TWO FEET – Album Review: “Max Maco is Dead Right?”

Regular readers of this blog know I’m a huge fan of the artist Two Feet, the massively-talented singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer who’s currently riding a tsunami of musical creativity and output. Over the past few months, he’s collaborated on several songs with other artists, including electronic producer Gryffin on “I Want Love”, electro-pop band SHAED on “Part Time Psycho”, and electro/goth pop artist Sub Urban on the trippy “PATCHWERK“. Now he’s releasing his most ambitious album yet, Max Maco is Dead Right?, which officially drops April 16th.

For those still living under a rock, Two Feet is the musical alter-ego of New York City-born and now L.A.-based Zachary William “Bill” Dess, who is just about my favorite artist making music today. His incredible guitar work – characterized by intense, bluesy riffs and enhanced with hip-hop and jazz elements and floor-rattling synth bass grooves – combined with his soulful, smoldering vocals, make for music that’s strongly appealing, deeply impactful, and undeniably sexy. I love all his music, and have written about him many times on this blog. He records and performs his music with the assistance of his longtime keyboardist Geoffrey Hufford (aka Huff), and recently teamed up with producers John Feldmann (Blink182, Panic! At The Disco) and Andrew Luce to help with the new album.

Beginning with the release of his breakout single “Go Fuck Yourself” in 2016, Two Feet has been on a creative roll ever since, releasing numerous singles, including his #1 alternative hit “I Feel Like I’m Drowning” in 2018, followed later that year by his extended EP A 20 Something Fuck, and in March 2019 by his debut album Pink (read my review here). In October 2020, he dropped “Think I’m Crazy”, followed in quick succession by three more singles “Time Fades Away”, “Fire” and “Never Enough” – all of which are featured on Max Maco is Dead Right?  

For the new album, Two Feet created yet another alter ego character named Max Maco, as a way of wrestling with some of the emotional traumas he’s experienced in the past, as well as the pressures that have come with success and fame. He’s been pretty open and honest with his fans and followers about his own personal struggles with depression and anxiety, and after an emotional breakdown in the summer of 2018, he spent time at a few mental hospitals in New York. He told me that he based the character of Max Maco on some of the people he met during his hospital stays.

In a newly published article in American Songwriter, he further explained: “I had met various, very interesting people who you’d never normally have the chance to talk to at some of these mental hospitals. Some of them had some of the most fascinating, beautiful stories about their lives I’ve ever heard. Over the course of years, I tried to formulate how I could basically tell an amalgamation of some of the stories from various people I’ve met at these hospitals.” My guess is that the album title represents his overcoming at least some of his traumas and demons, personified in Max Maco. Hence the cover art showing the character lying on an embalming table, wrapped in a sheet and staring blankly into space.

He introduces us to Max Maco on the opening track “Hi I’m Max Maco“. The song starts off with a strummed guitar as Two Feet breathily croons “Everybody I’m Max Maco, I always have things to say. There are things that I don’t remember. People treat me like I’m famous, and they’re giving me free money.” Then we’re hit with that signature deep bass groove, accompanied by an unsettling and shrill reverb-heavy synth and plucked guitar chord. As the next track “Nightmare” unfolds, I’m blissfully swept away by the sultry, pulsating grooves, dark, swirling synths and gorgeous guitar notes. Two Feet laments of the downside of success in the lyric “Although grass was gold and green, the money controlling me, so I must go.”

Think I’m Crazy” sees Max Maco describing his feelings of being overwhelmed by hedonistic desires and losing a grip on reality: “I thought that I was calling up my friends now. But Kurt told me that they were in my head, so. / I think I’m crazy, lately. Everything is hazy. Everything and anything I ever want to do. I think I’m crazy lately, feeling like I’m faded everywhere I go.” Musically, the song features a killer thumping bass groove overlain with eerie synths, emphatic percussion and pulsating guitar notes that create a dark vibe that’s both menacing and sexy. I love his vocals, which go from a sultry, earnest croon to a soaring falsetto in the choruses. The lyrics are brought to life in the entertaining and darkly sexy video.

