The Belle Jar- Union Station
Mar 5, 2014
RIYL: Gnarls Barkley, Amy Winehouse, Esperanza Spalding
Track 3- Hi, My Name is Ana
Track 4- Free Change
Track 5- Good Things
Track 9-Arbys and Sbarros
The mind behind Twinkie Jiggles Broken Orchestra, Sean McPherson, may be best known around the Minneapolis area for his work in the hip-hop group Heiruspecs, but his new project proves that he has a knack for writing really special music outside of hip-hop.
McPherson wrote all of the material for Too Big To Fail and enlisted some really great musicians and female voices like Ashley Gold, Chastity Brown, Claire De Lune and Aby Wolf to fill out the album. The result is something special. Too Big To Fail is one of those rare records that’s both fun and ridden with emotional depth.
McPherson’s arrangements are sparse and not overdone, but still sonically engaging. He employs really tasty piano and organ instrumentation accompanied by some fabulous guitar playing to soar over top of his trademark bass lines. Too Big To Fail sounds like it leaked out of the Motown record collection, mixed with modern influences and released itself.
Songs like “Good Things” are infectious soul-ridden, pop goodness. “Arbys and Sbarros” is another impossibly fun and catchy, yet emotional pop ballad with a hypnotizing groove and pulsing electronic piano sounds. “Hi, My Name Ana” is catchy enough for mainstream pop radio but engaging enough to find its niche in the more intellectual genres.
And that’s what makes this project so great. The songs are all pop at heart, but dressed up in a sentiment that’s more fitting in the soul genre. But don’t think that McPherson is riding the coattails of Bruno Mars or anything. He has more than enough songwriting chops by himself.
Lionize – Reality Check (Single)
After forming together in 2004, the Maryland-based band Lionize shows their passion in music as they prepare to release a new album. Lionize’s music can be described as an eclectic blend of styles, as the group creates sounds that are part stoner rock and part reggae while incorporating blues.
“Reality Check” is the band’s first single off their new album. The single is bluesier rock than the band’s previous album. Also, the heavy riffs and drumming in the song blends well with the lyrics and the voice of lead vocalist Nate Bergman. Not only is the song their first single, but it proves to their fans that they are more mature, becoming a more powerful group than before.
If you like rock and the blues, check out this song. It’s not a bad listen and it gives a preview into what their album will be like. Also, there might be a few songs here or there that have a touch of reggae to them. So if you are wondering what this band has to offer in their evolution of music, listen to “Jetpack Soundtrack” on February 18, 2014.
RIYL: Damien Marley, Bob Marley, Elephant Man
Track 1 – Sippin’ On Rum
Track 3 – Designated Drive
Alexander Star is a recording artist and songwriter whose balances R&B, Hip Hop, and Reggae. Star presents clever hooks and catchy melodies with songs that are relevant to today’s generation. His newest release, the Badd Habitz EP, consists of three songs written about the vices that many people turn to when having fun.
The first song is “Sippin’ on Rum, which features Jamaican singer, Toi. The song is an ideal combination of Star’s melodic rapping style and Toi’s gentle singing voice, creating a “chill” vibe. The song talks about the highs one can get from taking a draw of herb, which helps loosen the mind when trying to relieve stress.
There’s always someone who becomes a “Designated Driva” when another gets too much “buzz” in their system. The last song on the EP features flowing verses from Voicemail Music Group and Shaka Pow, reflecting on a typical night on the town that becomes out of control. However, Star raps/sings about taking the safe route as he illustrates a fun time that most people can relate to.
Star writes songs that merge fun with responsibility as opposed to reckless “habitz.” Between his lyrics and Jamaican beats from numerous of his inspirations, Star has potential to be a good reggae artist.
?ÄčAgainst Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
RIYL: Foo Fighters and The Gaslight Anthem
Recommended Tracks: True Trans Soul Rebel, Dead Friend, Fuckmylife666.
This album is mixed greatly. I love the opening track. It gives the album a punky sound. In general, the album is very grungy and punky. I compare it to The Gaslight Anthem. They have sort of an Irish punk sound to them.
"True Trans Soul Rebel" takes me back to middle school. This song is much more punkish and and teenage like. The guitar riff is very catchy. They do a very good job bringing in the chugging guitar in the chorus.
"Fuckmylife666" is what I compare to the Gaslight Anthem— a very american punch with a twist of Irish rock thrown it.
"Dead Friend" is my favorite song on the album. It is a happy medium for me. It still has that chugging punk guitar—definitely a rock song— but also a ballad, reminding me of the Gaslight Anthem.
All together...WOW. Has to be rock album of the year
RIYL: The Ravonettes, Best Coast
When I heard of the Dum Dum Girls I automatically thought angsty girl band, but I was disappointed when their first track started playing. I was hoping for a No Doubt, Fiona Apple and The Cranberries vibe. Maybe it was my fault for putting this band on such a high pedestal before even wafting in their sound.
Instead of bra-burning music that I could jump around my room feeling my girl power, I was met with breathy vocals and a mystical Gothic sound with light airy tones. When listening closely I could almost hear a slight similarity to the band Metric, but I did say almost. If you can't tell, this band was not my cup of tea. Their instrumentals were generic and made you feel you were in a bad 80’s Gothic music video. Not to mention that I couldn’t get past the lyrics that sounded like some chick whimpering about a guy that was “Too True to Be Good”.
