CARBONWORKS – Video Premier: “End of the World Suite Part 3: The End”

CarbonWorks is not your typical band. It’s more a collective of talented session musicians, headed by its creator and guitarist Neal Barnard – who also happens to be a world-renowned medical doctor. Based in Washington, D.C., the band’s music is a unique fusion of rock, contemporary classical, jazz, blues and avant-garde, giving their sound an uncommon breadth and depth. With delicate melodies over driving rhythms, blues overlying classical strings, and frequent use of non-English lyrics, their songs defy categorization. As Neal Barnard explains, their unconventional time meters “tilt the song ever so slightly and give you that little jolt between the ears.


The band released their extraordinary debut self-titled album CarbonWorks in December 2016 to rave reviews, and have been periodically releasing a new video for one of the album tracks.  In May 2017, I premiered the video for their gorgeous track “Monaco,” and am now delighted to premier their new videos for “End of the World Suite Part 3: The End” as well as “End of the World Suite Part 4: Winged Victory.” As indicated by their titles, the beautiful tracks are the completion of an ambitious four-part suite.

“Part 1: The Beginning of the End” is a mix of contemporary classical and rock, while “Part 2: Love and Illusion” combines classical, folk and jazz elements. For “Part 3: The End,” progressive jazz is the predominant element. The generous use of strings, including violin, cello and bass, combined with the gorgeous jazzy saxophone, guitar and drums, result in a truly stunning track. Barnard describes the track thusly: “Part 3 (“The End”) launches with cool bebop bass played by Jeff Reed. Russell jumps in on sax, with Mike on drums and me on guitar. Then the strings come in bringing a baroque element that somehow works with the driving jazz.” Although it’s six minutes long, it’s so wonderful that it seems over far too soon.

The suite ends with “Part 4: Winged Victory,” a brief but lovely track with a complex mix of classical and rock overtones, and features the dan tranh, a traditional Vietnamese instrument that’s similar to a Japanese koto. It also features sublime vocals sung in Latin by Italian singer Naif Herin, who ends with the words ” Beati pauperes spiritu, Beati pacifici,” which translated means “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the peacemakers.”

Both videos show the band performing the songs, which I always enjoy seeing.

Connect with CarbonWorks:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on  Soundcloud / Pandora / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes / Amazon

Top 20 Songs for February 25-March 3, 2018

1. PAIN – The War on Drugs (1)
2. SAFARI SONG – Greta Van Fleet (4)
3. LIVE IN THE MOMENT – Portugal. The Man (2)
4. SCARY LOVE – The Neighbourhood (5)
5. LOS AGELESS – St. Vincent (6)
6. SOBER UP – AJR ft. Rivers Cuomo (3)
7. TWO HIGH – Moon Taxi (8)
8. ALL THE STARS – Kendrick Lamar, SZA (13)
9. WORLD GONE MAD – Bastille (10)
10. HAPPY HOUR – Weezer (11)
11. RUN FOR COVER – The Killers (12)
12. ALL ON MY MIND – Anderson East (9)
13. BORN FOR GREATNESS – Papa Roach (14)
14. ONE FOOT – WALK THE MOON (7) 21st week on list
15. YOU WORRY ME – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (17)
16. BROKEN – lovelytheband (19)
17. GOD’S PLAN – Drake (18)
18. &RUN – Sir Sly (20)
19. I ONLY LIE WHEN I LOVE YOU – Royal Blood (15)
20. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (16) 25th week on list

KROSST OUT – Single Review: “The Death of Me ft. Jor’del Downz”


Krosst Out is a talented young hip hop artist from Toronto, Canada. In March 2017, he released his debut EP Life of the Party, an outstanding effort that examined the darker aspects of the party life, and its attendant abuse of sex, drugs and alcohol (you can read my review here). He’s now releasing a new autobiographical single “The Death of Me featuring Jor’del Downz.” It drops February 26, which is also his birthday and will be available on all music streaming and purchase sites.

