St. Louis Band iLLPHONiCS Release New Digital 45: “X-Rated”

illphonics

St. Louis music innovators iLLPHONiCS are more than a band, they’re an identity. They’re also a rarity, in that all five individuals in the band are founding members, and since 2006, they’ve consistently made some of the most groundbreaking music to come out of the St. Louis music scene, if not the entire Midwest. Their infectious, high energy sound incorporates elements of hip hop, rap, R&B, soul, pop, jazz and funk, with stylish compositions and harmonic vocals that grab and hold listeners and audiences rapt attention. The five band members include lead singer/emcee Larry “Fallout” Morris, Keith Moore (keyboards, backing vocals), Kevin Koehler (lead guitar, backing vocals), Simon Chervitz (bass) and Chaz Brew (drums, backing vocals).

I had the pleasure of reviewing their superb fifth album Gone With the Trends in 2016 (which you can read here), and in 2017 they followed with Purple Piano Society,  which was named one of St. Louis’ best albums of 2017 by The Riverfront Times.  Now the band is set to release their first Digital 45 entitled “X-Rated” on Friday, May 25. “X-Rated” will include two songs, an A-side “Breathe Like” and a B-side “Green Note$.” The band calls the Digital 45 “a comfy middle ground between the paltry single and the increasingly trendy EP.” “X-Rated” will be available to stream on Spotify and Soundcloud, among other platforms. The band requests all downloads be purchased from their Bandcamp account.

A week later, on Saturday, June 2, iLLPHONiCS will celebrate the release with their first St. Louis live performance of 2018 – “A Sensory Experience,” to be held at the Stage at KDHX, starting at 8 pm. Tickets are $10 and available in advance through Ticketfly. The band will be collaborating with Captured Planet on visuals for the event, which will also serve as a kind of ‘unofficial’ release party for ‘X-Rated.

ILLPHONICS 45

iLLPHONiCS went on tour in 2017 to promote Purple Piano Society, performing in Detroit, New York and Boston, among other cities. Then they spent this past winter writing new songs, the first of which are the two now being released. Regarding these new songs, band frontman and emcee Larry “Fallout” Morris explains: “Musically we have melded many types of genres but the one genre we haven’t explored the most is Hip-Hop. It only makes sense that we go deeper into what’s at the core of our sound.”

“Breathe Like truly is what it is. We all have physical desires and fantasies, and they are even better when you’re engaging with someone who shares the same passion for you, as you for them. Being able to act upon those things and being open with your partner (and vice versa) is a beautiful thing and something worth celebrating. I appreciate love songs and the beauty of intimacy, but sometimes you got to kick it up a notch. This keeps things interesting!

“Green Note$ is inspired by my own experience but also by stories I’d get from my cousin and bandmate Chaz, who at one point used to frequent gentlemen’s clubs often. I know many regular people who attend strip clubs, and I feel that it’s awkward that society often looks down on the profession, especially when we are embracing sexuality in ways they didn’t when my parents were growing up. I also play on the power dynamic, because even though some unfortunately may see the profession of stripping as “lowly,” I see the power in a person being able to seduce an individual to come off some cash.”

“Breathe Like” has a slow and sexy hip-hop beat, with background breathy sounds that continue throughout the track. Cool synths and a crisp snare drum are the dominant instruments, but there’s smooth bass and terrific harmonic vocals holding it all together. Morris croons “I love when you bend down and let me feel some.” And “Green Note$” features sparkling synths and smooth guitar set to a mesmerizing beat. The harmonizing vocals are especially nice on this track, but then that can be said of all iLLPHONiCS songs. They’re both exceptional tracks, and fresh proof that, after 12 years of making music, this band is still at the top of their game.

