Review for Danii Roundtree album ‘Memoirs’

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Danii Roundtree
Photo by Artist Press Promo

Atlanta-based Danii Roundtree is an R&B, jazz, soul and pop recording artist that exhibits all the stops that can make a well-rounded artist happen.  Since 2009, she has acquired a devoted fan base, as well as making a name for herself throughout the music scene, performing live at many different venues, festivals and other music events.

Her love for music began at an early age.  At 11 years old, she started taking singing lessons and started performing on stage as a child prodigy.  Fast-forward, these days, Roundtree is showcasing her powerful stage presence as well as displaying her wide-ranging vocal abilities on various platforms as well as to a growing following.

Roundtree’s debut album, Memoirs, opens up with “My Man,” a fun, exuberant song with a jiving fun spirit.  The melody is catchy with a happening Motown vibe.  With great jazzy flair, Roundtree sings with a great jostling feel to the music.  This track is something that will keep your feet moving and keep you in motion with its indie pop vibe.

The next track, “Pillow Talk” has a more intimate feel.  With a more sensual backbeat, Roundtree sings with a silky satin voice.  Everything comes across as smooth and is a cool jazzy blend of driven vocals and big band feel.

“Juke Box Boogie” has vocals that caramelizes into some great retro fun.  With its rocking vibe, the twist and sway of the whole affair is just engrossing.

On “Magic,” with its mysterious and gripping rhythmic beats, Roundtree sings with the thrill of some R&B variables.  The hush, expectant catch and sway of the music, like the title suggests, is magical.  This song has a great energy with a big band playing in the background.

“Blue Eyes” is a track that is also laced with something magical and surreal.  There are elements of some intricate jazz playing as well as rhythmic blues.  There is a bit of a lounge feel to the track with its catchy cool jazz vibe and big band ensemble.  Interlaced with a feel-good trumpet solo, the structured harmonies also intercede into the moment, giving this song a timeless sway.

“Caroline” is a retro song with a 70’s disco era feel.  It is a dance-worthy track filled to the tee with a funky, groovy cadence.  Vibrant, catchy, as well as melodic, this is a dance song that will keep you rocking along.

“Dysfunkshunull Love” is a jazzy track filled with a big sound.  The sweet harmonies with its bouncy beats can get you all caught up in the jazz, pop, blues infused cadence.  The great rhythms and harmonies give off an energetic bluesy spirit.  Here, Roundtree’s vocals caresses listeners into its fold, giving off a satin-like appeal.

The last track to this highly dynamic album is “Karma.”  With a marching backbeat, the great jazzy and blues sound gives off a strong bass section that backs up the vocals.  The great enthused sound elicits from early on a charged, electrifying brassy feel.

You can see from the get-go that Danii Roundtree has harnessed together a strong album filled to the brim with soul.  Her energetic sound backed by The Retro Rebels caters to a big band ensemble fueled sound.

The ill-contained songs are straight up rocking concoctions.  The big band addition produces a grand spanning and sweeping, expansive listen.  Memoirs is an energetic album that will definitely give you a rush as you listen to this!

This album is slated for a summer 2017 release.

Review for GaBso’s EP ‘Made Me Wanna Change My Name’

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Israeli Pop/EDM Artist GaBso
Photo by: Artist Press Promo

Pop/EDM Israeli artist GaBso readily incorporates ethereal and mystifying beats into tight harmonies on his game-changing EP, entitled, Made Me Wanna Change My Name.  He was discovered when he performed onstage for the Kochav Nolad show  (American Idol), where he earned third place on its first season.

His career began to gain traction after releasing his first single, “Yom Veod Yomaim” (“Day and Two More Days”) after an Israeli label NMC suggested he release a single at the end of the Kochav Nolad show.  This led to GaBso releasing a debut full-length album Arim Roshi (I Will Raise My Head), which was released six months later.

The album went on to garner four radio hits that were No. 1 on the charts for over four months total, going on to reach “Gold Record” status.  Towards the end of that year, GaBso was titled “Singer of the year,” “Discovery of the years” and his first single was chosen as “Song of the year.”

Four albums later, GaBso has released his newest EP, Made Me Wanna Change My Name, a hybrid of pop and EDM tunes that will vibrate long after the last note has played.

The first track to the EP, “Where I’ll Put My Shoes” is an airy, feel-good song that is filled with soaring vocals and ethereal rhythms.  The pop influences as well as EDM feel melds well with grinding electronic beats.  The hot jam emphasizes a spiraling sort of effect with the background music.  It is a mysterious and fulfilling sort of sound that embraces synths with electronic nodes.  The sizzling beats and rhythms on this track surely resonates with a rich cadence.

