Pop Music That Will Have You Feeling ‘Top Of The Morning’

Single Cover

Layla Haskell

“Top Of The Morning”

So let me be straight up here – as a Gen X male with a wife and kids, a mortgage and a preference for dinner with friends over partying, I am probably not the target demographic for most modern pop music. Whilst I am a fan of genre, it is it is not the first thing I seek to listen to in those rare moments that I have time to spare.

 

With that said, I can recognize talent when I hear it and am only too happy to admit that I like “Top of the Morning”, the latest single from Layla.. Underpinned by the stunning production work of Darren Martyn, Bournemouth-based Layla Haskell delivers an assured pop-vocal performance. Her voice sit perfectly over the catchy summer vibes, demonstrating a range and control that speaks to her talent. From start to finish, this is a song that makes you take notice and asks you to listen again.

 

“Top of the Morning” is a pretty damn catchy song indeed and Layla is an artist that I am sure we will be hearing more from.  I would even consider putting this on for a listen when I next get the chance, and from this old man, that’s praise indeed.

 

Simon says 4 out of 5 stars.

4 Star Rating

 

The Atom Age Makes Rock and Roll That Is Exciting And Raw


Indie Rock Band

The Atom Age

“Never looking”

The Atom Age makes rock and roll that is exciting and raw. Drawing on influences from the The Saints to The Black Keys, the members of this six-piece Oakland band wear their influences on their collective sleeves.

 

“Never Looking”, the debut single from the band’s upcoming album “Cry Til’ You Die”, is a great example of its sound. The track kicks off with a monster guitar riff and a lyric that serves as a statement of intent  (“I never learned a way to take it slow”) and rarely takes its foot off the pedal in its short, sharp running time. The introduction of a saxophone into the mix only adds to the mayhem and fun.

 

This is music that I imagine would best be experienced live. It might be hard for me to get over to the US and see the boys in action though, so for now I await the release of their album on August 23. Like “Never Looking”, I will keep this review short and to the point and will wrap things up by simply saying this – check out The Atom Age if you like good rock and roll.

Simon says 4 out of 5 stars.

4 Star Rating

Available For Pre-Order

https://smarturl.it/lxjfpu

 

Upcoming shows:

AUG 23 Slim’s- San Francisco, CA

DEC 27 Kung Fu Necktie- Philadelphia (w/ New Bomb Turks)

Ella Fence’s Vocals are Intense And Outstanding with ‘Don’t Feed The Monster’ 

SINGER

Ella Fence

“Don’t Feed The Monster”

If you haven’t heard of Ella Fence then you’ve been missing out.

Ella’s earlier recordings consisted of strong beats and dark moody emotions which I loved.  

I’ve seen Ella progress with her new music since those early days and have to admit, I was a little concerned that the beautiful dark mood had evaporated.

After hearing this latest release of ‘Don’t Feed The Monster’, I’m pleased to say all my fears have been laid to rest.

Ella’s well-known distinctive style of dark moody and captivating melodies show in a rather different light in ‘Don’t Feed The Monster’.

Fence’s vocals are outstanding as it shows her vocal ability in a way where she doesn’t need to “show off”, moving from one octave to another using clear crisp falsetto bouncing from the lower register combined with her exceptional vibrato adding intensity in the verses making her performance enthralling.

‘Don’t Feed The Monster’ almost feels like a rock musical piece with synth arpeggio’s and sound effects floating around her vocal helping the track carry through while she feeds that monster.

The obvious component that can’t go unnoticed, is the simplicity and space and the clear message about feeding the monster, which I believe makes you want to set this track on repeat.    

One more thing….listen to the scream  after the bridge!

Love it! 

5 out of 5  Purple Hearts from Tracey

DON’T FEED THE MONSTER

Hannah Stewart Is An Artist We Need To Keep An Eye On

Single Cover Hannah Stewart

Hannah stewart

“Glaze”

Californian electro-pop artist Hannah Stewart delivers two things on her new single – minimalism and groove.  Due for release on July 31, Glaze is an exercise in sparse drums, bouncy synth bass, layered vocals and very little else. And let me be clear – this track does not need another thing added. Following in the footsteps of artists like Grimes, Stewart manages to wrangle the most out of very little indeed, creating a track that is instantaneously catchy.