Connect with iLLPHONiCS:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp

BARBUDO – Single Review: “Secret Admirer”

I recently stumbled upon yet another terrific British band (there are so many!) named Barbudo, and it took me only a few minutes of listening to their music to become a fan. Consisting of brothers Ben and Harry Stanworth and Elliot Salter, they fuse elements of old-school funk, soul, psych rock and smooth R&B to create an infectious and incredibly pleasing sound they call ‘Nu-eyed funk’. But whatever one calls it, I hear influences from The Isley Brothers, Rufus, Steely Dan, Average White Band and Style Council, and how could you possible go wrong with that lineup?

Barbudo Performing

Following up on their exceptional 2017 EP Pleasures, Barbudo has just dropped a sparkling new single “Secret Admirer,” and it was instant love for me. The band have managed to craft an uplifting, intoxicating track that’s at once both cool and hot – sort of like sipping an icy Margarita at a tropical beach bar. The coolness comes from a breezy mix of smooth vocal harmonies, chiming synths, chill bass lines, and shimmering grooves on the clavinet, while the summery Latin dance beat and funky guitar riffs provide ample steam.

In describing the song, Ben explains We were going for a Latin-infused funk vibe, like a blend of Michael Jackson and Santana.” Harry adds “It’s a playful confession of secretly liking something that is deemed ‘uncool’ by most people. You might not publicly admit to liking it, but beyond judging eyes you see it for what it is. Like listening to Coldplay when you are sad…” Hey now – I love Coldplay and am not ashamed to admit it!

But seriously, “Secret Admirer” has all the right ingredients for the perfect summer song, and I can’t stop hitting replay. Listen for yourselves and you’ll be helplessly moving your hips within seconds.

Connect with BARBUDO: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase: iTunes / Bandcamp

DEH-YEY – Single Review: “Death and Politics”

Death and Politics

Deh-Yey is a fairly new band from Chester, UK comprised of guitarist Cash Burns and drummer Tom Maude, and they’ve just released a brilliant new single “Death and Politics.” The hard-hitting track takes on the politics of gun culture in America with thunderous instrumentals as tumultuous as the subject matter. Using only layered guitars and percussion, the duo create a heavy, dynamic sound that blasts through the airwaves.

“Death and Politics” opens with banging drumbeats that sound like rapid gunfire, then a barrage of grimy distorted guitars and wildly crashing cymbals arrive like a thunderbolt, jolting us out of our complacency. The guys employ a complex melodic structure with numerous change-ups that serve to keep us in a constant state of unease. Cash’s intricate guitar work is jaw-dropping; he makes his six-string hum and chirp one moment, then wail and scream the next. And Tom attacks his drum kit like a demon, generating pulse-pounding, speaker-blowing power that penetrates all the way to our inner core. Cash sings the biting lyrics with an arresting authority, and together their soaring harmonies in the chorus are superb. It all makes for a phenomenal track.

Time is wasted on everyone, and still the world turns,
Moving house with you’re youngest son, no one around who cares,
Blatantly flashing a hand made gun,
Such a sore sight
What about the young and dumb
Can we amend your right?

Start another fight, Terminate a life,
Come together when it’s too late,
Sing Oh oh oh ooooooh

You look surprised when you opened up your eyes and you seen the special prize at the end of the trail,
Some say you had it all, but you wanted more control and the gods you fucking worship set you up to fail,
The ruler of them all, and he’s still inclined to fall as he sees a sign of war from the very ledge that gave him life,
You’re still burning down my furniture,
Just to piss in the light.

Deh-Yey certainly set the bar high with “Death and Politics,” and I for one cannot wait to hear fresh tunes from them very soon.

Connect with Deh-Yey:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Top 30 Songs for May 20-26, 2018

James Bay’s fantastic single “Pink Lemonade” is #1 for a second week, and Childish Gambino’s brilliant and provocative “This is America”  jumps to #2 in just its second week on the chart. Bad Wolves’ remake of The Cranberries’ powerful protest song “Zombie” – which resonates more than ever today – leaps 10 spots to #14. Florence + The Machine are back with a great new single “Hunger,” which debuts at #29, and three other songs debut as well: “Silver Lining” by Mt. Joy, “Life to Fix” by The Record Company, and “Red Moon Sky” by Face of Stone.

