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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bonita Adele “New Mountain”




Sympathetic music is vitally important to our collective mental health. It’s no surprise to us when a friend says “I like to listen to sad music when I’m sad.” Most of us do. It seems like the singer is saying to us “I know exactly how you feel.” There are; however, times when we need the opposite sentiment, something that says “don’t stop now, you can do this!” Which is where Bonita Adele’s new single “New Mountain” comes in.



The piece is really structured around strong electric piano, sensual saxophone and of course, Ms. Adele’s smooth and powerful alto voice. Trading lines and places in the forefront, the song is really well recorded, the standout sound (outside of Bonita’s lovely voice) really has to be the first-rate saxophonist who takes a fantastic solo in the middle of the song.

It will be interesting to see what new mountains Ms. Adele seeks in the future. Musically, she’s already conquered this one.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Tony Watson: "My Still Small Voice"

Perhaps you’ve heard it before; “art can’t do anything.” There is a notion that if it isn’t immediately productive from a capitalistic standpoint, it is without value. However, those involved in raising charity/social-ill awareness would disagree both with their voices and with their music. In that mindset, Tony Watson’s anthem “My Still Small Voice” is a powerful call to action for homeless awareness.



The info on his YouTube video reads “this video is dedicated to all the homeless and displaced people in the world. Let’s hope our children and all of us learn how to give them a hand, pay it forward.” Which is something with which I could not agree more. Mr. Watson reminds us that through music and art we have the ability to bring to the forefront a common goal of improving our communities, and in that spirit, I hope you will give his lovely song more than a few listens. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Zalex: Come Alive EP

Thick electronic sweeps in the bass underpinning a breathy voice and balance of themes are all aspects that dominate this newest release by electronic music artist: Zalex. Perhaps what is so enticing about these two tracks is the sheer musicality of the numbers. I feel wholeheartedly confident in saying that the combination of notes/melodies could be just at home using organic instrumentation – of course, the fact that it is electronic gives it an extra sonic quality not easily assessable in the natural world.

Both tracks reflect a level of craftsmanship that is more than admirable – but it is really the first one in his SoundCloud lineup that is the real star (Let You Fall). Energetic and sentimental, perfect for dancing, or for chillout it navigates a greyspace not easily found in a genre primarily associated with party and drug culture. Zalex reminds us that art comes in all forms and breaks many of the stereotypes we often associate with this chosen medium.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Nick Nichols: The Other Side

To hear a sample of "The Other Side" click here http://shineonrecords.com/music.php

Artist Nick Nichols’ newest release is a beautiful and heartfelt ballad that encompasses themes of faith, love, and commitment. It’s a work that could easily stand toe to toe with beloved pieces of folk music such as “Danny Boy” or “The Water is Wide” (the latter of which “The Other Side” has more than a few note-combinations in common) Like a well-staged film, everything you need to know about this song happens within the first twenty seconds, the rest is an expansion on that opening mood. There is a sweet (but at the same time, melancholy) violin playing over a soft and expressive piano which acts much like footlights for Mr. Nichols’ voice.



There’s a great helping of gospel in this track, almost like the kind of reflective piece you would love to hear in church, except (sadly) modern worship music doesn’t get nearly as deep as this track. Nick Nichols balances major uplifting chords with introspective shifts into minor, likewise his legato (yet very mature sounding) voice works expertly in all registers.


The Other Side is a sad song, but at the same time there is such a sense of dignity and individualism that comes through in a song about dying. It’s the kind of song I imagine my father would have reflected upon in his own end-of-life struggle and I found this number very personally inspiring. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

303 Hallelujah! Acid Machine by Errozero

Let's be frank for just a moment - when it comes to electronic music, the Roland TB 303 is a sought after sound, the same way the classic Fenders is cherished in Rock n' Roll, the same way the Hammond B3 immediately says "blues and jazz," and the same way the Stradivarius is revered as the gold-standard for baroque violin. 