Written about the need to retreat from the world on occasions, Glaze is a direct and honest reflection on the need for introspection:

            “I like to glaze it over, I like to drown it out, Drown out the noise we live in, filter out”

Despite this, the song never sounds depressing – rather, the infectious groove keeps you dancing (even when all that seems to remain is that ever-present bass).

Glaze is a great pop track and Hannah Stewart is an artist that we need to keep an eye on. Her lyrics, production and vocals are all top notch. And, most importantly, she delivers it all in a minimalist package that is both idiosyncratic and refreshingly new.

Simon says 4 out of 5 stars.

4 Star Rating

Glaze is available on 31st July

On All Major Streaming Platforms

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Moment To Moment Is A Strong Album That Deserves Your Attention

Indie Artist

missing words

“moment to moment”

It is an unfortunate reality that the word “melancholy” has a bad name. Often understood as sad or gloomy, people tend to forget that it can also mean pensive – a term dictionary.com defines as “dreamily or wistfully thoughtful; expressing or revealing thoughtfulness, usually marked by some sadness”. Indeed, some of the greatest pieces of music ever made, from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 Adagietto to U2’s With or Without You, can best be referred to as melancholy.

 

So it is with the greatest respect that I describe Moment to Moment, the new album from California band, Missing Words, as melancholy. This can be heard in the opening words of the title track (“I close my eyes, embrace the fall”) to the plaintive vocals and slow, lush synth pads of the closing track, Breath In. What holds the album together are the synthwave-inspired tracks and the fantastic vocals of lead singer James Meays, who sings about overcoming struggles, lost love and addiction, as well as changing for a better purpose. For me, the picks were Every Night, with its pulsing electro beat and the short but ever so good Reflections. The latter track, despite only clocking in at one and a half minutes long, would not have been out of place in Bladerunner.

 

Moment to Moment is a strong album and deserves your attention. In a perfect world, it would be gracing the airwaves instead of the saccharine nonsense so often found there. Dreamy and wistfully thoughtful, Missing Words have created an electronic album that should meet the test of time.

 

Simon says 4 out of 5 stars.

4 Star Rating

Understated and to the point, I Felt It In The Wind; Anna Wiebe

 

Singer

Anna Wiebe 

I Felt It In The Wind

It’s safe to say that we live in a world that is loud in every sense of the word. We are bombarded with advertising, sounds, signs and demands.  At work, in traffic and in what seems like ever less free time, the loudness never seems to dissipate, leaving us stressed and longing for moments of peace: We yearn for something simple and quiet.

 

Into this space comes I Felt It In the Wind by Anna Wiebe. Over a gentle guitar figure, her soft vocals speak of a quiet moment:

            “I felt it in the wind, I know its colder now, the air knows that somehow”

The Canadian singer-songwriter has produced a delightful track here that reminds me of the country-folk ballads of Jill Sobule. Understated and to the point, I Felt It In The Wind is a pearl and does what all great songs should – it takes you to another place and leaves you wanting more.

 

From the recently released album, All I Do Is Move, this single speaks of what seems to be the opposite – stillness. Wiebe speaks of how she was inspired by a quote from a quote from Douglas Copeland, which states that, “The act of endless motion itself is a substitute for any larger form of thought.” Perhaps what this means is that we need to step back from the noise of our life to focus on what truly matters. With this track, Anna Wiebe has encouraged us all to do that and I thank her for it.

 

Simon says 5 out of 5 stars.

 

SOCIALS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annarwiebe

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annawiebemusic/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annarwiebe/

 

Trip Jacker Mixes genres and styles in ‘search for humanity’

Indie Music

Trip Jacker

‘Search For Humanity’

One of the things I have enjoyed about the evolution of music over the last decade or so has been the crumbling of genre barriers. As someone who has never felt comfortable with the limitations and expectations placed upon artists by genre conventions, it is comforting to see those conventions being dismantled, reconstructed and reimagined.

