MOUNT FAMINE – Single Review: “Offcuts”

Mount Famine are a British post punk/synth-infused indie rock’n’roll project based in Derby. Formed in 2019 as a collaboration of seasoned musicians with a shared love of such bands as The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs, Pet Shop Boys, Manic Street Preachers, Pulp and Suede, they aim to create music that, in their own words, “produces the adrenaline-fueled highs of indie disco dancefloors.” Hallmarks of their vibrant sound are infectious melodies, lush soundscapes and soaring vocals. A rather enigmatic band, they have no photos of themselves on any of their social media, nor do they list their members’ names. Band front man and vocalist Martin Stanier, who I know of from his having reached out to me on Instagram, explained that they’ve steered away from photos, wanting the focus to instead be on their music.

Beginning with their debut single “Faith” in January 2020, they’ve released a string of excellent singles over the past two and a half years. This past March, I included their fourth single “Distance” in a Fresh New Tracks post. The song garnered support from BBC Introducing East Midlands and Louder Than War, as well endorsements from actor Robert Carlyle and British broadcaster Terry Christian. I liked the song so much, it spent 11 weeks on my Weekly Top 30 list. Now they’re back with a new single “Offcuts“, a rousing anthem that calls to mind some of the great songs by New Order, Manic Street Preachers and The Killers.  

The song storms through the gates with an exuberant soundscape of swirling synths, roiling guitars and driving rhythms. Martin’s sparkling keyboards have a wonderful cinematic quality, and the layered shimmery and grungy guitars are quite marvelous. Also outstanding are the humming bassline and emphatic thumping drumbeats, both of which add great power and depth to the track. And, as always, Martin’s resonant vocals are incredibly pleasing, rising with a commanding force in the choruses. 

The song’s lyrics touch on the drudgery of executive management, work hierarchies, and the disposability of workers. Martin elaborated further: “It’s about a moment I had recently where I doubted myself. I spent some time in the company of some very senior managers in my job who weren’t nice or kind and treated others lower on the food chain really badly. And all the others treated them with adoration and respect that to my mind, they didn’t really deserve. I wondered if I had got it wrong and that doing this was the way forward. I mean, it didn’t last very long because of course that isn’t how to be or to treat people, but it also echoed the behaviour of a lot of our world leaders of late.

I am the new normal in rock and roll; discos
Kiss me, between the sheets
You're so discreet, discreet

Maybe I misunderstood
And dreams and schemes are not as fun 
As real life, through office doors
We are Offcuts on director's floors

Maybe I misunderstood
And dreams and schemes are not as fun 
As real life, through office doors
We are Offcuts on director's floors

Fast cars, high class bars
Now you are stars, all stars
Diamonds and dollars
Now you look down on us, on us

Maybe I misunderstood
And dreams and schemes are not as fun
As real life, through office doors
We are Offcuts on director's floors
 
Maybe I misunderstood
And real life is Hollywood
And Sundays walking through the malls are the best days, best times of all

Funny, you're so funny
They laugh with you
But money and power have made you sour

Maybe I misunderstood
And dreams and schemes are not as fun
As real life, through office doors
We are Offcuts on director's floors
 
Maybe I misunderstood
And real life is Hollywood
And Sundays walking through the malls are the best days, best times of all

“Offcuts” is a fantastic radio-friendly song that’s certain to be a hit.

