The songs on ‘Piano Works’ are inherently different in execution than ‘Winter’ and ‘I’m Still Here,’ the two songs we explored here on the Spotlight last weekend. These four tunes are essentially live recordings. There are no overdubs and the songs were recorded live in one take. All four are original compositions that were also recorded and produced by Campbell. Thus, there’s a more raw atmosphere to ‘Piano Works’ than those other two singles.
On Tuesday, April 25, the independent acoustic country outfit Blackkiss will perform at Taos Mesa Brewing in Taos, New Mexico. The desert-born act’s sound draws its roots directly back to the heart of the Navajo-Indian reservation. In his early years, Blackkiss founder Pete Sands was raised on a healthy diet of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and other wholly authentic, outlaw country acts Blackkiss is reminiscent of.
This LP was released under the name The O Sound All Stars, a group that consists of Baba Adetobi, Mike Harris, Regi Beverly, Humble G, Blacknile, and Romeo Maxwell. All of them are multifaceted talents, offering not only their voices to the project, but their talent as songwriters, musicians, music directors, and more. Their sound couldn’t have come together, though, without Doug Dostal, the owner of O Sound Studios in Cleveland.
On Saturday, March 25, the up and coming independent music artist Michael Black will release his debut studio endeavor, a dynamic new single entitled ‘6x8.’ Having previously written country music, Black expanded his artistic horizons for his new release by delving deep into hip hop. The message of his music is a simple, but vitally important one: to inspire his fans to live life to its fullest potential, learn along the way, and never harbor any regret.
First and foremost, it’s worth noting that classically inspired music doesn’t come across my desk nearly as much as I would like it to. There’s a hole in the indie music scene that desperately needs to be filled in that niche, and a composer like Campbell might be the person to do it. ‘Winter’ is one of the most superb instrumental pieces I’ve dug into in months. It’s doused in emotional intensity and instrumental prowess, elegantly accented by moody, but very sparse synthesizers and sound samples.
Lead by Angie Bruyere, Angie and The Deserters’ influences are immediately apparent when spinning ‘Stay.’ The powerful female lead vocals are very reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, and Bruyere’s performance on ‘Stay’ is captivating. It’s a love ballad that’s not especially kitschy… it feels genuine and raw, and the bare-bones acoustic performance lends itself well to that atmosphere. The same can’t be said for many outfits putting out love tunes as their lead single. ‘Stay’ is lovely through and through.
‘Just Stop By,’ the opening track on ‘WorldWide,’ is perhaps the album’s most obvious showcase of why TheVoice differentiates herself from the noise of her genre in such a unique way. She isn’t just a hip hop artist. The soul influence is abundantly apparent, and ‘Just Stop By’ is an especially suave single that provides TheVoice a platform to exhibit her prowess as a soulful vocalist, too. There are very few hip hop artists with a lovely singing voice. TheVoice is one of them.
On Tuesday, March 21, the independent music collective Polyzone will release their latest studio endeavor, a dynamic new record called ‘Good Girl.’ The project is helmed by some of the finest musicians, DJs, and producers in Maribor, Slovenia, and Polyzone is as versatile of a live act as they are a recording entity. From jazzy, funky vibes to downtempo reggae musings, ‘Good Girl’ is an eclectic effort worth picking up this month.
‘Your Moon’ is a stunningly surreal affair. Queuing up this song in a well-equipped studio was a gorgeous treat. Kheyfets’ production is some of her finest, elegantly accenting her hauntingly beautiful vocals and simple, but immensely effective piano performance. (Big shout out to her producer Anthony Galatis here.) There’s a uniquely ethereal nature to ‘Your Moon,’ as if Kheyfets plucked the lyrics and melody from the stars themselves one evening. That melody was co-written by Mark Cawley and Morten Franck.
Ileana, a Christian singer songwriter and independent artist, will soon debut her latest studio endeavor in the Latin American Christian music market. Entitled ‘Sola Gracia,’ the elegant ballad melds pop and faith based influences in its pursuit to connect with listeners on a spiritual level and bring them God’s message of love and grace.