Next up is the smoldering “Fire” (no pun intended), a sultry and cinematic little masterpiece that slowly builds to a scorching crescendo befitting the song’s title. Two Feet sings with a breathy, impassioned falsetto as he croons to a lover of his intense, all-consuming desire: “Darling, You call my name / I like the games you play / Charming, My love for you / Burning, I feel it too.” “Fire” has become one of my favorite of his songs, and just spent a month atop my Weekly Top 30.

One of the notable differences between his previous music and Max Maco is Dead Right? is the inclusion of dance/EDM elements on some of the tracks. The first is the wonderful “Never Enough“, which continues with the theme of succumbing to intoxicating carnal desires first introduced on “Fire”. I love the hypnotic, hip-swaying beat, otherworldly synths and shimmery guitars. The dangerously sexy “Flatline” pays homage to Two Feet’s appreciation for Latin culture with a mesmerizing melody, intense, bluesy guitar notes and vocals so fucking sensuous they raise the hairs on the back of my neck.

The song is instantly one of my favorites on the album, but then I hear “Lies” and I’m blown away. It’s a fairly simple and straightforward tune actually, but I’m a sucker for songs with strong, driving beats, and “Lies” fills the bill quite nicely with its pulse-pounding dance groove and raunchy guitars. And it goes without saying that Two Feet’s sultry vocals are fantastic. Interestingly, those three songs are broken up by the minute-long interlude “Are You Hanging Off The Balcony“, a humorous spoken-word piece in which he tells his engineer Anthony that he loves him, accompanied by acoustic guitar.

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record as I try to come up with descriptors and superlatives for these songs, so bear with me as I continue to profess my unabashed love. “Blame Me” sees Two Feet return to his roots, delivering the intense bluesy riffs we’ve come to love and expect in his songs. On the atmospheric “I Can’t See At All“, his gorgeous guitar work is sublime, accompanied by glittery synths and his echoed breathy vocals singing of his being blinded by his intense desire for another: “Every time I try to run. Thought of you make me numb. / I can’t see at all. Am I here alone? Is it day or night? Got no control.

On the darkly introspective “Time Fades Away“, Two Feet laments of emotional pain and loss amid the passage of time: “I feel a certain way. Too much to numb the pain. And I just don’t know now, the way the world will change. Oh, time fades away. Pull it back but it’s too late.” The song has a languid, melancholic vibe with a repetitive strummed guitar note serving as the driving force, overlain with delicate atmospheric synths and gentle percussion. The distorted guitar solo toward the end is terrific.

Lover” is an interesting track, starting off with a gauzy piano riff and Two Feet’s electronically-altered vocals, giving it an otherworldly lo-fi vibe that makes it sound more like a demo. Just past the minute-mark, harsh industrial synths, sharp percussion, booming bass and distorted guitar come crashing into the mix, completely changing the song’s feel as he continues to drone “Lover, where you staying? Feeling, like I’m playing.”

Album closer “And I Fucked Up (Live)” is another change of pace from his usual sound. With his strummed acoustic guitar and vocals the only sounds we hear, the song has more of a folk/singer-songwriter feel, and I like it. The song seems to tie things up for Max Maco, with lyrics speaking of his remorse over losing someone through his misdeeds: “I feel lost and dangerous. Think I’ve gotta change this. Feeling weak in my knees. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I say, I will try a new way. But I’m lying, the world is empty now. And the feeling of having you around, was the one thing that kept my soul on the ground. And I fucked up./ If you wanna come back, got a cardboard make shack at 39th and Broadway. People give me money, oh I’m famous honey. No one gets in my way.” I like how Two Feet kept the little misstep at the beginning, similar to Green Day at the beginning of their song “Good Riddance”.

