Freelance music journalist Alex Faulkner reviewing the latest new unsigned or up and coming music. Feel free to follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Get the latest reviews via email by signing up to the blog, the 'follow' button is on the right hand side. Down a bit.
Audiovascula is an EDM/reggae/dancehall artist hailing from the City of Montego Bay, Jamaica. He grew up in a musical environment, even hearing 12 feet speakers pounding on the concrete walls of his room. This made a major impact on him and his music is an exotic hybrid of reggae and dancehall, currently huge, as well as a big hip-hop influence, R&B, pop and various genres of EDM.
This track, Buss Di Bassline, is a perfect showcase of his unique sound. Starting out sounding like a standard EDM track with fizzy synths, it then surprises the listener with a loping hip-hop beat that brought to mind James Brown’s classic Funky Drummer sample. Audiovascula’s inimitable vocal style then grabs your attention, with an arresting performance of controlled rhythmical flow.
The track is hugely catchy, managing to combine the vital energy of hip-hop with the more laid back style of reggae and dancehall. In terms of vocal style, the only reference point that immediately springs to mind is Shabba Ranks, though Audiovascula is really a true original. The deep dub bass will hit even harder in a club environment, and I can see this becoming a huge hit on the dancefloors.
Overall, this is an artist with his finger on the pulse musically, and this track will surf the wave of popularity that reggae/dancehall flavoured EDM is currently enjoying. Having his own distinctive vocal delivery will help him further stand out from the crowd, but the music itself is original and massively addictive. Audiovascula and Buss Di Bassline could be spreading like wildfire this summer.
SOUNDSTREAM are an electronica/EDM group from Kiev, Ukraine. They formed in 2008 when Denis Timish (DJ FatCat) and Alexander Bulanov (Bulya) met at university and decided to form a group. Their first track Feels like Heaven was an immediate success, and the line up changed over time which eventually lead to the release of several albums including Number One, Partytime, Midnight Hour and Dancefloor Generation, One More Time, Resurrection”, Maxximum Drive and Way To The Stars.
This track, Summer Nights, is being released along with four remixes. The ‘radio edit’ version grabs your attention immediately with an addictive synth melody. This style of EDM is what they call HandsUp/Eurodance, which is essentially up-tempo, high energy house music. It’s soon obvious that this group have a firm grasp of production and how to build a dance track. With a speaker-pounding ‘four to the floor’ kick, the percussive elements are added in layers to create momentum and energy.
Vocally, it has two contributors. Rapper/MC Yuriy ‘DJ Spacedreamer’ Muktarov gives a great spoken word performance on the verse, contrasted nicely by female sung vocals on the chorus, performed by Ann Pazyura. With a chord structure mildly reminiscent of the dance classic Mr. Vain it will sound somewhat familiar to dance fans, but the lead melody and killer title hook is entirely their own. The breakdown section towards the end is very effective in building up to a climax at the end. Also worth checking out are the various remixes.
Overall, this is a highly enjoyable piece of up-tempo house that is guaranteed to get a dancefloor heaving. With first rate production plus two high quality vocal performers in their arsenal, SOUNDSTREAM have the perfect track for a summer heatwave and EDM fans/DJs worldwide will want to add Summer Nights to their playlists.
Kingkween are an indie alt-pop trio who are based are based in New York City, but individually hail from different parts of the globe. They consist of frontwoman KT Mulholland, writer/producer Hitz and acclaimed drummer Rob Steadman, formerly of the successful folk group Stornoway. Rob joined the group after the release of their 2016 album Wild One. The title track from this album was very successful on radio, garnering huge amounts of airplay.
This track, Sex, highlights their yin/yang approach, and like Blondie in the late 70’s, they combine pop nous with an edgy lyrical style. It starts by letting the music set the mood, icy synths supporting wiry low end guitar that recalls Carlos Alomar, who played with Bowie in the 70’s. Then KT Mulholland’s throaty, passionate vocals take centre stage, adding to the sensuality of the sound that the title demands.
Lyrically, it captures the longing of sexual desire in a way that transcends the clichés of this well explored subject, as exemplified on the addictively catchy chorus hook: “I’ve been waiting for you all night, all night….”. Mulholland steals the show with her dynamic, compelling vocal performance but special credit should go to Hitz for the slick, cutting-edge modern production.
Overall, this is a sassy and sexy piece of alternative pop that exudes cool and swaggers with style. KT Mulholland is the kind of charismatic front woman that doesn’t come along too often, and her bandmates provide the perfect musical backdrop. It’s a song that will work well on radio, and should provide some great times on the dancefloor. The perfect soundtrack to a sultry summer, and this group have everything it takes to go huge.
Miftah Bravenda is a musician, composer and producer hailing from Serang-Banten, Indonesia. His music is minimalist and ambient in nature, with a cinematic and organic quality that gives it a strong sense of atmosphere. His previous releases include Eglantine, Those Who Wait For Sweetness and Engkelili. He regards his greatest trick as ‘his ability to turn familiar instrumentation into something of an entirely different nature.’
