I’m a dead animal.
You’re used to seeing my guts.
“You see me lying on the street,
Just drive right over me,
While you’re putting on your makeup.”
I chew it up, spit it out, and give it up.
Still I climb to reach the top,
I feel the same,
Nothing’s new, nothing’s changed.
Toronto-based artist Marlon Chaplin has just released his full-length debut album and it is, to put it simply, a powerhouse record. Chaplin clearly has the range of a true rock performer and these ten tracks embody his style flawlessly. It is diverse, passionate, and an inimitable listening experience that will leave you wanting nothing more but to see the live performance (and to play the album on a continuous loop).
The record opens up with “The Circle.” As the attention grabber, the title track is very high energy, complete with a full-bodied opening instrumental. It is the perfect opening, capturing the adrenaline of that momentous first song of a rock concert. It sets the pace for other similar rocker tracks, such as “Drain Me,” “Imaginary Mary K,” and “Elevation.” The album slows down with two acoustic ballads: “Back to the Start” and “Take Me There.” They are dreamy and buoyant, complete with pretty harmonies. Chaplin’s more vulnerable side is at the forefront of these songs, making them even more beautiful.
“A Single Drop” is a cool song with a biting edge. It swings us back around from the romantic ballads, showing Chaplin’s diversity in sound and genre. Listeners are treated to yet another change of pace with “One Man Show” and “Where Did We Go.” Their upbeat sound reminds me of the band Bleachers, with the vintage upbeat aesthetic and catchy guitar riffs. And the final track, “Out on the Wing,” brings a flawless ending to a very well-rounded album. It’s slower and sad, but full of life, focusing on the magnificent sound of strings.
The amount of work put into this strong debut is clear. Released via Möbius Recordings, the album was produced by Chaplin, mixed by Chris Shaw (Partner, Weezer, Bob Dylan) and mastered by Joao Carvalho. With such a stand-out debut, The Circle is bound to impress anyone and everyone who listens to it.
The Circle is out now, and is available for purchase here.. Keep up with the latest on Chaplin here. Also, be sure to check him out on tour, including the album release show in Toronto on August 30th.
LA-based artist KODA released his latest single “Nazareth” and it is a dynamic, atmospheric track. He is brutally honest about his inner struggles and the complexity of them. This song reminds me of how current pop music has openly embraced mental health issues in a way that relates to the younger generations of today. There has been a shift from bubblegum pop to a darker, more real approach. In that way, KODA’s sound reflects the millennial pop/R&B vibes of Zayn or The Weeknd. The subtle beat paired with his emotional vocals create a deeply personal, emotional track that gets extremely candid about his anxiety. Getting this personal is always risky, always scary, but KODA has achieved it in a way that shows his truth and, as a result, created a beautiful piece.
Keep up with KODA here.
Acclaimed Texas-based artist Salim Nourallah has released his latest single “Sweet as a Weed,” which is set to appear on both his upcoming EP and full-length album. It’s quite stripped down, making for an intimate track. It has an interesting country-like feel to it, which may be attributed to the story of how the idea of this track came about. Nourallah recalls how the inspiration struck while on the road:
I was having pre-gig chips and salsa with a friend in Malden, Missouri … We were talking about my daughter when he proclaimed, ‘Well, she’s about as sweet as a weed! I nearly spit out a chip. ‘What? Is that actually a saying?’ It was baffling to me. Weeds aren’t sweet! He swore it was a legit Southern saying after I grilled him on it. I stuffed it away in my file of things to consider for songs.
The spirit of the South can definitely be heard in this song, with its distinct twang and tone. The mellowed-out guitar paired with Nourallah’s vocals creates an atmospheric, vaguely eerie vibe and a song for those days spent in the blistering summer heat in the country.
Nourallah’s EP South comes out on September 7th, and his next album Somewhere South of Sane comes out September 28th. Keep up with him here.