Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 29 – Jigsaw Sequence/Machina X, Johnny Ritchie, Novus Cantus, Thunder Fox, Western Jaguar

Friday, May 26th was one of the biggest days for new music releases I can remember, at least in terms of artists and bands I follow, and from what I could tell, at least nine of them released new singles. Because I like all these artists and their songs and want to show them support, I’ve decided to feature them all in a Fresh New Tracks post. To make it easier on me, as well as not overload my readers with too many songs all at once, I’ve broken them into two separate posts. I published the first one two days ago, and this is the second, which includes Scottish synthpop artist Jigsaw Sequence with British electro-pop artist Machina X, American singer-songwriter Johnny Ritchie, American Baroque pop duo Novus Cantus, Australian soul-funk-pop-rock band Thunder Fox, and Canadian alt-rock band Western Jaguar. I’ve previously featured all these acts on my blog, with the exception of Jigsaw Sequence. And true to my blog’s name, each of these five songs couldn’t be more different from one another.

Jigsaw Sequence + Machina X – “Late to the Party”

Jigsaw Sequence is the music project of Scottish synthpop artist Richard Tracey, and Machina X (aka Annie) is an electro-pop artist based in Yorkshire, England. The two talented individuals have been making music both as solo artists and in collaborations with others, and recently teamed up to write and record a great new synthpop dance single “Late to the Party.” The song and collaboration marks a resurgence for Annie, after she experienced a bit of a slump, as she recently acknowledged on Twitter: “In the last 6 months I’ve thought a lot about closing the door on making music because it feels so much harder than it did. Thank you Jigsaw Sequence for believing there was more inside, and collaborating with me.

In contrast to the exuberant, pulsating dance beat and luxurious retro 80s synth grooves, the lyrics are rather bittersweet, speaking of living in denial about a relationship that’s breaking apart, hoping things will turn around. Machina X’s lilting vocals are wonderful and heartfelt as she sings “Behind a mask where no-one sees. Hiding for the sake of sanity, ‘cos hearts like mine bruise easily when they’re washed up on the shore. Late to the party. Always early to leave. Scared by the truth, but always wanting to believe.”

Johnny Ritchie – “Chirp”

Johnny Ritchie is an engaging, intelligent and wildly imaginative young singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who I’ve previously featured three times on this blog. Originally from Indiana, Johnny’s now living in Spokane, Washington. With a lifelong love for music, he began learning to play piano and drums as a child, then went on to study Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music at Columbia College Chicago, and in 2020 earned a B.A. degree in Music at Western Michigan University. He now has his own business teaching others to play piano, keyboards and drums, as well as giving lessons in music theory, songwriting and improvisation. He also writes and records music in which he fuses alternative and experimental rock with neo-psychedelia and contemporary jazz to create incredibly fascinating and sophisticated soundscapes.

Ever-creative and continually willing to push musical boundaries, every new release of his sounds totally original and distinctive. His latest single “Chirp” is an unusual instrumental piece that couldn’t be any more different from his previous alternative psychedelic hip-hop single “Elite Deviance”. Already his fourth single of 2023, with another one on the way in a couple weeks, “Chirp” is the first that Johnny’s both recorded and produced entirely by himself. Featuring a relaxing synth groove, accompanied by deep bass and punctuated by a sharp percussive beat and beguiling piano trills, the song also features delicate bird chirps throughout that lend a charming atmospheric air to the proceedings. Johnny never fails to dazzle my senses with each release, and I cannot wait to hear what new experimental sounds he comes up with next!

Novus Cantus – “Caterpillar”

Novus Cantus is an innovative music act comprised of brothers Alexander (vocals and guitar) and Christian Herasimtschuk (drums and percussion). Based in the Hudson River Valley roughly halfway between Albany and New York City, the duo draw from a broad and eclectic mix of influences ranging from traditional ethnic music like flamenco and Hungarian folk, to classical Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque, to alternative rock, in the creation of their uniquely enchanting and exotic sound. They’ve been performing and recording together since 2010, and have released a fair amount of music. I’ve written about them four times over the past five years, most recently when I reviewed their hauntingly beautiful Civil War-themed song “Georgia”. 

Now they’re back with “Caterpillar“, a bewitching song originally written for a children’s concert last year that the brothers decided was too good to not release as a single. The lyrics tell the story of a humble-looking caterpillar who starts out crawling upon the ground and feeding on plants (“and I walked in the cool of the night“), then climbs into the trees to become a chrysalis (“and I slept in the cool of the night“), finally emerging as a beautiful butterfly (“and I flew in the cool of the night“). The most striking aspect of the song for me are the beautiful sounds from a Wot, a Thai pan flute played by Christian. I love how his fluttering notes evoke the sounds of a butterfly’s wings unfolding for the first time. Of course, Alex’s lovely acoustic guitar and warm, emotive vocals, accompanied by Christian’s percussive beats, are really wonderful too.

Thunder Fox – “Feels Like Forever”

Mere words cannot express how much I adore Australian band Thunder Fox. The Sydney-based five-piece is one of the most creative, wickedly funny and insanely talented – not to mention sexiest – acts I’ve ever encountered, and have gushed about them and their music numerous times on this blog over the past four years. Now comprised of the charismatic and silky-voiced Sam Dawes (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Travers Keirle (Sax/Vocals/Rhymes), Jesse Tachibana (Trumpet/Vocals/Synths), Max Vallentine (Drums), and Casey Allan (Bass), they skillfully blend generous helpings of funk, soul, blues rock, hip hop, jazz and pop into their delectable music stew. And while their often bawdy lyrics and playful antics would seem to indicate a juvenile zaniness, their music has a stylish and jazzy sophistication, thanks to their great songwriting and musicianship, including having both a saxophone and trumpet player in their lineup.

They’ve released an impressive amount of music since 2015, including three terrific albums – Mother Machine in 2016, Love at First Sniff in 2019, and Sanctuary in 2021 – the most recent two of which I’ve reviewed. One of the singles from Sanctuary, “Head in the Clouds” reached #4 on my Weekly Top 30, and ranks #47 on my 100 Best Songs of 2022 list. On their new single “Feels Like Forever“, Thunder Fox channels Prince, Morris Day & the Time and James Brown to create a rousing slab of old-school soulful funk. I love the song’s stomping groove, courtesy of Casey’s deliciously funky bass and Max’s spirited drumbeats, and fortified with Sam’s gnarly riffs, Travers’ hot and jazzy sax notes, and Jesse’s bold trumpet blasts. It’s one of the most exuberant songs they’ve released in a long while, and I love it!