In that above-referenced American Songwriter article, Two Feet commented on his feeling about Max Maco is Dead Right?: “My other albums, even my first two EPs, are of the moment songs I thought of that I then compiled together. So this one, to me, was really thought out. I tried to make everything congruent. From an artistic standpoint, it’s definitely my favorite album I’ve written so far.” I would have to agree with him, and as much as I love Pink, I love this magnificent album even more. Every track is superb, and a testament to his continued growth as an artist and songwriter. Max Maco is Dead Right? is without question one of the best albums of 2021, if not the best.

Connect with Two Feet:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream/purchase his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Amazon

Philip Morgan Lewis – Single & Video Premier: “Come Find Me Back”

As I’ve noted numerous times on this blog, there’s a tremendous amount of music talent in the UK, and one of the more creative and imaginative artists among them all is singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Philip Morgan Lewis. The London East Ender boldly experiments with a wide array of genres and influences, ranging from alternative rock, blues, garage rock and folk to R&B and EDM, in the creation of his exciting and eclectic style of blues-soaked rock that nicely suits his distinctive raspy vocals. And he isn’t afraid to address the darker side of humanity and the emotional wreckage of failed relationships, love gone bad and our sometimes self-destructive ways, while also offering glimmers of hope and redemption. His unique sound is instantly identifiable, as he sounds like no one else I know of.

He’s released a fair amount of music over the past decade, including his debut EP Karma Comedown in 2016, followed a year later by his brilliant album Grief Harbour, which I reviewed. In the years since, he’s dropped a number of singles, two of which – “Blowtorched Dreams” and “Rock That City” – I also featured on this blog (you can read those reviews by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the end of this post). Now Philip returns with another great new single “Come Find Me Back“, along with a terrific video which I’m happy to premier. Released via label Tx2 Records, the single was written, produced, performed and mixed by Philip, and mastered by legendary mastering engineer Pete Maher. The backing vocals were sung by Annick.

“Come Find Me Back” is a heartfelt song that speaks to someone’s fall from grace and the break up of a family. Philip elaborates “The song is about the breaking up of families and single parenting in an era where it’s simply easier to separate than to fight for your love and try to do everything you can to mend relationships. And someone trying to find his grace back in the spiritual sense, in a way to become stronger, accept past errors, and try and reunite and fix things.”

Philip brings his poignant lyrics to life with mournful piano keys, intricate guitar work and gently soaring horns, all working together brilliantly to create a beautiful and haunting soundscape. A close listen reveals how he skillfully layers multiple guitar textures to create both nuance and depth of sound, with subtle bass and percussion nicely transitioning to bolder rhythms in the anthemic choruses. His plaintive, blues-soaked vocals are powerfully emotive, conveying his despair and pleas for forgiveness and acceptance back into the fold with a heart-wrenching rawness. 

Love it's just just a couple of lines
To let you know I miss you babe
And it's just just a couple of bars
To let you know I messed things up

All that is left inside of me
Is the thought of our crazy little family
And it feels so warm 
But time keeps on passing us by
And I wanna hold you both so tight
Until that one fine day
Until I find my way

Hope is all I have
Grace come find me back
Until that one fine day
Until I find my way

I can't make you feel like I do
Though I wish you could see me now
Now I know that you couldn't love me
Like the man that I used to be

All that is left inside of me
Is the wrong that I did and a mystery
How to learn to forgive myself
What a mess
Time keeps on passing us by
And I wanna hold you both so tight
Until that one fine day
Until I find my way

Hope is all I have
Grace come find me back
Until that one fine day
Until I find my way
Hope is all I have
Love don't count me out
Until that one fine day
Until I find my way back to you


The beautiful video, which Philip directed and edited, was filmed in London’s East End, and shows scenes of mostly empty streets, parks and playgrounds, as well him in what appears to be an empty house. All serve to represent his feelings of isolation and loneliness, both at home and within the larger context of a big city that should be teeming with life. The child’s drawing of a family of three, shown blowing around on the sidewalk, is a particularly touching element.