The track is fantastic, with a strong trap beat and mysterious wobbly synths creating a deep sense of foreboding. The production is flawless and tight, and Krosst Out’s performance shows how his vocals have matured since Life of the Party. He passionately sings of his anxiety and insecurities of trying to make it as a hip hop artist, and the frustration of having to spend much of his precious time working at dead-end jobs instead of devoting it to his music dream:

When I’m gone they’ll know they’re wrong
These words are all I got

They’ll never know what I go through
It’s the death of me
I’ve really been at my wits end lately
This back and forth between jobs got me going crazy
Now I don’t want to fight with my boss
It’s just that he don’t pay me
How do you expect me to not say these things?
Not pretend that I am not bleeding

Jor’del Downz enters 2/3 of the way through the track, rapping about the pressures of being a rapper and confirming the feelings expressed by Krosst Out:

I’m fed up and I’m stressed out
And I could care less about who’s opinion on who’s the next out
Probably cause you’re left out
But that’s expected when it’s rap I mess with
Or any other genre I might invest in

Since the song’s release, Krosst Out has dropped a cool new video that includes only his portion of the track.

See Krosst Out at one of these upcoming Cognitive Diss Eastern Canada Tour shows:

APR 13 FRI  –  Overtime Sports Bar, Kingston, Ontario
APR 14 SAT  –  The Diezel Room, Oshawa, Ontario
APR 18 WED  –  Lexi’s Lounge, Moncton, New Brunswick
APR 20 FRI  –  Menz & Mollyz Bar, Halifax Nova Scotia
APR 21 SAT  –  Baba’s Lounge, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
APR 27 FRI  –  Detour Music Hall, St Catharines, Ontario
APR 28 SAT  –  Cognitive Diss Tour/ Melotika EP Release Party @ The Cavern Bar, Toronto

Connect with Krosst Out:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp

KENDRICK LAMAR/SZA – Single Review: “All the Stars”


I’m absolutely head over heels in love with the gorgeous new song “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA. The track is one of many fantastic songs featured on the soundtrack for the monster hit film Black Panther. A stylistic departure for Lamar, the song is highly melodic, with lush sweeping synths and orchestration, set to a captivating dance beat. His vocals are mesmerizing and powerful as he sings the biting lyrics about duplicity and betrayal:

Love, let’s talk about love
Is it anything and everything you hoped for?
Or do the feeling haunt you?
I know the feeling haunt you

Tell me what you gon’ do to me
Confrontation ain’t nothin’ new to me
You can bring a bullet, bring a sword
Bring a morgue, but you can’t bring the truth to me
Fuck you and all your expectations
I don’t even want your congratulations
I recognize your false confidence and calculated promises all in your conversation
I hate people that feel entitled
Look at me crazy ’cause I ain’t invite you
Oh, you important?
You the moral to the story, you endorsing?
Motherfucker, I don’t even like you
Corrupt a man’s heart with a gift
That’s how you find out who you dealin’ with
A small percentage, who I’m building with
I want the credit if I’m losing or winning
On my momma that’s the realest shit

And SZA blows our minds with her beautiful, soulful vocals that raise goosebumps. She passionately sings about her inability to resist another’s charms despite the fact he’s no good for her, always putting her faith in love and the stars, and when their voices are combined, it’s sheer bliss.

This may be the night that my dreams might let me know
All the stars are closer, all the stars are closer, all the stars are closer
This may be the night that my dreams might let me know
All the stars are closer, all the stars are closer, all the stars are closer

Skin covered in ego
Get to talkin’, I get involved, like a rebound
No control, no off switch in the way that you bringing me down
It’s a turn on, get it away from me
Know you mean wrong, keep away from me
And it’s all wrong, get it away from me, yeah
I just cry for no reason, I just pray for no reason
I just thank for the life, for the day, for the hours and another life breathin’
I did it all ’cause it feel good
You could live it all if you feel bad
Better live your life
We are running out of time

The video for the song is positively stunning. I started to describe it, but it’s so complex and filled with such extraordinary imagery that you just need to watch it for yourself and form your own opinions. Prepare to be amazed!

LOW STANDARDS, HIGH FIVES – Single/Video Review: “Silent Decor”

I love when bands come up with offbeat or quirky names for themselves, and one of the better ones I’ve come across lately is Low Standards, High Fives, an alternative rock oufit from Turin, Italy. Formed in 2012, the band has continually evolved to shape their sound and musical direction. They expanded to a five-piece by 2016, and now consist of Ame Ray (guitar, lead vocals), Lore Frezza (bass, vocals), Luca Cravero (guitar), Endi Sassano (guitar, vocals) and Karl Lèmon (drums). Having three guitarists gives their music a heavier, fuller sound.