Western Jaguar – “Better Daze”

Hailing from the picturesque Fraser River Valley of British Columbia, east of Vancouver, alt-rock act Western Jaguar was born in 2012 when singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Trainor turned to music to get him out of a low point in his life. With the help of an evolving lineup of musicians, Western Jaguar released three stellar EPs and several singles between 2013 and 2019, including their beautiful song “Disappear”, which went to #1 on my Weekly Top 30 in 2019. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, bringing things to a halt for just about every musician and band, the social isolation gave Jeffrey time to reflect on how unhappy he’d become as a musician. He’d become fixated on, in his own words, “likes, a following, positive feedback…and became hyper focused on making music other people liked.” By the end of 2020, he decided he didn’t want to make music anymore, essentially walking away from Western Jaguar, which he conveniently blamed on the pandemic.

Thankfully, after a long break he came to realize that, just like in 2012, music could once again lift him out of his slump. He decided to resurrect Wester Jaguar as essentially a solo act, and beginning last November, went to work writing and recording songs in his home studio for what would become his new album Oblivion, scheduled for release on July 7th. For the recording of the album, Jeffrey sang vocals and played most instruments, though his former Western Jaguar bandmates Davis MacKenzie Zand played bass and AJ Buckley played electric guitar and drums, and sang backing vocals on two tracks, and KC Roces played electric guitar on a third track.

The first single from the album is “Better Daze“, a poignant song about going through hard times after a tragedy and trying to get back to better days. Musically, the song has an upbeat dream pop feel, with a breezy melody, beautiful chiming guitars and snappy drums. Jeffrey’s clear, pleasing vocals have a hint of sadness as he sings the lyrics about a woman named Suzie, whose fiance Harold died suddenly after a fall in the shower just before they were due to be married. Suzie falls into a deep depression, and with the best of intentions, her father insists she take medication to help improve her mood. Unfortunately, the drugs only make her feel worse: “Suzie’s felt worse since the medicine. Her lungs are burning and she can’t breath in. Her father insists on the vice, it’s the only way for a normal life. But a normal life was lost last June when Harold fell in the bathroom. She hasn’t taken them for 6 weeks. If only it was that easy. Her father asks if she’s feeling well. She gives him a smile though she feels like hell. She wants him to think that she’s okay, even though she’s thinking of better daze.”

It’s a wonderful, albeit melancholy song, and it’s great to have Western Jaguar back. I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the songs on Oblivion.

BEALBY POINT – Single Review: “America”

One of my favorite indie bands I’ve gotten to know over the past few years is Vancouver, British Columbia-based four-piece Bealby Point. Named after a local beachside vacation spot, they’re comprised of four childhood friends, Jack Armstrong (lead vocals), Clayton Dewar (lead guitar), Jordan Studer (bass), and Zack Yeager (drums). I love their buoyant, high-energy alternative/garage rock they cheekily call “music to fold laundry to“, which has earned them favorable comparisons to such bands as The Strokes. Their description of themselves as “approachable guys making cool music” is genuine, based on the mutual respect, camaraderie, and joy of spending time together that’s so evident in all their photos and little acoustic performance sessions they frequently post on TikTok and Instagram.

Beginning with the release of their debut single “I’m So Bummed Out Right Now” in February 2021 (which I featured in an installment of Fresh New Tracks, and has been streamed over half a million times on Spotify) the engaging four-piece continued dropping a series of excellent singles, including the brilliant “Talk To Me”, which I also reviewed and earned a spot on my Top 100 Songs of 2021 list. They released an EP Fridays in July 2022, and on May 10th, dropped their latest single “America“, a song they say is about falling in love, then falling out of love in tragedy. When I asked the band why they used “America” as the title and the subject of a romantic relationship, drummer Zack told me “The idea to personify America as a girl is tied to the idea of the American dream, [with] living a happy successful life basically culminated into a relationship. All of your hopes and dreams, ambitions and expectations, crushed by falling out of love.”

Like all their music, “America” was recorded and produced by Matt Di Pomponio, however, the song is a bit of a departure from their previous work, with a more serious, introspective vibe. I love how it opens with a gentle fuzz-coated riff, then launches right into the anthemic chorus. As always, the guys’ instrumentation and musicianship are outstanding, with Jack and Clay’s vibrant guitars accompanied by Jordan’s sturdy bassline and Zack’s spirited drums. I really like Jack’s warm, plaintive vocals as he sings of the joys of a new love in the opening chorus: “America, she loves me. I thought it couldn’t be I get down on my knees and scream America. Her shoulder rests on mine, I’ll be here for a lifetime“, then turn emotionally-wrought in the final chorus as he laments about how their love now lies in ruins: “America, I’m a human being. The faults that lie in fate that I don’t want to make. Fuck sakes America. Her shoulder rests on mine. Now let me drift away and wallow desperately again.”

“America” is yet another superb track by this talented and wonderful group of guys, and I remain a loyal fan!

Connect with Bealby Point:  Facebook / Twitter / InstagramTikTok

Find their music on  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud / YouTube / BandcampAmazon

Artist Spotlight – Chris Mardula

I seem to be in a pattern of writing about British artists lately (this is my seventh in a row!), but truth be told, they reach out to me about their music far more often than artists from any other countries, including the U.S. Today, I’m shining a spotlight on Chris Mardula, a singer-songwriter from Durham County in Northeast England. His music style is strongly informed with elements of folk, indie rock and blues.

A seasoned musician, he’s played in several bands over the years, but often felt frustrated by uneven levels of commitment by other members. He told me that with everyone having other responsibilities, it was often difficult getting everyone on the same page. Sick and tired of having to rely on other people, he eventually decided to move forward on his own as a solo artist. “I’ve had all of these songs just sitting there doing nothing for years. I thought to myself, it’s time I do something with them and get them out there to be heard. If there’s only me, there’s no excuses. So I built myself a little studio in the house and got busy making a few demos and writing some new tracks.

Last November, Chris began releasing songs at the rate of one per month, starting with a lovely demo titled “Don’t let me down“. Consisting of just his strummed acoustic guitar and heartfelt vocals, the song is a poignant folk ballad about a fragile relationship. He assures his partner that he’ll be there for her, imploring her to not let him down: “Please stop complaining over things that I do. If you’re not so happy, you know what to do. Said I’d be there, I guess I always will. Just don’t let me down, C’mon now, don’t let me down. Cause this time is gonna be the last.” Listening to his pleasing vocals, I could easily be convinced that Chris was from Nashville or Austin instead of Northeast England.

