AFTER HOUR ANIMALS – Single Review: “Role Play”

After Hour Animals Role Play

After Hour Animals is a metalcore rock band from Miwaukee, Wisconsin, and they’ve just released their new single “Role Play“, featuring guest vocals by Bri Jackson of the band Dreamhouse. After Hour Animals originally formed in 2014, and released a single “Myself in My Head”, but split up two years later. To the delight of their fans, they recently got back together, and now consist of five full time members Nik Djurdjulov (vocals), Armon Salamati (vocals), Brandon Dent (bass), Jasen Johnson (guitar) and Jamie Peña (drums). Bao Vo, who’s also guitarist for Milwaukee metalcore band Under Aegis (who I’ve featured several times on this blog), is a sixth member for live shows.

“Role Play” storms through the gates with hard-driving riffs of gnarly guitars, accompanied by a deep, chugging bass line and a torrent of aggressive drums. Nik’s clean vocals enter first, conveying a heartfelt sense of pain and vulnerability as he sings:”I have reasons to run, take me away. Cause I’m in need of a place to escape.” Then Armon chimes in with fierce metalcore growls in a further expression of anguish: “So let me hike all day and find my place to escape. Cause I have my reasons to run away!” Their contrasting vocal styles play off one another to great effect. As the song progresses, Jasen delivers an awesome wailing guitar solo in the bridge, quickly followed by Bri’s impassioned soaring vocals, which add another layer of texture and excitement to the already dramatic vocal mix.

The extensive and compelling lyrics were written by Nik, and speak to finding an escape from troubles that haunt the mind and spirit in the arms of a lover, even if only for one night. Each of them play a role to provide and find solace in each other, though fleeting. Here’s a snippet of lyrics that drive home the song’s meaning:

In my life I’ve seen
Things that chill me straight down to the bone
Felt love I thought nobody else could know
I wore my heart out on my sleeve only to find out it was just a dream
To believe I could trust in someone else
(I have my reasons to run)
So just for tonight
(Take me away)
Hold me tight
(Cause I’m in need of a place to escape)
But just for tonight
So can you take me away

Wrap your arms around me
Pretend that you love me
Role play that I am something more tonight

The beautifully-filmed video nicely showcases the band’s energy and strong charisma.

 

Follow After Hour Animals: FacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream/purchase “Role Play”: SpotifyGoogle PlayApple Music

DUNKIE – Album Review: “Working to Design”

Dunkie Working To Design (front cover)

As a music blogger who’s been at this more than four years, I still marvel at the fact that artists and bands would want me to write about their music. I receive a continuous flood of music submissions every week to sift through, sometimes overwhelming me to the point of despair, but every now and then some of it stands out in the crowd. One such artist is Dunkie, the music project of Welsh singer/songwriter Anthony Price. Hailing from the town of Mountain Ash in the South Wales Valleys, Price has written and recorded songs for many years, and at the end of December (2019), he released his debut album Working to Design. It’s an exquisite and monumental work, featuring 17 tracks exploring the universal subjects of life, love, the passage of time, death and loss, but also healing, hope and rebirth.

It’s a concept album, with songs partially inspired by the books and works of author Richard Matheson, but also an ambitious and deeply personal labor of love. Price has spent the past two years of his life, toiling countless long hours writing and recording the songs and meticulously working to get each track just right, as well as making imaginative videos for a few of the songs. In advance of the album, he released four of the tracks that are featured on Working to Design, beginning with “Can a Song Save Your Life?” in May 2018, and subsequently dropping another single every few months.

The songs were all written by Price and flawlessly produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Wayne Bassett at Robot Recordings in Aberdare, Wales. Besides Price and Bassett, who played numerous instruments on many of the tracks, more than 30 other musicians and vocalists performed on various tracks, making it a truly collaborative effort on a near-epic scale. Another interesting aspect of the creation of this album is the use of dramatic artwork by Welsh artist Michael Gustavius Payne. The album is dedicated to the memories and lives of many of Price and his family’s loved ones, including some of their beloved pets, one of whom (Flea) is named in a song title.

