Jazz Fans And Music Lovers Alike Will Enjoy Nori’s New Compilation Record

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

More often than not, when people think of the city of Austin, TX, the first thing that come to mind is the annual SXSW Festival, which celebrates some of the best in mainstream and independent cinema and music.  Much of what is featured at the festival eventually ends up going on to widespread acclaim among audiences and critics.  It would be no surprise if the independent musical collective known as Nori (which calls Austin home) has been featured in the festival at least at some point.  If not, then maybe the group’s forthcoming self-titled compilation record will help to generate some more interest among the festival’s organizers.  The 10-song record (which features nine songs from across the group’s catalog and one cover) is scheduled for release Friday on vinyl and digitally.  While the group and the record are being marketed as “neo-jazz” they are far more than that, as the songs featured in the record’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s featured musical arrangements do not really play into the noted “neo-jazz” label, but they do make for more engagement and entertainment in this presentation.  They will be discussed a little later.  Much the same can be said of the record’s production.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Nori a strong introduction to Nori for those less familiar with the group and an equally enjoyable work for the group’s established audiences.

Nori’s forthcoming self-titled compilation is an enjoyable presentation for the group’s established audiences and more casual listeners alike.  That is proven in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements.  Throughout the course of the collection’s 41-minute run time, the arrangements show the group and its music to be more than the “neo-jazz” label on which they are marketed.  The arrangements do have clear jazz influence.  That is clear from the record’s opening to its end.  At the same time, they present so much more.  Case in point is the record’s opener, ‘The Garden (With Strings).’  The subtle use of the horn against the steady time keeping and vocalist Akina Adderley’s singing shows influence (at least to this critic) from the likes of Ala.ni, India Arie, and Alicia Keys just to name a few familiar acts.  That is because the combination exhibits not just a jazz leaning, but also clear R&B influence.  The balance of those two sides alongside one another here makes for so much enjoyment.

On another note, a song, such as ‘Undertow,’ with its up-tempo arrangement, is different from that of ‘The Garden (With Strings).’  The pairing of the trumpet and strings with the light work on the drums gives the song a nice, purer fusion jazz approach with the slightest pop edge.  That is especially evidenced through the string arrangement as it gradually becomes the primary support for Adderley’s still so soft vocal delivery.  The incorporation of the keyboard line adds even more to that 70s fusion sound as it is used so minimally.  The whole comes together almost like something that one might expect to hear on the late, great Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting program.  Yes, this critic named dropped Bob Ross.  Of course with the energy that the arrangement exudes it also might be a bit too up-tempo to fit.  That aside, it still has that sort of sound and stylistic approach at many points throughout its body.  It is just one more notable work that shows the importance of the record’s musical arrangements.  ‘Lullaby,’ which comes later in the record, is another example of the importance of this element.

Where the other songs examined here showed blends of jazz and R&B, this song’s arrangement opts for a more Latin-tinged approach along with the most subtle hip-hop influence.  Meanwhile, Adderley’s vocals shine once again with so much soul.  The Latin sense that is exhibited here comes through the work of bassist Aaron Allen and percussionist Andy Beaudoin.  The duo’s work really forms the song’s foundation and makes it solid at that.Erik Telford’s trumpet solo and his overall work here is just as laudable for the modern jazz sense that it gives the arrangement.  The contrast and balance of those two sides goes a long way toward making the arrangement not only stand out from its counterparts in this record, but also toward making it just as engaging and entertaining as those other works.  When it and the other arrangements are considered along with the record’s other arrangements not addressed here, the whole makes the record’s overall musical content un questionably important to the collection’s presentation.  It is just one part of what makes the compilation worth hearing, too.  The lyrical themes that accompany the noted musical content adds even more to the record’s appeal.

The lyrical themes presented throughout Nori are so important to its presentation because of their accessibility.  They range from issues of race and racism to personal identity, to the more common theme of love and more.  ‘The Garden (With Strings)’ takes on that noted theme of racial tensions and race.  As noted in information about the collection, the song’s lyrical content tells the story of a young black male from his birth to his death later in life at the hands of a white racist.  That would explain the somber sense established in the song’s musical arrangement.  The mention of the seeds and roots serve as the opening to the story.  The note of believing “we were the same” in the song’s second verse shows the innocence and naivety of that young man before audiences hear of how the young man was killed in cold blood.  This is such a powerful story as it is told in such straightforward fashion.  Adderley pulls no punches here.  It is so uncomfortable, but audiences cannot help but take in the young man’s journey.  It is certain to resonate with so many audiences, and in that, it is just one example of that importance of the record’s lyrical content.  ‘The Walk’ is another example of the importance of the record’s lyrical themes.

