taylor deblock, manque

taylor deblock, manque

LA-based R&B star Taylor DeBlock is pulling all of our heart strings with his new EP Manque.  It is appropriately named, seeing as the running theme throughout the 6-track EP is how it feels to miss someone.  The up-tempo spirit of the opening track “NECESITAS” perfectly captures the feeling of losing patience while waiting for somebody that you feel really complements your life.  This same sentiment is echoed on tracks like “SAY” and “CALL ME”, both of which showcase the DeBlock’s romantic availability.  There is room to slow things down, as highlighted by “RIGHT WAY”, a more vulnerable take on trying to understand the thoughts inside someone’s head.

DeBlock is providing the world with the perfect winter soundtrack for feeling stuck inside not only our homes, but even our own heads.  With relatable subject matter that can resonate with a wide range of situations, Manque is here to sooth that often-frustrating feeling of having overbearing thoughts.

DeBlock says of the meaning of the EP:

Originally taken from the French ‘tu me manque,’ meaning ‘I miss you,’ the EP’s title displays a two- fold meaning.  A ‘manqué’ is also someone who has failed to live up to an expectation – accepting what has become, the manqué eventually sees where they fell short and must carry on.

ryterband, undefended

ryterband, undefended

Close your eyes and press play. The lush, tranquil sounds that burst forth from your speakers make it feel like there is another layer to your reality. And that is all before the smooth-as-honey vocals cut in, compliments of Los Angeles-based songwriter & producer RYTERBAND. In a world where everyone’s timelines seem to be upside-down and inside-out, this is the type of music we need. Songs like “Stay Awake” have the propensity to offer an escape, as well as a reminder on how to handle yourself in your current atmosphere.

As his debut offering, Undefended boasts catchy hooks, a vibrant disposition, and twinkling after-effects. Lines like “You move like dust in the sunlight” – found at the beginning of second track “Brilliant Eyes” – are absolutely drenched in poeticism. But delve into how RYTERBAND plays with dissonance in “Lighthouse,” and I dare you not to be moved to tears.

Take a dive into any one of these tracks. The layers that exist, the way the sound seems to encapsulate you and carry you around on its back. There’s something primal somehow entrenched within this electro-infused set of tracks that tugs at you, something that makes it clear that if this is just the beginning, there is simply more intrinsic beauty to come from this talented musician.

local nomad, local nomad

local nomad, local nomad

Here to write anthems for future generations, multi-instrumentalist Michael Desmond inspires the people of the world to march to the beat of their own drum with his forthcoming EP Local Nomad. The EP is part of Desmond’s project, also called Local Nomad. He gives insight into the dichotomous name by saying “Local Nomad is the resistance of sedentary life. It’s about seeking the strange and embracing the unknown. Wondering. Wandering. Young and Old. Everywhere and Nowhere.” Desmond plays every instrument on the EP excluding drums. He draws from a variety of sources including Tears for Fears, Elvis Costello, and Phil Collins to produce a fusion of indie-pop and alt-rock with soulful vocals, heavenly synths, and lustrous drum beats. Originally from Long Island, NY, Desmond began his career as the frontman of the orchestral indie rock band Gabriel the Marine. The band found success and performed with bands like Taking Back Sunday, Glassjaw, Mew, Jacks Mannequin, and The Dear Hunter. However, after going through a period of rapid change in which he graduated from college, ended a long term relationship, and watched a family member tragically pass away, Desmond’s mind was racing a mile a minute. The only way he could slow things down was to write, and thus Local Nomad was born as a snapshot of life during this unstable time.

While Local Nomad is worth listening to for Desmond’s expert and fascinating use of instruments to create an array of idiosyncrasies within each track, there are also captivating overarching qualities that will intrigue even those who might want to listen passively.

The anger-fueled opening bop “Love is Gone” and rueful “Young Vampires” are “explosion” songs. “Love is Gone” keeps things chill with an alluringly groovy bassline in the verses, before erupting into sound in the chorus. It’s vocal line is compelling and surprising, you find yourself listening intensely to see what will come next. “Young Vampires” is about a toxic relationship, turning each other into vampires– monsters. It displays wistful guitar in the verses but also has a sonic explosion in the chorus.

“Gates” and “Getting Old is a Bitch” are more self-contained, but each have a quiet, yet powerful energy. The contagious beat in the chorus of “Gates” leaves you no choice but to jam along. All of the instrument parts in “Getting Old is a Bitch” are pertinent to the feeling of getting old. It also has a dominant bass beat and riff that hits you hard, much like growing up does. The “do-do-do”’s in the background almost sound like they’re taunting each of the melancholic main lines. Turmoil and instability in the distorted guitar solo reflects how it feels as the world seems to be moving on without you.

