New Song of the Week – JAMES BAKIAN: “Find Me”

James Bakian is an exceptionally talented, hard working and charismatic young singer/songwriter from London, England. He wrote his first song at the age of six, began studying piano at seven, and released his first EP By Your Side in 2016 when he was only 13. He followed up in late 2017 with his appropriately-named second EP Unstoppable, a really fine effort featuring six tracks. Since then, the prolific artist has released an astonishing 18 singles, his latest of which, “Find Me,” drops today, March 13th. I’m pleased to choose the soulful track as my New Song of the Week.

James Bakian 2020

James writes all his lyrics and music, records all the instruments, and produces his own songs. I’ve been following him for over three years, and it’s been gratifying to watch him grow professionally. Now 16, his songwriting, music and vocals get better and better as he matures, and he’s grown from a cute kid into a teen heartthrob. (I’ve featured him three times previously on this blog, and you can check out those reviews, which are listed under ‘Related’ at the bottom of this page.)

“Find Me” is languid and sultry, highlighted by James’ sublime piano keys that have an almost jazzy feel. With his piano riff as a centerpiece, he adds warm, shimmery synths of strings and gentle percussion to create a romantic soundscape for his smooth and soulful layered vocals. As James has matured, his voice has likewise deepened quite nicely. The music, melody and vocals are all incredibly pleasing, resulting in an exceptional track.

The lyrics speak of longing for a girl to the point of obsession, even though she barely knows that you exist:

Just leave me be
I’m doing my own thing
Didn’t suspect that you would notice me
Tryna figure out if I still fit in my skin
And I ain’t tryna change
Take me back
Back to the time when I didn’t have a care in the world and I knew I had a purpose
I don’t wanna live in a world where I can’t share my life with somebody who is worth it

I think I’ve found a girl but she gotta find me
Cause I know that one day ima call her baby
and I’ll tell her what I want whispering it slowly
When I look at that smile I keep going crazy

I keep dreaming ‘bout you
Always longing for you
Ain’t no reason not to
And I’ve been meaning to let you know
I keep dreaming ‘bout you
Always longing for you
Ain’t no reason not to
Oh-oh-oh
I’ll let you know one day as long as you find me
I’ll let you know one day as long as you find me

Girl you got what I been needing
Everything about you turns me on
Do I gotta have an explanation
I’m obsessed with you is that wrong?
Tell me what I need to do
If I wanna spend whole my life with you
I’ve been all alone in my feelings
Ain’t nobody who make me feel like you do

Ain’t nobody, ain’t nobody, ain’t nobody
Ain’t nobody make me feel like you do
Ain’t nobody, ain’t nobody, ain’t nobody
Ain’t nobody make me feel like you do

Connect with James:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music on  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple MusicYouTube
Purchase on  iTunesGoogle Play

VOX EAGLE – Single Premier: “Can’t Stop”

Regular readers of this blog know I write about a lot of indie artists and bands, as one of the things that drives me is wanting to support them in what little way I can. One of my absolute favorites – both from a musical and personal standpoint – is VoxEagle. Essentially the music project of Australian-born and now Colorado-based singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Andy Crosby, VoxEagle first burst onto the music scene in the beginning of 2017 with the release of the electro-pop single “No Sleep”. The terrific song has been streamed over 279,000 times on Spotify. He then followed up with a second single “Come Over”, both of which were featured on his debut EP Flamingo Paradiso Pt. 1., released in July 2017. I loved both songs so much they ended up on my Top 100 Songs of 2017 list.

Also in 2017, Andy and his wife relocated from bustling Manhattan to the bucolic solitude of Evergreen, Colorado, high in the Colorado Rockies west of Denver. There, he built his own recording studio, which he dubbed “The Eagles Nest”, and set to work on his first full album, the brilliant genre-bending TriumAvium, which was released in October 2018. You can read my album review and interview with Andy here. One of the tracks on the album titled “Wander” went all the way to #1 on my Weekly Top 30 this past February.

