ROCK RUNDOWN FOR 7/19/21

From left to right, Andy Dunfee and Alec Cox.

Bubble Made Imagination – “I Stole an Aeroplane”: The act led by Columbus, Ohio musician Andy Dunfee returns with a change of tempo from prior releases. This time, the outfit goes the classic alternative ballad route and this alteration works to demonstrate Dunfee’s expansive array of talent as a songwriter and performer. On “I Stole an Aeroplane,” Dunfee is joined by vocalists Alec Cox and Cristina Crimaldi, percussionist Aaron Bishara, and trumpeter Tim Perdue with everyone hitting their parts to precision with a well-rounded tune as the result. The hybrid of old school alt-rock with a kick of the new generation has worked out for Bubble Made Imagination with their recorded works. If the band wishes to take the next step and perform their remarkable collection live in front of an audience, odds are Dunfee and company will pass with flying colors.  

Pink Salt – “One Hour”: On the Columbus indie rock quintet’s second ever single, the group shows they have the chops to hang with the Capital City’s established bands. Standout elements on the new tune are the nifty guitar play and the Bob Dylan-esque vocals that are a nice change from what other local bands are providing. Everybody in Pink Salt knows how important their role in making the band successful and what listeners get is top-notch quality. The members’ motivation and individual skillsets make for a superb sophomore effort that is sure to be a hoot for listeners digitally and live in-person. The group has taken their talents to the live stage to a positive response thus far. Pink Salt’s confidence must be through the roof with not only well-received gigs, but terrific output courtesy of “One Hour” and its equally awesome predecessor “Paradisium Rex.”

Saltlick – “go away”: On July 9, highly regarded emo rock singer-songwriter Brianna Snider dropped this track about her experience returning to her hometown of Pittsburgh from a successful time musically in Columbus. The approximately three-minute song has that trademark Saltlick catchiness to it with some indie rock danceability, but the lyrics depict an underwhelming experience sung by Snider in a melancholy way. She takes a deflating moment in her life and sets it to a happy tone to reinforce her own unique take on emo. This gives listeners something to grasp onto that has a happy tone, but is balanced out by demoralizing verbiage that leaves listeners having empathy for Snider in her home again moment. This approach has been successful for Saltlick at this point as writing, playing, and singing about pain is commonplace for musicians. Everyone is pulling for Snider in turning her situations into a form of healing.

Faded Element – “Echo”: The pandemic has been difficult on most people, but making the most of it is this Canadian alternative rock act led by Drew Budd with Nick Iden playing the instruments along with handling mixing and mastering. Unable to meet in person, the duo took advantage of modern technological advances and managed to release a high-quality rock tune reminiscent of the days when Vertical Horizon and Matchbox Twenty ruled the airwaves. Budd’s chops hold up to the likes of Matt Scannell, Rob Thomas, and many others and Iden’s musicianship throughout the single is just as top tier as the vocals. As a formidable follow-up to their 2019 album Off The Back Burner, “Echo” demonstrates despite all the adversity thrown their way, Faded Element can craft fantastic music in terms of writing, production, and performing. Will they ever get to record and perform in person again? Only time will tell, but these guys have a lot left in the tank and are ready to go when the opportunity arises.

Roxy Mae – “Slips Away”: The Central Ohio outfit has had lineup changes over its decade-long run, but the one constant is the talent that is vocalist/guitarist Matt Starr. Joining Starr in the group’s current incarnation are drummer Patrick Bailey and bassist/vocalist Joe Black. This time out, Roxy Mae goes against type by releasing a ballad that draws from heartache Starr experienced. His authentic vocals combined with the consistent acoustic guitar in the first third of the song will hook listeners to empathize. In the song’s latter two-thirds, electric guitar dominates the tune and accompanied with superb drum play makes “Slips Away” a strong rock ballad reminiscent of when metal acts like Extreme, Poison, and Firehouse had a standout slower tempo song up their sleeves. Everyone involved in the making of the single should be proud of its release as it pulls on heartstrings just as much as it shows top-flight musical prowess.

The Safest Ledge – “What Have You Done”: The Youngstown, Ohio band sought to reinvent their mindset and sound from prior releases while maintaining the same quality. Co-written by the band and Steve Perrino (who also produced and engineered), “What Have You Done” does not disappoint as the new single is alternative emo at its finest. Their latest masterpiece is a solid melancholy flight that takes listeners on an addictive emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. Those who get an earshot of it will have it on repeat until they have had their fill of this ingenious single. TSL created a playlist of tunes that inspired the creation of “What Have You Done” with Deftones and Citizen having multiple entries, as that should give listeners a look into the band’s mind as far as influences go. This strongly produced and solidly executed concoction should have a home on alternative and mainstream rock radio, but it is a matter of getting the right ears to focus on something so dramatic and personals from the group’s psyche. Nevertheless, this banger will be well-received as TSL is back to performing live and that is who the band ultimately wants feedback from.

Tess – “Bed Of Lies”: Released just a few days ago, the Nashville alternative rocker drops a piano-driven tune that makes the most out of her talent as a musician and a vocalist. The single serves to promote the release of an upcoming EP that is sure to impress as Tess sings from the heart and proves she has a powerful voice much like other pianists such as Tori Amos, Jillette Johnson, Fiona Apple, Alicia Keys, to name a handful. The subject matter of “Bed Of Lies” is relatable as it deals with ambition and identity, things very important to people who desire a better life for themselves. Tess’ passion and dedication are on full display within the song. She also has passion and dedication for the Music City’s in-house scene as she has built a backyard stage named Beep Bop Box out of pallets from a local brewery with a friend helping to hang some lights. The result has been intimate shows featuring Nashville’s underground talent and writers’ think tanks to positive reviews. The venture has gained buzz outside of the city as touring acts are now inquiring into performing on the backyard stage. Things are looking up for Tess onstage and off, musically, and behind the scenes and listeners and the like will be curious to see what the new record brings along with the house shows.

Meagan Hickman – “Obsession”: The newest from the Nashville-based pop-soul crooner serves as a follow-up to the much appreciated jazzy single “Still Here.” This time around, Hickman delivers a fancy dance tune that oozes sultriness by way of booming beats and Hickman’s vibrant vocals. The song may be short compared to other dance tracks out there, but that just means it will be on repeat until listeners can dance no more. The accompanying video directed by Cholette shows Hickman being empowering and alluring simultaneously while performing seductive and slithering movements throughout. Co-written by Hickman, Thomas Pino, and Evan Cline (who also produced), “Obsession” has the musical workings from top to bottom to be a success on the Top 40 and the club charts. The mixing and mastering were handled by Matt Harris and Chris Gehringer, respectively, with the latter having worked on songs by heavy hitters Dua Lipa, Halsey, and Selena Gomez. That kind of pedigree behind the scenes along with the skillset multi-instrumentalist Hickman brings to the table makes for a sizzling summer single sure to heat up earbuds and stereos everywhere.

WIESE – “Hear Me”: The latest from the suave Norwegian DJ/songwriter/producer dropped five weeks ago and has already amassed 150,000 streams on Spotify alone. The tune is a hybrid of house music and pop that is a perfect bop for the sweltering summer party scene. Joined by vocalists Erin Jarvis and Callen, “Hear Me” is considered an excellent song to emerge from the mandates and lockdowns from as the song is about busting out from the cocoons and getting back to a life of normal. With the beautiful beats combined with Jarvis and Callen’s vibrant and polarizing vocals, “Hear Me” is the lit anthem that some people need to hear as motivation to get back to the clubs, beaches, and house parties (post-vaccination, of course). The song is short and sweet clocking in at less than two and a half minutes, but what a booming tune it is. The official video will have people jumping and bumping as well as it tells a remarkable story of going from a ghost town to business as usual. People looking for good times will play this repeatedly, which might be the contributing factor to it catching on in such a brief time. The sky is the limit for WIESE as with over 15 million Spotify streams to date, he is on his way to joining popular DJs such as David Guetta, Calvin Harris, among others to stardom.

ROCK RUNDOWN FOR 7/5/21

Faye – “As I Am”: This marks the first single by the Central Ohio band’s current configuration of vocalist/guitarist and the group’s namesake Faye Williams, bassist Jenna Jaworski, guitarist Jonathan Leonard, and drummer Jared Knutson. Along with a lineup change comes a departure in sound from Faye’s prior release “Pink Dress.” The new release is a solid, sharp, and cunning alternative rock tune that accentuates Williams’ powerful, on-point vocals. The song also possesses brilliantly crafted guitar work from Leonard, beautifully blended in bass from Jaworski, and quite prolific drumming by Knutson. Directed by Trey Pride, the video for “As I Am combines scenes in color and black-and-white as the band is depicted rocking out in various areas, including a downtown rooftop and an elevator. The song about what you see is what you get is flawless in its production, musicianship, and ambition. These four mechanics have built themselves quite the vehicle with “As I Am” and highway of success looks to be long and promising.