Just over a year ago, I wrote a piece on Dunkie which included a review of the first four tracks he released, which you can read here. But now that the album is out, it’s a revelation to hear it in its entirety, as it flows seamlessly from one track into the next like a journey through song. The album opens with “∼Introduction∼So Little Time∼“, setting the stage for the musical and lyrical beauty about to unfold over the next one hour and 14 minutes. It’s immediately apparent that Price put an incredible amount of thought and care into creating the stunning instrumental soundscapes for his thoughtful, and sometimes brutally honest lyrics. When he sings “So much to do, so little time. It’s nice to know you’ll wait a while“, we willingly follow him along on this journey.

With 17 tracks, there’s a lot to unpack on Working to Design, and I’ll try to keep my review as succinct as possible – never an easy thing for a detail-oriented writer like me. “The White Hole” has an alt-rock vibe, with layered electric guitars, psychedelic synths and a gentle drumbeat driving the song forward. To my ears, Price’s soft vocals remind me at times of John Lennon in tone and style, only a bit higher in octave. In fact, it sounds like a song The Beatles could have recorded in their later, more experimental phase. The song immediately segues into the lovely “Can A Song Save Your Life?“, an optimistic song about the healing power of music. Price explains his inspiration behind the lyrics: “The concept behind this song is trying to find a little hope; when all really seems a little lost. When the deepest, darkest moment seems to smother over you, when it suffocates you. But then the littlest gesture lifts, the smallest moment lifts, a piece of music, a film or song you love just lifts you.” 

Rabbit Hole” is a poignant song about coming to terms with the agonizing pain of the loss of a loved one. Price wistfully sings: “Tumble and fall, this rabbit-hole is funnel-webbed and soaring. I fear I’ll never reach this endless horror I fold upon myself…  Another pill dissolves; I’m crawling faster to the edge. To the edge for you.” The track has a serene, rather bittersweet melody with gentle guitar, synths and percussion, and the vocal harmonies are really nice.

The beautiful and endearing video shows a large group of family and friends coming together for a picnic to remember a loved one. About the people in the video wearing rabbit masks, Price explains: “I wanted people to be wearing masks. I loved the metaphor of hiding behind many a mask. Oscar Wilde once said ‘Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth’. The ‘dunkie’ name and music is my mask. So I wanted to represent the mask in these videos. In particular I wanted to represent them by the use of Wintercroft Masks. Each mask is a downloadable PDF template, each mask has to be created individually, and each mask can take about 2-4 hours each to create (longer if you’re me!!). Added here was the decorative design I wanted to include by adding my own song lyrics, in multiple languages (and the entire pages of Crime and Punishment) upon each mask face.”

One of the more musically interesting and lyrically enigmatic tracks is “I Don’t Wanna Die in Minnesota (Part II)“. Though I’m not sure, the lyrics seem to be about not wanting to waste one’s life: “I don’t wanna die in Minnesota. All liberties lost and the walls move in closer. ‘When I need you to jump I’ll give you the order!’ Dead diaries day to day – for how long do I stay? I’m afraid to waste my life down in Minnesota.” “I Think I’ve Been Asleep (All My Life)” is a folk-rock song with a gospel vibe, thanks to the sublime organ work. The lyrics speak to sleepwalking through one’s life, barely connecting with those around you: “Never knew your life, never knew you long. Regretting all the silence now that you’re gone. What a fool to be. Blind faith and empathy.” I really like the soulful guest vocals of Lucy Athey and Cat Southall on this track.