“All In My Hand” is filled with skipping beats that blips and flares with electronic promise.  This flavors a pixilated sound that enriches this passionate and emotional song.  Catered to an R&B crowd, the lush strings that accompany the electronic flourish combine to make an intricate and dramatic sound.  The symphonic finish provides for a more grandeur sound, definitely making it more operatic.

“Words Words Words Words” has electronic background music that warble rather repetitiously.  This causes to make for a powerful, amped sound that is charged with desirable beats.  This makes for an emotional and tight sound.

Towards the end of the EP, it seems to be that GaBso is luxuriating in his sound, creating a darker energy in the title-track “Make Me Wanna Change My Name” and the airy and ethereal 789” that reverberates with chill and oscillating beats.

There is definitely a strong R&B vibe coming from this EP.  GaBso puts his emphasis mainly on his vocals to produce a golden sound that is both luxurious and vibrant.  His versatile style purposely alternates between the pop and EDM genres, while the entire scope of the EP encompasses dance music at its best.

The EP is out now!

Elliot Moss slings hits on new record ‘Boomerang’

Boomerang, Elliot Moss
"Boomerang" by Elliot Moss

If the last few years have proven anything, it’s that this is the era of the music producer. Usually multi-talented instrumentalists, the modern day producer is more than just a silhouette behind a drum machine. Artists James Blake, Francis & the Lights and Sohn have revolutionized the role of the producer, showing off their songwriting through stunning works of composition. New York based artist Elliot Moss is still relatively under the radar, but will surely rank among those names soon enough. His new EP Boomerang demonstrates his finely tuned neo-soul style.

Moss first sparked interest amongst alternative radio stations in 2015 with the hypnotic and rhythmic single, “Slip.” The song is a subtle, slow-burning recalls James Blake’s career-defining “Retrograde” without being a complete imitation. Two years later and Moss has created an even more individualized sound on Boomerang, an immersive seven-track EP. Though he excels in instrumentation, Moss’ smooth, soulful voice acts as his secret weapon on this record.

RELATED: Blakey emits tragic euphoria on ‘Prism of Love’

Moss’ background as a visual artist contributes to his intricate attention to detail. Boomerang is built on contrasting concepts, evident from the battling red and blue tones on the album cover itself. The EP experiments with warm and cool, dark and light, moving back and forth like a boomerang between deep and shallow sound. No track demonstrates this texture better than soulful standout, “99.” The synth-driven song is equally minimalistic and complex, playing with layers of Moss’ haunting vocal over an electronic melody.

Title track “Boomerang” is a chilling modern lullaby that transitions seamlessly into the brief, yet soothing interlude “My Statue Sinking.” The second half of the EP relies more heavily on vocal distortion, but Moss uses it more as an accent than a crutch. Boomerang is an impressive sophomore work from an innovative and expansive artist with the potential for a meteoric rise to the top of the charts.

Listen to “99” below and don’t miss Elliot Moss on tour this summer!

Woods inspire change on ‘Love Is Love’

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Love is Love, Woods
"Love Is Love" by Woods, via Woodsist

Now more than ever, thoughtful art matters. We are in the midst of a nerve-wracking and uncertain time when the value of a person’s opinion hinges on how loudly they shout it at those who oppose them. For this reason, the latest record from psychedelic folk band Woods feels purposefully urgent. Love Is Love was inspired by the fear and dread felt by singer Jeremy Earl after the 2016 election. Earl poured out all those feelings into prescient, necessary art to guide him – and his listeners – through what can only be described as an unexpected whirlwind of restless political drama.

Love Is Love is a brief, but carefully composed record. The Brooklyn band did not anticipate releasing new work so quickly after 2016’s City Sun Eater in the River of Light, but like so many artists, they felt the need to speak their truth in the Age of Trump. The six songs on Love Is Love are consistent with Woods’ well-known eclectic instrumental style; the band manages to meld together freeform jazz, Americana and folk-rock in a way that somehow makes sense.

RELATED: ‘Hate That You Know Me’ marks a new era for Bleachers

The themes of the EP will certainly resonate with listeners worldwide, not just with Americans still reeling from last November’s news cycles. Despair, fear, anguish, fury, and activism lay the foundation for each of the six songs. Title track “Love Is Love” relies on repetition of a concept familiar to progressive artists in times of struggle; like “All You Need Is Love” and “We Shall Overcome,” the title track and its reprise remind us of the power of love and unity to inspire change.

