave of reggae. Lifeson is best known as the co-founder, backing vocalist and guitarist of beloved Canadian prog rock outfit Rush. As a member of Rush, Lifeson is in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, and is included on Rolling Stones list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” Adding to an extensive list of accolades, Lifeson was made an Officer of the Order of Canada back in 1996 and in 2012, he received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, Canada’s highest artistic honor.

The Easy Star All-Star cover of “Moonage Daydream” is a hazy dub-leaning take that makes loving nods to the original, with a full string seciton and a flute solo from Jenny Hill, that takes the place of Bowie’s recorder solo from the original. Cowan contributes a soulful, rock goddess vocal that I’d argue would make both Bowie and Tina Turner very proud. The song closes out with a trippy and inspired David Gilmour-like guitar solo from the legendary Lifeson.

“This has been my favorite tune on the Bowie album since I first started listening as a teenager,” Easy Star All-Star’s Michael Goldwasser says in press notes. “In light of that, it’s interesting that it’s the song that I changed most radically by simplifying the chord progression and pedaling on one bass line for the entire track, which gives it somewhat of a hypnotic effect and roots it in reggae tradition.”

New Audio: Silver Moth Shares Gorgeous “The Eternal”

This week will be extraordinarily as I’ll be covering the fourth edition of The New Colossus Festival this week. Look for various portions of my coverage to be coming within the upcoming weeks — including some potential interviews, live concert photography and other thoughts. But I’ll be trying my best to squeeze in my regular coverage of all things within my world — musically and otherwise.

So let’s get to the business at hand . . .

Silver Moth is new collective featuring a celebrated cast of musicians and artists, including Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite singer/songwriter and electro pop artist Elisabeth Elektra, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Evi VineAbrasive Trees‘ Matthew Rochford, Burning House‘s Ash Babb, Steven Hill and Prosthetic Head’Ben Roberts, who has also worked with Abrasive Trees and Evi Vine. The collective can trace its origins back to a Twitter exchange between Matthew Rochford and Elisabeth Elektra about the Isle of Lewis. A couple of Zoom meetings would subsequently lead to Rochford, Elektra, Vine, Braithwaite, Hill, Babb and Roberts visiting Black Bay Studios on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, a dramatic location, where they recorded the collective’s full-length debut, Black Bay

Slated for an April 21, 2023 release through Bella UnionBlack Bay reportedly is a testament to connectivity and receptivity and captures a union of disparate minds committing to something to something greater than the sum of its individual parts. Capturing the sound of seven storied musicians yielding to shared goals, the album ranges between hushed incantations and molten guitars, 15-minute noise rock epics and healing psalms. 

Last month, I wrote about Black Bay‘s first single, “Mother Tongue,” a slow-burning and sprawling song centered around swirling shoegazer-like guitar textures, twinkling reverb-drenched keys, ethereal and plaintive vocals paired with jazz-like drumming. While sounding like a synthesis of A Storm in Heaven and Dark Side of the Moon, the band explains that  “Mother Tongue is a song about women and other marginalized people rising up in the face of oppression.”

Black Bay‘s second and latest single “Eternal,” is a slow-burning, breathtakingly gorgeous hymn featuring shimmering and looping guitars, twinkling synths, military-like drumming, Elisabeth Elektra’s ethereal and yearning vocal paired with a soaring chorus that arches heavenward. Written by Silver Moth’s Elektra and Vine, the song is simultaneously a tribute to Elektra’s late friend Alanna, an invitation to listen deeply and carefully and a paean to female equality that’s fueled by “the need to reclaim and remember and give voice to those who are silenced,” Evi Vine explains.

Lyric Video: dayaway Shares Breezy and Hook-Driven “hot blue summer”

Acclaimed duo Brooklyn-based indie CLAVVS — Amber Renee and Graham Marsh — can trace their origins back to a chance meeting after they both separately decided at the last minute to attend a random house party.

Renee’s background is in Americana. Marsh cut his teeth working on Grammy-winning hits by Bruno Mars and Gnarls Barkley. But with CLAVVS the pair weave together the organic and synthetic in a way that brings comparisons to Sylvan Esso and Maggie Rogers — but with a glossier, mainstream sheen. And as a result, the pair has landed placements on MTV, PBS, a number of tastemaking playlists and played in stores like Urban Outfitters.