Follow Mount Famine:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud 

Top 30 Songs for September 11-17, 2022

One of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I’ve heard this year is “Broken Record” by British artist NAVE, the solo music project of singer-songwriter, composer and producer Nathan Evans. The prolific and hyper-talented musician creates gorgeous and dramatic music incorporating a broad array of genres and styles, including alternative electronica, rock, ambient, trip-hop, orchestral and dark wave. He’s also front man for alternative rock band Native Tongue. He wrote “Broken Record” to address the powerfully addicting allure of social media and its impacts on our emotional and mental health. Nathan states “‘Broken Record’ focuses on the like, follow and share society we have transitioned into over the past decade. Likes release dopamine like a drug and we become addicted to the validation, attention and acknowledgment of our successes or happiness. We hide behind filters and fake smiles to show an inaccurate reality we wish was real.” The song is stunning, with mournful, contemplative piano keys overlain with arresting percussion, swelling strings and mysterious vocal effects. I love male singing voices in the higher ranges, and Nathan’s is especially captivating here. Not only is “Broken Record” a gorgeous song, it also resonates very strongly with me, and I’m thrilled to place it at the top of my list this week.

In other notable chart developments, The Killers‘ uplifting anthem “boy” leaps 17 spots to #4, Cafuné‘s “Tek It” advances a notch to enter the top 10 at #10, Steve Lacy‘s “Bad Habit” jumps 11 spots to #18, and Beach Weather‘s “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” climbs nine spots to #21. The lone debut this week is the delightful “Party4One” by the brilliant Canadian artist dwi, which enters at #30.

  1. BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (2)
  2. UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (1)
  3. SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (3)
  4. BOY – The Killers (21)
  5. FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (5)
  6. VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (8)
  7. BONES – Imagine Dragons (9)
  8. BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (10)
  9. CLOSER – The Frontier (4)
  10. TEK IT – Cafuné (11)
  11. HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (14)
  12. LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (7)
  13. MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (6)
  14. SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (12)
  15. WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (13)
  16. PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (19)
  17. PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (20)
  18. BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (29)
  19. SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (22)
  20. ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (15)
  21. SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (30)
  22. FREE – Florence + the Machine (23)
  23. CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (24)
  24. SOMETHING LOUD – Jimmy Eat World (26)
  25. GREY – Holy Coves (18)
  26. GIANTS – WALK THE MOON (27)
  27. LIN MANUEL – Onism E (17)
  28. THE FUNERAL – YUNGBLUD (16)
  29. COMPLIANCE – Muse (25)
  30. PARTY4ONE – dwi (N)

VAZUM – Single Review: “Double Stellium”

VAZUM is a deathgaze duo from Detroit, Michigan, consisting of Zach Pliska (vocals/guitar/drums) and Emily Sturm (vocals/bass). Combining elements of deathrock, goth, post-punk and shoegaze, they create their signature dark, haunting and melodic sound that sounds vaguely familiar, yet totally unlike anyone else I’ve heard. Since forming in 2017, the highly imaginative and prolific duo have released an impressive four albums, three EPs and nearly a dozen singles, all of which they produce, record, engineer and mix independently at their own Light Echo Studios.

I’ve followed VAZUM for over a year, and am finally featuring them on this blog on the occasion of the release of their latest single “Double Stellium“. Stellium is an astrological term that refers to when someone has at least three planets in one zodiac sign or house in their birth chart. Having a double stellium can be very intense with a lot of energy focused in specific areas. Both Zach and Emily have double stelliums in their astrological charts, hence the song’s theme and title.

The song blasts open with a jarring onslaught of shredded psychedelic guitars and explosive pummeling percussion, then settles into an eerily beautiful and melodic soundscape of industrial synths, those shredded guitars ever-present in the background. Halfway through, the music returns to the same intensity we heard at the beginning, before quickly calming back down, only to rev back up at the end for a final bombastic flourish. Zach and Emily’s echoed droning vocal harmonies are perfectly suited to the goth-flavored instrumentals, nicely enhancing the song’s overall haunting feel.

The lyrics are probably open to interpretation, but my take is that they speak to loving those close to us and living life to the fullest in the here and now, given the eventual certainty of death.

Soon it will claim us all
Drained, pale porcelain dolls
Swept in a sanguine pulse
Dark dreams, nothing else
Doesn’t really matter who we were
All that really matters

I’ll lie here with you till nightfall
I’ll bleed here in you till nightfall
I’ll lie here with you
There’s no end
I’ll bleed here in you
There’s no end

VAZUM also created and produced the trippy video for the track.

