48 ANDERSON .PAAK
California artist Anderson .Paak delivers something familiar in Malibu, a seventeen-track epic that is uncanny as it is masterful.
ELLINE: GLASS REVIEW Los Angeles-based singer songwriter Elline is one suave lady. Her first EP “Stained Glass,” a blend of R&B, soul and electro, is solid, blurring the lines between these genres quite masterfully.
14 10 STRANGE TALK Emotionally resonates with me long after listening. Wide source of influences that are well utilized.
MIRROR SIGNAL GIVES NEW LIFE TO TIMELESS THEMES
Table of Content
LYEL’S “RAVEN” TO TAKE HER TO NEW HEIGHTS Power pop second single “Raven” by Finnish artist Lyel is nothing short of a revelation.
ODDISEE PACKS A PUNCH WITH THE GOOD FIGHT Oddisee uses storytelling to explore the issues that he likes to talk about.
22 26 TETRA - THE ELECTROPOP QUEEN There is a bright future ahead for the rising electropop queen, and all that stands between her truly taking the throne is time.
08. Matt Hewitt
Despite its title, there’s nothing criminal about Matt Hewitt’s single “Criminal,” a three-and-a-half minute track that is strong, upbeat, and leaves us in anticipation for what is to come...
16. Panic! At The Disco
A follow up to acclaimed 2013 effort Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, Panic! At The Disco did not leave us waiting too long with their latest Death Of A Bachelor, continuing the showy pomp that the band has been known...
52. Leron Thomas
Leron Thomas is truly an original voice in the music world and “Cliquish” refuses to conform to any traditional expectations. The most impressive aspect of the album, though, is that Thomas never loses the audience...
24OUR MUSIC 34. Sleeping Wolf
“Ghost” by Sleeping Wolf is just plain cool. 80’s aesthetic synthesizers, anthemic guitars, and slick vocals over a pulsating bass line and a steady drum pattern all swirl...
38. Spirit Animal
Summer has come early this year, Spirit Animal have put out the song we should all be cranking up the volume on this summer with “Front Seat Feelin’”...
If there’s anyone we can trust to bring the robots when it finally comes time for World War III, we can always rely on Zardonic to pour on his ever blazing drum and bass sound to the battle..
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nother edition of 24Our Music magazine has just arrived! As usual, we pride ourselves on covering a wide diversity of artists from all corners of the world. This month, we vibe with the smooth sounds of California’s Anderson .Paak in his big release Malibu. If you’re looking for something more conventional, take a look at our coverage on Tetra. For people looking for something more upbeat, Matt Hewitt is the man for you, while Sleeping Wolf gives us something for those craving something retro.
There’s no telling who you will discover whenever you pick up the pages of a 24Our Music magazine, and this month’s issue continues to prove just that. Our enthusiastic and diverse board of writers allows us to continue and deliver you the goods, just as long as you’re unafraid to see what we’ve got.
INDEX Creative Department Creative Director: Justin Everest Writing Department Editor-in-Chief: Justin Everest
Staff Writer: Quinn Staff Writer: Patricia Staff Writer: Severine Baron Staff Writer: Max BinksCollier
Manging Editor: Brandon Minia Senior Staff Writer: Karl Nicolas Staff Writer: Michel Orange
If you have any questions or would like to advertise with 24Our Music please contact us at the provided email below.
Staff Writer: Trent B Minia Staff Writer: Evan Crandell
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Writer: Severine Baron
Photo Source: AmandaC Photography
Nigel Thomas ROSE THE TEMPERATURE WITH HIS NEW SINGLE, FEVER
The opening moments of “One Day” set the mood for the EP, with floating acoustic piano chords and audible pedal use that immediately establish an organic sound. Just as we’re settling into the song’s pulse, Barker brings in the beat with disjointed drums and continued piano pads. Even though there are increased synth pads as the song progresses, it never loses its acoustic, natural feel. His voice is tender throughout the track but we feel a sureness when he sings lines like, “tell me the fears that you have and I’ll take them away.” It’s a gentle urging to trust another person, even when things get difficult. Barker continues the sentiment with, “I am blinded by the light that’s meant to guide you / take my hand and I will try to guide you through / in time our hands will form a perfect outline / like the silhouettes of trees against the sky at night.” Even though these themes have been used in music so many times, with his beautiful imagery and lush instrumentation, Barker finds a way to make them his own.
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On the theme of mental illness, madness and depravity, Nigel Thomas’ new single, Fever, is based on personal experience. Nigel Thomas CoverSadly, this subject touches a lot of people and often gets pushed aside. Thomas draws from a tragic event that happened to him while severely ill and without anybody present to help him. After collapsing in his kitchen and being confronted with a serious situation, he decided to express it using his art. A well produced song, the vocals stand out very clearly, and the band is tight. The lyrics are simple and straightforward. Definitely influenced by Blur and Elliott Smith. The song has a distinct rhythm to it with a redundant drum hook that morphes well with the melody which is easy to remember and sing along. It ends as if suspended in this sick reality. A good execution and good writing.
“ NIGEL’S MUSIC IS HEARTFELT, ORIGINAL AND PASSIONATE, WITH ECHOES OF ELLIOTT SMITH, PAUL MCCARTNEY AND GRAHAM COXON. HIGHLY EXPERIENCED AS A PERFORMER, HE WAS ALSO THE LEAD SINGER AND SONG“ - Nigel Tomas
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MATT HEWITT UPBEAT AND COOL WHEN YOU PICK UP “CRIMINAL,” YOU’RE SHUNTING YOURSELF INTO THE MISCHIEVOUS YET FLIRTATIOUS WORLD OF MATT HEWITT.
Despite its title, there’s nothing criminal about Matt Hewitt’s single “Criminal,” a three-and-ahalf minute track that is strong, upbeat, and leaves us in anticipation for what is to come. Lyrically, it’s simplistic in its themes, but lyrics are not what you should be looking for when this track is safely nestled into its niche of an upbeat poppy club banger. It goes hand in hand with Hewitt’s vocal performance, harmoniously moving from verse to chorus as the catchy beat roars out beneath his seductive crooning. The chorus is the obvious highlight of the track, one of the more contagious hooks we’ve heard in awhile, stylishly borrowing a famous one while throwing his own spin into the famous words of “smooth criminal.”
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Indeed, where the song lacks, it makes up for in its irresistible energy. No, this is not neces-
sarily a song you could use to lovingly propose (theoretically you could), nor does it hold a production quality alike to your Zedds and Disclosures. But again, that’s not what you’re here for. When you pick up “Criminal,” you’re shunting yourself into the mischievous yet flirtatious world of Matt Hewitt. The synths are not the crispest, but they establish the 80’s club techno aesthetic so adequately that you might find yourself losing yourself into the song’s coy and captivating atmosphere. Indeed, this is a great musical marker for Matt Hewitt, a catchy track that rings the essence of Usher’s recent electropop cuts. It’s somewhat minimalist yet ambitious in what Hewitt wants to do, and if the energy here is any indication of what’s next, we’d gladly dance along.
