Featured Song & Video: VOX EAGLE – “No Sleep”

 

Australian indie electro-psych pop duo Vox Eagle have been busy guys since forming in 2015. Andy Crosby and Luke Hamel, who make up Vox Eagle, spent time traveling throughout the U.S., writing and recording songs for their upcoming EP, scheduled to drop on May 26 (which I’ll be reviewing just prior to its release). They’ve released two amazing songs thus far, “No Sleep” and “Come Over,” along with a video for “No Sleep” that I’m featuring now.

The infectiously catchy song is steeped in lush atmospheric dream-pop grooves, with swirling synths floating over an irresistible bass-heavy dance beat. Andy’s smooth vocals occasionally rise to a stirring falsetto as he croons: “Is it any wonder? The current pulls us under. No sleep no sleep for the wicked no./ I keep on counting sheep. Days into nights, nights into weeks. Out of sight, out of mind, never mind.

The beautifully-filmed and entertaining video shows the guys performing the song in the Mojave Desert (just an hour or so from my home in the Coachella Valley), driving to Las Vegas and cavorting about the Strip at night, not getting any sleep!

Connect with Vox Eagle:  Facebook /  Twitter
Stream their music:  Soundcloud / Spotify
Purchase it:  iTunes

Artist Spotlight – COLD REVIVE

Cold Revive is on a roll. Over the past few months, the Fresno, California-based rock band released two songs and have been interviewed on two radio programs (one local and another in Chicago) to promote their music. Now they’re back in the studio working on new songs, which they’ll be releasing soon. I had the good fortune of discovering them when they followed me on Twitter, and quickly became a big fan – not only because of their great music, but also because I was impressed by the band members themselves. Despite their badass rocker image, they’re actually genuine, down-to-earth guys. If the kindness they’ve shown me is any indication, it’s clear they appreciate and support their fans, which is a significant part of being a successful band at the end of the day. One of their main goals is to connect even more with their fans – to touch their lives in a positive way with their music.

Cold Revive

Cold Revive consists of Brent Stevens (vocals), Jason Fischer (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Gentky Vang (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Chase Hagerman (drums, keyboards, backing vocals).  All are seasoned musicians who’ve been previously involved with other bands and music projects. Jason and Brent actually met on Craigslist when each was interested in connecting with other musicians who might be interested in forming a band. Inspired by bands they both loved such as Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Hinder, Three Days Grace, Buckcherry and Korn, they joined forces in early 2016 and formed Cold Revive. Subsequently, Gentky and Chase came on board to complete the band lineup.

Like many hard rock bands these days, Cold Revive’s hard rock sound draws from alt-rock, punk, metal and grunge influences. Brent is especially fond of Halloween, horror films and such, so his dark lyrics reflect that.

The band’s first single “Sik’ Hellish Us,” is a dark and brooding hard rock song about being trapped in a toxic relationship you’re unable to break free of. Sinister guitars and heavy bass set an ominous tone, then a slow, thunderous drumbeat adds tremendous power to the track, which rises in intensity as the song progresses. Brent’s gritty vocals are delivered with a menacing vulnerability as he snarls “I’ve made my bed in hell, now I need to lie in it, ’cause it serves me well. As you held me there, my heart’s not escaping.

Diary” is an even darker song about finding a significant other’s diary after their suicide, and discovering how much your actions hurt them. The lyrics are gut-wrenching: “What I read on that page, tore me down I saw my own mistakes. All the pain I caused you is insane…   Suicide drove our love to an end. Those words killed us, was I always to blame? I’m so sorry!” The song has a Buckcherry vibe in both music and tone. Brent’s raw, heartfelt vocals match the emotional intensity of the gnashing guitars and aggressive percussion, making for an emotionally-charged song.

Here’s a live acoustic performance of “Diary” that isn’t quite as intense or sorrowful.

Cold Revive will be releasing their two new singles “Twisted Fright” and “Cold Dark Coma” in the next month or so. In the meantime, connect with them on Facebook and  Twitter, and stream their music on Reverbnation.  Subscribe to their YouTube channel for their videos and band updates.

