SINGLE REVIEW: Chicken by Jamit

jamit

www.jamitjames.com

Jamit is an electronica/EDM composer and producer who grew up in Australia but is now based in Singapore. Not much is yet known about his genesis as a composer but the past few months have seen a plethora of instrumental releases, including The Original, Style And Fashion, Solar Power and Star of Wonder. His music is essentially psychedelic trance with other aspects of EDM genres incorporated into the sound, along with innovative use of spoken word samples.

This year I have already given  glowing reviews to his previous releases Such Is Not ,Pioneer Generation and MRT. This latest track, Chicken, retains some of the elements of previous releases but takes it into new areas of experimentation. It grips you from the very start with a swirling, kaleidoscopic synth riff that drives the momentum of the whole track. This is augmented by an understated kick drum rhythm and all manner of percussive noises as well as psychedelic sound effects.

A common feature of Jamit’s music is the use of vocal samples, and here male and female voices appear naming countries in various languages. The meaning behind the track is that, worldwide, chicken is eaten with no ethical significance. Around a minute in, a stately four note synth string theme starts to take prominence, giving the track an extra gravity and depth. It’s during the final minute that things really turn trippy. The swirling riff returns with a more standard four to the floor kick, sounding somehow more ominous and intense.

Overall, this is yet another strong psytrance track from Jamit, with this one featuring a more aggressive edge. It has an addictive quality like all his music does and, once again, I was left wanting more. However, there is always the possibility of remixes, which give the track an even greater creative potential. Chicken will consolidate his current fanbase and no doubt help expand it further.

 

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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ALBUM REVIEW: Lobotomy by Love Ghost

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https://www.facebook.com/loveghost.official/

Love Ghost are an alternative rock band hailing from Los Angeles. Although they are young (two members are juniors in high school) they have already achieved a lot, having opened live for Buckcherry, Berlin and Smash Mouth. Their music is heavily influenced by grunge and heavy rock bands from the 90’s including Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Alice In Chains.

You can also hear the influence of a band like Yellowcard, who augmented their rock sound with violin and, in this case, Love Ghost feature a viola player who performs a similar role. This album, Lobotomy, is their full-length debut and consists of thirteen tracks, produced by Eric Lilivois at London Bridge Studio in Seattle and NRG Studios in Los Angeles.

First track Girl Pusher opens in a blaze of Alice in Chains-style low-end riffage, before Finn Bell’s cathartic Cobain-esque lead vocals grab you by the throat. The track features some complex shifts in tempo, though the chorus is simple and anthemic. The band have a strong command of dynamics, with Mya Greene’s soaring viola nicely contrasting with the guttural guitars. A fine start to the album.

The Scarlet Letter is very different, a blissed out beat, clean guitar and swirling viola lines setting the tone for an epic that clocks in at nearly seven minutes. Finn Bell gives a compelling, angst ridden performance that keeps you gripped to the end. It builds to a tumultuous climax, with the intense, frenzied viola bringing to mind John Cale from The Velvet Underground.

Parasitical Identity is stylistically halfway between the first two tracks, featuring a standout performance from drummer Samson Young. Lyrically, it seems to be about dealing with depression; there is a dark poetry and beauty to lines like, “A cold night of snow and apathy, it’s killing time for me and the moon, in a pit of silence I still hear screams…”.

The following Nowhere is perhaps the most instant track on the album, with an immediately addictive and infectious title hook that soon latches in the mind: “From this everywhere in my head to a nowhere in my soul…”. The frantic intensity of the music perfectly expresses the anxiety and emotional turmoil in the words. A potential single.

Danny Boy is another excellent track, this one another of their mid paced, powerful epics with sheets of thick electric guitar colliding with pounding drums. Again, it contains a highly memorable title hook and the balance between song structure and riffage sections is handled well by the band.

Musically, sixth track 24/7 is one of the album’s lighter moments, more towards the commercial end of alternative rock. Lyrically, it’s somewhat darker; it’s about the totalitarian aspects of authority and how it holds us in place: “There’s no escape from attack, the powers that be never have your back….”. During the breakdown section there are some beautiful, mournful viola lines that add to the emotional punch of the song. Another potential single.

Tall Poppies and This Is The Truth are two slightly slower tracks on the album, though the former features an incendiary chorus, counterpointed by melancholy viola on the verses. The latter features an affecting vocal performance from Bell, with existential ennui suffused in the lyrics: “Read the whole book, interpreted it with vacant eyes…I’m willing to leave myself behind….”.

Dead Silence and The Underground are two of the most anthemic songs, with Dead Silence containing a particularly skyscraping chorus, while The Underground starts off slowly before exploding into the sucker-punch title hook: “I’m calling from the underground, reaching from under like a crucifix...”. A tornado of viola swirls behind him, raising the musical tension still further. The verse and chorus dynamics are on a level of Nirvana-like mastery.

The lurching, colossal chorus of the following 9mm also recalls Nirvana, though not the slick grunge pop of Nevermind but the rougher, more raw songs from its predecessor Bleach. Twelth track Naked is the most experimental, an ominous sounding instrumental that brought to mind the perfectly controlled chaos of Sonic Youth, with some stunning lead guitar at the climactic moments.