Writer: Brandon Minia
Photo Source: Metascope Records
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Writer: Trent B Minia
Photo Source: Winduprecords
STRANGE TALK SINGLE FEELS SO GOOD
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“SORORITY NOISE GIVES THE GIFT OF EMOTIONAL PURITY ON JOY, DEPARTE” The sun has set and the bulk of the day is gone. It’s time to free your mind, take off your shoes, and dance. Or if you’ve got two left feet like me, then sitting down, kicking back, and taking in a drink while watching everyone else run the dance floor will do just fine. Melbourne, Australia’s Strange Talk’s single, “When It Feels So Good” feels so right, you really feel the energy of the party flow through you. The song begins quietly, with a build-up of looped vocals and synth riffs over a simple progression. The first verse shoots the song out of the gates with accompanied guitars, bass, and drums, with the pre-chorus picking it up further and setting it up for the chorus. At the first half of the chorus, the song title is heard, and the singer wonders why he can’t get back together with his love. Everything drives right back on for an energetic and emotion-driving chorus at the second half, with “tell me why can’t we be together” sung throughout. “When It Feels So Good” is a, hands-down, feel-good dance track with that summer disco funk sound. The sound does its job perfectly of being a conduit for the song’s theme: Heartbreaks suck, but the feeling of love is just so powerful that the perception of being in love with that person feels so good. The pre-choruses and choruses throughout the song grips the audience right onto the track, allowing them to simply let loose and sing along to the lyrics. The only downside with this song is that there isn’t one factor or element that makes the song stand out. There is more room to make the instrumental more explosive. Overall, Strange Talk’s “When It Feels So Good” is a love song where love is so pleasurable, that’s all you feel after the breakup. It’s catchy and does a great job getting an audience jumping, dancing, moving, and singing along.Include it in your party playlists to pump energy into the dance floor.
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" EMOTIONALLY RESONATES WITH ME LONG AFTER LISTENING. WIDE SOURCE OF INFLUENCES THAT ARE WELL UTILIZED " - Trent B Minia
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Photographer: Yves Huy Truong
Elline’s EP “Stained Glass” Is Divine 14 – 24OURMUSIC
ELLINE IS A GREAT ARTIST WHOSE EXCESS FOCUS ON HER IMAGE CAN DETRACT FROM LISTENERS HEARING HER TRUE SELF.
Los Angeles-based singer songwriter Elline is one suave lady. Her first EP “Stained Glass,” a blend of R&B, soul and electro, is solid, blurring the lines between these genres quite masterfully. It’s hard to exactly pinpoint what Elline does with her voice; it’s never overly demonstrative or in the realm of prowess, but it does have a potent effect on listeners. It’s intimist. Elline is like a showgirl in a tiny jazz club, luring the audience in, wooing away. “Stained Glass” is a powerful first EP, although there appears to be excess focus on the packaging of it all. Portraits on her official website and the global sound of her debut record reveal a tendency to gloss things over. It’s too neat, too sleek; despite her languorous vocals, she never seems to betray one iota of frailty or doubt, as
though all had been perfectly calibered or engineered. And that is not to say “Stained Glass” isn’t a pleasant surprise or that Elline doesn’t bear the markings of a great singer, but in this day and age of image-staging, it comes as a refreshing event when an artist lays him/herself bare. And technology isn’t necessarily a disservice to such an endeavor. Kanye West made auto-tune his dear diary. The challenge for Elline is to deliver herself from this quest of the most alluring sound, not by giving away too much too soon, but by peeling the layers one at a time. Only then will her sophisticated demeanor be best heard.
VERY TONGUE-IN-CHEEK, THE SONG SEEMS TO OB-
SERVE WHATEVER DAY “PARTY DAY” IS IN A VERY PERFUNCTORY MANNER.
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Writer: Trent B Minia
Photo by: Alex R. Kirzhner
Death Of A Bachelor A Rebirth For Panic! At The Disco BRENDON URIE’S MUSICAL SKILLS SOAR SONICALLY IN THIS ELEVEN TRACK RECORD WITH SOME OF THE MOST FUN POP SONGS WE’VE HEARD CHURNED FROM THE BAND IN A LONG TIME. A follow up to acclaimed 2013 effort Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, Panic! At The Disco did not leave us waiting too long with their latest Death Of A Bachelor, continuing the showy pomp that the band has been known for since their 2005 debut. Aesthetically it doesn’t reach the heights that Too Weird… achieved, nor does it even touch the magic that somehow struck A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out back in 2005, but Brendon Urie’s musical skills soar sonically in this eleven track record with some of the most fun pop songs we’ve heard churned from the band in a long time. Everything you could expect (including the unexpected) from a Panic! album is here on full display. “Victorious,” the record’s obligatory upbeat dance-pop anthem, rings out triumphantly right at the start of the album. “Hallelujah” meanwhile has the record’s most catchy and inspirational chorus, with an uplifting message that rings loud and clear over the steady instrumental and Urie’s signature crooning. It’s in the unexpected that we get into signature Panic!, which is perhaps pronounced strongest in “Emperor’s New Clothes.” Still melodramatic as ever, this quick cut sounds
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more like a Gothic anthem rather than a song of the theatric burlesque sounds that the band has historically channeled, and it sounds massive. The chorus is a bold declaration by Urie of his reclamation of what he sees is rightfully is, and whether this is success in the music industry or the spotlight being solely on him now (as he is now the only permanent member of the band), it is clear that Urie is out for blood in this gargantuan track. Its a song that, unfortunately, is truncated by its short length. While it may have served better being an introduction to the album, this is still a catchy and pleasant surprise from Panic!. The music video is another thing of beauty. “Death Of A Bachelor” meanwhile sounds like a cut ripped right out of a Frank Sinatra record, echoed again in “Impossible Year” which feels like a bastardized yet stylish rendition of the legendary crooner’s “My Way.” As well, “Crazy=Genius” is hands down the flashiest of all the songs on the record, a song that rips with an infectious swagger right from the start with a stylish tom roll that sweeps into one of the band’s biggest songs in their catalogue. The hook is slick and fantastic, sinister as it is cool when Urie sings with a tone that has
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THE TRACKS EMIT ENOUGH ENERGY TO GET YOU UP ON YOUR FEET AND MOVING " - Brandon Minia
Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky 18 – 24OURMUSIC
of genres over the years, and it seems we finally hear him touch the glorious big band sounds on this record. While still stomping through retro music genre grounds, “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” gets style points for its apt sampling of B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” as well the line “how think do you drunk I am?,” with Urie displaying some Fall Out Boyesque songwriting skills here. For something with more of a summer flair, “LA Devotee” has a pop sensibility that swirls a surfer spunk with a modern taste. It doesn’t sound too out of place on the album, especially when set beside “Golden Days,” which sounds like a cut right out of a spaghetti western flick. It’s been a known constant of the band for awhile, but Panic! At The Disco shows a wide breadth of skill and talent, crashing through a plethora of genres that all culminate
into Urie’s Death Of A Bachelor. Unfortunately, the overall cohesion is just not there, with the flamboyant singer seemingly taking a step back from Too Weird…, which somehow was able to keep that Vegas feel throughout the entire record. As a result, we have an album that sounds more like an eclectic collection of Urie’s exploits, and that’s not necessarily a good thing, especially when the continuity is just not there. But to get caught up with continuity when discussing a Panic! At The Disco record is futile, as it’s universally known that Urie has the swagger to push out quality music. And that’s really what you should be approaching this album for: a record that has some good, bonafide, pop songs. There’s many radio-friendly cuts here too, as it was in Too Weird…, which just goes to show Urie’s maturation as a talented pop artist. Death Of A Bachelor will not be the great-
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Writer: Max Binks-Collier Photo Source: Oddisee
ODDISEE PACKS A PUNCH WITH THE GOOD FIGHT
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ODDISEE’S LYRICISM IS HONEST, RELATABLE, AND TECHNICALLY SKILLFUL. THE ALBUM IS JAM-PACKED WITH GREAT INSTRUMENTALS. If you’re a fan of underground hip-hop,
I thought that I would burst.” Not only is
you’ve probably heard of Oddisee. One
the lyricism original and playing with jux-
The cerebral lyricism
reason why the Brooklyn-based artist has
tapositions, but each line thematically in-
and the indicated in-
made a name for himself is because of his
terweaves with the one before and after
ternal rhyming show that
relatable, down-to-earth lyricism. Another
it, creating a song with very cohesive sub-
Oddisee raps circles around
reason is that Oddisee focusses on the mu-
many hip-hop artists.