Their music is not yet available for purchase, but I will update this post when it is.

Artist Spotlight: THE ELEGANT DEVILS

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I’ve been featuring quite a few artists and bands from Canada recently, and The Elegant Devils are the latest. The talented four-piece rock band hails from Ottawa, Ontario and, like many bands, has experienced some personnel changes over time. Their current line-up includes Drew James (lead vocals, guitar), Rob Frank (drums/vocals), Josh West (guitar), & Josh Barkley (bass/vocals). They’re all seasoned musicians with divergent backgrounds, and each of them embrace their unique individual styles while coming together to create some really fine rock music that’s intelligent, powerful and often fun.

The Elegant Devils recorded their debut EP Guilty Pleasure in 2015, followed a year later by a five-track EP Live at Zaphod’s that contained some tracks from Guilty Pleasure along with a few new ones.  Their songs range from hard-driving rock to poignant ballads, and always with deeply compelling lyrics that speak to the complexities of life, love and relationships. These guys write from their own experiences and, as a result, their songs come off all the more personal and heartfelt. In addition, their arrangements, instrumentation and production values are all first-rate.

Their strong musicianship is vividly apparent on all their songs, but especially shines when they really get rocking. On their harder rock tracks “Lie With Me,” “Divebomb” and “Loaded Gun,” they coax some amazingly intricate and formidable riffs from their guitars, while Josh Barkley lays down some heavy thumping bass lines and Rob keeps the pace with his assertive drums and crashing cymbals. Drew’s powerful vocals are always delivered with raw emotion, whether he’s expressing anger, pain or loving devotion.

“Divebomb” in particular is a real head-banger and one of my favorites. The thunderous shredded guitars are scorching hot, and when combined with powerful buzzing bass and pounding drums, nearly succeed in blowing out the speakers. “Loaded Gun” – a rock bombardment packed into a mere two minutes that fully lives up to its title – is also pretty awesome, but then, so are all their songs!

The band shows its softer, more romantic side with the gorgeous love ballad “Amaranthine,” about which the band states “We cracked open the heart of a devil and found a love song – a song written as a message to the person you love most in the world.

In an interview with Jacqueline Jax on A.V.A. Live Radio, Drew explained the origin for Amaranthine:  “[It] is as pure a love song as you can get. It was written as a wedding gift for one of my very best friends. He asked me to perform it at the wedding itself, and they had their first dance to the song. It was written at a time when I had almost given up finding a happy ending for myself. I had just been through a really bad break-up and while I was going through it, I was so happy to see that my friend and his wife were able to find something so…solid. So inspiring. I wrote Amaranthine to tell them how proud I was of them finding love, how scary it must have been for them to commit completely to another person, and to say thank you to them for giving me a reason to still believe in love when I had given up on it myself. Thankfully, the hope they gave me tided me over until I found my own Amaranthine. And so now, every time I sing it, I sing that song as much for her as I do for them.

Take a listen to this beautiful track:

The Elegant Devils are in the process of writing and recording more songs for what will be a full-length album to be released later this year. In the meantime, check out their website, connect with them on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel where you can watch their weekly sessions. Stream their music on Soundcloud,  Reverbnation or  Spotify, and purchase it on iTunes.

Featured Video: FOUR COLOUR GHOSTS – “Freak” live

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I recently discovered the alternative rock band Four Colour Ghosts, and once I heard this incredible live performance of their song “Freak” I became an instant fan. Hailing from Teesside, UK, the band is comprised of AJ (Lead Vocals/Guitar, Lewis Jeffreys (Lead Guitar), Paul Brown (Bass/Vocals) and Rob Moore (Drums). Their dynamic, wide-ranging rock style is influenced by such greats as Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden, Foo Fighters, Stereophonics, Guns n Roses, and Joe Bonamassa. As they humorously state on their Facebook bio – “We are the band that your music teacher warned you about, the band your neighbours bang on the wall for, the band you want blasting on your car stereo.” Yes, yes and a big yes to all that!

This live performance and the blistering guitar work remind me of Cream at their best. Take a listen and be prepared to have your senses dazed!