He followed in December with his first official single “Take It Or Leave It“, which is my favorite song he’s released thus far. Written several years ago, Chris says the song is about living in a small town, making the most of it and finding your way forward while getting through the drag of everyday life, and how things usually turn out alright in the end. For this song, he layers beautiful programmed strings and vibrant percussion over strummed guitar notes, creating a stirring cinematic backdrop for his warm vocals as he fervently sings “Taking chances on the outside. I’m on the outside looking in. See my friends and see their faces. And all the places that we’ve been. So take it or leave it. Seen it all before. Take it or leave it. Cause you know you wanted more.”

In January, he dropped “Fade Away“, a beautiful rock song with a more powerful feel than his previous two. Chris’s guitar work is quite impressive as he unleashes an onslaught of scorching riffs over a background of strummed guitars, sweeping strings and riotous percussion. The lyrics seem to speak to the enduring pain over the death of a friend or loved one that refuses to fade away. “Days since he left me, was the day that he died. Still I can’t forget you, still here in my mind. Why can’t it all just fade away?” The song’s compelling video features footage shot by Chris, Craig Addison and Ella Brown.

February saw the release of “Catch a Fire“, an impactful rock song about not continuing to waste our precious time, and to keep pushing forward through the obstacles and pain life throws our way, in order to achieve our dreams and become a better person. The song has a bit of a Southern rock vibe, thanks to Chris’s splendid mix of bluesy and twangy guitars.

His most recent release “Calm In The Storm” is a terrific bluesy instrumental, where his skills on the guitar, piano and drums are allowed to really shine.

While it could be argued that the music world has more than enough ‘guys with guitars’ to go around, I think the quality of his songs places Chris near the top of a crowded field. Based on the five tracks he’s released so far, I’d say that he’s a pretty talented songwriter, musician and vocalist with a promising future. I also like that each of those five songs sounds completely different, a testament to his ability to reach across genres. He’s now putting the finishing touches on his debut album Monumental Horizons, which he plans on releasing later this year.

Here are his songs on Spotify:

Connect with Chris: FacebookTwitterInstagram

Find his music on SpotifyApple MusicAmazon MusicSoundcloudYouTube

Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 25 – Au Gres, DeadWax, gimbal.lock

For my latest Fresh New Tracks installment, I’m once again featuring for my readers’ listening enjoyment three great new releases by acts who couldn’t be more different from each other. They are, in alphabetical order, Michigan-based singer-songwriter Au Gres (who I’ve previously featured three times on this blog), British alternative grime rock band DeadWax, and German atmospheric rock band gimbal.lock (with the latter two acts being new to me).

Au Gres – “leaving”

Photo by Bryan Hugo Iglesias

Au Gres is the music project of talented and affable Michigan-based singer-songwriter Joshua Kemp. (He named his act after the small town of Au Gres in rural northern Michigan where he vacationed as a youth with his family, and holds special meaning for him.) Influenced by such acts as Dayglow, COIN and Hippo Campus, he blends elements of indie rock, lo-fi and synth pop to create pleasing songs that he records in his little DIY home studio. I first learned about him in the fall of 2020, when he released his sweet debut single “Nervous”. He followed in February 2021 with the beautiful “At Home in the Dark”, then a year later with “do you think we’re old enough”. I reviewed all three songs, with the one for “Nervous” garnering 1,162 views thus far. In just a year and a half, he’s become quite a successful artist, garnering impressive numbers on many of the streaming platforms; “do you think we’re old enough” has earned more than 365,000 plays on Spotify alone, and “Nervous” over 208,000. He dropped his fourth single “used to be” in November 2022, and on March 29th, he released his fifth and latest single “leaving“.

With its dreamy melody, sparkling synths and exuberant guitars, Dayglow’s influence on “leaving” is strongly evident, and in fact, Au Gres’ vocals even sound like Dayglow front man Sloan Struble here. In an article premiering the song on Atwood Magazine, Au Gres discussed his inspiration behind “leaving”: “I went through a lot of changes this year and I noticed the way I started to feel about myself was changing too. I wasn’t able to identify it at first, but retrospectively, I was putting a lot of my identity in things that actually had very little to do with me. Things like my career or friends or how much money I had saved. I guess the message here is to not define yourself by external, ever-changing things. Instead, figure out who you are at a core level so you’ll be better equipped to deal with change.” It’s a gorgeous song, and just might be my favorite by him yet.

Connect with Au Gres:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

DeadWax – “Northern Behaviour”

I haven’t come across an act that calls their sound ‘alternative grime rock’ before, but after listening to the music of northern English four-piece DeadWax, I think it’s the perfect descriptor. Comprised of frontman Jake Milburn (lead vocals), Solomon Price (bass), Henry Skinner (guitar) and Ben Millington (drums), together they make raw, in-your-face musical mayhem drawn from alternative rock, rap rock, hip hop, funk and hardcore punk, to name but a few of the influences I hear. Their music calls to mind such legendary acts as the Beastie Boys, Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine, though their sound is uniquely their own. They’ve released only a handful of singles, starting with “Heavy Temptation” in 2019, but have gained a reputation for their explosive sound and high-energy live shows.

On March 30th, DeadWax dropped their latest single “Northern Behaviour” a stupendous little blast of dynamite they call “A lil homage to how we grew up together in the North, grafting on building sites n laughing at each other in the pissin rain.” Jake elaborates: “The track is born from our time working as labourers on a derelict building site in Holmfirth. Sol and I worked there for about 2 years, doing anything from putting up scaffolding to moving literally tons and tons of dirt by hand. Doing that job, we always used to say it was ‘character building’ and in fairness, it gave us some serious motivation to get out of it. I wanted to pay homage to where we came from and how we got there, and taking the idea of ‘northern-ness’ and saying, yeah it might be gloomy and rough sometimes, but its fuckin’ great here, and we wouldn’t have changed anything about how and where we grew up together.” Well, I must say the song’s fuckin’ great too, a maelstrom of combustible rhythms, raging riffs and Jake’s furious vocals, fueled by a healthy dose of bravado.

DeadWax have a number of shows scheduled this month, so click on this link for details.