Connect with Philip: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music: Spotify / YouTube / Apple Music
Purchase:  Amazon / Deezer / Bandcamp 

Jack Droppers & the Best Intentions – Single Review: “Welcome to the Party”

Michigan seems to be a wellspring of great music, and over the past two months I’ve written about several artists from the Great Lake State, including Dawning, Au Gres and Michigander. I’m now pleased to introduce a fourth, the delightfully-named Jack Droppers & the Best Intentions, who just released their heartwarming new single “Welcome to the Party” on April 9th. The song is the fourth single from their forthcoming third studio album Dad Rock, due for release on June 18. As I always do when reviewing an artist or band’s music for the first time, I listened to their back catalog to get a better feel for their sound, and I have to say that I really like every one of their songs, even their live performances, which sound as good as their studio recordings.

Based in Grand Rapids, the six-piece is fronted by singer-songwriter Jack Droppers, with the Best Intentions consisting of Laura Hobson (tambourine, backing vocals), Devin Sullivan (guitar, backing vocals), James Kessel (keyboards, backing vocals), Garrett Stier (bass, backing vocals), and Josh Holicki (drums). Their wonderfully infectious and lively brand of Heartland rock’n’roll has drawn comparisons to such acts as Dawes, Delta Spirit, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and Bruce Springsteen. And it’s that Springsteen comparison, along with the recent birth of Jack’s first child Naomi, that inspired their new album’s cheeky Dad Rock title. The single and album were produced and mixed by Jake Rye and mastered by Mike Cervantes (both of whom also performed similar duties on the records by Dawning, Au Gres and Michigander).

Jack states that “Welcome to the Party” acts as both thesis and conclusion for the album, “as it invites this child into a world that is sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrible, and often both at the same time. This song is perhaps the most personal song on the record (it’s the only time I’ve ever had to stop recording vocals cause I was crying big old dad tears). It is a song that was written for Naomi before she was born but was also written for you as we eventually step out of this strange season and begin to ask, ‘what does it mean to be alive?’ The song (like the record as a whole) arrives at this question and offers no quick answers but the steady refrain that ‘you are so loved, so you can always sow love‘.”

The song is both inspiring and beautiful, opening with a stirring four-part vocal harmony backing Jack’s lovely, heartfelt vocals that immediately made me think of The Killers’ Brandon Flowers. Like Flowers, Jack has an emotive vocal style with a strong vulnerability that’s quite endearing. The melody and lush instrumentals are gorgeous too, with jangly guitars accompanied by strings, mellotron, vibraphone and trumpet (which was played by Jared March at a separate studio and later added to the track, with the band never actually meeting him in person). It’s a wonderful song, and I love this band.

The sweet cover photo of Jack holding Naomi was taken by band member James Kessel.

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Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicAmazon

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LIAM SULLIVAN – Single Review: “Stadiums and Churches”

There’s a lot of musical talent out there, and I’m particularly impressed by the sheer number of exceptional musicians and bands that continue to emerge from the UK – something that’s long been apparent to even the casual music observer. One of the standout artists I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know in the past year is singer-songwriter Liam Sullivan. The Leeds-based musician is a fine songwriter and guitarist, with a vibrant and warm singing voice that’s both comforting and beautiful. His music style can generally be described as alternative rock with folk and singer-songwriter elements that make for an incredibly pleasing listening experience, and I love every one of his songs that I’ve heard.

Liam’s been writing and performing music for well over a decade, both as a member of various bands and, more recently, as a solo artist with a back-up band of musicians he assembled to help bring his poetic lyrics to life. Like a lot of musicians who were prevented from touring or performing to live audiences, he made the best of the Covid lockdown situation to write and record new music. He’s released four singles since last May, the latest of which is “Stadiums and Churches“, which dropped April 9th (which seems to be a big day for the release of new music). I’ve reviewed his previous two singles “When This is Over” and “Be Kind”, which you can read by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the end of this post. Those two singles have become his most successful yet, and with plans to release a new song roughly every six weeks for the rest of the year, the hard-working artist’s music career is destined to grow exponentially.