In the electronic music world, though; we're lucky. The fact that the instruments began in electronics and continue in the digital world means there is an immediate translation. Sure, Kontakt may attempt to recreate the best strings in Europe, Garritan may "claim" that they have a "Goffriller" cello library that rivals the real thing - but the truth is  the digital recreations pale in comparison with the real thing. And again, just because we're being honest here, it's only due to the fact that people have forgetten what acoustic instruments sound like that these libraries are remotely passable. 



But, as was mentioned above; electronic music creators are lucky. Thankfully an awesome 303 sound may be lovingly enjoyed being recreated through the (very affordable $.99 download) emulator "Acid Machine" by Errozero, which was according to the developer, something of a hobby-project. The rack is set up to look much like the classic Propellerhead "Rebirth RB 338" software so popular in the 1990's. 

The interface is true to the (now vintage) RB 338 program, And users of the afformentioned UI will find it very easy and enjoyable in terms of workflow. It should be noted, however; that it's not perfect software. It would be nice to have greater control over the drum parts and the portamento of the 303 sounds could use some adjusting. However; for the price tag I don't think we're allowed to complain that much. I see this as a completely viable live performance option and I hope there are DJ's and Producers around who share my vision. 

Perhaps the greatest strength with regards to "Acid Machine" is that it is now available in an offline Google-Chrome app form which makes it very much a legitimate music making software. In short, I believe we owe a great debt of gratitude towards Errozero for this remarkable and fun creation. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Madelyn Victoria: "He Only Loves Me on the Dance Floor"



Madelyn Victoria reminds us that value exists in a simple sentiment, “He Only Loves Me on the Dance Floor” is a beautiful ballad that seems to say “I want to know what you’re thinking” – of course, from a more complicated/enigmatic female perspective. It is refreshing to know (at least in the world of country music) that human relationships are still valuable as song substance in a time where casual sex and drug use are much more common themes in popular music.  With this song, Ms. Victoria is allowing us a personal glimpse of her own individual desire, and we’re better off for it.


There is first rate instrumentation to this number which consists of a small orchestra of percussion, fiddle, and strumming. The song starts out with a classic-country baritone range distorted guitar reminiscent of the best of Calexico-type solos. Madelyn’s voice is likewise beautiful in a soulful middle register; powerful, yet so very elegant. One of the things that really shines in this song is the length of the notes in the verse – the individual pitches ring out almost like the long reverberation of a church bell, that is until the chorus begins.

It’s a lovely song – a little bit like a late night phone call from a close friend and hopefully, we’ll get at least a few more calls as time goes on. To learn more about Madelyn Victoria, please visit her webiste here: www.madelynvictoriamusic.com

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Artist Interview: Chemical Refugee

Chemical Refugee's newest video is a two-fisted response to all things mundane. Don't believe it, look for yourself. 


MW: In viewing your video, I was surprised at the turn it took when this bearded punk-rocker turned out to be a transvestite. With the lyrics declaring “I don’t need no therapy,” there seems to be more than just a little bit of a social statement going on. What is it you hope the viewer/listener will walk away with?

Doc: That there is nothing wrong with being who you are, whatever that is. No matter who says otherwise.

MW: The auto-tune quality creates for a very schizophrenic sound, in a good way I mean, is this representative of your other works?

Doc: Rad man, getting dirty with auto-tune was sic. With the general approach we take definitely, we actualy have a song about Schozophrenia bing released soon, The red light district.”

MW: You mention approaching the song and video like a “method actor,” is in line with the way you usually create your art, or was it something new for you?

Doc: This is the first time I’ve hunted down and become the subject matter for our own art. Instead of reflecting on personal past experiences. Creating the concept album by injecting myself into the concept.

MW:  I would love it if you could explain your name; “Chemical Refugee.”

Doc: A Chemical Refugee is someone who uses chemicals to escape the harsh realities of whatever they are running from. It doesn’t have to be a drug, it’s the feeling me and Nick get when making music together, when I hit that first chord and he kicks in on drums… That effect… Like a shot, that ‘ping’ at the back of ya’ head. Everything that is fucked up in our lives just begins disappearing. The feeling our music creates and our chemistry is our drug to seek refuge within. Music is like that for so many people, it’s their drug that takes the pain and suffering away for a little while.

