Twintwo – “Mr Winterburn” EP Review

I recently discovered a talented, hard-working young hip hop musician from the UK who goes by the name Twintwo.  I loved his music the moment I heard it. Not only is he an amazing rapper, with a nimble, rapid-fire delivery, the music is joyously upbeat, with artful, melodically complex arrangements. His rapping with a British accent makes his voice especially appealing for me, plus he’s a nice, humble guy.


Twintwo was born 20 years ago as Robert Winterburn.  Regarding the origin of his artistic name, he explained that he was the second of twins to be born, but before his parents could fully name him, he was designated “Twin II.” He’s been a big fan of rap music since the age of nine or ten, and started writing songs at around 16. In a recent interview with the blog Xustralia, he stated his music is influenced by Hopsin, Logic, Slaughterhouse, Machine Gun Kelly, and a bit of Calvin Harris.

He released his first song “Beggin” in June, 2015, and later that year dropped a 10 track mix tape All Day Everyday.  That work featured original tracks, as well as his skillful rapping over a few hip hop songs by other artists, including the Logic/Ed Sheeran collaboration “All Along the Watchtower.”  He ramps it up with fresh energy on his latest release, a semi-autobiographical EP titled Mr Winterburn. All five songs are awesome, but I’ll discuss three of them.

The first single, “Late Night Drives,” dazed my ears with its driving EDM-infused hip hop beat and Twintwo’s 100 mile-an-hour rapping. It’s impossible to listen to this exhilarating song without wanting to dance around the room like a crazy person. I never want the song to end so keep hitting repeat.

For the title track, “Mr Winterburn,” Twintwo sings about the challenge of growing up and struggling to have a music career, paying lyrical homage to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and twenty one pilot’s “Stressed Out” (two of my favorite songs).  He sings “Yeah, I know I’m not taking this as serious as I should/I know if I could I would but I don’t understand the concept/Too immature for my own good.” Later in the song, he laments “I wish I could go back to when I was riding a bicycle.”

“Drug Dealers and DJs” has a jazzy, roaring 20s vibe set to a crushing hip hop beat. The old-time sounding horns throughout the song are a sonic delight, and perfectly tailored for the song’s theme. Since I wrote this review, Twintwo released a delightful video for the track.

Even if you’re not a big fan of hip hop or rap, I promise you’ll find yourself liking Twintwo’s music, which is available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Also, follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Top 20 Songs for May 1-7, 2016

1. SPIRITS – The Strumbellas
2. RIDE – twenty øne piløts
4. 7 YEARS – Lukas Graham
5. WALKING ON A DREAM – Empire of the Sun
6. OPHELIA – The Lumineers
7. GENGHIS KHAN – Miike Snow
8. COLOR – Finish Ticket
9. SOMEBODY ELSE – The 1975
11. REAPERS – Muse
12. ALONE – Sun Arcana
13. OFF THE GROUND – The Record Machine
15. BAD REPUTATION – Adelitas Way
16. PRETTY PIMPIN – Kurt Vile
17. THE POP KIDS – The Pet Shop Boys
18. I TOOK A PILL IN IBIZA – Mike Posner (N)
19. TRIP SWITCH – Nothing But Thieves

CelloVein – “Bad Cellist” Album Review

How can a cellist be bad, you might ask?  “Bad Cellist” is the name of the debut album from CelloVein, the alter ego of Halley Feaster, a gifted cellist who really wanted to be a badass rocker. She started playing the cello at the age of nine, but deep down just couldn’t imagine herself becoming a classical cellist – “much to the dismay and confusion of some of her teachers” she notes on her website. By bucking convention, Feaster was being “bad.” This album is the culmination of nearly 10 years of hard work and dedication to her passion: making music steeped in rock, metal and blues, all with her acoustic cello and 6-string electric cello. Who knew there were electric cellos?

While working at other jobs to make a living, Feaster wrote songs and perfected her craft by playing cello with cover bands, pit orchestras and local symphonies, and recording as backup to several artists. But realizing her music style was not the radio-friendly stuff that most music studios seem to demand, she founded her own music production company, Rock Solid Productions. She and her husband Michael built their own recording studio and, with her father’s assistance, produced this work of musical art.

Other than the two rock classics she covers on the album – “White Rabbit” and “Stairway to Heaven” – Feaster wrote the music and lyrics for all songs, which range from mellow, folksy tunes to heavy metal. The song “Isle of Apollo,” a bombastic barrage of screaming cello and wobbly bass, is metalcore confection and one of my favorites on the album.

