Song of the Week | Violet Contours – Electric Bodies

Sharing this great review from Sounds Good blog of a terrific song by UK band Violet Contours.

Sounds Good / a music blog

/ SOUNDS GREAT /

Small music blogs are a great part of the music industry. As detailed in a wonderful article by ReverbNation recently, us enthusiastic music fans are responsible for helping out artists to help them create a bit of noise for themselves, hopefully lending some additional buzz along the way. One particular thing we’re great at doing is featuring bands who you may never have heard of before, and thanks to Mytacism Music, we heard about Violet Contours.

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Song Review: ONESTEP – “In War We Rust”

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Nearly every day I receive submissions from artists, bands or their publicists wanting me to review or feature them on my blog, and I’m thrilled when their music is really good. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover a promising young band from Kiev, Ukraine called OnesteP. They play an intense style of alternative heavy metal, and just released their fantastic new single “In War We Rust” in advance of their debut EP, due for release this coming April.

Formed in 2011, OnesteP consists of Siddy on vocals, Eugene Sikoza on guitar & production, Taras Kolomoiets on guitar, and Bogdan Korol on bass. (The band also has a session drummer.)  Having two guitarists gives their music a muscular, hard-hitting sound that quite effectively delivers. Their music style is strongly influenced by the great bands Korn, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, but the guys bring a fresh approach to their music. Like many new bands, they toured heavily the first few years, experimenting with their sound until they felt it fully represented who they wanted to be, then started writing songs for their first EP. Along with “In War We Rust,” the band states that their EP ‘will feature songs with deeply emotional lyrics about existential malaise and trends in modern society.’

In the band’s own words, “In War We Rust” is a protest against war and mankind’s fear to change its behavior or take any responsibility.  The lyrics are searing: “Your satellites are haunting me and making me blind and I’m losing sight. Now look around and find your waste that you’ve made of this another site.”  

The blistering track immediately hits you like a punch to the gut, leaving you breathless. It’s both savage yet melodically beautiful – always a powerful combination in heavy metal. Eugene and Taras shred their guitars to pieces, making them snarl, wail and scream with abandon, while Bogdan’s intense, heavy bass gives the track incredible heft. Toss in thunderous, hammering drums and Siddy’s fierce, impassioned vocals, and the result is a tremendously satisfying heavy metal track. I love it, and eagerly look forward to hearing their entire EP.

Support OnesteP by following them on Facebook. “In War We Rust” may be purchased on Bandcamp.

Top 20 Songs for February 26-March 4, 2017

1. STILL BREATHING – Green Day (3)
2. SHINE – Mondo Cozmo (4)
3. HUMAN – Rag’n’Bone Man (7)
4. CLEOPATRA – The Lumineers (1)
5. BLOOD IN THE CUT – K.Flay (5)
6. SHAPE OF YOU – Ed Sheeran (6)
7. ATLAS, RISE! – Metallica (2)
8. SCARS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL – Alessia Cara (11)
9. I NEED A LIGHT – Run With It (10)
10. DON’T WANNA KNOW – Maroon 5, Kendrick Lamar (8)
11. HEAVYDIRTYSOUL – twenty øne piløts (16)
12. RUST TO GOLD – Council (13)
13. ON HOLD – The xx (18)
14. WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE – Adele (15)
15. SQUARE HAMMER – Ghost (9)
16. 7 – Catfish and the Bottlemen (17)
17. TAKE IT ALL BACK – Judah & the Lion (12)
18. FEEL IT COMING – The Weeknd, Daft Punk (19)
19. LOVE IS MYSTICAL – Cold War Kids (20)
20. MY NAME IS HUMAN – Highly Suspect (14)

EP Review: KROSST OUT – “Life of the Party”

I love when hip hop is melded with other music genres. That’s one of many reasons why the music of artists such as Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine and twenty øne piløts is so incredible. So I was happy to discover the young Canadian rapper Krosst Out, who skillfully melds hip hop with punk rock to create a style uniquely his own. He’s set to release his debut EP Life of the Party in early March, and I have the pleasure of reviewing it.

Krosst Out grew up in a small town in Ontario, where he studied piano as a child. In his teens, influenced by artists such as Manafest, Eminem, Underoath, Rage Against The Machine, System Of A Down, Nas, and Marilyn Manson, he took up the bass guitar. He ended up playing in various local bands, developing his rapping skills along the way, and eventually settled in Toronto, where he began writing his own songs.