Finally, we have those songs that “clash,” although their conflicting elements end up working to their advantage. “Gates” elevates the sound to a celestial sphere with ethereal synths, but at the same time, the hearty guitar brings things back down, adding a wholesome, down-to-earth quality. A great guitar riff comes in towards the end, but it has that heavy rock sound to it, providing a deep contrast with the synth. The clash in “Summertime”, on the other hand, comes from the happy-go-lucky synth harmonies set against the wistfulness of days gone by in the lyrics. It’s about young adults trying to keep up with life and thinking back on the naivety of their youth. With the beat, sunny harmonies, and fluttering synths, you find yourself thrown back into a summer from years ago, tinged with nostalgia and regret. These tracks are dichotomies, much like the name Local Nomad itself, and the crunch between their conflicting qualities make them ever-so satisfying to listen to.

There’s a lot of potential in Local Nomad to discover more unique elements in the tracks, but no matter what you’re guaranteed to hear some anthems with great beats, full, well-rounded choruses, and colourful instrumentation. The EP will be released on July 10, 2020, but some of the singles are available to stream now!

malikonmusik, sparring sessions

malikonmusik, sparring sessions

There are always tons of artists putting out new music every day, but what makes someone stand out from the crowd? Their ability to put themselves into their music. Up-and-coming artist MalikOnMusik did just that with his debut EP Sparring Sessions. The EP consists of six tracks that show the Philadelphia native’s true vocal ability and music ventures. With inspiration from artists like Whitney Houston, Kehlani, and John Legend, MalikOnMusik is ready to pave his own path.

It’s always hard to start out an album because most people tend to judge a book by its cover. “Don’t Think Too Much” and dive into this EP. The track is your first impression and you easily can appreciate his vocals. Followed up by “I.W.M.H.B”, which stands for I want my hoodie back, one of the singles off the EP is based on his real experiences. The production on this track could be the best out of this collection of songs. Each of the songs is different in its own way, but one thing that remains the same is the quality of MalikOnMusik’s vocals. With a similar sound to Miguel, his voice floats effortlessly from start to finish.

In his most personal track, “Consolation”, the pop/R&B artist goes deep into his life. We take a look into his soul and how he is all about being real. “Kicks (Bruce Lee)” and “Me And My Musik” have beats that will get you vibing with all your friends. Although the two aren’t very similar, they somehow seem to fit together and each chorus could easily get stuck in your head. “Saw You In My Dreams” has the most pop elements and stands out from the rest. All the elements in this track fit together just right and give off a happy vibe, a fitting ending to the EP.

These six tracks are what set him apart from other artists in the genre. He is honest and putting his all into his dreams, and it shows. Step out of your comfort zone and check out an artist like MalikOnMusik, who you might not have listened to before.

Listen to MalikOnMusic’s debut EP Sparring Sessions now.

cady groves, bless my heart

cady groves, bless my heart

There’s something so incredible about the connection of an artist to their work, and then the work’s fans to that artist. The announcement of the death of indelible singer-songwriter Cady Groves at the tender age of thirty this spring has left a large demographic of both pop/punk fans and country aficionados floored. I, myself, remember the days when she toured with punk banks and I requested her haircut at the salon. (College was a trip, and she has always been gorgeous.) Seeing her name in headlines in my social media feed made my heart stop, and I haven’t heard much of her more recent work. But the world has been celebrating her all along, and her fandom has been wrecked over the news.

Cady spent the last four years of her life writing and preparing new music in Nashville that both reflects her personal experiences, and makes her even more relatable than before. Her EP Bless My Heart was released at the end of May posthumously, and she couldn’t have hit the mark more if she tried.

With a little whimsy, she approaches the collection with the first track “Bartender,” a quirky, honest, beautiful ballad to the carefree nature of a full bar on a hot summer night. Perhaps the reality of political unrest and pandemic make this song feel that much more nostalgic, because we actually felt ourselves tearing up, listening to a song about drinking. The title track comes in quick to justify the tears, however, as Cady addresses personal anecdotes and makes us feel that even those who fall – hard – have the opportunity to be blessed in life. She rips any wounds wide open in this track, and this vulnerable side is going to be the thing we miss most.

