Philly and NYC based indie rock and folk trio TEOA present their soul-baring offering to a departed friend today with their new single “Canyon.” Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, TEOA stands for The End of America. The band forms their sound from a blend of three-part harmony with rock and Americana. Preparing for an upcoming year of touring, TEOA soon will grace their audiences with their powerful mix of voices and strong stage presence. If you’re interested in seeing them in action, the band has a live show on Facebook every Thursday at 8:30pm EST. In the meantime, the guys will be releasing a single every month, so be sure to keep an eye out!
Band member Brendon Thomas wrote “Canyon” for his friend and partner Amy Regan, who passed away in 2016. Thomas describes Amy as “a beautiful person with a stunning voice and wrote the songs to match it. Music was in the fiber of her being.” The pair dreamed of playing a concert at Red Rocks, an Amphitheatre near Denver. As Thomas continues to strive for this goal with TEOA, he hopes that “Canyon” can act as an invitation to her spirit to follow him so that she too can achieve her dream and “howl at the moon” with them.
The lyrics are filled with touching personal connections to Amy. Embraced by soaring harmonies, Thomas says “If you’re here, sing now.” He references one of Amy’s songs “Some Kind of Blues” in the outro as an homage to her music and all that it taught him. Born from freestyling in his car, Thomas’ lyrics are conversational, a heartfelt call to his friend. They are the focal point of the song. The music simply lifts them up so that they might be heard. The entire arrangement was built around the wistful opening guitar riff, which Thomas wanted to save for the right song. It plays its role well, for it engages the listener, but also establishes a doleful mood. When Thomas brought the song to his bandmates James Downes and Trevor Leonard, he imagined “harmonies in the chorus that could paint the sky.” Indeed, the background voices coming together sound majestic, even otherworldly.
“Canyon” is infused with a muted sadness, but the harmonies and steady tempo also make it feel wonderfully uplifting. It’s heartbreaking, resounding, and absolutely beautiful.
Tap into your summertime nostalgia with Simpson’s new track “Summer”! The sizzling single may seem out of place considering how messy the summer of 2020 has been, but what Simpson offers is a reminder of how the concept of summer can mean different things. When describing the song she states “’Summer’ is so much more than a song about the summer. It’s about bottling, escaping nostalgia, being present, being flung into the afterthought of the future. It’s sarcastic, it’s cheeky, it kisses your forehead. Summer sees you, remembers you, and doesn’t forget you. Summer is what you were looking forward to that ended up letting you down, but you were so fucked on it exceeding expectations that you didn’t even realize it. Summer is a person, summer is a place, summer is a thing, summer is a feeling.”
Indeed, “Summer” embodies the kind of energy that you feel on a sunny, clear-skied mid-July day. Beginning with just a guitar riff and drums, the music starts off muted before sharpening, like you’re stepping out into the brilliant warmth. The guitar part is persistent and has that happy go lucky sound that’s characteristic of summer. It complements the vocal line well, at times tracing the same melodic arc. While the track certainly leans into the whole summery vibe, the bassline adds an attractive contrasting element. It sounds like something you would hear in a song by The Human League from the 80s. This detail, slight as it may be, gives “Summer” a bit of extra oomph.
Simpson released her first gem in 2017 with her debut song “Switch Lanes.” Since then she has been touring and releasing other singles along the way. “Summer” is her freshest track yet, with more to come in 2020! Be sure to also check out her accompanying new single “I Miss My Dawgs.” All the streaming revenue for this track will go towards organizations that support black LGBTQIA+ people around the United States.
Alt-R&B artist ROSA displays courage in his painfully raw single “BLOW” and accompanying music video. The track unearths and sets free some deeply buried demons surrounding ROSA’s personal battle with depression and drug abuse. Living with depression from an early age, ROSA quickly learned to adapt, to suppress his emotions, and instead forced himself to think clinically. While clever, this approach only prevented him from actually confronting his issues. It was his crafty thinking that allowed his severe cocaine addiction to fly under the radar for years without his friends or family noticing. Written, composed, produced, and arranged by ROSA alongside Joveek Murphy and Axe Hessel, the title “BLOW” refers both to cocaine, but also to what happens when you fail to deal with your emotions. The track is not only about someone coming to terms with their drug problem, but also with the root of the problem: depression. It is the second of a trio of singles that will be released before ROSA’s anticipated debut EP FEMALE. This EP will deal with female empowerment but also tackles issues of male emotional vulnerability. ROSA aims to challenge the stereotypes that surround masculinity by exposing some dark parts of himself. In the interest of honesty, “BLOW” speaks frankly, eschewing metaphors and symbolism to avoid romanticizing the matters of drug use in the track. By doing so, ROSA hopes to offer an alternative to the glamourized portrayal of drug use in pop culture.