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In the creation of Life of the Party, he teamed up with musicians Daniel Salij and Eric Soto, who also was beat master. Combine his biting, relevant lyrics with their music skills, and the result is a superb EP with six hard-hitting tracks that examine the darker aspects of the party life, with its attendant abuse of sex, drugs and alcohol. As Sandie Glasmacher wrote in her review for G Music Lab, it’s  ‘a gritty cautionary tale of what happens to the life of the party when the party is over and the lights turn back on.’

The strong EP opener “Skincrawler” is about a tormented soul crying out for help. Musically, the song is complex, with a haunting intro of plucky acoustic guitar, followed by unsettling male voices speaking of mental illness before Krosst Out’s impassioned rapping takes over. To a strong hip hop beat, he cries ‘The monster that my skin hides, on the inside, is eating me alive. It’s keeping me alive. I am picking, itching, tearing at my skin. I only want you to get in. I only want you to begin to see what it’s like to be me.’ The superb multi-textured guitars are accompanied by a melancholy but beautiful violin that adds great emotional depth to the track.

Calling out others’ bad behavior while not being honest about your own is the subject of the hip hop track “Tea 4 One.” Krosst Out sings ‘This is tea 4 one, put the kettle on, this has just begun. Everything and anything goes. You better be prepared to start eating crow, ’cause no one ever told me not to throw stones.’ He goes on to shout out his own shortcomings.

Kick It” is three minutes of punk rock awesomeness, with powerful, distorted guitars, thumping bass, rapid-fire drums and crashing cymbals. Krosst Out frantically raps ‘Everybody kick it now. We got the skills, to rock the mic and act like it kills. Real punk rock thrills. That’s right, we could go all night, we could go all night.‘ I love this song, and it’s one of my favorites on the EP.

Life of the Party” speaks to the good, bad and ugly of party life. To a pounding hip hop beat and crushing bass, Krosst Out assertively raps ‘We party like it’s nothing ’cause we’ve done this before. Breaking all the rules with the bottles on the floor. If you want to see our party, then wait what’s in store. I’m the life of the party, I’ve said that before.” At 2:30, the tempo changes abruptly, signifying that the party’s gone awry. Throbbing synths take over, the beat drops, and to discordant percussion he raps ‘Man you joking, this dude’s trying to choke me. Acting like a dope fiend.’ Party’s not so fun now…

The powerful track “Contradiction” opens with a mysterious voice chanting to a hypnotic beat and throbbing bass ‘Can you take me back to where I came from? Can you take me back?‘ Then Krosst Out begins rapping about his internal struggle between who he is and who he thinks he should be. ‘I can take this rock and I can shove it up my nose. I can take this 40 and I can drink it through a hose. I’m so white trash, man, everybody knows.  Watch my Chevrolet explode when I’m midway down the road. / And I know I’m white trash, I know I’m not Black. Stop being ignorant just ’cause I like rap.‘ Take a look at the great video for the song:

The last track on the EP , the compelling “I Don’t Care,” gets to the heart of the EP’s subject – the highs one experiences from uninhibited partying, and the crushing lows that can follow (feelings to which I can certainly attest from my own experience). Krosst Out laments: “I don’t have a care when the lights go out, when the lights go out, when the lights go out. I don’t want to feel when the lights come on, when the lights come on, when the lights come on. What you know about losing yourself at 2 am? Going through the drugs and booze again? Climbing on the roof again? Screaming that you’re losing it? And jumping in the pool again.

The song features a mesmerizing hip hop beat, haunting melody and some pretty awesome distorted guitar riffs, along with the beguiling guest vocals of his friend Mel Yelle.

To sum up, Life of the Party is a solid EP that gets better with every listen. The music and production are first-rate, and the intense song lyrics are so loaded with meaning that I discovered something new each time. To learn more about Krosst Out, check out his website and follow him on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram. Stream his music on Spotify and purchase on iTunes and other sites offering music for download.

Album Review: RANDOM… – “Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness”

I recently discovered a composer/producer of Electronica music who goes by the artistic name Random… (Random dot dot dot) when he reached out to me to consider his upcoming album Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness. Hailing from Rotherham, England, Random… creates multi-textured synthesized music that ranges from dark and politically topical to catchy EDM. With contributions from two poets – Gav Roberts and Wayne Dyson, along with guitarist Mr Jiggs – Random… recorded the ambitious 11-track album.