The duo are also behind the rising indie pop project dayaway. Renee is a water sign — and naturally she has an obsession with the ocean. Fittingly, the project was conceived over countless summer afternoons at Rockaway Beach. The songs she writes for dayaway frequently tell stories about love and loss, detailing heartbreak in summertime snapshots paired with hazy dream pop/New Wave-inspired soundscapes.

Last year’s self-titled dayaway debut EP was released to critical applause from the likes of Under the Radar and Earmilk. EP single “cool water” amassed millions of streams across the digital streaming platforms while landing on Spotify’s New Music Friday, Good Vibes and Golden Hour playlists among others. Follow up singles “beach 90th” and “desert island” landed on Apple Music’s New in Indie and Spotify’s Surf Rock Sunshine playlist. Material from the EP were also featured on Netflix’s Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between, and ABC’s A Million Little Things.

The duo’s latest single “hot blue summer” is a breezy and summery bop rooted in Renee’s achingly tender and ethereal delivery paired with buzzing and reverb-drenched guitars, bubbling electronics, twinkling keys and a razor sharp hook. The song evokes the blissful buzz of summer afternoons at the beach — but the uptempo poppiness of the song is a bit deceptive: The song actually acknowledges that despite the hopes and playfulness of summer and summer love, heartbreak is always around the corner.

New Audio: Red For Stop Shares Yearning and Trippy “God In You”

Red for Stop is a mysterious French indie outfit that has won the KR Home Studios Discoveries contest three years in a four year period. The French outfit’s latest single “God In You” is a hook driven bit of trip hop featuring glistening synth arpeggios. and skittering beats paired with cinematic strings paired with yearning, sultrily cooed vocals, before ending with a jazz-inspired coda featuring twinkling keys and a breezy yet plaintive horn solo.

Sonically, “God In You” recalls a slick synthesis of Goldfrapp, Portishead, and Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles and balearic house.

New Audio: Moonraker Six Teams up with Angry High Five on “Sleepless”

Moonraker Six is a new electronic music recording project formed by two Dutch brothers, who after initially releasing a batch of indie electro pop and electronica-leaning instruments have bean to expand upon their sound and approach, exploring increasingly different sounds and vibes.

The Dutch sibling duo’s latest single, “Sleepless” is a brooding bit of electro pop that brings Power, Corruption & Lies-era New Order, Violator-era Depeche Mode and Come With Us-era Chemical Brotherscentered around glistening synth oscillations, a mix of club rocking beats and live drumming paired with enormous, cloud pleasing hooks and the vocals of rock duo Angry High Five, who add a swaggering bit of rock bombast to the song.

New Audio: Seoul’s ROSS 248 Shares Slow-Burning “Blinded by your Light”

Deriving their name from a small star in the northern constellation Andromeda, ROSS 248 is a mysterious, Seoul-based songwriter and producer, who employs an old-school songwriter’s approach with each and every song, which showcases the voices of an eclectic array of vocalists.

Influenced by a number of different genres, including electro pop and indie pop, ROSS 248’s career started in earnest producing for other artists in her native South Korea. But increasingly,. the Seoul-based producer increasingly desired to express herself through songwriting — with a continued focus on production.

A influential trip to Liverpool helped the South Korean producer further establish her own sound and approach. Her debut single, “Somewhere Only We Know” received airplay on BBC Music Introducing Merseyside last year.

Her latest single “Blinded by your light,” a slow-burning and vibey pop gem that seems indebted to neo-soul with the song being featuring wobbling synths, glistening Rhodes, a sultry Quiet Storm-like groove paired with Victoria Murray’s achingly tender and yearning delivery. Continuing upon the previously released “Sunshower,” “Blinded by your light” channels the feelings of stability and tranquility within a stable and fulfilling relationship. As the South Korean producer explains, the song’s main messages is “if you love someone more than anything, you see the deeper hopes and positiveness in your life.”

New Audio: Beth Arnold Gilbert Shares a Grunge-Inspired Anthem

Beth Arnold Gilbert is a Philadelphia-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who specializes in material that features a 90s alt-rock vibe with a pop sensibility paired with Gilbert’s expressive vocals.

“I Was Not Airtight,” Gilbert’s latest single is the follow up to her debut EP, 2021’s Gimme Back My Castle. Centered around layers of distorted and reverb-drenched guitar, enormous mosh pit friendly hooks paired with the Philadelphia-born artist’s raspy delivery, “I Was Not Airtight,” much like today’s previous post recalls 120 Minutes-era MTV alt-rock — in particular PJ Harvey, Veruca Salt, Hole, and Catherine Wheel among others.