Emerson Jay- T H E E P
RIYL: Foster the People, Passion Pit
Recommended Tracks: Track 2: Young Svn, Track 5: LZY Me
T H E E P is the first release from the Pittsburgh-native four-piece band, Emerson Jay. Jared Gulden is a twenty-one year old musician and the brains behind the entire operation of Emerson Jay. T H E E P is a six song EP, filled to the brim with electronic synth-soaked happiness.
The band draws its influences from groups like Foster the People and Passion Pit, but still manage to harvest their own unique sound. It’s relaxing, yet exciting and catchy. Track two, “Young Svn”, starts with an infectious guitar riff that leads into a burst of sound and energy that holds strong for the remainder of the song. Jared Gulden is young and new to the music scene, but that doesn’t stop him from delivering some insightful lyrics that add to the quality of the EP. On “Young Svn” he sings, “It's too much to take, how far can you go until you'll have to break?And how will we break? cause it hurts to say that the end isn't far away.” On track 5, “LZY Me”, he questions “May I make up my mind if I change i?, cause I change a lot.” In Gulden’s lyrics, it’s obvious to read that he is nervous of the future. As any musician trying to break in to the industry has probably felt before, Gulden and the rest of Emerson Jay have questions about their future and their music.
Let’s just say that this EP is a step in the right direction. Their sound is something relatively new to the music industry, and will most likely grow in popularity in the near future. Fueled by raw talent, passion and a little bit of luck, we’ll be hearing a lot more from Emerson Jay. T H E E P is a breath of fresh air to music.
RIYL: Queens of the Stone Age, Biffy Clyro, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Track 4- My Kite
Track 5- Amusement Park
Four Italian kids under the mantras E-King, Penguinsane, litteladle and ThEdOg team up with a Grammy-award-winning producer and release a great funk-rock EP. That’s the story of newly Austin-based band Piqued Jacks.
The Jacks take the highly syncopated funk feel of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and infuse some good old rock & roll on their EP, “Just a Machine.” It doesn’t take long to see just how talented the Italian boys are. “Blackie” is a blazing fast, funky rock track infused with a machine-gun-like bass riff and an infectious poppy chorus featuring some really tight harmonies.
“My Kite” is a gorgeous piano driven song that crescendos into a full-on power ballad that sounds destined for a movie soundtrack, especially during the unforgettable chorus that shouts the cadence “The Ocean is Wide” over bright, cutting guitar sounds.
The band has been making a lot of noise in the Austin, Texas area, and it’s easy to see why after listening to the EP. These guys have some serious potential.
RIYL: The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Japandroids, White Stripes
Track 1- Dreamer
Track 2- Wicker Man
Track 5- Fires
New Mexico-based, blues/funk-rock duo The Lymbs have the same unique gift that made the White Stripes famous: to create an absolutely huge sound with just guitar and drums. The duo combine elements of blues and funk rock with harder, garage rock, mashing up guitar tones that sound straight from a Chili Peppers record with huge, fuzzed out moments that sound like Japandroids on steroids.
Gage Bickerstaff’s seducing tenor sounds like something straight out of the early blues-rock movement— say Cream or Muddy Waters. Plus, he can absolutely shred on the guitar. On the opening track his clean, laid back riffing explodes into a huge sounding, overdriven guitar blitz that will have you wanting to bash your head off the nearest wall and shout for joy at the same time.
Jeff Bell tackles the daunting task of giving a backbone on drums to such a versatile, rhythmically complex sound like it’s not even a challenge. He shuffles back and forth between polyrythmic and highly syncopated licks (“Kerosene”) and heavy half-time thrashing (“Dreamer”) with ease— which is no small task.
In a world full of assembly-line-produced, rip-off bands, The Lymbs take a unique, refreshing approach to bringing back rock music. And they do it in a big way
Recommended tracks: 5. Gone Solid Gone Remix, 1. Laziest Girl In Town Remix, 4. You're To Blame Remix
In a remix to Austin-based singer Elizabeth McQueen's The Laziest Girl in Town album, Brothers Lazaroff join forces with McQueen to create a jazzy, electronic, R&B EP. This EP is one of those that you listen to with quality headphones or a great sound system so you can really hear Brothers Lazaroff's amazing instrumentals.
Track 5, "Gone Solid Gone," really sticks out because of featured artist Thelonius Kryptonite. His smoother vocals were preferred over McQueen’s tone on this track. Don't get me wrong, McQueen has a great voice, especially with her old-school singing style, but Thelonius gives the song such a twist by incorporating his rapping talents.
The opening track on this EP, “Laziest Girl in Town,” is just so mellow and relaxing. McQueen’s voice reminds me of real old-school R&B, the kind that you slowly nod to. And of course Brother Lazaroff is just sick at doing what they do—such a smooth track and a great way to introduce Brother Lazaroff and McQueen.
The fourth track, ”You're to blame,” has one of the best instrumentals on this entire EP. Brothers Lazaroff clearly express how crafted they are on this track. That cool kind of electronic melody along with the background singers and McQueen is so fluid.
Overall, a pretty good EP if you're into a modern, jazzy feel.