“Bleus” is a superb instrumental that weaves back and forth between languid bluesy interludes and sensual, scratchy jazz riffs demanding your attention.

The beautiful cover of the Led Zeppelin epic “Stairway to Heaven” does justice to my all-time favorite song. Other than the acoustic guitar of Jon Finn, the rest of the strings are cello, which sound amazing!

Support CelloVein by following on Twitter or facebook. Check out more of her music on Spotify or purchase on itunes.

Top 20 Songs for April 24-30, 2016

1. RIDE – twenty øne piløts (4th week at #1)
2. SPIRITS – The Strumbellas
4. 7 YEARS – Lukas Graham
5. GENGHIS KHAN – Miike Snow
6. WALKING ON A DREAM – Empire of the Sun
7. OPHELIA – The Lumineers
10. COLOR – Finish Ticket
11. SOMEBODY ELSE – The 1975
12. BAD REPUTATION – Adelitas Way
13. PRETTY PIMPIN – Kurt Vile
14. REAPERS – Muse
15. ALONE – Sun Arcana
16. TRIP SWITCH – Nothing But Thieves
17. LOVE YOURSELF – Justin Bieber
18. OFF THE GROUND – The Record Company
19. THE POP KIDS – The Pet Shop Boys

Annoying Rock Star Behaviors

Many of us have been to concerts where the artist or band finally appeared on stage after keeping fans waiting a ridiculously long time, or played only new material, completely ignoring the old songs we love, or grossly overcharged for tickets, and so on. Thought I’d share this entertaining article by Andy Greene, entitled “The 10 Most Annoying Rock Star Behaviors,” that appeared in a 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.

Rubber Clown Car

I was recently turned on to Rubber Clown Car, a three-man band hailing from Illinois. Undeniably, one of the best band names ever! Making the music are Dirk Prysby (guitar, lead vocals), Fred Beasley (drums, backing vocals, guitar) and Tony Pantalones (bass, keyboards and everything else).

Their quirky sound is an entertaining mashup of punk, grunge and 60s pop/rock, sort of a Guided By Voices meets The Kinks meets Barenaked Ladies. But don’t let the fun, catchy melodies and deft guitar riffs fool you into thinking their music is as whimsical as their name. Many of their songs have deeper meanings, laying bare the sometimes harsh realities of life, love and relationships.

One of the first songs the band wrote was “Home in the Suburbs,” featured on their debut album Make the Noise.  Band frontman Dirk Prysby stated the song was “about my parent’s dream of the suburbs and how it would solve all our problems (it didn’t).”  The song’s powerful, thought-provoking lyrics are incredibly honest from beginning to end:  “Darling, look at the flowers.  Just 30 more years, and all of this will be ours. Worked so hard to build our future, you spend so much time all alone. But now we spend so much time together, when the kids put us away in a retirement home.

Rubber Clown Car’s latest album Let’s Pretend is a collection of 14 songs that really showcase the band’s wide stylistic range, from the introspective acoustic track “Vampire Polo Hats,” the hard-hitting “Send the Kids to War,” to the funky, danceable “Go, Go Girl.”  I love the lyrics “Daddy’s little princess never does nothing wrong. Behind the wheel she’s everything she’s not.”  

Show these guys support by checking out their website, following them on Twitter, and listening to their music on Soundcloud or Spotify, or purchasing on Bandcamp or itunes.

SunGhosts – “Indecision Incision”

You know those times when you first hear a song and are hit by a blast of adrenalin that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up? Well, that’s what I felt after clicking on a link to a Tweet by the Miami-based indie rock band SunGhosts, which led me to a video of them performing their song “Indecision Incision.” Immediately, I was blown away by their electrifying energy and lead singer Nik Balsiero’s fierce vocals. These guys rip their guitars to shreds, clearly having fun in the process.

The charismatic four-man band includes Nik Balsiero (lead guitar,vocals), Jared Steingold (bass), Arminio Rivero (guitar, backing vocals) and Luis Estopinan (drums, backing vocals). As the band states on their website, they play “the best surf rock sock hop punk rock your ears can taste! Serving up hot and fresh vibes of aggressive positivity. Listening to SunGhosts you have no choice but to be happy!” All true, and I couldn’t have stated it any better myself.

Take a listen to “Indecision Incision” and I promise you’ll be hitting the repeat button. Be sure to turn up the volume!

SunGhosts have a huge following in South Florida, but are gaining fans worldwide through their infectious and eclectic surf/punk/rock sound, not to mention artistic generosity. They recently made a highly entertaining video of their song “Til the City Goes Under” to help promote the Miami music scene and other area artists.