‘The Walk’ is so important to note in examining the record’s lyrical themes as it addresses the noted theme of identity.  This is inferred right from the song’s outset as Adderley sings, “This is how I walk through life/Someone’s daughter/Someone’s wife/This is how you see my flesh/Nothing you can possess/I’m not your hole to fill/And I am not your time to kill/I am the product of my own will…”The last line that follows is a little difficult to decipher sans lyrics, but the theme becomes clear through everything else.  This is someone who is taking pride in herself in who and what she is.  It is a unique approach to a familiar lyrical theme, too.  The theme continues in the song’s second verse as Adderley sings, “This is what I face each day/Your desire’s in my way/This is how you see my world…” Again the last line is slightly difficult to decipher sans lyrics.  That aside, the noted theme of having a sense of identity is just as clear here as in the song’s lead verse.  Again, here is a person who is driven to make her own way, not letting someone else get in the way.  Again, it is a unique approach to the topic, too.  Considering that and the contemplative nature of the song’s musical arrangement, the theme gains even more strength.  To that end, it shows in its own way, the impact of the records’ lyrical content.  ‘Four Women,’ which is a Nina Simone song, takes on the matters of race and identity together.  Here in this song are four different women of four different ethnic backgrounds.  Each song sings about who she is.  The revolution of the Asian woman seemingly being born of a man who raped her mother (or at least that is what is inferred) is so powerful in itself here.  Another is a proud black woman who references her parents’ days as slaves, and the impact of that experience on her as a person, how it made her so much stronger and prouder.  The way in which Adderley tells each woman’s story gives each so much depth and emotion and power.  Again, this is a Nina Simone song, but even with that in mind, the way in which Adderley handled the song’s lyrical content and the way in which her band mates added to that depth and emotion through their performances shows even more, the power of the record’s lyrical content.  It makes each story here so immersive and rich.  When this is considered along with the themes examined in the other songs and with the rest of the record’s songs, the whole leaves no doubt as to the impact of the record’s lyrical themes.  They are just as important as the record’s musical arrangements.  Collectively, they make for so much reason for audiences to hear this collection.  They are, overall, just part of what makes the set successful.  The overall production rounds out the record’s most important items.

The production that went into this record’s songs is so important because of the balance that each song exhibits between the vocals and instrumentations.  What’s more, the depth that it gives to each part plays into that element, too.  The information provided about the record does not say whether these archived tracks were re-recorded for this set or just pulled for the presentation.  If in fact they were re-recorded, then that plays even more into the appeal of the production.  If they were just culled for this presentation, then that is just as important because it shows how much time and effort went into bringing out the best from each performer in each song.  To that end, the production does just as much to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the record’s overall content.  When all three items are considered together, they make the set in whole a strong introduction to Nori for some and an equally enjoyable presentation for the group’s established audiences.

Nori’s forthcoming self-titled compilation record is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  Its appeal comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are important to the set’s presentation because of their diversity and depth from one to the next.  Each displays the group’s jazz leanings along with various R&B influences, and those of even some light pop and hip-hop.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s featured musical arrangements are also of import because of their own diversity and accessibility.  The record’s production works with the content to bring everything together and complete the record’s presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Nori a work that jazz fans and music lovers alike will enjoy.

Nori is scheduled for release Friday.  More information on the record is available along with all of Nori’s latest news at:

Website: https://noriband.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noriband

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Gitkin’s New LP Is A “Safe” Offering That Also Shows Growth From The Group

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

Independent musician and former Pimps of Joytime front man Brian J is apparently not the type of person to rest easy on his laurels.  As noted, he has recorded and performed with Pimps of Joytime.  Additionally, he has collaborated with blues musician Cedric Burnsid, as well as his own music collective known as Gitkin.  That project has already created one full length studio recording and an EP, which was released in March.  Today, the group followed up that EP with its second album, Safe Passage.  The 11-song album is largely an instrumental presentation that builds on the successes of its predecessors.  That is evidenced in part through the recording’s featured musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The sequencing of those arrangements builds on the foundation formed by the arrangements and enriches the record even more.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  When it is considered along with the noted arrangements and their sequencing, the result of that combination is a presentation that continues to cement Brian J’s reputation as a talented musician and producer.

Gitkin’s new sophomore studio recording Safe Passage is a record that will appeal equally to the act’s fans and those of its founder Brian J.  That is proven in part through the musical arrangements that make up the body of the 39-minut presentation.  The arrangements in question continue a trend that Brian J has used in each of the past two Gitkin records, that of incorporating Middle Eastern influences and hop-hop elements together for the whole of each work.  There are even some Greek influences added to the arrangements to make them even more engaging and entertaining.  One of the points that shows that Greek influence is in the album’s midpoint, ‘Spug Life.’  The Greek influence comes primarily through the song’s lute line.  It has to be assumed without liner notes that the lute in question is a bouzouki, which is part of the lute family.  The addition of the guitar line adds an old school funk element while the use of the tuba here adds a hip-hop sensibility to the composition’s whole.  One would not think that the three musical styles work together, but hearing them, it is clear that Brian J makes them work, and very well at that.

While the record boasts plenty of Middle Eastern and Greek influence in its presentation, those are not the only influences exhibited in the record.  The album also boasts an infectious surf rock groove early on in ‘Cat Nip.’  The guitar line and drums couple with the bass line here to make this a song that will impress the genre’s fans and those of the genre’s pioneer Dick Dale alike.  Even more worth stating is that even with the noted influence fully on display here, the song still boasts its own unique identity.  Considering that the song’s title is ‘Cat Nip’ one can only imagine if Brian J wrote this arrangement after seeing a cat’s reaction to said item, since it is said to have quite the effect on felines.  This critic and likely thousands of others have seen the behavioral impact that the product has on cats, so maybe, just maybe that is what Brian J was trying to illustrate with this composition.  Regardless, the song’s infectious nature serves to show even more why the album’s musical arrangements are so important to its presentation.  ‘De La,’ which comes late in the album’s run is another example of what makes Safe Passage’s arrangements key to its success.