*Photo by Blazing Chakrams Photography

Cotter – “Keep Driving”: The newest tune by the Columbus emo pop punk quintet quickly proves itself as a summer banger with vicious vocals, dynamite drum play, and supreme guitar work throughout. The song has rock radio hit written all over it and it should be a matter of when the band takes the airwaves by storm versus if. The chorus hooks the listener making for some massive headbanging and fist pumping and ought to be a fave at live events. Cotter also has a video for the rager, directed by Frank Mareno, which combines footage of the blokes cruising around town with them doing what they do best on-stage. If “Keep Driving” catches on, the fellas will not be an unsigned group for much longer. They have the arsenal, talent, and drive to go far in the local scene and beyond.

*Photo by Nathan Shipp

Shape Of The Sun – “Words You Can’t Erase”: Columbus alternative rock soloist Nate Linek returns with a song that is a change of tempo from his prior heavy hitters. SOTS’ newest release is a compassionate and earnest semi-ballad in which Linek expresses a great deal of emotion in his vocals. The drum work throughout is spot on and the guitar work a minute in gives listeners a tremendous taste of Linek’s craftmanship. The lyric video, which utilizes clips from Pexels.com, drives home his soul-baring and vulnerability that he has not displayed on recent releases. Credit goes to Shape Of The Sun for making each single distinct from one another, which reinforces Linek’s array of talent and diversity in songwriting and musicianship.

Jake Summers – “Church”: The multi-instrumentalist from Columbus is a box of chocolates as he is known in the scene for a displaying a variety of creativity. Being part of prominent bands over the years, as of late Summers has elected to devote some of his brilliance and genius to a solo career. His latest single to drop possesses pristine indie rock harmonies that shine through due to first-rate production. When it comes to playing instruments, Summers has shown he is prolific but on “Church” he demonstrates his gifts of indie folk songwriting and his honest and fabulous vocals. Ready to front his own band for live events, Summers has the aptitude, attitude, and this spectacular song to take the ball and run as far as possible with it.

Spice Jar – One Last Time”: Columbus tandem Zack Elswick and Alonso Zavala are back with another tune that diversifies their impressive musical portfolio. Over the past couple of years, the duo has taken advantage of their chops and created one banger after another. It is safe to say on “One Last Time,” the streak continues as this angsty, in-your-face single brings a lot to the table. The tune is a hybrid of pop punk, emo, and alternative rock and that mix provides listeners with a song that has vicious vocals, gritty guitar play, and on-fire drumming with powerful production value behind it. It will be included on their upcoming EP, which is being handled by the reputable Jakob Mooney of Mooney Recordings. Mooney’s name attached to anything is proof it is on the level. “One Last Time” has an accompanying video shot entirely on VHS with the lads getting into mischief around town. This is a shred of evidence Zavala and Elswick take the music making seriously, but not necessarily themselves. The formula has made for sensational songs and this latest to drop is a terrific tease for the new record.

Maddy Hicks – “My Eyes Have Dried”: The Nashville-based contemporary pop singer-songwriter by way of the state of New York delivers a powerful and slickly produced message about heartache and getting to closure. Hicks takes approximately four minutes to call out an ex who was a disappointment and makes it clear in the end she is over it. Sometimes pain makes for the best story and Hicks channels her situation into what turns into a song of progress and empowerment. “My Eyes Have Dried” contains precise vocal output spread among beautiful beats and well-placed guitars that makes for a song worthy of Hot AC and pop airplay. Hicks comes off as a tad brooding when delivering the lyrics and her singing combined with the music makes for a terrific tune with legs to reach the mainstream. Based on prior releases “Wake Up and Call the Uber” and “Backseat,” Hicks is on her way to making a name for herself beyond Music City, U.S.A..

daysormay – “Ego”: Although the latest from the Canadian trio dropped several weeks ago, it is one of the more unique songs to come out of 2021. The Vancouver group comprised of Aidan Andrews, Nolan Bassett, and Carson Bassett have created a track that fuses together elements of electropop, and hip-hop that is out of left field. The song “Ego” derives from the concept of the same name as studied by Sigmund Freud along with the concepts of superego and id. The vocals are executed beautifully within the booming beats and super snyths, helping to make the song worthy of being a pop chart hit in their native land and beyond. On Spotify alone, it has amassed nearly 87,000 streams but on YouTube the video for “Ego” has slightly under double those that number in views. While daysormay list the likes of Glass Animals and Phoenix as influences, the vid shows the gents channeling Daft Punk and The Beastie Boys as the Bassett brothers don masks and the trio wear the same white industrial uniforms while wreaking havoc around Vancouver’s industrial community. It is a sight to see and the band is one to watch for the rest of 2021 and then some.

Siena Bjorn – “Indigo”: Seattle born and Denver bred, this actor and singer dropped this jazzy pop gem over a month ago and it has a chance to go places. The new tune has that 90s R&B, jazz, and pop swirl about it reminiscent of Digable Planets’ smash hit “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)”. “Indigo” is a story about acquiescing where the protagonist is conflicted on making herself vulnerable to being hurt once again. The song is catchy as the day is long, the subject matter is relatable to people who have had relationship dilemmas, and it is radio-ready for Hot AC and pop stations. There are a couple of vids for the song premiering on July 7 and they are only going to add to Bjorn’s bombastic prolific portfolio. The industry is a shark seeking fresh blood and execs should look no further to what Bjorn presents on “Indigo” and the rest of her smooth catalog. 

Nightshifts – “Rest”: Having already gained praise from outlets 1883 Magazine, Earmilk, Under the Radar, and others, Toronto-based Andrew Oliver has a bright future that will only get brighter from here. His latest indie pop wonder has amazing, genuine vocals mixed with bombastic beats and sharp guitars which makes for an easy-going three minutes of spectacular indie rock. Pun intended, “Rest” is a song for those who need a moment to escape and relax from their daily ills. Through his other releases, Oliver has garnered about a million streams and he ought to be onto millions more. He is creating out-of-this-world stories that are resonating with listeners and with his knack for creating spacey songs, the world will be hearing a lot from Nightshifts and they better get ready for the ride of their lives.  

ROCK RUNDOWN FOR 6/28/21

Pink Salt – “Paradisum Rex”: The debut single by the Columbus, Ohio based indie rock outfit is an outlandish, jamming gem from start to finish. The band shows a great deal of creativity to concoct a multigenre tune to start their reputations off with a bang. Pink Salt’s premiere song has elements of funk, rock, and pop rolled into tasty musical burrito that listeners will savor until the final note. More indie rock delight is to come, as the group plans to drop the record Not to be Rude in the coming months. Members Nicole Orsini, Nick Partridge, Greg “Geg” Price, Nico Linik, and Kieran York can raise their heads high knowing they have put together an auspicious and remarkable tune in “Paradisum Rex”. If the debut album is anything close to their premiere song, they will have a bright future in the local scene for a long time to come.

*Photo by Harry Acosta Photography

Courtney From Work – “Caught Wasted”: The Columbus barbecue rock fellas return with a prolific single that promotes their upcoming album Yarb Hundy, due out on July 16 with a live celebration show set to occur the night after. CFW gives off major Weezer vibes on the new tune (think of Rivers Cuomo and company’s mainstream hit “Beverly Hills”). “Caught Wasted” makes tremendous utilization of CFW’s sense of humor and life perspective and will be among listeners’ favorite tunes on the new record and at concerts. For those familiar with their work and their live performances, the band takes their music making and their concert efforts seriously, but they do not necessarily take themselves too seriously. They know when and how to have fun and when and how to turn it on and be pros. Case in point, the band have a light-hearted video that shows the band rocking out, but still shows creativity and a little comedy. Signed to Long Nail Records, the quartet of Jacob Fournier, Colin Cavanaugh, Andrew Davis, and Conner Hannah have crafted an excellent alternative rock song that is the perfect start to the summer and deserves to be played on repeat whenever and wherever possible.

