Thursday, May 12, 2022

ZUKO HARDY - Cold


There's a thick cloud of smoke in the club tonight, the air is cool, women wearing next to nothing, and the speakers are blaring sub-bass frequencies amid dancing beautiful people with drinks-in-hand. At least that's the vibe I get from Zuko Hardy's newest track (and stylish music video - see below). And since this blog is titled "Current Music Thoughts," I thought it was worth pointing out that this music is about as current as it gets. I love the EDM elements, especially in the drums. In fact, the beat itself is phenomenally catchy. ZUKO's voice, while heavily processed with FX/Autotune, is nonetheless pleasing and the whole thing is masterfully mixed. We'll definitely be looking for more from this gent.
 


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Jeff Lake "Field of Grass"


One thing we have to acknowledge in the study of history is that art has always had a didactic quality. It not only reflects how we think but perhaps more interestingly, how we ought to think. These days, in looking around at our beautiful planet, and the harm being done to it through waste, neglect, and apathy, there are more than a few of us who are growing concerned about the legacy of this place. 


So I was very intrigued when I came across Jeff Lake's Earth-Day ballad titled "Field of Grass." On its surface, it's a lovely, almost ambient rock, track with one of the most brilliant soaring tenor voices you can hear. That and super-thick guitar chords in a somewhat folky-melancholy mood and I think I've painted an accurate picture. The song isn't bombastic at all, just a man singing about something he cares about, which we could always use. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Andrea Pizzo and the Purple Mice "Potatoes on Mars"

Well, here's a fun find for all of you CMT readers. Singer and Songwriter Andrea Pizzo is teamed up with a talented group of musicians calling themselves "The Purple Mice" with an LP concept album "about the universe" as their website puts it. "Potatoes on Mars" features 11 songs of upbeat goodness primarily revolving around a rock n' roll attitude (which earns big plusses in my book). 


The first track is "Keep on Searching" in which we get to hear Pizzo's amazing high range - I mean, really, when was the last time heard glam-rock style wails? The rhythm section kills it in these minor verses and major choruses. The guitar is spacey and reverby which is a perfect sound for songs about "space." We're also treated to a shredding guitar solo towards the end of the track. 

Next up is "Song of Nothing." It begins with languid and meditative pads + guitar. The sound is very ballad, and again, we're treated to Andrea's voice, which is especially catchy in the chorus. I'm really enjoying the keyboard sounds (very reminiscent of early 90's Yamaha pads; I would be super curious to know what they used for this). I'm always impressed by rock acts that can do drumless tracks well, which "Song of Nothing" pulls off effortlessly. 


And if you were missing the drums from "Song of Nothing," don't worry, because track #3 "Among the Stars" blasts a percussive intro right in your ear-holes. There is a beautiful funky personality to this one that is super dancable. The bassline and wah guitar keep a groove that just won't quit. "Among the Stars" absolutely belongs in your party playlist. 

Track #4 is the title track of the album "Potatoes on Mars." The track is just as much fun as it sounds like. There's a hint of Bright Eyes "Bowl of Oranges" in the ingredients list here. Of course, I'm a fan of the Hammond Organ sounds and polka-like bassline. The vocals are a bit folk mixed with pop with really imaginative lyrics. 

Moving on from the title track we have "Jupiter and the Gallelian Moons." We are met with an epic orchestral sound with what sounds like Sci-fi film spoken samples. This song is a beast that comes in at just under 10 minutes in length. I quite like how it moves between moods, movements, and to a large degree, even genres. From the orchestral intro to the electronic/vocal beginning of the song, there's a lot to explore here. Probably the most interesting thing is that Pizzo's voice behaves much more like an instrument in the band as opposed to "lead singer." 

In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm really appreciating the titles of these songs. And the sixth up; "Go Fishing in the Ocean of Enceladus." It's quite a heartfelt piece (think The Cure meets Mr. Children). The contrasting section of this song is more upbeat and has a similar character to "Among the Stars." Before long though we're back to the heartfelt serenading of Andrea's voice (we even get to hear some of his lower registers in this one). 

"Pale Blue Dot" (I'm imagining a song about Earth) might very well be my favorite of the batch - there is a very folk-song structure going on over Brazilian hand percussion style beats - well, that is until it breaks into the chorus. In a lot of ways, it's art-rock - which is evidenced by yet another contrasting section with rapid-fire guitar rhythms and rapid-er lyrics. Mix in more samples and a killer synth lead and I can firmly say I've never heard anything like this before. 

Track #8 is "Goldilocks Zone," the area of a solar system where a life-bearing planet can live. We're back to a very folk sound - but tempered with melodic and bending bass. The addition of a flute (or flute synth, I can't quite tell) really makes the song. In this track Pizzo's voice almost has a musical theater quality (which again, earns high marks from me, as you all know I'm a huge Broadway nerd). 