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gimbal.lock – “Fantasy”

The curiously-named gimbal.lock is a fairly new German atmospheric rock act located near Munich. Comprised of Ralph Bayer (guitar, lead vocals), Tom Geissler (drums) and Zsolt Themes (guitar, backing vocals), all are seasoned musicians who’ve played in various bands for several years. I asked Ralph about their unusual name, and he told me ‘gimbal lock’ is a technical term for the phenomenon that occurs in a three-dimensional rotation system where the rotation axes unexpectedly align, causing the system to lose one degree of freedom. He’s a mechanical engineer working in the field of space robotics, and decided upon the name to reflect their music’s singularly unique and unexpected sound.

On February 24th, they released their debut single “Fantasy“, a beautiful song the band says “is meant to inspire the listener to let their imagination run free and escape reality with all its obstacles for a short time.” The guys recorded, produced and mixed the track themselves, with mastering done by Charles H. Root, III at Electric Owl Works in South Wales, New York. The song opens with soothing sounds of waves gently breaking on a beach, which are soon joined by strummed acoustic guitar notes. The music gradually expands to include a bold bass line, thumping drumbeats and glittery synths as Ralph beckons us to let our minds embrace a sense of euphoria and joy: “Close your eyes and follow me. Use your fantasy and free your mind. Forget your pain and touch the sky.” For me, the musical highlight of the song is its enchanting Middle Eastern flavor, thanks to the use of exotic instruments like the buzuq, a long-necked Arabic fretted lute, and the santoor, a trapezoid-shaped Indian hammered dulcimer. “Fantasy” is a promising debut from gimbal.lock, and I’m eager to hear more music from them!

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Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 24 – 9fm, Callum Pitt, Refeci ft. Shimmer Johnson

For my latest edition of Fresh New Tracks, I’ve chosen three great new singles from a group of very talented acts I’ve previously featured on my blog: New Jersey-based indie artist 9fm, British singer-songwriter Callum Pitt, and Canadian-American singer-songwriter Shimmer Johnson, in a stunning collaboration with Danish electronic artist Refeci, who’s new to me.

9fm – “Lesson Learned”

9fm (short for Ninth Floor Mannequin) is the music project of hyper-creative New Jersey-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jarrod Pedone. Drawing influences from some of his favorite artists like Paul Simon, Fleet Foxes and James Blake, Pedone melds elements of folk, alternative rock and synth pop to create fascinating songs with a pleasing, often otherworldly vibe. He’s also a huge fan of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone, as well as the more recent Twilight Zone-influenced British sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror, and many of his song lyrics are based on particular episodes of those shows. I’ve written about his music several times over the past five years, most recently in May 2021 when I reviewed his brilliant EP First One, Ninth Fifteen.

Now he’s back with a new single “Lesson Learned“, which was inspired by The Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last”, which first aired in November 1959. Starring Burgess Meredith as Harry Bemis, a frustrated bank teller who loves books but is surrounded by people who do all they can to prevent him from reading them, “Time Enough at Last” follows him through a post-apocalyptic world after a nuclear war has destroyed everyone and everything around him. The season one episode became one the most popular of the entire Twilight Zone series.

For the recording of the track, Pedone played all instruments, as well as handled the mixing and mastering. The beautiful artwork for the single was created by Jordan Campbell. Like many of his songs, “Lesson Learned” has a dark undercurrent, highlighted by an aggressive stomping beat and fuzzy cinematic synths. His echoed vocals have a haunting, ethereal quality that suits the subject matter quite nicely as he croons “Ooooh lesson learned, and it took too long. Who’d have known to take what you can while you can’t see the end of the story. Do what you would if you could but while you still can. And when there’s a will, find a way, ‘cause it won’t just stay waiting stay waiting.

Connect with 9fm: Twitter / Instagram
Find his music on SpotifySoundcloud / iTunes / Bandcamp 

CALLUM PITT – “Fraction of a Second”

Callum Pitt is a thoughtful and talented singer-songwriter from Newcastle Upon Tyne in northeast England. Inspired by the music of such artists as Elliott Smith, Julien Baker, Adrianne Lenker, Sufjan Stevens, The War on Drugs and Fleet Foxes, he creates, in his own words, “indie-folk with a grand, orchestral, chamber pop sensibility plus an alt-rock edge”. His music is characterized by lush harmonies, captivating melodies, and honest, meaningful lyrics touching on subjects like depression and anxiety, and social and political unrest, delivered with his soft, pleasing vocals. Since 2017, he’s released an impressive number of singles as well as a four-track EP Poisoned Reveries in 2019. His beautiful second single “Least He’s Happy” has been streamed more than two million times on Spotify, with several other singles garnering over 100,000 streams. I’ve previously written about three of his songs, most recently last November when I reviewed his beautiful single “Mayfly”. The song is enjoying a long run on my Weekly Top 30, where it currently sits at #8.

Now Callum returns with his latest single “Fraction of a Second“, a heartfelt song about the night he came perilously close to losing his mom, dad and brother to a motor vehicle accident. It’s the third single from his forthcoming debut album In the Balance, due for release on June 2nd. The song has a melancholy yet hopeful feel, and features a buoyant drumbeat overlain with delicate sweeping synths, beautifully-strummed guitar notes, lovely piano keys and vibrant strings. As always, Callum’s smooth vocals are comforting and warm as he sings of his gratitude that his family safely survived the crash: “And I don’t know what I’d do, if that truck had taken all of you, I think the moon may disappear. But a fraction of a second kept you here.”

Connect with Callum:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Find his music on  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud / Bandcamp / Amazon

REFECI featuring SHIMMER JOHNSON – “Essence”

Refeci is a brilliant Danish DJ and electronic house music producer who’s been making music since his mid teens, both as a solo artist and a collaborator with numerous musicians and vocalists. Now 23 years old, he’s released an impressive amount of music since 2016, and five of his singles have garnered many millions of streams on Spotify alone.

Shimmer Johnson is a singer-songwriter and musician with the voice of an angel. Originally from Edmonton, Canada with professional ties to Los Angeles, Shimmer has an incredibly beautiful and resonant singing voice. In addition to her amazing vocal talents, she’s also a fine guitarist and pianist, and has collaborated with several songwriters and producers to create an impressive repertoire of outstanding songs over the past several years. She started out singing Country songs, but eventually branched out into adult contemporary pop, rock and dance music, all of which she manages to handle with ease. I’ve written about her numerous times on this blog, and one of the songs I’ve featured, her terrific dance single “Starts With You”, went all the way to #1 on my Weekly Top 30.

