SINGLE REVIEW: West Coast by Yam Haus

Yam Haus - Album Cover

Yam Haus are a four piece pop-rock band hailing from Hudson, Wisconsin. Having met as classmates, the group consists of vocalist/guitarist Lars Pruitt, Seth Blum on electric guitar, Zach Heinlein on bass and Jake Felstow on drums. Despite forming only recently, they have already written and recorded their debut album Stargazer and amassed a huge following on social media, gaining acclaim for their live performances along the way.

This song, West Coast, is an upbeat pop/rock track with an infectious summer vibe. Musically, they incorporate the funk-influenced sound of Maroon 5, while Lars Pruitt’s likeable, radio friendly vocals will be popular with Ed Sheeran fans. They also have a strong EDM influence, reflected in the synth sounds and melodies as well as the production.

Lyrically, it is romantic in theme, with the West Coast a metaphor for harbouring feelings for someone: “I’ve been hanging on the West Coast of my heart, right where I meant to from the start...”. The song is well written and structured, with every section catchy and memorable aided by some fine guitar lines and Calvin Harris-esque synth melodies.

Overall, this is an excellent track that has its finger on the pulse in terms of combining the most currently popular styles, pop and EDM. With its pristine, high quality production it’s just about perfect for radio and streaming playlists, and in Lars Pruitt they have a charismatic lead vocalist. There’s every chance that this group could achieve success on a par with the current luminaries in the pop world, and this song should be another step towards global domination.


VERDICT =  8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Never Wanna Leave by Xavier Toscano

feels so good

Xavier Toscano is a singer/performer and pop artist hailing from San Jose, CA. He’s been singing since 2008 and has accumulated a large fanbase on social media. His music is most definitely in the pop category, and he cites his influences as Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Rihanna and Madonna. He’s an independent artist and releases his music through his own record label, CBM.

This song, Never Gonna Leave, is an upbeat dance-pop track with a strongly commercial sound. Starting with EDM-style synth riffs, a pulsing 2/4 dance beat kicks in with a buzzing synth bass. Xavier enters with an instantly catchy vocal melody which builds to an equally memorable chorus, aided by a swirling synth arpeggio that adds rhythmic energy and momentum.

The production and overall style/sound is reminiscent of the hi-NRG pop that dominated the charts in the late 80’s, when Stock, Aitken and Waterman ruled the pop roost. Xavier has a natural voice for up tempo pop and delivers a fine performance here. Lyrically, it is fairly standard fare and not the focal point in this genre.

Overall, this is a well produced and performed dance-pop fusion that is perfect for both mainstream radio and the dancefloor. No doubt it is already a big success with his existing fanbase, and I can see him reaching an even bigger audience as Never Gonna Leave has appeal right across the board.

VERDICT: 7.8 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Mean Machine by Fatty Boomba

MM COVER 3_preview

Fatty Boomba hail from Melbourne, Australia and are the musical brainchild of Peter Josef Hofbauer (PJ). Having reached the top 10 of the International Songwriting Contest, they released their debut single It’s The Life to great acclaim, launching it to thousands on The Kyle and Jackie O Show. In 2016, they picked up airplay on hundreds of commercial and alternative networks nationally and will be releasing a new E.P. in 2018 called Girls Girls Girls!

This track, Mean Machine, starts with a four note pulsing synth and handclaps, the vocals entering confidently. They are soon aided by a pounding four-to-the-floor beat with strident lyrics to match: “I’m so dynamite, two thousand Fahrenheit….”. It breaks down for the bridge section using which works as a pre-chorus, building to the full chorus section with effective momentum and musical tension.

The chorus hook is simple and instantly memorable: “I’m a steam train rollin’ around, I’m a mean machine running it down…”, with a nice harmony on the repeat. The second verse digs a little deeper lyrically, giving the song a bit more edge: “Been beaten down, been kicked around, pushed out of line….”. It then adds a variation on the main melody after the second chorus, before returning to the main hook to wrap it up nicely.

Overall, this is a highly effective pop/EDM track that combines a pop song structure with the elements of EDM that are needed to get people’s feet moving on the dancefloor. The song is packed with catchy hooks, especially the killer chorus, giving it an appeal that will go far beyond dance fans and should go down a storm with the Maroon 5 crowd. With such a strong musical persona, Fatty Boomba have every chance of making a big name for themselves, especially with more music as good as this.



VERDICT: 8.5 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

ALBUM REVIEW: Bernie Journey (remastered) by Bernie Journey



Bernie Journey is a singer/songwriter hailing from New York. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio into a musical environment. He made his first recordings and EP with Lady Gaga’s first producer Joe Vulpis. In 2013, he rose to no.1 on the New York City Dance Charts with singles from his sophomore album release The World In The Eye of The Beholder.

This eponymous debut album has already been released to acclaim from critics and fans but has now been digitally remastered and scheduled for re-release on September 22, 2015. It was produced by Joe Vulpis and Dave ‘The Rave’ Rickard and also contains two new acoustic tracks produced by Peter Litvin, as well as a radio edit to go with the original eight tracks.

His musical style is commercial pop/RnB in the vein of Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake and, in particular, George Michael. Bernie has a distinctive, radio friendly voice and the first track Jump In And Out Of My Love is a fine start to the album. It is a moody, seductive mid paced pop song with a laid back dance groove and a jazzy chord progression. He gives an understated vocal performance that draws you in, backed by subtle synth, strings and acoustic guitar.

Second track Wounded Child has a funky groove, driven along by choppy wah-wah guitar. It has a real 70’s funk sound, aided by some smoky Rhodes piano and a biting lead guitar solo. The string arrangement also adds to the vibe, Bernie delivering some delicately sensual crooning backed by some fine harmonies.

Ran Away From Me continues the soulful feel, this one a slinky track based around a descending chord sequence that adds organ to the musical blend. Lyrically, it’s about being deserted by a lover and there are some strong emotions expressed in the lyrics: “I should try and wish you well, seems all I can do is hope you go to hell…”, then softening the blow with “but maybe that’s going a little bit far…”.

Say A Prayer is a real change of pace, just picked acoustic guitar and a superb vocal performance from Bernie. This kind of song is where he gets to show his songwriting craft, with a well structured chord progression. Lyrically, it is very moving, about remembering a loved one who has passed over: ‘Just remember that they’ve gone to some place better’. A highlight of the album for me. Only My Love returns to the pop/RnB style of earlier tracks while What Happened To Our Love? is a melancholy RnB song with an excellent bassline and nice flourishes of Spanish-style acoustic guitar. It features a very George Michael-style croon from Bernie.

Set Me Free has a nice, swinging RnB groove and a soul/gospel vibe with a reappearance of organ and some wonderfully arranged stacked vocal harmonies. Memories Of You is the original final track of the album and it’s another classy, well written ballad, this one with a decidedly 80’s sounding production. On this re-release there is also a radio edit of Ran Away From Me and lovely acoustic versions of Only My Love and Set Me Free.

Overall, this is a very fine pop album that has been superbly written, performed and produced. Stylistically, it often harks back to the clean, very commercial sound of late 80’s pop music and the recent chart success of Jason Derulo’s 80’s-influenced pop shows perhaps this is a timely re-release.


Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.6 out of 10