SINGLE REVIEW: Limericks by Young A.G.

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Young A.G. is a hip hop artist/rapper who is only sixteen years old, though you wouldn’t know it from listening to him at first. He has already developed as a rapper and whilst Eminem is obviously a huge influence, he has his own lyrical style as evident on this track Limericks, which he produced himself also.

Starting with a haunting piano melody, then building into a simple but effective beat augmented by subtle strings and a music box style sound, Young A.G. lays down the verse with a breathtaking rapid fire delivery that rivals Eminem for vocal dexterity and rhythmic complexity.

The chorus hook acts as the perfect contrast to the low voiced verses, as he can sing too, delivering the catchy lines: “I’m a move right to the top, and I really ain’t gone’ stop/ Just until everyone knows my name/ I’ve got some illogical thoughts that I don’t wanna bottle up so bottoms up, lemme here you scream/ (go sang)…..”.

Overall, this is a highly impressive track from a young artist who already sounds like the finished article, which is remarkable considering his age. With continued experience and further material he will expand his musical and lyrical horizons and shouldn’t be too worried if he finds himself compared to Eminem too much, as his own style will develop over time.

 

Alex Faulkner (The Faulkner Review)

 

VERDICT: 8.8 out of 10

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Superman (Acoustic) by Dalal ft. Robin De Lano

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Dalal is a singer/songwriter, composer and actress hailing originally from Austria. Interestingly, she is the direct descendant of Franz Seraph von Bruchmann, who was the lyricist for the great composer Franz Schubert. She moved to New York City and began her musical career, releasing the single Taste The Night and performing to acclaim at fashion shows.

This track, Superman, is an acoustic version of a song that was nominated for the Hollywood Music in Media Award. Dalal has an instantly distinctive and powerful voice with a large range that comes into play on the uplifting chorus, which is augmented by tasteful backing harmonies. Along with acoustic guitar, there is a striking classical influenced piano melody. It also features the vocals of singer and actress Robin De Lano.

Lyrically, its about self belief and overcoming adversity, as exemplified on the chorus: “I’m not a victim, baby I’m Superman…yeah I can save myself and never take off my cape…take a good look at me and never forget my face…”. As the track develops, subtle strings further add to the instrumental blend and give more of a classical feel.

Overall, this is a fine version of an excellent song. An acoustic version of any song shows whether it stands up without all the gloss of a full studio production. This one shows its quality with just a few instruments and Dalal’s superb vocals. In fact, this version would make a perfect single in itself and it is quite common for alternate versions to be preferred to the original, as often less is more.

 

Alex Faulkner

VERDICT: 8.8 out of 10

SINGLE REVIEW: Oblivion by Rome Alexander

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Rome Alexander is a 22 year old singer, songwriter and producer who writes songs in the pop, RnB and jazz genres. Despite his youth, he has already achieved a lot in the music industry. As an independent artist, he managed to reach the Top Ten of the Itunes RnB chart, and has done so again twice now signed to a distribution deal with INGrooves/Universal. He is comparable to artists like Ne-Yo, Usher and John Legend, also citing Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Prince as major influences.

This track, Oblivion, is a good example of his songwriting and production. It’s a poignant piano ballad about a romantic relationship that is on the verge of ending. After a short piano introduction that sets a melancholy mood, Rome delivers a haunting vocal melody which is superbly sung. He has a smooth, clear voice that brings to mind Boyz II Men and is perfect for this kind of material.

Lyrically, it complements the tenderness of the music: “We’re going under, our nightmare has become reality…”. After a short bridge, it builds to the repeated memorable hook: “It’s like we’re fading into oblivion…”. A subtle beat enters on the second verse, with some lovely piano melodies interweaved throughout. My only criticism would be that it’s a bit long for a single at over five minutes, but a radio version fading out after around four minutes would solve that issue.

Overall, this is a high impressive track from someone whose various talents are comparable to someone like Pharrell Williams. Oblivion is a touching ballad that has been flawlessly performed and produced, and so is perfect to take to commercial radio. A definite star in the making.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

 

 

SINGLE REVIEW: I Keep This Darkness by Will Moffett

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Will Moffett is an emerging singer songwriter hailing from Chicago whose songwriting style has helped him gain a following. His previous singles Being Ignored and I Want My Money Back were released to a favourable reception. He sees his strengths as his emotional authenticity and honesty, which is certainly present on this song.

I Keep This Darkness is a sensitive piano ballad about feeling lovelorn about a relationship not going well. After a brief piano introduction, he starts with the song’s chorus which is its strongest point and instantly conveys his feelings: “I keep this darkness to ease the pain… I got lost in your charm game…“. It is backed by some nice harmonies, the piano augmented by clean electric guitar, and effectively simple bass and drums.

Will has a nice singing voice, though there are moments where he loses his pitch and rhythm slightly, which is an area he can work on. The lyrics are mostly fine, and powerful in their emotional vulnerability, though he should try to avoid obvious clichés which occur on certain lines (“How I long to hold you tight…”). The lead guitar sections works well, adding to the song’s mood.

Overall, this is a promising song from a young songwriter who is still developing his potential and songwriting craft. He certainly has the ability to write memorable and emotive melodies which is the most important aspect in writing any kind of music, and I think he will grow and improve as he writes more and increases his experience.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

VERDICT: 7.2 out of 10

SINGLE REVIEW: Love Letter by Faceless Ones

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Faceless Ones are an alternative indie pop/rock outfit hailing from Baltimore, MD. They are now essentially a one man band consisting of 21 year old singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist Julian Coiner (he plays keyboards, bass and drums).