Spirit Of The Bear – “I Can’t Breathe (Redux)”: In existence for seven years, the Ohio indie pop wonders have released regionally acclaimed bops and bangers left and right. With their latest single, the good fortunes continue with one of the group’s most mainstream Top 40 efforts yet. As one can tell from the song’s title, this is a reimagination of one of the band’s prior releases, which originally was part of the record Remains that dropped five years back. The 2021 version is an enhancement of an already awesome tune with vibrant vocals, dynamic drumming, energetic electronic beats, and proper guitar placement to give it an equal amount of sizzle to the hearty musical steak. What has kept SOTB fresh is their knack for diversifying their portfolio and doing so at a prominent level. “I Can’t Breathe (Redux)” is every bit as good as some of their fans’ faves “Run My Mouth”, “Why Can’t We Talk About It?”, “Summer Snow”, among others. The lads can deliver a variety of should-be radio hits and their latest reiterates that the fellas are ready for the next level to take their act nationally and beyond.

Adoremus – “Do You Love Me? (Regressing)”: Alternative rock awesomeness that has legs to peak high on the charts is what describes the latest song by the Toledo trio. Comprised of Tre Kane, Daniel Sitler, and Ben Vasko, these gentlemen pour their hearts and souls into this single with each individual’s part coming together to make for a four-minute inspirational and emotional journey that flat out rocks. Adoremus recently released a video for the powerful track which shows a man constantly escaping masked, shady individuals intending harm upon the protagonist. The vid also shows Vasko, Sitler, and Kane performing their musical parts with passion and seriousness. The song’s lyrics show how transparent the three are with the importance of their faith in their lives with respect and tact. The song speaks to a disconnect between one’s relationship with a higher power and seems relatable no matter what a person’s denomination may happen to be. “Do You Love Me (Regressing)” gets its message across in a respectful manner that still enables listeners to draw their own conclusions as to where their respective relationships stand.

*Photo by Austin Spruill

Through The Tallwoods – “Rat Race”: Earlier this month, the Raleigh emo punk three-piece dropped this raucous and ambitious single and it is an excellent follow-up to last year’s release titled “Girl”. The song rapidly accelerates into fiery punk rock fare and the band is in full control of the ravaging ride until the very end. Through The Tallwoods and “Rat Race” click on all cylinders with gritty guitar work, rampaging drums, and vicious vocals making for a smash, figuratively and literally. The song is well-written, well-performed, and magnificently produced without compromising the group’s punk rock principles and roots. To quote an Olympic Gold Medalist, “Rat Race” possesses the intensity, integrity, and intelligence people look for in DIY musicians. The band has put out their best work yet and this one will be a headbanging and moshing favorite among fans when the trio performs it live.

From left, Colby Hansen and Aibai

Aibai x Colby Hansen – “Still Running”: The Minneapolis-based producer has collaborated with fellow Minneapolis resident and multi-instrumentalist Colby Hansen multiple times including on recently premiered gems like “Aura” and “All Night”. Their latest foray continues the streak of superb singles by the team. The arrangement is on-point with marvelous harmonies accompanied by Hansen’s soothing and ready for prime-time vocals. “Still Running” has potential to be a dance club sleeper due to its calming and seductive nature. Aibai and Hansen’s friendship adds to the authenticity the tandem has oozed in their recent collabs. Aibai has proven that she is right up there with other breakthrough producers such as Calvin Harris, David Guetta, to name a couple. Hansen has the vocal skillset similar to vivacious singers Natalie Horler of Cascada, Foxes, KT Tunstall, among others. Both as individuals are amazing talents, but as a duo that much-deserved major record deal might be right around the corner and these masterpieces will make a serious impact in the mainstream.

IAMREBELWILL – “Addicted”: The current tune slated to be part of RebelFuturism lives up to its name as it will hook listeners with the Canadian performer’s vocals, brilliant beats, and relatable subject matter. The song deals with the fallout of being consumed by feelings for someone and is set to bombastic beats and harmonies for days. “Addicted” is anthem worthy for hopeless romantics regardless of who they may love, but IAMREBELWILL feels it is important to create sincere songs with substance for marginalized and/or underrepresented groups whose stories are not always heard. The Montreal-born and Toronto-based artist’s newest tune is every bit as vivid as his personality and by creating a song that expresses his personality turned all the way up, he is going to be on cloud nine for a long time. IAMREBELWILL has demonstrated the songwriting and singing chops to go far beyond his wildest dreams and the music world better watch out as he is ready to bring his blend of R&B, pop, and electronica to the masses.

Breagh Isabel – “Girlfriends”: Newly signed to Warner Music Canada, Isabel’s newest release might be only two and a half minutes in length, but its impact on the people it affects will be felt for ages. It tells the tune of a budding romance that was alluded to, but ultimately was a missed opportunity. In the accompanying video directed by Tamara Black, actors Cassidy Foley and Carolyn Yu bring emotion, sincerity and respect to Isabel’s song which can only help youths and adults who have had similar experiences or who are currently going through this kind of heartache. “Girlfriends” can also be beneficial for people in processing who they really are. The lyrics are heartfelt, the music itself is appropriate for the theme without being too somber, and the execution leads to a song that will do people a lot of good in finding themselves. No stranger to top-notch songwriting for other artists and with works utilized in programs Grey’s Anatomy and Batwoman, Isabel has quite a future as a performer in her own right.

TONYB. – “Doubt Me”: With outlets Earmilk, Live Nation’s Ones to Watch, and Spotify Fresh Finds playlists already paying attention, the Nashville artist has been sitting on this empowering tune for a while. He now believes this is the right time to drop it and it was worth the wait. “Doubt Me” is about being driven and determined to the point that nothing gets in the way. The song calls out haters and skeptics trying to get in his head, but undeterred the protagonist marches on with the confidence that brought him prominence. Inspired by R&B giants Usher, D’Angelo, and the late Aaliyah, TONYB. is most certainly on the right trajectory to carve out a career on his own merit. “Doubt Me” brings alive his noble songwriting and world class vocals as the track’s arrangement is on point throughout, making for just under three minutes of a fabulous tale of overcoming adversity. He believes his message of not giving up and being one’s real self can do people with the deck stacked against them by society a great deal of good. The talent is there, the message is there, and with the way the scales have tipped over the years TONYB. is on his way to being a bonafide star with a good heart and a good head on his shoulders to boot.

ROCK RUNDOWN FOR 6/21/21

Fashion Week – “Déjà Vu”: Released a few weeks ago, this latest banger is the Columbus, Ohio outfit’s follow-up to their 2020 release (a powerful take on Coldplay’s “Yellow”). Their newest output is arranged beautifully with every member playing their part with absolute precision. The drum play is spot on and the guitar work is awesomely distributed throughout, but the vocals are the straw that stirs the drink. Combined, Fashion Week have themselves a rock bop that should find itself on lots of alternative playlists online and at rock radio stations. “Deja Vu” is an excellent kickoff to what should be a hot summer for music.

Jimmy Suspect – “The Walls”: Released just before Father’s Day, the follow-up to his debut single “Bad News” is flawless from the first note to the last. He was motivated by his dad’s dedication and drive during his adolescent years. Nowadays, as a father himself Jimmy Suspect wants to pay it forward and leave a lasting legacy. “The Walls” is brilliantly crafted hip-hop with words that flow like a river and seamless beats giving this hard-working Ohioan another respected tune he can be proud of.

F/L/P – “Kiss That”: Music is in the blood of Norwegian artist Philip Dementiev, which reiterates his credibility on his latest single. The tune tells the unfortunate tale of when attraction turns into an addiction. F/L/P felt it was important to get the point across that love can be either a delight or detriment. It has been thought that his newest creation is a hybrid of The Neighbourhood and The Weeknd and whoever came up with that opinion is not far off. The brooding R&B style and arrangement make “Kiss That” seem like a sultry, seductive single but it is imperative the listener keep the subject matter in mind. This is where F/L/P’s creative genius comes into play as the song walks that tightrope between passion and obsession.

Photo by Celina Morken

Yndling – “Cotton Candy Skies”: Born Silje Espevik, Norwegian dream pop artist returns with a sugary follow-up to the song “Childish Fear”. Yndling’s dove like voice fits the music perfectly giving off a trippy late 70s/early 80s pop/new wave vibe. Inspiration for her new single came from having low morale and looking at the sky one day, improving her mood. “Cotton Candy Skies” will certainly place listeners in a euphoric state as that is just her style at this point. She is excellent in executing her idealistic style and emotionally impacting people in a good way. Espevik’s brand of pop lullabies are starting to resonate with aficionados and her breakthrough moment will happen sooner rather than later.

Said Sara – “Bleedways”: San Francisco singer-songwriter David Benson is back with an acoustic tune with a lot of vigor behind it. Benson’s vocal delivery is angsty throughout the song, which is appropriate given his time as a drummer in the rock outfits Acephalix and Plaguestate. Said Sara is the musical act in which he gets to simmer down a bit, yet keep a little of the rock vibe in terms of the vocals. His lead singer experience from yesteryear in the band Extinction (later named Transition.) still serves him well these days. Jesse Nichols of The Atomic Garden West did the mastering of “Bleedways” and along with the actual songwriting and performance, everyone involved can say they did a world class job of creating an intense and captivating acoustic rock tune that will leave a positive impression on all who hear it.

