SINGLE REVIEW: Boomerang by Saba Brothers

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https://www.s3sababrothers.com/

https://www.facebook.com/s3sababrothers/

Saba Brothers are a three piece pop/rock group consisting of three brothers, Raymond, Steven and Nathan who are based in Sydney, Australia. They formed in 2010 as youngsters and eventually began writing original material to go along with their popular cover versions, which they performed at numerous venues in their region. They released their first single Walk Away in 2018 which was a success, going on to release several singles from their Life EP and then another single, Smile.

This track, Boomerang, is their latest single and shows them beefing up their signature sound and giving it a rockier edge. From its opening bars, the crunchy guitars and lead guitar lines grab your attention but Saba Brothers still retain their accessible pop side.

Breaking down to acoustic guitar for the first verse, the electric guitars return for the ultra catchy chorus which is augmented by vocal harmonies. Rather like other groups such as the Beach Boys and Bee Gees, these brothers have a natural vocal blend that gives them a rich, distinctive sound.

The three members are all excellent musicians and work well as a tight musical unit. Lyrically, the song has quite a profound spiritual message for a three minute song that can be summed up as “you reap what you sow” and what you give out to the world you will eventually receive in return. After the second chorus, they let rip with a very well constructed guitar solo performed by Raymond, something you don’t hear enough of in the mainstream anymore.

Overall, this is an infectious rock track from a talented trio of brothers who are completely in sync with each other musically. The years of playing together have paid off and they’ve developed their songwriting and sound to a level where they stand poised to take their success to the next level. With wide ranging appeal to both rock and pop fans, the sky is truly the limit for the Saba Brothers.

 

VERDICT = 8.6 out of 10

 

Alex Faulkner

 

SINGLE REVIEW: Race Against Time by Bianca Modesti

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https://www.bianca-modesti.com

Bianca Modesti is a singer and songwriter born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. She has been under the mentorship of her singing teacher Steven Zammit and as spent the last year working on original solo material. She has already performed at numerous venues and the result of her labours in the studio has been a 5 track EP, Race Against Time. She regards her influences as artists like Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys and Pharell Williams as well as great singers from the past like Etta James.

This song is the title track from her EP and makes a strong showcase for her singing and songwriting skills. The track is an interesting blend of R&B, pop and rock. It begins with just her charismatic vocals singing the chorus hook, set to rhythmic acoustic guitar. We then hear a funky guitar lick, with some clever dynamics such as the drums briefly dropping out. The verse breaks down to just piano and tom-tom heavy drums before the bridge creates an effective tension for the explosive chorus.

This is where Bianca gets to display her powerhouse voice, with an Aguilera-esque range and a tone akin to Alicia Keys. However, the chunky low-end electric guitars give her music a unique sound that helps it stand apart from the crowd. The chorus has an excellent vocal melody and lyrics that capture the world’s obsession with chasing fame: “Reality is getting the better of me cos I can’t escape into my MTV….”. The words also subtly pay tribute to the late, great Prince with the line, “Wish I could party like it was ’99….”. Later in the song, she shows her fine ability to vocally extemporize with control.

Overall, this is a debut release of the highest calibre from a hugely gifted female singer/songwriter. Her singing voice is exceptional but augmented by refined songwriting skills, a vital string to her bow in an era where great vocals are not enough. She has emerged with a musical style that is a little different to what’s currently out there, whilst retaining a commercial and accessible sound. Bianca Modesti has the potential to become as successful as her artistic idols and she should have a very bright future ahead of her.

 

VERDICT = 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: I Might by SNY

SNy I mgight

https://www.sonnystoj.com/home/

SNY is a hip-hop artist hailing from the Gold Coast in Australia. He’s been making music from a young age, teaming up with music producer Jacob Rohde after high school and they have been now working for five years together. He considers his main influences to be Michael Jackson, Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa. He’s released several tracks including Livin’, Fountain, Drip Walk and Moncler as well as an EP, The Distance Between Dreams.

This track, I Might, has already amassed over 200,000 views on YouTube. It’s a laid back hip-hop track that begins with vibrant strings that recur throughout to excellent effect. Starting with vocal refrains and effects, SNY enters with an assured rapping style that suits the vibe of the music perfectly. The beat is intricate, constantly morphing and progressing with a fine detail to detail and the rhythm is augmented by deep dub bass, which means the track will kick in the clubs.

Lyrically, I Might is essentially an ode to the joys of a hedonistic lifestyle full of girls, money and enjoying certain substances which SNY portrays very entertainingly in a Wolf of Wall Street kind of way: “I want to f*** for no reason….”. The cut-up vocals between verses act as a very catchy hook and a nice contrast to the rapped verses.