Refeci and Shimmer recently teamed up to create a captivating dance song “Essence“, released through the LOUDKLOUT label on February 17th. Refeci’s pulsating dance beats are overlain with hauntingly beautiful piano chords and gauzy atmospheric synths, creating a mesmerizing and sensuous soundscape for Shimmer’s enchanting ethereal vocals that transport us to a dreamy, faraway place. The simple lyrics speak to the importance of remaining true to oneself: “Don’t ever ever doubt your life. Make a wish and just believe. Find the path that’s right. It’s the essence of life.” The fascinating music video produced for the track features scenic footage of such diverse locales as China, the Sahara Desert and Cape Town, South Africa, interspersed with scenes of people of different ethnicities and cultures expressing a range of emotions.

Connect with Shimmer:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Find her music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Bandcamp

Connect with Refeci: FacebookTwitterInstagram

Find his music on SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudAmazon Music

Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 23 – Frank Joshua, Ryan Redwood, Scoopski

Time for another installment of Fresh New Tracks, and once again, I’m featuring three wonderful new releases by artists who couldn’t be more different from each other. They are, in alphabetical order, British singer-songwriter Frank Joshua, British singer-songwriter Ryan Redwood, and Philadelphia-based power pop act Scoopski.

FRANK JOSHUA – “Bluebell Wood”

Frank Joshua is a rather enigmatic but astonishingly-talented singer-songwriter and producer based in London. I recently learned about him from a marvelous WordPress blog I follow called Less Than 1,000 Followers that’s featured him numerous times, and it was love at first listen. Mr. Joshua has one of the most enthralling singing voices I’ve heard in a long while, and I was blown away the moment I began listening to his music. As napsebasty, the blogger who reviewed Frank’s stunning latest album Talk of Things so beautifully put it, “Frank Joshua’s poetic and far-reaching songs nestle deep in the visceral side of life, describing states of mind that can’t always be pinpointed or explained.” Wanting his music to speak for itself, he never shares any photos or details of himself, and in fact, his Twitter name is “Frank Joshua // No Face Just Music”. Despite his wish to remain somewhat anonymous, it hasn’t kept him from engaging with his fans and showing genuine appreciation toward them. Case in point, after I merely commented on Twitter and Facebook posts about loving his music, he immediately thanked and followed me on both sites.

Frank has released an impressive amount of music in only two years, including two albums and numerous singles. His latest is “Bluebell Wood“, a song so enchanting that I had to feature it on my own blog. The song has a beautiful piano-driven melody, overlain with dreamy synths and an exotic vibe that feels Latin at times, then Middle Eastern later on. Frank’s silky vocals are warm and comforting in the vein of crooners like Michael Bublé or Michael Feinstein, only better. The lyrics, written by Simon Pitheakley, seem to speak of a new couple tentatively exploring their budding romantic relationship, careful to not dive in too quickly, nor do or say anything hurtful toward one another.

The whimsical video, directed and filmed in grayscale by Diego Monfredini and inspired by the 1930s animations of Wladyslaw Starewicz, shows a young girl who appears to be sick in bed, with her mother sitting nearby, keeping a watchful eye. When the mother dozes off, the girl’s toys come to life, embarking on a myriad of adventures, while an innocent ballerina becomes temporarily entrapped in a spider’s web before freeing herself. Once the mother wakes up, all appears to be well, with her daughter happily sitting up and cradling one of her dolls.

Connect with Frank:  FacebookTwitterInstagram 

Find his music on SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud YouTube

RYAN REDWOOD – “Once Again”

Ryan Redwood is a charming, hard-working and affable young singer-songwriter based in Lowestoft, England. I’ve been following him since early 2018, when he was lead vocalist for alternative indie rock band The Only Route, and reviewed several of their singles. After the band called it quits at the end of 2019, Ryan soldiered on as a solo artist, writing and recording songs influenced by some of his favorite acts like Oasis, The Charlatans, Catfish and The Bottlemen and Blossoms. He released his first single “Perhaps” in December 2020, and since then has released several more singles. Last September, I reviewed his previous single “All Said and Done”, and now Ryan is back with a fine new single “Once Again“. 

The song is a buoyant rocker, highlighted by Ryan’s energetic jangly guitars and snappy drumbeats. I like how the melody and tempo transition in the final minute of the song to a slow, driving cadence with aggressive guitar notes. And I’ve always liked his smooth but earnest vocal style, and how his strong accent shines through. The lyrics are directed to a former romantic partner, thanking them for supporting and loving you when you needed it most, and now that the relationship has ended, that there are no hard feelings over whatever shit may have transpired between the two of you in the past. Ryan told me the line “Fall back when you need a friend” is an assurance to a former lover that you’ll still be there for them should they need it one day. It’s another great single from Ryan, and I’ll surely continue to follow along on his musical journey.

Connect with Ryan:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Find his music on  Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube

SCOOPSKI – “Double”

Scoopski is a hilarious and wildly-creative power pop act from Philadelphia comprised of Scoopski, who sings, writes songs, plays guitar and bass, and produces, and Mrs. Scoopski, who also sings and writes songs, as well as plays piano and synths. As for their music style and sound, since I couldn’t describe it better myself, I’ll just quote from their bio: “Their songs range from lighthearted and even silly, to serious, emotional and heartfelt, all with the common theme of strong hooks and love of melody.” Listening to several of their songs, their sound to my ears is a delightful mashup of The Barenaked Ladies, Weezer and Blink-182. Some have zany titles and subjects, like “Dad Bod”, “Elon, Send Me to Mars”, “Pineapple of My Eye” and “Emergency Joyride”. Over the past three years, the prolific couple have released an impressive amount of music, including three 12-track albums – Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia, Things Are Fine and See You Soon – plus two EPs and several singles.

Their latest offering is “Double“, a song directed toward a hypocritical person you thought you knew well, with an exasperating set of rules for others that they refuse to follow themselves. Scoopski beautifully articulate these sentiments in straightforward, highly-relatable lyrics “Tell me again, what were the rules? They seem a little different for you. Am I seeing double? Or just double standards? Is the message getting through? I’m singing these words loud and true. When you’re hearing double, you won’t have an answer.” The delightful song features a bouncy, foot-stomping tempo overlain with terrific strummed guitar notes, lively piano keys, and exuberant percussion. I really like Mr. and Mrs. Scoopski’s endearing vocals and harmonies, which keep the song from becoming too overly serious. The clever, entertaining video they made for the song stars Scoopski DJ Juan Hedley, and follows a mask-collecting adventure game. Great stuff!