Gina Naomi Baez – “Uniqeuorn”: Already garnering attention from countless major outlets including Entertainment Weekly, The Huffington Post, Yahoo! News, and the like, the social media influencer, actor, and singer/songwriter is well on her way to being a success in the music industry. On her latest song, Baez proves she has the skills to back up her own sense of bravado. The pop bop has awesome arrangement, bombastic beats, and Baez’s ready for prime-time vocals making the song worthy of an entry in the CHR Top 40. “Uniqueorn” is an anthem that reinforces Baez’s own confidence and self-worth, but also empowers its listeners to embrace what makes them different from the status quo while maintaining their ambitions. A week and a half ago, the official video dropped and lives up to the message of being, well, unique. The vid captures Baez being light-hearted and fun even if the subject matter of being oneself is quite important these days.

Von Boyáge – “Laissez Faire”: Inspired by the end of a relationship that grew apart figuratively and literally, L.A. duo Christopher Hocker and Stevie Noah came up with this mellow tune with an attitude of letting things happen organically when it comes to romance. The song is closer to a ballad, but packs a whole lot of pop with a melodious chorus and sharp, yet laid-back execution. The proof of the Zen-like approach by the lads is evident in the video with all its relaxing imagery as directed by Cameron Masingale. The nonchalant perspective in “Laissez Faire” mirrors their execution as seen in the video, but the effort is 100 percent as the production side of the single is sharp. This is the “don’t sweat the small stuff” anthem that people going through turmoil need to hear. The tandem has other compelling songs that show their performance and songwriting range which include “Dreaming” and “Summer”.

Can Guru? – “Winner Today”: Belgian-born Colin Crichton is influenced by the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Aphex Twins, and 808 State to come up with his own brand of electronica. The song deals with the concept of perseverance and overcoming adversity, which should resonate with several people who are attempting to emerge from the global health crisis. The captivating music video that gives the song’s full effect was directed by Chris Booker and captures the concept of rags to riches and back again quite well. “Winner Today” possesses on-point beats, ravishing rap parts, and a memorable and inspirational chorus. Crichton studied Sound Engineering at Salford University, which explains how the single can sound so crisp and concise. Being on the production side of music has served him well as a performer and in addition to his latest electronic music connoisseurs should enjoy prior releases like “Digitize” and “Strawberry Smiles”.

Catbells – “Fade – Rainy Day Demo”: A tribute to a lost love, the current single from the New England-raised singer-songwriter is a well-written as it is executed. Melancholy and reflective, her latest tune delves into the concept of romantic heartache and she delivers it with grace and poise. Although the song is a tad up-tempo, this version of “Fade” appropriately matches the somber mood Catbells seeks to convey. The accompanying animated video will get the song’s message across as well and those who witness it might want to have a pack of tissues handy. This mysterious artist has the talent to go far in the industry and will captivate listeners along the way as she wears her emotions of her sleeve through compelling performances.

ROCK RUNDOWN FOR 6/14/21

Elaina Arthur – “You Would Wait”: The Columbus, Ohio indie pop performer takes the pace down a couple of notches from her well-received predecessor “Saturn”. Her latest tune is a soulful ballad with Arthur’s ever on-point vocals, great guitar play, and a cunning chorus shining through. The single was produced by hometown Black Moon Recordings with plans for a video for it to drop in late June. Imagine Joss Stone on vocals with H.E.R. on guitar and here you have “You Would Wait” in all its glory. It is three and a half minutes of R&B and pop goodness packed together giving the upstart another Top 40-worthy gem to be proud of.

Friends With Elephants – “We Might Be Dreaming”: Columbus soloist Ethan W. Benton is the mastermind behind this project and the new single is a thing of indie genius. It has some hints of indie pop and jazz that will make it stand out amongst the bevy of higher tempo tunes out there right now. The track contains Benton’s calm, soothing voice accompanied by sensational guitar work and superb drumming leading to a song worthy of climbing the Triple A charts. “We Might Be Dreaming” is dreamy for sure, enabling listeners to close their eyes and imagine themselves in a peaceful place such as the beach, a picnic under the stars, or at a swank café sipping a fancy Frappuccino. Benton has a knack for songwriting, performing, and storytelling as evident on his newest release as co-produced by him and Joshua Altfater of Southwood Studios and mixed and mastered by WYD member Maddy Ciampa. Everyone who had a hand in creating this new tune should take a bow as this is what top notch production and musicianship are all about.

Snugrat x Left Out – “Different Times”: Starting with the opening note, the down-to-earth indie pop tune will put listeners in a laid-back zone. Columbus solo artist Snugrat teams with another acclaimed local act Left Out to send people on a trippy and mellow trek leaving their morale better than it was before playing the song. The single is about the current crop of young adults being disenchanted with inheriting a bad situation from previous generations. Both Snugrat and Left Out lead vocalist Ceci Clark share singing duties and it works like a well-oiled machine. The music’s tone is an absolute match with Snugrat and Clark’s voices giving the music scene one of the coolest songs out right now. The bohemian approach and execution of “Different Times” are just exactly what listeners need heading into the summer.

Raye Robinson – “Daisies”: After a collab with Sooraj a couple of years back, fast forward to this year which sees the native San Diegan and current Hollywood resident dropping her debut tune. On “Daisies”, Raye comes out of the gate with fierceness and self-assurance that she is going to go places and fast. The product is world class all the way with its high-end production value, magnificent musical stylings, and, of course, Robinson’s rock-solid vocal output. Her confidence shines through on the recording and especially in the music video that was released June 3. The song might be short and the vid is simple, but given the relatable subject matter and the single’s arrangement “Daisies” is a win on all accounts.

BINNY – “Feedback”: The Maryland-based pop artist returns with an up-tempo synth bop that with the right promotional rocket behind it has nowhere to go but up the dance and mainstream charts. Having music in his genes, BINNY brings experience, passion, and vigor to his new single. “Feedback” has a message of the need of having requited love with clear and constructive communication as part of the deal. The artist takes his craft quite seriously to provide fans and casual listeners with positive messages of love. He believes it is his duty to release top quality tunes that entertain and educate, but he also wants to contribute to the diversity that seems to be lacking within the industry. Given “Feedback” is well-written, performed with proliferation, and awesomely arranged, it is safe to say BINNY is on his way to accomplishing his goals. Going along with the sizzling audio is a visualizer for “Feedback” as created by Savannah Feiler.

ELUNIA – “Pressure Points”: A hybrid of Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple has arrived in the form of this New Hampshire-based prodigy. When the chips were down, ELUNIA turned to writing and producing music to improve the cold reality surrounding her. The final track off her newly dropped EP DEEP END, “Pressure Points” is a piano-heavy, emotionally and beautifully sung tune that deals with being inspired by someone and the insecurities of losing that person as a muse. For anyone who has ever had a friend, partner, or acquaintance serve as a beacon of home either intentionally or inadvertently, this tune will get them right in the heart and mind. “Pressure Points” is a serious song that is seriously full of vulnerability as ELUNIA bares her soul with every note she plays and every word she sings. The dark, yet serious subject matter on idolatry, mental health, and boundaries is one that must be heard by the masses and “Pressure Points” is a dark horse that with the right people behind the marketing can get its message out there.  To add to the seriousness, a visualizer has been created to go along with the spine tingling single.

Marco Dalla Villa f/ Lesley Roy – “Maps”: The Italian-born and London-based DJ/Producer was tapped by Irish rocker Roy to do a reimagination of her tune which peaked at #76 on the IRMA Irish Singles Chart. The result is a track that is representing her home country in the Eurovision contest. The remix is exactly what clubgoers need to get their dance on at discotheques after an over year-long shutdown due to the pandemic. The beats are bombastic set against veteran Roy’s vivacious vocals making for a radical song that should also shine on the radio on dance and Top 40 stations. The video for Marco’s remix is absolutely a sight to see and adds to the effect of the single. Summer is near and MDV’s version of “Maps” is a not only an excellent tune for Eurovision obviously, but for getting hot person summer started with a bang.

Bishop Ivy – “tunnel vision”: Here lies a tune that has a sound reminiscent of the late 80s and early 90s R&B and pop. Born in Boston and now with roots in Pittsburgh, Ivy’s current single explores the topic of insecurity within a romantic relationship, more specifically the concern of said relationship ending. Ivy puts himself out there by way of cryptic lyrics performed with humility and humanity not often heard in emotionally charged music these days. “tunnel vision” beautifully displays Bishop’s soul baring vocals with soothing harmonies in the background, making for a socially and emotionally relatable song sure to pull on listeners’ heartstrings. Released a week and a half ago, the official video directed by Tyler Dunning Evans serves as a wonderful visual of Bishop floating over brush and shrubbery in all his melancholy earnestness.