1. PINK LEMONADE – James Bay (1)
2. THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino (8)
3. BROKEN – lovelytheband (3)
4. HANDYMAN – AWOLNATION (4)
5. &RUN – Sir Sly (5)
6. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges (7)
7. THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile (2)
8. WHATEVER IT TAKES – Imagine Dragons (6)
9. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (10)
10. GUIDE YOU IN THE DARK – RECKLESS JACKS (11)
11. THOUGHT CONTAGION – Muse (12)
12. THE NIGHT HAS AN ALIBI – Wons Phreely + the Horses (9)
13. CELEBRATE – Dirty Heads, The Unlikely Candidates (18)
14. ZOMBIE – Bad Wolves (24)
15. SORRY – Nothing But Thieves (16)
16. SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT) – Panic! At the Disco (17)
17. DEVIL – Shinedown (19)
18. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY – Blue October (21)
19. WITHOUT WALLS – Lyia Meta (20)
20. UNWIND – John Defeo (23)
21. SATURDAY SUN – Vance Joy (13)
22. YOU WORRY ME – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (14)
23. IRREVERSIBLE KNOT – DENSE (15)
24. FAVORITE COLOR IS BLUE – Robert DeLong, K.Flay (26)
25. COLORS – Beck (29)
26. SILVER LINING – Mt. Joy (N)
27. DOUBT – Joywave (22)
28. LIFE TO FIX – The Record Company (N)
29. HUNGER – Florence + The Machine (N)
30. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (N)

MATT DUPUY – Single Review: “More Than I’ve Ever Known”

Matt DuPuy

Matt DuPuy is a singer/songwriter, music producer and recording artist based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s thrilled to release his very first single “More Than I’ve Ever Known,” which dropped May 15th, and I’m happy to review it. Matt had assistance from Andie Sandoval and Antonio Brum, who provided backing vocals, and the track was mixed by Jeremy Hatcher and mastered by Nathan Dantzler.

The track opens strong, with a strutting electric guitar riff and thumping drumbeat that quickly hook us in. An assortment of kick-ass bluesy, funky and distorted guitar licks are gradually layered over the continuous strutting riff, accompanied by aggressive drums, loudly crashing cymbals, and organ that dial up the heat as Matt sings about a steamy romantic encounter: “I want her and she wants me. Can’t fight the pull of gravity. I think I’ve found my place. She was hiding in the smoke. Can you take me higher baby. More than I’ve ever known.” Matt’s smooth earnest vocals are terrific, and I love the calm interlude in the bridge, where keyboards and strings share the spotlight, and Andie and Antonio’s beautiful harmonizing background vocals really shine.

“More Than I’ve Ever Known” is a fine, well-crafted song, and a promising debut effort from this talented young musician. Not only are Matt’s guitar-playing skills impressive, his songwriting and vocal abilities are also first-rate.

Connect with Matt on Facebook
Stream “More Than I’ve Ever Known” on Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes

THE WINACHI TRIBE – Single Review: “Transition”

The Winachi Tribe – is that an awesome band name or what! – is a six-man outfit based in and around Leeds, UK. Drawing from a ton of legendary influences such as Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly & The Family Stone, Primal Scream, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Massive Attack, The Stone Roses, Talking Heads, D’angelo, Prince and Daft Punk, their infectious blend of electropop/funk/soul serves up more grooves than a box of vinyl LPs. With tongues firmly planted in their collective cheeks, they refer to their music as “Soul Food Winachi Chicken” – an apt descriptor, as it’s incredibly tasty!

