SINGLE REVIEW: The Weekend by IAmOaks

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http://www.iamoaks.com

IAmOaks is a hip hop/RnB artist hailing from New York City. His previous releases include the singles Boom, Undaunted, Kickin It and Trap Goals (feat. Kridakal). His music is essentially a laid back form of hip hop with RnB elements, vocally delivered with his own unique style that lies halfway between rapping and singing.

This track, The Weekend, is a chilled hip hop track featuring the vocals of Tamara Nekola. It starts out with a brief spoken word intro before a languid but infectious hip hop beat kicks in. IAmOaks delivers the verse in an assured and relaxed style, with a natural talent for eloquent and free flowing rhymes.

His strong self belief shines through in the lyrics: “Confident…took my ego and polished it”. However he cleverly undercuts this with the instantly memorable sung chorus: “These times that I feel so good, only on the weekend, only for the weekend….”.

It’s a sentiment that most people will be able to relate to and will connect with quickly. The second verse maintains the high lyrical quality of the first, with some entertaining lines: “I’m like a diamond in the rough or you can call me Nemo…”. Besides the slinky beat, the track is nicely grooves along by the subtle but effective bassline and given a nice sonic shimmer by the synths in the background.

Overall, this is a fine hip hop/RnB track by a charismatic artist with his own natural style. The Weekend has that killer combination of a great hook with a relatable message and the summery vibe to the sound means it’s the perfect time of year to release it. I expect this track to exponentially expand the fan base for IAmOaks and bring him to a deservedly wider audience.

 

VERDICT = 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Come and Stay with Me by Phil Mitchell Band

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Phil Mitchell is a composer, author and musician hailing from Chicago and the members that comprise the Phil Mitchell Band are musicians native to that area. He started writing songs while still a child and has written music in an eclectic range of genres including jazz, classical, RnB, rock, blues and country. He has released several albums including Morning Star, Crossroads and America. The band formed back in 2004 and they have performed at a variety of venues whilst recording music in the studio.

This track, Come and Stay With Me, is an upbeat pop/rock song taken from their album Crossroads, with elements of 70’s rock such as musical virtuosity and an ambitious, epic arrangement. The sound is very musical with flamboyant, Rick Wakeman-style piano and equally florid guitars, providing the bedrock for Phil Mitchell’s assured vocal performance. The lilting verse melody latches quickly in the memory but its the surging passages of energetic musicianship that really set this apart from the pack.

The structure is unusual but highly effective and the longer the track goes on the more euphoric the instrumental sections become. Strident, octave-spanning piano duels with creamy electric lead guitar and synth strings driven by solid but inventive drumming, held in perfect balance by the vocal sections and the infectious title hook. This approach brought to mind the epic rock of the 70’s such as Queen and the operatic rock of Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf).

Overall, this is an immensely enjoyable rock/pop track that cleverly balances traditional verse and chorus songwriting with instrumental sections that allow the other members of the Phil Mitchell Band to shine. What is truly impressive is how the studio recording has effectively captured the energy of the musical performances and you can tell this is a band who have been playing a long time. It’s this kind of musical authenticity that is lacking from so much modern mainstream music, but fortunately Phil Mitchell and his gifted cohorts are here to help redress the balance.

 

VERDICT = 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

Visit the official website here

SINGLE REVIEW: Body Talk by JayQ

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JayQ is a singer, songwriter and rapper in the hip hop/RnB/dancehall genres and hails from New Orleans. He has been involved in music from an early age, honing his singing and performance skills while participating in his local church choir. Since then he has developed his own music and on his debut EP, JayQ 4U, he has collaborated with the Grammy award winning hit maker SOK07 (who wrote Drunk In Love by Beyoncé ft. Jay Z). He has also collaborated with the up and coming OBA.

This release, Body Talk, is his major release for the summer and it’s a slinky RnB/dancehall track with a decidedly sensual vibe. Starting out with a simple but effective synth melody, JayQ enters with sparse handclaps, which soon develops into a seductive beat that will lure people to the dance floor. Similarly, the arrangement is cleverly built up with subtle layers of synth and percussion brought in gradually.

JayQ has a naturally assured and relaxed style on the mic, with a distinctive style and artistic persona. The vocal melody is very influenced by dancehall and reggae and delivered with panache. The catchy “Talk to me, babe” hook quickly sticks in your mind.