Ella McCready – “Fine On My Own”: Empowerment and independence are alive and well on the Londoner’s newest single. The song is about overcoming adversity after experiencing relationship toxicity and the domestic violence alluded to in the lyrics is metaphorical. The song’s strong points are McCready’s ready for pop radio vocals against a poppy instrumental and its danceability making it an anthem for abuse survivors. Stylistically, it is reminiscent of the late Whitney Houston’s global smash “I’m Every Woman”, which was also a celebratory tune for women across the world. The recently released video is absolutely worth several ganders as it shows the protagonist singing around town belting out her words of encouragement. Even a fraction of the accolades and spins would mark success for McCready and this well-made and even more well-intentioned tune.

ROCK RUNDOWN FOR 6/7/21

Rooftops – “Better Off Alone”: The newest release from Columbus, Ohio-based multi-instrumentalist Bryan Ream is another reinvention that showcases his array of talent as a performer and songwriter. The tune is a massive rager in terms of tone, pace, and attitude and it has a place on hard rock playlists on terrestrial radio and online. “Better Off Alone” is Rooftops’ edgiest song to date that gives off Blink-182 vibes with a little more power behind the punches. With fantastic harmonies, gritty guitar work, dynamic drumming, and Ream’s vocals as the cherry on top, this single should have no have problem amassing streams and being a headbanging favorite. Directed and edited by Zarek Metz, the official video is vibrant, sharp, and an excellent visual to go along with the rocking tune. In conjunction with the new single, it has been announced Rooftops will make its live show debut on July 30 in the Columbus suburb of Dublin as part of a local music festival packed full of rising and established Central Ohio artists.

Shiloh Hawkins – “Life Without You”: Transparent and honest, the Columbus singer-songwriter wrote this love song for a couple of friends who wed recently. As a token of gratitude for what those friends did for her, she pours her heart and soul all over this acoustic gem. Shiloh’s vocals will pull on listeners’ heartstrings and have them longing for finding love one day or appreciating their current partnerships a little more. Much like a lot of people, the past year or so was tough on Hawkins and this well-written, well-sung, well-played thing of beauty is part of her own healing process. Inspired to perform again, “Life Without You” is an excellent song as part of Hawkins’ comeback.

Abel – “Ywktt”: The Columbus electronic artist tries to provide the listening public with a distinct experience on every outing. On his latest, Abel demonstrates hip-hop chops combined with perfectly placed electronic beats and from-the-heart lyrics. The result is under three minutes of sheer genius that with the right promotional pull, has legs on over-the-air hip-hop, R&B, and alternative stations. “Ywktt” is as catchy as the summer days are long and is full of substance. Admiration goes out to Abel for writing and performing something that gives listeners a wide range of emotions. On a lighter note, released on June 4 is the official video for the tune as directed by Meghan McCloskey with her sharing videography duties with Dylan Phipps.

Lipstk – “Once in a blue moon”: The premiere single by the Ohio trio will have alternative rock aficionados long the genre’s heyday from the 90s and early 2000s. Their lead-off song is chock full of rock greatness in that it the vocals start off like a lamb and then the roar comes, taking the tune over the hump. If Extreme singer Gary Cherone were vocalist for Screaming Trees, you would have an idea of what Lipstik and “Once in a Blue Moon” sound like. Then again, it is easier to stream the polished and solid single ready for the big time and people can then have the audio proof that these guys have the knack to go far Each element comes together like a well-oiled machine with the on-point singing, ravishing guitar work and the dynamite drums. The blokes should be proud of an amazing first impression that will get them some much deserved praise and promotion in the local scene as they work their way to the big time.

MOMMY ISSUES – “Interesting”: As solo artists, Nashville’s Chey Rose and Amy Asher have garnered admiration and accolades for their respective releases. Nowadays, the pair have joined forces to write and perform as a collective and their debut single is fiery, fierce, and ferocious. “Interesting” is a pop bop that is way more than that as it possesses relevant, timely lyrics with pop power and spot-on hip-hop sprinkled in between. Co-written with Andrew Gomez, the tune’s theme is empowerment in which the tandem explains that anything they do, say, and wear is on their terms and theirs alone. “Interesting” is a well-crafted song that belongs on the Top 40 chart and it is only a matter of when versus if of Asher and Rose garnering a record deal and airplay. Strap a rocket to their backs and enjoy the ride as MOMMY ISSUES is ready to soar to new heights.

Animal Sun – “more than a friend”: Formed six years ago, the L.A. band has done well for themselves but they are looking to take the next leap in their endeavors. This alt-pop banger is evidence the band is on their way to taking the nation and beyond by storm. The track has hooks for days, head-bobbing appeal, slick production, and marvelous musicianship that make for a hit song. The bop has the right amount of 80s synthpop combined with modern pop to be a dark horse Top 40 hit. Those who miss now-defunct major label band Clear Static have the fellas of Animal Sun as the ultimate reincarnation. “more than a friend” oozes excellence and serves as terrific promotion for Animal Sun’s new album titled Echoes of a Dream, due out June 11. “More Than a Friend” also has a video for it that is as aesthetically pleasing as the song is superb sounding that reiterates the band is on their way to more attention, adulation, and accomplishments.

Jimmy Suspect – “Bad News”: The debut single by the Meigs County, Ohio artist is crisp from beginning to end with solid vocal delivery blended with astonishing arrangements making for quite the sleeper. Jimmy delivers his lines with panache and self-assurance that reinforces he is no ham-and-egger in the music scene. “Bad News” is great news for the music world as after a stream or two, people will be addicted. The alt hip-hop tune has uniqueness and relevance in an ever-evolving musical landscape in which genre bending is becoming prevalent. If his future releases are even half as decent as his debut, Jimmy Suspect will be rejoiced for years to come.

Zøie X – “IDWBN”: This latest single has the tools to be a hit for the Nashville-based pop singer-songwriter: Solid vocals, bombastic beats, and a remarkable chorus. The lyrics are relatable to many people who have been hosed by a former partner. The song serves as an anthem to get the last word and serve the dish of revenge cold. She has every chance in the world to excel in the industry and this newest bop plus her debut release “Overdue” are steps in the right direction. Living in a music-laden city certainly does not hurt her odds of success and what helps is that her style and genre stand out in the country music capital. Zøie X has plans to drop four more singles during this calendar year to build anticipation for her debut record due out in 2022.

Myles Lloyd – “Running On You”: With praise from outlets Earmilk, Live Nation’s Ones To Watch, and others, the newest track by the Montreal-based R&B artist is bound to garner him more adulation. The song is in-depth and personal about betting on oneself and facing adversity head-on. The song is brilliantly laid out and each element fits beautifully, making it a surefire hit if heard by the right ears. The voice, the harmonies, and the message make “Running On You” one of the more earnest and poignant songs in recent memory. An accompanying video for the single helps give the tremendous track the full effect to listeners and viewers. Previously released songs such as “Garçon”, “I Want It All”, and others have stream amounts in the six figures. His latest has the proof of his talent to do the same and earn him even more of a spotlight.

ROCK RUNDOWN FOR 5/31/21

Liberty Deep Down – “Hey You”: The Columbus, Ohio based trio is back with a vengeance with one hell of a banger just in time for summer and the reemergence of live events. “Hey You” has hit written all over it as it is performed with passion and enthusiasm that comes from only consummate professionals. The pop-rock tune starts off with a few seconds of spicy salsa flair and from there on out, the heat gets turned up a thousand degrees. LDD has the songwriting, vocals, and musicianship down pat to continue their success as an independent act, but that much deserved record deal cannot be too far behind. Their latest effort just shows that these lads are ready for the next level and it is a matter of when their bigger break comes versus if.

Bubble Made Imagination – “Tried To Wake Up”: The newest offering from the Central Ohio psych art rock outfit was created with precision and purpose. The sharp arrangement and solid output throughout the song are on display with vocalist Alec Cox, guitarist Andy Dunfee, and drummer Aaron Bishara being totally coordinated with each other. The group is difficult to nail down to one genre as this hybrid of a track has 70s and 90s elements that make it a tune cool enough for a car ride. That is a demonstration of BMI’s dedication to top-notch production and details like that will take them far in the local scene. Writing and recording solid throwbacks such as “Tried To Wake Up” will certainly not hurt their endeavors.