or so says the Bandcamp page for his new
“Want Something Done” uses piano and
Over chimes and backup vocals, Odd-
twelve-track-long album, The Good Fight.
the repetition of the refrain “Oh yeah, it’s
isee raps about the difference between
But has Oddisee created songs with mu-
working,” to structure the song. Oddisee
how a person acts and how they feel in
sical and lyrical merit, or will one aspect
balances the instrumental with lyricism
“Counter-Clockwise” with: “You wear the
overshadow the other?
that lambasts mainstream music and ma-
face of strength / The armour of a tank /
terialism. Examples include: “What’s the
Keep ya’ calm in a bomber’s brink / Your
The Good Fight begins with “That’s Love.”
difference ‘tween them auction blocks and
eyes are another paint / I seen their true
Even half a minute in, The Good Fight
cooning for applause,” and, “Single seeds
colours through your blinks.” The song
promises to be equal parts soulful poet-
only grow to trees if left alone to breathe
further validates the Bandcamp page
ry and head-bopping instrumentals. Over
/ So let’s take some time to expose the
claim of Oddisee being as much a maestro
upbeat keyboard and horns, Oddisee de-
weeds / Feeding off the roots of the cul-
of the lyricism as he is of the music.
livers lines like: “When I was at my worst,
ture vulturesare next to you / Convinc-
you would tell me I would blow / When
ing you they saving the forest / When they
sicality of his art as much as the lyricism—
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" THE TRACKS EMIT ENOUGH ENERGY TO GET YOU UP ON YOUR FEET AND MOVING " - Max BinksCollier
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“Belong to the World” opens with angelic, choral vocals that give
“Worse Before Better” ends The Good Fight on a defiant tone.
way to piano and snares. Over them, Oddisee meditates upon
Oddisee outperforms the featured artist, Tranquil, when he raps,
his journey as a person, as an artist, and his quest for originality.
“Just a little flex like, boys want to test like / I don’t know they’re
Woven into his heartfelt verses are social critiques, ranging from
fake, and they go on dates with fleshlights.” It’s a warning to art-
attacks against Wall Street, to references to Babylon’s decay, to a
ists to watch out for Oddisee, and so perhaps it would’ve been
dismissal of nationalism.
more appropriate if it occurred earlier in The Good Fight, since it doesn’t deal with the themes that predominate throughout the
In “Book Covers,” Oddisee’s lyricism is similarly thoughtful, deal-
ing with racial prejudice: “You know my colour, yes / But underneath remains covered, you ain’t discovered / Judge me on the
Whether he’s reflecting upon the artistic process, lamenting
surface and publish me as another threat / I’m far from it, got
judgmental tendencies, or detailing his struggles, Oddisee never
more in common than you would guess . . . I got layers to my per-
fails as a wordsmith. And with its orchestral flair and range, The
son and the first one is thin / And you’ve never met the person
Good Fight is a musical chameleon, able to transition between
within, it’s far deeper than skin.”
being funky, pensive, upbeat, and jazzy without disappointing. Oddisee even manages to blend musicality and lyricism, using
Further developing this theme of judgment is “What They’ll Say,”
background vocals and his delivery to musical ends, while ensur-
in which Oddisee raps about “being black with a brain.” The lyri-
ing that the hooks and choruses are meaningful. Dead Prez once
cism also addresses Oddisee’s waging of the good fight, how he’s
said that “the [hip-hop] game is a battlefield,” and if you care an-
struggled to make a difference, and his attempt to leave a blue-
ything about it, support the underground underdog, Oddisee, as
print for others who wish to do likewise. The instrumental, with
he wages the good fight.
its retro-sounding organ and ambient vocals, is superb. Eventually, it evolves into a wordless soundscape of electric guitar riffs, organs, and drumming.
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Writer: Karl Nicolas
2 Photographer: Sheldon Botler
Tetra Begins Her Conquest with Meter THERE IS A BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD FOR THE RISING ELECTROPOP QUEEN, AND ALL THAT STANDS BETWEEN HER TRULY TAKING THE THRONE IS TIME.
There are two genres that have really earned their place in my iTunes library: Electronic and Pop. Both have unequivocally beat out all challengers and comfortably sit atop my personal totem pole of musical preference. So the LA “electropop Queen” (that’s both genres together for those that don’t know) known as Tetra definitely piqued my interest. This Queen’s latest release, “Meter”, is an album that the Berkley educated producer fashioned to make waves in the electronic scene, and it was a pleasure to dive in and see for myself if the album’s seven tracks could make a subject out of me as well. “METER” begins with “Bad Things”, of which the title is absolutely no indication of what follows. She starts off slow for the first minute of the track, before a well-placed lull pacifies the listener as her out-of-this-world vocals graces our ears for the first time. The inspired artist then renews the track’s energy with one line: “Watch me take your breath away”. And then she does. There are no earthshaking drops or abundance of poppy lyrics to latch on to, but the song emerges as a solid, memorable appetizer. “Limbo” comes next, as Tetra’s croon-
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ing is powerful and poignant, pleasantly fading in and out of the background. However, as the title suggests, the song doesn’t seem to know where it’s going. Up? Down? As a result, portions of the track are chilling and memorable, while the rest come sounding like perplexing pieces to a puzzle. But this rollercoaster of a track really does a wonderful job of putting it all together to creating fantastical thrill ride that has you holding on for dear life: a slave to queen Tetra’s whims. This is followed by “Got You Alone”, punctuated by some of Tetra’s distant singing, with chilling moments highlighted by an increase in her volume and a chillingly effective echo in the backdrop. The effect is lovely, especially when dissonance is once again created before another solemn lull in the track. Measured, subtle chords then build the track up to its final form and a spectacularly poignant finish. A+. Next up is “Reason to Breathe” which really strikes out a different path from the previous tracks. Tetra’s voice is at the forefront, haunting the listener as it goes on. There is barely any other noise crowding the song, placing a greater
emphasis on the electropop queen’s electrifying singing. The album takes an interesting turn with “Poison” where everything seems to be dialled down significantly, until a breakneck, inhuman cacophony bursts through your headphones. But Tetra opts to slow things down at various points in the track before turning the heat up once again. Almost as if “teasing” her listener,
“Poison” seeps into your veins during the gentle calms before turning all the way up and devouring you whole. One of the two final tracks is “Ruby Red Lips” where Tetra really succeeds in creating an energetic, psychedelic piece. You can feel the high throughout its three-minute runtime as she refuses to hold back from immersing the listener into a frighteningly fantastical world of her own design, as she forces the listener to obsess along with her about those “Ruby Red Lips”.