Founded in 2011, they were originally a five piece and then a three piece. They recorded their first EP South of Havens in 2012 and recorded one album Red and Subtract in 2014. Their music is comparable to bands like Vampire Weekend, The Strokes and Local Natives.

This track, Love Letter, was entirely written, performed and produced by Julian at Harbour Red Studios, engineered and mixed by Kenny Kings borough and Mark Richey. The music is sophisticated, creating a dreamy, almost surreal soundscape using atmospheric synths and a glockenspiel/music box style melody that runs throughout a lot of the song.

The beat is intricate and delicate, in a time signature that is unusual and difficult to place. This adds to the musical mystique and gives it a lilting feel, yet the music still flows naturally which is a neat trick to pull off. Julian has an expressive, distinctive voice that immediately grabs your attention and gives the music a strong sense of personality and emotional resonance.

The vocal melody is simple which nicely counterpoints and contrasts the complexities of the music. It doesn’t have a chorus as such and so the verse melody essentially acts as the main hook, which works effectively. Lyrically, it is just as sophisticated as the music, with Julian weaving finely written poetic imagery to great effect. The first verse sets the tone perfectly: “Crystal waters breaking ever near, breaths of life too far from where I’m dreaming…”.

The song’s subject matter is about longing for someone far away and he portrays this in a poetic and poignant way: “Woke myself to tears that dried up cold, salted by the ocean laid between us….”. In the third verse we hear the beautiful lines that inspire the song title: “Love the letters sent to you my dear, trapped my heart in old Italian parchment….”.

Overall, this is a highly impressive piece of work that shows a musical and lyrical maturity beyond his years. Despite its unconventional aspects that place it in the alternative category, the song is accessible and highly memorable. Its appeal lies beyond the alternative rock crowd owing to its melodic nature and beautiful lyrics, which anyone who has been in love will be able to relate to. An excellent track that should help place Faceless Ones firmly on the musical map and gain Julian Coiner recognition as a very gifted young artist.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

VERDICT: 9 out of 10

SINGLE REVIEW: Coffee Beans by Jehry Robinson

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Jehry Robinson is a reggae/ska/hip hop artist, songwriter and producer hailing from Long Island, New York. After growing up making tracks in his parents basement, he dropped out of college to record his first project and sold 4000 copies hand to hand. He eventually signed a deal with producer Jason Nevins and has performed with artists like Tyga, We The Kings and Slick Rick. He is due to release his debut album in 2015.

This track, Coffee Beans, is a languid paced reggae/ska track with a minimalist backing that allows the focus on the vocal melody. Over just pulsing, rhythmic organ and a soft beat, Jehry lays down an infectiously catchy vocal line that you soon find yourself humming along to, and only takes a couple of listens to permanently latch in your head.

He has a fine voice and is doubled up on certain lines by a deep, gravelly black man’s voice which adds to the authentic reggae vibe. The track’s main hook is lyrically mysterious which suits the quirky nature of the whole song: ‘Only in the summer keep me under your umbrella tonight…I can go and get your coffee, can forgive you if you’re sorry, but I’m pretty sure that you’re not… ‘

Overall, this is a deceptively catchy reggae track that becomes quickly addictive to listen to. He has forged his own distinctive style over the years and honed his craft to the point where he can lay claim to a unique sound. You can imagine this track being a firm favourite with fans, and will make him plenty more.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

VERDICT: 8.8 out of 10

SINGLE REVIEW: So Simple and Another Song by Lovers of Fiction

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Lovers of Fiction are a four piece alternative rock/pop band hailing from Portland, Maine. They were formed in an unusual way, when classical composer and  University music theory professor Dan Sonenburg decided to ask three of his students to form a band with him. They released a critically acclaimed three song EP, The Bear, in 2013 and are due to release their debut album this year.

This double A-side single (nice to know bands still release those!) is a taster of their forthcoming album, and both songs certainly merit A-side status. Their music shows traces of many influences such as Roxy Music and David Bowie, and they have an operatic/progressive element that lifts it outside of your usual rock/pop. All four members are excellent musicians, and all multi-instrumentalists.

So Simple is the more straightforward of the two songs, an upbeat piece of melodic rock with a 60’s vibe to the songwriting. What strikes you immediately is the musical chemistry, with Keith Moon-style drumming and rubber-band bass playing forming a great rhythm section, over which chugging guitars and quirky keyboards fill out the sound.

Vocally, Sonenburg sounds like an American Bryan ferry, backed up by some nice harmonies. The lyrics are romantic but not in any clichéd way, and it makes for a perfect sugar rush of a pop song with an alternative edge.

Another Song, written by guitarist Jimmy Dority, shows their musical ambition and range as it has a sense of almost operatic grandeur that you’d compare with a band like Queen. It features a verse in 5/4 and a chorus in 6/8, constantly shifting and unpredictable chord changes that are almost Wagnerian and bursts of brilliant Brian May-esque lead guitar (from Dority and Mark Dennis). Somehow, this all hangs together and makes for a thrilling listen.

Overall, these two superb songs showcase a very gifted group who have the ambition to stretch the musical boundaries of the three/four minute song and the talent to pull it off. The whole band are pulling in the same direction and play for the song, despite their obvious virtuosity. Lovers of Fiction are one of the best bands I’ve heard for some time, and I can’t wait to hear their album.

 

Alex Faulkner

 

VERDICT: 9.2 out of 10