Low Standards High Fives

In January, the band released their hard rock single “Silent Decor,” which will be featured on their upcoming debut album Are We Doing The Best We Can? The album will be released through UK/US label Engineer Records on March 31st, and the band is making “Silent Decor” available as a free download via their Bandcamp page.

The band delivers aggressive riffs of grungy, jangly and shredded guitars and lots of crashing cymbals, anchored by a heavy bass line. Ray wails the lyrics about meaning nothing more to someone than just an ornament:  “So here’s what you need. A silent decor. Ornamental / What am I here for?” It’s a terrific rock track.

The unusual video shows a man thumbing through albums at a record store and choosing one titled “Silent the Kobras,” and in the next scene is shown holding the album over his head. The video segues to the band wearing wigs and performing the song at a club as the heavy metal band ‘Kobras.’ After the show, Ray gets out of their van to take a leak, and disappears without a trace. Nine months later, he’s shown lying naked in a field, then slowly gets up and stumbles off.

Connect with the band:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase their music on iTunes or you can download their previous EP’s for free on Bandcamp

FROM THE CAVE Release a Brilliant Video for “Cavalier”

From the Cave Cavalier

London-based From the Cave are quickly becoming one of my favorite indie bands. The amazingly talented quintet play a unique style of alternative rock that seems to incorporate an eclectic mix of funk, pop, shoegaze, punk, blues and Gypsy influences. They released their self-titled debut EP From the Cave in 2016, and in 2017 began dropping a series of new singles. Last fall I reviewed their beautiful “Halloween” and the gorgeous video they produced for the song (which you can read here). They’ve just released a new single “Cavalier” that will be included on their upcoming EP, and have produced a fantastic new video for the track.

The five-member band consists of Kristian Møller-Munar on vocals and guitar, Mikaela Lindgren on vocals, keys and percussion, Josh Scriven on guitar and vocals, Johan Crondahl on bass, and Anton Vysotsky on drums. “Cavalier” is a delightful love song with a rousing Gypsy dance vibe. The band employs all kinds of synths and strings, including guitar and violin but also possibly zither, cimbalom and/or mandolin, to create an intriguing Eastern European sound that’s incredibly catchy and wonderful. Kristian’s vocals are captivating as he expresses his frustration that the object of his desire keeps rebuffing his romantic intentions. “I could be your cavalier if you like me. I’m sitting by the cabaret but you don’t mind me. / But angel, I’ve been waiting for long. Still I’m writing you songs.”

Like their two previous animated videos, this one was also created by Kristian, who’s clearly a skilled and highly imaginative videographer. The trippy, psychedelic imagery is intensely colorful, and tells the story laid out in the song. It starts off in a cabaret, where the band is performing the song. Suddenly the cabaret seems to be swallowed by a creature, then we’re taken into a series of tunnels that are possibly the creature’s insides. We quickly return to the continually shape-shifting cabaret, in which the protagonist appears to be floating aimlessly, possibly symbolizing his sense of futility and feeling adrift in the situation. It’s brilliant and I love it!

Connect with From the Cave:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase: Bandcamp


RUSTY SHIPP Release New Video for “SS Naronic”

Nashville rock band Rusty Shipp released their monumental album Mortal Ghost in 2017 to wide acclaim. Over the past several months they’ve been producing videos for different tracks off the album, and last November they released a terrific animated video for “Treading Water,” which I reviewed. They’ve now released an amazing new video for another track “SS Naronic,” a dramatic song about a ship that sank on February 19, 1893. The band chose today for the release to commemorate that fateful event.

Rusty Shipp calls itself a “Nautical Rock’n’Roll” band, with a sound influenced by the melodic chord progressions of The Beatles, the surf guitar of Dick Dale, the grunge rock of Nirvana, and the heavy metal of Led Zeppelin, among others. Their music is characterized by a dark, underwater sound, haunting vocals, and heavy riffs. The band consists of singer/songwriter and front man Russ T. Shipp (literally his birth name) on guitar and vocals, Elijah Apperson on lead guitar, AJ Newton on drums and Michael Craft on bass.