Next up is "Masters of the Galaxy" (and here I was really hoping that this was going to have a He-Man reference since  it was my favorite cartoon growing up - but I'm getting sidetracked). Pulsating synths and pad sounds which are so beautiful - but as I listened, I wondered if it was just an intro or if this kind of mood was going to continue through the song. Much to my delight, the synth is featured throughout the whole song. Better yet, we don't have to give up the pulsating rock that has occupied the rest of the album. "Masters of the Galaxy" really shows the caliber of musicians that the Purple Mice really are. 


The penultimate track (#10) is Road to Universe, which brings us back to the glam sound I heard in #1. If I'm not mistaken I think I'm hearing some irregular meters here. Or, it could just be the syncopations in the rhythms. All I can really say is "the groove is infectious" and "Pizzo's voice is unbelievable."

The album ends with "Starship to Heaven" which features a string-quartet-like synth. the song has a sentimental major quality which is perfect for a concept album. It's proof that quality musicians know when to show off, and when to hold back. It's just like your band teacher always used to say "sometimes it's about the notes you don't play." But if it's virtuosity you desire, don't worry, there's another killer guitar solo before the final chorus. 

All in all, "Potatoes on Mars" was an ambitious project, and Pizzo and all his Purple Mice should be quite proud of themselves. There is a lot of meat on the bone that is this album and I'll be very curious to hear what's next from these folks. 




Saturday, April 23, 2022

Bad Mary "Light it Up"

You've all heard that music that is like a shot of adrenaline mixed with whiskey - maybe it brings back memories of smokey clubs filled with characters sporting spiked blood-red mohawks, and who knows? Maybe a fight breaks out. That and rough biker bars are the vibe I get from Bad Mary's upcoming release (Apr 26, 2022), the properly named "Light it Up."


As is the privilege I hold on this blog, I received an advanced copy of "Light it Up," and I gotta say: this track rocks! Upbeat drums, bass, and guitar, plus vocals with attitude. The song is a sexy mix of punk and glam-era hard rock which brings the nostalgia, but is also very modern in its approach. It's nice to see the stylish sound of groups like Bad Mary holding an authenticity in music, especially in a time where studio sheen and makeup are just as important as musical chops (maybe more so, but that sounds like a tangent). Anyway, visit Bad Mary's FB page here

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Korfian "Propaganda"

When we think about the first golden age of Rock n' Roll, we often think about mature Beatles, young Rolling Stones, and of course, the numerous war-protest songs of the Vietnam era. These days, songs with a political bent are a double edge sword, but it's nice to see some chaps writing about the world in a way that challenges us. 


Enter the Greece-based Korfian, with his new album "Propaganda," an eight-track epic into the realms of electronica, art-pop, a little bit of goth, and plenty of beautiful drama. Fans of Soviet-Era synth or '80s Depeche Mode will have a lot of appreciation for these songs. 

The first track on "Propaganda" is "Send-Off," a spoken word, poetic introduction to the album. This is rather heartening to see because off the bat, it seems as though Korfian is treating "Propaganda" as a complete work, much the way that concept albums such as "The Wall" or "Tommy" used to be treated. I like the idea of an overture, as it gives some diversity in mood. 

Track #2 is the aptly titled "March Now" with synthetic drum beats that sound, well, like marching rhythms. Here, we get to experience Korfian's voice as an awesome baritone (a little bit like Interpol, but with more range). I'm curious that the lyrics seem to say "half step march now" and the chord progression is largely half-steps, but I'm probably reading too much into it. 

Next up is "Nuclear Option." "This is the warzone, this is your warning" opens the song; it's rather ominous and the pulsating rhythm helps to give an audible heartbeat to the track. I'm a big fan of electronic ear-candy and this one has it to boot - lots of interesting clicks and bells that echo in the speakers, add a bass-synth to that and I feel right at home as an electro-pop fan. The ending throws in a pinch of dubstep sounds, which is even better. 

Ambient sounds fill the opening of the fourth track "Worth." Opening with vocalized synths and high-pitched plucks, then some vocalizations from our artist. There is an interesting scale going on here. To my American ears, it sounds like they're drawing from their native Greek music, like, I could imagine this melody played on a bouzouki. 

Track #5 is "Sabotage," and this one is a killer - all of the songs on "Propaganda" are totally worth your time/money - but this is a great tune with great lyrics. The way the song builds through moods, not to mention the cascading synthetic pads is just exquisite. There's a sexy quality to the down-tempo mood which would make this song an ideal number for something cinematic. 

In Efthini, we get some new instrumentation - I don't recognize the instrument (maybe it is a bouzouki), it's a plucked lute of some kind, and it's beautiful. Sadly I don't speak Greek, so the track sounds very exotic to me. Up until now, all of the lyrics have been in English (sung with virtually no accent BTW), but it seems like these guys' native language just imparts a different kind of melodicism, which is very welcome in the mix. 