‘De La’ is yet an example of how Brian J incorporated the noted Middle Eastern influence into this record.  The influence is audible, but is also subtle.  Brian J balanced that influence along with a distinct country blues style approach for a whole that continues to show his growth as an artist and producer.  It is a work that is unlike any of the album’s other featured arrangements, too.  The addition of the choral element into the mix adds even more to the song’s depth.  The whole of the elements makes the arrangement yet another example of the importance of the album’s musical arrangements in whole.  When it is considered along with the other arrangements examined here and the album’s other entries, the result is a presentation that leaves zero doubt as to the impact of the record’s musical content.  When the sequencing of the arrangements is considered along with the songs themselves, that whole enriches the album’s listening experience even more.

Safe Passage opens on a mid-tempo note in ‘Nosotros Tambien.’  The song is another that exhibits Brian J’s continued use of Middle Eastern and American hip-hop fusings.  It keeps listeners fully engaged through that hybrid approach and its energy.  Much the same can be said of ‘Cut Out,’ which immediately follows.  The stylistic approach changes again in ‘Cat Nip,’ but the album’s energy remains stable in this arrangement, ensuring even more, audiences maintained engagement.  It is not until ‘Foot Steps’ that the album’s energy pulls back at all.  It makes for a good way to break up the album, too.  It keeps audiences from getting too comfortable with the album.  ‘Wing Nut’ and ‘Spug Life’ – the album’s next two tracks – pick things back up momentarily before ‘Hold On’ breaks things up again.  From there, the record’s ups and downs continue right up to its end.  Simply put, the album’s sequencing ensures audiences’ engagement and entertainment just as much as the album’s content itself.  That is because it ensures the record’s energies are balances from beginning to end.  When this is considered along with the album’s content, these two elements go a long way toward making this album that much more appealing to audiences.  They are not its only key elements.  The album’s production puts the finishing touch to the presentation.

The production that went into Safe Passage is important to note because as with the sequencing, it plays into the album’s aesthetic side, too.  Again, the album features a variety of elements within each song.  There are Middle Eastern influences, Greek influences and various American influences (E.g. blues and hip-hop) exhibited throughout the record.  Considering the balance that the songs show in those noted elements and that of the very instrumentation of each arrangement, it is clear that much time and effort was put into making each song sound its best.  Those painstaking efforts paid off.  The result is a record that works just as well because of its production as for its content and sequencing thereof.  Keeping all of this in mind, the album in whole proves to be another successful effort from Gitkin that, again, continues to cement Brian J’s reputation as a musician and producer.

Gitkin’s sophomore album Safe Passage is a positive new offering from Brian J. and his fellow musicians who took part in this project.  That is proven in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question continue to show Brian J’s development even as he continues to use fuse Middle Eastern and American influences together.  The arrangements boast their own identity even with the familiar stylistic approach to the works.  The sequencing of the noted arrangements adds to the album’s appeal in that it balances the songs’ energies expertly from beginning to end.  The album’s production puts the final touch to its presentation.  It shows that just as much time and effort was put into making the album sound good within the songs as it does from one song to the next.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Safe Passage a safe new offering from Gitkin that is just as worth hearing as the act’s past works.  The album is available now.

More information on Safe Passage is available online now along with all of Gitkin’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.brianj.us/gitkin-1

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/Gitkin

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Nuut’s New LP Is Unlike Any Other World Music Offering So Far This Year

Courtesy:  Press Junkie PR

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

This Friday, Estonian musician Maarja Nuut will release her latest full-length studio recording Une Meeles.  In English the album’s title translates to In The Hold Of A Dream.  The twelve-song album is set up as a re-telling of pre-war Estonian musical traditions.  It is assumed that pre-war refers to World War II.  What is so interesting in noting this is that even if a listener were to come into this album without that knowledge, one would still clearly sense those roots throughout the course of the album’s short thirty-nine minutes.  That clear influence couples with Nuut’s own modern musical elements to make the album a record unlike any other in the World Music realm today.  The stories that Nuut offers audience in each song’s lyrical content proves this even more.  One prime example of the impact of that mix of original music and lyrics comes in the form of the song ‘The Silken Feathered Bird.’  This will be discussed shortly.  ‘The Horse Game’ is another example of what makes this record stand out.  That will be discussed later.  It is not the last remaining example of what makes this record stand out either.  ‘The Swing Wants Mittens’ is one more example of what makes this record stand out.  It is one of the most ear-catching of the record’s songs.  All three songs show in their own way what makes Une Meeles such an interesting record to hear.  Those songs, together with the album’s other nine compositions, make Une Meele a record that is one of the year’s most notable World Music offerings.