Now he returns with a wonderful new single “Can’t Stop“, which I’m thrilled to premier today. The song officially drops on December 16 on all major digital music sites, some of which are included at the end of this post. “Can’t Stop” has a soulful dance pop vibe, and captures the infectious energy we first encountered on “No Sleep.”

VoxEagle Studio 2

That energy is the essence of VoxEagle’s unique, yet eclectic, sound. In our interview, he told me “VoxEagle is a musical energy; I hate to call it a band or whatnot. It’s vibe I suppose is with me at the helm, [though] the whole idea of VoxEagle in the beginning was to collaborate with various artists.” He added that his main overriding objective in making music is that “It’s just gotta have big melodies and be real energetic.

The track opens with spacey, almost seductive synths that quickly expand like a giant flower unfolding its petals into a beautiful explosion of sound and color. Starting with a deep, thumping bassline as a foundation, VoxEagle layers a rich palette of sparkling, dreamy synths, guitar, and percussion, including what sound like bongo drums, to create an exuberant groove that just makes you feel good. He has a fine, casual singing voice, and I like when he freestyles some of the lyrics. It all builds to an exhilarating crescendo before fading out with those spacey synths and pulsating bass. I love it!

Although “Can’t Stop” was written prior to the occurrence of a personal tragedy Andy recently experienced with the death of his best friend of 30 years, it really hits home for him, serving as a sort of anthem for his philosophy about life and his music career. He became so despondent over his friend’s death that he actually considered throwing in the towel on making music. Thankfully, he came around to realizing it would be impossible for him to stop, as making music is the one thing that keeps him sane at the end of the day – a sentiment I and many others I know can strongly identify with.

Those feelings are perfectly expressed in the lines “Every time I get the hook wrong, I stay back all night just to fix it cuz we can’t stop until we catch the feeling. All I know is that we’ve come too far. Too far to turn back now. Can’t stop these feet when they start moving, no.” I hope VoxEagle never stops making songs for us to enjoy.

Connect with Vox Eagle:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream: Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase: iTunesGoogle Play

New Song of the Week – HANNAH CLIVE: “Where Will You Run?”

Hannah Clive Where will U run

Hannah Clive is a lovely and engaging singer/songwriter based in London, England who writes from her heart and soul. Influenced by such legendary ladies of song as Adele, Carole King, Kate Bush and Janis Ian, Hannah pens observational, often personal songs that cross many genres, including indie rock, folk, pop, alt-country, blues and jazz. Two years have passed since she released her stunning single “Remember to Breathe” (which I reviewed), and she now returns to grace our ears with a brand new single “Where Will You Run?” Inspired by the outspoken and courageous young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, the song is a heartfelt clarion call for action to address the existential global threat of climate change. It’s an important message, which is why I’ve chosen it as my New Song of the Week.

The song was written by Hannah and her frequent collaborator Brian Tench (Kate Bush, Hounds of Love, Bee Gees), who also produced the track, along with assistance from his son Jake. The song has a haunting melody that beautifully evokes the seriousness of the subject. Brian employs a rich mix of dark, swirling keyboards and pulsating percussive synths to create an arresting soundscape for Hannah’s enthralling vocals. She has a marvelous singing voice, going from whispered purrs to impassioned pleas with ease, to great emotional effect. It’s a beautiful and deeply moving song.

Our planet teeters on the edge
But money talks with no regrets
Plastic tide washes high
Frost is melting despite Greta’s cry

But the change is not fast enough
Do you need to watch it all burn up?
Before you ditch that coffee cup, where will you run?
When the seas rise, fish will die
When all is lost is that when you’ll cry?
We all wanna live ‘n’ thrive, where will you run?

