With his latest release ‘You Had Me At Hello’ Bulat, the Russian born, England raised current California based guitarist and songwriter, showcases his vast range and musical influences. Exploding with a heavy guitar riff and booming drums Bulat quickly has the listener standing at attention. A mellow left turn quickly approaches as the mood drops to a hush melancholic respite and then is suddenly spun around back toward the dramatic as the pre-chorus and chorus descend down from Rock heaven. Verses are delivered over top a somber tone and sparse military-like snare drum percussion, a stark contrast from the heavy and high energy of the chorus. Bulat further expands ‘You Had Me At Hello’ with a beautiful heavy Blues-Rock end segment that is raw climactic closure.
Emcee and Producer Big Lo releases his ‘instrumental experience’ December 1982. A gritty epic with eclectic samples, dusty drums, and expansive loops Big Lo creates soundscapes that instantly evoke emotion. His unique take on Boom Bap and Lofi is refreshing, making it hard to pinpoint any distinct influences. Big Lo integrates many different genres and eras into his creative process and filters them through his senses and the final product can truly be described as an ‘instrumental experience’. Trippy distortions, effects, and reverses all enhance the dusty drums and traditional crate dug loops. The listener is welcomed to listen, write rhymes to, or even dissect each track, as the entire EP boasts a uniqueness that is worthy of further exploration as well as standard listening enjoyment. As November saw the release of November 1982 we can only hope these instrumental experiences from Big Lo will continue into January and beyond!
Ethan Ross concludes his eventful 2019 with the visuals for his single ‘When It Rains’. Showcasing his versatility and vulnerability over a Tom Jacob instrumental that is as melodic and catchy as Ethan’s captivating choruses. The black and white visuals are a gradient of gray, a visual representation of the lyrics further personified in the solitude of Ethan Ross as the sole alone character in the music video. With this release coming at the tail end of 2019 it is apparent that Ethan Ross continues to keep his strong ascent rising into 2020 with his nonstop grind and his relentless releases of top quality tracks.
Due to his untimely death Xxxtentacion’s most recent posthumous album Bad Vibes Forever seems both more incomplete and complete than his first posthumous release Skins. Showcasing more of his range over an expansive 25 tracks Bad Vibes Forever is a vast compilation of incomplete sketches. Both posthumous albums cannot be critiqued with any validity as they were never meant to be heard in the form they were released. Over the 25 tracks on this LP most play as demos with the hooks and choruses recorded as most likely references and with barely any finished verses laid down. The first 3 tracks ‘Ex Bitch’, ‘UGLY’ and the title track ‘Bad Vibes Forever’ featuring Pnb Rock and Trippie Redd all display X’s unique versatility with sonic soundscapes very foreign to Trap and Hip-Hop. Acoustic guitar melodies and singing come as easily to Xxxtentacion as his traditional rapping. ‘School Shooters’ boasts his dark aesthetic and Screamo sensibilities. Lil Wayne, like many other big guests on the LP, stops by to pay his respect more than collaborate, perhaps a return of favor for Xxxtentacion’s contributions to his ‘Don’t Cry’ on Tha Carter 5. The incompleteness is felt as X begins his verse screaming only to have it fade out suddenly, a unique glimpse into his creative strategy and recording process. Many tracks apparently were recorded to in segments intended to be revisited later to be fully finished. Xxxtentacion seems as a guest on his own album mostly delivering hooks, the finished aspect of his recording process, only, as the ‘featured’ artists lay down all the complete verses. Rick Ross also stops by to pay his respect and strengthen the Florida connection.
Bad Vibes Forever is a great offering for the fans, a rare glimpse behind the controversial icon’s thought process and constant recording. Having just recently released his album ” ? ” before passing away it is shocking to see how much material he was already working on for his follow up albums. X’s artistic direction was miles beyond his peers, from his eclectic sensibilities and influences to his unorthodox delivery and flows. Xxxtentacion truly is an artist that found his true voice, integrating his surrounding environment -not limited to solely music- and filtering it through his being to produce original art that connected with a diverse and large mass of listeners and fans.
Rating 7.0/10 (rating not true opinion of album as the project is not how the artist intended but instead a version completed for the fans with the best intentions to hold true to his vision.)
With their album ‘Dearheart’ Andy Babb and Lara Elle bring a true and honest positivity with their uplifting acoustic Pop Folk sound. Audience members describe attending their shows as ‘Church, without all the dogma’ and their self categorized genre of musical medicine is spot on. ‘One Spirit’ opens up the album and acts as more than a confessional of the unity of romantic love. The song’s spiritual message resonates outside of their personal microcosm and into the larger inter-connection of all beings as one spirit. The stripped down minimal acoustic sound allows for a sharp piercing focus on the profundity of the lyrics. ‘So Much’ and ‘You Are Love’ are encouraging and inspirational, Andy Babb and Lara Elle have knack for a directness in their message. Each song sounds as if they are speaking directly to the listener face to face with a tailor-made message based off the happenings in their own personal life. Hailing from Denver, Colorado the duo’s debut collaboration was actually recorded in Bangkok, Thailand. Taking advantage of the low costs – high quality professional recording opportunities their music blossomed, along with their love, as Andy proposed to Lara. The energy can be felt on ‘Dearheart’ immediately, the transcendent feeling travels with the music and the frequency is received on each track. ‘Seems To Me (Hallelujah)’ continues the message of connection and understanding as a means to resolve conflicts; how we have more in common than the minute superficial differences that begin these superfluous conflicts and simple interactions can be the solution. The poetic and powerful lyrics on ‘Dearheart’ are just as astounding as the instrumentation and vocal performances. ‘Saddle Up’ concludes the album with a western style soundscape and a feel good story as an optimistic allegory for the journey of life.