Lyrically, it depicts a situation that many will relate to, about chasing after a woman who is playing hard to get but has a strong physical allure. This game of cat and mouse is captured in edgy, entertaining lines like, “You give me the cold shoulder when I try to get intimate…I’m like the Pentagon baby, I don’t negotiate with terrorists….”.

Overall, this is a perfect RnB/dancehall track for the summer by a naturally gifted up and coming artist. Designed for the dance floor but equally radio friendly (except for some suggestive lyrics, perhaps), this should help to put JayQ on the musical map and garner a wave of fans in the process. With further strong material in the future, he may find himself being hailed as the new Drake.

 

VERDICT = 8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Jealous by Violeta

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https://www.facebook.com/Violeta-Bozanic-230235573986828/

Violeta Bozanic is an Australian singer, songwriter and pianist but perhaps most notably a child prodigy who’s launching her pop career at the age of just eleven! She has competed in various talent competitions across Australia including Australia’s Got Talent and Talent Quests Australia, which she won. She also won the prestigious 2018 World Championships of Performing Arts.

She has now co-written her debut single Jealous with Dapo Torimiro (John Legend, Stevie Wonder And Justin Bieber) which was produced by the world renowned Jeffrey Weber.

Jealous is a flawlessly produced pop/RnB track that provides the perfect vehicle to showcase Violeta’s precious talent. Her singing voice is highly mature for her age and listeners will assume she’s in the age group of most pop stars just from the music alone.

Starting with a lovely acoustic guitar figure, this continues and provides the melodic bedrock for her lead vocals. Her voice is strong with a huge range, both low (for a female) to very high. This large vocal range is used as an effective dynamic, singing in a relatively low register on the verse before leaping up an octave for the chorus.

Again, the rhythms of the vocal melody are counterbalanced cleverly with long melodies on the verse contrasted with short, catchy refrains on the highly infectious chorus. The repetition of the title hook is very effective, along with the call and response backing vocals which feature some rich harmonies.

Lyrically, it’s a relatable tale of being messed around by someone trying to induce jealousy but becoming wise to it. The audience this track is aimed at will particularly resonate with the subject matter but its appeal is universal.

Overall, this is a hugely impressive debut pop track that would be an achievement for any artist, let alone a girl of eleven. Her style and voice already sound fully mature and fully developed, with a distinctive tone and a range that could rival any of the world’s biggest stars. Pop stardom seems almost an inevitability for Violeta.

 

VERDICT = 8.8 out of 10

 

Alex Faulkner

 

 

 

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Bare by Luci

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https://www.facebook.com/LaVidaLuci/

Luci is a singer and songwriter born in Lima, Peru but grew up in the Midwest and South of the United States. She learnt piano and flute in her youth and went on to study music production while at college. This eventually led to the release of her debut EP Live It Up in 2010.

Her music is a blend of modern pop and RnB infused with the influence of Latin styles and she regards her influences as Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé and Shakira amongst others. This album, Bare, sees her return to the pop scene and it consists of eleven tracks. The album is a mixture of pop and the more Latin influenced tracks that show her Peruvian heritage.

The album gets off to a strong start with the sassy pop of New Normal. It showcases Luci’s powerful voice which brings to mind Christina Aguilera, not just in its power but also her huge vocal range. Lyrically, it is about her own life’s journey and her return to music, captured by the opening line “I’ve got the new vision of a warrior”.

The following Boss Bitches is just as strong, a Latin-inflected RnB track. Lyrically it’s an empowering feminist anthem which will be particularly popular with her female audience. Luci gives a fantastic vocal performance and this is surely a contender as a single.

Free The Wildings is another super catchy pop/RnB with an irresistible hook while Oyeme shows a gentler side, a poignant piano-led ballad with an affecting and emotive lead vocal performance once again.

The Latin American influence really shines through on the Shakira-esque Marialucia (her full first name). With its incredibly funky and danceable sound this is a potential Hips Don’t Lie-style worldwide hit!

Culebra is another track sung in both Spanish and English, and it’s another infectious piece of Latin pop, this one with a more languid, laid back rhythm and tempo. Luci turns up the heat with the super sensual Savage, an X-rated lyric set to a slinky groove. It’s a fine track which shows her earthy, sexual side.

The following F***** Up is also X-rated due to its title but is lyrically more of a plea for love and validation. Hold My Breath is so languid it’s mesmerising and yet comes from a similarly troubled place emotionally. Luci’s artistic honesty and openness is one of her strongest qualities.