Rusty Shipp2

The SS Naronic was a steamship built in Belfast for the White Star Line. Eight days after leaving Liverpool for New York on February 11, 1893, the ship was lost at sea, along with all 74 people on board. According to Wikipedia, the exact cause of the ship’s sinking was never determined. However, messages found later that had been written by passengers and placed in bottles once they realized their ship was sinking seemed to indicate that it hit an iceberg. Rusty Shipp based their lyrics for the song on some of those actual messages. A particularly poignant line is “Oh god please tell me there is more than this, that this cold abyss is not the end.” Another is “Cattle and charcoal jettisoned to save the boat. But we won’t stay afloat.”

The hard-hitting song features intense, gritty guitars, heavy bass and lots of crashing cymbals, perfectly conveying the horror of the awful tragedy. The superb illustrated animation video was created by Hein Zaayman of Vohnic Music LLC, the same artist who illustrated the Mortal Ghost album cover. The brilliant use of sepia tones gives the video an historical feel.

Connect with Rusty Shipp: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Reverbnation / YouTube
Purchase: iTunes / cdbaby / Bandcamp

DAN FARRELL – Album Review: “Colliding Planets”

Dan Farrell Album

Dan Farrell is a singer/songwriter based in London, UK. A multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, bass and keyboards, as well as produces all of his tracks in his own home studio, he refers to himself as a “one man band.” That said, in his bio he explains “My main instrument is guitar which I play left handed – but with the strings strung for a right handed person. Consequently all the chords I play are upside down. Strange, but true.” It sounds complicated to me, but Dan manages to coax some pretty phenomenal sounds from his six-string.

He welcomed 2018 by releasing his third album Colliding Planets, an ambitious work featuring 15 tracks that dropped on January 12. Collectively, the songs on the album draw from a myriad of influences and genres, including rock, jazz, blues, country and pop, and a few tracks seem to include them all! Dan cites the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Queen, the Bee Gees and Amy Winehouse as some of his favorites, whose influences can clearly be heard on several tracks.

Dan Farrell

He kicks things off with “Salt of the Earth,” a rousing, foot-stomping country rock track. I like the aggressive drum beat, and Dan’s spirited guitar work make for an incredibly upbeat song. “She’s Still Drivin‘” keeps the energy flowing with a lively rock’n’roll tempo and Dan’s jangly guitars. After hearing just these two tracks, it’s clear he’s a skilled axe man. The sounds of a racing engine are a nice touch.

Tom Petty’s influence is evident on “Dreams of a Dreamer.” It’s a great song, with heavily strummed guitar set to a slow drumbeat. I love the added keyboards and guitar riffs. Dan sings about a woman he desires, but circumstances prevent anything from ever happening:

You’re thinking about me, it brings on a sigh
I’m wishin’ for something that we can never try
The dreams of a dreamer are making you sweat
Are making your heart beat a little faster

One of my favorite tracks is “Revealed in a Kiss,” a languid, jazzy affair with gentle guitars and sensuous horns that conjure up images of a romantic slow dance extending late into the evening. Dan’s smooth vocals are wonderful. “Don’t Blame Me” is a bouncy pop-rock track with jangly guitars and lush keyboards. Piano and keyboards take prominence on the lovely ballad “Get Inside Their Soul, and the bittersweet “The Blue Bar” has a country rock feel, and reminds me a bit of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.” Dan sings of the passage of time and how some achieve their dreams, while others watch theirs turn to dust: “I used to share the same dreams that made us all survive. I used to have the same hopes that kept us all alive. / Then the revolution took it all away.”

“Another great track is “One Like You,” a fun rock’n’roll song about wanting to stay home with the object of his affection rather than go to work: “Well you know I got to go and earn a buck or two. But I’d rather spend my time with one like you.” Like all of Dan’s songs, it has terrific guitar work, and the lively trumpet and keyboards make for a really upbeat number. Dan turns introspective on the country rock track “Let It Go,” a song about letting go of the dream of being with someone he can never have and just moving on.