Maarja Nuut’s new album In The Hold Of Dreams is one of 2016’s most intriguing World Music offerings.  That is due in large part to the album’s mix of pre-war Estonian musical culture and Nuut’s own modern musical elements.  The lyrical content presented within each of the album’s songs plays just as much of a role in the album’s presentation as that played by the songs’ musical arrangements.  The two together make the twelve-song record one of the most intriguing, standout offerings from the World Music realm so far this year.  One point at which this is especially exhibited is ‘The Silken Feathered Bird.’  The song comes a little more than halfway through the album’s run.  Its musical arrangement consists of Nuut’s own vocal delivery layered over a simple, also layered violin line.  What’s interesting of the violin’s layering is the harmony that is created in said effect.  It starts out with a simple, two-note line.  That line is eventually doubled up with just the slightest variance in the secondary line.  It is a variance that is so subtle that only a close examination of the song’s arrangement reveals it.  Over time another layer appears to be created, which adds a harmony to the song’s two central lines.  The layers themselves are interesting.  The process in which each line was placed into the song creates a whole that is seamless and sounds just as if they were played by a group of musicians instead of just one.  It is just one part of what makes this song stand out in Nuut’s new album.  The song’s lyrical content is just as engaging as its musical arrangement.  It isn’t just some song.  It appears, rather, to be a story; one that one must assume is a classic Estonian story.  The story centers on a “silken feathered bird” that built a nest not from gold nor from silver but from silk.  When it laid its eggs, one was a silken feathered bird and the other two a crow and a grouse.  After the birth of the birds, the story notes that the world was thus created.  Having come up empty-handed on research about the song’s potential roots it is not known, at least by this critic, if there is any link to Estonian literary culture.  Regardless, one can infer from the three types of birds and their personalities that they are meant to represent the earth’s different types of people.  The silken feathered bird comes across as picky but also very smart and deliberate in its choices.  The crow is noted to be a positive figure, too.  The grouse however, is said to be lazy.  Just as the birds each exhibited a different type of personality (despite being from one creator) so do the people of the earth exhibit their own distinct personalities.  They are personalities that mirror those of the birds, too.  Keeping that in mind the song’s lyrical content couples with its equally intriguing musical arrangement to make this song one prime example of what makes Une Meeles stand out.  Just as notable is ‘The Horse Game.’

‘The Silken Feathered Bird,’ though it comes late in Nuut’s new album, is one of the album’s most notable inclusions.  That is due in part to its equally engaging musical and lyrical content.  The song’s musical arrangement seamlessly layers multiple lines together to form a musical foundation that is both simple and yet complex in its own way.  The result is an arrangement that ensures listeners’ maintained engagement from beginning to end.  The song’s lyrical content is just as certain to leave listeners talking and even doing their own research in the end.  The combination of both elements makes ‘The Silken Feathered Bird’ one of the album’s most notable compositions.  It is not the album’s only notable composition, however.  ‘The Horse Game’ is another, equally notable inclusion in the album’s presentation.  The album’s second song, this piece is just engaging as ‘The Silken Feathered Bird’ and any of the album’s other songs.  Nuut utilizes a simple repetitive double-stop pattern as the foundation for the song’s musical arrangement.  It is not even until roughly halfway through the song’s four-minute-plus run time that a harmony is included into the arrangement.  The song eventually becomes even more complex from there with the inclusion of even more lines and even Nuut’s own vocals being layered time and again.  That in itself makes this song more than worth hearing.  The song’s lyrical presentation is just as interesting as its musical arrangement.  Nuut sings here, “Let’s go, ol’ lale/Looking for the horse, ol’ lale/Listen, dear innkeeper / Dear landlady kroot/Have you seen my horse.”  She goes on to describe the horse, noting in the song’s end for the wolf to catch the horse and eat it.  More than likely the intent in those words was not for a wolf to actually catch the runaway horse.  Rather one has to assume that the song’s subject is so upset by the horse’s disappearance that there is a mix of concern and anger at the horse.  The story in itself will keep listeners engaged because of its content.  When it is set against the song’s musical arrangement the two elements join together to make the song in whole another wonderful example of what makes the record stand out.  It still is not the last example of what makes the album stand out either.  ‘The Swing Wants Mittens’ is yet another example of what makes Une Meeles stand out.

‘The Silken Feathered Bird’ and ‘The Horse Game’ are both key examples of what makes Maarja Nuut’s new album stand out so starkly in this year’s new field of World Music offerings.  Both present their own original musical arrangements and equally interesting lyrical content.  As interesting as both songs are in the bigger picture of Une Meeles they are not the album’s only notable compositions.  ‘The Swing Wants Mittens’ is just as attention-grabbing as those previously noted songs.  That is due in part to its musical arrangement.  The arrangement is based on a rather grinding metallic sound created by Nuut’s performance on the violin.  It sounds as if she hit perhaps a high “F” above Middle “C” to create the sound.  Nuut then sings in an almost mournful fashion over that sound, “Let’s go on the swing/Can this swing carry us/If it can’t then do away with it/What are you creaking about, dear swing/What are you squeaking about, base/What are you banging on about, crossbeam/The swing is squealing for mittens/The base for gifts/the crossbeam for red ribbons.”  From here she goes on to sing about the swing letting the subject’s brothers get married, and then the swing and its parts will be rewarded.  It is definitely an interesting lyrical concept likely based, again, on some Estonian pre-war tradition or story.  Keeping this in mind, one understands at least slightly the mournful nature of the subject’s delivery ad the metallic sound at the arrangement’s base.  The sound is the swing squealing and squeaking.  The subject’s mournful vocal delivery perhaps is linked to memories of the swing and all that it has offered the subject and his/her brothers throughout the year.  That is of course just an assumption being made by this critic.  It hardly means it is the only or correct interpretation.  Hopefully that interpretation is at least somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  Regardless the pairing of the two elements here makes this song one more clear example of what makes Une Meeles one of the most standout World Music offerings so far this year.  That is not to ignore the album’s other included compositions.  Each of those songs plays its own part in the album’s presentation, too.  All things considered the whole of Une Meeles’ twelve songs—in their musical and lyrical content—make this album one that any World Music fan should hear at least once before the year is out.