Johnny Ashby – “Wild”: The Englishman now based in L.A. returns with an emotional, soul-baring single which brings vulnerability out of him. It is safe to say the risk pays off. For most of “Wild”, Ashby is a balladeer putting himself out there with the risk paying off. The latter part of the song, however, has Ashby turning the tempo up a bit but he stays the course emotionally and spiritually. Ashby should be quite proud of “Wild” as it will resonate with people who go all in on love and companionship and the lyric video helps listeners learn of the song’s intended affect. Although not necessarily his intended purpose, the rising singer-songwriter might have written his soon-to-be most licensed tune ever as “Wild” is going to fit perfectly on many romantic dramas’ soundtracks.

RAGS AND RICHES – “THE BEAST”: The latest single from Lexington, Kentucky pop duo Peyton and Tanner Whitt has the brothers tackling the issue of wrestling with personal demons. The Whitts take mental health seriously and wanted to perform a song and accompanying video that deals with the topic head-on. As a song, “THE BEAST” holds its own in comparison to other RAGS AND RICHES singles as it contains the pop pizzaz and catchiness of its predecessors. To go along with the superb audio output, the band also has a video as directed by Austin Barron in which the storyline is every bit as powerful as the song itself. Given the tune’s serious message and radio-friendliness and the timing of the release, “THE BEAST” oozes potential to reach their increasing fanbase and beyond to give people a sense of hope and faith.

Sleepwoka – “All I Hoped For”: Ukranian-born and currently London-based, the electropop soloist questions his place in this world on his most recent release. The tune’s subject matter is designed to get people to reflect their own purpose in society all the while set to catchy beats and prolific arrangement. Since his professional debut two years ago, Sleepwoka has created thought provoking tracks and has steadily grown his audience with bops that still stay true to the genre. His talent has already been recognized by reputable outlets Earmilk, Variance, and others. He has the skills and the mind to make a name for himself in the industry worldwide and with a well-written, well-produced, and well-sung track such as “All I Hoped For”, Sleepwoka might not be waiting long for his breakthrough to the mainstream.

Sabriel – “Fox in the Henhouse”: Las Vegas singer-songwriter presents to the world a song about confronting a trusted individual who ultimately has ulterior motives. The neo-soul tune possesses lyrics indicating disappointment in deceit and through vibrance and Sabriel’s seductive voice, “Fox in the Henhouse” sounds like a high-quality R&B chart entry. The Handwritten Records artist is on her way to big things with an album out soon and established praise from outfits Live Nation’s Ones To Watch, Earmilk, and Notion. Those looking for eye-catching art to accompany this silky-smooth song can access a visualizer featuring animation by Kirsty O’Rourke. In only a handful of streams, it is clear the Sin City sensation has the chops to go far in music and with this lead-off single placing listeners in a hypnotic state, the success will roll in sooner versus later.

Bars and Melody – “Henny”: The UK rap duo has amassed an impressive following over their seven-year run and their latest track proves the adulation is warranted. On “Henny”, the tandem of Leondre Devries and Charlie Lenehan reflect on what they have truly experienced, as authenticity is especially important in the hip-hop genre. Since their adolescent years, Bars and Melody’s purpose is to write and record their reality knowing that they can make a greater impact on people just by being themselves. For “Henny”, the words flow quite well against the beats and the combination of rap and singing trade off at just the right times, making for a solid tune overall. Word is that the entire tune was recorded in a mere 20 minutes, which is evidence of musical intelligence that will take them far in the global music scene. For visual proof of their prowess, the former Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent competitors have a dynamite vid with over one-third of a million views at this point. The team is quite successful in their native land and beyond borders with the accolade of their debut single “Hopeful” entering the UK Chart at #5.

Waiting For Smith – “Tired Mind”: Also known as Harry Lloyd, the former ski instructor turned to music after a life-threatening injury and he has not looked back since. This has led to thoughtful, poignant, and endearing tunes much like his latest. Lloyd’s voice is authentic and disarming and on this light-hearted café tune, it goes a long way against the song’s mellowness. Signed to Four One Seven Records Ltd., WFS’ outlook as a singer-songwriter is unlimited as the soloist has a great deal of potential to become a star the likes of Mat Kearney, Howie Day, and other similar artists. Those captivated by the brilliance of the ballad “Tired Mind” shall enjoy his previous single, the up-tempo and quirky “Hopelessness of Love” which has AAA chart staple written all over it.

Jesse Walton – “Into Light”: Off the Londoner’s album Pages, Walton’s powerful and distinct voice is what will hook people on this acoustic upbeat single. He cut his teeth as a traveling performer across Europe and the States and his latest full-length album was 10 years in the making. “Into Light” is an excellent song to promote the record as it fits the album’s theme of dealing with adversity and overcoming it post-grief. The chorus as heard with Walton’s vocals stands out as words of wisdom, further demonstrating his intellect and articulation. The lad thinks of himself as a storyteller, which is why his recordings have heart and soul behind them. “Into Light” is an excellent tale worth an infinite number of streams as Walton continues to put himself out there for his own sense of healing and to be an inspiration to others.

ROCK RUNDOWN FOR 5/24/21

Elaina Arthur – “Saturn”: The Columbus, Ohio singer-songwriter on the rise released this indie pop gem approximately a week and a half ago to much praise. It is a contrast, yet equally high-quality song that serves as the follow-up to last year’s “5th Goodbye”. The tune exudes a ton of potential to climb the alternative and Hot AC charts with the right marketing behind it. “Saturn” possesses mainstream-friendly acoustic guitar riffs, a simple and succinct drumbeat, and Arthur’s solid and perfect pop vocals. Arthur is quickly showing she has talent for days and is in the same camp with other successful musicians Michelle Branch, Lisa Loeb, Anna Nalick, and more. “Saturn” will have listeners toe tapping and head bobbing from beginning to end and with time and backing, she will be a major player in the local scene and beyond.

Tensor – “Introvert”: The latest single from the Columbus prog rock outfit will be part of the group’s debut record Passport due out June 11. The instrumental is musically sound with amazing guitar work and durable drumming throughout. Tensor is difficult to define and they like it that way as their songs are quite unique from one another and are of unorthodox lengths compared to radio singles. “Introvert” clocks in at close to eight and a half minutes, but the band does a superb job hooking listeners for every second. Accompanying the new song is a visualizer that plugs all the outlets “Introvert” can be found. These lads are showing their credibility and talent in their most recently dropped tunes and when they can grace the stage and show what they are made of live, viewers will be absolutely impressed with what they witness.

Flo Gallop – “Chasing After You”: The new single by the British singer-songwriter is a hip-hop and poppy post-breakup tune. The story entails the protagonist Gallop having regret clamoring for someone and something from the past. The tale alone is relatable to millions of people and the sizzling vibes “Chasing After You” give off have this song as one that has all the potential in the world to be a massive hit. Much like the audio itself, the accompanying music video edited and directed by Dean Sherwood is pristine and gets the intended message across magnificently. The song is doing so well that there is already another version out with the remix handled by Rob Savage. The original is pure pop gold and the remix is bound to be a discotheque favorite.

Hanne Mjøen – “Hell With You”: The Norwegian performer has already amassed over a quarter of a million streams for this bop on Spotify alone. Her latest pop tune makes excellent use of her dove-like vocals that will entrance listeners from her very first note until the last. “Hell With You” will remind club pop lovers of Ellie Goulding and given the sensational beats throughout. The song is about a form of settling as the singer no longer has deep feelings for her partner, yet would rather stay in the relationship concerned with never catching feelings again should she wipe the slate clean and move on. The theme is one that lots of people think about and even go through in their companionships. Credit also goes to Director Anders Skjetnemark for a fabulous job in bringing Mjøen’s vision to life in a professionally sharp and solid video with six-figure viewership.

Skofee – “QVC”: Yes, the song is inspired by the Kansa-born and L.A.-based artist flipping through channels and seeing various products being pitched left and right. Although the tune mocks the informercial concept, per the lyrics published with the official video by Max Shepardson “QVC” is a relationship song with the 24/7 shopping channel serving as a metaphor. The arrangement is nothing short of amazing and Skofee’s voice is on point throughout the song. The subject matter (whether it be jive talk from a shady suitor or buying unnecessary and unaffordable items) will resonate with listeners and they get quite the bop out of it. The song just clicks on all cylinders as an indie pop delight that deserves to be streamed repeatedly.