In his own words, ‘Random… is reclusive, innovative and slightly insane. Those lucky enough to have met him will testify that his view of the world is warped, dark, but always entertaining.‘ He calls his particular style IDM – Intelligent Dance Music.

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Most of the songs on the album have a mysterious, otherworldly vibe achieved through the use of complex melodies, discordant multi-layered synths, repetitive beats and spoken poetic vocals. The albums opens with the deeply compelling track “Put All Weapons Down.” The song is a call for peace and letting go of hate that keeps us in a permanent state of war – whether it be with others or within ourselves. It opens with dark, cacophonous sounds, then to wobbly, textured synths, Gav Roberts admonishes us to ‘put all weapons down.’ The lyrics are a litany of weapons we use to hurt others. Here are a sampling:

If your weapon is contained within the ink within your pen, set it down and rethink your motivation for writing.

If they be guns, take your finger from the trigger, empty the bullets onto the ground where you stand, put it down and step away.

Unstrap the bombs from your heart, go back and question the peaceful god who commands you to do this. Put all weapons down.

If you use god as your weapon, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu or any other, do not speak to them anymore, or if you speak do not place your hate on them, then pretend that it was theirs.

Perhaps the most biting lyric is “Put them down, not even because you will hurt people with them, but because it is hurting you to hold them.”

Next up is “Rovrumoncee,” an infectious EDM track with echoed vocals by Wayne Dyson, while “Osmosis” has a sci-fi feel, along with Roberts’ electronically enhanced vocals. The spacey vibe continues with “Headspace,” in which ominous, scratchy synths, set to thumping bass, are overlain with Dyson’s chanting vocals.

Some tracks are strictly instrumental, such as “Kotto,” with its catchy uptempo beat, warm synths and crashing cymbals. (The video for the song uses animation based on The Pink Panther.) Other instrumental tracks include “Then We Came to the End,” with crunchy synths set to a hypnotic assertive beat that impels hip movement; the psychedelic EDM-tinged “Pete’s Gone to Leeds;” and “Elemeno Pea” with its marching band drumbeat and mysterious, pulsating synth chords.

One of my favorites is the melodic “Peristalsis,” with lovely guitar work by Mr Jiggs and spoken vocals by Roberts: “My friends think they’re the answers, but they forgot the question long ago. / Peristalsis is the motion I am feeling most of all. Almost too frequently to notice that it is there at all.

The Girl & the Water” is a six-minute long track featuring swirling, atmospheric synths that really do convey a sense of a pool of water. Strange animal-like sounds, accompanied by Roberts’ electronically-enhanced vocals, add to the song’s otherworldly ambiance.

The album is planned for release through independent electronic music record label Pink Dolphin Music in April 2017.

Track listing:

1. Put all weapons down (featuring Gav Roberts)
2. Rovrumoncee (featuring Wayne Dyson)
3. Osmosis (featuring Gav Roberts)
4. Headspace (featuring Wayne Dyson)
5. Kotto
6. Peristalsis (featuring Gav Roberts & Mr Jiggs)
7. Then we came to the end
8. The Girl & the Water (featuring Gav Roberts)
9. Pete’s Gone to Leeds
10. Elemeno Pea
11. Hidden tune

Follow Random… on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randomdotdotdot/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Randomdotdotdot
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5sgO4CliLXRKA3XL_2mk9A
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/random-dot-dot-dot

The album may be pre-ordered at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pinkdolphinmusic/new-leftfield-idm-cassette-and-cd-by-random

Top 20 Songs for February 19-25, 2017

1. CLEOPATRA – The Lumineers (1)
2. ATLAS, RISE! – Metallica (3)
3. STILL BREATHING – Green Day (5)
4. SHINE – Mondo Cozmo (6)
5. BLOOD IN THE CUT – KFlay (8)
6. SHAPE OF YOU – Ed Sheeran (9)
7. HUMAN – Rag’n’Bone Man (13)
8. DON’T WANNA KNOW – Maroon 5, Kendrick Lamar (2)
9. SQUARE HAMMER – Ghost (4)
10. I NEED A LIGHT – Run With It (11)
11. SCARS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL – Alessia Cara (12)
12. TAKE IT ALL BACK – Judah & the Lion (7)
13. RUST TO GOLD – Council (14)
14. MY NAME IS HUMAN – Highly Suspect (10)
15. WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE – Adele (15)
16. HEAVYDIRTYSOUL – twenty øne piløts (16)
17. 7 – Catfish and the Bottlemen (18)
18. ON HOLD – The xx (19)
19. I FEEL IT COMING – The Weeknd, Daft Punk (N)
20. LOVE IS MYSTICAL – Cold War Kids (N)