Connect with Scoopski:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Find their music on SpotifyApple Music Bandcamp / Soundcloud 

CALLUM PITT – Single Review: “Mayfly”

Callum Pitt is a thoughtful and talented singer-songwriter based in Newcastle Upon Tyne in northeast England. Inspired by the music of such artists as Elliott Smith, Julien Baker, Adrianne Lenker, Sufjan Stevens, The War on Drugs and Fleet Foxes, he creates, in his own words, “indie-folk with a grand, orchestral, chamber pop sensibility plus an alt-rock edge”. His music is characterized by lush harmonies, captivating melodies, and honest, meaningful lyrics touching on subjects like depression and anxiety, and social and political unrest, delivered with his soft, pleasing vocals. In other words, his songs are beautiful.

He began writing and singing songs in this teens, performing in pubs and small venues in and around Newcastle. He released his wonderful debut single “You’d Better Sell It While You Can” in 2017, and in the years since, he’s dropped an impressive number of singles as well as a four-track EP Poisoned Reveries in 2019. His beautiful second single “Least He’s Happy” has been streamed more than two million times on Spotify, with several other singles garnering over 100,000 streams. He’s also earned accolades such as the Alan Hull Songwriting Award for songwriters in 2019, and participated in the Fender Player Plus competition in 2022.

Photos by Daniel Stark

I’ve previously reviewed two of Callum’s singles, both in 2020: “Fault Lines” (which spent 10 weeks on my Top 30 chart and ranks at #84 on my Top 100 Songs of 2020 list), and “Sea of Noise”. Now he’s back with his first new music in two years almost to the day, a lovely, deeply personal single “Mayfly“. The song was written and composed by Callum, who sang lead vocals and played acoustic and electric guitars and keyboards. Additional musicians performing on the track include Luke Elgie on bass, Gavin Christie on drums, John Martindale on percussion, Ada Francis and Jodie Nicholson on backing vocals, Alex Saxon, who wrote and played the saxophone line, and James Leonard Hewitson on trumpet. The track was co-produced by Callum and John Martindale, who also engineered and mixed it at Blank Studios. Mastering was done by Robin Schmidt.

The song is essentially about adulthood, and Callum’s feelings of apprehension over the responsibilities he’ll face as a potential parent, fearing he might not be up to the task: “I’m 28 now, eventually not feeling like a teenager anymore and probably will have my own children in a few years’ time. ‘Mayfly’ talks about that worry I have that living with anxiety and bouts of depression will mean I will never be able to provide that emotional stability that children will require. It’s quite a hopeful song though, as I still have a few years yet, and mainly talks about the ambition that I’ll be more emotionally stable and at peace as the years go by. I often look at people in their 30s and 40s and think they appear very at peace, but maybe there are always relative struggles and difficult things to overcome, and we always have to cherish the highs and know that the lows are inevitable.”

“Mayfly” has a lively, upbeat melody that contrasts with the poignant lyrics. One of the many things I like about the song is how each instrument is allowed to shine. With every new listen I hear little instrumental nuances, like the perfect melding of acoustic guitar notes and delicate piano chords in the verses, and how the drums become more intense in the choruses, accompanied by glorious exuberant riffs and swirling keyboards. Callum’s smooth vocals are both comforting and heartfelt, backed by Ada and Jodie’s lovely harmonies, and Alex’s bold saxophone in the final chorus is the icing on the musical cake. It’s another wonderful song by Callum.

The lovely video, filmed and directed by Sel MacLean, shows Callum singing the song in various indoor and outdoor settings in an around Newcastle.

Those of you in the UK can catch Callum at one of these upcoming shows:

Saturday, Nov 19 – The Common Room of the Great North, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Saturday, Nov 26 – Songs From Northern Britain @ The Georgian Theatre, Stockton-on-tees

Saturday, Dec 10 – Avoid Shit Xmas Parties, The Central, Gateshead

Connect with Callum:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  Bandcamp / Amazon

New Song of the Week: “If I Could Fall Into the Skies” by Marianne Kesler

Marianne Kesler is a Dayton, Ohio-based singer-songwriter with a life-long love for music. A prolific artist, she’s been writing and recording music for over 25 years, and has released five albums and more than 10 singles as a solo artist. She’s also collaborated with numerous other artists, including neo-soul/pop/folk artist Leah Thompson, with whom she co-wrote over 30 songs, as well as her friend Kate Stanton, as part of a duo named Every Lovely Thing, who I featured in an Artist Spotlight nearly four years ago. On top of all that, she’s also written a three-volume trilogy of free verse poetry/prose and photography.

Her pleasing style of folk/pop has earned her comparisons to such artists as Judy Collins, Carole King, Aimee Mann and Sheryl Crow. In fact, she cheekily describes her sound this way: “Imagine if Joni Mitchell got together with Leonard Cohen for a writing session at the coffeehouse where Neil Young and the Counting Crows were playing, folk artist Jan Krist was singing, Tori & Fiona were pouting, Over The Rhine & Aimee Mann opened, and Santana stopped by to play some smokin’ guitar…Yeah, It sounds something like that!

Today, Marianne has dropped a hauntingly beautiful new single “If I Could Fall Into the Skies“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week. Her first release of 2022, it’s a melodically simple but impactful song, dominated by a somber but lovely piano movement, and accompanied by airy synths that create an enchanting backdrop for her gentle, ethereal vocals. My only criticism, and it’s a minor one, is that I wish Marianne’s vocals were a bit more pronounced, as the bold piano keys sometimes overpower her delicate vocals. Otherwise, it’s a wonderful track.

The bittersweet lyrics speak of wanting to know someone – perhaps a romantic interest, but it could apply to any special friendship – better, but being unable to break through to them:

If I could fall into the skies
If I could fall into your eyes
If I could somehow find a way 
I would stay … I would stay.

Staring at the water it appears as though the world is upside down
Summer skies reflected there are shimmering like clouds upon the ground         
I could jump right now … If I just knew how

Gazing in your eyes I glimpse a depth I’ve never noticed there before
Subtle undertow beneath the surface has me aching to explore           
I could jump right now … If I just knew how
If I could fall into the skies
If I could fall into your eyes
If I could somehow find a way 
I would stay … I would stay.