Connect with Four Colour Ghosts:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram /

Stream their music: Spotify / YouTube / Soundcloud

Purchase it: iTunes

 

An Interview with Chatsong Roy

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Chatsong Roy is the creator and administrator of a successful music website called Chatsong, a multi-faceted platform for artists and musicians to post their music and information about themselves, and communicate with other artists. Roy, who is 32 and lives in The Netherlands, also writes feature reviews about many of the artists. Through his efforts, he has promoted numerous artists and gained them media exposure, including airplay on digital radio stations and connecting them with people in the industry who can help them further promote their music. I’m delighted to talk with Roy about his project and amazing success in building Chatsong into a major music website.

Hello Roy. Thank you for taking the time to discuss yourself with me – lol

Thank you for featuring me.

When we first followed each other on Twitter a year ago, we were both relative unknowns in the Twitterverse. At the time, you had done some modeling and your Twitter account was focused on that, as well as psoriasis which you’ve suffered from for some time. Tell me a bit about your modeling background.

As a teenager, I studied to be a male nurse,  graduated and got a job in an elderly home. Taking care of people was in my blood and I worked until 2014 as a nurse. When I was around 20, I was walking down the street one day when I was spotted by someone who asked me if I wanted to be a model. They found me charismatic, but I was shy and did not think I could be a male model. But I said yes and made an appointment for having pictures taken for a portfolio, and they liked my expressions and my attitude so I became a male photo model.

When I was 22 I discovered some spots under my eyes which looked very bad and itched, as well as elsewhere on my body, so I went to a doctor and he sent me to a skin specialist. It took awhile before they finally determined it was psoriasis. When my body was full of those spots I was very ashamed and stopped modeling. At that point, I focused on dealing with the disease and my nursing career until I stopped in 2014. After that, I went back to volunteering with elderly people again, and continued to see the skin specialist for ultraviolet light treatments. Some of them helped and some did not, but it finally occurred to me – why not make from my disease my work? So I emailed several modeling agencies and skin care magazines and they liked my spirit and motivation. I became a model at three agencies and ended up as a model in three magazines devoted to psoriasis, and a commercial. I was not ashamed anymore and wanted to inspire and help others who suffer from psoriasis. But 3 months after the light treatments I got arthralgia and they wanted to do a scan and injected some radioactive fluid. After that the pain got worse, I got two eye inflammations and several other physical issues, so the volunteer work stopped as well because of all the hospital visits and treatments.

What inspired you to create Chatsong in the first place? In other words, why did you decide to switch your focus from modeling to music, and how did you come to call it ‘Chatsong’?

After the sight issues and inflammation were gone for a while I had nothing to do at home. Since music was my passion, and I listened every day to music on the phone and television, I got an idea in my head: I wanted to help artists worldwide because there are a lot of talent shows but none was online here in the Netherlands. But, I never used social media before, not even knowing how to tweet. First I made an account called ‘Roy Model’ for my career as a model, and got a lot of followers from model sites and scouts from agencies. I then wanted to realize my music idea like I did with working as a psoriasis model.

So first I tweeted a famous DJ in the Netherlands from a radio station, and he said “email me your idea and suggestion.” I did that, and told him that maybe we could start an online show using YouTube videos from the bedroom to studio or television. I did not get an answer back, and 7 day later he announced he was going to do the first online audition for talented musicians. I was shocked and angry that he stole my idea while saying that he could not could set it up in only a week. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what else I could do, so I needed to think of another project.

I knew there are many artists worldwide who make music but don’t get attention because no one knows they exist. Because it is the truth if people from other countries don’t know the artists accounts and channels they are not going to listen and search for them. In my experience, I only listened to music from famous artists or artists close to those I knew of, and not to artists from China, Japan or other countries. So I thought, what if I create a platform with chat rooms where artists could place their links and videos and other accounts? I made a website for the first time with no experience, and called it Music Lovers, which included chat rooms. I learned how to tweet and made the advertisement for that site, and suddenly artists from a lot of countries started posting their music and videos on it.