“Camo” seems to have a title that is very stereotypical – and perhaps widely indicative – of its audience, but the metaphor prevails as a gorgeous reminder to make yourself seen. “Cigarettes and Sunsets” takes on a rhythm and pace that lure us into the thought that we might be about to watch 1996 blockbuster hit Phenomenon. (That is not an insult in the slightest. We imagine this track sounds like the perfect amalgamation of Clapton-style guitar and the Northern California cowboy demographic that surrounded the cast of Phenomenon during filming. But I digress.) Either way, the track belongs in a film. (Do you hear that, sync friends?!)

Last track “Crying Game” visits personal anecdotes, and reminds us a bit of earlier Cady Groves’ work sonically. The song specifically addresses the deaths of two of her brothers (Casey and Kelly), and the emotions that come along with their memories. It all feels like a way to round back to the beginning, as she takes her final, audible, bow.

To feel as though you have witnessed an entire career in just five songs seems a bit cheesy. But this release makes us feel closer to Cady than ever before.

keffa, victimless crimes

keffa, victimless crimes

Canadian singer, rapper, producer, and songwriter Keffa released his new EP Victimless Crimes on June 1st. Produced by the Multi-Platinum and GRAMMY award winners Ken Lewis and Brent Kolatalo, the EP delves into the melancholia that results from failed relationships, but in a light-hearted way. While the music is classic R&B in many ways, it also includes elements from many other genres such as indie and experimental. Keffa compares it to the controversial 1994 film Bitter Moon which featured similar themes of relationships and heartbreak in different ways.

Each track gives us a glimpse into the types of complicated, failed relationships that one can have.

“Bethlehem” stirs up emotions you may not even know you have deep down inside you. It begins atmospheric, and includes hopeful messages like “It’ll be alright, I’ll be by your side.” But halfway through the clouds clear, the line “pick up a loaded gun” cuts through, and things become more painful. “Bethlehem” exposes the listener to this pain, setting the stage for the rest of the EP.

“Rock You” tackles loneliness, the idea of being with someone only for companionship and not for true love. As Keffa says “There’s no point in loving me, ‘cause I have no empathy,” the hard-hitting bass notes and upward synth gestures in the music sound like slow, steady breaths. It’s as though the music is breathing through the pain, through the loneliness. Immediately after, we get “Twenty Four Days” in which Keffa switches gears and starts talking about how he’s in it for the long run with this girl he loves, although there seems to be a lack of trust in the relationship.

“Disconnect” is a standout track. It deviates from the other tracks as it prominently features dreamy, broken guitar chords and surprising turns of harmony. It deals with space, “disconnecting” from a stifling relationship. “Victimless Crimes” is the most unsettling song on the EP. In essence, it’s about how things that were once uncomplicated can become twisted.

Keffa ends the EP on a cheerful note, musically speaking. “Try Harder” is fun to listen to, with a catchy chorus amidst smoothly rapped verses that just glide on top of the jazzy background music. The lyrics still continue the theme, however, highlighting a one-sided relationship where one person isn’t making as much of an effort as they could.

Listening to Victimless Crimes, it’s easy to see why The Source Magazine hailed Keffa as a “Canadian mastermind” after his second EP release, and why he was featured in Respect Magazine as “Toronto’s Emerging Creative Enigma.” Keffa not only shows how it’s possible to innovate R&B music, but also shows the world what Canada has to offer in the hip-hop genre.

impulsive hearts, cry all the time

impulsive hearts, cry all the time

With the release of their second full-length Cry All The Time, Impulsive Hearts delve into darker themes of love and loss, while keeping true to their bright and fierce style of songwriting.

The album opens with “MELODY” is a look at a relationship that fell apart where one knew it was coming and the other didn’t. This uses the idea of creating a melody of music to capture one’s love for the other, “I could build a melody, it’s in a song u would write it down all summer long, oh I would build the world you love, who you waiting on?” and the realization that person wants out of the relationship with: “you took it back what you said / … / you said forget the rest, the rest of what we said.”

The album ends with the track “some heartbreakers” a slower and slightly upbeat tempo track that encompasses the theme of Cry All The Time, love, heartbreak, and loss.

Impulsive Hearts creates music that has a touch of sadness to the world of neo-girl garage rock bands. With Danielle Sines providing captivating vocals and fuzzy guitar, Doug Hoyer (bass) and Dan Julian (drums) hold down the rhythm section bringing each track to its peak moment, and Fallon McDermott (saxophone) and Jess LeMaster (violinist) add a depth to these tracks. All parts come together to create the larger than life sound of Impulsive Hearts.