Standing on the edge with everything I’ve ever wanted down below
Painfully aware I’ve never told you how I feel or let you know             
But I could jump right now … If I just knew how
Catch a falling star … Landing where you are 

Starlit skies … In your eyes
Upside down … Spun around 
’Til the world seems out of focus as I fall …

If I could fall into the skies
If I could fall into your eyes
If I could somehow find a way 
I would stay … I would stay ...
I would stay … I would stay ...
I would stay … I would stay.

Marianne created a stunning video to accompany the song, about which she has this to say: “This song was inspired by seeing how the sky was reflected through a window onto my glass top desk ~ looking as though I could fall right into it! I tried to shoot video footage that captured this same ‘world upside down’ reflection (mostly on water) to add visuals to these lyrics of longing.”

Connect with Marianne:  FacebookTwitter 

Stream her music:  SpotifyApple MusicYouTube

DAN SZYLLER – Album Review: “The Celestial Immigrant”

Album artwork by Sumit Roy

Dan Szyller is an imaginative and earnest Brazilian singer-songwriter and musician currently based in Metz, France. Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, he also spent time living in the U.S. and Israel before emigrating to France, and those life experiences led him to write and record songs for his debut album The Celestial Immigrant. Dan says “It’s the story of many travels I have made and places I have been in my life, mostly as an immigrant.” The album, written and recorded over a six month period earlier this year, was released on Apple Music and Spotify on July 20th. For recording of the album, Dan played guitar and sang vocals, Fabien Pilard played additional guitars, bass, keyboards and sang backup, and Meriem Rezik played drums.

A lifelong lover of music, Dan’s songs are influenced by some of his favorite bands like The Doors, Iron Maiden, King Crimson and Pink Floyd. These influences are readily apparent on the opening title track “The Celestial Immigrant“. With its expansive, moody soundscapes, highlighted by a vibrant blend of jangly and psychedelic guitars, it sounds like a long-lost Pink Floyd song. The lyrics, about a young boy hurtling through outer space toward the Milky Way, seem to be an allegory for Dan’s well-traveled, sometimes beautiful and perhaps at times chaotic, childhood, being repeatedly moved without his consent to several different countries, in search of a better life: “Sent away into the darkness. No warnings were given, the baby. In the wake of the night. The celestial immigrant is on his way, in the Milky Way. Will he ever make it? The stars are watching him—riding the neon wave. Will he ever make it? Will he find new home? All the forgotten faces, all part of a strange dream somehow. All the beautiful places, The journey of the sacred moon-child.”

On the grunge-flavored “My Road“, Dan seems to ponder the fleeting impermanence of life: “Life passes by so fast; old pictures and you’re gone. The Crossroads is coming. Another drifter’s story.” And on the optimistic “Summer Kiss” he sings of the joys of summer, and how people and nature come alive with activities and romance: “The birds are calling, the people will wake. The smell of grass, the children that play. The night is falling, the feast will begin. A man is hunting, a girl is the prey.” The song features some great reverby guitars and 60s-flavored organ.

Some of the progressive influences from bands like King Crimson and Pink Floyd are strongly evident on the next three tracks, with meandering melodies and fascinating instrumental flourishes. On “The Believer” Dan sings of being a world traveler, in search of a better life: “I can see a land of riches. / The howling winds of freedom, my life and blood astray. I dream of a paradise beyond the clouds. I read, the signs are so evident now. Believe, the blind shall see. I am away. I am a troubadour. I have many stories to tell.” His vocals, while not particularly powerful, are emotive and heartfelt, conveying just the right amount of passion and fervor when he sings.

On the dark and dramatic “King’s Hall“, he uses medieval fantasy metaphors to describe what could be the plot of a Game of Thrones episode: “Inside the King’s Hall, love and jealousy. Blades are held high! The old man is gazing from his throne. A lifetime before his eyes.” I’m not quite sure what the story in this song has to do with the album’s overall theme, but it’s an intriguing track nonetheless.

On the introspective and bittersweet “Sunday Again“, Dan wistfully sings of being at a low point in his life, feeling bored and alone, and missing those he’s left behind: “Looking out the window. A quiet street, no life at all. The rain that falls each day. The fog that hides the dawn. Sitting on a couch, I think of her. Could I fall in love once more? My imagination is playing games with me. Happiness seems so far, so lost.” Musically, it sounds almost like two different songs melded together, with the first, more grungy segment ending just after three minutes, and the second segment having a more relaxed vibe, with some great reverby and distorted surf guitars. On this segment, Dan seems to have come to terms with his loneliness, finding solace in his music: “It’s Sunday, I’m free again. In a corner, playing my guitar. La La, La La La.

The final track “Interstellar (Voyager 1)” is a captivating instrumental piece, with more of those great reverb-drenched guitars we’ve heard on several of the album’s songs, accompanied by spacey atmospheric synths that beautifully convey images of traveling through outer space. The only vocals we hear are Dan’s spoken words briefly reciting a description of the Voyager 1 space probe that was “launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, as part of the Voyager program to study the outer Solar System and interstellar space beyond the Sun’s heliosphere.” The description is taken from Wikipedia, which he cites on his album liner notes, and includes a statistic of how long the space probe has been in operation “Launched 16 days after its twin Voyager 2, Voyager 1 has been operating for 44 years, 9 months and 12 days as of June 17, 2022 (now 45 years, 1 month and 6 days as of today, October 12, 2022). The track brings the album’s celestial theme full-circle, with an overriding message – to my mind at least – that we’re all travelers on this planet, which itself exists within a much greater universe that’s beyond our comprehension.

The Celestial Immigrant is an ambitious and fascinating work, and an impressive debut for Dan Szyller. His creativity, imaginative songwriting and strong musicianship really shine on this very fine album.

Connect with Dan: TwitterFacebookInstagram

Stream his music on SpotifyApple MusicAmazon Music

THE STAR CRUMBLES – Album Review: “The Ghost of Dancing Slow”

Music act The Star Crumbles came to be rather serendipitously earlier this year when singer-songwriter Brian Lambert, who’s based in Denton, Texas, reached out to singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Marc Schuster, who lives in suburban Philadelphia, for some help with his song “Kids” (which I wrote about last March in a Fresh New Tracks post). The two had previously met on Twitter, but had never before worked with each other. Well, they immediately hit it off, so much so that they decided to collaborate together on more music projects, eventually leading to their creation of a new music act they dubbed The Star Crumbles. On September 30th, their debut album The Ghost of Dancing Slow was released on Bandcamp, and will go live on most other streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) on October 7th. 

