Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Jo Potter "Tonight"

From Tori Amos to Suzanne Vega, I've always had a thing for female singers/songwriters who have a lot to say. So I was extremely pleased when I stumbled across Jo Potter's 2019 release "Tonight," a hard-hitting 10-track album (complete with 3 acoustic versions of songs) featuring some incredible tracks with plenty of flavor and attitude. From the instrumentation to the vocals, this is a first-rate recording and well worth your time on Spotify. 

The title track "Tonight" is a fun and energetic party tune featuring pulsing guitars and a backbeat that belongs on a car-stereo heading out for the best night of your life. I like how Jo starts her album off with a rather optimistic feel, especially since there is some pretty serious subject matter on the horizon of her album. I'm not sure if she would call herself a country or rock artist but I could easily imagine fans of both finding a lot to like here. 

The second song is "Over and Done" which is still upbeat but a little softer in instrumentation than "Tonight." I love the intimate vocals of this tune and you can tell that Jo Potter has an incredible sense of melody in her writing - there's a lot to like about the arrangement too, it's almost like the guitar part could be a dulcimer tune. It's got a mild folk quality but is obviously in the pop camp with the rhythmic vocals. 

On to "Baby I am Yours" with a thumping beat it sounds sexy to start but some contrast comes in with the vocals - which are so sweet. I was getting a real Leslie Gore feel in this track (it might be the drums) but it seems to navigate that space between 1950s pop and country.

#4 on the album is "For You" (Seraphina's Lullaby) I was not prepared, as a listener, for how lovely this song was. I'm partial to ballads, so I'm biased, but if I had to choose one track on "tonight" to recommend, it would be "For You." With sweet string and arpeggiated guitar, the vocals sound just like, well, a lullaby. This one is just beautiful and heartfelt. If you could sing a warm blanket - it would probably sound something like this song. 

Next up is "You're Amazing," another attitude song with a groovy bassline and drums. On first listen it made me think this is going to be more bluesy (and I was right). A wake-up call to women wasting time with substandard men is the thrust of the lyrics - which I wholeheartedly support. Imagine later Annie Lennox ("Walking on Broken Glass") - again, it's a really fun track something like the first two on the album. 

"Goodbye," is a medium-tempo acoustic-vibe-jam. Ms. Potter sings very ballad-friendly vocals. This song reflects some of the most expert lyric writing of the whole album. Especially in the refrain - we all know the "goodbye" is coming but the way she stretches it out through the verse makes it sound like this is the first song of this nature we've ever heard. 

Track #7 is "Waiting." Some of the tightest instrumentation is in this song and I love the congas. I've got to complement our songstress on her sense of drama: especially in that it's a sentimental sound in instrumental and vocals with an energy and tempo rise headed towards the chorus. Be warned, it's very easy to get "Waiting" stuck in your head for days. 

Nest up is "No Apology" I can't tell if I'm just semi-aroused by Jo Potter but I'm really enjoying the very sexy attitude. But come on, she sings the line "mover over you like the ocean." Again, like the rest of the album, there are wonderfully expertly played arrangements. 

Second to last "Everything" has the air of a downtempo jam. The groove is piano and drums driven, which strays just a bit from the other songs - but obviously belongs to the same body of work. Not to beat a dead horse but I'm a huge fan of the rhythmic melodic line which conveys a sultry side that I'm really digging from Ms. Potter. 

"Nothing" is the perfect parting song from the album. Swirling violins in a waltz rhythm. It has a similar sentimental sound to "Waiting." Again, it seems like ballads are where Jo Potter really shines - it's the right song for late-night whiskey while the record player winds down. Think of a more subdued "At Last" except, you know, it's about breakup, so it's kind of the anti-"At Last." 

Of course, I should mention the wonderful acoustic versions of "Baby I am Yours," "Goodbye," and "No Apology" which are all just as great as the studio versions (yeah, yeah, I know these were recorded in the studio as well, but you know what I mean). 

This is my first time hearing Jo Potter, but I'm deeply impressed with her material both as a writer and as a performer. It will be interesting to see where she goes from here. You can find her at her website:

Danjul "Drama"

Admittedly, I'm past the age where the rave-scene or dance club is right for me (outside of being a DJ or manager). I am not so old, however; that I've forgotten those halcyon days of pulsating lights, sweaty bodies, drunken flirtation, and of course the music. Frankly, I'm rather grateful for songs that give me nostalgic flashbacks to that period of my life. So I was thrilled to hear Danjul's newest track "Drama"

I guess the first thing that jumps out to me is the beautiful buzz-saw-like synth leads cut through the mix, almost like the beat is screaming "Dance!" Seriously, the track is expertly produced with continuous energy, yet so varied from line to line, that there's not a dull part of the song. Of course, no matter how good the beat is, "Drama" wouldn't work without equally matched vocals, and here Danjul delivers in spades. The melody is unrefined in the best possible way - like Michael Jackson always sounded like Michael Jackson, but at the same time he was a great singer - this is the kind of vibe I get from him. 