The music video was directed by ROSA himself and illustrates his experience, from the initial ecstasy of cocaine to the inevitable deterioration as the high wears off. To show this, we first see shots of pleasant images: green trees and manicured bushes, women in dresses, bright blue lipstick, and deep red and white cloths. But each of these images are a double-edged sword. The groomed shrubbery and vivid colours seem out of context against muted colours and barren landscapes in the background. The faces of the women are void of expression. As the video progresses, we start to notice certain unsettling subtleties in the initial shots– the expression of pain on someone’s face with their mouth duct-taped shut, the fact that the fabrics are stretched over the people’s face. Eventually, you see that these people are struggling, even screaming through their restraints. Towards the end, fuzzy, black and white shots are interspersed among the others, before the harrowing final ten seconds arrive.
While ROSA’s alternative R&B and pop sound fits in somewhere near Frank Ocean, Kid Cudi, and Dev Hynes, his sound also has distinct touches that make his music his own. In “BLOW”, the music follows the same path of decay as the video, beginning with a smooth bassline and vocals, but finishing with stuttering words and haphazardous pauses before stopping suddenly, holding its breath for the final shot in the video. When the grainy black and white shots appear, some grungy guitar fills out the music, and shortly after ghostly harmonies chill you to the bone. The most impact, however, comes from the inserted spoken lines. Used sparingly, these lines directly get the message across, and uphold ROSA’s goal to show authentic emotions in a straightforward way.
Watch the striking video here, and look out for the third FEMALE single and the EP itself in the future.
Experimental pop and R&B alchemists Black Grapefruit have reanimated their 2019 song “Waist” from their dance-inspired EP of the same name. The duo released a pertinent video and compelling remix that offer fresh takes on the track.
Produced by Not 97, the video features footage from fans, friends, and family dancing to “Waist” from the comfort of their homes. Ironically, the video was put together way before the coronavirus-induced mandate to stay home was in effect. The sense of community present in the video has only gotten more relevant. Black Grapefruit mentioned that this video is a “reminder that we can share energy regardless of distance, and that we are all more connected than we sometimes realize.” It’s something to keep in mind as we all brave the isolating effects of seclusion. There are several cameos in the video as well, such as Emmy-nominated actor Zazie Beetz and model and co-host of MTV’s Catfish Kamie Crawford.
The song itself is quite chill but is also infused with a danceable energy, adding another dimension to the song’s relevance. Black Grapefruit explains the place of “Waist” in light of recent events by saying that “humans have been dancing through pain and turmoil since long before recorded music. With full respect for the moment, this is our creative offering. It’s made from ceremonial, positive intention. We can only hope that its movement somehow supports our collective and continued fight towards justice and healing.” Overall the track has a good continuous flow, but anticipation is created by the few pauses that are thrown in to keep the listener on their toes. The remix takes these pauses further, breaking up the melody into fragments and weaving them together into a fractured tapestry. Despite this, there are still tons of beats to attach dance moves to, preserving the rhythmic essence of the original track.
Alannah Kavanagh’s indie rock project Grizzly Coast has added a new feel-good indie bop to their repertoire. Inspired by her countless nights in the Toronto music scene, Kavanagh wrote “End of the Night” with the intention to mimic the energy of live music. She fondly recalls how at a show, the music is too loud for anyone to talk, and so it can quell any anxiety over what to say and just allows you to focus on the experience. Even out of the context of a live venue, “End of the Night” delivers on this front.
Kavanagh’s heavenly voice starts the track off by singing “Here we go,” backed up by hazy guitars and a slow tempo before accelerating to the actual tempo of the song. She’s taking you by the hand and leading you to the live show. The rising harmonies and the fuzzy but joyous guitars make the song feel very uplifting– you can feel your own troubles start to alleviate. It’s easy to imagine how this feeling would be amplified if it were heard live. Kavanagh’s voice is the icing on the cake. She effortlessly moves through notes and sings with a freedom that compels you not only to listen, but to be free with her.
“End of the Night” will be a part of Grizzly Coast’s EP Party of One which will be released on July 17th, 2020. The EP will highlight the human need for community and the dividends that pay from having the courage to reach out to those you care about, and who care about you.