The final In My Head Again closes the album with the most epic song and perhaps the most tortured. A pitch-black riff that any death metal band would be proud of encircles the verse then the music switches to frantic thrash sections, with the escalating voila sounding as spine-chilling as the screeching violins in Hitchcock’s Psycho.

They continue ratcheting up the notches of intensity until it reaches a fever pitch climax around the five minute mark. A calm moment in the storm lulls the listener into a false sense of security, then pulverizes you with the final section. It’s disturbing, unnerving and utterly compelling, the sound of a nervous breakdown.

Overall, this is a remarkable debut album from a band who have juxtaposed grunge, metal and experimental rock to create a potent fusion that sustains the listener’s interest across the durationof the album with some style. The lyrics are poetic and thoughtful, sung with boundless sincerity and honesty, along with cathartic rage. They are the natural heirs to Nirvana, with the musical range of Sonic Youth. They deserve to be huge.

 

VERDICT: 8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: A Heartbreak In The Making by Randall Lee Richards

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http://www.RandallLeeRichards.com

Randall Lee Richards is a country singer and songwriter hailing from Birmingham, Alabama. He was musically precocious as a child, learning guitar and drums from age ten. Remarkably, at twelve he recorded his first song and headed for Nashville, where he signed a deal and recorded his first single within a month. Since then, he has played on some of the world’s biggest stages like The Roxy and The Troubadour, and been mentored by legends like Neil Diamond and Elton John.

As a songwriter, he has been hugely successful, having had over a hundred songs recorded, with millions of copies sold worldwide. In 2017, he released A Paradise Life which climbed high on the Billboard Indicator chart and was played on over 2,000 stations worldwide.

This song, A Heartbreak In The Making, is one end result of a highly prolific year for Richards’ songwriting, which has seen him influenced by writers like Keith Urban and Thomas Rhett. It’s a country rock song not unlike the more country-influenced power ballads of Bon Jovi. Randall is blessed with a strong, authentic voice that carries conviction and emotion, with the song being a twist on the “boy meets girl” theme.

You can hear the experience and highly developed craftsmanship in the songwriting and the well structured arrangement. Although the style is fairly traditional, it has been produced in a very modern way, with the drums sounds particularly cutting edge. The vocals are cleverly layered with subtle harmonies on certain lines, especially apparent on the huge chorus which soon latches in the memory.

Lyrically, it’s about a powerful attraction to a femme fatale who will break your heart: “Baby, I can see through your disguise, no, you can’t fool me with those eyes, girl you know I’ve seen it all before….”. After the second chorus, there’s a concisely constructed lead guitar solo, leading to the middle eight and one last blast of the chorus with some nice vocal extemporizations.

Overall, this is a great single from a professional singer and songwriter at the height of his artistic powers. Showing his wealth of experience as a writer combined with the kind of distinctive lead vocals and slick modern production that radio loves, this song will be popular with his already existing fans and it should make him a whole lot more.

 

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Tilt by Acharya

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Acharya are an emerging avant/alternative pop band from Northern California, consisting of Josh Grayem (lead vocals/guitars) and Daniel Blackburn (drums, percussion). This duo are the creative hub, but Acharya are also a musical collective which feature contributions from other musicians. This song, Tilt, is taken from the EP of the same name due later this year and was produced by Dryw Owens.

Their music is essentially cerebral alternative pop/rock that combines the sound of intelligent 80’s/90’s pop like Depeche Mode and Talk Talk with the modern production and style of alternative bands like Nothing But Thieves and Alvvays. The track grabs you within seconds, with Josh Grayem’s rich, distinctive low-register vocals bringing to mind Dave Gahan. He sings over a bedrock of tight, rock solid drums from Daniel Blackburn and a propulsive bassline courtesy of former A Lot Like Birds’ bass player Matt Coate.

Lyrically, it’s somewhat arcane and refreshingly deep, with some thought-inducing lines: “Regardless of the mind pull, now is never something to think trivial….”. This angular, left of field approach is also manifest in the clever use of syncopated, minimalist guitar that proves less is more and brought to mind the work of Carlos Alomar during Bowie’s experimental 70’s period. Special mention should go to the superb production, which is absolutely flawless.

Overall, this is an exceptionally good debut release from an alternative group who combine a fine pop sensibility with a cerebral, inventive approach that sets them apart from the crowd. With both a unique, identifiable sound and radio friendly production, I predict that, with further releases of this quality, Acharya are a group that will gain in critical and commercial success very quickly indeed.

 

VERDICT: 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: An Angel For You by Gina Michaells

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Gina Michaells is country singer and songwriter born in La Union in the Philippines and now based in Denmark. She was performing at fairs and festivals as a singer from the age of six, singing in bands through high school and college. At twenty, she decided to take her talent worldwide and has performed in Japan, Indonesia, Greenland and Malaysia, amongst other places. Her music initially started out as pure country but she has since diversified into other genres.