The final track on the album is “The Tunnel”. It turns out to be a more reflective track, slow and somber, again utilizing Tetra’s sublime crooning. However, this last foray is less interesting than those which came before
it, probably as it fails to put any new spin on the already well-worn techniques that Tetra employed in the rest of “Meter”, instead simply proceeding at an easygoing pace producing lessthan-impressive results.
“ TETRA’S CROONING IS POWERFUL AND POIGNANT, PLEASANTLY FADING IN AND OUT OF THE BACKGROUND.“
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Overall, “Meter” was, overall, an incredibly impressive album. In the span of seven tracks, Tetra establishes herself and her wonderful electropop style: a dissonant, catchy cacophony supported by her own chilling, sublime crooning to create a fascinating, hypnotic sound. Not many producers are so willing to put themselves out there, and although Tetra may have faltered on one or two tracks that felt a bit lacklustre, she has certainly shown more than just a glimmer of what she is capable of becoming. There is a bright future ahead for the rising electropop Queen, and all that stands between her truly taking the throne is time.
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" EMOTIONALLY RESONATES WITH ME LONG AFTER LISTENING. WIDE SOURCE OF INFLUENCES THAT ARE WELL UTILIZED " - Karl Nicolas
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Writer: Evan Crandell
Photo Sources: Mirror Signal, Alex Hulme
Mirror Signal Gives New Life to Timeless Themes “HERCULEAN TASK” OFFERS A FRESH, THOUGHTFUL PERSPECTIVE ON LOVE AND ROMANCE OVER A BED OF LUSH, UNASSUMING PRODUCTION FROM MIRROR SIGNAL AND ANT WEST. BARKER’S WARM VOCALS ENTICE WITH HIS SMOOTH DELIVERY, EMOTIONAL LYRICS, AND RICH HARMONIES. Every once in a while an artist comes along that restores the faith of listeners everywhere who are disillusioned, incensed, or just fed up for what passes as popular music in our current culture. There’s an apparent dichotomy that’s been developing for a few years between the pop machine of music’s mainstream and the burgeoning underground world of independent musicians and producers that live primarily online. There’s plenty of junk in both of these arenas, to be sure, but there’s also plenty of gold if one if willing to look. The Suffolk, England producer Mirror Signal (A.K.A. Steven Barker) is an example of someone whose work, while maybe not well known yet, is taking music in new directions. His recent Herculean Task EP is an intimate, soulful batch of songs that deals with the challenges of relationships in today’s world. We truly get a window into Barker’s psyche with Herculean Task, given that he covered most of the production and all the singing. Although the EP is anchored by his deft, understated production, his tender vocals are what really catch the listener’s ear. The thoughtful lyrics reflect someone who is conscious of his emotions and his warm delivery conveys an honesty and intimacy that is captivating. He employs a production formula that unifies all four tracks without sounding repetitive. Each
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song has its own unique compositional traits but they’re all draped in the Mirror Signal sound. In that vein, Herculean Task could almost be considered a suite instead of four separate songs. The opening moments of “One Day” set the mood for the EP, with floating acoustic piano chords and audible pedal use that immediately establish an organic sound. Just as we’re settling into the song’s pulse, Barker brings in the beat with disjointed drums and continued piano pads. Even though there are increased synth pads as the song progresses, it never loses its acoustic, natural feel. His voice is tender throughout the track but we feel a sureness when he sings lines like, “tell me the fears that you have and I’ll take them away.” It’s a gentle urging to trust another person, even when things get difficult. Barker continues the sentiment with, “I am blinded by the light that’s meant to guide you / take my hand and I will try to guide you through / in time our hands will form a perfect outline / like the silhouettes of trees against the sky at night.” Even though these themes have been used in music so many times, with his beautiful imagery and lush instrumentation, Barker finds a way to make them his own.
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The primary single on Herculean Task is “All Along,” a slowly building track that juxtaposes a bright, bouncy feel with somber lyrics. The song has an underlying swing feel that is accented by stripped down yet popping percussion. Barker’s melancholic vocals depict someone who has given it all to a partner, at his own expense. He writes, “You said, ‘I can’t tie my shoes, maybe you could pull some strings?’ But I’d come so undone that I could barely move.” Barker’s vocal delivery shows a level of restraint indicative of someone weighed down by mixed emotions. His words are particularly held back in the melodically soaring chorus when he sings, “All along I’ve been behind you.” The song is an interesting mix of funky rhythms and a solemn theme. The final two tracks are a study in stylistic contrast. First Barker brings a change in feel with the slow tempo of “Dat Won’ Save Me.” The song has minimal percussion and truncated vocal delivery, all over a bed of synth pads. “Commiserations” is perhaps the most varied track of the bunch with a wide range of styles incorporated. It leans toward a rock vibe with the opening guitar lines but never quite escapes Barker’s soul aesthetic. One of the more strident moments in the song is the harmony underneath Barker’s words, “we’ll start again when we can make sense of all of this.” Another surprise is the minimal moment when he sings, “’cause we almost won / commiserations are better than none,” which contrasts the rest of the track’s electronic feel. While it would be unfair to label Mirror Signal as one of the young saviors of current music, we would certainly not want to exclude him from the conversation of musicians putting out exciting, progressive music. He skillfully navigates the line between making music that is complex yet sounds accessible. And the fact that he has achieved this level of musicianship with only a handful of releases to date should get us excited for what Mirror Signal’s future will bring.