The idea worked but the site quickly got overloaded because the server could not handle the volume. So I removed that site, and found a provider with more server space called Jouwweb. In the meantime, I shared videos and links from the artists who posted at the old site to Twitter. I am always very personable to artists, and I asked one who was very supportive of me, known as The Honest Man, ‘how shall I name the project?’  He suggested either “Hear Them First” or “Chatsong.” I preferred Chatsong, and began designing the site with four chat rooms – two with video options and two with guest options where artists could just place links.

The old site had already built up a fan base with artists who came back regularly, so when the new site was launched they immediately posted in the chat rooms. When I reached 1000 followers I was very happy. But because of no experience, every day I had to learn internet engineering. I always searched for something to make it better, and have used several systems. But Chatsong was born and attracted a lot of artists and radio stations, one of which was Radio Wigwam that played only known music. I told them I could send an idea by email and maybe we could work together. They said yes, so I suggested we start a show for unsigned artists. They were the only online radio station who followed me back then, and I did not know at the time that there were more stations who did what they do. But they liked my idea and started the bandwagon which gave airplay for a lot of artists on Chatsong, and I was very proud of that. They even mentioned me a couple times when playing the artists. And then suddenly no more, but I was happy for the artists and made no big deal of it, though deep down I was hurt.

My old Twitter account, @ModelPsoriasis I use only rarely, when I try to work at my career as a male model for psoriasis publications. There are some projects coming, but working with Chatsong and dealing with all the artists, reviews and stuff is hard work and sometimes a lot of stress. It’s doing multiple things at the same time – ha ha you should know that.

You’ve featured hundreds of artists on Chatsong. What made you decide to write reviews about their music, instead of just featuring them and using their own bio descriptions in the write-ups?

The system I was using showed only 50 comments or 10 comments and then disappeared, and I thought ‘how can I not lose those artists and their links?’ So, I began to write reviews. The artists who got reviews were extremely thankful and touched by my write-ups. I write what I feel and think, and if their music made me cry or feel something else I wrote it. And with offering the reviews, I also collected artists and their names for my goal of helping artists to be found and heard worldwide. As you already know, I always tried to improve the website, or searched for a system to make it better for the artists.

I found Discus, which made it possible to post videos and SoundCloud songs and was shareable. But some artists found Discus too difficult to use, so I searched for other systems to allow comments and display links and videos. I put back the chat room and got some posts but not what I expected. I needed to find a forum to use that would allow artists to post and reply and like, and would also allow their names to be shown so they would be easier to find among millions of others artists. Or something similar with sharing and video option. I did not want to be only a music platform, but a website where they all can come together and chat about music projects, and also give unknown artists the chance to heard and searched in other countries. I’ve also posted many advertisements on Instagram and Twitter with images about Chatsong, and I know people like the platform.

Are you surprised at the incredible number of followers you now have on Twitter (over 9,000), as well as the huge response by artists to Chatsong?

I am indeed very surprised at the number of followers and the artists who’ve followed me and posted on Chatsong. And because of my reviews, word of Chatsong spread. Artists shared or talked about my website to other artists, which made Chatsong go viral. Every day I get 60 to 80 new Twitter followers, including related music account followers like record labels and radio stations who admire my work. Because of my personal approach, they like the person behind it and noticed I worked very hard. I’ve partnered with  CONTROLRadioUK, StudioGMusicLab, and Pink Dolphin Music, and now more and more companies want to be pictured on my site. I never expected this, because I was not sure if the idea was going to hit worldwide. And that gave me more motivation to keep going and improve the website.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your Chatsong project?

The most rewarding thing has been connecting with radio stations that played artists featured on Chatsong, and record labels and studios who read the reviews and forums. They have provided some artists for me to review, and sometimes even themselves posted on the site. Some even wanted this year to roster artists for a contract and, in the meantime, other artists got signed or offered a record deal, and I was so happy and proud. Also, it’s rewarding to know that your website is going from the Netherlands to the Philippines with your logo and the musicians on it. What I also find beautiful are the friendships and relations I’ve built with artists and bloggers like you, as well as related accounts in music. The highlight for me was when the CEO of a big label followed me on my personal account, as well as a recruiter who’d worked with Taylor Swift.