Connect with VAZUM: FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream their music: SpotifyApple Music / SoundcloudYouTube

Purchase on Bandcamp

Top 30 Songs for September 4-10, 2022

Not a lot of changes from last week on my latest Weekly Top 30. Stephen Sanchez‘ beautiful retro love ballad “Until I Found You” holds the top spot for a second week, while “Broken Record” by British artist NAVE, and “SUPERMODEL” by Italian band Måneskin, each move up a notch to second and third place. “Bones” by Imagine Dragons and “BREAK MY SOUL” by Beyoncé enter the top 10 at #9 and #10, respectively. The biggest upward mover is “Boy” by The Killers, which climbs seven spots to #21.

Debuting this week are the charming funk-pop song “Bad Habit” by Southern California artist Steve Lacy – the song has already reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, and is at #3 on the Hot 100 – and the enchanting “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” by Massachusetts alternative pop-rock band Beach Weather.

  1. UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (1)
  2. BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (3)
  3. SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (4)
  4. CLOSER – The Frontier (2)
  5. FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (7)
  6. MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (5)
  7. LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (8)
  8. VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (9)
  9. BONES – Imagine Dragons (11)
  10. BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (12)
  11. TEK IT – Cafuné (14)
  12. SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (15)
  13. WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (16)
  14. HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (17)
  15. ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (10)
  16. THE FUNERAL – YUNGBLUD (6)
  17. LIN MANUEL – Onism E (13)
  18. GREY – Holy Coves (17)
  19. PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (21)
  20. PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (22)
  21. BOY – The Killers (28)
  22. SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (24)
  23. FREE – Florence + the Machine (25)
  24. CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (26)
  25. COMPLIANCE – Muse (25)
  26. SOMETHING LOUD – Jimmy Eat World (27)
  27. GIANTS – WALK THE MOON (30)
  28. UNCONDITIONAL I (LOOKOUT KID) – Arcade Fire (23)
  29. BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (N)
  30. SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (N)

ART BLOCK – “White Horses EP”

Art Block is an alternative folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in East London, England. A prolific artist, he’s been making beautiful music for a number of years, and has released an impressive number of singles, EPs and remixes since early 2015, beginning with his debut L.A.-inspired single “Los Feliz”. I’ve featured him three times on this blog, the first time in November 2019 when I reviewed his enchanting song “The Basement”. The song has become his most successful to date, amassing over 290,000 streams on Spotify, which is notable in light of the fact he not represented by any label or management. A year later, I reviewed his lovely single “Borderline”, then this past March, I included his single “Pilgrim” in a post about my having been a moderator for Tom Robinson’s Fresh On The Net blog.

Now he returns with a new EP titled White Horses EP, featuring three tracks he says were “inspired by the beauty of nature but also touching upon war, themes of death, loss and the bitter sweet nature of human existence.” The EP was recorded at Super Symmetry Studios in Hackney, utilizing a mix of both analog and digital sounds that give the songs incredible texture and depth. William Robertson aka Wheeliemix produced, mixed and engineered the EP using Moog synthesizers, as well as played acoustic guitar, Raphael Bouchara played drums, and Sandra Brus played violin. Mastering was done by John Webber (David Bowie, Duran Duran). Art Block created the beautiful cover artwork for his EP using a photo he’d taken of the English countryside.

In addition to beautiful melodies and captivating arrangements, a defining aspect of Art Block’s songs are his tender, heartfelt vocals. With his incredibly emotive singing voice, he has the ability to convey a deep sense of sorrow and despair, which is on full display on all three songs. The first track “Saviour” speaks of a relationship that saved him at first, but ultimately ended because of the hurt and pain they inflicted on each other: “It was a travesty. Unjust unliberty. Hurting those around you. Building walls between ourselves. We knocked our brains out cold. Drank from the cup untold. Floored by passion and the drink. Makes us do what we don’t think. You were a precious stone. Now I am all alone. I’m fading, yeah I’m fading. We dug our grave too soon.” It’s a melancholy but lovely song, highlighted by Art Block’s stunning piano and Sandra Brus’ mournful violin.