“Lost in a Crowd” directly addresses widely held anxieties in a charming, almost serene way. The refrain is filled with confusion, but masked with a dreamy, light-hearted melody. Earl is more reflective on this track, openly admitted, “Just when we thought it couldn’t get worse / I’m lost in a crowd, a descending darkness.” The reality of those words might hit too close to home, but Woods remind us the sun rises even in the darkest times.

Art has always been political, and the willingness of so many prominent entertainers to make challenging, provocative art in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election proves that won’t change any time soon.

Stream Love Is Love below!

COIN may have just dropped the album of the summer

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COIN, Columbia Records, album cover
"How Will You Know If You Never Try" by COIN, via Columbia Records

Breakout indie-rock band COIN may have just released one of the best albums of the summer. The Nashville four-piece find their footing on their sophomore effort, How Will You Know If You Never Try, an album filled with light-hearted answers to some of life’s heaviest questions. The album is a testament to living life to the fullest, embracing originality and taking in every little moment; it puts our fascination with our own mortality into glorious, dreamy soundscapes. With their carefree and clean-cut style, COIN prove they have the potential to stand among the biggest names in indie.

Following the surprising success of their 2015 self-titled debut, COIN spent the last two years touring and honing their sound. Their hard work paid off, as their sophomore record shows an even stronger affinity for catchy choruses and electrifying riffs. Though they’ve delved into a slightly poppier sound, the transition is seamless and not at all contrived.

RELATED: On ‘Bloodshot Tokyo’ The Dig find their footing

Their second album’s lead single, “Talk Too Much,” grabbed the attention of both long-time and recent fans when released in 2016, prepping the world for the band’s new era. The dynamic, danceable track proves COIN had their fingers on the pulse of the indie-pop universe, easily adapting their sound to the latest trends in the genre.

How Will You Know If You Never Try is the definition of a feel-good summer album. COIN bask in the upbeat, infectious energy of standout tracks “I Don’t Wanna Dance,” “Are We Alone” and “Feeling.” There are subtle – and perhaps unintentional – odes to other well-known indie-pop crossover groups like Foster the People, Grouplove and Walk the Moon. Though these radio-ready songs fit COIN’s effortlessly youthful vibe, the band proves their versatility and strength on laidback tunes “Hannah,” “Heart Eyes” and “Malibu 1992.” There’s an honesty and simplicity to these tracks that feels nostalgic, despite the in-your-face modernity of the album.

COIN have produced a triumphant sophomore album, one that could catapult the Nashville newbies into the mainstream. COIN pushed themselves to their creative limits on this record, testing their own mantra: How will you know if you never try?

MIRAS premieres sultry new single ‘Dilemma’

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Swedish singer Mira Edlund—also known as MIRAS—made her way to the United States in 2015, hoping to break into the L.A. pop music scene. Her first single, “Something I Don’t Know,” proved her R&B inspired, electronic style is the perfect fit for long nights on neon nightclub floors. MIRAS’ latest single, “Dilemma,” is an energetic departure from her previous slow-burning work. With hypnotic synthesizers driving the melody, “Dilemma” was made specifically to get stuck in your head.

Though the song itself is not necessarily complex, “Dilemma” shows MIRAS has the potential to be a Top 40 contender someday. Her voice is distinct and generic at the same time, making her a prime candidate for features on the next big hit from major EDM producers like the Chainsmokers or Avicii. The strength of MIRAS is in her simplistic approach to her music. With “Dilemma,” it seems as though she has an expert knowledge of what makes a successful pop song: simple, catchy lyrics and a sweeping, danceable hook.

RELATED: Review of MIRAS debut single ‘Something I Don’t Know’

Even in the short time between the release of “Something I Don’t Know” and “Dilemma,” there is evidence of improvement in MIRAS’ soulful vocal technique. She may be under the radar at the moment, but she won’t be for long.

Check out “Dilemma” below, and keep up with MIRAS for more!

Sarah Close – Caught Up (EP)

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Emerging British pop sensation Sarah Close, like so many young and passionate artists, got her start posting covers on YouTube. With a following of more than 750,000 worldwide, Close already has the media excitement of a long-time pro, despite the fact that this is her first official studio release. Her EP Caught Up debuted April 14, proving great things are worth waiting for; after working with an incompatible management team at first, Close’s EP was pushed back nearly two years. Since then, the 21-year-old honed her artistic style and created her own label, The Kodiak Club, as a subdivision of Parlophone Records.