Song Review: WIDE EYED BOY – “Wolves”

I know that I keep featuring artists and bands from the UK on this blog, but there are just so many good ones making great music that I can’t help myself. Another recent discovery is Wide Eyed Boy, a four-man New Wave/Indie-pop collective based in Liverpool, a city rich in music history and influence. They’ve released a stunning new single “Wolves” in advance of their self-titled debut EP due for release this Spring.

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Wide Eyed Boy consists of Oliver Nagy (Vocals), Jonny Ball (Guitars), Kobi “Danger” Pham (Guitars) and Tom Taylor (Drums). They all met at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (which was founded by Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty), and bonded over a shared love of music. They headed to Budapest, Hungary in 2016 to write songs for their album and returned to Liverpool to record it with the help of producer Rich Turvey.

“Wolves” is one of those songs that make you stand up and take notice the moment you first hear it. Everything about it is perfect – the melody, lyrics, arrangement, production, instrumentals and vocals. Musically, the song has an exuberant, hard-driving drumbeat, gorgeous sweeping synths and nimble multi-layered guitars. Nagy has an incredible voice, and his soaring vocals are absolutely mesmerizing, adding a haunting beauty to this exceptional track. I loved it at first listen, and kept hitting replay.

Nagy stated the song ‘is about letting people in that are bad for you.’ He passionately sings “Why can’t I leave it all behind? Why can’t I save myself this time? I fall just a little bit, don’t wanna be a part of it. Wolves are the only friends I know.

The beautiful video contains frenetic scenes of urban life, filmed in and around Manhattan.

Wide Eyed Boy have set the bar quite high with “Wolves,” and if their other songs are even half as good, our ears are in for a real treat when they release their EP. I for one can’t wait to hear it! Support these guys by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Stream “Wolves” on Soundcloud.

Song Review: THE OCCASIONAL ANGELS – “Fool For Love”

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I’ve said it before, but must repeat once again that I love Twitter because every single day it introduces me to all kinds of artists making all kinds of music. One of my recent surprise finds is the Ottawa, Canada-based trio who call themselves The Occasional Angels. Formed only recently in July 2016, they’re a new collective of three talented and highly-accomplished musicians with extensive backgrounds in the industry. Their music style is decidedly eclectic, drawing upon influences ranging from rock’n’roll, folk, country, pop, blues and jazz. Making the music are songwriter and rhythm guitarist David Hart, producer-arranger and multi-instrumentalist Scott Paterson, and soulful vocalist Cris Ruggiero.

The trio recorded their excellent debut album Renascimento during the summer and early fall of 2016, releasing it on CD and later on Vinyl through Hart’s independent record label Occasional Angels Records. They released two singles from that album – “Heaven in Denim” and “Winner Takes All” – which received critical acclaim and radio play in Canada, London, Los Angeles and Miami. Further building on that momentum, on February 10 the busy trio dropped an exciting first single of what will be their follow-up album, tentatively scheduled for a summer 2017 release. That new single is “Fool For Love” and it’s pretty incredible.

The track has a soulful rock vibe that’s retro, yet totally fresh, instantly hooking you in with an infectious guitar riff and gorgeous, soaring horns. Throw in Ruggiero’s saucy, bluesy vocals and the result is a deliciously sexy song. Man, can she sing! In her smoky voice that at times reminds me of Amy Winehouse, she croons “And if I love you baby, will you be true to life? I’m just a fool baby, a fool for love.” The guitar solo at the end is scorching hot, and if this song doesn’t have you dancing I just don’t know what to tell you.

The video is every bit as fun as the song. Ruggiero works her way around a record store thumbing through the vinyl collection as she sings the song, and I get the impression she’s thinking about her love interest. Hart is also in the video, as another shopper in the background. The video was filmed at The Record Centre in Ottawa.