White Horses” is another hauntingly beautiful piano-driven song with a somewhat similar vibe as “Saviour”, except Art Block’s vocals are more emotionally-wrought in the choruses. He says the song “was inspired by a beautiful place in England, but also by the attack in Mariupol Ukraine which was in the news, where I imagined I was going through the devastation there. Perhaps ‘White Horses’ is a metaphor for something else, greater, perhaps mystical or mysterious? The place I visited in England certainly had a mystical feel even though the White Horse itself etched into a hill was not ancient.” His lyrics are poetic and deep, touching on the terrifying randomness of death and suffering: “We bear our own cross. And the people may wonder why God’s left them alone? The wind is burning. There’s so much smoke cos’ you’re coughing up blood now. The poem has ceased. And the soil is all over me, I’m six feet deep.

The bittersweet “Low Light” is both captivating and melancholy. Art Block’s vocals are downright heartbreaking here, perfectly conveying the intense pain and heartache of a relationship or friendship that’s falling apart, but not wanting to come to terms with it just yet: “A friendship ooh has crumbled. Ooh we’ve stumbled, as we break into dust. A fear I don’t wanna see. A light I don’t want feel. A low light I don’t wanna see. A change I don’t wanna make tonight.” Art Block’s piano is sublime, accompanied by airy synths, William’s shimmery guitar notes, Sandra’s subtle electric violin, and Raphael’s gentle drums and cymbals that evoke waves crashing upon rocks at the sea’s edge.

While it’s subject matter is decidedly bleak, White Horse EP is nevertheless a gorgeous little work. With its flawless arrangements, production and performances by everyone involved, the three songs are among Art Block’s finest yet. The EP was released exclusively on Bandcamp today, September 2nd, and will be released on most streaming platforms on the 23rd.

Follow Art Block:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music:  Spotify / Apple MusicSoundcloud
Purchase:  Bandcamp

WILD HORSE – Single Review: “Bitter”

Hailing from East Sussex, England is the talented and charismatic young pop-rock band Wild Horse, consisting of brothers Henry and Jack Baldwin and long-time friend Ed Barnes. Now in their early 20s, the guys are seasoned musicians who’ve been writing and recording songs since forming in 2013, when they were barely teenagers. Both Henry and Jack are multi-instrumentalists who play guitar, bass and keyboards, as well as sing vocals, while Ed plays drums and percussion, sings backing vocals and plays guitar on a few tracks. The Baldwin brothers are also prolific songwriters who’ve penned hundreds of songs over the years, with five albums, three EPs and numerous singles to their credit. I’ve been following them on social media for nearly five years, and have reviewed two of their albums, DANCE!! Like An Animal in 2019, and When the Pool Is Occupied this past December, which you can read here. 

Always keeping busy and productive, Wild Horse has recorded a number of new singles which they plan on releasing this year, starting with “Joy Ride” this past June. They now follow up with a second single “Bitter“, which drops today. The song explores the emotional minefield of casual romantic relationships, in which one partner desires a ‘no strings’ arrangement with the freedom to see other people, leaving the other partner feeling dissatisfied, insecure and generally unhappy.

I really like the song’s breezy, guitar-driven melody, which nicely contrasts with the poignant, rather ‘bitter’ lyrics. As always, the guitar work is first-rate, accompanied by a lively rhythm section that keeps the toe-tapping groove going, while allowing the guitars and vocals to shine. Jack’s endearing, heartfelt vocals sound better than ever here, and we feel his sad resignation as he plaintively laments “A little bit of feeling’s what I need. And just a little bit of pleasure’s all you want. And now I’m stuck here in the middle, playing games. I really thought we could have talked this out by now. I’m just a little bitter.”