Meagan Hickman – “Still Here”: With seduction and confidence, the Nashville indie pop-rock-soul singer-songwriter has an enticing voice to go along with perfectly played guitars and drums for an impressive outing. Hickman latest single is bluesy, but lyrically is very upbeat and she belts out the words with gusto. It all makes sense considering some of her influences are Bonnie Raitt, Bill Withers, Sara Bareilles, Ben Rector, and others. “Still Here” will be a crowd favorite in the smoky bars as patrons take the edge off with their adult beverage of choice. It is beautifully written, well arranged, and well performed and Hickman has proven she has what it takes to be a successful performer. There is also a video for the terrific track filmed by Chollette that is just as on-point as the audio. Once that big break comes, it can be ascertained that she will run with it.

The Fortune f/ Aronjoy Das – “Lost (Acoustic)”: Released about three weeks ago, this is an alternate version of a song previously dropped by the India-based act comprised of Dr. Dhananj and Nikhil. On the reimagination of “Lost”, the lads join up with Delhi-based singer Aronjoy Das and what a thing of beauty it is. The collaboration has paid off as the acoustic version has surpassed the original in Spotify steams. Das’ vocals will drive listeners to unexpected emotions. Piano-driven, the song’s premise is the whirlwind of feelings a person experiences after a relationship ends and the struggle to move past the breakup. The Fortune and Das have themselves something special and hit all the right notes on the acoustic version. There will be curiosity surrounding how the song with Das compares to the more upbeat version as sung by Julia Nem. Listeners are in for a win-win situation and that only helps bolster the profiles of four talented individuals for this wonderfully composed and prolifically performed track.

Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez – “40 Days”: The all-in Brooklyn-based jazz/R&B musician hits all the right notes as singer and composer of her latest single off her newly released album If They’re Mine. The song is a worthy follow-up to the revered “Better For You”, which called out superficiality RSG has unbridled passion that is evident in how she belts out “40 Days” that will captivate listeners from beginning to end. The album’s theme throughout is empowerment through self-discovery, self-care, and self-love in a journey of finding purpose in life. The challenging work that Sokolov-Gonzalez has been putting in with one well-crafted song after another is paying off as she has been showcased by outlets The New York Times, Under The Radar, 1883 Magazine, to name a few. There ought to be a bidding war for the services of the currently unsigned artist (and maybe there is one), but even then look for Sokolov-Gonzalez to do what is in her best interest and on her terms.

Total Brutal – “Had A Feeling”: Before debuting her solo project, multi-instrumentalist Emily Moore was well on her way to having a bright future in the industry. She has already performed as a touring musician with a who’s who in music including Dua Lipa, X Ambassadors, Taylor Swift, and others. On her latest single under the Total Brutal moniker, The Honey Panda recording artist performs an indie rock wonder that has a 70s vibe from the jump. With everything old being new again, “Had a Feeling” works against the current radio fare. With the way things have been over the past year, some people look to the good old days for escapism and a vintage sounding track like this just might be the remedy. Moore’s dreamy vocals are absolutely perfect with the throwback tuneage in the background. The song goes great with a smooth car ride down a highway on a sunny Spring afternoon. Total Brutal has a diverse portfolio of tunes and those interested might find new favorites in “Egypt”, “Willow”, and more.

ROCK RUNDOWN FOR 5/17/21

Chelsea Ravenn – “Lobotomized Egg”: The Columbus, Ohio-based singer-songwriter re-emerges with her follow-up to “You Make Me Hot.” Her latest bop is hip-hop and R&B heavy which enables Ravenn to show off her rapping chops, which she knocks out of the park against the 90s old school beats and funky musical arrangement in the background. This is one of Chelsea’s most personal tunes to date as it deals with deep, tumultuous family matters. Often, artists will cope with painful topics by writing songs about them and not only has Ravenn created a head-bobbing jam with excellent artistry, but it serves as healing from the strained relationships and a chance to improve the future. Ravenn has a good head on her shoulders and gobs of talent in her soul and with this new single plus other excellent songs like “Just Drive” and “You Make Me Hot,” she has a whole lot to show for it.

Brianna Barnes – “The Mountain” (Ode To Lady Fear)”: An up-and-comer bred in Mansfield, Ohio but now calling The Big Apple home, Barnes’ new single roars chock full of folk-rock flair. Barnes’ vocals are solid throughout and the song’s various paces allow her to provide a range that goes from sultry like a balladeer and times to strong like a rock goddess at others. No matter what, however, Barnes’ voice is absolutely alluring and people will pay attention to what she sings. The new track leads up to Barnes’ debut EP titled Heirophanies: Manifestations of the Sacred due out June 5 in which she worked with four-time Grammy winning Engineer Denise Barbarita in New York City. Barnes creates songs of substance that make people think and feel and in the case of her latest, it comes across more as a story made to music. With vivid lyrics and her aforementioned vocals, “The Mountain (Ode To Lady Fear)” is a winner that serves as excellent buildup to the EP’s release. The talent is evident in her previously released track, appropriately titled “Storyteller” which should be part of the new record as well.

Faith In Failure – “On The Line”: Released earlier this spring as part of their premiere EP The Fields, the Columbus modern hard rock quintet just dropped a lyric video for this rager. From start to finish, the song is on warp speed with outstanding drum work throughout by Nick Brady. The drumming sets the tone for guitarists Cole Kaluger and Aaron Perry to lay down exquisite melodies with bassist Matt Keeton adding the extra ingredient to take the song over the top. Of course, the flawless vocals by Chad Nash II serve as the straw that stirs this high energy drink. Much like the entire five-song record, “On The Line” is very crisply produced and is every bit as solid as songs with blockbuster budgets, proving that quality prevails over quantity. FIF is on its way to having a bright future as every facet is on-point from their presence in photos and onstage to having well-written and executed music to back it up. The Fields is simply an EP with loads of firepower from the title track to other gritty gems “Leave Me Behind,” “Dying Eyes,” and “All I Am.”

Magic Bronson – “My Baby is an Android”: The newest tune by this L.A. pair is a lighthearted commentary on society’s reliance (or overreliance) on modern technology. It tells the story of a person being attracted a programmed object versus another living being and the message serves as a cautionary tale set to an upbeat tone to lighten the mood. There is no doubt the tune is catchy as the day is long and duo Matthew Lieberman (lyrics/bass/synths) and Michael Nicastro (vocals/drum programming/synths), who also produced the track, know what they are doing and do it well. Will this song get people to consider meeting potential suitors and partners, someone offline versus apps? Probably not, but perhaps it will get a handful of people to consider both avenues. They have made a name for themselves garnering attention from outlets Billboard, Earmilk, among others and the proof is there in their songs with millions of Spotify streams “Nervous” and “Fences.” Nicastro and Lieberman have a winning formula and each time they release something, they gain new fans and respect and that success will likely continue for a long time.

*Photo by Ingmar Wein Photography

Beacon Bloom – “Nothing Here but You”: No one can ever claim this New Zealand electronic outfit as being formulaic. Their latest offering clocks in at over seven minutes, however, the officially released video clocks in at under six which is still atypical for a single. Furthermore, the group has taken advantage of the NFT craze and have provided perks in the name of philanthropy. Ten percent of the purchased NFTs will go to organizations The Orangutan Foundation and Regenerative Agriculture. Among the amenities are access to an alternate version of their video. The song itself is a one hell of a rave that will have listeners jumping and bumping from beginning to end. It sends people on a bohemian trip that they will not want to end, especially with all that is happening across the globe. The song is well crafted and executed in serving as an escape to euphoria. “Nothing Here but You” will have listeners longing for their ideal state of mind and will be a club hit once discotheques across the world able to have crowds again. There are actually two versions of the tune with a slightly shorter remix available featuring Jamie Stevens and Uone and house music fans will want to access both of them to get the full effect.

*Photo by Niklas Zeiner

M. Byrd – “Morning Sun”: Coming off the well-received breathtaking single “Mountain,” the indie singer-songwriter returns with a slightly mellower song than its multimillion streamed predecessor. It still packs that familiar punch and will get toes tapping and heads moving. “Morning Sun” is harmonious from beginning to end and Byrd’s vocals are an absolute delight putting listeners in a semi-trance. For those who are cranky at the crack of dawn, this song might make mornings just a bit more bearable as it is has tons of potential as a mood and morale booster. Every part comes together in unison and it will be a challenge for this new tune to bypass the success of “Mountain,” but with the right promotion it has a chance to crack the top 40 of alternative charts and take off on the web. Although people will have their own imagery in mind when it comes to “Morning Sun”, it could not hurt to take a gander at the video for it as directed by Marcel Izquierdo Torres.