He was inspired to write “Stadiums and Churches” during the first lockdown after watching the British sports documentary series Sunderland ‘Til I Die. An episode addressed how sports stadiums have sat empty during the lockdown, which got Liam to thinking about all the stadiums, theaters and churches, where masses of people normally congregate to celebrate events important to them, that were now just empty and lifeless places.

To drive home his message, he starts with a lovely piano movement that forms the basis of the song’s haunting but beautiful melody, accompanied by his strummed acoustic guitar, subtle bass and gentle percussion. He first laments about all the empty places where we once assembled: “The churches and stadiums are hollow empty places now. Nowhere to gather, nowhere to believe, nowhere to go at all” but then seems to address his own personal feelings of abandonment: “Where did you go, where did you go, why’d you leave me here alone?” His guitars and soothing vocals turn more urgent in the choruses, bolstered by sweeping strings and more dramatic percussion that convey a sense of hopefulness about the future as he sings about returning outside: “Head out the window. Can you feel the daybreak?” I love his vocals throughout the song, as well as his exuberant guitar solo in the bridge and the soaring crescendo at the end. It’s a fantastic song, and I think it’s one of Liam’s best yet.

Follow Liam:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / YouTube
Purchase:  Bandcamp

New Song of the Week – Matlen Starsley Band: “Makin’ Good Time”

Hailing from beautiful Vancouver, Canada, the Matlen Starsley Band are a five-member collective of seasoned and accomplished musicians who came together in mid-life to recapture some of the energy and passion that got them into the music business to begin with, and in the process create some great music. Comprised of Dennis Matechuk (lead vocals), Kevin Star (guitar & vocals), Don Lennox (bass & vocals), Jim Wesley (drums) and Darryl Hebert (keyboards, guitar, accordion & vocals), all are 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 to the creation of their engaging style of music drawn from country, blues, roots and Southern rock.

In July 2019, they released their terrific debut album Rollin’ Again, which I later reviewed. Unable to tour or play live during most of 2020, the guys spent time writing and recording songs for their second album, due out later this year. The first single from the new album is “Makin’ Good Time“, which I’ve named my New Song of the Week. The song is a rousing Southern rocker, with feel-good lyrics about going out on the open road, experiencing freedom from responsibilities, and feeling the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair. “Wind on our backs, nothing but blue sky. Ain’t got no destination. No time or place we got to be. Makin’ good time, just gettin’ away.

Musically, the song features the band’s reliably awesome mix of bluesy and slide guitars and jaunty honky-tonk piano, enhanced by a spirited horn section that really dials up the energy level. Dennis’ warm, earnest vocals are backed by the delightful Chandra Russell, whose soulful croons add some nice texture to the track. I love the many little touches the guys employ in their songs, like Kevin’s slide guitar mimicking a rolling train when Dennis sings the lyric “We’ll go down to the station tonight, we’ll hop on up when that train rolls by.” It’s a fine song that makes for a good time indeed!

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Purchase:  BandcampiTunes / Website

DAVID OAKES – Album Review: “The Anomaly”

David Oakes is an imaginative and prolific musician and composer of electronic alternative rock music, ranging from gentle synth-driven compositions to aggressive guitar-driven hard rock, and everything in between. I really like his music, and have written about quite a lot of it on this blog (you can read some of those reviews by clicking on the links under “Related” at the end of this post).

Based in the coastal town of Aberporth, Wales, David’s been actively involved in making music since his late teens, when he started playing in various bands. From 2001-06, he and his younger brother were members of the rock band KOTOW, in which he played drums. He went on to study guitar and music theory at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildord, England from 2009-12, after which he started composing and recording music as a solo artist. He released his first album The Juggernaut in 2014, and in the years since, has recorded and released an astonishing nine more albums, the latest of which is The Anomaly, which he released on Bandcamp on April 2nd.