“Bitter” is a wonderful track, nicely showcasing Wild Horse’s continuing growth and maturity as a band.

Connect with Wild Horse:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Reverbnation
Purchase:  Bandcamp / Amazon

pMad – Single Review: “Sisters”

pMad is the solo music project of Irish singer-songwriter Paul Dillon, a lifelong lover of music who’s been involved in songwriting and performing for years. Based in County Galway, Paul was previously a member of the bands Starve the Barber and The Suicidal Dufflecoats, and currently a member of The Greeting, as well as his project pMad. His eclectic sound, which is a dramatic and fascinating blend of darkwave, post-punk, alternative and goth rock, is heavily influenced by some of his favorite acts like The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, Sonic Youth, Suicidal Tendencies, The The and Tom Waits.

When the pandemic lockdowns impacted his and just about every other artists’ ability to make and perform music, Paul created a “The Best of Irish Indie” page on Facebook, in which he ran a series of ‘Best of Irish’ polls. The response was so positive, he was newly energized and inspired to rework and record some of his previously-written songs, along with some newly-written ones. Without ever being in the same room together, he took advantage of modern recording technologies to create a number of singles remotely in collaboration with Zedakube Recording (Ireland), Protonaut Studio (Germany) and Elith Mastering Labs (Mexico). He released his debut single “Who Am I” last December, then followed in February with “Medicine”, and “Broken” in April (which I reviewed in a Fresh New Tracks post). He subsequently dropped a six-track EP Broken in May, featuring four songs and two remixes, then another single “Horror” in June, and today returns with his latest single “Sisters“. 

Like most of pMad’s songs, it’s dark, brooding and intense, but I loved “Sisters” upon my first listen. Even my husband, who’s not much into goth or alternative rock, liked it the moment he heard it. What a magnificent song it is, driven by a deep, chugging bassline, and awash in ominous darkwave synths, layered guitars and pulsating drums. There are so many brilliant instrumental textures and elements, such as the contrasting shimmery and gnarly, reverb-soaked guitars and dramatic swirling synths, all creating a darkly beautiful cinematic soundscape for pMad’s arresting monotone vocals that come across as simultaneously menacing and hopeful.

About “Sisters”, pMad says it speaks of “those we love gone too soon. They don’t go away very far, they walk beside us every day… having left such an impression on us! They are still loved, still missed and a very important influence on our lives.” He elaborated further in an interview for the NenesButler Presents Music blog: “The inspiration for ‘Sisters’ was my youngest sister Keira who just dropped dead one day! Too young and too good to die, yet she did. We mourned, but the world will spin with you or without you. So, life goes on but she left an indelible mark in my life, like my father and relations and friends that have died. She was a cool, calm character and had some great sayings and thoughts on life. Of course, like me and any of us, she was not perfect, and had a few of her own demons to conquer too. She always saw the good in people, [and] the one great thing she always said, if someone was mean to her or anyone, was ‘be kind to them, you don’t know what they are going through right now’.

“Sisters” is fantastic, and I think it’s the best single released yet by pMad! He plans on dropping more singles in the coming months, and his album Who Why Where What is scheduled for release in November.

The fabulous artwork for the single was created by Little Bird Design.

Follow pMad:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream his music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudYouTube

Purchase:  BandcampAmazon

EML’s Favorite Songs – “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” by Jane Child

I was reminded about the great song “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” by Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Child the other day when my friend Dale tagged me in a tweet about it. The song was released in January 1990 as the second single from Child’s self-titled debut album Jane Child, and was a huge hit, spending three weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 that April (it was kept from the top spot by Tommy Page’s “I’ll Be Your Everything” and Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”). I’ve always loved the song, which is one of my top 10 favorite tracks of 1990.