Overall, this is a fine hip-hop track by an artist who has honed his style to perfection and knows exactly what he’s about. Its the perfect soundtrack to a party with its summery vibe and SNY proves he has the emcee skills to compete with the best in the business. This track has already been a major success, so the future is looking very bright for this young Australian rapper.

 

VERDICT = 8.5 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Bout It by BIG KIDD

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BIG KIDD is a rapper/hip-hop artist hailing from Western Australia. Despite being currently unsigned, his music has already made a strong impact and drawn a considerable fanbase online. He has co-produced and released several tracks, collaborating with studio owner Rob Shaker and engineer Uncle Sam, as well as rapper COMPLETE.

So far, he has released original material including T.W.N.M.H (They Were Never My Homies) and Smash N Dash, along with versions of tracks by 50 Cent and Eminem. A couple of months back I gave a rave review to his blistering track, Bk.

This latest track, Bout It, clocks in at only ninety seconds but those ninety seconds are the most exciting I’ve heard in hip-hop since Eminem was at his peak. It begins with ominous piano chords, setting the tone for BIG KIDD’s explosive, hyper intense lyrical delivery. The track addresses those who have been trash talking him, but he is not concerned: “Boys talkin’ out their mouth but they really ain’t about it...”.

An addictive and infectious beat kicks in, allowing him to show his rhythmic dexterity and control, the rhymes coming thick and fast. While he does bravado and fighting talk in style, there’s an extra depth and honesty to his lyrics as he’s very open about the struggles he’s endured along the way: “Paranoia on my mind…….been through a lot of pain, a lot of misery, so putting you down ain’t sh*t…are you kidding me?“. The last thirty seconds reaches an electrifying level of intensity, ending with the chilling sound of gunshots.

Overall, this is another knockout track from a passionate hip-hop artist who is fast becoming Australia’s answer to Eminem. He’s no pale imitator though, taking aggression and brutal, unrelenting emotional honesty to the next level. With continued output of this quality, BIG KIDD could well become the next big thing in the hip hop scene.

 

VERDICT = 8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Something Else by Tim Spriggs

Tim Spriggs - Something Else (Cover).jpg

www.timspriggs.com

Tim Spriggs is a singer and songwriter hailing from Australia. He grew up in an environment surrounded by music, learning guitar along the way. Over the past ten years he has been honing his songwriting craft and this has culminated in the release of his first material, a five song EP called Something Else, with this being the title track and lead single. His music is essentially in the genre of acoustic pop though he has stated that he listens to a wide array of artists and genres.

To my ear, Tim Spriggs belongs in a long lineage of acoustic singer/songwriters and troubadours. His finger picking style recalls classic songwriters of the past like Nick Drake and Cat Stevens, along with more modern artists like Ed Sheeran and George Ezra. Vocally, Tim is blessed with a rich baritone voice, singing in a low register similar to Ezra and not sounding unlike fellow Australian Nick Cave at times.

Something Else is exquisitely recorded, consisting of crystal clear acoustic guitar and vocals, at least to begin with. The song is about individuality and making your own choices despite the influence of others: “They tell me what I want, maybe it’s what I need….but I want something else…”. The first section features some fine Nick Drake-esque finger picking from Spriggs, who has developed a unique style as a guitarist.

This minimal style is nice contrasted by a 2/4 section featuring some Western-style whistling and tastefully driven electric guitar. The resulting sound is very polished and radio friendly, which bodes well for his commercial prospects. More importantly, the song has a memorable hook and an emotive quality that is best described as ‘real’, clearly written from the heart.

Overall, this is an extremely accomplished song from an artist who has emerged fully formed and hit the ground running. He has developed his own style so that he stands out from the crowd yet would not sound out of place next to similar sounding artists on mainstream radio, a difficult and vital balancing act. I expect his music to gain rapidly in popularity and the release of his debut album could make a seriously strong impact on the music world.

 

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Bk by BIG KIDD

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BIG KIDD is a rapper/hip hop artist hailing from Western Australia. Despite being currently unsigned, his music has already made a strong impact and drawn a considerable fanbase online. He has co-produced and released several tracks, collaborating with studio owner Rob Shaker and engineer Uncle Sam, as well as rapper COMPLETE. So far, he has released original material including T.W.N.M.H (They Were Never My Homies) and Smash N Dash, along with versions of tracks by 50 Cent and Eminem.