The new album features many of David’s signature electronic and guitar-heavy elements we’ve come to expect, but has more of a cinematic feel than his previous albums, with a sound he describes as “Nine Inch Nails meets Rammstein and Depeche Mode with a Danny Elfman Aperitif!” In fact, The Anomaly would make a great soundtrack to any number of films by Christopher Nolan or Tim Burton. Things kick off with “Intronomaly”, a darkly wonderful piece with an ominous droning sound sort of like an engine, over which David layers a captivating warbling synth riff. It all works beautifully in creating a portentous mood, setting the stage for what’s about to unfold.

Next up is “Enter the Anomaly”, a brief composition highlighted by a brooding piano riff and pounding drumbeats that seem to convey the sense of an invading force, in this case ‘the anomaly’. David hasn’t used piano very often on his previous works, so its addition here is a nice touch. His outstanding guitar work makes a return on “The Anomaly (Part 1)”, accompanied by gnarly industrial synths and chugging rhythms, keeping things firmly planted on a dark path going forward. On “The Anomaly (Part 2)”, he uses unusual guitar chords, pummeling drumbeats, and an almost spooky carnival-type melody, then bathes everything in a fuzzy texture to create a discordant, otherworldly vibe.

“The Anomaly (Part 3)” has a definite film noir feel, thanks to those wonderfully moody piano keys, while “The Anomaly (Part 4)” immediately made me think of Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman, which was scored by Danny Elfman. I could imagine hearing this piece, as well as “The Anomaly (Part 6)”, while watching Jack Nicholson as The Joker wrecking havoc on Gotham City. The dark, cinematic vibes and driving rhythms continue on the next several tracks. David told me his guitar riff for “Part 6” was partly inspired by the Primus song “Welcome to this World”.

One of my favorite tracks is “The Anomaly (Part 7)”, with its rousing, hard-charging beat, grungy guitars and exuberant swirling synths. Though the instrumentals are still pretty intense, the synths and lively melody give the track a somewhat lighter tone. The album goes full circle as those enchanting droning and warbling sounds we first heard on “Intronomaly” make a return engagement on “Exit the Anomaly”. The brief but gorgeous final track “Set a Course…For Home” provides not only closure, but a sense of hopeful optimism, expressed through hauntingly beautiful piano keys, glittery synths and soaring strings. It’s a stunning end to another stellar album by David.

Follow David:  TwitterInstagram

Stream his music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud

Purchase on Bandcamp

Soda Cracker Jesus – Single Review: “My Anthem”

I love the quirky and colorful names that musicians often come up with for their music projects, and one of the best I’ve seen lately is Soda Cracker Jesus, the new brainchild of longtime Tacoma-based singer-songwriter and producer Regan Lane. Lane is also front man and ringmaster of psychedelic punk-rock band Strangely Alright, who I’ve featured numerous times on this blog. The wildly imaginative, talented and seasoned artist has been a mainstay in the Northwest music scene for years. Besides Strangely Alright, he was previously a member of Tacoma punk band Baby Knockors and 80s rock band Strypes. More recently, he helped produce the new album Butterfly Hand Grenade for up-and-coming rockers Stargazy Pie, and is an active mentor in the successful Ted Brown Music Program, where he helps aspiring northwest musicians hone their craft. 

Lane created Soda Cracker Jesus to express his “more punky power pop side”, with music influenced by acts like the Beatles, Kinks, Robyn Hitchcock, Julian Cope, XTC and more. He’s also been honest and candid on his social media about his former struggles with alcohol and substance abuse, and the happiness and joy that sobriety now brings him. He recently confided on Facebook, “I’ve come to the point in my life where I know for me that happiness comes from the inside. It’s not about being the greatest or the best, but about having gratitude for what I have, appreciating the people and love in my life and continuing to try to treat people like I’d like to be treated. And all those things help me feel creative and free to share who I really am.” It’s in this spirit that he wrote “My Anthem“, which he’s released today, April 1st, as his debut single.

