Bryan Deister is a newcomer to the world of songwriting. I mean sure, he’s classically trained in modern music technically, but he’s been spending all of his time and efforts in the classical and jazz departments, and not to mention his tireless academic devotion as a current student at Berklee College of Music. His freshmen effort, rightfully named Spines of the Heart, is extremely bold, dark, and moody – a collection of melancholy grunge-pop tunes heavily influenced by the almighties Thom Yorke, Kurt Cobain, & Bjork. In all honesty a lot of the songs on this album really didn’t tickle my fancy in the slightest, but as a young and fairly new-to-this songwriter/composer, I can already see that Deister is truly a diamond in the rough. There is one song from the album that is destined for heavy rotation: the loner upbeat track of the bunch, and heavy on the Strokes-vibes pop song “Into The Sky”.
Any of you fine listeners planning on backpacking through any rainforests anytime soon? Hip-hop collaborative/producer The Cancel‘s latest album Jungle is the perfect companion to satisfy your wanderlust. A seamless blend of tribal vibes, jazz, and bossa nova, Jungle is extremely satisfying for the trip-hop-heads among us. I’ve been wading ear-deep through the jazzy trip-hop waters for several years now, and find myself floating alongside The Cancel’s productions more than anything else. Here are my two favorites from the new record:
Spencer Sabo is a rather young psychedelic dreamer. Under the moniker Mind The Journey, his latest album Color In The Gray Machine dives straight into the deep-end of experimental psychedelic rock. Honestly, though, the complexities of this album stretch far beyond the psych-rock genre. Unequal parts Tame Impala, The Faint, and Nirvana, Color In The Gray Machine reverberates throughout your noggin, with every drumbeat, guitar, synthline, and vocals carrying with it a heavy dose of melancholy distortion. His voice seems as though it is being dragged against its will through each song – sluggishly lingering with every syllable. But as much as this sounds like a bad thing, it pairs surprisingly well alongside these fuzzy, off-grunge, electronic psych tunes. Color In The Gray Machine is Spencer’s first full-length album as Mind The Journey, and it is a truly enjoyable experience. “Rose Colored Glasses” is how I imagine it must feel like to make it out of a bad acid trip in one piece – starting out quite loud and chaotic, and then coming to a crashing halt with an abrupt change in tempo, tone, and overall mood early on in the song, causing you to almost forget the chaos that invaded your ears just minutes earlier.
Check out the album in its entirety on Spotify, Bandcamp, and Youtube.
Folk-pop songwriter Joel Ansett is killing it right now. Fresh off glowing reception at Lyons, CO’s Folks Festival, receiving 5th place honors in their 2015 songwriter showcase, Ansett’s latest The Nature of Us is a tour de force, a charming blend of folk and R&B.
His music really speaks for itself. Grab the album on iTunes here, and in the meantime, check out the live version of “Turn To Gold” above, and listen to “Already In Love” below, two songs from the album that showcase the two sides of Ansett’s versatile sound.
Audrey Reed, Victor San Pedro, and Nick De La O, together known as Mleo (muh-lee-oh), have been jamming together since high school. Elias Vasquez joined the group behind drums a few years back, and they have been crafting their musical style ever since, blossoming into a truly stunning young group, creating a fresh, unique blend of jazz, funk, and R&B. Not to mention that kick ass ska punk vibe they’ve got going on in the rhythm section, reminiscent of early No Doubt and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their 2014 release Sunken City is a rock solid album, proving that despite being such a young band, there’s something truly special going on here. Their latest single, “Ridiculous“, gives us even more proof that they’ve really only scratched the surface in discovering themselves as a group, and their sound is bound to continue evolving, moving them further and further outside the box of indie pop rock.
It wasn’t until after I listened to Chet Baker Sings that I truly appreciated and enjoyed Temporary Hero‘s noteworthy tribute. He tackles almost every song off the original record, and puts a wicked dark spin on each and every one of them. Temporary Hero made a name for himself earlier this year with “Wild Joy“, a club-pleasing, heavy on the house-techno dance number that landed him a spot on the Billboard Club Charts in April. He could’ve continued riding that gravy train, likely indefinitely, but instead decided to step outside the box and pay tribute to some of the true giants of jazz: Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and now Chet Baker. The album, simply titled Chet, takes the now iconic jazz standards that Chet Baker so boldly sang alongside his trusty trumpet back in 1956, and strips them down to the nuts and bolts – most tracks consisting of a simple drum beat, synth, and vocals. He could’ve just as easily done an album of “covers”, but instead he presents us with thoughtful and somber electronic reimaginings. Here are my two favorites from the album, “Time After Time” and “Look For The Silver Lining”.
This past Sunday was my birthday – so naturally I went to a record store to celebrate (Dallas’ own Good Records if you’re curious). Over the speakers was “Keep Score” by Stardeath and White Dwarfs from their 2009 The Birth. How I managed to live the last 6 years without this record anywhere on my radar is a complete mystery. Stardeath blends 70s-fuzz and mellowed-out space rock from one track to the next in a way that almost seems effortless, making this record a must-have for your ever-expanding collection of psych-rock. And if the band sounds familiar, you might not be surprised to learn that the frontman has an uncle named Wayne Coyne (aka the frontman of The Flaming Lips). Be sure to also check out Stardeath’s even more psychedelic sophomore, Wastoid, out last year on Federal Prism records.