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" HERCULEAN TASK EP IS AN INTIMATE, SOULFUL BATCH OF SONGS THAT DEALS WITH THE CHALLENGES OF RELATIONSHIPS IN TODAY’S WORLD." - Evan Crandell
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DON’T SLEEP ON SLEEPING WOLF’S GHOST
“Ghost” by Sleeping Wolf is just plain cool. 80’s aesthetic synthesizers, anthemic guitars, and slick vocals over a pulsating bass line and a steady drum pattern all swirl together to sound like a cut yanked straight out of a cult action movie, all while maintaining radiofriendly sensibilities for today’s music. This is a single by a young band who seems older than they are, and definitely deserves more of your attention. Coming in at just a smidge over three minutes, “Ghost” is simple in premise in which vocalist Jake Newton croons about a love story that ends up in shambles. It’s a a story that is told over and over, but it works here, using the nostalgic quality of 80’s synthesizers to really bring out the sorrow and melancholy that follows a story of broken hearts. Newton’s performance here is solid and shines brightly as he sings over the tight production of Steven Solomon. The quality of this track from verse to chorus culminates in a catchy chorus that chimes triumphantly every time it hits.
1 Writer: Brandon Minia
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Source: 2 Photo Sleeping Wolf
It’s unbelievable to think that with a single like this, Sleeping Wolf is still relatively unknown, as it feels their sound is very mature for their age. Tight productions, crisp sounds, and a wonderful instrumental that drives forth the raw and emotional nature of Newton’s performance and lyrics makes this track a wonderful indie hit. It’s clear that “Ghost” is anything but invisible. Don’t sleep on Sleeping Wolf.
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Writer: Karl Nicolas
Photo Source: Lucas Bash
LUCA BASH HITS US WITH SOMETHING SPECIAL IN “SINGLE DROPS” 36 – 24OURMUSIC
Oftentimes something très cool will come up in an artist’s history (whether it’s in the “about me” or “album history” doesn’t matter), and here’s what’s good with Luca Bash: he has released a total of four EP’s in 2014. Not particularly interesting? Well, what’s très cool to me is that he decided to call them (in no particular order here) “Cyan”, “Magenta”, “Yellow” and “Key Black”. So my real question becomes why this latest one is called “Single Drops”? But in all seriousness, I was pretty excited to review this album, and then go back to all his previous releases to check out what’s changed. Together with Giova Pes, Luca Bash only uses two guitars to create his sultry instrumentals, and it’ll be interesting to see if that limits his sound, making one track sound too much like the other. Hopefully not, right? First on the docket is “Your Tomorrow”, an excellent measuring stick for what we can expect from the rest of Luca’s album. First of all, his accent is strong, very strong. Read: you can definitely see how that would charm more than a handful of first time listeners. But beyond that, his crooning is actually quite refined. If you ever wanted to know what an artist who’s been doing this thing his whole life sounds like, you’ve probably found him. I’m not sure if it will carry throughout the entire album, but it certainly carries here. The soothing strumming of the guitars also complement his voice perfectly, creating an extremely mellow, romantic atmosphere. This is followed by “Forever Like Asleep”, which is actually quite similar to the first track (too similar maybe?). Thankfully, the slow moving string duet drives the song forward, and Luca’s voice once again shines with its distinct charm. Luckily for Luca, despite the sound already running its course in terms of “freshness”, his vocal appeal does not wear out and carries throughout the track. But he definitely needs to bring much more in future if he wants to impress. Midway through the album is “Dear John”. Immediately after it starts, the song has you swaying and tapping along to the contagious guitars. It’s still not the most unique progression around (then again, is there any truly distinct one left out there?) but it’s still pretty damn catchy. The track also throws a haymaker when it shifts from what could have been a cheery tune, into a darker more somber instrumental. You can almost feel the tears seeping out of your speakers as Luca croons out this melancholy song and its lyrics: “I have never seen the song and the light, and man, we need, to grow and live in serenity, as me in my, fantasy”.
Up next is “Little Tale” wherein you get a taste of Latin flavour in every strum. The effect is delightful, as Luca magically finds a way to keep things exciting. Additionally, the lyrics and his singing has a wonderful sense of urgency, a compelling motivator for the listener to sit and listen all the way through. But it’s also a pretty long track at five minutes, one which gets a bit dull a little bit past halfway. Towards the end however, a fantastic harmony between the strings and Luca’s voice takes place, a euphoric end for an otherwise up-and-down track. “Black Swan’s Walls” is the last song on the tracklist, coming out sounding a little bit pop, a little bit Americana. Suddenly we’re transported from a slow moving gondola, to raucous outdoor dance by the campfire. With a relatively modest four minute runtime, Luca gets you tapping, bobbing, and bouncing along to an incredibly contagious track. His voice is still pretty on point in this song as well, urging you to get up on your feet and just move. To be honest, it was a wise decision to end the album on something so upbeat, and safe. Kudos Luca. Overall, his album was good. It wasn’t great but it was good. There were some issues with tracks sounding too much like the next (only a little), but for the most
“ FOR THE MOST PART, I WAS HAPPY THAT AT A FUNDAMENTAL LEVEL, EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE TRACKS ARE ENTERTAINING AND A PLEASURE TO LISTEN TO “ part I was happy that at a fundamental level, each and every single one of these songs are entertaining and a pleasure to listen to. He may have to take a few more steps to get to the big stage he wants to be at (such as some practice on those vocal twists and turns), but Luca is certainly bound to take a big leap very soon.
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Writer: Michel Orange
Photo Source: Spirit Animal
Spirit Animal Front Seat Feelin’ SUMMER IS COMING EARLY, FRONT SEAT FEELIN’ IS THE SUMMER ANTHEM WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WE NEEDED.
Summer has come early this year, Spirit Animal have put out the song we should all be cranking up the volume on this summer with “Front Seat Feelin’” A classic road trip, summer adventure song for the ages. Spirit Animal pack so much energy into this song that you can not help but feel it immediately. With catchy guitar riffs that make you want to dance in your cars front seat, lyrics that you will be yelling along to as you drive down the highway. A throwback that reminds me of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the best possible way, “Front Seat Feelin’” is all about driving around late at night and having a good time. The guitars alternate between roaring solos and classic rock rhythms, and it all feels very
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natural coming from Spirit Animal as if this is what they were born to do. Excellent production, solid lead and backing vocals from the band showcase a band that is ready to burst onto the scene and carry us into the sunshine of summer. Spirit Animal is definitely a band to watch out for, if you aren’t familiar with them already then do yourself a favor and check them out as soon as you can.
“ “FRONT SEAT FEELIN’” IS ALL ABOUT DRIVING AROUND LATE AT NIGHT AND HAVING A GOOD TIME.“ - Michel Orange
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Writer: Brandon Minia
Photographer Frankie J
ZARDONIC THE MASKED WARRIOR ON HIS LATEST EFFORT ANTIHERO 40 – 24OURMUSIC
“ IT’S LIKE THIS ABSTRACT, NON-EXISTENT, INTANGIBLE “THING” MANIPULATES US, WHEN WE FORGET THAT THE TRUE HEROES ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW. “ - Zardonic
If there’s anyone we can trust to bring
ly that important? In the name of all these
tures into sounds that you probably would
the robots when it finally comes time
figures, war has been waged, people have
not guess, including the ever polarizing
for World War III, we can always rely on
been killed, all because we seem to blind-
genre of dubstep.