‘Only One’ has more of a country influence than its predecessors, aligning into the same sonic territory as perhaps The Allman Brothers or the like. Even though Billy Roberts and company are an Australian group, they definitely have thematic roots to southern rock and roll in the United States. ‘Only One’ is a smooth talking, suave ballad that’s complemented by lovely performances on behalf of all the Rough Riders. Alex Quinn on lead guitar and Rory Facione on drums are both in fine form.
Earlier in the winter on November 5, 2016, the independent rock outfit Spun Intended released their eclectic five song EP ‘Learn To Love.’ The band’s sound traverses several genre stylings, elegantly and effortlessly evoking classic rock influence alongside contemporary musings in a unique style they’ve coined “gonzo rock."
This year marks the tenth year Suburban Vermin, an eclectic indie punk rock outfit from Seattle, have collaborated as a band. In the last decade, the group has been lauded by fans and critics alike for their classic punk aesthetic and wholly authentic music style. To celebrate their remarkable longevity, Suburban Vermin is preparing the release of a four part EP entitled ‘TV Head Nation’ with a corresponding comic book. The first entry in the series is due out this May.
Citing influences the likes of The Beatles and Queen, NEWBLAST has a uniquely eclectic sound. There’s a distinctly European style to the music, something that’s accented by a very theatrical atmosphere. ‘Wartorn Kingdom,’ for example, does sound like a track off the cutting room floor of a Queen session. The harmonies NEWBLAST utilizes in their music are absolutely infectious, and the intense orchestration of 'Wartorn Kingdom' explodes in a masterful way.
There’s something immediately infectious about Mark Stone and the Dirty Dozen Band. The opening track of ‘Trifecta,’ ‘Kickin Up Dust,’ is a foot-stomping, intense jaunt through an aggressive, raw country blues sound. Stone’s gravely vocals sound like they’ve been summoned from the soil itself, something further accented by the sparse instrumentation provided by the Dirty Dozen Band. There’s a searing electric guitar, a thunderous bass and percussion section, and that’s it. That’s all the sound needs, though, and it’s fun through and through.
This week on March 7, the independent Christian hip hop artist Gemstar released his highly-anticipated single ‘Figure It Out.’ The remarkable new track offers a compelling early insight into ‘Broken Chains,’ Gemstar’s forthcoming studio album. Featuring the eclectic Nashville-based southern rocker Moccasin Creek, this new track is sure to be a defining entry in both artist’s growing discographies.
‘Silent Battles’ is an elegant combination of original and cover music, opening with a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Hole’s ‘Malibu.’ Rattray’s signature sound is wrapped in waterfalls of symphonic string sections, atmospheric reverb, and infectiously lovely choruses and hooks. From bright tunes like ‘Little Threads’ perfect for your spring playlist, to introspective ballads like ‘One Million Mangoes,’ the EP is chock-full of diverse, memorable soundscapes.
Before delving into Knear’s take on the track, it’s worth setting the scene to give context to the tune. ‘And So It Goes’ was a single off ‘Storm Front,’ Joel’s wildly popular eleventh studio record that spawned hits like ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire.’ Joel’s line-up changed dramatically in the recording process, and the album has since been long lauded as one of his best. ‘And So It Goes’ is included on that record, a solemn piano ballad about opening one’s heart to someone else.
‘Sonus Republic’ is a hard rock track that dabbles in some metal musings, something that’s very reminiscent to both ‘Amen’ and ‘Creature,’ the two other tracks we’ve dug into here on the Spotlight. This new single is much more upbeat, however, offering an explosive soundscape jam-packed with lyrical intensity, thunderous drums, and searing guitar.
Today, Friday March 3, the independent pop singer and songwriter Awoodbeatz will release his latest studio endeavor, a dynamic new single entitled ‘High.’ The exciting new track features R&B vocalist Rio Adams, and as Awoodbeatz proclaims, will “have everyone throwing their hands high and turning up!” Exuding energy and intensity, ‘High’ is the perfect song to kick off the spring and summer seasons.