The independent music community is the backbone of the music business in whole. Today’s struggling, independent act is tomorrow’s mainstream star. Every major superstar act that travels the world today and has legions around the globe was at one time independent. To that end, independent albums deserve just as much attention from critics as their more well-known counterparts. That is why this critic continues presenting a list of the year’s best new independent albums each year, this year being no exception to that rule.
This year’s list features albums from a wide range of musical genres. There’s some country/bluegrass. There’s pop, there’s rock and even some neo-folk/Americana. Topping this year’s list is up-and-coming pop/R&B singer Jessie Wagner and her debut album Shoes Droppin’. Independent southern rock band Faith & Scars is also featured in this year’s list, which includes albums not just from unsigned bands, but from those signed to independent labels, too. Pop rock act Kulick is even in this year’s list with his new album Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood.
As with every past year’s list, this year’s list features the Top 10 albums and give honorable mentions for a total of 15 albums. Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Independent albums.
PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW INDEPENDENT ALBUMS
Jessie Wagner – Shoes Droppin’
Nick Perri & The Underground Thieves – Sun Via
Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts – Nowhere To Go But Everywhere
Discrepancies – The Rise
Kulick – Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood
The Devonns – The Devonns
Kurt Baker – After Party
The Tibbs – Another Shot Fired
Faith & Scars – Revolver
Jack The Radio – Creatures
Soraia – Dig Your Roots
Wyldlife – Year of the Snake
Julien K – Harmonic Disruptor
Gab De La Vega – Between Space and Time
Record Thieves — Wasting Time
Next up from Phil’s Picks is the list of this year’s top new Family Music albums. Stay tuned for that.
Independent rock band Discrepancies is quite the interesting act. The up-and-coming quartet has only been in existence since 2013. In the short time since its formation, this little band that could has proven itself one of the next big names in the rock community. That is evidenced through the facts that since its formation, the quartet has played some of the nation’s biggest concert festivals, garnered thousands of streams for its singles and videos, and even released two successful studio recordings – an EP and an album. Now this Friday, the band will look to continue its meteoric climb with the release of its aptly titled second album (and third overall studio recording) The Rise. The 10-song record has already produced five singles, each of which has done its part to prove the band’s place in the rap-rock community. They are just a part of what makes this 33-minute presentation such an entertaining and engaging record. That is because they only show one side of the record, so to speak. ‘Put ‘Em Up (Dub Flow)’ shows another side to the album. It will be addressed shortly. ‘Blame Me,’ the album’s penultimate entry, is another notable addition to the record. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Left To Drift,’ which comes early in the record’s run, is one more important addition to the album. It shows yet more depth to the record and will be discussed later, too. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here, the album’s singles and its remaining two songs, the record in whole becomes a presentation that proves Discrepancies’ star truly is on the rise.
Up-and-coming rock band Discrepancies is unquestionably one of the next big names in the rock community to watch for 2020 and beyond. The five singles that the record has already produced have shown that the band can easily hold its own within the rap-rock and nu-metal communities. They are not all that the album has to offer, though. There’s also a touch of some more pure rap alongside the band’s rock influences in ‘Put ‘Em Up (Dub Flow).’ Yes, the rock element is present here through the guitar and drums, but that aspect plays more of a supporting role alongside front man ATG Metcalf and guest rapper Dub Flow’s rhymes, and their pairing with the song’s bass and keyboards. The rhymes that the pair spits are collectively a message of self confidence.
