Press Release - ALTOSPIN Records, Astraer - July 3, 2017

Joseph Papadopoulos, a member of Mood Krafterz and Psychic Ströpharia, will continue to expand his diverse repertoire as a solo artist under the moniker of Astraer with a brand new release from ALTOSPIN Records due out later this summer. Entitled ‘When The Sky Turns Grey,’ the artist’s new EP includes six tracks that delve into his diverse sonic explorations as a melodic techno and neo trance-producer.

Jett Allen - 'Good Night'

Similar to the last track of Allen’s we explored here on the Spotlight, ‘Good Night’ is doused in synthesizers that make no apologies for being intensely artificial sounding. The single sounds like it may have been recorded entirely on one electronic keyboard utilizing various presets. Even the basic percussion beat that enters later in the track sounds like it could have been inside a basic Yamaha keyboard. That, though, is exactly what I love about ‘Good Night,’ and more so, Allen’s music as a whole.

Harry Sproat - 'Meditation'

For an artist that just turned twenty, Sproat’s music is surprisingly well-realized and cohesive in its unique style. ‘Meditation’ seems to pull from a variety of influences: alternative rock, electronic, and shoegaze are all mixed into the amalgamation that is ‘Meditation,’ and the long, wandering verses have an ethereal, even psychedelic or Asian-influenced sound. (Sproat says that ‘Samurai Jack’ was an influence on the tune, which makes complete sense.)

Vin Ryan - 'Childhood Dream'

Ryan has previously described ‘Childhood Dream’ as having a “James Blake kind of aesthetic,” which is actually a fairly apt parallel to make. The song is doused in reverb and soul influence with Ryan softly crooning, sometimes entering delicate falsettos, in very melancholy fashion. Even though Ryan has segmented his “electronic” music off into ‘BLUE,’ ‘Childhood Dream’ still has hints of pop influence scattered throughout. Ryan’s suave vocal performance is emotive and compelling, especially considering his impressive range as he effortlessly maneuvers through various octaves.

Press Release - Rommel Tha Youngsta - June 23, 2017

Miami, FL - Rommel Tha Youngsta, best known for his contributions as a member of the rap group ICESQUAD, has released his debut solo endeavor. Entitled ‘They Don’t,’ the performer’s eclectic first single is chock-full of insightful social commentary, compelling production, and memorable rhymes and musings. The track is available now on all major digital download and streaming platforms.

Barrett Staples - 'That Yonder'

Staples’ brand of indie music is indeed doused heavily in jazz, soul, and R&B. He doesn’t cite hip hop, though, which is odd, because his sound is ultimately rooted in it. The opening to ‘That Yonder,’ a tune entitled ‘Nova,’ is a hip hop song in the vein of Frank Ocean. It’s atmospheric, highly suave, and tinged in dream pop musings. Staples is entirely natural and swift-footed in his execution, making the tactful lyrical content of ‘Nova’ entirely enthralling to dig into.

Rizo - His Three Dynamic New Singles

All three of these new singles from Rizo can easily be classified into the dance and EDM genres, boasting bombastic production, danceable, funky beats and infectious samples. ‘Too Much Booty’ is a rather fascinating excursion through this; it’s a highly repetitive sample, but one can’t help but dig it. The song has an ability to naturally get one moving. It reminds me, both in lyrical and instrumental style, of New Orleans bounce music. It may prove annoying to listen to for extended periods of time, but in its brief four minutes, ‘Too Much Booty’ offers just the right amount of intensity to be enjoyable.

Nick Driver - 'The Drunken Buddhist'

The introduction to ‘The Drunken Buddhist’ sets the tone beautifully for the record, with the album’s other two collaborators, the bassist and the engineer, disowning themselves from the effort while an announcer muses about the difficulties of obtaining prescription drugs. It prepares the listener for the most rambling, bizarre journey through cocky lyricism and punchy, infectiously ridiculous hooks.