Hannah also produced an excellent promotional video for the song that’ worth watching:

Connect with Hannah:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream her music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on  BandcampiTunes / Google Play / Amazon

New Song of the Week – DEBRIS DISCS: “Animals”

Debris Discs

I recently wrote about two different musicians who use an interesting moniker for their music projects, and now have a third to introduce to my readers. Debris Discs is the solo project of British singer-songwriter James Eary, former front man of Manchester, England alternative dream pop band Coves & Caves. They released a well-received and critically acclaimed album Spinnerets in 2014, and played numerous shows, including a BBC live session, but eventually went on indefinite hiatus as the band members went off on their separate ways. James packed up his synthesizer and settled down into family life up in the hills of the High Peak in Derbyshire, but soon realized he couldn’t shake the music-making bug. So, in between day jobs, married life and helping to raise babies, he got back to writing songs and recording music.

His first single under the project Debris Discs is “Animals“, which I’ve selected as my New Song of the Week. The song was inspired by the real-life experience of working in the murky world of financial services from someone very close to James’ heart. He explains “It suggests that if things get to be too much, there’s always another, more soul-nourishing path to choose for a better life – one that might not always be the most obvious. This song should resonate with listeners in the current climate of corporate greed and horrible humans. As the chorus suggests, maybe it’s time to work with animals.”

For Debris Discs, James draws upon an eclectic mix of influences from some of his favorite acts like The Delgados, The Beach Boys, OMD, Giorgio Moroder, The Pet Shop Boys and G Funk.  Using swirling analogue synths and snappy drum machines, funky guitar notes, and a sprinkling of children’s toys he found lying around the house, James adds his pleasing vocal harmonies to create an upbeat, light-hearted tune that’s both inspiring and a delightful listen.

They’ve been working their way in
To get under your skin
Suck at your soul
Always practicing mind games
Won’t give up til they take you far too low
If these people make your blood run cold
Then it’s time to work with animals

You’ll get love that’s unconditional
And it’s OK to be fallible
Homo sapiens aren’t practical
So it’s time to work with animals

Connect with Debris Discs: Twitter
Stream his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase:  Bandcamp / Google Play

New Song of the Week – KAROLINA ROSE: “Greytopia”

Karolina Rose Greytopia

This past February (2019) I featured New York-based singer-songwriter Karolina Rose on this blog, when I reviewed her gorgeous debut EP INVICTA. Born and raised in Philadelphia to Polish parents, Karolina graduated from the prestigious Wharton Business School and had a successful career on Wall Street, which she ultimately left to pursue her dream of making it as a full-time musician. During the past six months, she’s been a very busy woman, playing numerous shows to promote her EP, recording new music, and spending the month of August in Europe, where she attended the Midem music conference in Cannes and performed on TV in her ancestral country of Poland.

Today, she drops a brand new single “Greytopia“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week. It’s a beautiful, intoxicating track about an idyllic place Karolina has imagined. She explains “It’s a little planet I created where we only support each other and follow our highest path without judgement, swirling emotions included.” The emotions aren’t the only things swirling, as the sweeping glittery synths, throbbing guitar and lively percussive beats dance around Karolina’s sultry vocals. She really has a stunning voice, so silky and vibrant, with the ability to seduce us one moment, then nearly bring us to tears the next with her earnest vulnerability.

The song was written and performed by Karolina, with Simon Kafka on guitar. It was flawlessly produced by Elliot Jacobson, and mixed and mastered by Mike Tuccillo. Together, they’ve all created a stellar track that’s sure to be another hit for this lovely artist.