Any frustrating or negative aspects?

Frustrations I have daily – I am also just a normal person haha. Mostly it has to do with technical problems or issues with the website, or when artists say they will post something but don’t follow through.

You seem to be receptive to most music genres. Do you have any particular favorites?

I love all music genres from classical to hard trance. My favorite is dance and house music and pop, but with all the artists who follow me, I offer any genre a spotlight. There is a good one among them in any genre, as well as artists who need some advice or just are not good.

Recently, you’ve begun making your own techno and house remixes and posting them on SoundCloud. What inspired you to do that? Do you have any previous experience making music – either playing instruments or singing?

I never made music before, though I did sing in a choir. I always wanted to my entire life, but had no self-confidence. After the recent death of my grandpa, and me not being able to easily express my feelings, I thought ‘why not try to put that in my favorite music genre?’ I searched music software and apps, and begin mixing and I liked it. I made the tracks public, not knowing how my audience would respond, but they loved the sounds and mixes.

Do you have any thoughts about today’s music or trends in the music industry?

There are so many musicians and genres nowadays, with music reaching more fans than ever. Real music is coming back, with singer/songwriter musicians writing good lyrics and playing their own instruments, especially acoustic with a guitar that is popular among younger audiences. I think people my age and older are more fans of dance and pop music, as well as rock and heavy metal.

Are you doing this mostly for fun, or do you want to make a living from it? And where do you want Chatsong to go from here? Any plans for additional features or significant changes to the site, and how long do you want to continue doing this?

I am doing this for fun, but my goal is to develop an app that would be even better and easier for artists and fans to use. I never would ask for money, but when I need to develop the app I would invest in it and hopefully grow further. I will keep going so long as I can do it. If I can’t handle it anymore on my own, I’ll either sell the idea or collaborate with others, maybe even hire employees.

Check out Chatsong, and connect with Roy on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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.

Featured Song and Video: Don DiLego – “Idiot Heart”

Listening to the music of singer/songwriter Don DiLego, one would never guess he is based in New York City. He plays an arresting style of Alt-Country music that combines his favorite aspects of the country music of old with 80’s indie-pop influences, giving him a sound that seems more rooted in Nashville or Oklahoma. Though he was born and raised in rural Western Massachusetts and spent his early adulthood in Boston, DiLego ended up settling in the Big Apple, where he established his Velvet Elk Studio in the East Village.

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He released his first album The Lonestar Hitchhiker in 2001 and subsequently recorded three more albums at his Velvet Elk Studio, plus the soundtrack for the film Ranchero in 2012. His albums are self-produced, and recorded with musicians that have formed the core of his band The Touristas over the last couple records. He dropped his appropriately-named album Magnificent Ram A in July 2016, a collection of 10 excellent tracks that really showcase his songwriting and musical talents. In December, he released the beguiling single “Idiot Heart.”

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The song is a gentle but melancholy ballad about falling for someone and wanting to do right by them, but knowing it won’t be easy given past transgressions. DiLego’s beautiful vocals convey a heartfelt sincerity, making the lyrics all the more compelling. Musically, the song features a somber piano riff and delicate percussion, backed by smooth synths and ambient guitars that give the song a somewhat haunting, ethereal vibe.

I’ve been waiting for some time
For the sidewalks to come alive
I’ve had good days and sleepless nights
Cause you and me got lost in time

I was praying for a sign
For the tides to begin to unwind
I was splayed out among the pines
When you and me got lost in time

I’ve been trying to change my life
I’ve been trying to do what’s right
But my idiot heart won’t oblige
But I’ll try, I’ll try, I’ll try

Oh wake me up
Lay me down

The gorgeous video for the song shows a young woman in a contemplative mood before joining her boyfriend for the day, having lunch together, then walking through the forest alone wearing his raincoat, and ending up lying face up in a snowy meadow.

Here’s a great video worth watching of DiLego and his musicians performing songs for Magnificent Ram A at Velvet Elk Studio.