Child’s rather quirky fashion style back then, which included a hairstyle that was spiked on top with ankle-length braids, along with a rather imposing nose chain piercing, was inspired by her love for African and East Indian cultures, as well as the punk movement. Child wrote “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” shortly after having relocated from New York City to Los Angeles. The song, along with all the tracks on Jane Child, was solely written and produced by Child, who also sang all the vocals and played all the instruments, except for the guitar parts. Well, she does a superb job, crafting an exuberant synth-driven soundscape built around an irresistible head-bopping groove. Her powerful, emphatic vocals are fantastic, adding more fuel to the song’s exhilarating combustible vibe.

Child has stated that this was not intended to be a happy love song, but more a reflection on the Freudian concept of the pleasure vs. pain principle, generally defined as the instinctive seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain to satisfy biological and psychological needs. (Wikepedia) In the lyrics, she sings to a man who drives her wild with sexual and romantic desires, while insisting that she’s going to resist his powerful charms to protect her own well-being.

Ain't no personal thing, boy
But you have got to stay away
Far, far away from my heart, my heart
Don't you know what your kiss is doing
Let me tell it to you from the start, boy

I don't wanna fall in love, no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end, baby

You've been hanging around boy
And you have started sinking in
Ooh baby, you're way out of line now
Unaware how this all got started
Let me tell it to you one more time, boy

I don't wanna fall in love no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end

I don't wanna fall in love no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end

I learned something about myself
Last night with you I knew
I didn't want nobody else
And your scaring me to death now, baby

I don't wanna fall in love no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end

Top 30 Songs for August 28-Sept 3, 2022

A year after it’s release, the gorgeous throwback love ballad “Until I Found You” by adorable 19-year-old Nashville crooner Stephen Sanchez reaches the top spot on my Weekly Top 30. With it’s wonderful retro 50s doo wop vibe, highlighted by Sanchez’ beautiful jangly guitar and vibrant vocals, I cannot get enough of it! The song quickly went viral on TikTok, and has reached #1 in Malaysia, #5 in the Philippines and on the Billboard AAA chart, but only recently began climbing the Hot 100 Chart, where it currently sits at #88. The song is included on his 7-track EP Easy On My Eyes, which dropped August 19th.

For the marvelous official video, which came out in late June, Sanchez channels his inner Elvis, also pairing himself with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike as his love interest with whom he sings the song in a duet (although the layered vocals on the track are all his, from what I can tell). He told Rolling StoneI was obsessed with the style of the 50s when I was growing up. The glamorous cars, movie theaters, mom & pop shops. I romanticized all of its visually stunning colors and sleekness. I wanted to implement all of that beauty into my dream of being a 1950s singer debuting his ‘hit’ song on the Ed Sullivan Show.”

In other chart highlights, the hauntingly beautiful “Broken Record” by British artist NAVE, and “SUPERMODEL” by Italian band Måneskin, each climb three spots to #3 and 4, respectively, and “Viva Las Vengeance” by Panic! At the Disco enters the top 10 at #9. Making their debut this week are “boy” by The Killers, at #28, and “Giants” by WALK THE MOON, at #30. As an old geezer myself, it’s heartening to see songs by veteran artists and bands over 40 like Sharon Van Etten, Jack White, Muse, Death Cab for Cutie, Jimmy Eat World, the Killers, Damon Albarn of Gorillaz, and Brian and Marc of The Star Crumbles, all of whom are still at the top of their game.