Can’t Stop Us is a return to the ultra positive and empowering vibe of earlier tracks and is musically quite different, a dubstep-infused RnB track with a killer hook. The final track Needs is another of her steamy, explicit songs, this one a very sexy slice of RnB designed to get hips grinding on the dance floor. It’s a fantastic way to finish, bringing to mind the smash hit Dirrty by Christina Aguilera and perhaps this track can follow suit.

Overall, this is a first class modern pop album full of musical variety. Luci is an intoxicating mixture of globe-conquering pop stars like Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera and Shakira and has several potential hits on her hands. With international appeal, along with a fabulous voice and image, there’s nothing to stop her emulating the success of all her musical heroines.

 

VERDICT = 9 out of 10       

Alex Faulkner

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Beautiful by RIIV

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www.riiv.hearnow.com

RIIV is an up and coming singer/songwriter originally from Haiti. Moving to Connecticut at the age of 6, he was a rebellious teen until he hit a low point in life and his father had him placed in a group home. It was there that RIIV began to turn his life around. He started discovering his love for singing. He has been through ups and downs in life but music has always been a constant. RIIV is a go-getter and has linked up with L2 Records to produce his recently released track “Beautiful”.

“Beautiful” is the result of RIIV’s collaborative process with beatmaker DJ Shaw, producers DJ Dens (a.k.a. The Rooster), Chris Anger and executive producer Michael Varner of L2 Records. The track is a blissfully laid-back pop tune with a subtle EDM vibe and works as the perfect showcase for RIIV’s smooth and charismatic voice. Beginning with filtered clean guitar, a languid ‘four to the floor’ beat provides the bedrock for RIIV to lay down a memorable vocal melody with romantic lyrics: “Finally found a reason to sacrifice all of my heart…”.

It breaks down for the bridge with a catchy “Is it your love?” refrain before building back up to an instantly anthemic chorus augmented by synth melodies. In the second verse, the beat develops subtly with handclaps before the chorus and bridge refrain combine to great effect. The production throughout is absolutely first rate and can stand alongside anything on mainstream radio. With the music appealing to both the pop and EDM scenes, “Beautiful” is well placed to be successful both on radio and in the clubs.

Overall, this a perfectly produced Pop/EDM track with a summery, joyous vibe that will undoubtedly help RIIV gain traction in the Pop/EDM space. Since the track’s release, “Beautiful” has received nearly 200,000 views on YouTube and has been doing extremely well on streaming platforms. If RIIV continues to produce songs of this caliber, he has the potential to become the next big thing in the Pop/EDM world. I await future releases with great interest.

VERDICT = 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Move by Glorious

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www.gloriouslive.com

Glorious is a pop singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Washington, D.C. but now based in New York. Remarkably, by the age of three she started playing drums and is now a livetronica drummer. She combines this talent and her jazz background with her abilities as a songwriter and vocalist. Her influences are numerous, from fellow pop singers like Beyonce and Pink, EDM artists like Tiesto, David Guetta and Diplo as well as jazz legends like Miles Davis.

This track, Move, is a hugely infectious pop track that shows her self-belief and artistic potential. She has a magnificent voice, comparable to Beyonce and Christina Aguilera with a similarly huge vocal range. The song itself is actually about her skills as a drummer, however, and the power that rhythm has to make people dance. Naturally, it has a brilliant beat that gets your top tapping immediately, but the track also features a funky, driving bassline and a lead vocal from Glorious that is by turns smoky and sultry then exultant and powerful on the incendiary chorus.

The title hook is brief but incredibly catchy: “I make the whole room move….”. After the second chorus the song takes an unexpected left turn into a dreamy, blissed out middle eight section where she sings sincerely, “I know you feel it, deep in your soul….”. It then gradually builds back up for a couple more killer choruses, with some fantastic vocal extemporizations towards the end. The production is slick, inventive and modern, as good as anything you’ll hear in the Billboard Top 100.

Overall, Glorious has written, performed and produced a pop classic. As vocally gifted as her idols, her skills behind the kit only add to her appeal, but most importantly this is simply a great song. Equally suited to both radio and the dancefloor, this track will surely make a strong impact on the music world and make her legions of new fans. For my money, Glorious could well go on to become the next Beyonce.

 

VERDICT= 9.2 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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