Learn more about Don by checking out his website.  Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his YouTube channel.  Stream his music and follow him on Spotify, and purchase his music on iTunesBandcamp and other sites offering music for purchase.

Artist Spotlight: NEIL BILLINNESS

Neil Billinness is a musician who likes to do things his way. He writes, records and produces his own unique style of electronic music and, preferring a more ‘organic’ sound that’s not too polished, his songs are not mastered. Neil, who lives in Rosyth, England, started writing songs as a teenager, when he was inspired by 80’s artists Howard Jones, OMD, The Human League, Tears For Fears, David Bowie, Prince, Madonna, and even ABBA (all artists I also happen to love). His grandparents bought him his first keyboard, which was the impetus he needed to channel that creative inspiration.

Neil spent some time as a member of the bands Turbo and Ebon Night beginning in high school. He states that while he enjoyed those stints, the songs and styles he wanted to write were not always well-received by other band members, which frustrated his creative energies. For many years while building a career, he put his music on the back burner, but starting around 2011, he took up songwriting again in earnest, seemingly making up for lost time. He set up a home studio and embraced sequencing, sampling and programming, rather than playing everything manually, which has helped him produce music more easily. Still, Neil says he’s “a perfectionist when it comes to recording and writes and records at a pace that would make Kate Bush look prolific.” (Neil also has a wicked sense of humor.)

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Neil established an independent label NeRo Music with his late partner Robert, who he says was a continual inspiration to his songwriting, and an honest critic. Neil’s debut single “Passing Thoughts” was released in January 2016 and, tragically, Robert passed away suddenly the day after the song was released. The song calls to mind the sounds of OMD and New Order, with sharp, chiming synths and a strong pulsating beat. Neil’s vocals have a hazy, otherworldly quality as he sings “So many memories, so many fears. A bunch of photographs from through the years. I’d like to see you once again. So I could show you just how much I’ve changed.

His wonderful follow up single “Discotheque” was a newly recorded version of the song that reached number one on the Unsigned Top Chart in late Dec 2015-early Jan 2016. This incredibly catchy EDM track, about escaping the cares and worries of everyday life and letting loose at the disco, features lush synths set to a hypnotic dance beat that aims straight for the hips. The colorful and stylish psychedelic-looking video was produced by mixing video clips of Neil’s family and friends dancing to the song with live footage of him singing it.

Neil has a strong love for Science Fiction films, which has also greatly influenced his music. Many of his songs fuse mysterious, otherworldly Sci-fi synths with EDM grooves to create really compelling instrumental music. He released some of his new and earlier recorded tracks on a few EP’s, including A New Direction, Just Me, the song Do It All Again, which includes three remixes, and the three-part song Phase Three. A New Direction and Phase Three are the most futuristic-sounding collections of his songs. Their tracks are very Sci-fi, with computerized voices talking over highly synthesized instrumentals. “The Vision” from A New Direction has a great dance beat vibe that reminds me a bit of Madonna’s “Vogue.”

Just Me features four ambient instrumental tracks, one for each season. My favorite is “Autumn” with it’s complex, multi-textured synth arrangement that contrasts between the upbeat sounds of summer’s last gasp and the brooding approach of winter.

Despite the setbacks of Robert’s death and some health issues this year, Neil is working on producing a full album which will contain his two singles along with a number of re-recorded older songs. He hopes to release the album, which will be dedicated to Robert, early in 2017.  Follow Neil on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to his YouTube channel. Stream his music on Soundcloud and Spotify, and purchase on iTunes or  Amazon.

Artist Spotlight on L.A. band SIFTING

I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to the fantastic metal rock band Sifting by fellow blogger LIFELIFETHRUMUSIC. Currently based in Hollywood, California, Sifting was originally formed in Caracas, Venezuela in 2010 by singer/songwriter Eduardo Osuna Gil. The band started recording their first songs in 2011 around the time the band Bullet for My Valentine chose them to open a concert in Caracas. Their debut single “All the Hated” was released that year on the famous line-up of games ROCK BAND® for the main gaming consoles worldwide. Their first album, also called All The Hated, was released in 2013 after Gil relocated to Los Angeles and reformed the band with new members Chris Eklund on lead guitar, Victor Ladines on bass and Abelardo Bolano on drums.