I came to visit this new land
A fairytale in every way
The internet here only has positive news
Fan girls & boys are lounging, exposing their tattoos

Marble message on the wall
We wash our hair with crushed flowers

‘Cause it’s a greytopia
Sometimes I’m gloomy, sometimes I’m happy
And everything in between
In between you and me
In this greytopia
In this greytopia

Creator made us each this way
Named us the originals, molded us from clay
To do our highest work, masters of our fate
Haters from Earth are waiters
It’s always sunny, the post is run by bunnies

Marble message on the wall
We wash our hair with crushed flowers

‘Cause it’s a greytopia
Sometimes I’m gloomy, sometimes I’m happy
And everything in between
In between you and me
In this greytopia
In this greytopia

Black spades, red hearts,
Black spades, red hearts,
Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds,

‘Cause it’s a greytopia
Sometimes I’m gloomy, sometimes I’m happy
And everything in between
In between you and me
In this greytopia
In this greytopia

Connect with her on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream her music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes / Amazon / Big Cartel

New Song of the Week: DAVID VIVIAN – “Always”

David Vivian

Two months ago I featured singer-songwriter and guitarist David Vivian upon the release of his third single “Weekend”. Now the Santa Barbara, California-based musician is back with his beautiful new single “Always“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week. David states that “Always” is “about the idea of trying to find someone in one’s art when that can only ever be a mediation.”

The song opens with a haunting little guitar riff, then expands with pleasing keyboard, bass and percussive synths to create a dreamy backdrop for David’s silky, ethereal vocals. He lays down some fine, intricate guitar work throughout the track, and his solo in the bridge is really wonderful. “Always” is a fairly simple track, but has a quiet intensity that hits us in the feels. It’s a beautiful song, and another in a string of excellent singles from this promising young artist.

Dear love, sorry I hurt you
Please know I didn’t mean to
And know I’ll always want you
I can’t explain—I’ve just got to
And I just want you to know

That I was wrong
So wrong
Yes I thought I
Could find you in a song
But I was wrong
I took too long

Dear love, I don’t deserve you
Until all this pain has left you
I want you to have it all
Let’s throw a party, let’s have a ball
And know I’ll be here if you fall
Yes I’ll be here if you fall

Yes I was wrong
So wrong
Yes I thought I
Could find you in a song
But I was wrong
I took too long

Connect with David on Facebook / Instagram
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud / YouTube
Purchase on  Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play

JIM HUDSON – EP Review: “Fallen”

Jim Hudson is a singer-songwriter from Wolverhampton, England, who this past May released his debut EP Fallen. It’s a lovely but dark work, featuring three guitar-driven tracks with deep, poetic lyrics that speak to man’s internal conflict between his good and evil sides, and struggles to make it in this life. Jim wrote and recorded the songs, and played or programmed all the instruments. The EP was mixed by Matt Pinfield and mastered by West West Side Music (yes, West is repeated in the studio’s name).

The first track “Shadow” is a poignant song with a somewhat melancholy air. Jim’s layered acoustic and twangy electric guitar work is really nice, lending the track a bit of a folk vibe, while the assertive percussion keeps it in rock territory. His vocals have a pleasing, understated quality, and work well on this track. The lyrics seem to speak of someone who’s become a mere shadow of their former self after years of excess, realizing they’ve wasted their life and now have nothing or nobody: “No one remembers when you left, who you are, what you came here for. Lost three more days in a state. Through the haze; gone too far.

The dark and mesmerizing title track “Fallen” opens with a thumping drumbeat and an acoustic guitar chord progression that calls to mind the classic James Bond theme, only in a slowed-down manner. With a sense of sad resignation, Jim croons the fatalistic lyrics spoken by a man to his son, telling him that he will be inheriting a darker, less hospitable world because of the destruction caused by mankind: “Grab your things and run, through the barbed wire fence. From the hands that feed us, we don’t stand a chance./ Re-wrote the rules, transcended evolution. All this son, will one day be yours. Turned our backs, as we fled the garden. All of this, all of this is ours. Got inside my head, can’t get up any more. Cut my world wide open, threw my heart to the floor. You don’t know, you don’t see. Cut me, I’m in bits. There’s a hole, in my head. Leaves me cold in plastic.” His combination of acoustic and electric guitars, accompanied by humming bass, sparkling synths and measured percussion make for an exceptional track.