Maarja Nuut’s new album Une Meeles is one of the most intriguing new World Music offerings so far this year.  Between the musical arrangements at the base of each song and their equally engaging lyrical content within each song, the whole of the album’s songs makes it stand starkly apart from any of the year’s other World Music offerings.  It will be available Friday, June 3rd in stores and online.  More information on Une Meeles is available online now along with all of Nuut’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.maarjanuut.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MaarjaNuutEst

 

 

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Sway Jah Vu’s New EP Is A Reggae Record Unlike Any Other

Courtesy:  Sway jah Vu/Press Junkie PR

Courtesy: Sway jah Vu/Press Junkie PR

Earlier this week Sway Jah Vu released its new EP In The Company of Wolves.  The second offering from the Florida-based alt-reggae act, it is a recording that anyone weary of reggae’s monotony will welcome with arms wide open.  That is because over the course of the record’s five songs and twenty-six minutes the band presents a sound that is decidedly unlike the standard reggae offering.  That is obvious right off the top in the EP’s opener ‘People’ with its rock riffs and sax line.  The disc’s title track stands out just as much as an example of what makes this EP and the band stand out in the reggae field as does the EP’s penultimate piece ‘Hold On Me.’  All three songs show in their own way what makes this EP and six-man reggae outfit stand out from their respective counterparts.  Together with the disc’s two more directly reggae-infused songs In The Company of Wolves shows in whole to be a reggae recording of an entirely different kind; one that every reggae fan should hear.

Sway Jah Vu’s new EP In The Company of Wolves is a reggae record of an entirely different kind.  In a field that is overloaded with cookie cutter acts all emulating Bob Marley and the Whalers it is a piece that shows it is actually possible for reggae to be something more than what it was in its earliest days.  It shows that reggae can be something more, something that can actually reach new audiences and even new respect.  This is clear in the album’s opener ‘People.’  While this song does boast some reggae influences, it boasts just as much rock influence as reggae.  That rock influence is exhibited in the song’s chorus.  What’s really interesting about the song’s rock influence is that to this critic at least the influence in question boasts something of a Jimi Hendrix sort of sound.  Even more interesting is that the two elements stand entirely separate from one another over the course of the song’s five minute-plus run time.  This is important to note because it serves to help illustrate the emotion in the song’s lyrical message.  Speaking of that lyrical message, it is just as important to the song as the song’s musical arrangement.  Whereas the song’s musical arrangement stands out as being more than just reggae, its lyrical content is more clear cut.  Vocalist/guitarist Travis Cockerham sings about equality and human rights in this song.  He sings, “People need to recognize people/Look into each other’s eyes and realize we’re equal/’Cause everyone’s out tryin’ to do the same thing/Everybody deserves the same chance/People need to love one another/There’s love for my sisters and love for my brothers/’Cause everyone’s out tryin’ to do the same thing/If we don’t come together/Then it’s never gonna change.”  Cockerham continues in similar fashion through the songs’ remaining verses reminding listeners at one point that when people point at others, passing the blame there are always three fingers pointing back at the one passing blame.  The vibe is much the same through the remainder of the song.  The mix of that positive message and the song’s dual musical arrangement makes this song a solid opener for the band’s new EP and an equally important example of what makes the EP in whole stand out from so many other reggae offerings so far this year.  It’s just one example of what makes the record stand out, too.  The disc’s title track exemplifies this just as much.

‘People’ is a solid starter for Sway Jah Vu’s new EP In The Company Of Wolves.  It also serves to help the record and band stand out from their respective reggae counterparts so far this year.  That is thanks to the song’s hybrid musical arrangement and its positive lyrical message.  It is just one example of what makes the band and EP stand out, too.  The disc’s title track does its own part to establish the EP’s identity and that of the band.  Whereas the EP’s opener boasted both rock and reggae influences, this song is infused more with a rock sound than reggae.  To be more precise that sound is more of a radio friendly, mainstream rock sound than reggae or even anything heavier in the rock realm.  Comparing it to any of the record’s other offerings it could be argued to be the song that breaks the band into the mainstream if only for its musical content.  The song’s musical content is just one part of what makes it stand out.  Its lyrical content stands out just as much.  It really leaves itself to interpretation thanks to Cockerham’s reserved delivery and its thought provoking wording.  That it leaves itself so up to interpretation actually is a good thing.  That is because when set against the song’s more rock-oriented musical content the two elements together make the song stand out even more; so much so that it is deserving of support from any mainstream rock radio station across the country.  Even as much as it stands out it still is not the last remaining example of what makes Sway Jah Vu’s new EP stand out.  ‘Hold On Me,’ the disc’s penultimate presentation is just as notable as the disc’s title track and its opener.