Zardonic to pour on his ever blazing drum
ly follow a ‘great other.’
and bass sound to the battle. In our exclu-
“Between you and me, I love Drum & Bass
sive interview with the Venezuelan music
“But we seem to forget these are the
and it’s what I grew up with, but you get
prodigy, Zardonic touches ever so slightly
things that really matter, and this is the
tired of the same sounding beats after
on politics and revolution, which in a very
people that truly matters. The true heroes.
11 years. I needed to expand in order to
subtle way reinforces what we’ve already
The Antihero is the cult of personali-
keep the creativity flowing. Getting out of
known about music: it’s a rally cry.
ty against the cult of personality. It is the
Drum & Bass is what made me get back
mask against all masks. True freedom of
into Drum & Bass. So I’ll keep this project
“The main idea behind it was ‘The He-
mind. True justice. A desperate escape
a multigenre project. It’s all the more fun.
roes Have Failed,’” Zardonic says. We al-
from our pretty mesmerizing reality into
I can’t be free if I can’t have creative free-
ways praise icons, follow doctrines, quote
the real shit, if only for a brief moment.”
quotes, but do we really have a better
Indeed, Zardonic’s new album Antihero an
world because of the teachings of Gandhi?
uprising, and a noisy one at that.
The efforts of MLK? JFK? […] Jesus Christ?
(Check out the rest of the interview below in which we also discuss Zardonic’s side
Buddha? How have all these figures tru-
The same signature drum and bass romp
ly shaped our present, and are they real-
is ever present, but this one features ven-
career as a video game character.)
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“ ZARDONIC IS THE REVOLUTION, THE UNSUNG HERO, THE NEW DAWN, THE IMPOSSIBLE, THE BEYOND, THE TRUTH, THE ALPHA AND OMEGA, THE LIGHT AND FLAME. “ - Zardonic
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Indeed, Zardonic’s journey into music is truly one that is masterful and exciting. This isn’t simply an electronic musician putting fingers to keyboards; this is an individual going out and seeing the world, thinking of ways in which he can use his craft to make it a better place. It’s a magician stringing sounds together because when he does so he doesn’t simply make a song, he wields a weapon. It’s an alchemist, a mage, and a warrior all in one, the masked Zardonic. 24- In 140 characters or less, describe Zardonic. Z- Zardonic is the revolution, the unsung hero, the new dawn, the impossible, the beyond, the truth, the alpha and omega, the light and flame. Let’s just jump right in. Was there an overall theme you were trying to capture with Antihero? Z- The main idea behind it was ‘The Heroes Have Failed’. We always praise icons, follow doctrines, quote quotes, but do we really have a better world because of the teachings of Gandhi? The efforts of MLK? JFK? Jefferson? Bolívar? San Martín? Constantine? Jesus Christ? Buddha? How have all these figures truly shaped our present, and are they really that important? In the name of all these figures, war has been waged, people have been killed, all because we seem to blindly follow a “great other”. It’s like this abstract, non-existent, intangible “thing” manipulates us, when we forget that the true heroes are the people who are right here and right now, you and me, your mother, your teachers, the hard workers who make us a sandwich for a minimum wage, the old lady who smiles at you and tells you “have a good day” and the last thing you care about is if she’s left wing or right wing, what religion or color or nationality she has. But we seem to forget these are the things that really matter, and this is the people that truly matters. The true heroes. Yet we repeat the same erratic behavior because political groups use the very well effective cult of personality to breed suffering and destruction, to keep our society at the edge of chaos. They did it in my homecountry after the passing of Hugo Chávez, and it’s no different than what they did in North Korea, the USSR, the church, the Roman Empire. The Antihero is the cult of personality against the cult of personality. It is the mask against all masks. True freedom of mind. True justice. A des-
perate escape from our pretty mesmerizing reality into the real shit, if only for a brief moment. 24- Antihero is a conglomeration of so many sounds, but it’s still got that cohesive edge to it that sounds very Zardonic. Does this lend itself to the theme of the album, or is it something that just seemed to come naturally? Z- A bit of everything. Between you and me, I love Drum & Bass and it’s what I grew up with, but you get tired of the same sounding beats after 11 years. I needed to expand in order to keep the creativity flowing. Getting out of Drum & Bass is what made me get back into Drum & Bass. So I’ll keep this project a multigenre project. It’s all the more fun. I can’t be free if I can’t have creative freedom. 24- What were some of the challenges of putting this record together? Z- Well, I started writing this record when I was still in Venezuela and then the so-called “peaceful protests” started. I’m not gonna get into the details of it but while it wasn’t happening throughout the whole country, three blocks from my house I could hear bombs, shots and screams every single afternoon. It enraged me because as much as I agreed with the cause, I was strongly against the methods which only made matters incredibly worse. The pain of finding plane tickets outside of the country was a decisive factor aswell since I knew I had to get out of the country. I have no other job but being Zardonic, so if I can’t get on a plane to play shows in Russia I might aswell starve to death, and that’s not happening. Thankfully, with the help and support of Entertainment One Music, I got enough advance royalties to set up a studio in the USA where I continued to write, mix and master the album. So if it wasn’t for the help of Cybergroove and Tamizdat who act as my sponsors for the O-1 Visa, Entertainment One Music, and Rocktagon Worldwide, I probably would be living under a bridge somewhere in South America or would be living somewhere illegally, but under no circumstances I could bear living another day in Venezuela. It’s just not a good place to be anymore. I’m hoping it will be again because I want to play there so badly, but it has to be right. 24- Was there a particular song that gave you most difficulty? Which one did you enjoy producing the most? Z- I liked them all in a different way with equal strength, but I think Against All Odds is my favorite,
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24 -Which of the remixes did you enjoy the most? Z- All of them had something incredibly strong to offer, but I think it’s a tie between the Rusty K Remix and the Heavygrinder Remix. 24- We also need to talk about you and video games; tell us a little about Warlocks vs Shadows and how on earth you got that kind of gig. Z- I know right? You don’t really get many musicians turned game characters for some reason. Michael Jackson, Kiss, Iron Maiden, 50 Cent, Savant, not many more I can think of although I’m sure there’s more, but it’s not something common, specially not in Latin America where I haven’t heard any other musician becoming a playable character. I believe game developers see the potential when they see an image that is iconic, and that’s something I always wanted to achieve. Best of all is the game is actually good! Most games based on musicians or celebrities are really underwhelming, but this was a fun game to
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play & I believe it opened the door for many more. 24- Are there any particular video game soundtracks that you personally enjoyed? You can go into detail about any ones that you enjoyed too, if you wish. Z- Anything where Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy series), Yuzo Koshiro (Act Raiser, Shinobi), Yoko Shimomura (Mario RPG series, Kingdom Hearts series) and Takeharu Ishimoto (Legend Of Mana, late Final Fantasy series) are involved is probably in my favorite soundtracks of all time. I also remember fondly what Trent Reznor did for Quake I, which remains my favorite game in the series. Nothing could top it. Quake I was the real deal. It was about shooting nails to crucified zombies and hungry shamblers, plus it was full of all the satanic stuff back in the 90s when we all thought Satan was real. After that it all became this thing about shooting alien machines. Not bad, but Doom had already done the whole machine meets demon thing. I’m also guilty of having played all sorts of official and unofficial expansions to it: Malice, Zerstörer, Nehahra, you name it. Damn, I’ve played way too much for my own
" â€œBETWEEN YOU AND ME, I LOVE DRUM & BASS AND ITâ€™S WHAT I GREW UP WITH, BUT YOU GET TIRED OF THE SAME SOUNDING BEATS AFTER 11 YEARS." - Zardonic
good and donâ€™t plan on stopping yet. 24- Whether itâ€™s something youâ€™ve seen in your video game endeavours or in Antihero, how much do you think youâ€™ve grown as an artist since youâ€™ve first started doing what youâ€™ve done? Z- Well, when it all started I was still in school and mom was paying the dues. Now music pays my dues. When your music is the thing that keeps you on your feet, when you have real life responsibilities and it stops being a game, that makes you grow the fuck up. Iâ€™m way more open about music genres than I used to be and feel this need to expand into something else, but at the same time I believe right now Iâ€™m more about doing my own thing than I was before.