“Papercuts” has a softer, more upbeat folk vibe. The acoustic riff that continues throughout the song is quite charming, punctuated with tasty electric guitar runs in the choruses. The lyrics, however, are bittersweet. Jim states that they’re basically about an artist (music, visual arts, or whatever) struggling to make his way and get noticed. Perhaps he’s wasting his time, his efforts are all in vain, and maybe he shouldn’t bother trying to continue on. “It’s hard enough to get you where you’re seen. Should never be there. You’re in a dream. Listen in. Massage my self esteem. Are paper cuts enough to get you seen? It’s never easy being fine.”

Despite it’s rather dark tone, Fallen is an enjoyable little EP, and a very respectable debut for Jim Hudson. His thoughtful and extensive lyrics are pure poetry, and he’s a fine guitarist and vocalist too.

On Saturday 6th July, Jim will be performing at The Chindit in Wolverhampton, one of the venues in the Junction Festival of Contemporary Arts.

Connect with Jim:  Facebook / Twitter
Stream his music on Spotify
Purchase on Bandcamp

SOMEHOW – Single Review: “Shut Your Eyes and See”

Somehow

I’ve been revisiting a lot of artists and bands that I’ve previously featured on this blog, as so many of them are putting out new music and wanting my thoughts on it. The latest is by Somehow, the indie-pop project of Erwan Pépiot, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Paris, France. His pleasing sound hovers somewhere between Joy Division and Belle & Sebastian, with a vocal styling reminiscent of Morrissey or Ian Curtis. He writes, performs, records, produces and mixes all his music in his own home studio, with his only assistance coming from his long-time collaborator Aurélie Tremblay, who provides backing vocals and some fine cello work.

Somehow released his debut album The Desert of Wasted Time in 2016, receiving many positive reviews. This was followed a year later by his beautiful album Hidden Memories, released via Toolong Records, which also earned wide acclaim both in Europe and the U.S. In October 2017 I reviewed “Someday”, one of the wonderful tracks from that album. He now returns with a terrific new song, “Shut Your Eyes and See” the first single from his forthcoming album Low Tide, due for release this coming October.

It’s another enchanting track, featuring Somehow’s signature rich, multi-instrumental stew that gives his songs their incredibly sublime soundscapes. A beautifully-strummed bass line provides a splendid foundation for the song, over which are layered some lovely guitar, keyboards, melodica, cello and gentle percussion. Erwan’s vibrant vocals are as pleasing as his music, singing the verses with a comforting urgency while Aurélie provides delightful backing harmonies.

The lyrics seem somewhat ambiguous, but I think they’re about someone who’s breaking out from under self-doubt that’s plagued them, allowing them to live their life to its full potential, yet still remaining insecure.

It seems you’re getting somewhere after all
You finally found your way out
Through your silent eyes
All things looked hollow
Now candles and stars
Sparkle in daylight

It seems you’re getting somewhere after all
You finally found your way out
At the sound of the horn
You’ll run away then die
Over and over
For a thousand times

You will speak
You will fly
You will speed up the tide
You’ll be lauded and praised by hundreds of strangers

Hide from yourself
Shut your eyes and see

The charming video shows a young man, skateboard in tow, flying to London to see a young woman who’s an old friend or girlfriend. They then set off on a sightseeing adventure, taking in both the beautiful and not-so-beautiful kaleidoscope of life in the teeming city on the Thames. The video was produced by Julien Bengel, and stars Paco and Marina as the young couple.

Connect with Somehow:  Facebook / Twitter
Stream his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp / Google Play

DAVID VIVIAN – Single Review: “Weekend”

David Vivian

David Vivian is a young graduate student and budding singer-songwriter and guitarist from the beautiful coastal California city of Santa Barbara. Writing and recording songs in his bedroom studio, David has released three singles over the past few months, the latest of which is “Weekend“, which drops today, June 14th.