∼Intermission∼an Ode to a Flea∼” is a lovely little song in honor of one of Price’s beloved departed pets. “(W.A.L.L.S.) Within a Little Love Song” is a stunning and heartfelt ode to a loved one, affirming that even though you may not say it as often as you used to, your love for them is as strong as ever: “(You know) yesterday I loved you. (Don’t forget) I have and always will. (But through) the years I spoke it lessened. (Know this) my love’s never subdued. So I’ve found these words to sing and they’re all for you, they’re all for you.” The chiming guitars and soaring vocal harmonies are gorgeous.

I think my favorite track on the album is “Ten“, an enchanting, mostly instrumental song. It opens with sounds of a bird chirping, followed by an acoustic guitar and lovely a cappella vocal harmonies. Gradually, an achingly beautiful flute (played by Tony Kauczok) and cello (by Isobel Smith) enter, accompanied by Wayne Bassett’s delicate piano keys and Price’s lovely falsetto vocals, transporting us to a dreamy state of mind. The only lyric is “I’m just working to design. Perfectly flawed…“, which Price repeats throughout the song. I’m guessing it’s his philosophy for his life, and the overriding theme of the album. The song is so beautiful and moving it brings tears to my eyes.

1896” is an introspective look back at life, family and career, and of choices and decision made, for better or worse: “I’ve been a Father, and I’ve been a Brother. I know now that decisions may have been wrong. I have imploded and I’ve fought with self-control. I’ve seen my children grow. I’ve taken all I can from the love of this band.” The majestic orchestral instrumentals, highlighted by a trumpet played by Charlotte Jayne Goodwin and Mellotron by John Barnes, make this a spectacular song.  “Sugar” is a sweet (no pun intended) love song of thanks to a partner who has stood by you through good times and bad, with unconditional love.

Another favorite track of mine is the haunting “71-41-11“, a deeply moving tribute to Price’s father, who passed away from cancer in February 2015. The song, along with the following track “The Memory Tree“, were an effort by Price to come to terms with his pain and loss, and help him to move forward.  The song’s title consists of the age of his father when he died [71], Price’s age when his father died [41], and the age of his eldest son when his grandfather died [11] – each 30 years apart. The mournful, but beautiful song has an ethereal feel reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens.

A particularly poignant aspect of this song is how Price, through the help of another musician (Scottish musician BigRoundBaby aka Stephen McKinnon, who’d experienced his own grief over the death of his mother), managed to include his father’s voice on the track. Price recalls “During the 60’s I remember my Father and Mother made a spoken vinyl 7” ‘Record’ together when they were first dating.  They went into a portable recording booth and just playfully and awkwardly sang, and coaxed each other to say words into the microphone.  I remember as a teenager listening to the recording, it was very crackle but thankfully my friend was able convert the vinyl recording into a MP3 file. I wanted the song to have my Father’s voice, to keep him close by always, and I wanted it to be accompanied with my own children, his beloved grandson’s, to just create a time capsule moment.” Their voices can be heard at the end of the track. Also, McKinnon played electric guitar, bass and percussion on the track, and along with his daughters, sings backing vocals.

The gorgeous track “The Memory Tree” is a song of celebration about the power of memories, inspired by the book of the same name by Britta Teckentrup – Illustrator. An example of Price’s phenomenal songwriting are these touching lyrics: “From a child… you towered above me. You never once made me feel at all small. You’d fall to your knees, just so I’d feel the same size. And one by one these stories will climb through…A tree made of memories and full of love (for you).”

37 The Memory Tree - Art
‘The Memory Tree’ by Michael Gustavius Payne

The final track “∼Closure∼1972∼” revisits the lyrics of “1896”, only this time told from a woman’s perspective: “I’ve been a mother, and I’ve been a lover. I know now that decisions may have been wrong.” It’s a gorgeous song, with lovely vocals by Jennifer O’Neill Howard, lush piano and mellotron played by John Barnes, acoustic guitar played by Price, an enchanting Glockenspiel played by Wayne Bassett and a stunning choral vocal arrangement by Matt Williams.