In a great interview with LIVELIFETHRUMUSIC (which you can read here) Eduardo discussed the origin of the band’s name: “Sifting is a word that gives meaning to the action of purifying, separating and cleaning things in order to get the best of them. This project uses this theory, always seeking to purify every aspect of what we are as a band, improving each day as musicians, as a group, as a part of society. In every lyric, arrangement and performance of our music we always seek to leave a message that teaches and encourages our followers and fans to improve and evolve every day, trying to make a real positive contribution to our environment.

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The band’s music is characterized by complex, highly melodic arrangements with outstanding intricate guitar work, strong, driving beats and powerful vocals – all of which I love. Their excellent debut single “All the Hated” has all those ingredients in spades.

In 2015, the band released a 3-track EP Blurry Paintings, which includes the monumental track “Alone,” an eight-minute long tour de force. As beautifully articulated by Gil, the song is “packed with all kinds of emotions and transitions, progressive instrumentals, huge solos, incredible synths and orchestra arrangements, and thoughtful lyrics.” The song is literally a rock symphony. Eklund’s guitar solo midway through the song is breathtaking, and Bolano’s drums practically blow out the speakers. The compelling lyrics speak of man’s destructive instincts: “It’s so irrational to lead Mankind into its bitter end / And they still won’t listen / We won’t be forgiven / We’ve been left alone…

Sifting has been recording new songs for their upcoming album Not From Here that they expect to release in early 2017.  Three tracks that have already been finished are “Nothing But Us”, the title song “Not From Here,” and “Gloom.”  “Nothing But Us” bursts open with Gil’s aggressive vocals and furious guitars riffs set to heavy percussion. The powerful lyrics speak to standing one’s ground and staying true to oneself, not allowing others to push you around or make you into something you’re not: “I know the things they think about me / Though the words hurt, I don’t care / Go on push me around now, you can’t bring me down.

“Not From Here” is another epic song, with over six minutes of thunderous guitar riffs, pummeling bass and strong drums. At times, the highly complex guitars remind me a bit of the legendary band Boston. Gil’s raw vocals snarl and scream, backed by his band members’ soaring choruses.  This is an awesome track.

Their latest track “Gloom” is a lovely, bittersweet rock ballad about the heartache and feelings of rejection when a former love doesn’t want to continue the relationship. The great guitar riffs in the song have a bit of a Journey vibe, and Gil’s heartfelt vocals convey a deep sadness.

Sifting is a really talented group of musicians, and I look forward to their upcoming album Not From Here. To learn more about the band, check out their website and follow them on Twitter,  Facebook and Instagram. Steam their music on Spotify, and purchase on iTunes or Amazon.

Featured Single: MAHOGANY DANNIE – “Leap”

I had the good fortune of discovering a promising new singer/songwriter today when she followed me on Twitter. She goes by the artistic name Mahogany Dannie, and what an amazing, powerful voice she has!  Hailing from soulful Memphis, Tennessee, Dannie has always been an achiever, spending much of her life in creative pursuits ranging from writing short stories and poetry, being active in sports and studying Criminal Justice. More recently, she learned to play the guitar and writing songs, thus finding her true passion for making music.

mahogany-dannie

Dannie released her debut single “Leap” in late July, and it’s a real powerhouse of a track, both musically and vocally. Her clear, commanding vocals soar in this anthemic song about overcoming one’s fears and doubts through the encouragement and support of a loved one and working toward what’s important and meaningful in life. “You said you would be there for me / I thought you left, leaving me behind / But you were there, pushing me to reach out be free / take that leap of faith.”  The song’s arrangement is superb, with assertive piano backed by strong synths, percussion and bass. Take a listen:

To learn more about Mahogany Dannie, check out her website, and follow her on Twitter  and  Facebook.  Stream “Leap” on Spotify and Reverbnation, and purchase on iTunes or other sites offering music for sale or download.