This track, Bk, shows an influence of the latter but BIG KIDD is certainly no pale imitation of Eminem. In fact, the sheer incendiary intensity of his delivery makes Eminem look like Ned Flanders. He has the two most important factors necessary for a great rapper, a strong facility for words and rhymes but, just as important, a good command of rhythm. BIG KIDD has these qualities in spades.

Across its two minute duration he gives an explosive performance of unrelenting rapid-fire rapping that showcases his skills to great effect, though it must be said that the lyrical content of Bk is graphic and not for the easily offended. On the addictive chorus hook he spits, “How I get this money? That’s none of your f***** business…” with such force that you can’t imagine anyone daring to ever ask that question.

Aside from his scene stealing performance and lyrical dexterity, credit should also go to the first rate production which can stand alongside anything that has emerged from the Dr. Dre or Jay-Z hip hop empires.

Overall, this is a short, sharp shock to the system from a hip hop artist who is clearly 100% real and means every word he says. This kind of authenticity in the music industry is rare, and in this era of increasingly Orwellian political correctness, his brutal honesty and anti-PC polarizing content has a part to play. With further releases of this quality, BIG KIDD will find himself being touted as Australia’s answer to Eminem.

 

VERDICT = 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Please Don’t Cry by Michael Burrows

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https://www.facebook.com/michaelburrowsmusic/

Michael Burrows is a singer/songwriter hailing from Australia. Despite this being his first official release, he has recorded original songs with the great Kiwi songwriter Neil Finn (who has just joined Fleetwood Mac) and has toured with Martha Wainwright. His music is highly melodic Americana-influenced pop/rock and you can hear the influences of his favourite artists (The Beatles, Wilco and Ron Sexsmith) in his songwriting.

He has been co-writing with Grammy award-winning artist Frank Myers and recorded an EP in Nashville. This debut single Please Don’t Cry is a perfect showcase of his gift for melody. Set to a finely crafted Beatles-esque chord progression full of sevenths, Burrows’ radio-friendly yet distinctive voice gives his music a style of his own. Starting with a simple lead guitar figure, beautifully recorded acoustic guitars form the bedrock of the sound.

Lyrically, it’s a bittersweet depiction of the end of a relationship, summed up with the lines: “A cover band have finished playing The Last Goodbye, but please don’t cry…”. There’s a number of nice, subtle production touches such as the blend of stacked vocal harmonies at certain moments, interspersed with biting Harrison-style lead guitar. The production as a whole is flawless, as you would expect from a recording in Nashville.

Overall, this is a hugely impressive debut release from an upcoming songwriter who has honed his craft to a high level and is clearly ready for the world stage. With a commercial sound, he offers the virtues of good old fashioned songwriting which almost seems sidelined in an era where EDM and hip-hop predominates. Please Don’t Cry should be the first step on the ladder towards a hugely successful and lengthy career.

 

VERDICT: 9 out of 10

 

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Killer by Collegians

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Collegians are a four-piece, alternative electro-rock band based in Melbourne, Australia. Formed in 2014, they have been busy recording their debut album and have already forged a distinctive sound; they combine the dark synth textures of Depeche Mode with the harder hitting rock aspects of bands like Muse and Linkin Park as well as the anthemic elements of Imagine Dragons. They have already made a considerable impact with their first two singles Vaccine and Black Mass, which featured highly in several charts and was received to considerable acclaim from the critics.

I gave a glowing review to Collegians second single, Black Mass, released in late 2017. This song, Killer, is slightly heavier and harder hitting, while retaining their keen pop sensibility for creating hooks that are, well, killer. Starting with a moody synth melody, singer Glenn Patrick lays down a captivating vocal performance about a femme fatale. Combined with a raw, gritty electronic backing and a pulsating beat, it results in what is now their signature sound.

There’s a subtle reference to the Queen classic Killer Queen in the opening verse, another band who fused rock with other genres in inventive ways. As expected from this band, it builds to an epic chorus that is instantly distinctive and anthemic: “We’re praying for you, we’re praying for you…”. After the second chorus, it enters a breakdown section that forms the lyrical crux of the song (“There comes a day where something’s gotta break) and culminates in a magnificent lead vocal crescendo, before blasting through the chorus one last time.

Overall, this is yet another single of the highest quality from a band who are fusing rock and electronica in a way that results in a cutting edge form of modern pop, that will appeal to both the rock and pop crowds. Collegians songs are designed to sound huge and be sung along to by huge numbers. With three fantastic singles now under their belt, the world is theirs for the taking.