To learn more about Danjul, visit his website here

Monday, September 26, 2022

Niclas Tamas "Interstellar Surveillance"

Everyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE synthesizers and what's more I love ambient compositions featuring all the lush textures that a good synth can produce. As a kid, I listened to Jarre, Vangelis, and even Stockhausen alike and marveled at the beautiful sounds all produced mechanically and so full of life (and I don't play favorites either, I love FM, analog, Wavetable, Granular, PCM, and every other form as well). So when I came across an extraordinary composer writing for some of my favorite sounds, I just had to let you all know. 

Niclas Tamas is out with "Interstellar Surveillance," a six-minute overtone-laden soundscape that is gorgeously transitioning between major and minor tonalities all the while giving us everything his machines have to offer. The piece is slow and features string-sounds (some acoustic) entering and exiting - basically, all the sounds are rather slow on the attack which gives a beautifully meditative quality. It's very cinematic in its approach and would fit rather well in a piece of multimedia (I wonder if Mr. Tamas has ever written for ballet). It will be interesting to see where he takes us in his next venture. If you're interested, his BandCamp page is here. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Chris Poulson "Can't Let Go"

Let's face it - relationships have always been hard. If we look back through human history we see that whether or not you're family, friends, or lovers forming and holding cohesive bonds is difficult. That being said, our modern world offers young people challenges in achieving long-term cohabitation or marriage almost too many challenges to count. I appreciate that these struggles are reflected in modern art, and we're talking about Chris Poulson's "Can't Let Go" today. 

The first thing that we have to mention here is Paulson's voice is masterful, he's got amazing control, especially over his upper register. The arrangement is simple, but I kind of prefer that when we're listening to real vocalists (like, let's let the singing shine in this one). We should also note the accompanying video, where he gives one hell of an impassioned performance. Overall, it's a heartfelt-from-the-soul kind of song that ought to have ten times the views it does, but it's still doing pretty well. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Lo Trillinger "U Remind Me (of my Slab)

We've all thought of Port Arthur, Texas's hip-hop scene as being dominated by Pimp C. Sadly his demise in 2007 left a vacuum of notable artists hailing from that area of the US. Now we're fortunate to see a few new talents on the horizon including today's subject: Lo Trillinger and his new track "U Remind Me (of my Slab). I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the track and there are more than a few things to say about it. 

First off, the beat - I'm really glad that the funk/soul aspects that were the sound of a generation (especially in the West Coast varieties) are still alive and well. The squealing synthesizer in the ether with thick laid-back chords gives for an ultimately sexy vibe. Lo Trillinger's voice is gruff and powerful, his lyrical chops on full display with rapid lyrics and passion permeating every bar of this track. It's more than worth a listen. I'm not sure if this track is out just yes - but luckily there is a thriving YouTube page here. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Doug Cash "Child Alone"

I'm going to make the least controversial statement I've ever made in this blog: that a healthy society prioritizes the well-being of its children. Therefore it's hard to think that our society is doing well when our young people are facing so many problems - now, I don't want to get political in this post. Still, it is worth having a conversation about why the litany of things affecting youth are happening. Luckily, art has a great knack for getting such conversations happening. This is why I want to talk about Doug Cash's new track "Child Alone."

Lyrically, it's a tough subject matter rolled up in a simple message "leave that little child alone," in effect, saying "let kids be kids." The sentiment, however, is fleshed out through blues-refrains and stunning vocals. One thing that grabs the listener instantly is the instrumental track with laid-back distortion tones and a beautiful flat II chord. Bass and drums accentuate between the vocal parts to hammer home the song's message. It's the kind of song that takes years of work, to make it seem so effortless and Doug Cash has definitely put his time in. I'll be curious to see if he continues in this vein of social criticism, I for one, think the music world could use a few more songs like this. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

The Undecideds "Broken Trophy" (Chloe Solo)

There are a few acts that I keep coming back to, and the more I think about why, the biggest reason, I think, it saves me from being too much of a curmudgeonly old man. I've made no secret that I believe the music artform is in crisis; however, the young people who keep me inspired to write these articles give me hope that the future of our discipline is in good hands. That's what I'm writing about today - of course, I really enjoy the band "The Undecideds," and for this one, the sister-half of that duo (Chloe) gifts us with a song "Broken Trophy." 

There's a spontaneous quality to this number, and I believe (from the video's title) that our young songstress showed it for the first time in the recording above. It's such a simple, sweetly-sung, moving, melodic, and balanced work, but that's not necessarily where the magic resides. I don't know where the "secret sauce" is that makes some performances utterly captivating - other than to say that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The religious person in me says that humanity's creative spirit is evidence of the divine (I'm getting off track). I guess the overall point is, I listen to songs like this and I feel good that beautiful art can be made in spite of the world around us. I really hope these folks continue to put out original music.