Mac Jeff - 'Hella Popular' (Ft. Husalah, The Jacka, & L-Love)

‘Hella Popular’ is an intriguing track because while it doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table of indie hip hop, it is a rather joyfully ridiculous romp through over-the-top lyricism and classic production. The instrumentation and beats in ‘Hella Popular’ sound like they’re right out of 1992, and I mean that in a most complimentary way. There’s an aura surrounding this single that’s akin to the classic era of hip hop, especially with its lyric-heavy presentation that doesn’t leave much room for any ostentatious over-production.

Static Choke - 'Low Resolution Solution'

Static Choke open up their freshman EP with ‘Big Bang Pimp,’ a fiery, explosive excursion through distortion and lead vocals that border into realms of metal. Lead vocalist Greg Grunder has a set of pipes that tear down the walls of pretension often surrounding indie punk acts. His aggression feels authentic and honest - not manufactured. When one listens closely to the track, it’s also easy to hear that Grunder is matched by equally passionate performers. Vince Baugh, the drummer, is thunderous, and Pat O’Brien, the bassist, is very versatile in such a quick-moving soundscape.

Press Release - Da Twin Prince - June 9, 2017

The rising independent artist Da Twin Prince has released his latest studio effort, a suave new single entitled ‘Taste Your Love.’ The slickly produced song comes on the heels of ‘StudioSexOnTheWeekend,’ the performer’s last mixtape. Available now to stream and download on all major digital music platforms, the track elegantly infuses Afro beats, hip hop, and R&B into one cohesive, compelling new sonic experience.

Jake Ward - Restless

‘Restless’ was co-written by Bergsnes and Ben Pleasanton, a friend of Ward’s. “I wanted a great summer tune about wanderlust and falling in love with someone who was the same way,” Ward mused about his newest single. He’s certainly accomplished conjuring that type of atmosphere: ‘Restless’ is the kind of song that’ll perfectly score your summer season. Its anthemic, sing-along nature is ideal for blaring stereos and outdoor events this season.

Suburban Vermin - 'TV Head Nation #1'

Similar to its predecessor, ‘Issue #1’ has been released with a rather excellent comic book companion piece. It’s a fairly on-the-nose critique of a post-Trump America, in which the lead characters battle back and forth with an army of evil “TV heads.” This, of course, is a shot across the bow at Trump supporters. In one scuffle, one woman is confirmed as a “sexual deviant,” given two options: “mandatory conversion therapy or execution.” (Who would have thought Mike Pence could fit one of those massive televisions on his equally large head?)

Jana Pochop - 'Lightning'

Pochop, for me, is a special artist. She was one of the first independent musicians that I highlighted on the Independent Spotlight when I began writing it nearly three years ago in July of 2014. This blog has evolved in a variety of new directions, and naturally, Pochop has come quite a ways in that time, too. She sounds more comfortable than ever. Listening back on that first album I reviewed, it remains lovely, but the production of ‘Lightning’ is so much more refined with crystal clear vocals and instrumentation.

Nova Casanova - 'While They Were Dancing'

“Ultra rock” was originally coined by Henry Cowell in 1917 in his book ‘New Musical Resources.’ He argued a genre called “ultra rock” would form that had an emphasis on the second in a musical scale rather than the third. “I use the ninth and sixth which are both seconds in the musical scale,” the artist explains. “Where you would find seventh notes used, I will use the sixth instead.” Casanova’s guitar is tuned to this formula, which he then builds larger in a multi-layered process.

Alan LaBudde - 'Palm Sunday Driver'

First and foremost, there are few things that can win my heart more easily than an artist citing Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bach, Beethoven, and Alan Lomax, amongst others, as primary influences in their work. It’s abundantly obvious that LaBudde is versed in a variety of genres and has an understanding of their lineage and how they work their way into his sound. This makes ‘Palm Sunday Driver’ highly eclectic, even nearly impossible to classify into one specific genre. I adore that.