I cannot gush enough about this magnificent album. I realize the word sometimes gets overused, but I feel safe in saying that Working to Design is a true masterpiece in every respect. It’s quite honestly one of the most perfectly-crafted albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. Anthony Price, Wayne Bassett, and all the musicians and vocalists who assisted in the creation and production of this gorgeous work have much to be proud of.

Connect with dunkie on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream/purchase his music on Bandcamp / iTunes / Google Play / Spotify / Soundcloud

THE TRIMS – Single Review: “Bending Time”

The Trims

San Jose, California-based indie post-punk band The Trims have been making great music for ten years now, and were one of the first bands to follow me on Twitter back in 2015 when I was an unknown blogger with only a handful of followers. Accordingly, they were one of the first bands I featured on this blog, and I’ve written about them a few more times since then, most recently in February 2018 when I reviewed their outstanding album Julian Street. This past December (2019), they released their latest single “Bending Time“, which I’m finally getting around to reviewing.

The Trims were founded by singer-songwriter and guitarist Gabe Maciel, who sought to “trim” out all the bad music he was hearing on the local music scene by writing good songs with catchy, groove-laden melodies, exciting instrumentation and relatable lyrics. Their sound draws influences from the likes of Joy Division, The Cure, The Doors, The Strokes and The Killers, but is uniquely their own. Like many bands, The Trims has seen several changes in lineup over the years, and now includes Maciel on vocals & guitar, Billy Brady on drums, Jerry Lozano on guitar, and Frank Hernandez on bass. Through their on-stage charisma and high-energy performances, they’ve built a loyal fanbase in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

The influence of Joy Division and The Cure are immediately evident on this track, with a brooding bass-driven melody, thumping drumbeats and mesmerizing guitar runs. The Trims sound better than ever, with an impressive command of their respective instruments. Hernandez’ nimble bass line and Brady’s assertive drumming establish a solid rhythmic foundation, over which Maciel and Lozano layer a tasty mix of guitar textures, including a terrific surf guitar that adds tremendous color and depth to the song. I love Maciel’s clear, resonant vocals as he croons the lyrics that speak of a relationship that’s falling apart. He sings of being unable to reason with or break through to his partner as he tries to salvage their relationship, describing it as impossible to accomplish as ‘bending time’ itself:

You tell me it’s over, well that’s your point of view
Foolish and lonely, I wait around for you
I lie and lie and lie awake praying for your call
Foolish and lonely with nowhere left to fall
It’s like bending time

“Bending Time” is a great song, and yet another in an unbroken string of solid tunes from The Trims, who continue to deliver on their mission of crafting high-quality music. Those fortunate to be in the San Francisco Bay Area can catch them at one of these upcoming shows:

2/15/20 – The Branham Lounge, San Jose
3/13/20 –  Jam Cellars, Napa

Connect with The Trims: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
“Bending Time” may be downloaded for free on their website

Top 30 Songs for February 2-8, 2020

1. WHITE LIES & PALM TREES – The Lovepools (1)
2. ORPHANS – Coldplay (3)
3. MIGHT BE RIGHT – White Reaper (4)
4. YOU? – Two Feet (2)
5. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates (6)
6. REWARD – Paul Iwan (7)
7. THE RUNNER – Foals (8)
8. BLIND LEADING THE BLIND – Mumford & Sons (9)
9. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (10)
10. DISSOLVE – Absofacto (5) 23rd week on list
11. 2ALL – Catfish and the Bottlemen (12)
12. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (13)
13. UNEVENTFUL DAYS – Beck (15)
14. MAN ON THE MOON – The Common View (11)
15. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (18)
16. NIGHT TIME – Isolda (17)
17. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (19)
18. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (27)
19. CIRCLES – Post Malone (14)
20. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ (21)
21. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (22)
22. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey (23)
23. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (24)
24. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (25)
25. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (26)
26. CAN’T STOP – Vox Eagle (28)
27. ALL THE GOOD GIRLS GO TO HELL – Billie Eilish (16)
28. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian (N)
29. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant (N)
30. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam (N)

