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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SINGLE REVIEW: Grey by Lunar

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Lunar is a rather enigmatic RnB/soul/dance singer and songwriter. Not much background information can be found about her but this element of intrigue and mysteriousness extends to her music. She has so far released two full length albums, 2016’s Gravitar and Theogony in 2017. Her music is difficult to categorize but, essentially, she combines the sassy RnB/dance style of an artist like Rihanna with the more, quirky eclectic style of St. Vincent.

This track, Grey, is taken from her four track EP Project. It starts with a haunting piano motif, then Lunar’s strong, distinctive voice enters along with a simple but effective 2/4 beat. The bridge breaks down to hi-hats and pulsing synths before building up to a captivating chorus driven along by a synth bass. Lyrically, it’s about a relationship that is both romantic and sexual: “Love, lust, craving for a safe place……luck, lost, they don’t think we’re the same….”.

After that chorus, the music veers off-piste dramatically. It breaks down to the haunting classical and jazz infused piano of the intro, moving through some beautiful minor key progressions. Then without blinking, it switches back into the second verse and chorus. It’s a stroke of genius that sounds like it shouldn’t work on paper, but it somehow fits the moody sensuality of the song. In the final chorus we also hear a swirl of synths before concluding on those poignant piano chords, once again.

Overall, this is a superb piece of modern pop that seamlessly combines RnB, dance, classical and jazz in under three minutes. Lunar is a highly intriguing artist with a style of her own and deserves to be recognized as an important female artist of the times. Although eclectic and unpredictable, this track is still very commercially appealing and has the potential to be the song that brings her to a much wider audience.

 

VERDICT = 9.1 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Hit It Then I Quit by Pascal Stadelmann ft. Fabian Beerli

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Pascal Stadelmann is a 19 year old RnB/hip hop/EDM artist. In 2018, he has already released several singles across an eclectic range of genres including house (E-Waves and Heaven), dubstep (It’s Hard), and hip hop/rap (TypeBeats and Squeezing). This ability to write in different styles has already proven his artistic versatility, all the more impressive for his young age. However, he’s now decided to concentrate on RnB and hip hop.

This track, Hit It Then I Quit, is an RnB/hip hop track also featuring Fabian Beerli. It begins with a simple but effective chord progression on piano which is interweaved with a synth melody throughout. The vocals enter quickly, immediately grabbing the listener with both the smooth, distinctive voice and irresistible vocal melody. The beat is sparse but grooves the track along and, most importantly, allows the vocal hooks to take the spotlight and truly shine.

Lyrically, it’s a confident expression of prowess with the ladies and a casual approach: “Wake up in the morning, catch a fly….”. The chorus varies the vocal melody of the verse by becoming more rhythmic and allowing more space between words. This contrast is highly effective and the main hook latches in the mind very quickly. I soon found myself humming it which is always a good omen, commercially speaking.

Overall, this is a slinky and deceptively catchy RnB/hip hop fusion that will work both on the radio and the dancefloor in the clubs. Pascal Stadelmann is clearly advanced for his age as an artist, and Hit It Then I Quit makes a strong case for his musical credentials. With slick modern-sounding production and easy-on-the-ear vocals, it has everything necessary to kick down the door to commercial success.

 

VERDICT = 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

SINGLE REVIEW: All Night by Grayson Word

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https://www.facebook.com/graysonwordmusic/

Grayson Word is a soul/RnB singer hailing from Nashville. Although only eighteen, this year he’s already released his first EP, Different Kind of Free, which was produced by Nathan Meckel at the Cowboy Jack Clement Studio in Nashville (Johnny Cash, U2, Louis Armstrong). Grayson regards his main influences as classic soul singers such as Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Stevie Wonder along with groups like Earth, Wind & Fire and The Rolling Stones.

This song, All Night, is a soul-infused pop track perhaps closest to the style of Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. Starting with mood-setting piano, it bursts into life with an infectious beat augmented by funky guitar and catchy vocal hooks from the start. On the verse, Grayson sings in his lower register with a smooth, distinctive voice not dissimilar to George Ezra. It builds swiftly to the falsetto chorus which lodges in the mind instantly.

On the second verse, we hear short bursts of Rhodes electric piano which adds to the soulful feel. After the second chorus a concise guitar solo gives a little more musicality and flavour before returning for one last chorus. Lyrically, it’s timeless fare about being blown away by a girl and wanting to spend time with her: “We can spin some Marvin Gaye and do it all again...”. Grayson’s vocal performance is superb and the flawless, slick production makes it perfect for radio.