‘People’ and ‘In The Company of Wolves’ are both key compositions included in Sway Jah Vu’s new EP.  Both songs show in their own way what makes this record stand out.  While both songs are equally notable in their own right they are not the only songs that serve to make this latest offering from the Florida-based alt-reggae band stand out as well as the band itself.  ‘Hold On Me’ is just as notable as those songs.  As with the EP’s other noted songs, this song’s musical arrangement lies at its heart.  In regards to its musical arrangement it stands out because it is neither reggae nor rock-infused.  Rather it is a very reserved bluesy style piece that lets the whole band truly shine.  It conjures thoughts of a smoky jazz nightclub thanks to that sound.  It’s just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important as its musical arrangement.  At first the song comes across, lyrically, as just another piece about a breakup.  But then as the song progresses it paints a different picture with Cockerham singing about the girl, “I wrote this song to make her heart race/Can’t wait to see the look on her face/Cause she’s got a hold on me/She’s literally hugging me/I never want to let her go/That’s why I gotta let her know/That when she’s hugging me/I can feel myself melting/I never wanna let her go/That’s why I gotta let her know.”  Cockerham continues on in similar fashion as the song progresses as do his band mates with their positive musical vibe.  The combination of Cockerham’s positive lyrical content and the band’s own impressive talents throughout the song shows even more why this song stands out.  When set against ‘People,’ ‘In The Company of Wolves,’ and the disc’s other two more reggae-infused songs, all five songs work together to display In The Company of Wolves as a record that is anything but another standard reggae record.  It is a reggae record of a completely different kind and that every reggae fan should hear.

Sway Jah Vu’s new EP In The Company Of Wolves is a record in which other reggae acts should want to find their own records.  That is because while it is only the band’s second record (and an EP no less) it is still a record that is unlike any other reggae offering out there so far this year.  It does have its reggae influences.  But it also boasts jazz, blues, and rock influences as is displayed throughout the course of the record’s twenty-six minutes.  The combination of those influences and the band’s reggae influences makes this record one that everyone should hear.  It is available now and can be ordered online via Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play.  The band is currently touring in support of its new EP.  It will be in Tallahassee, Florida Friday, April 1st and Fort Walton Beach, FL on April 2nd.  There are also dates scheduled for April 9th, 15th, and 16th.  The band’s current tour schedule is available online now along with more information on the band’s new EP and all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

Website: http://www.swayjahvu.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/swayjahvu

 

 

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Empresarios’ New LP Will Leave Listeners With Their Own Positive Vibes

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

Independent Latin group Empresarios’ latest full-length studio recording The Vibes is an impressive new release from the Washington, D.C.-based collective. The ten-track, forty-minute musical ride provided by the group is one that will bring together audiences of all tongues. This is despite the fact that of those ten tracks eight feature lyrics presented entirely in Spanish. The musical content of each of those tracks more than makes up for the lack of any English-translation for the songs’ lyrical content, again showing why this album will unite audiences of all tongues. So what of the remaining two songs? The songs, interestingly enough, are included as the album’s final two compositions. Both compositions are full-on instrumental tracks that stand just as well on their own merits as the pieces that precede them. The whole of those songs leads The Vibes to be just as solid of an introduction to Empresarios’ sound for those that are less familiar with the group’s sound as it is a welcome return for those that have followed the group from early on. While the songs that make up the body of The Vibes are in themselves plenty of reason for audiences to pick up this latest release from Empresarios, the sequencing of the songs is just as important to note. From start to finish all ten songs are ordered in such fashion as to keep the album’s energy flowing just enough to never lose listeners. The end result of that attention to detail in the album’s sequencing and to the songs themselves is an album that is one of the best of this year’s New World music offerings.