The noted lyrical theme is inferred right from the song’s outset as the lead verse states, “Corny a** rappers/Gettin’ hyped up by mascots/Claimin’ that they have guac/I call them have nots/Put ‘em in a super soldier, figure four/Until they give me mad props/Things get intense and the caps lock/Lately I feel a bit offline/But I gotta get at it/It’s all mine/Now hundred percent ground…These critics are drillin’ me/I’m not the enemy/I’m just a victim of hard times/Our message is vivid/It might take a minute/’Cause we gotta fit it in small minds/I try to keep it classy/’Cause I’m not into fashion…They don’t like the way we mix it up/They want to send me packin’…” Some of the lyrics here are tough to catch, considering the speed at which the lyrics are delivered at some points. However, enough is decipherable that it can be inferred here that this is someone who is fighting plenty of odds, but is still standing strong. It’s a familiar topic in the rap and hip-hop world, and is no less engaging here than in any other song. The inferred theme is made even clearer in the song’s second verse, which states, “I you’re ready to feel the rush/That’s what’s up/Feel the adrenaline building up/Hit the clutch/even if you think everything sucks/Put ‘em up/’Cause if you don’t give a damn/We don’t give/a/f***.” The song continues in similar fashion from there, giving the musical middle finger to all of the naysayers out there while also continuing to remind listeners to not give up. It collectively makes for a strong statement that will resonate with listeners long after the song ends. When this familiar lyrical theme is considered along with its companion musical content, the whole of the song becomes even more notable. Collectively, they make the song just one of the album’s most standout songs. ‘Blame Me’ is as notable as ‘Put ‘Em Up (Drub Flow).’
‘Blame Me’ stands out in that its musical arrangement is not the standard rap rock style presentation that has been so prevalent in most of the album’s singles. Rather, this song boasts more of an aggro-rock style complete with not just Metcalf’s rapping, but also more clean singing vocals from guitarist Addison Bracher. The combination of the two elements joins with the subtle keyboards and the drums to lend the arrangement to a comparison to works from the likes of Nonpoint, Stuck Mojo and Linkin Park. When the aggression in the song’s musical theme couples with its lyrical counterpart, the whole of the song becomes even more engaging and entertaining for listeners.
The lyrical theme featured in ‘Blame Me’ is certain to resonate with listeners in its own way as it takes on those people who live to make everyone around them miserable. That is inferred clearly in the song’s lead verse, which states, “I’ve watched you/Interrupt nonsense/Set it on fire/Creating your own problems/Complain that it burns/But still refuse to drop it/If you want to leave my day in ruin/Well, mission accomplished/Offer you the blueprint/All you do is knock it/Allergic to the solution/Addicted to the conflict/Drop it/Listen to something I can’t rock with/I love you to death/but your attitude’s toxic/Stop it/Why you gotta wreck my day/Save all that negative energy and step away/Why you searching for the sympathy I guess you crave…” The last line in this verse is tough to decipher without a lyrics sheet to reference, but that is beside the point. Enough of the lyrics are understandable at this point to make clear the noted theme. The song’s second verse follows in similar fashion, noting, “I promise if you let it/I swear this world will drown you/let go of the drama/You really seem to be bouncin’/Listen/Doesn’t always have to come down to bringin’ yourself down and everybody around you.” Again, here is that noted message as clear as day. The song’s subject then goes on to state, “I need to cut you out.” This is important in that it puts out there that this is someone who is at that breaking point with someone in a highly toxic relationship. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. It could just be a general plutonic relationship. Lots of people out there have been in the noted scenario. It is certain to make the song that much more accessible for listeners. In turn, it proves even more why not just the song, but the album, too, is so hard hitting. It is just one more of the album’s most notable works, too. ‘Left To Drift’ adds even more depth to the album.
‘Left To Drift’ stands out perhaps more than any other arrangement in Discrepancies’ new album in that it presents a distinct progressive metal sound. The heavy, guitar-driven work immediately lends itself to comparisons to works from the likes of TesseracT, Periphery, and Meshuggah. What’s really interesting here is the juxtaposition of that sound against the clean vocals. It makes for such a powerful impact. In relation, the song’s lyrical content makes for its own powerful impact.