Caught Up is an impressive lead EP from what easily could have been a one-note artist. The title track is a prime example of what happens when you’ve spent the majority of your singing career doing covers of popular songs. Close’s vocals and delivery sound remarkably similar to those of Lily Allen, another British pop vocalist known for her bubbly melodies and edgy lyrics. 

RELATED: Betty Moon stuns on new LP ‘Chrome’

Where the title track falls short, the remaining three tracks recover swiftly. Sarah Close’s debut single, “Call Me Out,” is an energetic and infectious tune perfect for indie-pop fans.

“I wanted to write a really fun song about the process of flirting with someone and that uncertainty of not knowing what will happen,” Close told Clash Magazine.

Most impressive of the four tracks, however, is “Perfect After All.” The vocoder-heavy ballad is reminiscent of the distinctive sound of 2016’s breakout producer, Francis and the Lights.

Sarah Close has the potential to be a breakout star of the indie-pop scene. For fans of Halsey, Melanie Martinez, or newbie Sigrid, Caught Up will be easy listening.

Review for Sara Ontaneda’s album ‘Entre Espacios y Colores’

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Ecuadorian-American singer Sara Ontaneda is a unique artist who blends folk, R&B and South-American tunes into an infused genre-bending sound.  Currently residing in New York City, Ontaneda discovered that she harnessed a love for music at a young age.  She started piano lessons at age 7 and by age 9, she had joined her school’s choir in Miami, Florida.  She moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador ,at age 13 and began seriously studying classical music in the conservatories in Guayquil, while also maintaining her love for mainstream music by joining jazz and bossa nova bands.

Ontaneda continued her musical education by studying at Berklee College of Music, where she majored in Contemporary Writing and Production.  Meanwhile, Ontaneda graduated with honors and was awarded with scholarships for her efforts.

On Ontaneda’s debut full-length album endeavor, entitled Entre Espacios y Colores, the record is a reflection of Ontaneda’s diverse world-view that spans from New York City to Ecuador.  It is a multi-fold study between the fluid forays of South American music and an introduction of jazzy and folk fusions with an indie rock/pop twist.

The first track, “Chico Bien,” is a snappy track filled with jazzy flavors.  It has an invigorating sound, filled with light-hearted, bright and colorful tones.  Ontaneda’s crystalline singing and clear vocal abilities encases this rich sound that soars with a mellow quality that gets heavy backing by the keyboards.

“Aprovechar” is equally delightful as the previous track though with a darker ambiance.  The ominous sound carries through with a more pressing and urgent undertone.  The soaring harmonies and seamless blend of instrumentals pave the way for a relax feel to the song.  This charming ballad with its mixture of indie pop/rock and Latin fusion resounds with layers of trumpets that harken the end of the track.

“My City” starts off with the mellow singer-songwriter’s soothing vocals adding a calm quality to the R&B track.  Steady rhythms coming from the beat of the drums in the background keeps time to the tenacious song.  Filled with a hazy sound, the strong backbeat interlaced with the sounds of the violin adds a fray of delicacy to the sound.  The sense of fragile sensibility and the undertones of frailty, which deliberately highlights the fluty vocals is accompanied by the steady strumming from the guitar.

“A Pensar” is a synth-filled track, filtered with the effect of reverb.  There is a lulling sort of outcome as Ontaneda leads you through this fleeting song.  Lasting only 3:16 min., the track strolls along the alternative route through jazzy and folk territories.  The backbone has to be the singer’s vocal abilities, though carrying, really adds to the sparse nature of these tracks, giving them a momentous embellishment.

On “Darling”, the song has a winding Contemporary Radio feel to it as Ontaneda sings with a pop lilt similar to such tastemakers like Sara Bareilles.

The album slows down in the song “Huecos” for a more ballad-y feel.  As Ontaneda unwinds by plucking on the strings on her guitar over this slow number, the slight, dramatic curve of the track makes for a catalytic effect to the song as towards the end, the ebb and flow of the track will make listeners bob their heads along with this mellow vibe.

Ontaneda really showcases her feel for authenticity by infusing her diversified background into these intently jazzy melodious furnished tracks.  Toward “Waiting Outside” we see a quirky beat manifest into a retro Motown vibe with an intricate balance between drums, keys, bass, and violin.  The bright, positive energy carries through in such tracks like “Park Drive” and “Guiame”, whose blend of synths and keys prove to be an enjoyable listening experience.