MATLEN STARSLEY BAND – Album Review: “Rollin’ Again”

Matlen Starsley album art

As someone who passed 50 longer ago than I care to admit, acts like the Matlen Starsley Band (MSB) are an inspiration for me. Unlike a lot of musicians and bands of their vintage who are either resting on their laurels or touring with legacy shows, MSB was formed as a brand new project with the sole aim of writing, recording and releasing an album of entirely original music. As they explain on their website: “We just wanted to get a group of accomplished players together to create some great music and recapture some of the energy and passion that got us into the music business in the first place. No musical boundaries, We are letting the songs take us wherever they may lead and just letting the music speak for itself.” Last July (2019) they dropped their appropriately-titled first album Rollin’ Again, which I’m pleased to introduce to my readers.

Based in Vancouver, Canada, MSB consists of Dennis “Dollar” Matechuk (lead vocals), Kevin “Bubba” Star (guitar & vocals), Don Lennox (bass & vocals), Jim Wesley (drums) and Darryl Hebert (keyboards, guitar, accordion & vocals). All seasoned musicians, they’re either former or current members of the Bryan Adams Band, The Ray Roper Project, Bad Moon Riders, Touchdown, Fandango, and Bad Allen and the Muscle Cats. Collectively, they’ve played thousands of shows in venues ranging from intimate clubs to major festivals in front of 20,000 fans, and bring a wealth of experience in creating their lively and eclectic mix of country, blues, Southern rock and roots music. Their years of living and all its attendant facets of love, joy and pain are reflected in their honest and relatable lyrics too.

Curious that none of the band members are named ‘Matlen’ or ‘Starsley’, I asked them about the origin of their name. Not sure what to call their band, they eventually decided to take parts of each of the four founding members last names and fit them together: Matlen is from Matechuk and Lennox, and Starsley is from Star and Wesley, which I think is pretty damn clever. (Hebert joined the band later.)

Rollin’ Again kicks off with “Short Ride on a Long Haul“, a rousing song about a hookup while on the road that’s left the singer besotted by a woman’s charms, and wanting more: “When I woke up in the morning, you were gone. Now the radio’s playing a sad road song. It was a short ride on a long haul. Babe I wanna see you again. It was a blue moon on a red hot night. I’m in town, baby do it again.” Against a backdrop of driving rhythms and rolling guitars, Hebert’s spirited organ riffs are a highlight.

On “It Hasn’t Hit Me Yet“, the band delves into the blues, both musically and lyrically. The bluesy guitars are terrific, and I really like Matechuk’s clear, earnest vocals as he sings of his sadness and frustration over a love that’s slipped away, acknowledging that he’s partly to blame: “Now I ain’t ever been one to settle down. The truth is your good love couldn’t keep me ’round. But i’m here at your door, want you back, but you won’t love me no more.

Keeping with a similar theme, the bittersweet “I Cried Today” speaks to that twinge of regret many of us have felt when seeing an old flame, wondering what could have been had things turned out differently: “I heard today you found someone who makes you happy. A good man, the true love that you’ve been searching for. I cried today. Were the tears for you, tears for me, or for the years that lie between what we had and could have been? I cried today. I got a good life, got a good love. You’re happy too, that should be enough. I’m still selfish in that way, so I cried today.” The guitars and organ work are sublime, and Matechuck’s vocals nicely convey the poignant emotions described in the lyrics. It’s a beautiful song, and one of my favorites on the album.

A Life Worth Living” is another highlight on the album for me. Once again, the guitars and organ are great, and Lennox and Wesley do their part to keep the rhythm on a solid footing. “A Matter of Time” is a lively rockabilly tune about picking oneself up after a failed love affair, and getting back into the game: “I got what you need, if you give me half a chance / You got to come out swingin’, and learn to love again.”  The wonderful honky tonk-style piano takes center stage here.