New Audio: Cleo Handler Shares Snarky Anthem “problem”

Cleo Handler is a Los Angeles-born singer/songwriter, filmmaker and longtime lyricist in the Advanced BMI Songwriting Workshop, who spent a decade here in Brooklyn, and returned back to Southern California in the “aftermath of an extremely disorienting, sudden breakup with her long-term (musician) partner.

Recorded at Wild Horizon Sound, the recently released, Claire Morrison-produced gold features session musicians Sarsten Noicee and Mike DeLuccia. gold as Handler explains “is about what’s gained when everything feels lost.

Handler’s recently released full-length album gold as she explains “is about what’s gained when everything feels lost. The raw production, honest storytelling, and deeply personal lyrics explore loss of love, community, reality, and even your idea of yourself… and oh, right – it’s a breakup album.

“This album – and accompanying videos – were born out of necessity, in the aftermath of an extremely disorienting, sudden breakup with my long-term (musician) partner,” Handler says.”Writing was the only thing that kept me afloat, and the overpowering urge to channel my own music the only task that made sense. It became a compulsion and I held on for dear life, singing and strumming, even when my voice cracked and my fingers bled.”

“These songs are about empowerment, self- actualization, and finding a reason to go on – and the courage to hope, sing, even laugh – in the darkest times,” Handler adds. “Musically, gold draws inspiration from beloved artists like Liz Phair and Wet Leg, nodding to the strength and snark of Olivia Rodrigo and Hole.

gold‘s latest single “problem” is a lo-fi bit of indie rock rooted in heart-worn-on-sleeve lyricism, anthemic hooks and scuzzy power chords. Sonically. “gold” immediately brings memories of 120 Minutes-era MTV to mind — in particular Liz Phair, Hole, Veruca Salt and others with the snarky, righteously bitter sarcasm of the heartbroken.

“‘problem’ is about projection, reevaluating what you’ve been told, and reclaiming your power,” Handler says.

New Audio: Le Couleur Shares Sultry “Sentiments nouveaux”

Montreal-based trio Le Couleur — Laurence Giroux-Do (vocals). Patrick Gosselin (bass) and Steven Chouinard (drums) – – quick rose to prominence with a glittery electro pop sound seemingly influenced by Studio 54 with their earliest releases — 2013’s Voyage Love EP, 2015’s Dolce Désir and their critically applauded full-length debut, 2016’s P.O.P.

After sharing a stage with Giorgio Moroder, Moroder gave them some pertinent advice, which informed a decided change of approach as heard on the trio’s sophomore album, 2020’s Concorde, an album informed by vintage influences including 70s eroticism, psychedelia, disco, yéyé and French chanson among others.

The rising Canadian trio’s latest single “Sentiments nouveaux” is a sleek, slickly produced, languorous bop built around dense layers of glistening and wobbling synth arpeggios, skittering tweeter and woofer rattling thump paired with sultrily delivered vocals in French and English, a buzzing Tame Impala-like guitar solo, and the trio’s unerring knack for razor sharp hooks. Sonically, “Sentiments nouveaux” may arguably be the most 80s synth pop inspired song of their growing catalog, bringing Nu Shooz and others to mind.

“Sentiments nouveaux” is the first taste of a forthcoming album, slated for a fall release. Be on the lookout y’all.

New Audio: Brooklyn’s O. Wake Shares Jangling Critique of Constant Connectivity

Led by singer/songwriter, musician and visual artist Ofer Shoval, Brooklyn-based art rock outfit O. Wake formed back in 2019. Since then, Shouval has been writing songs that explore the anxieties and absurdities of modern life through witty vignettes and sweeping soundscapes. They’ve also quickly become a mainstay in the local scene, playing shows across Brooklyn, including opening for Atlanta-based post-punk outfit CDSM last May.

O. Wake’s latest single “Head in the Cloud” is a hook-driven bit of guitar jangle pope that reminds me a bit of Murmur-era R.E.M. but while rooted in a bitter and frustrated sense of disconnection and isolation that belies the song’s seemingly upbeat, danceable nature.

“The track is a critique of the ideology that promotes our need to feel ‘connected’ yet takes away our space to experience the real world, leading to life passing us by,” O. Wake explains.

The Brooklyn-based art rock outfit will be playing this year’s New Colossus Festival.