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

KAROLINA ROSE – EP Review: “INVICTA”

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Falling in love with a song or artist the moment you first hear their music is among life’s greatest pleasures – certainly for me anyway. And that is precisely what I felt when I listened to the new EP INVICTA by Karolina Rose. Inspired by the music of artists such as Kate Bush, Debbie Harry, Florence Welch, The Cranberries, David Bowie and Madonna, the Brooklyn, New York-based singer/songwriter writes songs about her own experiences and presents them with beautiful commanding vocals.

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. (I can identify with her life-changing decision to leave behind a successful career for which she spent years of study, as I left my job as a city planner to own and operate a bed & breakfast inn.) She began writing songs on her acoustic guitar, and performing them in clubs in and around New York City, gradually building a loyal following. Realizing she needed to take her music to the next level, she teamed up with Grammy Award wining producer/engineer/mixer Andros Rodriguez (Madonna, Shakira, Florence + the Machine) for her debut EP INVICTA, which dropped on February 1st.

Speaking on the meanings behind the title and theme of INVICTA, Karolina explains: “The word ‘INVICTA’ means unconquered, and is found on the coat of arms of Warsaw (the city where my parents come from), so the title represents my strength and who I am. From quitting my job on Wall Street to having to navigate a brand new industry, there was a lot to learn on the journey towards INVICTA’s creation. Following your truth is not always the easy choice. And for that I call the record INVICTA; it is to say ‘I did it’ and I am ready to fight for what I love.”

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The EP kicks off with the anthemic “Crystal Gem“, a hopeful declaration of Karolina’s determination to pursue her dream, no matter the odds. Backed by shimmering synths and a driving dance beat, she confidently sings: “No one can stop me now, from doing what I want to do. How nice it would be, to be taken care of endlessly. ” The track sounds like a song Katy Perry could have sung, only better. “Love Crazy” is a sultry affair that speaks to how we throw caution and common sense out the window when the pangs of love hit us like a ton of bricks. The track features lush swirling synths and fluttering percussion, creating a beautiful backdrop for Karolina’s fervent vocals that convey the blind passion of falling madly in love, helpless to resist its siren call: “Love, it makes you do crazy things. / Nothing else matters.”

One of my favorite tracks is “Going to Berlin“, a fantastic dance pop anthem that tells the tale of a woman who overcomes heartbreak by going off and jet-setting the world’s greatest cities. Karolina explains: “The concept first came to me when I was hanging at the Russian baths in downtown Manhattan with a good friend discussing her growth and how much she’s changed. She had left an old love behind in Europe to move to NYC and fearlessly follow her dreams. She then, of course, went to Berlin…” I love the throbbing EDM beat and Karolina’s wonderful layered vocals, and this lyric is so good: “She was lip-smacking good. Hold her tight if he could. But he lost her. Regret seeps in. She’s not coming back.”

Downhill” is a slow, moody track filled with powerful sweeping synths and mesmerizing percussion. In an interview with webzine CelebMix, Karolina states that the lyrics speak to the “simultaneous feelings of excitement and fear when pursuing something entirely new and unknown.” She passionately sings “I’m on the edge, lost and found. Can you hear the screaming sounds? We reach the skies before we go downhill.”

A standout track is the sad but beautiful “Goodnight, Mr. Moon“, inspired by Karolina’s experiences of exploring grief through dreams and nightmares. On her Facebook page she explained: “I have suffered from nightmares for many years. I often have hallucinations when I sleep. I wake up and see things in my bedroom or projected onto the walls or something within my room takes a different shape and moves. The first verse of the song takes inspiration from one of my nightmares where I woke up and it literally looked as if the moon was projecting a spotlight onto my wall and it looked like a scene was playing out. It may sound magical, but it was quite frightening. I started coming up with the visualization of someone hallucinating in the middle of the night, bringing back their loved one by talking to Mr. Moon. She communicates with her lost love in the nighttime. She processes her grief through dreams. She thinks it’s real until the end of the song when she wakes up from the dream and knows it’s really time to say goodbye.

The dreamy synths, gentle percussion and her mix of soft and soaring vocals are a perfect match for the poignant lyrics: “How do I get it all back? All the pieces of my heart? How do I get it all back? All the pieces came apart. How do I get you back?

The final track “Move With Me” was actually Karolina’s very first single, which she released two years ago, in February 2017. The song has a wonderful throwback 80s New Wave vibe that’s become so popular again recently. I love the bouncy EDM beat that aims straight for the hips, along with the glittery techno synths that remind me of songs by A-ha and New Order. Karolina’s vocals exude seduction as she implores the object of her desire to quit wasting time and get busy loving her: “Check my pulse. Am I still alive? / Do you know you took me by surprise? Fragile, young love. What will be, will be. Move a little bit faster now. Go a little bit faster now. There’s no time to waste, so baby pick up the pace and move with me.

INVICTA is an outstanding EP that beautifully showcases the impressive songwriting and vocal talents of this very lovely artist. Every track is superb, making for a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. I want to give special thanks to fellow blogger Hasan Bayez of SheBOPS for recommending Karolina. Check out his great blog too!

To learn more about Karolina, check out her Website
Connect with her on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream her music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes / AmazonBig Cartel

VERIS – Single Review: “Gimme More”

VERIS Gimme More

Boston duo VERIS burst onto the indie music scene in early summer 2017 with their infectious ear worm of a dance track “Opening Night.” They followed in September with their sultry and seductive “Devil in the Details,” which was a Top 10 hit on my Weekly Top 30 Chart. (I featured both songs on this blog, which you can read here and here.) Now they return to please our eardrums with a fantastic new single “Gimme More, and they sound better than ever!

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VERIS is singer/songwriter/guitarist AJ Edwards and songwriter/drummer Mark Hylander, and with assistance from Bleu (William James McAuley III), who produced and co-mixed the song with Ducky, they’ve created a stylish and sexy track that really showcases their musical versatility. The song is different from their previous two singles – it’s always a good thing to change things up and bring fresh sounds – but still delivers a catchy melody, cool grooves, smart lyrics, great vocals and fine instrumentals, all things we’ve come to love about VERIS.

With an irresistible strutting bass-driven dance beat that grabs hold of both hips, “Gimme More” quickly has us in its thrall. The seductive dance groove is punctuated in spots by trap-like break downs and lots of quirky electronic synths, making for an interesting and exciting track.  AJ’s smooth vocals are wonderful, soaring to a pleasing falsetto as he sings of feeling besotted with desire for another:

I can’t help I’m impatient
Is it a crime, lock me up
I’ve got nothing but time
Is this more than just an obsession
Please let me in, gotta feel, gotta feel it yeah
Gimme more

It’s a great song, and certain to be another hit for the creative duo. Take a listen:

Connect with VERIS:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify and Soundcloud, and purchase on iTunes