 

Massachusetts-based musician and producer, Trip Jacker, works in this new space – happily mixing genres and styles on his latest track, ‘Search For Humanity’. Starting with a beat and bass line straight out of the eighties, he adds guitars and samples to produce a song that quickly develops into something individual and distinct. While hinting at the proto-industrial stylings of Killing Joke, Search For Humanity also draws upon synthwave and the kind of dance-rock made popular by bands such as Jesus Jones to create a track that is simultaneously retro and refreshingly new.

 

With cover art by Italian artist, Erinni Xeen, Search For Humanity is the complete package. I look forward to its coming release and await more music from the genre-melding artist that is Trip Jacker.

Simon says 4.5 out of 5 stars.

4.5 Star Rating

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Links to trip jacker

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/tripjackermusic

Website: https://www.tripjacker.com

Also find Trip Jacker on all the regular streaming services

 

Daniella Mason gets it right; pop music for the thinking people

Singer

Daniella Mason

“Mental State”

The trick for any artist is to write and deliver material that is varied enough to keep the attention of a listener, whilst simultaneously developing a style that is easily identifiable as one’s own. This is not always an easy trick to pull off. Some artists have a sound that is all their own, but after hearing a few tracks it becomes obvious that there is nothing else in their arsenal. On the flip side, there are those musicians who are so eclectic that there is no way to determine what lies at the core of their style.

On the “Mental State” EP, Daniella Mason gets it right, moving across genre boundaries but always maintaining a recognizable musical identity. Starting with the minimal, jazz-infused experimentation of “Deepest of Wells”, Mason tackles pop (“Girl in the Box”), upbeat electronic dance music (“Get Me Out Of My Head”), and a low and slow ballad (“What Goes Down Must Come Up”). Tying it all together are the intelligent, introspective lyrics and understated vocal delivery that define this Nashville-based artist’s approach.

“Mental State” is the second of four EPs that Mason will be releasing over the course of the year as part of her “State of Mine” sound series. Based on the strength of this outing, I will be tracking down the previous EP and picking up the next two upon release. This is pop-music for thinking people and is well worth the listen.

Simon says 4 out of 5 stars.

4 Star Rating

The Mental State EP is available now on

SoundCloud | Spotify |Apple Music | |Amazon |  ,Tidal  | Deezer |Google Play

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It’s Time To Bring Back The Fun with 80’s big hair and ‘Dance Party’

Band

Dance Party

“Too Hot Too Touch”

I grew up in the 80s, and that brings back some great musical memories: Listening to the Top 40 on the radio with my finger poised over the record button, waiting to capture my favorite track; listening to songs slow down as the batteries went flat on my Walkman; and, grooving away to the synth-driven funk of acts like Prince and Cameo at my local Blue Light disco.

Listening to Dance Party, I was instantly transported back to my youth and those wonderful memories. Too Hot To Touch is a new release but would you could be forgiven for thinking that this was the output of a young Whitney Houston.

And that ain’t a bad thing.

Starting with spacey, synth arpeggios, the track quickly finds its groove with big brass hooks and an irresistible bass that is topped off when the vocals kick in. And then there is the chorus that had me singing along before I had heard this out for the first time. This is a fun track played by musicians of the highest order and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Dance Party runs a “disco inferno” party series in their home city of Melbourne. I like to think that these parties are packed full of girls with big crimped hair and boys in stone-washed jeans and pastel shirts dancing like they have not a care in the world. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but this track sure deserves it.

 

Simon says 5 out of 5 stars.

