SINGLE REVIEW: I Encourage You feat. Myra Maimoh (Ebenholz remix) by Vin Deca

Vin Deca is a songwriter/composer as well as producer/mixer originally from Cameroon but now based in Germany. This particular song was originally released in 2011 as a contemporary pop song, but Vin Deca noted how it seemed to stay relevant and he decided to remix it in a modern style. After four doing remixes, he discovered the Ebenholz remix, this version, found most favour with radio stations.

The song begins with not so much an intro but a prelude to the verse, with a four to the floor beat starting straight away, a sense of tension created by the filtered vocal and whirling rising synth. The beat then drops out to just light percussion and we hear Myra Maimoh crystal clear for the first time without effects. She has a fantastic voice, similar to Nicole Sherzsinger, which really shines on the chorus that begins just 45 seconds into the track.

A short instrumental follows after the chorus, a beautiful melody played by a trumpet before another verse and bridge, then second chorus. The contrast between verse and chorus is large as it should be for a dance track with the chorus lifting the track every time. The overall sound is very current, similar to other pop-dance artists like Clean Bandit and Avicii. After a sparse third verse there is a short build, then a final chorus to complete the song.

Overall, an excellent remix and production of a very good pop song that should make Vin Dead more well known, brilliantly sung by Myra Maimoh, with huge potential to become both a hit in the clubs as well as on radio due to its highly commercial sound and infectious melody.


Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10









REVIEW: The Start Of Something, Mountains by Kazuki James


Kazuki James is a writer, producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Manchester. After years working and touring as a guitarist as well as live sound engineer, he also writes and self-produces his own music in his studio. The music is instrumental, combining several genres to create a sophisticated overall sound that is difficult to pigeonhole, so I won’t try, but incorporates elements of classical, electronica and rock to create a unique fusion.

The Start Of Something begins with a haunting piano motif in a minor key, drenched in luscious reverb, setting an intriguing mood immediately. The sense of tension is maintained as a synth and simple hi hat pattern enter, then builds further with a pulsing bass playing the same one note. This leads to the emergence of a full beat, a steady rock groove with a crisp, punchy drum sound.

The piano motif then returns along with some atmospheric synth pads that nicely fill out the sonic spectrum, and the chord progression allows the bassline to develop more, the fluid bass playing bringing to mind Jah Wobble. Around the two minute mark the tension is heightened once more by offbeat tom fills and some quirky electronic sounds.

There is a great sense of momentum by this point and it culminates in a great burst of rich low-end electric guitar chords and pounding crash cymbals. This is augmented by a high end synth riff that gives the sound a prog rock feel which continues till the return to the first section. The chord progression now ascends with a rising bassline before the heavy chords section returns once more.

The beat then changes from half-time to full-time which is a highly effective way of reaching a climactic point, aided by a chiming lead guitar melody. This all leads to an epic ‘blow out’ finish as the music slows down gradually amidst a wash of cymbals and synth sounds. This is an excellent instrumental with an intelligent structure. It might be interesting to let a singer come up with a topline vocal melody, as it could potentially make a great song too.

The second track Mountains is a different beast altogether. Whereas The Start Of Something melded different styles, this piece, also instrumental, is more easily classified as ambient or electronica. It begins with a minute of ominous, brooding low synths and atmospheric noises that combine to create a rather saturnine, evocative soundscape that grips the listener.

Again, as with the first track, a sense of tension is cleverly maintained by the gradual introduction of new elements. Around ninety seconds in, a slow, pulsing groove enters with certain elements drenched in delay, contributing to the epic feel. With a low synth playing a simple but effective melody and a static atmospheric pad holding one chord, the music has an almost mesmeric quality to it.

Around two minutes thirty another synth melody is introduced, this time in the upper register and is effective dynamically after the gradually morphing and sparse melodies that preceded it. This continues till near the end of the track before it fades out in a sea of atmospherics, much as it began. The more understated nature of this piece acts as a nice counterpoint to the more dynamic, upbeat style of The Start Of Something.

Overall, these are two very well executed and professionally produced instrumentals. Both the playing and programming are also of a high standard and the arrangements show imagination and good understanding of musical structure. While they stand alone perfectly well as simply pieces for listening, both tracks would be suitable as background music for film or television, even as a soundtrack for a computer game, another potential avenue. I look forward to hearing more of his work in the future.



Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.2 out of 10



REVIEW – Ed Layne: Sea Is Raging, Keep on Rolling, Five Days From Home, Maple Street, Vicious Circle

ED LAYNE Ed Layne is a one-man band, a multi-instrumentalist of the hard rock/blues persuasion hailing from Northern California. His voice is rather reminiscent of Neil Young but from the numerous meaty riffs present on these songs, you can tell Ed is a major fan of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. As you listen to these five tracks, prog-rock influences such as Yes and Rush emerge through the more sophisticated touches and epic structures.

Sea Is Raging is the shortest of the five at nearly five minutes, but is quite an epic in itself. The music mirrors the title perfectly, a veritable tsunami of sound cooked up by a wall of heavy guitars and drums, contrasted nicely by Layne’s voice. The lyrics are suitably apocalyptic and seem to be about the dark times the world is going through, but with a sense of perspective: “In a hundred years this won’t matter much, its just another generation that’s out of touch…”.

The modulation at around the three-minute mark is something you wouldn’t find in standard blues-rock and there is none of the self-indulgent lead guitar noodling some associate with this genre. Every solo is effective and tightly constructed, always adding to the music. Second track Keep on Rolling is a stark contrast, a mid-paced country rock ballad that show’s Layne’s gentler side and is another well-crafted track, with nice acoustic guitar work.

Third track Five Days From Home blends the style of the first two tracks, starting with a Stairway To Heaven type acoustic section then exploding into another colossal riff and climaxing with another enjoyable Tony Iommi-style solo. Tracks four and five, Maple Street and Vicious Circle, are both great upbeat rockers featuring some fantastically mellifluous guitar runs. Virtuosity nearly always seems to go hand in hand with the desire to ‘show off’, but Ed always plays for the song, not his ego.

Overall, these five songs comprise an extremely enjoyable half hour of carefully crafted rock music that melds its influences into something potent, breathing some new life into a genre that some feel has ‘all been done’. By taking the best elements of his favourite bands and adding his own twist, Ed Layne has shown that rock is far from dead and I’d recommend that everyone should check out his music, and turn up the volume.


Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10



SINGLE REVIEW: Crazy Heart by Matthew Schultz ft. Alessia Guarnera (Released 2nd May 2014)

Hailing from New Jersey, Matthew Schultz is making big waves in the music industry, with his first single Money or Me creating a huge impact. This track, which melded hip-hop with a rock element was produced by Armando Guarnera and earned him a nomination at the 2013 EOTM Awards, as well as one for Best New Male Artist. In a short time he has accumulated a huge fanbase and is currently at the top of the charts on Reverb Nation.

However, he’s no newcomer to the industry, having played guitar in Chris Daughtry’s first band, and then venturing into other areas of the entertainment industry, landing a role in The Dark Knight Rises. Now having returned to his musical roots with the very successful Money or Me,¬†his next single Crazy Heart looks set to be a surefire smash as well.

The track is a laid-back but emotive hip-hop ballad about a troubled relationship, propelled by funky acoustic guitar and snappy finger clicks. It builds gradually, we don’t hear a kick drum enter until two minutes in, and grabs your attention from the start. Rather than huge layers of production, Crazy Heart lets the song do the talking, the vocals taking prominence over a fairly sparse but effective backing.

Vocal duties are shared with the breathy, soulful voice of Alessia Guarnera, who brings to mind a cross between Janis Joplin and Rihanna. Alessia, from Brooklyn, New York, is the daughter of producer Armando and a singer-songwriter in her own right. She carries the memorable hook of the song, which it begins with, singing poignant lines such as ‘You build me up, you break me down, I never know my place…’.

Her high-register vocals are contrasted nicely by Schultz’ deep, gravelly tones, who details two lovers in turmoil in the verses. The lyric depicts two people very much in love, but struggling to remain faithful in the face of temptation (”I don’t wanna be that guy, and you don’t wanna be that girl” Schultz sings with sadness in his voice), a timeless theme we can all relate to. Schultz’ voice is not usually the kind you hear on a hip-hop track and the slight rock element that it brings makes the track fresh and original.

From his rapid rise, it would be fair to say that Matthew Schulz has all the credentials for huge success. Combining suave good looks with a distinctive voice and a fresh sound, it seems only a matter of time before he becomes a household name. Great tracks like this one should ensure that his ascendance continues to be meteoric.

With his first single racking up millions of YouTube views, Schultz already has a plethora of fans waiting to hear his next material. They will be far from disappointed with this song which is both catchy and has the emotional weight to get inside people’s hearts and heads. You could well be hearing this a lot over the summer.


Verdict: 9/10

Alex Faulkner