Just Because” is a mellow, upbeat song about not feeling guilty about indulging in the simple pleasures in life: “There doesn’t have to be an explanation for everything we do, every sensation. Sometimes it’s nice to do a lot a nothing. It’s good to go and treat yourself sometimes.” On the beautiful, uplifting ballad “I Tried,” Dan sings about believing in someone and encouraging them to take the right path in life. “I’ll always wish you well ’cause I believe in you. The road we choose is up to us, and sometimes life can make a fuss.”

One in a Million” has a sophisticated vibe with jangly guitars, soulful keyboards and jazzy horns. Dan wistfully sings about how things in life don’t always turn out the way you’d hoped: “The higher you climb the further you fall. You think you’re doing well standing tall. But then your best-laid plans they come crashing down. That youthful innocence you had is on the ground. One in a million has that perfect sound. Went and lifted my feet right off the ground.”

The catchy “The Man I Want to Be” serves up bouncy riffs, and in his gravelly vocals, Dan sings about how’s he matured into a better man. “Leave My Mark” is a rousing guitar-driven rock song, with a riff that channels the Rolling Stones’ hard-rocking “Start Me Up.”  Keeping with a Stones theme, album closer “You Only Know When You See” has a bit of a “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” vibe.

Colliding Planets is a fine, well-crafted album that showcases Dan’s exceptional guitar work and skill for writing catchy melodies and intelligent lyrics about life that we can all relate to.

To learn more about Dan, check out his Website and connect with him on Twitter
Stream his music on Spotify / Reverbnation / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on cdbaby / Bandcamp / iTunes / Amazon

MELOTIKA – Single Review: “Unaware Part II [Blindside]”

Melotika single

Melotika is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based electronic indie/pop project consisting of singer/songwriter Mel Yelle and DJ/producer Jackman Jones, also known as Mista T Dot. Last year they released two singles “Downtown Summer ft. Krosst Out” and “Unaware,” and on January 30 they dropped a sultry new track “Unaware Part II [Blindside].”

According to Mel Yelle, it’s a continuation of the theme expressed in “Unaware,” and open to interpretation. My take is that “Unaware” is about struggling to maintain one’s identity in the face of a relationship that’s unraveling. In “Unaware Part II [Blindside],” she’s confronting the person who blindsided her, telling them she no longer cares, is moving on, and so should they:

Quit callin’ when my make-up fallin’ and I wonder why you’re not alone? 
Big ballin’ and I see you stallin’ while your trippin’ at the mall 
Go getter, why you even bother? When it’s just so clear you see 
No better, doesn’t even matter, no it doesn’t really matter to me 

If you want it! Can you start it! You’re a getaway! 
If you thought it! And you need it! Do it anyway! 
Jumpstart, we won’t be apart; to the unknown 
If you want it, and you need it I won’t ever want you alone 

Blindside of the future, blindside it’s my nature 
Don’t want any part of it, so much more to see 

Mel Yelle

Born and raised in Montreal, Mel Yelle’s rich, smoky vocals remind me at times of fellow Quebecois Celine Dion, with whom she also bears a striking resemblance. Combined with Jones’ sultry hip-hop beats and mysterious echoed synths, together they’ve produced a track brimming with sensuous grooves that raise body temperatures and aim straight for the hips. It’s a marvelous song.

Melotika will be releasing their first EP in March. To learn more, connect with them on  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes or Bandcamp

Top 20 Songs for February 18-24, 2018

1. PAIN – The War on Drugs (2)
2. LIVE IN THE MOMENT – Portugal. The Man (1)
3. SOBER UP – AJR ft. Rivers Cuomo (4)
4. SAFARI SONG – Greta Van Fleet (5)
5. SCARY LOVE – The Neighbourhood (6)
6. LOS AGELESS – St. Vincent (7)
8. TWO HIGH – Moon Taxi (8)
9. ALL ON MY MIND – Anderson East (9)
10. WORLD GONE MAD – Bastille (11)
11. HAPPY HOUR – Weezer (12)
12. RUN FOR COVER – The Killers (13)
13. ALL THE STARS – Kendrick Lamar ft. SZA (14)
14. BORN FOR GREATNESS – Papa Roach (16)
15. I ONLY LIE WHEN I LOVE YOU – Royal Blood (10)
16. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (15) 24th week on list
17. YOU WORRY ME – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (20)
18. GOD’S PLAN – Drake (17)
19. BROKEN – lovelytheband (N)
20. &RUN – Sir Sly (N)