The charming universe that Sara Ontaneda shares with us in Entre Espacios y Colores is an ascent into Ontaneda’s first EP Marte y Jupiter, which received critical acclaim from news outlets from Latin America and Spain.  The success from the EP led Ontaneda to embark on her “Marte y Jupiter EP Tour” in Ecuador, where she performed in Pinas, Cueca, Quito and Guayaquil.

The fused layers of Sara Ontaneda’s debut full-length album is a generous foray into a multi-genre sound.  Entre Espacios y Colores is a bilingual album with tracks in English and others in Spanish, symbolic of Ontaneda’s multi-cultural life in New York City.  Timeless and rendered through patient casting, this makes Sara Ontaneda an ever-lasting artist.

Bishop Briggs smashes expectations with debut EP

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Sarah Grace McLaughlin – also known as Bishop Briggs – might be one of the most unique singers the industry has seen in years. The self-proclaimed queen of “trap-soul” had a worldly upbringing that had clear influence on her exploration as an artist. Born in London to Scottish parents, Briggs had her first performing experience in a karaoke bar in Tokyo, where she moved with her family when she was four years old. Briggs made waves with her smash single “River” in early 2016 and has since been the fascination of the alt-rock crowd. She’s opened for Coldplay, headlined her own stage at SXSW and earned a feature on the latest Cold War Kids record— all without having released a debut album of her own.

Bishop Briggs’ self-titled EP is her first to date and includes her first two mesmerizing singles, “River” and “Wild Horses.” The EP represents Briggs’ heart-stopping tenacity and incomparable artistry. Perfectly melding aspects of soul, folk-rock and electronica, Briggs effortlessly layers her versatile vocals over addictive acoustic beats. “Dark Side” is an instant standout on the six-track EP, a glittering and powerful bout of lyrical genius. Female artists are so often discouraged from giving their music a dark-pop edge, but artists like Banks and Tove Lo have certainly paved the way for Bishop Briggs to be fearless in her expression.

RELATED: PINS explore a darker side on new EP ‘Bad Thing’

“The Way I Do” is a biting, energetic track that shows off Briggs’ insanely soulful vocal range. It’s nearly impossible not to bop your head along to the hypnotic hook. The melancholic organ on “Dead Man’s Arms” pays homage to Briggs’ days performing in a gospel choir as a child in Tokyo. The song is exquisite from start to finish, but really hits its stride when Briggs shows off the gritty rasp of her voice. “The Fire” is the perfect closing track to this brilliant EP, finding the balance between darkness and light, devil and saint.

Bishop Briggs is a fiercely creative individual whose passion for music is unapologetic and unrelenting. With a debut EP as powerful and impressive as this, there’s no telling what records Briggs will break next.

Witness the meteoric rise of The Big Moon

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London’s four-piece band The Big Moon have been the talk of the industry for a while now and their debut album certainly proves they’re something to talk about.

These pop-savvy punk goddesses are young and very new to the scene, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by their sound. They write and play with the confidence of the oldest pros, aiming high with their first full-length LP, Love in the 4th Dimension. With bold melodies and cheeky lyrics abound, The Big Moon shatter all expectations and reclaim the crown of the exhausting alt-rock boys’ club.

Love in the 4th Dimension is 40 minutes of nostalgia, featuring just the right balance of grungy guitar riffs and head-spinning hooks. Juliette Jackson’s dry vocal will take you back to the glory days of punk—imagine the Pixies or Libertines fronted by a fearless and ferociously talented female vocalist. The album opens with a somewhat darker, retouched version of the band’s smash single, “Sucker.” Even in its subtle changes, the track demonstrates the consistency of The Big Moon—they know who they are as musicians and aren’t afraid to be exactly that. On “Pull the Other One,” the band eases into a distinct and stylized version of the identity curated from their previous EPs.  

While the band excels in highly-energetic tracks like “Bonfire,” their slow-burning tunes should not be overlooked. “Formidable” is full of passion and poetry, a dreamy and downplayed moment of repose amidst a collection of fuzzy, fast-paced tracks. “The Road,” a fan favorite, is introspective and representative of the band’s rise to the top of the charts. Jackson croons, “I don’t know why people can change / I know I’m not the same,” a plea that feels completely honest in its evident uncertainty. The Big Moon have changed, but their foundation remains.

Love in the 4th Dimension is a debut unlike any other. It’s truly out of this world and it’s out now!

Watch The Big Moon’s Vevo Ones to Watch performance of “Formidable” below.