Buckle up your rocket ship seat belts for this one. Eclectic visionaries Moviestar have released their new interstellar single “Waste of Space.” Band members Infinity Vik, The Octopus Goddess and Anaconda first revealed their eccentricity back in 2018 with their critically acclaimed debut album Stupid People / Happy Days. Now they are here to astral-project far into the future and eradicate boundaries. They are described as “intergalactic archeologists” who formed in the future to produce avant-garde music that dabbles in the genres of art-pop, indie, and sci-fi punk… to name a few.
“Waste of Space” is loud, harsh, and full of energy. The initial obstinate beat and the gritty guitar immediately grabs a hold of you and pulls you along. Each verse is static, the unrelenting pattern of drums, guitar and bass grounds you, but the energy builds like a static charge. When it reaches its peak, all this energy diffuses into a dynamic chorus that coasts through its duration. The second time around, a surprisingly dulcet melody meets you after the chorus, allowing you to fully transcend into space.
This single is only one piece of the puzzle, however. Moviestar’s new album The Curse and the Currency of the Twenty-First Century is a concept album about the state of the world in 2020, but from the perspective of the future. It confronts various issues surrounding social media, technology, the environment, and the human condition. Just like the wonder of space, Moviestar’s music is limitless. They are a ghostly presence from the future that has come to show us the extent of what’s possible. If you’re looking for something idiosyncratic, or are a fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, David Bowie, The Kills, or Blood Red Shoes, this band is absolutely for you.
Be sure to check out the video for “Waste of Space” here, and listen to the rest of their earth-shattering album on Spotify and Apple Music.
Rap aficionado BennyFreestyles has released his latest single and video “Follow Me Home.” The serenade eloquently illustrates the human need for companionship during dark times– whether romantic or platonic. While he was born in Providence, Rhode Island, Benny grew up a traveler, so it comes as no surprise that the video for “Follow Me Home” was filmed in Nosara, Costa Rica. The video sports radiant images of nature that are distinct from, but also closely intertwined with the music. In the opening shot, we drift through a dusky forest and hear a mix of bird calls and electronic tones from the music. The juxtaposition of the sounds is disjunct, but they also complement each other. At times the shots drift in and out of distortion, like a manifestation of the hard times that the lyrics are talking about. Some of the words draw obvious parallels to nature as well, such as “you say it’s windy,” and “just hope it all blows away.”
The electronic music may seem out of place with the nature-centered visuals, but what it does is create a sort of ambient space in which the lyrics can really thrive. Whether it’s the open ocean, eternal forest, or endless night sky, the powerful pairing of these images and the atmosphere generated by the music allows for lyrics like “please forgive me” to ricochet, amplifying their impact.
Freestyles worked with Thomas San Bento in an intense twelve hour session to produce “Follow Me Home,” which features Freestyle’s peaceful voice and the rap skills that earned Benny his name. Since his very first release (a four minute freestyle called “The Ready Freestyle“), the on-the-rise musician has aimed to inspire, putting out multiple projects and going on national tours. Along the way, he has acquired a substantial fan base that really identifies with his music. “Follow Me Home” is simply the next step in Freestyle’s movement to uplift and encourage. Don’t be afraid to let yourself get swept up in it.
Singer-songwriter ALIX recently released a new pop hit. Featuring pop sensation NEZZA, “Good” is a timeless track that works through the conflict between finding closure and wanting to move on after a relationship ends. The ballad is a model of classic pop, but the smooth vocals and subtle funk undertones give it a tasty R&B twist. The lyrics are simple but sincere, giving them a kind of universality that ALIX herself values in the music of her favourite artists. NEZZA shared in this universality as she bonded with ALIX over experiencing the aftermath of ex-relationships. From their bond, “Good” was born.
The solace found in the lyrics is enhanced by instrumentals that truly encompass the word “good.” Not the “better than alright but worse than great” definition of the word, but the one that means “pleasurable” and “enjoyable.” The song is in 6/8 time, which makes the music sway, each bar punctuated by a clean guitar chord. The harmonies are dreamy, wrapping you in a tender embrace to comfort you through your heartbreak. Towards the end there’s a satisfying key change that instills within you a resolution to persevere through any negative emotions you may be left with. In the end, “Good” is soothing, uplifting, and freeing.
While this track delights in its meaningful simplicity, one can also endeavor to go deeper and look for touches of California, where ALIX grew up. See if you can hear the gorgeous redwood forests and rolling hills that The Golden State is known for. Growing up near San Francisco meant that ALIX was exposed to an array of musical influences, providing her with a nifty toolkit that she would go on to utilize in her music. The music video for ALIX’s debut release “Come Alive” opened the door for her music career, gaining a million views in the first month. Her forthcoming album Feel Better builds on the momentum she’s created, with “Good” being only a taste of what’s to come.
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.