WinachiTribe pic

Formed in 2015, The Winachi Tribe is comprised of Liam Croker (vocals), Antony Egerton (keyboards, programming), Inder Goldfinger (percussion), Mike Bee (lead guitar),  Richard Ritchie (bass) and Sam Tushingham (drums). They’ve collaborated with musicians and producers in both the UK and Southern California, and released several critically acclaimed singles (one of my favorites is “A Room With a Zoo,” for which they also created an imaginative short film directed by Trevor Miller and featuring actor Tommy Flanagan). In April they dropped a fantastic new dance single “Transition,” which I instantly loved at first listen.

I was a huge fan of disco back in the day (I’m old) and quite the dancing fool (I’m still a fool, but I digress…), so it’s natural that I’d love this song. Not that it should be classified as ‘disco,’ but it certainly has a hypnotic EDM beat that grabs you by the hips and doesn’t let go. I defy anyone to sit still to this song for very long. The band employs an abundance of throbbing synths, keyboards, guitars, bass, and percussion to create a lush soundscape overflowing with intoxicating dance grooves. Liam’s beguiling vocals register in the higher range but far below falsetto, and are delightful. Everything about “Transition” is perfectly marvelous, and I love this band!

The lyrics are about not allowing yourself to get stuck in a rut by fearing the unknown, and instead embracing change as learning and growth experiences: “Change don’t bring danger. Change for you is good. It’s a transitional, transitional period. If we seem like strangers, it’s ’cause we’re going through the changes.”

They’ve also recorded a great remix of “Transition” by Daisy O’Dell and featuring The Singularity.

Catch The Winachi Tribe at one of these shows on their Transition UK Tour 2018

MAY 18  –  Stramash, Edinburgh  9 PM
MAY 19  –  Drummonds, Aberdeen  9 PM
MAY 26  –  Bearded Theory’s Spring Gathering, Walton-On-Trent 9 PM
MAY 29  –  Social Bar Doncaster, Doncaster  9 PM
JUN 2  –  Mosborough Music Festival, Don Valley Bowl, Sheffield  8 PM
JUN 9  –  O.L.O.V.O.F. Festival 2018, Cambridge   9 PM
JUN 10  –  Fiddlers Elbow, London
JUL 21  –  Chalfest, Chalford   7 PM
JUL 22  –  Blackthorn Festival, Marple  9 AM
AUG 4  –  Sessions Beer & Gin Festival, Aberdeen  7 PM

Connect with The Winachi Tribe:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  iTunes

DANCING ON PLUTO – EP Review: “Paradise Fahrenheit”

Dancing on Pluto

Dancing on Pluto is a talented and charismatic rock band I learned about at the beginning of this year, when I first heard their fantastic single “Feels Good” (which I reviewed). Formed in early 2017 and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dancing on Pluto is made up of four long time friends Chas (lead vocals), Josh (drums), Gilbert (guitar) and Ishmael (bass). Drawing influences from many of their favorite genres, including rock, hip hop, R&B, reggae, synth-pop, shoegaze and grunge, they create music that’s eclectic, interesting and unpredictable. They released their superb debut EP Abandon Ship in 2017, followed by “Feels Good” at the end of the year. In April, they dropped their second EP Paradise Fahrenheit, delivering five great new tunes for our listening pleasure.

Like they did on Abandon Ship, Dancing on Pluto really bends genres and mixes things up on Paradise Fahrenheit – one of the things I love about their music. The first track “Ozone” has a sunny reggae beat, but a hip hop element is added via Chas speed-rapping in the song’s middle. The acoustic and wobbly electric guitars are particularly good, with a tasty little riff in the bridge. The song seems to essentially be about not seeing the forest for the trees, and feeling pessimistic about life: “All I see, nestled in green, tripping over nothin’ by my own damn feet. I can’t see at all, no stars in the sky. No food and I’m starving.” But after spending time in the forest, he finds clarity and peace of mind, and his attitude becomes more optimistic: “Nestled in green. Visibly at ease. The stars are so beautiful.