Overall, this is a highly impressive soul-tinged pop track by a young artist mature beyond his years. With an impressive voice plus a natural charisma, his youth will only add to his commercial appeal and this song will work equally well on the radio as well as the dancefloor. He may already have the song that helps him break through to the big time, so he could well be a name you’ll hear plenty more of in the future.

 

VERDICT = 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

E.P. REVIEW: Flowoasis by Jupiter Gray

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Jupiter Gray is a rapper, singer and hip hop/RnB artist who identifies as a trans woman and comes from Columbus, Ohio. She has been noted as an upcoming influence on the LGBT scene and has featured with fellow artists like Cakes da Killa, Azealia Banks, Mykki Blanco and Dai Burger, amongst others. She has performed at various musical festivals including Comfest, Pride Festivals and many more.

This EP, Flowoasis, is her debut and consists of six tracks. It begins with the powerful spoken word track I AM a Woman and many of the tracks deal with the issue of her gender identity. Next comes the title track, and it’s a superb piece of RnB infused hip hop where Jupiter showcases her skills as both a singer and rapper. Starting with the catchy vocal hook, she delivers the verses with a fluent lyrical style, full of inventive rhymes.

Queen Pinnin is equally good, a hard hitting hip hop track with an infectious groove. Jupiter’s rapping here is as good as any of her hip hop contemporaries, laying down clever, slick lines with effortless ease and seamless flow. Her lyrical style is aggressive yet always closely controlled, giving every track potency and intensity. High Note (ft. Kidd Misfit) is incendiary; Jupiter and Kidd Misfit trade verses and their styles complement each other perfectly. My personal favourite on the EP.

Trouble in Paradise (ft. Terrance Damien) is one of the more RnB influenced tracks, featuring a super catchy vocal refrain. Here, it’s the singing voices that complement each other rather than the rapping style. Final track Runaway is another fine, though shorter, RnB track with a languid beat and a compelling vocal performance from Jupiter, aided by some futuristic cutting-edge production.

Overall, this is a brilliant debut EP from a passionate and gifted artist, adept both at singing and rapping. Her background and gender identity make her an artist very relevant to the current cultural zeitgeist, but most importantly she has several killer tracks that will help make her mark on the hip hop scene. You might well be hearing the name of Jupiter Gray a lot in the future.

 

VERDICT: 8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

E.P. REVIEW: Chutney Chasers by aVIE

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aVIE is an RnB/electronica artist hailing from Houston. He had an itinerant childhood, which is partly the reason for the eclectic range of styles and genres that have influenced his music. He describes his music as Psychedelic/Punk RnB, which is accurate but he also incorporates dubstep, DnB and trap into his musical vision. He regards his influences as The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Radiohead, amongst others.

This EP, Chutney Chasers, is his debut release and he describes the EP as a “story of a young colored man’s struggle with exotification, identity, addiction, anxiety and role”. It starts with the title track, a languid yet intense concoction of falsetto lead vocals with aVIE’s smooth-as-honey rapping style. Not many artists can claim such versatility as both singer and emcee, and aVIE’s gifts are the equal of similar artists like Frank Ocean. A fine start to the EP.

Tapwater shows another side to his oeuvre, starting out as fairly conventional RnB before developing into a fantastic hybrid of dubstep and DnB, with aVIE delivering his skills as a rapper once more for good measure. This is cutting edge 21st century pop, a futuristic meld of modern styles which aVIE pulls off effortlessly. The Self is another contrast, a hymnal, reflective track with some almost angelic lead vocals counter pointed with distorted spoken word sections.

New Feathers is another excellent track which again shows the influence of Frank Ocean. It’s exquisitely produced RnB with avant garde touches that lift it out of conventionality. Lyrically, it’s an inspiring song about personal transformation: “I’m cleaning the system, creating religion….”. A potential single.

Midnight Oil further consolidates his essential signature sound, an intoxicating melee of skittish rhythms and inventive production touches that somehow remains cohesive. The final Take Care is a beautifully melancholy acoustic ballad, beginning with strummed acoustic guitar and aVIE’s tender lead vocals, containing some troubled lyrics: “I’m drowning in alcohol…”. It builds gradually into a dark epic, reaching a cathartic climax at the end. A beautifully crafted and performed finale to the EP.

Overall, this is an absolute slam dunk of an EP by an artist who is fresh on the scene but whose artistic identity and style is fully formed. With soul searching, intelligent lyrics set to music of eclectic style, emotional depth and restless invention, aVIE has a lot to offer the music world and I expect Chutney Chasers to make a strong impact. I also predict that aVIE is going to be the next big thing in RnB, he’s simply destined for the world stage.

 

VERDICT: 9.2 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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