The band returns to the blues in a big way on “We Don’t Love No More“, a sorrowful song about a relationship that’s broken beyond repair. Bubba’s bluesy guitar work and Hebert’s mournful organ work are fantastic, making this my favorite track on the album. Matechuk’s heartfelt vocals beautifully express the abject sadness contained in the painful lyrics: “I got this feeling this time we’ve gone too far. All those years have worn us down. And all those things we held so close, are the things that hurt the most. Find the words that hurt and scar. Gonna burn this to the ground, cause you and I we don’t love no more.”

MSB seem to pay tribute to Tom Petty on the title track “Rollin’ Again“, with twangy guitar riffs and a melody influenced by the Southern Rock legend’s signature sound. The song is about moving on from a relationship that was doomed from the start: “I ain’t one for laying blame. I’ll leave that to you. Now you say you want something more, and that’s something I can’t give./ All the things that were keeping me down. I’m rollin’, rollin’ again.” “Trail Went Cold” is a bouncy Country tune, with twangy guitars and harmonica, while “Sweet Touch” has a harder rock’n’roll feel, with heavier guitars and more aggressive drums, though Hebert’s organ is prominent here too.

The guys close out the album with the wonderful kiss-off “Your Love Ain’t Special“. As always, they deliver the music goods, laying down some mighty tasty bluesy riffs and marvelous organ work. All in all, Rollin’ Again is a terrific album, and a fine debut effort by this talented collective of musicians. With songs ranging from Southern rock and blues to Country and rockabilly, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on this record.

To learn more about the Matlen Starsley Band, check out their Website

Follow them on: FacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream their music:  SpotifyApple Music / YouTube
Purchase:  Google PlayiTunes / Website

Junie & TheHutFriends – Single Review: “Ammonia Baby”

Junie & HF-Ammonia-Baby

I receive a lot of submissions for possible reviews, so it’s always a pleasure to discover artists or bands with a fascinating and totally unique sound. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based indie outfit Junie & TheHutFriends are such a band. Describing themselves as “an art pop musical dumpster fire, operating at the intersection of art, music, and technology” they consist of frontwoman, lead singer and robot enthusiast Junie Grey and her literal band of cloaked “Hut Friends”. Inspired by acts as diverse as Kate Bush and Kool & the Gang, their aim is to “craft a technicolor universe, explored through layered synth pieces, (too many) harmonies and narrative music videos featuring robotic props. Through the use of unorthodox melodic structures, a colorful instrumental palette, arresting vocal harmonies, and lots of unusual sound effects, they achieve their musical objective quite nicely.

Following up on their terrific 2019 singles “AngstMode3000” and “The Witches”, they recently dropped their third single “Ammonia Baby“. The song will be featured on their forthcoming debut EP Diary Of A Chaotic Neutral, to be released this Spring. Starting off with a funky bass line and powerful stomping drumbeat, Junie & TheHutFriends add a lavish array of guitar, strings, horns and hand claps to create a vibrant, trippy soundscape. The richly-textured strings and horns are especially good, giving the song an intriguing experimental art pop vibe that’s both jarring and pleasing. Junie’s layered vocal harmonies are wonderful, sounding like several singers delivering a range of complementing voices.

I’m not certain as to the song’s meaning, but my guess is that it celebrates the singer’s independence and fearlessness, that’s nothing’s going to stop or hinder her from reaching her goals: “Keep them coming, they start running, they got nothin’ on me. I told ya, I’m ammonia!” I think it serves as a great anthem for Junie & TheHutFriends.