Where the Wild Things Are” starts off as an uptempo rock song, with buoyant riffs and peppy drums. Halfway through, the track shifts to sort of a ska beat, with jangly guitars and strutting bass. Chas sings of teenage insecurities, self-doubt and the struggle for independence: “I know what people see. I’m scared that you’re too good for me. That’s why I’m always scared. / Is it because I get jealous when I see you in a crowd? Is it because I can’t take you where my thoughts get loud? Am I not beautiful enough for you to want to treat me good?

The joyously uplifting gem “Feels Good” is the song that first made me fall for Dancing on Pluto. Beginning with Chas yelling “It feels good, yeah!“, followed by a few seconds of a simple drumbeat and tapping drumsticks, the track bursts wide open with a barrage of shredded guitars, then settles back down. Chas’ incredible vocal dexterity really shines on this track – sounding as smooth and soulful as John Legend one minute, then raw and loud the next.  The tempo goes from a mellow, bass-driven groove while he croons “When you’re on your own, take time and deep breaths. And when you’re on your own you’ll find out…”, to an explosion of wailing guitars and thunderous drums with the refrain that perfectly describes the song’s affect on me:  “It feels good! It’s so good, right on!”

The guys change things up again with “Snowflakes on Mercury,” which sounds totally different than any of the other tracks on the EP.  The beautiful, languid song has more of a shoegaze vibe, with greater use of synths and keyboards, yet they insert some grungy riffs in the bridge, adding a bit of poignant drama. The lyrics seem to address self-awareness and appraisal: “Snowflakes, I want to see you even when you hurt my eyes. I want to feel you even when you hurt my skin. Falling and floating. You help all of my footprints be seen. So I can see how far I am from where I’ve been. Falling and floating.”

Monet,” is a seven-minute-long rock song with an incredibly pleasing and catchy melody, and marvelous strummed acoustic and electric guitar work. At roughly four minutes in, the tempo slows and riffs of jangly guitar dominate until drums and crashing cymbals return. The instrumentals all quiet down to just a simple acoustic guitar riff to close out the track. The lyrics seem to be about working through problems in a relationship: “I’d paint a picture of love that I can’t put into words for you. / This is your whole life, not just a cause worth fighting for. / I’m standing outside your door, ’cause I thought that I was more than the half-hearted fool you took me for. We’re fine ’cause our creator says so. We’ll be fine.

With Paradise Fahrenheit, Dancing on Pluto have another solid EP under their collective belts as they start to build an impressive discography. I love their music, and look forward to hearing more great and innovative songs from them.

Connect with Dancing on Pluto:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes

MOROSITY – Single Review: “Defend”

Morosity is an unusual band with a unique sound like no other I’m aware of. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Morosity is comprised of front man Jesse Albrecht (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Sean Bachinski (Bass), Jason Wolfe (Violin, Guitar, Mandolin), and Nick Johnson (Drums). They meld progressive rock with folk, psychedelia, Middle Eastern and tribal influences to create their exotic sound that’s captivating, haunting and stunning.

Morosity released their ambitious debut album Misanthrope in 2011 to wide acclaim, and followed in 2017 with the magnificent Low Tide, which I reviewed. They now return with a darkly beautiful new single “Defend,” which dropped on May 11. The track was recorded and mixed by Albrecht in his home studio Evensong Studios, and mastered by Jeremy Ramasir at Intangible Sound. It opens with a rather ominous-sounding guitar riff, then gentle percussion enters, accompanied by Albrecht’s deep, smoldering vocals that exude a sense of bitterness as he calls out someone’s duplicity and lies:

Invading on my faith again
Believe in nothing it’s a sin…a sin
Some things just aren’t meant to bend
The truth is yours not mine amen. Defend

The guitars intensify as hand claps, keyboards, crashing cymbals and heavier drums are added. Albrecht’s vocals become more animated as he decries their unwillingness to change their evil ways:

Offered up in a righteous plan
Extend a loving hand to mend…my friend
But if you can not understand
Leave me no choice but to stand and defend

I tried to be a matador
I can’t believe, you can’t ignore
This is war

All the instruments slow to a disquieting calm in the bridge, giving a sense that, despite the tranquility, all is not well. Albrecht’s gentle vocals are icy as he delivers his final words of condemnation:

Stabbing a snake tongue into your eyes
You’ll never see again, gone blind
Riding a pale horse into the night
You’ll never wake again, no more light

Put your sword back in its place
For all who shake must surely taste
The blood you drink it will be yours
The offered flesh will please the forest
Grow. Grow. Grow.