The lyrics speak to how many of us seem to live for the weekends, yearning for the promise of thrills and the respite they bring from the routine and drudgery of our weekday lives, always aware that they’re doomed to come to an end way too quickly. David opens the song with a strummed guitar riff, sunny synth and perky xylophone, giving us a sense of hopeful optimism that another weekend is upon us. Abruptly, the music turns sour like a smile suddenly becoming a frown as reality sets in, but then it all perks back up to a breezy, upbeat tempo that continues through to the end of the song. Along the way, David lays down some fine guitar work, accompanied by pleasing keyboards, bass and percussive synths, and I especially like the horn synths he inserts after the final chorus.

His soft, echoed vocals have an ethereal quality, and mesh quite nicely with the lush instrumentals, giving the song a dreamy atmospheric quality.

[Verse 1]
How the hell’d it get so late?
Hold on, please wait
I’ll do, what it takes
Go all in, raise the stakes

Another weekend’s here
I’ll call you darling, call you dear

[Chorus]
Hey babe
That’s no reason to stay
I’ll come up w/ words to say
And we’ll always find a way to play
Come back and let’s do it right
We’ll get lost in the endless night
So come play just one more hand
I’ll take you to the promised land

[Verse 2]
How the hell’d I get this way?
Sun comes up, it’s another day
Time goes on, takes our pay
Doesn’t care what we have to say

Another week ends here
Oh I’ve felt freedom, I’ve felt fear

[Chorus]
Hey babe
That’s no reason to stay
I’ll come up w/ words to say
And we’ll always find a way to play
Come back and let’s do it right
We’ll get lost in the summer night
So come play just one more hand
I’ll take you to the promised land

Connect with David on Facebook / Instagram
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud / YouTube
Purchase on  Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play

THE FRONTIER – Single Review: “Dark Places”

The Frontier

The Frontier is an unsigned indie-pop/alt rock band from Vienna, Virginia (the Washington D.C. area). The band was formed in 2016 by singer/songwriter and guitarist Jake Mimikos, who first released an EP Chaos to Clarity as a solo artist in 2015. He initially called the band The Internal Frontier, and released a wonderful self-titled EP The Internal Frontier, which I reviewed in July 2016.

Like many bands, they’ve undergone some changes in line-up over time, and now consist of Jake on vocals & guitar, Eric Boggess on lead guitar, Eric Dolinger on bass, Kate Stanley on synths & vocals, and Eduardo Santana on drums. They changed their name to simply ‘The Frontier’, and released the terrific and upbeat singles “Young Machine” in late 2017 and “Follow This Feeling” in May 2018. Now they return with a gorgeous new single “Dark Places“, the first single to be included on their forthcoming EP Luminescence, to be released later this year.

“Dark Places” is a stylistic departure for The Frontier, featuring a moodier, more synth-driven sound and I love it! As the title implies, the song is dark, but also quite beautiful, with a captivating vibe that immediately hooked me, compelling me to move to the sensual beat. The shimmering synths are exquisite, enveloping me in a dreamy soundscape I’m happy to remain trapped in. Subtle guitars, gentle bass and the perfect amount of crisp percussion complete the glorious instrumentals. Jake’s smooth, ardent vocals are enthralling, soaring into the higher octaves and sounding better than ever before. Kate’s backing harmonies are really wonderful too.

The lyrics speak to the internal struggles many of us experience with our darker side, and the attendant fears, anxieties, anger and even bad thoughts we must grapple with. Jake stated that they were inspired by a show he watched on Netflix about serial killers.

Maybe I’m just a little lost
Sometimes I lose myself in my obsessions
I’m just a victim of my thoughts
I’m only human, with imperfections

I’ve been to dark places in my mind
Seeing shadows in the night
It get’s a little lonely when I’m in dark places in my mind
Falling further from the light
It gets a little lonely when I’m in dark places

“Dark Places” is absolutely marvelous, and I’ve had it on repeat all morning. The Frontier have struck sonic gold with their first single on what I’m certain will be a fabulous album.

Connect with The Frontier on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Reverbnation
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes