E.P. REVIEW: Bodhi by Apollo Soul

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Apollo Soul is the artistic moniker of Taylor Doerfler, a singer/songwriter, rapper, mix engineer and producer from Buffalo, NY. Having previously collaborated with other artists and producers, he made the decision in 2018 to set out on his own path. Since that decision he has been very prolific, releasing Scattered Thoughts Vol. 1 then the albums Reborn, Apologies, Roses and 2019’s XCIV.

This EP, Bodhi, consists of four tracks. The EP opens with the hard hitting Xo, which starts with a delicate guitar figure before Apollo Soul’s compelling vocals and lyrical narrative grab your attention. He depicts someone in the throes of drug addiction with stark yet poetic imagery: “She got that ice in the mouth like a diamond veneer…“. From here the track develops into a cutting edge EDM track which showcases his skills as both singer and rapper, proving equally adept at both.

On My Grind is more upbeat, an anthemic EDM/rap track with an instantly memorable chorus: “I’ve been on my grind, trying to define this winding road inside my mind“. It features some incendiary fast flowing rapping on the verses that give the music an exhilarating feel and on this one in particular he sets out his stall as an extremely eloquent rapper with a breathtaking delivery. Combined with the poppy hook, it adds up to perfect material for a single.

Same Old You is again based on a recurring guitar line, a simple bedrock for Apollo to lay down some more rapid fire rhymes. It has another “reality check” vibe to the lyrics, as summed up succinctly by the title hook: “You got the same city with the same friends…you got the same problems as the old you“. Once again, with its radio friendly sound and catchy hook, it would make a good choice as a single.

Purple Rain is not a cover of the Prince classic but another entertaining ode to the hedonistic side of life: “Last night I woke up on the pavement“. This one is driven by crunchy, funky guitar which works with the infectious beat and the EDM sound of the rest of the track. Although the tone is decidedly upbeat once again, Apollo Soul doesn’t shy away from the dark side of excess: “What you hate most you come and do again“. A very fine way to finish.

Overall, this is a brilliant EP that maintains a high degree of lyrical and musical quality across the four tracks. Apollo Soul has honed his skills as singer, rapper, writer and producer to perfection and most importantly his music is completely fitting with the current zeitgeist. With material as good as this, I can see him being hailed as the next Mackelmore and hopefully he achieves similar success.

 

VERDICT= 9 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Don’t You Dare! by Red Tan

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https://www.facebook.com/redtanofficial/

Red Tan is a female electro pop artist originally from the Philippines. She has studied and performed music from aged 16 and performed worldwide as a jazz singer. After meeting her husband, music was put on the back burner for motherhood, but he encouraged her to get back into music and she got a spot at the World Championships of Performing Arts. Tragically, she then lost her husband to the dengue virus but she bravely carried on to win two medals. She’s since reach the grand finals of Open Mic Uk, performing at the O2 Arena.

This track, Don’t You Dare!, is part of an EP dedicated to her late husband. It’s a feisty and upbeat electro pop song that encapsulates her strength and resilience of character. The track starts with a message to anyone who has tried to hold her back: “Thanks to all of you who put me down….”.

Her voice is as strong as her character and as the music progresses her versatile vocal range and distinctive tone come to the fore. The contrast between the relatively sparse verses and the huge choruses is effective, as is the breakdown bridge which begins: “Without you I wouldn’t be where I am…..you made me realize how strong I am”.
It builds to a powerful and anthemic chorus, Red Tan defiantly singing, “I am tough, you won’t wreck me….”. She is bolstered by a punchy beat that shows an influence of dubstep along with modern sounding synths, produced to perfection.

Overall, this is an inspiring and empowering electro pop track from a highly gifted artist who’s had to overcome considerable adversity. With a very strong voice well suited to radio, the catchy and instantly memorable Don’t You Dare! seems like the perfect song to project her on to the world stage for what will undoubtedly be a long and successful career.

 

VERDICT= 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Buzzy Bees Are Everywhere by Deltiimo & The Grandkids

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https://www.facebook.com/DeltiimoMusic/

Deltiimo are a dance/EDM music production and songwriting team led by veteran British songwriter/producer Gary Louca. They formed in 2017 when Gary Louca teamed up with international songwriter and producer Bradon Grobler. Their first song Lazy Summer Days (ft. Lisa) was a success and they followed it with Now Sing Out Loud (ft. Amba Tremain & Devin Jade) which hit no. 1 on several DJ Pool charts. Deltiimo have now produced an album’s worth of material which will feature an eclectic range of EDM styles from Tropical House to Future Bass.

This track, Buzzy Bees Are Everywhere, is an interesting and unusual collaboration as it features the vocal and lyrical contributions of Gary Louca’s granddaughters! It’s an infectious and incredibly catchy pop/EDM song mostly written by Gary Louca, with the music produced by Bradon Grobler (from Holland).

With its tropical sounding, pulsating synths that begin the track it immediately captures a summery vibe, backed by a languid ‘four to the floor’ beat. The verse contains an entertaining spoken word monologue delivered by Louca’s granddaughter but it’s the chorus hook that grabs you on the first listen, with some cute lyrics: “Buzzy bees are everywhere, playing with their friends, floating in the candyfloss field”. This is made even catchier by a refrain of “bama a lang alanga ding dong”.

The effect is gloriously addictive and after a couple of listens you will find yourself humming the melody. It naturally brought to mind the immensely popular children’s song Baby Shark, a song about a family of sharks that went viral and has now racked up billions of views on Youtube.

Overall, this is a charming and deceptively catchy pop/EDM track that has massive commercial potential. With its numerous vocal hooks and easy to learn lyrics, you can imagine it becoming enormously popular with both children and adults alike. The success of the aforementioned Baby Shark has set a precedent for this kind of fun dance track, and this could well turn out to be the biggest success of Deltiimo‘s career.

 

VERDICT = 8.6 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Eyes on You by Danjul

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Danjul is a singer/songwriter and performer based in Los Angeles. He has been developing his music since 2008, when he started searching for producers to collaborate with. In 2010 he started working with Matthew A. Nelson, who intuitively understood him as an artist. He cites his influences on his work as Michael Jackson, Missy Elliott,  Brandy, Justin Timberlake and Prince. In 2018, he released his debut album Origin of Times to great critical and public acclaim (you can read my highly favourable review here).

This track, Eyes on You, is an upbeat pop/EDM song that showcases the more commercial side of Danjul’s complex artistic persona. Starting with a simple guitar melody amidst a haze of futuristic production effects it builds in tension before exploding into the verse with an infectious dance beat.

Danjul’s distinctive lead vocals then take centre stage with a seductive vocal melody that captures the attention. The track is packed full of addictive melodic hooks from the verse refrain of “Don’t stop dreaming, move your body, lose your mind” to the euphoric title hook delivered in a high Justin Timberlake-style vocal register.

Danjul’s considerable vocal range comes to the fore and as the track progresses his voice is morphed through a range of cutting edge production techniques that gives it a decidedly modern and up to date sound. Aside from the track’s catchiness, the muscular beat and pulsing bassline is guaranteed to get people on the dancefloor and I can imagine this going down a storm in the clubs.

Overall, this is an excellent pop/EDM single from a versatile artist gifted with a fine voice for pop. Eyes on You is perfectly placed between pop and dance, so has the potential to be both a huge hit on radio and on the club scene. If there’s a track that could catapult Danjul into pop’s big league I’d be happy to put my money on this song. However, as long as he maintains this level of quality then major success is only a matter of time.

 

VERDICT: 9 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Go by Matthew Schultz

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Matthew Schultz is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer and performer who started out playing guitar in Chris Daughtry’s first band.  He has already made a strong impact on the music industry with his previous releases. His first single, Money or Me, was produced by Armando Guarnera and earned him a nomination at the 2013 EOTM Awards, as well as one for best new male artist. He followed this up with Crazy Heart (ft. Alessia Guarnera) in 2014, then in 2015 he released We Own The Night (feat. Jim Jones).

Last year, 2018, saw a plethora of successful releases for Matthew Schultz. In January, he released the single Promise For Keeps, following up with a version featuring Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian and an Electric Bodega remix in the following months.

That remix has accumulated a million plays on Spotify and the track became part of a viral craze on Instagram (#promiseforkeeps), featuring some of the biggest stars from NBC hit show World of Dance. Also hugely popular was another single, All Night Long, featuring Gyptian and Rico Tayla and Somewhere Far, which has racked up an enormous 5 million streams since its release last August.