MW: There seems to be quite a lot of musical influence in what is an incredible tapestry of sound – could you tell us about some of your influences?

Doc: We like pushing the boundaries, John Frusiciante, Billy Corgan, Jimi Hendrix, Geoff Lynn, Butch Vig and also artists like Marcel Duchamp and Ron English kick our ass into creative mode. Stuff like, reversing the sound of nick breaking his beer bottle and overdubbing a cardboard snare.

MW: Many readers are interested in the creative process of creating and recording tracks, do you record yourself or do you work with a producer?

Doc: We record at Mainstreeet Studios with our producer Adam Jordan. He is basically the 5th member of Chemical Refugee, I’ve been recording with him since I was like 19 or someshit. We all have a fuckrad vibe together and he just knows exactly what we want to create.

MW: The ending of the song, with the vocal runs on “fuck yea” seems almost like an audio middle finger – am I totally off on that?

Doc: Hell yeh, hold those audio fingers up!

MW: Would you rather be in the studio or be performing live?

Doc: Live man, that’s what the band is about. I go through temporary phases of preferring each, but live performance is our home. It’s a one time only deal at a live gig and that’s wildrad, like it can’t be re-done. It’s art.

MW: What’s next for Chemical Refugee?

Doc: We are filming the music video for our next single ‘Decimated Days’ this week, so shit will be getting wild!

MW: Thank you so much for spending your time with us today!

Doc: Radness man, All the best!

Artist Interview: Donica Knight

This week's interview features Donica Knight. According to her bio she "is an acclaimed singer, songwriter and entertainer hailing from Montgomery, Alabama. Donica’s unique blend of Southern rock, country, blues and old East Memphis music has led to a rigorous touring schedule in the Southeast, performing more than 350 dates, opening for both country and rock superstars." Personally, I can't disagree - in short, she's awesome!






MW: I love how you come out of the gate swinging with the refrain “My love ain’t a prize,” do you try to make all of your songs hit so hard?

DK: Glad you find it slamming like I do! ;) …Yes this new EP, Can’t Buy A Southern Girl, is loaded with power, sass and rockin guitars


MW: The banjo (and mandolin) features very prominently, which I love, whose decision was it to make that such a forward instrument?

DK: I believe it was the combination of my producer Jim Huff and myself. He may have suggested to add banjo and I went crazy about it. I love banjo. And funny enough there is no mandolin, Jim doubled the banjo riff an octave up on his acoustic giving it that mandolin kinda sound!


MW: Wow, shows how good my ears are! I love the video – there is this kind of gypsy-esque, almost folk influence to it with a campfire and your jewelry-adorned outfit, how did you come up with the design for it?

DK: Thank You! Those were actually all of my clothes and hand-me-downs that I wear at shows. I was real excited to pick out my outfits this time around and be a part of the video design. The warehouse where the video was shot had this awesome outside scenary with a neat fire pit. Glad you caught on the the gypsy-esque influence.


MW: I would love to hear about your songwriting process.

DK: Well, on this new record, since Jim has a great network of songwriters and artists he writes with, in the beginning, we co-wrote with a lot of people to try and find some magic combinations that really worked in the style I wanted to go for. It was a new thing for me because I knew I wanted to stretch my boundaries of traditional straight up country and get a little more edge going on with southern rock and blues influences both lyrically and musically.
My new single “Love Ain’t a Prize” is a co-write with myself, Chris Vos and Jim Huff,  there is a couple songs on the EP that Jim and I co-wrote with Billy Alexander and a super cool song called “Stomp” that just Huff and I wrote.
I’m proud to say that I co-wrote all the songs on my new EP “Can’t Buy a Southern Girl” coming out in 2016. The songs are high energy, full of rock n roll guitars, Motown-ish beats and a story to share/ sing-a-long too.
There is nothing like the music-making process. It is full of creativity and exploration. The song writing process happens different every time l. It is crazy how some songs can come together in 15 minutes and others just evolve over time.