5 Stars

Listen To More “Dance Party”

Skaarl Constantly Expands and Experiments Electronic Music

Fumar Single by Skaarl

“Fumar”

Skaarl

What I love about electronic music is the endless variety – the seemingly infinite combination of sounds and genres that thoughtful producers are able to generate using the tools at their disposal. Unlike some other genres that are limited by the instruments that define their sounds, the very nature of electronic music is to constantly expand and experiment with new sounds and approaches.
Fumar, by UK-based artist Skaarl, is a perfect example of this. Starting with a simple acoustic reggae vibe, the track adds what can only be described as a comedic guitar line, before moving into a spaced out jam reminiscent of Left field at their tripped out best. Without overstaying its welcome, Fumar explores the eccentric side of the genre, whilst treating the listener to a listening experience filled with unexpected delights.
This is electronic music of a high order and represents what is fresh and exciting about the genre. Indeed, Skaarl is open about this eclectic approach, describing his style as “whatever happens in the moment”. In a world of carefully marketed, stage-managed releases, it is great to hear an artist take such an approach.
I enjoyed this track and I am sure you will too. Now available at all the regular places, I recommend searching out this (electronic) gem.
Simon says 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

4.5 Star Rating

 

Bass, Cool Grooves, Great production and Soulful Vocals From Jean

Australian Pop Singer Jean

Jean

“Follow You”

Bass and electronic dance music go together like cheese and crackers. Like sunscreen and a day at the beach. Like music reviews and bad analogies…..

The first thing that draws you into this fine EDM track is the bass. Producer, Open Till L8, has worked with Sydney artist, Jean, to create a simple, bass-driven groove that is perfectly suited to sun-soaked afternoon parties. Indeed, the production throughout is top-notch and even includes something rare in the world of electronic music – a middle eight.

But it would be wrong of me to focus solely on the musical elements of this track.  What becomes obvious on repeat listens is Jean’s lyrical skill. Delivered in a style best described as sleepy-soulful, he speaks to an unnamed partner described as his “favourite kind of distraction” using deceptively simple lines that hint at greater depths of meaning. This is songwriting of a high order – songwriting that understates its case and in so doing, invites you to return for more.

So, if bass, cool grooves, great production, soulful vocals and understatedly intelligent lyrics are your thing, take some time to check out Follow You by Jean. You might just be happy you took the time to do so.

Simon say 4 out of 5 stars.

4 Star Rating

 

‘Light Me Up’ by Jemma Siles is Pretty Damn Good; Someone to Watch!

Jemma Siles

“Light Me Up”

Pop music is a curious thing. Reviled by rock and indie music elitists, it is nonetheless a genre that continues to evolve, experiment and inspire. From The Beatles, to ABBA, through to Taylor Swift, it continues to outsell everything else. And there is a little secret as to why that is…

A lot of it is pretty damn good.

Light Me Up by Jemma Siles is pretty damn good. The singer-songwriter from Melbourne, Australia delivers intelligent lyrics (“I’m cutting your strings, but holding them tight”) in a vocal style that moves from sultry to strident. Underpinning her performance is a Latin-infused rhythm and minimalist electronic production of the highest order. Taken together, the track is absolutely contemporary and should find its home on any number of pop-friendly FM radio stations.

As a recent Australian Songwriter of the Year in the contemporary pop genre (as judged by APRA AMCOS), Siles is more than a one hit-wonder. Her lyrical skill and ear for a catchy melody places her among the strongest of those artists currently making a name for them selves in the ever-changing world of pop music.

I will make the call and say that Light Me Up is just an early chapter in the story of this artist. Watch this space.

Simon says 4 out of 5 stars.

4 Star Rating

Light Me Up Available

Clinton Tarantino Reminds Us That There Is Still Vibrancy Left in House

New House Single

Clinton Tarantino

Clinton Tarantino – Don’t Stop

 

Getting dance music right is not as simple as it may seem. As a genre built with a singular purpose in mind, good dance music must take the listener on a journey, whilst imploring them to keep on dancing.

With “Don’t Stop”, Clinton Tarantino shows he can get this balance right. Starting with the uplifting piano and sweeping strings synonymous with (progressive) house music, Tarantino slowly adds vocal elements and synth leads to a rhythm track that has its roots in the smooth electronic stylings of Daft Punk’s “Discovery” era. The production is superb and all the ingredients add up to a track that is sure to be dance-floor favorite after its release on June 2.