The aptly-titled song is a euphoric power pop anthem and foot-stomping banger, with a joyously upbeat old school punk-infused vibe that nicely conveys Lane’s hopeful message. In addition to singing vocals, he played all instruments, mixed, and produced the track, and Todd Ensminger did the mastering. I love his chugging riffs of gnarly guitars and aggressive pounding drumbeats, and his always colorful vocals are emphatic and animated, perfectly complementing the song’s powerful driving rhythms. The lyrics speak to having an optimistic, open-minded and courageous philosophy for living your best life possible, and with gratitude, which Lane sings with such conviction and joy that we can’t help but be swept up alongside him: “I can hope and I can dream. I can fight and I can scream. Look to the light I won’t disappear. Never have to run away from anything I got no fear. Clear and Real and Free. Ya ya ya ya ya This Is My Anthem.

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Stream/purchase “My Anthem” on Bandcamp

Krosst Out featuring Melotika – Single Review: “Runaway”

I’ve been following Canadian artists Krosst Out and Melotika for more than four years, and it’s been gratifying to watch them grow both artistically and professionally. Krosst Out is the musical alter-ego of singer-songwriter and rapper Aaron Siebenga,, who grew up in a small town not far from Toronto, and melds hip hop with grunge, alt-rock and punk to create his own unique contemporary sound. Melotika is the alter-ego of Mel Yelle, a Montreal-born sultry-voiced singer-songwriter who makes intriguing electro-pop.

The hard-working and creative duo met in Toronto, but are now living in Montreal. They’re both successful artists in their own right, as well as a delightfully charming and hilarious couple I’ve grown quite fond of over the years, and have featured them both numerous times on this blog. Last October, I reviewed Krosst Out’s debut album Phone Calls With Ghosts, a deeply personal work addressing youthful mistakes, broken relationships, and the reality that nothing will ever again be what it once was. (You can read that review here.) And just last month, I chose Melotika’s latest single “Beautiful Disguise” as my New Song of the Week, which you can read about here

Now the two are back with a hot new collaborative single “Runaway“. The song was recorded at Phase One studio in Toronto under the guidance of long-time collaborators Jor’Del Downz and Sean Savage. Drums were played by Spencer “Taabu” Heaslip, who also mixed and mastered the track. With “Runaway”, Krosst Out and Melotika wanted to create a dynamic, punk influenced hip hop ballad reminiscent of the late 1970’s London punk scene. Krosst Out explains “I’ve been calling it 1977 punk meets rap, or Sid and Nancy meet hip hop. I wrote this at the same time I was writing my album Phone Calls With Ghosts, [but] in the end, I just felt like this song deserved to be a stand alone track. ‘Runaway’’s message is one that all can relate to, especially during these times; it’s one of escapism, running away from a place you no longer want to be in. There’s times where we do just need to pick up and run away from everything. If you find yourself in a place you don’t want to be in, pick yourself and run away from that spot, put yourself someplace better. It’s meant to be this cross between both happy and melancholy. The beat was an anthem type feel that gets you amped up, but my chanting of ‘I don’t want to be here’ gives you the feeling of hopping on the next train to anywhere, running away.”  

The song opens with a flurry of spritely skittering synths, then expands with a layer of brooding synths as Melotika croons her lyrics followed by Krosst Out, who raps his lines as a deep trip hop beat kicks in. Soon the melody ramps up into a frantic punk beat at they both shout “I wanna run away, I gotta run away, I’m gonna run away!” This back and forth continues throughout the song, providing alternating moments of frenzied tension with calmer interludes of introspection that convey a cool sense of self-awareness and humor. 

The two have made a crazy-fun video that nicely showcases their strong charisma and zany playfulness.

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

Sub Urban & Two Feet Release a Trippy Single and Surreal Video “PATCHWERK”

Sub Urban is the music project of New Jersey-based singer-songwriter and producer Daniel Virgil Maisonneuve. The highly imaginative and insanely creative 21-year-old exploded onto the alternative music scene early last year with his breakout hit “Cradles”. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Alternative chart, and has been streamed 330 million times on Spotify. He followed up in March 2020 with his outstanding debut EP Thrill Seeker.