MW: One of the great things about this track are the backup vocals – who are they, and do you tour with them?

DK: The AMAZING background vocalists were CJ Emmons and Maiya Sykes. I cannot express how talented, professional and hilarious both of them are. They really brought this track to a different level with their creativity, soul and talent. They do not tour with me but from time to time CJ Emmons will join me on stage. CJ is currently on Dancing With The Stars as their lead band vocalist as well as recording artist and Maiya tours with Macy Gray.


MW: your own voice is very powerful. Can you tell us how you got started in singing?

DK: I would love to. As a young child I would always sing. Everywhere I would go I would openly sing to folks instead of talking HA. I had my first solo in the 1st grade with Auhns Angels and always had the solos/big songs growing up. I participated in church choir, school choir and school show choir. Being a professional singer was always a dream of mine but it wasn’t until two years into college that I decided to pursue that childhood dream which was enstilled in my heart.


MW: Some people might describe this song as a “woman’s anthem,” is that a fair assessment, or am I missing something?

DK: You are not missing a thing – You are very correct. Love Ain’t A Prize – You Can’t Buy A Southern Girls Heart is definitely a country girls anthem!


MW: Can you tell us what you’re up to artistically now that “Love Ain’t a Prize” is doing so well?


DK: After you work so hard on a song writing it, recording it, doing a video for it, and finally get it out there for the world to hear it, it is nice to sit back and enjoy that fact that people are loving it as much as I do. This girl is definitely grinning from ear to ear! ….. Artistically I’m heading back to LA to do some new writing, put my touring band together, play a few shows and shoot another music video.
  

MW: Where can people go to hear more about you and your music?

DK: Please check out my website www.donicaknight.com 

I am on youtube, Instagram, twitter, facebook all those social media outlets. Also you can find Love Ain’t A Prize on iTunes, Amazon and my website. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"Bittersweet Descent" by Ted West

Mood is one of the most important aspects of a song, as far as I’m concerned. Trust me when I tell you this song has plenty of it. “Bittersweet Descent” comes across as a dreamy/bluesy soundscape that tells you exactly what you’re in for within the first 20 seconds of the song. Rhodes piano and a distant trumpet set the scene right before stinging drums hit you (as Grandfather Clinton might say) “right in the earhole.” As of writing this, I haven’t heard it in the car yet, but I can say from experience, I know it would sound awesome!



The song contrasts a beautiful lyric quality which Mr. West delivers perfectly well, with a more tenor approach for the chorus – a gift that most singers envy, I’m sure. The lyrics paint the sound with the returning words “I’m still falling, I’m only halfway down.” It's sexy and somber at the same time which makes it right for just about any time of night. “Bittersweet Descent” is a track that could fit comfortably in a lot of collections from New-Jazz to New-RnB and even in-between some pop-tracks. It’s more than worth checking out. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Earcandy String Quartet Reminds Us of the Importance of Performing Musicians

It is reassuring to know that the popularity (and indeed, necessity) of the classical string quartet has maintained under numerous shifts in musical tastes, particularly over the last century. With this in mind, there are several stalwart musicians aptly keeping the tradition alive and more than a few innovators in the genre as well… Enter the “earcandy” String Quartet, four talented young ladies performing a wealth of new and old music for live events.



Earcandy’s repertoire list is, to be sure, impressive. Listeners can hear all of the classic Bach, Beethoven (of course!), and Mozart they could expect from this type of chamber-group. The list is augmented with several popular tunes (many from the last decade) including covers from artists such as David Guetta, Taylor Swift, and Christina Perri. Those feeling a bit more nostalgic shouldn’t feel overlooked as earcandy also offers Etta James and Elvis Presley.


The playing featured in their promo-video is just superb. There is definitely a modern sensibility in the approach of the classical pieces with the first violin making its presence known the way a lead guitarist in a rock band might. The other players maintaining energy to match makes for a very alive version of the standard repertoire. And this final point is really what made me want to write this blog – that new (and dare I say “younger”) energy is an absolute necessity in what we might call the “staple” ensembles of the classical world. In this respect, I hope earcandy will be playing for a long time to come. 