Right from its outset, the song’s lyrical theme hints directly at the familiar topic of a broken relationship as Bracher sings, “Oh what a beautiful lie/To give a heart with no trust left inside/They say…the truth it sets and feels like I’m dead inside/Let the waves wash over my skin/Let the tide pull me in.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “Oh what a colorless lie/to trust a love that left you torn inside/You feel you’ll never be worthy/Do you/You fear there’s no room for you left in their hearts.” This again comes across as someone addressing another who is dealing with some heavy thoughts and emotions as a result of very negative interactions in the past. The lines that follow add to that statement even more. All things considered, the heaviness in the song’s lyrical content couples with the heaviness in the song’s musical arrangement to make the song in whole its own unique presentation that makes the album even more engaging and entertaining. When the song is considered along with the other songs noted here, the album’s singles and its two remaining tracks, the record in whole cements Discrepancies’ place as one of the next big names in the hard rock and metal community.
Discrepancies’ sophomore album The Rise is an impressive return for the band. It is a presentation that certifies the band’s place among the next generation of hard rock and metal acts. That is proven not only through the rap-rock style singles that the album has already produced, but also through the songs noted here as well as the album’s other two singles. They collectively present The Rise as a record that is quite diverse in its content. That diversity and the accessibility of the record’s lyrical content comes together to make this record a solid success from beginning to end. They make the record a sign that this band’s fame is in fact on the rise.
More information on Discrepancies’ new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news online at:
Discrepancies debuted the video for its latest single last week.
The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Crawling Back‘ Thursday. The song is the fifth single from the band’s forthcoming album The Rise, which is scheduled for release Oct. 23 through InVogue Records. Its debut follows that of the album’s singles ‘Blame Me,’ ‘Light Up The Dark,’ ‘Undertow‘ and ‘Control.’
The video for ‘Crawling Back’ follows a young man who has lost a loved one to an undisclosed health concern. The young man watches the woman die as she lays in her bed, connected to an IV unit. Meanwhile the band performs its new single in various rooms in the house.
The song’s visuals tie in to the song’s lyrical theme, to a certain extent, as front man Antonio Metcalf explained in a recent interview.
“This one is about being in love with someone so deeply while understanding you have to let them go,” he said.
‘Crawling Back’ is available to stream and download here. The track listing for ‘The Rise’ is noted below.
‘The Rise’ Tracklisting:
3 Left to Drift
4 All My Love
5 Put ‘Em up (Ft. Dub Flow)
6 Can You Feel It?
7 Crawling Back
8 Light up the Dark
9 Blame Me
More information on Discrepancies’ new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news online at:
Discrepancies is reminding audiences to keep their heads up, even when things get tough.
That message is presented in the band’s latest single ‘Undertow.’ The band debuted the video for the new single Apr. 9 through InVogue Records’ official YouTube channel. The song’s musical arrangement is another solid rap-rock style work that will appeal to fans of bands, such as P.O.D., Skindred and Linkin Park. Its lyrical message, as noted, focuses on staying positive in the toughest situations.
Front man Antonio Matcalf talked about the song’s lyrical theme in a recent interview.
“Undertow’ is about not letting discouragement get in the way of progress,” he said. “There will always be obstacles, but the hardships are’t what define us. It’s about what you did to overcome.”
The message is a tries and true theme that regardless of one’s taste in music, is one that listeners of all ages will appreciate, especially in a time such as now. It reminds listeners in no uncertain terms that, “It’s never been about the fall, it’s about what happens when you get back up.”
Directed by John Fleischmann, the video delivers its message by presenting a hockey game that goes right down to the final seconds, before one team wins, thanks to its perseverance.
The debut of the video for Discrepancies’ new video comes more than two months after the band debuted its first single of the year, ‘Control.’ ‘Control’ is available to stream and download now through Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, Apple Music and YouTube.
More information on Discrepancies’ new single, live dates and more is available online at:
Rap-rock band Discrepancies is working on its sophomore album.
In anticipation of its release, the band released a new tune this week to tide fans over. The band debuted the video for its single ‘Control’ Thursday. The song’s arrangement will appeal to fans of bands, such as Linkin Park, Payable on Death and Saliva. the song’s lyrical theme presents an uplifting message about not giving up in life by using the band’s own touring as the basis for that message.
Discrepancies is in the midst of a string of live dates as it prepares its new, as yet untitled album. Audiences will be able to hear ‘Control’ and more at the band’s upcoming live shows. The band’s tour schedule is noted below.