Brian Lambert & Marc Schuster

Before I get into the album, I want to provide a bit of background on Brian, Marc and The Star Crumbles. Brian has been writing and recording music for many years, and says he’s “reinvented himself more times than he can count.” He even tried his hand at country music for a while, but eventually realized that it just wasn’t for him. More recently, the prolific songwriter’s been making indie rock music inspired by some of his favorite acts like Spoon, Gang of Youths and the Replacements, and beginning in 2021, he challenged himself to writing, recording and producing a new song every week for an entire year. He now has an incredible body of work to his credit.

Marc is an insanely creative renaissance man in every sense of the word. Not only is he an educator, author and literary critic, he’s also a prolific songwriter and musician, recording both as a solo artist and as part of numerous music projects and collaborations with an ever-expanding roster of musicians. As if all that weren’t enough, he’s also a pretty good visual artist, is incredibly supportive of other artists and music bloggers (including yours truly), and has a terrific WordPress blog of his own called Abominations, where he writes about music and interviews lots of indie artists. I’ve featured him three times on my blog, including a review last February of his wonderful EP There Is No Down.

In addition to making music, both Brian and Marc are wildly imaginative and funny guys. Soon after forming The Star Crumbles, they came up with the idea of creating a tongue-in-cheek back story for the act. Since their music is strongly influenced by their shared love of 80s new wave music by such bands as The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, Ultravox and New Order, they decided that The Star Crumbles would have its origins in the early 80s, but due a number of unexplained circumstances, they suddenly disappeared from the music scene before having a chance to release their first album: “From 1982 to 1986, The Star Crumbles were always on the verge of something big – until they vanished without a trace, taking their eagerly anticipated album, ‘The Ghost of Dancing Slow’, with them. Everyone thought they had potential, but they were dogged by misfortune and bad timing. Also, they had terrible business sense.

The guys recruited a motley crew of friends and fans to provide their own unfiltered insight into what became of The Star Crumbles. The result (which I was honored to be a part of) is a brilliant and hilarious video documentary Beyond the Music. The inventiveness, originality and deadpan delivery of those who participated is really quite impressive! Please press play:

Okay, now lets get to the music. The Ghost of Dancing Slow was a DIY project, totally self-recorded and produced by Marc and Brian. Marc mixed the tracks, and they both had a hand in the final mastering. Marc played guitars and drums on all tracks, while both he and Brian played synths. All but one of the ten songs on the album were written by Brian and Marc, the exception being “Cool Down”, which was written by fellow musician Mike Mosley (who also appears in the documentary).

Opening track “Desperately Wanting” was The Star Crumbles’ first official single, released this past May. It’s a beautiful and compelling song about a couple who are unable to communicate their needs to each other, leaving their relationship in a perpetual state of limbo, with each of them feeling unfulfilled and unhappy. The album’s title is taken from the song’s lyrics: “The space that lies in between. The gap that lies in between, what we’re really wanting, we don’t want to talk about. The ghost of dancing slow, inside what we’re speaking. But we pretend not to know, what we’re really thinking.” Musically, the song is driven by Marc’s hypnotic bassline, over which he’s layered somber droning synths, thumping drumbeats and gently crashing cymbals. Both he and Brian played guitars. Brian’s plaintive vocals are both comforting and melancholy, nicely conveying the sad sense of resignation expressed in the lyrics. It’s a great song, and spent 12 weeks on my Top 30 chart this past summer.

Next up is their follow-up single “Shadows in the Dark“, another winning tune with a strong retro 80s vibe that borders on darkwave. The guitar work is fantastic, and I love that sizzling little guitar solo in the bridge. Brian’s fervent vocals are great as well. The cool video, which was created by Marc, features pixelated renditions of the band trapped in an eight-bit Atari nightmare.

On the timely and relevant “Conspiracy“, the guys take on those who spread conspiracy theories, and the damage it does to society: “While bald-faced lies are told, the rhythm of what’s true skips a beat. We wonder how they get away with it. There is no consequence for ineloquence that harms the trust. I think it’s more than just a bit intentional.” The gravity of the subject is driven home by the song’s unsettling vibe, created by a rather menacing groove, overlain with dark industrial synths and distorted guitars.

Cool Down” sounds like a long-lost song by Joy Division or The Cure, with gorgeous shimmery guitars and swirling synths, and Brian’s vocals sound better than ever here. “Cozumel” is a sweet song about spending time with a loved one in the Mexican resort, and though the subject matter is quite different, it made me think of Suzanne Vega’s great song “Tom’s Diner”. Those great jangly guitars return on the haunting new wave gem “Trees in the Forest“, with lyrics that seem to speak of feeling lost and disconnected from the world.

With its bouncy new wave vibe, “What Are We Waiting For” urges us to stop doubting ourselves and seize the moment so that we can move forward and live our fullest lives. “Spectres in Waiting” has a decidedly different feel than the other tracks on the album, with a somber, more introspective feel, highlighted by rather mournful guitar notes. The wonderfully-titled “Past, Present and Future Walk Into a Bar, It Was Tense” is another terrific story song, in which Brian talk-sings about his present self encountering his past and future selves in a bar, and wanting to ask them questions to gain a better understanding of himself: “All these years older, what do you get? I hope not colder, nor full of regret.” I love the song’s darker vibe and rather menacing gnarly guitars.

Closing track “If I Could” is the longest on the album, running over five minutes, and has a gentle, upbeat cadence that’s really pleasing. The song seems to be about searching for the truths that will help guide us to a better life, which I also think kind of encapsulates the overall them of the album: “Every time I thought I had an answer, there is just another question that begs that I go searching. Even when I find it, I’m left not truly knowing. I guess it will always be that way.”

The Ghost of Dancing Slow is a marvelous album, and we’re so fortunate The Star Crumbles were successful in retrieving the lost masters to these new wave gems so that we can enjoy them these many years later 😉

Those who purchase the album on Bandcamp will receive a bonus song. Also Friday, October 7th is Bandcamp Friday, meaning all proceeds from purchases go directly to the artists.

Connect with The Star Crumbles:  TwitterInstagram