  1. UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (2)
  2. CLOSER – The Frontier (1)
  3. BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (6)
  4. SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (7)
  5. MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (4)
  6. THE FUNERAL – YUNGBLUD (3)
  7. FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (8)
  8. LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (9)
  9. VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (11)
  10. ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (5)
  11. BONES – Imagine Dragons (13)
  12. BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (15)
  13. LIN MANUEL – Onism E (14)
  14. TEK IT – Cafuné (16)
  15. SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (17)
  16. WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (20)
  17. GREY – Holy Coves (18)
  18. HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (21)
  19. COMPLIANCE – Muse (19)
  20. SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (10)
  21. PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (25)
  22. PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (26)
  23. UNCONDITIONAL I (LOOKOUT KID) – Arcade Fire (12)
  24. SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (27)
  25. FREE – Florence + the Machine (28)
  26. CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (29)
  27. SOMETHING LOUD – Jimmy Eat World (30)
  28. BOY – The Killers (N)
  29. DESPERATELY WANTING – The Star Crumbles (23)
  30. GIANTS – WALK THE MOON (N)

SAM RAPPAPORT – Single Review: “Easy to Love”

There are so many outstanding artists around today who are creating some really excellent music. One of my favorite finds of the past year is Sam Rappaport, a talented and affable singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn, New York. His mellow music style draws from elements of adult contemporary pop, folk, rock, soul and jazz, which he delivers with thoughtful, relatable lyrics and beautiful, pleasing vocals.

I first featured him on this blog last November, when I reviewed his wonderful single “Journeyman’s Ballet”. At the time, he was also a member of the indie R&B/blues rock band Gooseberry, who I’ve also written about, but he amicably parted ways with them in May to pursue his solo career. (Both “Journeyman’s Ballet” and Gooseberry’s single “Sleep” spent many weeks on my Weekly Top 30 earlier this year.) Now Sam is back with a new song “Easy to Love“, which is the lead single from his forthcoming debut EP Get Me Away From Myself.

Produced by Lorenzo Wolff and recorded at Restoration Sound Studio in Brooklyn, NY, “Easy to Love” explores both the difficulty and ease of falling in love, and the conflicting emotions of fear and desire inherent in romantic intimacies. “I think it’s about dating apps. A Tinder anthem of sorts. But I also think it’s about fear and desire, intimacy and suffocation“, says Sam.

For recording of the track, Sam played piano and Wurlitzer, and sang vocals, Lorenzo Wolff played bass, synths, acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, tuba and vibraphone, Dave Scalia played drums and percussion, Ryan Weisheit played saxophone, and Tiffany Wilson sang backing vocals. The song starts off slowly, with a gentle drumbeat and strummed acoustic guitar as Sam softly croons the lyrics, then gradually builds as a colorful array of instruments are added to create an exuberant, almost celebratory vibe. The arrangement and production are first-rate, and I love how each instrument can clearly be heard, particularly Sam’s dulcet piano keys, Lorenzo’s subtle bass and fuzzy vibraphone, and Ryan’s jazzy sax.

As always, Sam’s warm vocals are pure delight, beautifully conveying the casual, somewhat detached but rather bemused emotions expressed in the lyrics, and nicely accompanied by Tiffany’s lilting backup vocals. As it’s title suggests, “Easy to Love” is just that. It’s another fine single by Sam, and I look forward to the release of his EP.

Some people search for love for their entire lives
They sit in dim lit bars
They try to turn the waitress to a wife
They beat their head against the wall
Cause there's no finger for the ring
But I'm not mining for a heartbreak
That's the thing

They tell me finding love is rather hard
They take a redeye to Chicago with a Valentines Day card
They say this will last forever
But if it leaves it won't come back
I'm not saying it's a good thing
But it's easier than that

The way you laugh makes me tingle
The way you touch me makes me cry
And I know I'll end up leaving in the night
It's just too easy to love
And that's why

Some people search for love their entire lives
They say it might come once so don't think twice
They say hold on once you've got it
Else it's likely to be gone
But there's a billion people out there
That's what's wrong

The way you laugh makes me tingle
The way you touch me makes me cry
I know I'll end up leaving in the night
It's just too easy to love
And that's why

The wonderful photos were taken by Grace Rivera.

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Sam’s music may be found on: Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube / Amazon / Bandcamp