Connect with Junie & the Hut Friends: Website / TwitterInstagram
Stream their music:  SpotifySoundcloudApple MusicYouTube
Purchase: Google Play

New Song of the Week – THE KAIROS: “Teetotal”

The Kairos

After a brief stress-induced hiatus, I’ve decided to dip my toe back into writing about music again, as it’s just too important for me not to. Today I’m featuring the fantastic new single “Teetotal” by Liverpool band The Kairos, which I’ve selected as my New Song of the Week. It’s an electrifying, hard-driving banger of a tune and I love it!

Formed while in their early teens, The Kairos are Tom Dempsey (guitar and vocals), Owen Forrester (bass), Lewis Chambers (guitar) and Sam Bradley (drums and backing vocals). The up-and-coming young band has been making quite a name for themselves in the crowded Liverpool music scene, playing at some of the city’s famed venues like Heebie Jeebies, The Zanzibar, The Arts Club, 02 Academy and Jimmy’s. “Teetotal” is their second single, following up on their impressive debut track “Money Mind”, which they released in July 2019.

The song launches with a thunderous onslaught of jangly, reverb-soaked surf guitars, heavy, buzzing bass and aggressive drums, punctuated by flourishes of wailing guitar solos that set the airwaves afire. These guys are amazing musicians, delivering a spine-tingling barrage of sound with all the confidence and swagger of a seasoned band. Front man Tom Dempsey has a terrific, commanding vocal style, and I love how his Liverpool accent shines through in his passionate singing.

Lyrically, “Teetotal” speaks to the joys of youth and spending a night out with friends, forgetting the numbing weekday routine and more serious responsibilities: “The smell of smoke and the twist and choke, yeah it really brings me home./ The nights are gone and it wont be long before you’re back in work at ten, what on Earth will you do then?

Those of you in the Liverpool area can see them perform at the Invisible Wind Factory on Friday, February 21.

Connect with The Kairos: FacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream their music: SpotifySoundcloudApple Music
Purchase: Google Play

Top 30 Songs for January 26-February 1, 2020

1. WHITE LIES & PALM TREES – The Lovepools (2)
2. YOU? – Two Feet (1)
3. ORPHANS – Coldplay (3)
4. MIGHT BE RIGHT – White Reaper (4)
5. DISSOLVE – Absofacto (5) 22nd week on list
6. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates (8)
7. REWARD – Paul Iwan (9)
8. THE RUNNER – Foals (11)
9. BLIND LEADING THE BLIND – Mumford & Sons (13)
10. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (14)
11. MAN ON THE MOON – The Common View (12)
12. 2ALL – Catfish and the Bottlemen (15)
13. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (16)
14. CIRCLES – Post Malone (6)
15. UNEVENTFUL DAYS – Beck (17)
16. ALL THE GOOD GIRLS GO TO HELL – Billie Eilish (10)
17. NIGHT TIME – Isolda (18)
18. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (19)
19. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (20)
20. CALM DOWN – Pete Yorn (7)
21. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ (23)
22. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (24)
23. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey (25)
24. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (26)
25. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (27)
26. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (28)
27. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (29)
28. CAN’T STOP – Vox Eagle (30)
29. UNDERGROUND – MISSIO (21) 19th week on list
30. DRIFTING AWAY – Stereohaze (22) 19th week on list

Top 30 Songs for January 19-25, 2020

1. YOU? – Two Feet (5th week at #1)
2. WHITE LIES & PALM TREES – The Lovepools (2)
3. ORPHANS – Coldplay (3)
4. MIGHT BE RIGHT – White Reaper (5)
5. DISSOLVE – Absofacto (6) 21st week on list
6. CIRCLES – Post Malone (4)
7. CALM DOWN – Pete Yorn (7)
8. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates (8)
9. REWARD – Paul Iwan (9)
10. ALL THE GOOD GIRLS GO TO HELL – Billie Eilish (10)
11. THE RUNNER – Foals (13)
12. MAN ON THE MOON – The Common View (14)
13. BLIND LEADING THE BLIND – Mumford & Sons (15)
14. WARS – Of Monsters and Men (16)
15. 2ALL – Catfish and the Bottlemen (17)
16. THE BEST – AWOLNATION (18)
17. UNEVENTFUL DAYS – Beck (19)
18. NIGHT TIME – Isolda (20)
19. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees (21)
20. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers (22)
21. UNDERGROUND – MISSIO (11)
22. DRIFTING AWAY – Stereohaze (12)
23. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ (25)
24. VAN HORN – Saint Motel (26)
25. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey (28)
26. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles (29)
27. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa (30)
28. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers (N)
29. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish (N)
30. CAN’T STOP – Vox Eagle (N)