*Photo by Michael Weintrob

Glass Dove – “Just A Conversation”: The latest from Nashville-based multi-instrumentalist Josh Benus is the follow up to the laid-back single “Patterns of My Mind.” Although it is like night and day musically from his prior release, the quality is equally as good. “Just A Conversation” is a tad more up-tempo and makes excellent use of synthesizers intertwined with the guitars. Benus’ vocals are the cherry on top that makes this tune one that ought to make waves at Alternative and Hot AC stations with potential to cross over to Top 40 Pop stations. The chorus is catchy enough to get people dancing at live shows once those occur in droves again. It is a tune that clicks on all cylinders that exposes all the potential Glass Dove has to be a player in the industry one day.

Only Bricks – “Big Girl Shoes”: Upon hearing the opening note, it is clear as crystal this bop has all the potential in the world to be a pop hit. Santa Monica musical and life partners Anne DiGiovanni and Joseph Lewczak are a solid team whose efforts have led them to critical acclaim from publications Atwood Magazine, All Access, Music Connection, to name a few. Their latest is an anthem in the same vein as Daya’s “Sit Still, Look Pretty” as it is a response to a snide and sexist comment lead vocalist and songwriter DiGiovanni experienced about her footwear. Women who have experienced this patriarchal attitude in academia, the workplace, and life itself will be able to relate and hopefully, males who have had these attitudes or known women who have experience misogyny can empathize with the protagonist. The empowering single has an accompanying video that turns the tables on the pigs, so to speak. Directed by Rebecca Eskries, the vid features DiGiovanni and Lewczak being their fabulous selves rocking out and being fashionable. The song has a terrific message and is terrifically executed with marvelous musicianship and cunning charisma and fans are rooting for these two to soar to new heights as they deserve to.

The Trusted – “Rebel Song”: The British quartet has been rejoiced by entities like Live Nation’s Ones to Watch, American Songwriter, Wonderland Managize, among others. After hearing their latest tune, it is understandable why the adulation is justified. This song is likely to resonate with a lot of people as the band wrote it while their country was pretty much shut down as a response to what was happening around them in terms of political and social unrest. Motivated with what they saw and heard around the world, they hope “Rebel Song” becomes people’s anthem of defiance. The track has all the makings of a hit as the vocals are sharp, the guitars are spot on, the drums are dynamite, and the booming bass throughout make for a superb combination of what makes for a fantastic song. With comparisons to The 1975 bound to occur, The Trusted hold their own and if things break their way, they could be headlining their own tours worldwide sooner rather than later.

ROCK RUNDOWN FOR 5/10/21

Logo by Vohrart

TENSOR – “Pacesetter”: One of the more unique outfits out there, this Columbus, Ohio act is a fusion of funk, prog rock, and metal with a pinch of jazz. That combination comes alive and well on the band’s latest single sans vocals, which is the group’s official approach. The tune plays out like a chase scene’s background with crafty arrangements, on-point drum play, and superb guitars at work. Directed by Michael Bernot, the video is set against a beautiful city at night with nifty guitar play shots combined with dance scenes featuring Kwickk. Their instrumental approach allows TENSOR to stand out and let the music and accompanying production be the focus. It is a winning formula on “Pacesetter” and those who dig it will likely fancy the band’s previous releases “Chrysalis” and “Dark Dream.” The lads have the chops and portfolio to garner invites to club shows and festivals in the future.

Palette Knife f/ Snarls – “TFW Vine is Dead and So Are We”: The Columbus indie/emo rock trio has been garnering praise for their intense live shows and resent crisp recordings. The streak continues with this jam in which fellow acclaimed in-town indie band Snarls provided terrific vocal assistance midway through. Having connections with a band of that caliber should certainly bolster PK’s profile even more, but before the song dropped they were already gaining a lot of steam across town and have a deal with Take This To Heart Records. The song might be short, but for all two and a half minutes it is rock awesomeness from the first note to the last. Prior songs such as “Ponderosa Snake House” and “Hungover Brunch At Tiffany’s” are their most streamed so far and curious listeners should stream those and more to get to know the blokes’ arsenal.

Zoo Trippin – “Any Way I Can Get It”: The seven-year Columbus rock group reemerges with a super strong song that has crossover appeal across the Alternative, Hot AC, and Pop Charts. The latest from the quintet displays raucous drumming, spot-on vocals, and excellent guitar placement. The chorus hooks the listener and possesses sing-along appeal that will definitely happen as the band returns to live events. They are known for their high-profile performance at Tuned Up’s Steadfast Festival a couple of years ago in which their set lived up to the buzz the group has gained over the years. The band is ready to tackle the mainstream and build their brand and audience and “Any Way I Can Get It” is an excellent step in that direction with its all-around flawlessness.

Tess – “Fade Away (Stripped)”: Hailing from Nashville is a gifted artist who just premiered an acoustic version of her outstanding 2020 track “Fade Away (To Gray)”. To get the full effect of the sequel, it is recommended that listeners play the original that will allow them to make a proper comparison. The first version is piano-driven and with soulful vocal output that has rock overtones throughout whereas the follow-up is minimalist and guitar-focused with vocals that are more earnest and mellow in tone. In terms of quality, people cannot go wrong with either as both get the job done musically. It is obvious that Tess has the skills to go far in this business and if she keeps this level of songwriting and performing up, her big break will come sooner rather than later.

Loopscadoop – “Salmon”: Per his Spotify bio, singer-songwriter Alex Criado attempts to create songs based off what happens to come to mind. It is one a free-spirited and spontaneous approach to making music and it is that authenticity that has people pulling for him to excel. His newest release contains some striking guitar work against a simple and catchy beat. Forty seconds in, though, the tune gets more psychedelic and before one knows it, the trip comes to a screeching halt. The throwback tune is short in length, but packs a mighty classic rock punch that Hendrix fans will respect. The song’s abrupt stop leaves folks wanting to hear more and they can in the form of prior singles like “Home” and “A Realists Lot,” both which reiterate the free thinking of Criado’s mind as each song is distinct from one another.

Scott Nicholls f/ Savannah Gardner – “Heartbeat”: There is serious catchiness to the laid-back single by the country singer which has serious pop appeal. Both Nicholls and Gardner hold up their respective ends of the bargain on vocals, which helps the tune in being palatable across various genres. The song is about reminiscing about the great times in people’s lives despite the current world outlook. “Heartbeat” makes for an excellent morale booster for those seeking optimism in such a bleak climate. The dynamic drum work and precisely placed guitars help in making this a future hit which will hopefully land Nicholls a deal to boost his profile as the future of country and pop. The gent absolutely has the look, the voice, and the song to put him on the map.

OYLS – “Netflix (Your Product Is Too Good)”: The L.A.-based electronic pair bring serious attention to their latest song as it normalizes the concept of mental health issues. Helping with the message is respected actor Danny Trejo, who stars in the accompanying video directed by Nicole Lipp. Trejo goes against type in the clip as he escapes his ills by consuming junk food and TV non-stop. Everyone involved succeeded in getting the point across that it is okay to not be okay. It had to be challenging for the duo to create such a catchy, danceable tune about a touchy subject matter, yet OYLS did a terrific job of spreading the all-important message. Whether the song becomes a huge smash is uncertain at this time as outlets might shy away from it due to the subject matter, but OYLS get a ton of credit for their involvement in bringing awareness to mental illness and if this song does even one person some good, they have succeeded.

Tommy Newport f/ EARTHGANG – “Stargazer”: Having amassed nearly two-thirds of a million streams on Spotify alone in less than a month from its release, the latest from the British-born artist is deemed as an anthem for the year. Joining Newport this time around is hip-hop duo EARTHGANG and these collabs only help to build connections and credibility with industry power players and fans. The tune is very well produced as each part fits like a glove with the hip-hop and pop parts trading off perfectly from start to finish. There is a video that goes with the tune that is more of a computerized visualizer than a traditional video, but perhaps at some point the lads can make their schedules work to create one. The vocals are flawless on both sides and because of that, this track has mainstream appeal all over it. “Stargazer” will remind people of the prolific musical masterminds Beck and Kevin Rudolf and that is rather good company for Newport and EARTHGANG to be in.

Vinok – “River”: The Ukranian trio returns with a follow-up to their well-received single “Elephant Girl” and what a follow-up it is. The song pulls a delightful bait-and-switch in that for a handful of seconds it starts off as a ballad, but then roars into a grunge rock banger that will get people banging their heads. Vinok’s main goal is to make music that is principled based on their beliefs and about the atrocities they have witnessed and heard. The concept is not new as world renowned Australian outfit Midnight Oil has been involved in activism since their inception decades ago. Vinok carries the torch for the new generation with terrifically produced and performed alternative rock that gets people’s bodies going, but also makes people use their minds and reflect. “River” proudly and loudly carries on the band’s tradition and is deserving of a lengthy stay in the Alternative top 10.

Song and Album Reviews of Artists on the Rise

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started