This track, Go, continues the ‘chill vibe’ of Somewhere Far as well as being another solo release after several collaborations. Starting with blissed-out synths that set a mellow mood, Matthew’s distinctive lead vocals soon take centre stage. Musically, it feels like both a continuation and progression from his previous releases with elements of reggae, dancehall and EDM all fusing together into a seamless whole.

The way the track gradually builds is masterfully done, the music really beginning to cook around the first minute mark with the introduction of a pulsating, infectious beat that’s guaranteed to get people to the dancefloor. The exotic flourishes of instrumentation add to the summery feel of the overall sound, working in perfect harmony with the song’s lyrics.

The lyrics are about the idea of escaping to some distant exotic destination with a lover for the summer, something everyone can relate to. This spirit of adventure is captured in evocative lines like, “We can go anywhere you wanna go…ocean creeping on the shore, just relax, you need it more….”.

Overall, this is another fantastic solo track from Matthew Schultz that is absolutely tailor made for the dancefloor whilst also highly suitable for commercial radio. With its exotic sound, slick production, a catchy, memorable hook as well as the elements of dancehall/reggae, it’s hard to imagine a song more suitable for the hot summer months. As Schultz’s fanbase is now in the millions and growing exponentially, Go could well become a massive smash hit worldwide and rightly so.

 

VERDICT= 9.1 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: In Love by TheKunig

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TheKunig is the artistic moniker of electronica producer, musician and looper Micky C who hails from Derby, England. Specifically, his production skills include drum loops, sequencers, synths and bass. Under this moniker he has released several albums since 2015 including On The Canvas, Urban Album, Kunigunda, Coulda Tried Harder and his most recent album, Bloodline, released in March 2019. His music has been featured many times on one of the UK’s most prominent and important shows for breaking new artists, BBC Introducing.

This song, In Love, is an uptempo electronica/RnB track with a dubstep influence featuring a fine female vocalist, who gives a strong lead vocal performance. Beginning with an insistent riff set to a soft four-to-the-floor kick, the track soon bursts into life with a meaty, colossal-sounding beat augmented by a raw dubstep-tinged synth bass. This provides the sonic bedrock for a first rate vocal melody that works perfectly in tandem with the musical backdrop.

The track’s arrangement is very well constructed, managing to be catchy and memorable without being overly repetitive and maintaining its infectious energy to the very end. The vocals are enriched with some perfectly executed backing harmonies and the combination of a killer lead melody melded to a brilliant beat and bassline brought to mind The Weeknd’s modern classic Can’t Feel My Face.

Overall, this is a superb release from TheKunig, blending eclectic styles in a cohesive and masterly way. With cutting edge, modern sounding production combined with an irresistible vocal melody, In Love manages to balance being both perfect for mainstream radio as well as guaranteed to go down a storm in the clubs. After building up momentum for the last few years, In Love deserves to be the track that truly catapults TheKunig into the upper echelons of the charts.

 

VERDICT= 9.3 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Without You by Alex Costova

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/without-you-single/1380577411

Alex Costova (a.k.a. The Pianist of Dreams) is an up and coming singer and songwriter hailing from Boston, Massachusetts. He is a self taught musician and singer, with piano being his primary instrument. He began playing music at the tender age of eight and has been writing songs ever since. In 2018, he released the song Dreamer and has since been busy working on his first studio EP, See You In My Dreams, which is soon to be released. He also has aspirations to write scores for movies and short films.

This song, Without You, is a summery sounding pop/EDM track with elements of dancehall. Starting with a beautifully constructed, melodic piano introduction, Alex’s distinctive vocals enter drenched in rich reverb and slick production effects. The track is lifted by a laid back, very danceable RnB style beat and it is at this point in the song that we hear the memorable title hook.

Lyrically, it’s on the timeless theme of loving someone so deeply that you don’t know how you’d emotionally survive without them, something most will relate to. That feeling is conveyed by lines like, “I’ve been waiting my whole life for you….” and brought home by the stirring final choruses featuring the title refrain.

Overall, this is an impressive single release from Alex Costova which highlights his gifts as a singer, songwriter and pianist. The production is very classy and contemporary in style, perfectly suitable for mainstream pop radio but with its EDM overtones it would be equally popular in the clubs. For fans of acts like The Weeknd and Major Lazer, as well as pop/EDM fans in general, I can highly recommend the music of Alex Cordova and I’m sure this is a name the world will be hearing plenty more of in the future.

 

VERDICT= 8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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