Support these guys and follow them on Twitter and facebook, and listen to their music on Spotify & YouTube, or purchase on iTunes.

Top 20 Songs for April 17-23, 2016

1. RIDE  – twenty øne piløts
2. SPIRITS – The Strumbellas
4. GENGHIS KHAN – Miike Snow
5. 7 YEARS – Lukas Graham
6. WALKING ON A DREAM – Empire of the Sun
7. OPHELIA – The Lumineers
9. PRETTY PIMPIN – Kurt Vile
10. BAD REPUTATION – Adelitas Way
12. COLOR – Finish Ticket
13. SOMEBODY ELSE – The 1975
14. TRIP SWITCH – Nothing But Thieves
15. REAPERS – Muse
16. LOVE YOURSELF – Justin Bieber
17. ALONE – Sun Arcana
20. OFF THE GROUND – The Record Company

Artist Spotlight – The Infinite Eights

Sometimes you come across a band whose sound is so unique that you just have to sit up and take notice. The Infinite Eights is such a band. Hailing from Tampa, Florida, the amazingly talented three-member alternative/indie rock band consists of lead vocalist Parker Wilkson (who also plays lead guitar and keyboards), bass guitarist Davin Norman, and drummer Tyler Hanks. What makes their gorgeous, richly textured music even more remarkable is their young ages; as of April 2016, Parker and Tyler are still high school seniors, while Davin is in college at the University of Tampa. The guys have a maturity well beyond their years, and their kindness and humility are very refreshing.

The Infinite Eights has been playing together for a while and, despite their youth, have already racked up quite a few accomplishments. According to their bio on Soundcloud, they won Crowbar’s annual Battle of the Bands in 2014. Shortly after, the band was the opening act for Aaron Carter, for the Tampa concert of his tour. In May 2015, they opened for Brian Bell’s (of Weezer) band The Relationship, as well as Gringo Star. Other recent engagements in the Tampa Bay area have included performances at Raymond James Stadium, WMNF Radio, Fox 13 News, ABC Action News, Tropical Heatwave Festival, Gasparilla Music Festival, The Orpheum, Orbit 19 and Market on 7th.

In December 2015, the band released their first EP Unfound, a collection of six beautiful tracks that deal with the eternal subjects of love, loss and troubled relationships. The lyrics were all written by Parker, with the music a more collaborative effort. In describing their songs, Tyler stated “I want to spread love with our music. Our music is very emotional and has a good message that I want a lot of people to hear.” Parker added “When people write us online and tell us our song moved something in them, I can’t even describe how much that means to me and the group. It’s the best feeling in the world to know that your music is moving people.”

I can’t emphasize enough how incredibly awesome The Infinite Eights’ music is, even better than that of many seasoned bands with years of experience. At their young age, these guys are already gifted musicians. Their majestic, sweeping sound at times reminds me of Coldplay (one of my all-time favorite bands, I might add), with delicate but formidable piano and keyboards, mesmerizing guitar and strong, though not overwhelming, percussion. Parker’s ethereal, heartfelt vocals perfectly complement the beauty of their music. In addition to Coldplay, the band says their sound is influenced by some of their favorite artists such as U2, New Order, The Smiths, Tears For Fears, The Cure, Muse and One Republic, among others, which explains why their music is so magnificent.

Here are three songs from Unfound that showcase the band’s exceptional talents:

Another beautiful, previously recorded song is “Chasing Fading Lights,” with superb intricate guitar riffs that call to mind the band Interpol:

The Infinite Eights music is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Soundcloud and their website

Top 20 Songs for April 10-16, 2016

1. RIDE – twenty øne piløts
2. SPIRITS – The Strumbellas
3. GENGHIS KHAN – Miike Snow
4. 7 YEARS – Lukas Graham
6. PRETTY PIMPIN – Kurt Vile
7. WALKING ON A DREAM – Empire of the Sun
9. OPHELIA – The Lumineers
10. TRIP SWITCH – Nothing But Thieves
11. BAD REPUTATION – Adelita’s Way
13. COLOR – Finish Ticket
14. SOMEBODY ELSE – The 1975
16. LOVE YOURSELF – Justin Bieber
17. REAPERS – Muse
18. ALONE – Sun Arcana
19. MOUNTAIN AT MY GATES – Foals (22nd wk on chart)
20. STRESSED OUT – twenty øne piløts (30th wk on chart)