Connect with Morosity:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase:  BandcampMorosity Store / iTunes

Top 30 Songs for May 13-19, 2018

1. PINK LEMONADE – James Bay (2)
2. THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile (1)
3. BROKEN – lovelytheband (3)
4. HANDYMAN – AWOLNATION (6)
5. &RUN – Sir Sly (5)
6. WHATEVER IT TAKES – Imagine Dragons (4)
7. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges (8)
8. THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino (N)
9. THE NIGHT HAS AN ALIBI – Wons Phreely + the Horses (7)
10. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (12)
11. GUIDE YOU IN THE DARK – RECKLESS JACKS (11)
12. THOUGHT CONTAGION – Muse (10)
13. SATURDAY SUN – Vance Joy (14)
14. YOU WORRY ME – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (9)
15. IRREVERSIBLE KNOT – DENSE (15)
16. SORRY – Nothing But Thieves (18)
17. SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT) – Panic! At the Disco (19)
18. CELEBRATE – Dirty Heads, The Unlikely Candidates (21)
19. DEVIL – Shinedown (23)
20. WITHOUT WALLS – Lyia Meta (22)
21. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY – Blue October (26)
22. DOUBT – Joywave (24)
23. UNWIND – John Defeo (25)
24. ZOMBIE – Bad Wolves (N)
25. ALREADY GONE – Brett Dennen (13)
26. FAVORITE COLOR IS BLUE – Robert DeLong, K.Flay (28)
27. THE GOLD – Manchester Orchestra (16)
28. SEVERED – The Decemberists (17)
29. COLORS – Beck (N)
30. WORLD GONE MAD – Bastille (20)

DENSE – Single Review: “The Smoke”

DENSE The Smoke

Despite seemingly continuous reports announcing its demise, rock music seems to be alive and well, especially in the UK where it’s thriving. One of the more innovative rock bands I’ve been following is DENSE, a young and immensely talented trio from Leeds, England, whose unique sound could best be described as ‘industrial psychedelic surfer garage rock.’ Sounds a bit complex, but when you hear their music you’ll understand what I mean. DENSE consists of Charlie Fossick (Guitar/Vocals), Dylan Metcalf (Bass) and Sam Heffer (Drums). Charlie also produces, mixes and masters their music. Despite their youth, their intense music style exhibits an impressive maturity, complexity and density – implied by their name, perhaps?

I’ve previously featured them twice on this blog, first in 2017 when I reviewed their mind-blowing debut EP Third Eye, then again this past January when I reviewed their monumental single “Irreversible Knot.” Now they’ve dropped another new single “The Smoke,” and it’s a real banger!

An opening spacey synth and little surf guitar riff give way to an explosion of gritty guitars, crushing bass and tumultuous percussion. As the track progresses, the intensity of the music ebbs and flows, allowing each instrument to dominate. One moment there’s a cacophony of raging psychedelic guitar, then an interlude of relative calm with the sounds of Dylan’s heavy throbbing bass and Sam’s simple drumbeat, only to be suddenly broken by a thunderbolt of Charlie’s distorted guitar. It all serves to create a continuous sense of tension that’s a signature component of their dynamic and complex sound. Charlie’s echoed, distorted vocals rise and fall in tandem with the instrumentals, adding to the song’s drama. It’s interesting that his wailing refrain of the title lyric “the smoke” sounds a lot like “bang bang” – at least to my ears.

Give this amazing song a listen and decide for yourself.

Connect with DENSE:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music