I love this song, and look forward to hearing more of this band’s music. Learn more about The Occasional Angels by checking out their website. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook. “Fool For Love” and Renascimento may be purchased at https://theoccasionalangels.bandzoogle.com/music.

Top 20 Songs for February 12-18, 2017

1. CLEOPATRA – The Lumineers (1)
2. DON’T WANNA KNOW – Maroon 5, Kendrick Lamar (2)
3. ATLAS, RISE! – Metallica (4)
4. SQUARE HAMMER – Ghost (5)
5. STILL BREATHING – Green Day (6)
6. SHINE – Mondo Cozmo (7)
7. TAKE IT ALL BACK – Judah & the Lion (8)
8. BLOOD IN THE CUT – K.Flay (9)
9. SHAPE OF YOU – Ed Sheeran (10)
10. MY NAME IS HUMAN – Highly Suspect (3)
11. I NEED A LIGHT – Run With It (12)
12. SCARS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL – Alessia Cara (13)
13. HUMAN – Rag’n’Bone Man (18)
14. RUST TO GOLD – Council (15)
15. WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE – Adele (16)
16. HEAVYDIRTYSOUL – twenty øne piløts (17)
17. BLACK BEATLES – Rae Sremmurd, Gucci Mane (11)
18. 7 – Catfish and the Bottlemen (N)
19. ON HOLD – The xx (N)
20. 24K MAGIC – Bruno Mars (14)

EP Review: DAN JEFFRIES – “Urban Stories”

It’s back to the UK to shine my spotlight on the young singer/songwriter Dan Jeffries, who hails from Plymouth, England. He released his debut EP Urban Stories in 2015, and will soon be dropping his sophomore EP. I recently discovered Dan and his music, and in advance of the new release, which I will be reviewing later, I’m now featuring Urban Stories.

Before digging into the EP, here’s a bit of background on Dan I found on his Facebook page. He got interested in singing at a young age, and started playing guitar at 17. With no formal music education and just one guitar lesson, he found inspiration from artists he loved while growing up, especially Green Day, Guns N Roses, Bob Marley, Elvis Presley, Oasis, the Ramones and the Arctic Monkeys. Consequently, his music style can best be described as a hybrid of 90s alternative rock, punk, blues and old school rock’n’roll.  Dan started out playing electric guitar, but has since gone back to playing mostly acoustic after friends suggested it would better suit the smaller, more intimate venues he’d been playing. He still uses his electric guitar to create riffs for some of his songs though, due to his special fondness for classic guitar played by legends like Slash and Izzy Stradlin.

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Urban Stories features three outstanding tracks, with lyrics inspired by Dan’s personal experiences and feelings on everyday life. The first track “Fame and Fortune” immediately grabs hold with a thunderous riff and pulse-pounding beat. The electric guitar riffs and solos are fantastic, and a perfect match for the biting lyrics about a woman who’s bad news and uses men for her own gain: “She just wants attention, and making information, is it all just too good to be true? Growing up before you, Chasing fame and fortune, Do you ever feel dead before you’re underground?

Green Day’s influence on Dan’s songwriting is clearly discernible on “Pin Up Girl.” The song opens with a pleasant acoustic riff then, one minute in, the pace quickens with an eruption of strong percussion and gnashing electric guitars. Dan’s vocals on this song even sound a bit like Billie Joe Armstrong – a good thing to my ears, as I’m also a huge Green Day fan. He sings “Going it alone, I don’t want another. It’s you I’m dreaming of tonight.” It’s a terrific song.

In the languid “Too Late Tomorrow” Dan seems to be singing about living life outside your comfort zone – “If you don’t break the rules sometimes, you start to lose your mind.  It’s always gonna be too late tomorrow, go and do what you like. As long as it’s not hurting no one, no one says you gotta be polite.”  – while also addressing someone who’s been careless with other people’s feelings: “You don’t strike me as the type to care. You’re mistaken if you think I do. You get away with all that you do. There’s a fucked-up situation waiting for those like you.”  The track features more of Dan’s great guitar work.

To sum up, Urban Stories is first-rate and, based on a few demos I’ve heard, Dan’s next EP is going to be another solid collection of songs. Support Dan by following him on Twitter and  Facebook and stream his music on Soundcloud and Spotify. Urban Stories may be purchased on iTunes.