24- Whatâ€™s your current tour status? Z- I just finished a 20 date tour in Europe promoting the new album, plus shows in Las Vegas and Sri Lanka in August including appearing Live on NBCSN World Series Of Fighting, New York in September and a show with Combate Americas plus more to come in the US for October, November and December. Something about Latin America happening soon too, but I donâ€™t know all of it. Iâ€™m sticking strictly to shows that will grow perception value. Thereâ€™s too much to do yet in the studio. 24- Finally, if you were a dessert, what kind would you be? Z- If I were? Iâ€™ve BEEN a dessert! Cupcakes FTW đ&#x;˜€ Zardonic as cupcakes
24- Is there anything in music you have yet to accomplish that you hope to do in the next five years?
24- Thank you Zardonic for taking the time to answer our questions!
Z- Yeah. More money lol.
Youâ€™ve got it man! Always a pleasure to talk to you guys :)
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Lyel’s “Raven” to take her to new heights! 46 – 24OURMUSIC
Photo Source: Lyel
“ FREE-SPIRITED, GO-GETTING SONGSTRESSES, STANDARD-BEARERS FOR EXPERIMENTAL POP ARE TO BE COMMENDED IN THIS DAY OF FORMATTED, FASTFED LOW-RISK MUSICAL VENTURES.“ - Karl Nicolas
THE INSTRUMENTAL ARRANGEMENT IS ABSOLUTELY STELLAR: SOMETHING LIKE AN ORGANIZED YET CHAOTIC SYMPHONY OF SOUND. Power pop second single “Raven” by Finnish artist Lyel is nothing short of a revelation. Eerie, potent, transporting can be used among other highly evocative adjectives to describe it. Lyel goes right along musicians in the vein of FKA Twigs for the kind of assertive and forceful pop that she proposes. Such free-spirited, go-getting songstresses, standard-bearers for experimental pop are to be commended in this day of formatted, fast-fed low-risk musical ventures. “Raven” is a melodic track, catchy yet nuanced. Lyel’s voice is a blend of icy poise and subdued melancholy, a sound that penetrates and enrobes. Her previous single “Waterproof,” a lighter, almost naïve summer pop ballad, features the same brand of
experimentalism, reminiscent to a relative extent of American freak folk duet Coco Rosie. Lyel appears well on her way to securing a position amidst today’s pop vanguard. In the mere space of two singles, the blue-haired elfin has showed a set of implacable skills along with a penchant for sonic exploring. The Helsinki-based artist was able to compact in “Raven” a nice medley of influences ranging from electro to synth pop plus that unfathomable Scandinavian touch that turns beats into gold matter. Hers is an upward slope and we wish Lyel that it take her sky high.
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Writer: Brandon Minia
Photo Source: Anderon .Paak
Aderson .Paak CHANNELS GOOD VIBES IN MALIBU
California artist Anderson .Paak delivers something familiar in Malibu, a seventeen-track epic that is uncanny as it is masterful. We wouldn’t blame you if you had to do a double-take to see who was performing after you first pressed ‘play.’ The last soulful and mellow record of this ilk that graced us in the last year was by a great artist known as Kendrick Lamar. Clearly, there must be something in the water on the west-coast, as Anderson Paak spits out something that is hauntingly familiar to what the world has already seen from Lamar: a semi-conscious, stylistic vocal performance mixed with some fantastic singing nuances over some seductive jazz-hop beats. It’s a winning combination, a one-two punch that the late Nujabes demonstrated even before Compton’s Lamar.
hard), draws from so many different places, but what’s impressive is that it doesn’t feel like a young artist putting together something eclectic and massive. There’s a definite continuity, topped by a masterful maturity that oozes from Paak’s lyrics, through his performances, all the way down to the album’s tight production. Right from the first two tracks “The Bird” and “Heart Don’t Stand A Chance” do we hear this, at times Paak sounding like the Compton artist himself. On tracks like “Water Fall (Interluuube),” it’s almost impossible to not imagine Lamar performing the song with the same ethereal energy, and when “Your Prime” kicks in you’re almost convinced that Spotify loaded the wrong album. It’s a constant that appears throughout the entire record, but rather than sounding like a sad imitation, Paak’s style with the obvious Lamar influences sounds fantastic here.
Malibu, aside from its obvious calls to Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly (I refuse to make this a direct comparison between both albums but it’s going to be incredibly
Thankfully we are not faced with a monotonous record too, as the record includes some great cuts including collaborations with the likes of Schoolboy Q. “Am I
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Wrong” sounds like it was ripped out of a Justin Timberlake record, a mellow funk beat playing methodically as the two artists exchange rhymes. “Without You” featuring Rapsody meanwhile churns some inklings of 90’s R&B, and when the female rapper takes centre stage in the song it’s almost impossible to not bob your head. “Parking Lot” meanwhile is among the tracks that are easiest to vibe to, complete with a summery nightdrive feel that sounds all the more creamy when humming beneath one of more catchy yet dreamy choruses on the record. For something that is pure ambiance, “Lite Weight” is your answer. Featuring the Free Nationals United Fellowship Choir, this one’s got one of the more spacier instrumentals, with a hauntingly catchy electric piano reverberating endlessly throughout the entire track.
is one of the more pop-sensible on the record, the vocals switching from rapping to singing with mastery between one of the more fantastic choruses on the record. It all builds up to The Game’s verse, whose performance is absolutely stellar, standing strongly beside the presences of Paak and Elise. “Celebrate” breaks the spell of the album a little, but definitely in a good way. It’s less of a laid-back, more like an open car summer drive theme that definitely has echoes of Seals And Croft spilling out, with a little bit of Mayer Hawthorne for a more modern taste. Paak’s vocal performance here is one of his best, sounding tight and strong against one of the record’s more better produced instrumentals. It’s a perfect penultimate track that sets up the finale “The Dreamer,” an uplifting track that features Talib Kweli and Timan Family Choir.