The seventh song is another one in Greek (I'm pretty sure). "Ta Efodia," like "Efthini," is not only linguistically divergent from the other tracks, but also instrumentally (with the introduction of a piano), again, the arrangements on this track are somewhat minimal, but it's more like Korfian just judiciously went through the sounds that sounded exactly the way there were supposed to. The vocals are passionate and very melodic - it makes me want to speak Greek. 

The final track is "Divine Plan," starting with some rhythmic spoken lyrics over a square-wave synth bass and club kick pattern. The vocals continue their melodic exploration like many of the other songs. The track builds slowly but the payoff is pretty special, the instrumentation drops to razor-thin fading before they disappear completely, and I'm just thinking "damn, that's clever." 

So, hey, Korfian has given us an extremely well-crafted piece of pop. It's smart, catchy, current, yet rooted in proven synthetic goodness. "Propaganda" is available on both Bandcamp, and Spotify. Additionally, you could look at his website here



Friday, April 15, 2022

Artist Interview: Deeper Vileness

Hello readers! For this week's interview, we're joined by Deeper Vileness, so let's get into it.


MW: Hello Deeper Vileness, thanks for taking the time to talk.

KV: I am very glad to be doing an interview after a very long hiatus of anything Deeper Vileness.

MW: I’ve only got you for a sec or two, so let’s dive right in. I grew up on Metal, what do you think is the state of the genre these days?

KV: Well specifically black metal I do not know. I am not in touch with the black metal scene at all, I do not go to metal shows, and I really do not listen to much black metal these days. I very much enjoy listening to 80s metal mostly these days. It seems that metal is not as big as it used to be at all. It is very rare that I meet someone else who also likes metal music as much as I do. Besides Europe, here in the United States the only metal band that would sell out stadiums are the same metal bands from back in the day that have songs on the radio, I guess.

MW: How did you meet/form the band?

KV: The idea for the band was something I came up with a long time ago. Sodom, Venom, Bathory are really the main influences for the band or were supposed to be anyway. I originally had the idea to do something that was very fantasy oriented, dungeons and medieval themes, the occult, stuff like that. Something like horror comics meets Robert E. Howard stories. 
MW: We all know the fans can get a little crazy, has anything wild ever happed at one of your live shows?

KV: I sadly do not have live shows.



MW: Who does the songwriting?

KV: I would say I do mostly the melodies for past releases, but I really contribute the sound of the different releases to whoever worked on the mixing and mastering for whichever releases. I have been open to people writing for some last releases. At this point I may do some guitars and bass but mostly will be sticking to keyboards and vocals.

MW: A lot of the readers are producers/gearheads. So, I’ll ask this on their behalf, what is your recording process like?

KV: Cheap equipment on my side of instruments. I get what I can and usually kind of just record and it somehow comes out ok. I am not at all a good musician on guitars, only on keys. 

MW: Is anything new in the works?

KV: There will be some new releases this year, I am not sure if they will be rehearsals, demos, but an album has been in the works for quite some time. Deeper Vileness is going back to what my original ideas for the band were instead of more traditional black metal. Very swords and sorcery type themes.

MW: What have you all been listening to these days?

KV: I like sitting around listening to music like Phil Collins and Fleetwood Mac. The Rolling Stones are one of my favorite bands to listen to these days.

MW: Any shows, or events coming up that we should look out for?

KV: Well, there was supposed to be some shows this year. That was my entire goal for the year, to start playing live shows. But I have come to realize that there are only extremely serious people that want to have like bands that tour and all that stuff, or people who want to play for fun. I seek the latter but the issue with people who want to play for fun is they never show up to actually play. I put up flyers everywhere with like no replies. Deeper Vileness is going to remain a studio project like Bathory. 

MW: Thanks so much for your time, keep us updated on your successes!

Monday, April 11, 2022

Sam Bailey "Black Velvet"

So, over here at CMT we're continuing our "coverage of covers" (I thought that was clever, I don't care what you think). Seriously though, I have to say that I'm in love with the plethora of young performers resurrecting hits from when I was their age. And for this week, we've got the lovely Sam Bailey, and her rendition of  the classic country-blues-rock anthem: "Black Velvet."


From the get-go, the band is spot-on in the interpretation of the original, the subtle/sexy groove is exactly the gritty laid-back sound we all expect from "Black Velvet." Ms. Bailey, for her part, is a gifted vocalist, and though her sound is quite youthful, she manages to deliver the mature sentiment that would have men drooling. One good thing about singing covers, is that if you're showcasing your ability as a vocalist, you can choose the most challenging stuff out there - and Sam seems to be doing just that. If you readers can't get enough of Sam Bailey's voice, my suggestion would be to stream "Edge of Seventeen" as your next listen.