This track, You Look Like Something I Knew Once is a fine example of this. It begins evocatively with an interweaving blend of rich organ, sonorous synths and a haunting piano melody. This striking meld of sound is then added to firstly via musique concrete (using recorded sounds as a method of electronic composition) and then a lurching, mesmeric beat that compels the attention.
As the track progresses, various synth textures and melodies emerge gradually into the soundscape, and the constantly shifting and blossoming sonic tapestry unfolds with an inevitability that shows a high degree of skill in handling the material. The resultant effect is a sense of dislocation in the most pleasant way, a feeling of having been transported.
Overall, this is an extremely well composed and produced piece of ambient electronica. Although minimalist in style, the way the complex layers of sonic texture morph and develop across the duration of the track is testament to his inimitable gift as a composer, and the quality of the production is fully realized. He deserves to garner and a wide audience, particularly amongst ambient fans.
This song, Roller Coaster Night, is a collaboration with producer Ryan Mohr. It’s a very modern sounding EDM-tinged pop track, just about perfect for radio. It grabs your attention from the start, with a short intro based on rolling toms, then Shane delivering a very catchy vocal melody with energy and flair. His voice is strong and distinctive yet wouldn’t sound out of place amongst pop contemporaries like Justin Timberlake or Ed Sheeran.
He has a definite sonic style here, with some fantastic synth swirls on the bridge giving it an almost futuristic vibe. It really bursts into life on the chorus, a pumping beat and Uptown Funk-esque high end guitars combining with a very memorable title hook. After the second chorus, it enters a breakdown section based around a long, anthemic melody that’s the perfect contrast to the rhythmic nature of the chorus. It will also sound great to sing along to at 2am in a club!
Overall, this is a very well written, performed and produced pop/dance track from an artist with a very authentic musical background, showing he can compete with the current luminaries of the pop world . It’s a great song for the season, and will work both on radio and the dancefloor, the best of both worlds. And who knows, there’s still time for it to go viral this summer.
Shane Scheib is a recording artist born in Eastern Washington State, growing up in Coulee City and Ellenburg. He studied jazz guitar at Jeff Berlin’s Player’s School Of Music, and guitar theory under Yuzuru Tanakura. For a while, Shane got involved in missionary work, and upon his return to the States was encouraged to move to Nashville, which he eventually did. Since then, he has released some highly successful EPs including Genrelicious and Fast Friends, which garnered rotation on over 100 radio stations.
Djo Life is a singer/songwriter hailing from the “sun drenched environs” of Tucson, Arizona, as he puts it. He also rather amusingly describes himself as a ‘one piece band’. His music is essentially alternative acoustic pop, with tinges of electronica that give the music a modern sound. There’s a charming quirkiness to his style that brought to mind The Flaming Lips and even a touch of 90’s alt-pop legends They Might Be Giants. His previous releases include French Cigarettes, The Cactus Song, A Little Love and the excellent Because She’s Sleeping, which I recently reviewed.
This song, Like Clockwork, consolidates his signature style as a songwriter who writes about subjects that look at life in a slightly offbeat way, rather reminiscent of Randy Newman. This one is an astute piece of social observation, noting the strangely recurrent patterns of human behaviour, including his own. Something as quotidian as going for a coffee is made a subject of fascination: “The magical elixir, well it keeps me stopping by….like clockwork“.
Musically, its upbeat acoustic-led style made me think of 90’s group The Lemonheads, and Djo has a voice not unlike Evan Dando (a good thing). He mixes in some MGMT-esque synth sounds into the music, which adds to its quirky charm and alternative vibe. The line towards the end about calling his parents every day to hear their voices is touching and unexpected, but its these idiosyncrasies that make Djo a unique songwriter.
Overall, this is another great song that takes ordinary subject matter and makes you look at it in a slightly different way, as all good art should do. It helps that he has a gift for writing consistently strong top-tapping melodies, which won’t do his commercial prospects any harm. I feel convinced that he will accrue a large following over time, and this is another song that will win him plenty of new fans.
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 track, Such Is Not, is a perfect example. Clocking in at an epic six and a half minutes, it leaps out of the blocks straight away, opening with a pulsing ‘four to the floor’ kick and a burst of colourful, swirling synth patterns. It creates a mesmeric mood that captivates the attention immediately. Around the first minute mark we hear the first use of vocal samples, this one in Spanish. The music then abruptly changes to a lower key which draws the listener in further.
Around the three minute mark we hear the sample from which the title is derived, taken from a novel by sci-fi author Philip K. Dick’s The Man In The High Castle: “Such is not in accord with humanitarian considerations..”. Perhaps a prescient quote to use considering the current political climate, and the use of this author’s work seems apposite given the futuristic vibe of Jamit’s music. As the track progresses, the interweaving synth patterns develop in subtle but effective ways, along with another couple of modulations.
Overall, this is an inventive and highly enjoyable psytrance track that manages to be both blissfully chilled out yet addictive at the same time. The use of samples is tastefully done, lending variety to the soundscape. With a high level quality of production and his own inimitable style, Jamit has what it takes to make his mark in the saturated but still hugely popular world of EDM.