In terms of something radio-ready, the collaboration with The Game and Sonyae Elise on “Room In Here” is the most obvious candidate. The instrumental
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GET YOUR MUSIC HEARD Submit us your music for a chance to receive a review & to be feature in our upcoming Magazine releases. Click here to Submit Your Band
50 â€“ 24OURMUSIC
" HERE AT 24OM WE FOCUS ON PROVIDING NEW CONTENT ON A WEEKLY BASIS TO OUR AWESOME READERS WHERE WE PROVIDE REVIEWS, INTERVIEWS & WRITE-UPS FOR TALENTED MUSICIANS FROM ALL CORNERS OF THE GLOBE. " 24OurMusic
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Writer: Evan Crandell
Photo Source: Leron Thomas
Leron Thomas IS NOT A PART OF YOUR CLIQUE
It’s easy to think of the music industry like a high school cafeteria, with the population divided into various cliques. There are jocks, nerds, emo kids, artsy kids, and more. While these groups, both in high school and the music world, often give people a sense of belonging and shared experience, they contribute to the population’s compartmentalization, erecting invisible walls between people. Every once in a while, though, someone comes along who doesn’t fit into any one category, leaving that rigid mentality behind. Trumpeter Leron Thomas is a musician who makes it very clear through his music and words that he is not part of anyone’s clique. His album Cliquish takes on a life of its own by incorporating influences from all across the music spectrum, making it a brilliantly unpredictable hour of music. The album’s first song “Extrospection” creeps into our ears from nothingness and quickly establishes an ominous vibe with a pulsing synth. The N.Y.C.-based Thomas then brings in a contrastingly warm, hopeful trumpet tune over the marching synth that showcases his deft touch with melody and dense harmonies. “Extrospection” effectively establishes Thomas’ sense of originality and unpredictability with his music, without sacrificing any of the accessibility. If “Extrospection” is the introduction to Thomas’ sound and concepts on Cliquish, the follow-up track that shares the album’s name is its mission statement. While the first track is somewhat mysterious and foreboding, the second dives deep into the grittiness of groove. Beginning with a righteous bass line, the track contains many of the elements that comprise Thomas’ sound. The phrasing is unusual but never loses the funk, there is a signature melody in the guitar and synth, and Thomas’ vocals on the track are raw and uncompromisingly honest. There’s a particular phrase that returns over and over again in the song which is, “I’m so glad / I’m not a part of your clique / I’m not a part of your clique, bitch.” The track acts as a not-so-subtle affirmation of Thomas’ unwillingness to cater to anyone else’s expectations. Even though his words are repetitive, his point is made, and it’s a strong one. Cliquish continues its rampage of deep grooves with “Role Play,” which features funk titans Simon Mavin and Paul Bender of Hiatus Kaiyote on keys and synth bass respectively, as well as vocal virtuoso Bilal. The song’s composition is like a journey, with its initial head-nodding, thumping bass line leading to its dreamy chorus and climactic ending. Thomas trades verses with Bilal to create a message of undeniable sensuality and a yearning for an expanding world of romance. In the chorus, they draw the lover in with the words, “I love the way you are, girl do your thing / You’re makin’ me smile, just like a breath of Spring / and there is much respect but a little role play won’t hurt your pride / if it’s real as you say.” Thomas is creative with his song forms, blurring the traditional lines between verse, chorus, bridge, etc. Even though the aforementioned phrase appears to be a chorus, Thomas follows it with the mantra-like phrases, “I know you love yourself but a little role play won’t hurt your pride” and “You’ve got to play a role” that build toward the track’s end.
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initial head-nodding, thumping bass line leading to its dreamy chorus and climactic ending. Thomas trades verses with Bilal to create a message of undeniable sensuality and a yearning for an expanding world of romance. In the chorus, they draw the lover in with the words, “I love the way you are, girl do your thing / You’re makin’ me smile, just like a breath of Spring / and there is much respect but a little role play won’t hurt your pride / if it’s real as you say.” Thomas is creative with his song forms, blurring
the traditional lines between verse, chorus, bridge, etc. Even though the aforementioned phrase appears to be a chorus, Thomas follows it with the mantra-like phrases, “I know you love yourself but a little role play won’t hurt your pride” and “You’ve got to play a role” that build toward the track’s end.
One of the more musically adventurous tracks on Cliquish is the warm, nostalgic “Mandy Jo.” Its opening moments are occupied by the sounds of birds chirping, creating a definite sense of optimism. The instrumenta-
tion is stripped down more than at any other moment on the album, with just bass and guitar supporting Thomas’ vocals for much of the duration. Thomas describes long lost love while fluctuating between the repeat-
“THE N.Y.C.-BASED THOMAS THEN BRINGS IN A CONTRASTINGLY WARM, HOPEFUL TRUMPET TUNE OVER THE MARCHING SYNTH THAT SHOWCASES HIS DEFT TOUCH WITH - Evan Crandell MELODY AND DENSE HARMONIES.“ 53 – 24OURMUSIC
vocal melody and some spoken word delivery. The accompaniment on the track gradually builds toward the ending, with a new riff in the bass and guitar as well as swelling drums and synth lines sliding into the mix. The lone cover of the set is the Jan Hammer song, “Don’t You Know,” which couples a driving synth groove with Thomas’ angular vocal melodies. While the song’s beat and lyrics are on the more straightforward end of Thomas’ spectrum, he infuses the track with a good dose of his own musical flair. About halfway through the song, the music breaks down and reassembles around a more dark groove in three. The section is riddled with more riffs and also finds Thomas letting loose on his trumpet. Coming out of the breakdown is a bass solo that introduces yet another groove. So while the track began as a loyal nod to Hammer’s original, it seems as though Thomas was not satisfied with just that, and felt the need to take the song in different, new directions. These elements, along with the lack of a return to the original feel, all contribute to the idea that Thomas doesn’t follow traditional musical rules. In the album’s bookend “Introspection,” Thomas mirrors the opening track with another instrumental offering. While the former contained a fully realized instrumentation, here Thomas relies only on his horn and some overdubbing to make his point. He builds layers of his Harmon-muted trumpet that contain harmonic pads, melodies, and bubbly textural playing that swell to a climax before dropping out again and then cutting out somewhat abruptly at the end. It is abundantly clear from Cliquish that Leron Thomas has the chops to play pretty much any music he might choose. The choice he has made, however, has led him to stray from traditional paths in favor of a sound aesthetic unlike any other, and the music world is better off for it. If every musician subscribed to the idea of music as a bunch of separate cliques, the art would never grow, particularly in the ever-evolving world of jazz and its offshoots. Leron Thomas, while perhaps not a household name yet, has certainly done his part in carving out a piece of the music world that is all his own.
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" HIS ALBUM CLIQUISH TAKES ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN BY INCORPORATING INFLUENCES FROM ALL ACROSS THE MUSIC SPECTRUM, MAKING IT A BRILLIANTLY UNPREDICTABLE HOUR OF MUSIC. " - Evan Crandell
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Published on Feb 19, 2016
Published on Feb 19, 2016
Another edition of 24Our Music magazine has just arrived! As usual, we pride ourselves on covering a wide diversity of artists from all corn...