To book or hear earcandy for yourself, please visit their website here: https://earcandylive.co.uk/band-detail/earcandy-strings


Friday, January 9, 2015

Interview: Josey Milner



MW: Josey Milner, thank you so much for giving us your time today – I’m really looking forward to hearing more about your music! Right off the bat, it’s easy to tell this has been a big year for you. You’ve been noticed by magazines like Elle, CNN, and a lot of independent media. Has all the attention been overwhelming?

JM: I wouldn’t say it’s been overwhelming, but I would say that it has been pretty awesome and exciting. I just love the fact that my music is getting so much recognition and people are enjoying t.

MW: Could you describe your music for the uninitiated out there?

JM: My music is mainly country, both old and new, and sometimes some classic rock and even a little pop is thrown in. My sound is definitely one of a kind. As far as my own music and the songs I release, I try to pick songs that I think people can really relate to and will really enjoy.

MW: Your song “Cowgirls” is just awesome, I love how powerful your voice sounds in that one – have you always had that belty-quality, or did you have to work for it?

JM: Of course it has gotten stronger over the years, but I have pretty much always had that, as you say, belty-quality. That is one thing that people have always said they enjoy about my voice and is something that makes it different.




MW: Another thing I love about “Cowgirls” is the instrumentation – at times it’s quite orchestral between the fiddle, guitar, back-up vocals, and everything else going on. Can you describe the creative/recording process for that song?

JM: The recording process for that song was so much fun! My producer, Micah Burdick, did an absolutely amazing job with the instrumentation. I remember being in the studio to lay down the vocal tracks, and I was dancing around as I was singing because I was having so much fun with it.

MW: You’re such a young artist, I’m almost nervous to ask this next question, but it’s important to the readers, so here goes: Who do you think are some of your biggest influences?

JM: I’d say I have quite a few influences. As far as my biggest, I would say artists like Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette. Their voices are so beautiful and unique, plus they made a huge impact on the country music industry. Miranda Lambert is also another big influence. I think she is a great person with amazing music. She has really taken control of her career and has definitely made a big impact on the industry as well.

MW: Were there any individuals that really helped you out in your journey? Who were they?

JM: I definitely have had a lot of support from so many people. As far as my biggest supporters, it would have to be my parents. They have been there for me for no matter what and have always supported my decisions.

MW: You have been very active in the anti-bullying movement, could you tell us how that came about? Have you witnessed anything firsthand or was it more of a general calling for you?

JM: When I released my first single “Not Pretty Enough”, I became a spokesperson for Angels and Doves, which is an anti-bullying organization. They go around and talk to different schools about bullying and what you can do to help with the situation. They are just really trying to raise awareness over bullying since it has become such a big problem today. As far as personal experiences, I have not been a victim myself, but I have witnessed it. I have always stepped in when I have witnessed a bullying.

MW: How has the live scene been for you? Do you find that you’re able to perform as much as you like while keeping up on your normal responsibilities?

JM: Most definitely! Right now, we’re really trying to focus on getting more music out there, so I haven’t been performing as much as I used to, but we are definitely getting some dates lined out for this new year. There have been many performances scheduled, and there are many more to come. The best way to keep track of my show schedule is to check me out on Facebook (facebook.com/joseymilner), or my website, www.joseymilnermusic.com.

MW: How has your family been through this whole process?

JM: They have been nothing but supportive. They think it’s awesome that I’ve been so successful with my music and that tends to be one of the first things to come up in a conversation for them. So I would also say they are pretty proud. 



MW: OK, last question – what’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you in a live show?

JM: I would probably say when I witnessed my first bar fight. That was pretty funny/interesting. These guys started getting pretty heated and next thing I knew, my microphone was being knocked over. The stage was on the same level as the crowd, so they were able to be right up next to it. I found the fight to be pretty ironic because I was singing “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”. It was taken care of really fast though and the show went on. Looking back, it makes me laugh.

MW: Josey Milner – it’s been awesome talking with you!


JM:  Thank you!