Regular readers of this blog know I’m a huge fan of the artist Two Feet, a massively talented New York-born and now Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter and guitarist who’s song “Fire” is currently enjoying a long run at #1 on my Weekly Top 30. I love all his music, and have written about him numerous times. Over the past few months, he’s collaborated with other artists such as electronic producer Gryffin on “I Want Love”, electro-pop band SHAED on “Part Time Psycho” and now Sub Urban on a trippy new song “PATCHWERK“.

The song, which was written and sung by both Sub Urban and Two Feet, and produced by Sub Urban, has an eerie, yet oddly sexy vibe. The skittering trip hop beat, discordant melody and piercing, goth-like synths are incredibly dramatic and deliciously creepy, unlike anything I’ve heard before. Two Feet sings his verses in his signature seductive vocal style, whereas Sub Urban’s go from spookily breathy to electronically-altered otherworldliness, perfectly complementing the unsettling music. The lyrics are rather ambiguous and abstract, but seem to speak to living an empty, hedonistic existence: “Cause I’ve got no soul. Live in a hole I dug. And I’ll fall apart if I don’t get it./ I’m sewing the patches right onto my skin. I’m counting the dollars to buy me out. I’m losing myself to the competition. At what point did I start to think that I’d win.

Every bit as eerie as the song is the accompanying video, which features a surreal mix of classical Greek imagery, kabuki-inspired choreography, and macabre body horror. The video was conceived and created by Sub Urban, directed by Andrew Donoho and produced by Valerie Bush of Huffman Creative. As with the song itself, Sub Urban wanted to produce a video that was different and shocking, drawing inspiration from Tim Burton films, as well as his mother’s Japanese and Chinese dramas. In the Official YouTube Premier for the video, he stated that he wanted it to “feel scary and uncomfortable and inhuman, as I thought that those kabuki characters in my mother’s films made me feel as a child.” He went on to say that the first thing he visualized was Two Feet singing as a Greek bust, then later immersed in a pool of wine, like a drunken Greek god. Sub Urban himself portrays two characters – a man like one from a Renaissance painting, only whose body is a creepy patchwork of stapled-together pieces, and a bald, alien-looking kabuki character all in white. Check it out:

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THE LEFT BACKS – Single Review: “The Feeling”

The Left Backs are an indie rock band originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland and now based in Liverpool. They were formed in 2015 by three lifelong friends Lucas Macpherson (vocals and bass), Max Lozowsky (guitar) and Benjamin Watt Doak (drums), who later relocated to Liverpool to attend university. Influenced by some of their favorite bands The Strokes, Nirvana, The Libertines and The Ramones, they make infectious, high-energy punk rock. Their songs have received airplay on BBC Introducing, and they’ve had the pleasure of performing at Threshold Festival and the renowned Sound City in their adopted home of Liverpool.

In 2017 they released their terrific debut EP The Morning After the Night Before, then followed with a number of singles, the latest of which is “The Feeling“, which dropped March 26th. With the pandemic lockdown preventing them from recording in studios, the guys decided to create their own studio in their apartment so they could record and produce their music themselves. Their last single “Welfare Lady” was the first to be recorded in their home studio, and “The Feeling” is the second. About the single, the band states “‘The Feeling’ comes at just the right time, not only dropping a couple of days before some UK social restrictions are lifted, but also it’s upbeat sound coupled with it’s feel-good nostalgic imagery make it the perfect soundtrack to the summer months being just around the corner.”

The song is a rousing, grunge-soaked banger, featuring a bombastic torrent of gnarly guitars dripping with reverb, giving it a lo-fi, yet intense, garage rock vibe. Max lives up to his name as he shreds his guitar to the max, letting loose with a blistering solo in the bridge, while Benjamin smashes his drum kit with equal fervor. Lucas lays down a punishing bass line as he wails the sparse lyrics “You know the feeling. But you can’t remember when. You want to feel it again!” It’s totally badass from start to finish!

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Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundclouddeezer

Purchase:  iTunes