Like so much of the music that comes across my desk to review, I was pleasantly surprised by this track. Sometimes house music can seem formulaic and a tired reproduction of sounds and ideas going back to 1980s’ Chicago. On “Don’t Stop”, Clinton Tarantino reminds us that there is still a lot of vibrancy left in this genre. An evolving and melodic gem, I recommend this track to anyone looking for a dance-floor journey.

Simon says 4 out of 5 stars.

Clinton Tarantino

https://open.spotify.com/track/7kF2IHvzFQ65CEDNu8gEnR?si=7YDpS96gQ_qTd3XZCC4zeg​

 

A Perfect Score For Psychedelic New Music From islandman

islandman

“Lamani”

I’m going to start this review where I usually end it and let you know that Simon says this one is 5 out of 5 stars.
This is the first time I have given a perfect score and that is because this is a perfect track by a band that deserves to be a household name.
Hailing from Turkey and consisting of Eralp Güven, Erdem Baer and Tolga Böyük, Islandman make a music that is both familiar and yet totally new. Lamani is the soundtrack to Woodstock that never was, with its African-inspired beats, organic funk and a guitar solo that seems lifted from Robby Kreiger.
But it is also a song that is firmly grounded in the musical sensibilities of now. Its psychedelic lyrics, hints of analogue synth and nods to a range of world music styles, puts it amongst good company – company that pays homage to a (retro) past whilst signally the shape of something new on the horizon.
Lamani is the first signal from the band’s sophomore LP, Kaybola, and if the rest of the album is anywhere near as strong as this single, it will be number one on my “to buy” list in August.
So, just in case you missed it, I really like this track and I think you will too.
Simon Says 5 out of 5 Stars

5 Stars

 

Till’ I Find A Me To Defend’ From Lennox Lust

Indie Duo Lennox Lust

Lennox Lust

If I were you and you were me, would you still be my friend?

Mick Hambly and Lauren Valatiadis are Lennox Lust, a folk duo from Sydney Australia, whose single “Till’ I Find A Me To Defend”, sees the pair asking this question of each other.

Over a simple guitar lick, Hambly first asks the question in his dusky tenor. As the song builds, Valatiadis takes over vocal duties and repeats the question in a voice tinged with longing. The track reaches its peak as the duo come together to sing the final chorus, their voices sitting beautifully together – the couple’s understated harmonies a perfect match for the question that lays at the song’s heart.

I must admit that I am not usually a fan of folk music. It’s nothing personal – just that I work in the area of electronic music and don’t often take the time to explore the artists and songs whose acoustic sounds and songwriting approach can often be the antithesis of my own chosen genre.  But with Lennox Lust, I have found an exception (and perhaps a beginning). I will be seeking out more of their music and look forward to hearing the new record that I believe is on its way later this year.

Simon says 4 out of 5 stars.

 

Loo & Monetti are ‘Broken Inside’ but ‘So Friendly’

Loo & Monetti

It is always good to be pleasantly surprised. Having never heard the French outfit Loo & Monetti before, I did not know what to expect when I put on my headphones and pushed play on this ten-track album. What I got was a journey through a musical world that is all their own.

From the big, brash electro-pop opener “So Friendly”, to the downtempo beauty of the closing track “The Saddest Clowns”Loo & Monetti capture the listener with their accomplished mix of haunting vocals and understated production. Loo’s voice conveys the longing and fragility of the lyrics (“I want to breakaway, nothing more” from The Train) and she is amply supported by Monetti’s superb production. In what seems to be a contradiction, the tracks are simultaneously lush and stripped back at the same time – the sign of a master producer at work.

“Broken Inside” demands multiple listens and I look forward to sitting down again and paying this the attention it so richly deserves. It might not be a surprise the second time around, but it will be rewarding nonetheless.

Simon Says 4 out of 5 Stars

4 Star Rating

listen to the song and EP on spotify:

 

 

Links to Loo & Monetti

 

Website: http://www.loo-monetti.com/broken-inside/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loomonetti/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LOOetMONETTI

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iOpfcrtJHo

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loo_monetti/