This song, An Angel For You, is an epic country-tinged pop ballad written with Nashville producer/songwriter Lonnie Ratliff and mixed by Arthur Pingray (Sia, Flo Rida), released October 2. Starting with a short but evocative intro of delicate piano and guitar, Gina’s emotive and powerful vocals enter, commanding the listener’s attention. After a brief, well-crafted verse the instantly memorable chorus is where the song, and Gina’s voice, really shines.

The song is about trying to live up to someone’s expectations of you and stand by them even though it’s hard: “If you’re looking for an angel then the least that I can do is try to be an angel for you…”. The arrangement builds gradually, giving the song increasing emotional power, with a key change after the second chorus lifting the music still further (Gina at the top of her considerable vocal range). Another modulation takes the song into the stratosphere and brings the music to a satisfying climax.

Overall, this is a powerfully performed, highly emotional country-pop ballad that showcases Gina Michaells’ dual gifts as a vocalist and songwriter. Well arranged and recorded by Nashville session musicians, it has everything it takes to have a huge hit including very high quality, radio friendly production. Most importantly, it has an emotive force that people will connect with, and subject matter they will relate to. Gina Michaells has immense commercial potential, and this song deserves to make big waves in the music scene.

 

VERDICT: 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

 

Learn more about Gina Michaells HERE

 

SINGLE REVIEW: The Last Sigh by Arash Behzadi

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http://www.arashbehzadi.com/

Arash Behzadi is a Canadian-Iranian pianist and composer based in Toronto. He started playing piano at fifteen which began his musical journey. He released his first album, the Persian influenced Aram-E Del I – Serenity of the Heart I in 2009, following up with the sequel in 2011. He then began to explore New Age music, releasing With Closed Eyes in 2015. He has performed in Geneva, New York, the Tirgan Festival in Toronto and the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.

This track, The Last Sigh, is from his latest album Elsewhere and has been inspired by recent trips to Bali and Indonesia. It is a piano-based instrumental that showcases Arash’s gift for both classical composition and his talents as a pianist. Starting with simple but commanding, powerful low-end piano chords, the solemn and poignant tone becoming heightened when it moves to the higher octaves and adds a beautiful melody in the right hand.

Arash’s compositional technique is his own, but you can hear the influence of Philip Glass and Ludovico Einaudi. Gradually, a solo cello enters, adding to the hymnal beauty of the sound. The music slowly becomes more strident and passionate, reaching a climax towards the four minute mark. It then returns to the delicacy of the early sections before building back up once more, the cello part becoming more insistent. This raises the musical tension to a high pitch before returning to the same powerful chord with which it began.

Overall, this is a wonderfully poignant piece of modern classical that contains the beauty of traditional classical music with the more accessible structures of modern composers like Philip Glass. As the huge success of fellow pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi has shown, there is a huge market for this kind of music and The Last Sigh could be a big step towards Arash Behzadi becoming a household name.

VERDICT: 8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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E.P. REVIEW: Chutney Chasers by aVIE

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aVIE is an RnB/electronica artist hailing from Houston. He had an itinerant childhood, which is partly the reason for the eclectic range of styles and genres that have influenced his music. He describes his music as Psychedelic/Punk RnB, which is accurate but he also incorporates dubstep, DnB and trap into his musical vision. He regards his influences as The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Radiohead, amongst others.

This EP, Chutney Chasers, is his debut release and he describes the EP as a “story of a young colored man’s struggle with exotification, identity, addiction, anxiety and role”. It starts with the title track, a languid yet intense concoction of falsetto lead vocals with aVIE’s smooth-as-honey rapping style. Not many artists can claim such versatility as both singer and emcee, and aVIE’s gifts are the equal of similar artists like Frank Ocean. A fine start to the EP.

Tapwater shows another side to his oeuvre, starting out as fairly conventional RnB before developing into a fantastic hybrid of dubstep and DnB, with aVIE delivering his skills as a rapper once more for good measure. This is cutting edge 21st century pop, a futuristic meld of modern styles which aVIE pulls off effortlessly. The Self is another contrast, a hymnal, reflective track with some almost angelic lead vocals counter pointed with distorted spoken word sections.

New Feathers is another excellent track which again shows the influence of Frank Ocean. It’s exquisitely produced RnB with avant garde touches that lift it out of conventionality. Lyrically, it’s an inspiring song about personal transformation: “I’m cleaning the system, creating religion….”. A potential single.

Midnight Oil further consolidates his essential signature sound, an intoxicating melee of skittish rhythms and inventive production touches that somehow remains cohesive. The final Take Care is a beautifully melancholy acoustic ballad, beginning with strummed acoustic guitar and aVIE’s tender lead vocals, containing some troubled lyrics: “I’m drowning in alcohol…”. It builds gradually into a dark epic, reaching a cathartic climax at the end. A beautifully crafted and performed finale to the EP.

Overall, this is an absolute slam dunk of an EP by an artist who is fresh on the scene but whose artistic identity and style is fully formed. With soul searching, intelligent lyrics set to music of eclectic style, emotional depth and restless invention, aVIE has a lot to offer the music world and I expect Chutney Chasers to make a strong impact. I also predict that aVIE is going to be the next big thing in RnB, he’s simply destined for the world stage.

 

VERDICT: 9.2 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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