Cry All The Time comes full circle from its start to finish, with “MELODY” presenting an example of heartbreak and loss while “some heartbreakers” shows that we all have stories of heartbreak, each song on this record is a story of heartbreak.

magic waters, pinky swear

magic waters, pinky swear

When Ryan Lee of Santa Cruz, Cali was familiarizing himself with his new studio Paradise Garage came his own musical project, Magic WatersAfter recording the songs that would make up his debut EP Pinky Swear, it became clear these songs needed to be heard. This 3-song EP showcases Lee’s writing abilities, skills as a producer, and him as a performer. Through his songwriting Lee is able to blend personal stories, and observations on real-world problems. 

A big political inspiration of Pinky Swear is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. The title of the EP and the single comes from Warren making pinky swears to young women to be a constant reminder that women can also be leaders. 

The single “Pinky Swear” revolves heavily around politics. The chorus and outro shout out female political leaders like Senator Warren, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Katie Hill. Lee also makes reference to powerful women in his life, such as his wife, mother, and grandmother. While the verses tackle the NRA and Trump. This back and forth of female politicians that provide optimism, versus the current political climate showcases Lee’s view of the world today and where he hopes it can go.

Pinky Swear is out this Friday, and will be available on streaming platforms everywhere for your quarantine enjoyment. Keep up with Magic Waters here.

me & the monster, me & the monster

me & the monster, me & the monster

It’s often said that music is a universal language, but even so it’s rare to see a group that represents that so literally. Progressive-indie electronic group Me & the Monster all came together when they met at their shared university in Berlin, but they possess an additional layer that sets them apart from the typical cliche of starting a band in college; the 4 musicians all hail from different countries.

While most bands start off arguing about when they’re going to rehearse or who’s going to bring snacks, this group had to immediately face an obstacle that most would never even consider; figuring out how to deal with the cultural and linguistic differences that existed as a result of their varied backgrounds. But luckily, they all had one overwhelmingly important thing in common that transcended these barriers: their love and appreciation for music. Their self-titled EP, dropping January 31st, 2020, is the group’s debut.

The influences of their different homelands come through in their music, and the result is a beautiful melting pot of sounds and ideas. A range of modern influences can be heard in The Monster’s music; Of Monsters and Men seem to show on their indie folk-rock side and Alt-J in their experimental sounds and concepts. The progressive debut EP touches on political issues such as the rapidly-changing coral reefs and the controversial political scenes in the hometowns of some of the band members. Their debut is representative of who the group is and what they stand for, and everything about them supports this; even the name Me & the Monster itself is a take on describing “modern man and his connection to the most original part of himself, the subconscious: his monster.”

The opening track, “My House”, is an introduction into the Monsters’ world, and they waste no time in welcoming their listeners into their melting pot of music. Hearty tribal drums and soulful vocals immediately draw you in; “Greetings / This is the jungle of my feelings” sings vocalist Andrea Trujillo. Here, home exists not as a place but as an idea, as a feeling, and as the people that become home for you when you leave the place you’ve always known. The opening track is the perfect intro to the group, who are all familiar with this concept as they hail from Spain, Venezuela, and Italy and all found unity and this idea of home through their common love for music.

“The Shadow” touches on the concept that the group is named for; the idea of recognizing the monster inside of yourself and the battle that everyone goes through with that. Meanwhile “Give Me Fire” stresses the importance of finding a source of light to keep you fighting through dark times. “Here” is a brightly-colored river of sounds that winds slowly before building into an explosive chorus heavy with tribal drums and echoing harmonies. The passionate political anthem introduces a sense of urgency as the group makes a call to action; “We cannot pretend / That this isn’t real / This is not the end”.

The closer, “Colours” touches on the issue of the damage of the coral reefs as a result of climate change. “It’s in my body / It’s in my bones / I must keep fighting,” Trujillo repeats, her passion for the cause evident in her moving and soulful voice. Smoothly rolling guitar riffs reminiscent of the ocean waves themselves accent the anthemic chorus. Shouting background vocals call for unity as the group reminds listeners of the importance of using music as a channel for activism for important causes.

The debut is a rare case that leaves listeners not only with a crystal clear idea of where the group stands musically, but also politically. While each track shows off a varied side of who the Monsters are and what they’re all about, the EP has a strong feeling of unity and coherence that makes the group’s debut body of work feel strong and memorable.

Keep up with Me & the Monster here.