Empresarios’ new album, its third full-length studio offering, is one of the best of this year’s new World Music offerings. It is a ten-track, forty-minute collection of songs that is certain to bring together audiences of all tongues. This is even without English translations for any of the songs included in the album that feature any lyrical content. The songs in question are so powerful in regards to their musical content that said musical content alone will have listeners on their feet, moving in time to those songs. The album’s opener ‘No Vamos A Parar’ is just one example of the group’s ability to bring audiences together. The song’s very title, which roughly translated into English means “We Are Not Going To Stop”, is hint at that. The group’s “Tropicaliente” is clear as day here with its mix of Latin and Afro-Cuban musical influences. The light, playful sound of the horns that opens the song sets a wonderful tone for the song. The equally light guitar line and hip-hop beats couple with the group’s rapping to make this song one that in full honesty doesn’t necessarily need lyrical translation in order to be enjoyed. Sure, it would be nice to have. But just considering the positive *ahem* vibe of the song’s musical content and from the very delivery of the song’s lyrical content, it is clear that this is a song that will in fact make listeners not want to end. It is just one example of how the album’s main body of songs makes this record just as enjoyable for those that speak Spanish as for those that don’t. The instantly club ready ‘A Fuego Lento,’ which translates roughly to ‘slow fire’ or ‘slow burn’ is an interesting piece because of the contrast of that title to the song’s overall content. The song does start somewhat slow and reserved. However, that reserved sound only lasts a matter of seconds before the song really kicks into gear and gets listeners moving again with that mix of different Latin sounds. ‘Salsoul,’ is one more example of the ability of Empresarios to reach audiences of all tongues. This song is yet another club-ready composition that is sure to get listeners on the dance floor. The band even goes so far as to encourage listeners to dance along with the band in the song’s lyrical side. And dance they will, too in hearing the song’s infectious grooves. It shows once more just why The Vibes is such a surprisingly impressive record regardless of listeners’ native language. That is not to discount any of the album’s other full lyrical/musical compositions. Each one of those songs not directly noted adds its own enjoyment to the whole of The Vibes to make its main body of songs plenty of proof as to why it is such a surprisingly enjoyable album. They are not the only reason that listeners will enjoy The Vibes. the album’s finale pairing of songs–‘Rootsy jam’ and ‘Alegria’–are just as important to the album’s enjoyment as each of the eight songs that come before them.

‘No Vamos A Parar,’ ‘A Fuego Lento’ and ‘Salsoul’ are each important in their own right to the enjoyment of Empresarios’ new album. Together with the other five tracks that make up the main body of The Vibes, all eight songs that make up the central body of The Vibes show clearly why audiences don’t have to speak Spanish (or even Portugese) to appreciate and enjoy this record. While they are collectively a hugely important part of the record’s success, they are not all that makes this record so enjoyable. The album’s final pairing of songs–‘Rootsy Jam’ and ‘Alegria’–which are both fully instrumental add even more enjoyment to the album. ‘Rootsy Jam’ boasts an infectious reggae vibe that will instantly conjure thoughts of Bob Marley and The Whalers. ‘Alegria’ on the other hand is somewhat more complex. It opens with a sound that seems to throw back to the days of disco with its mix of keyboards and beats. As the song progresses, horns and bongos join in for a distinctly Latin feel that carries listeners through to the end of the nearly four-minute song. Both songs stand out distinctly from one another. But each is still just as likely to have listeners on their feet, smiles on their faces as the sweat builds. That ability to keep listeners locked in and moving speaks volumes about these two songs. Both songs, set alongside the album’s other eight songs result in a record that lack of translations aside is still a record that audiences of every language will enjoy thanks to musical content that they will want to play all night long again and again.

The songs that make up the body of The Vibes collectively give listeners plenty of reason to check out this latest offering from Empresarios. While the songs are in themselves vastly important to the whole of the album, the album’s sequencing is just as important as the songs themselves. People in general tend to take sequencing for granted. But the reality is that the order of an album’s songs plays just as important of a role in the album’s success or failure as the songs themselves. In the case of this album its sequencing is just as much of a success as its songs. The sequencing of the songs maintains just the right amount of energy from one song to another to keep listeners completely engaged. In keeping listeners engaged, said audiences will agree that The Vibes will leave any listener feeling their own positive vibes. The Vibes is available now online and in stores. It can be ordered direct via Empresarios’ official bandcamp website at https://empresariosmusic.bandcamp.com/releases.

Empresarios’ latest LP The Vibes is an album that is certain to leave listeners with their own positive vibes thanks to the positive vibes that it exudes over the course of its ten tracks and forty minutes. Those good vibrations (bad pun fully intended) are generated through music that will keep listeners moving and smiling from the album’s outset to its end and their smart sequencing. By the end of the album’s closer, listeners feeling those positive vibes will agree that The Vibes is one of the best of this year’s new World Music offerings. It is available in stores and online now. More information on this and Empresarios’ previous pair of recordings is available online now along with the group’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.empresariosmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EmpresariosMusica

Twitter: http://twitter.com/los_empresarios

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Light Flashes Is A Flash Of Indie Musical Greatness

Courtesy:  Press Junkie PR

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

Independent reggae act Dubbest will release its latest full-length studio effort Light Flashes early next month. The album, the band’s third full-length effort, will be released independently by the Boston-based band. Being that most audiences have likely never heard of Dubbest, its latest record proves to be a good introduction to its sound. This is especially the case for those that are fans of reggae. The band has already premiered the album’s lead single ‘Spend The Day’ as well as a video to go along with the song. That song in itself is a good introduction to the band for those that might not be so familiar with Dubbest and an equally welcome return for the band’s long-time fans. The laid-back grooves of ‘Cross Pollination’ and its intriguing metaphorical writing make it yet another interesting example of what makes Light Flashes a worthwhile listen for any reggae fan. While it is one more good example of what Dubbest has to offer fans both on its new record and in general, it is not the last example. The band also includes no fewer than two instrumental numbers on its new album as part of its whole. The best of those two instrumentals comes late in the album in the form of the song ‘Escape Route.’ The very title conjures thoughts of a beach on a late spring day, the sun shining and palm trees swaying gently in the breeze. It is a great image that will put any listener at ease and in turn yet another example of what makes Light Flashes worth at least one listen. It isn’t the last example of what makes it worth the listen, either. Each of the album’s twelve tracks has its own merits. All twelve tracks noted, Light Flashes shows to be more than just a bright, shining light in the world of reggae and of independent music. That being said, it is safe to say that Light Flashes is one of this year’s best new independent albums.