SURRIJA – Single Review: “Nothing Love”

Surrija is the music project of singer-songwriter Jane Lui, a hyper-talented woman with a most beguiling singing voice. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she moved to Southern California with her family when she was 12 and is now based in Los Angeles. She began studying classical piano at the age of five, and that traditional training, combined with her love for the music of artists like Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Björk, helped shape her unique sound and music style. Recording under her given name, Lui produced three studio albums between 2004 and 2010, along with numerous singles and covers, which you can find on her SpotifySoundcloud, and YouTube pages. Despite her success, however, things just didn’t feel right to her. Lui states that she “felt a bit constrained by my YouTube personality, and stopped writing music to get a grip on who I actually was. I had to shed my clinical approach and befriend my slightly feral tendencies.”

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It was with this new approach that Lui decided to rebrand herself as Surrija. In 2016 she spent time in Barcelona, Spain, where she was initially inspired by Picasso’s artistic output during his own years spent living there. But eventually, she became fascinated instead with his famous lovers and muses who he kept in the shadows, often preventing them from realizing their own potential. Wanting to tell their story, she began researching about some of them and writing songs for what would become her self-titled album Surrija under her new music project. The album is set to be released on April 3, and the first single in advance of the album is “Nothing Love“, which dropped on January 10.

“Nothing Love” actually predates her time spent in Barcelona, as it was written in 2013. Lui explained the song’s evolution on her Facebook page: “I only wrote two songs in 2013. This is one of them, written in a half-empty apartment that I was moving out of. The walls were so thin in that building that I didn’t play the piano much at all. Back then, songs came on like the flu – I’d feel a scratch of a lyric or line, then it just takes a sneeze and I’ll want to quarantine myself to sweat through the fever. I sneezed that day and spent many days after as the loud obnoxious musician neighbor. I looked at the chicken scratch afterwards and thought ‘Mm. There’s something here.’ Since then I’ve tested this song at shows, we’ve destroyed, reworked, subtracted, multiplied, and overhauled it into what you [now] hear. This is the last song from that time of my life and I think we succeeded in bringing it forward with flying colors.” I think so too!

The song is a captivating musical feast for the ears. Starting with a foundation of skittering dubstep beats, Surrija and her team of musicians layer a rich and colorful kaleidoscope of sounds and textures to create a dramatic, ever-changing soundscape that thrills and surprises at every turn. The array of instruments and synths used are impressive: Surrija plays the Moog synthesizer, electric organ, piano and mellotron, Matt Chamberlain plays drums, mixed percussion and modular synths, Maxwell Gualtieri plays electric guitar, Sophocles Papavasilopoulos plays piano and clarinet, and Christine Tavolacci plays the enchanting flute that’s one of the song’s highlights for me.

Surrija has a gorgeous singing voice, which she uses almost like another instrument to seduce us one moment, then startle us with a feral urgency the next. I found myself entranced by the interplay between the lush instrumentals and her vocals. She told the webzine Clout: “‘Nothing Love’ is about the kind of heartbreak that hurts so much it feels absurd”, and her passionate vocals most definitely convey that kind of emotional intensity. The wonderful backing vocals were provided by Albert Chiang, Sophocles Papavasilopoulos, Callaghan Papavasilopoulos and Mano Koolhaas.

Listen to this exquisite song and hear for yourself:

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