VERDICT: 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Worried About You by RaR ft. J. Burney

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RaR are an EDM duo hailing from Sydney, Australia. They are currently known to the world as Rich and Raymo, with Rich having been involved in the dance music industry for some time, working in venues all around the world, including London. Raymo, until recently, had not been involved with music, but in 2017 they decided to join forces and commit to their great passion for dance music on a full-time basis.

Following on from their last single Darkness (featuring Elizabeth Robinson), this single Worried About You (this time featuring the vocal talents of J. Burney) is a distinct change of pace for Rich and Raymo. Worried About You is a modern pop/EDM ballad in the style of Justin Bieber.

Starting simply with subtle synths and finger clicks, the vocals enter with the line, “Stop, I need an answer….”. The song is about trying to move on from a relationship, but still caring about someone, which many will relate to. Burney has a fine voice with an excellent range, which has been produced exquisitely by the RaR team. It reaches the standard necessary to compete with the slick polished sound we hear in the charts, with impressive use of reverb and delay.

Burney’s range manifests itself on the gentle, emotive bridge before entering the mellow but memorable chorus with its effective refrain: “I’ve been trying to move on but I cant, cos I’m still worried about you…”. A four to the floor beat enters on the repeat which adds a slight dance feel. The middle eight features a nice piano line which returns in the halftime and break-down choruses that bring the track to a close.

Overall, this is a first-rate pop production from the RaR boys. Whilst still keeping one foot in the EDM world, this song shows another side to their oeuvre. In J. Burney they have found a brilliant vocalist who performs this song with sensitivity and style. With its radio friendly sound and catchy chorus, it has an appeal right across the board and should be another successful release for RaR. They are going from strength to strength.

VERDICT: 8.2 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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E.P. REVIEW: Smoking Martha

EPCOVER Smoking Martha are a five-piece rock band hailing from the Brisbane and Gold Coast area of Australia. They were formed by feisty lead singer Tasha D and guitarist Mick Broome through their shared love of rock ‘n roll. After completing their line-up, they performed all over Australia and won the popular vote to support legendary US group Everclear. They are now ready for the world stage with the release of this eponymous 5-track E.P.

Produced superbly by Powderfinger’s Ian Haug, the song Sweet As Honey has already been released as a single and received airplay on Australian and US radio. It’s a great introduction to the Smoking Martha sound; starting with distorted, fuzzy bass and raw sounding drums, Tasha D’s sultry voice then grabs your attention.

Female fronted rock groups are few and far between, mainly as it takes a powerful voice to compete with a wall of electric guitars. This poses no problem for Tasha D; her throaty, rasping vocals and wide range enable her to dominate the anthemic raucous chorus, backed by a catchy guitar riff guaranteed to get your head nodding involuntarily.

Even if you weren’t blown away by Sweet As Honey as I was, you will be by All Lit Up, which turns the amps up to eleven and proceeds at a lightning pace. Starting with another killer guitar riff, it storms into the verse then finds another gear for the raging chorus, with Tasha D howling “I’m on my knees now…all lit up“, as the band go hell for leather. I enjoyed the moody middle section which builds to a tumultuous climax, leading to a final chorus. It is my personal favourite of the five tracks here.

Fake Promises continues the consistently high-class songwriting and displays their innate understanding of how to build a track, layering their riffs gradually and making excellent use of dynamics. After the second chorus a short half-time section leads into a blistering guitar solo, all the more effective because not every song contains one, a complaint often levelled at classic rock bands who overused them.

The momentum and energy carries on with Bad Choices, which is another excellent hybrid of classic and modern rock styles. It features a nice ascending guitar line at the start, then on the punch-the-air chorus we can hear a rolling Sweet Child O’ Mine-style riff in the background, which works well with the vocal melody. Loved the femme fatale line “I’m too bad for you to love….”, plus the drop-out section where we just hear Tasha D’s vocals is very effective as a dynamic.

Heavy Heart is a big contrast to the other tracks, a soulful, moody and emotive slow burner of a song. It’s the closest they come to a standard ballad, with some surprisingly poetic lyrics: “From the stars in the sky to the dust at your feet…”. Tasha delivers a passionate and intense vocal performance with some unexpectedly delicate and intricate guitar lines showing this band is far more than just supercharged rock ‘n roll.

Overall, this is a formidable start to this band’s musical output and has already made a strong impact, even beyond their native country. With flawless production, consistently strong songs and few competitors in their genre, (how many good female-fronted rock bands can you think of out there, right now?) they will find it easier to find a niche and media angle than most bands. I think they could become the biggest band to come out of Australia since INXS.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 9 out of 10