Dubbest’s new album Light Flashes is one of this year’s best new independent albums. The record boasts twelve tracks that reggae purists everywhere will enjoy. That is because it is a sound that continues to clearly maintain Dubbest’s identity apart from the likes of Sublime, 311, and other pseudo-reggae acts. The album’s lead single ‘Spend The Day’ is a clear example of what makes this record stand out from those of Dubbest’s counterparts. The song doesn’t try to be the poppy sort of song that those from Dubbest’s counterparts have churned out over the years. It is reggae, plain and simple. Guitarists Andrew MacKenzie and Corey Mahoney’s gentle strains harken directly back to the days of Bob Marley and The Whalers while drummer Kyle Hancock’s backbeat serves as a solid foundation for the whole thing. Front man Ryan Thaxter’s own vocal delivery style is just as worth noting here. His delivery is just as soft and gentle as that of his band mates on their respective instruments. This even includes bassist Sean Craffey. Looking at the song’s lyrical content, it plays its own role in the song’s enjoyment, too. Thaxter sings in this song, “Feeling the love like never before/Been waiting for a long time and I cannot endure it/I’m sick of the rain/Let it shine like before/I’ve never been sure before/But I’ve never been so sure/Baby come relieve me/I wanna see you today/Maybe come for the evening and tomorrow we can spend the day.” Simply put, Thaxter is singing from the standpoint of a man that wants to be with his woman. Even more interesting is that even though a man is singing the song, there is no indication of gender in this song. So it could just as easily be sung from a woman’s vantage point, too. That makes the song even more enjoyable. Set against the song’s laid back musical side, it generates a positive vibe that those overly sappy, saccharine pre-produced pop songs about love could never even begin to create. Because of this it makes ‘Spend The Day’ a wonderful first effort from Dubbest on its new album and an equally welcome introduction to the band for any fan that might be unfamiliar with its body of work. Audiences can check out ‘Spend The Day” online now for themselves right at its Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/dubbestmusic.

‘Spend The day’ is a good way for Dubbest to introduce itself to its newer fans and to re-introduce itself to its long-time fans. That is thanks in large part to a solid mix of musical and lyrical content. While it does show itself to be a great starting point for the band on this record, it’s just one example of why any reggae fan should hear this record at least once. The equally laid back yet perhaps somewhat suggestive ‘Cross Pollination’ is another good example of what Dubbest has to offer audiences on its new album. The same things that applies to the musical side of ‘Spend The Day’ apply just as much in the case of this piece. That should just go without saying. Of course, there is the addition of what sounds like an old school B-3 Hammond organ added in to this song’s musical backing. It plays more of a supporting role than starring in this song for lack of better wording. Even in a supporting role, it adds so much with its sound. There’ something special about the vibrato of sorts that comes from such a classic organ. It’s something that can’t be fully put into words. It is something that really can only be appreciated in hearing it. It just gives a certain positive vibe that will put a smile on listeners’ faces just as much as the rest of the song’s musical elements. Moving to the song’s lyrical content, Thaxter uses the concept of cross polination of flowers via a bee to discuss a pretty obvious topic. The swagger in those lyrics coupled with that of the music makes ‘Cross Pollination’ yet another solid radio-ready song from Light Flashes.

‘Spend The Day’ and ‘Cross Pollination’ are both good examples of what makes Light Flashes a worthwhile listen for any purist reggae fan. They are just a couple examples of what makes Light Flashes a bright spot in the realm of indie albums and that of reggae in whole. While both songs are equally important additions to Light Flashes the album also boasts no fewer than two full-on instrumental tracks. The latter of the two, ‘Escape Route,’ is the best of the pair. The music crafted by the band in this song instantly conjures thoughts of a tropical beach. It conjures thoughts of the sun’s rays bathing the said beach in their warmth while a breeze blows through palm trees. The gentle, laid back vibe of the whole song makes it such a joy within itself. It may only be an instrumental. But it proves that an instrumental can be just as enjoyable as any song highlited more by lyrical content than that highlighted by the music alone. It proves in the end to be one more clear example of what makes Light Flashes such a surprisingly interesting listen both within the world of indie releases and that of reggae acts. Together with the likes of ‘Spend the Day’ and ‘Cross Pollination’ it makes all the clearer why any purist reggae fan should hear this album at least once. It also proves once more why Light Flashes is a bright flash of a record among this year’s crop of indie records and reggae records.

Light Flashes is one of the best new independent releases of 2015. The third full-length release from Dubbest it is a welcome return for the band’s long-time fans and an equally welcome first-time introduction for those that might not be so famliar with the Boston-based band. It will be released July 7th. More information on Light Flashes is available online now along with the latest news from Dubbest at:

Website: http://www.dubbestmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dubbestmusic

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Dubbest

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.