BLu ACiD – Money

That moment when handmade music makes you groove on the spot, then all of a sudden makes you feel like dancing. The not-so-new track of Mischa den Haring and Jan Mittendorp, better known as BLu ACiD, gets right into your bloodstream.

The two dutch musicians released an album called “HCN” recently which features many of their released singles from 2015 and 2016. Although one of the keyphrases I used for this review is “New tracks”, the track “Money” from BLu ACiD is in fact over a year old, but since I discovered it just today, I thought for all of you reading this the sound IS new.
Being a drummer in a krautrock band, I just have a thing for handmade music. Using electronic elements in tracks creates that signature sound which stucks to your head instantly, and that’s one of the things the guys of BLu ACiD do all day long. While “Money” as an example hasn’t that much electro elements in it, it still has that distinctive groovy style coming along with the sound. The electro elements in the other tracks on their album is just the icing on the cake, so to speak.
“Money” showcases that the two musicians are able to transmit a certain feel with their music. You just can hear that they are living what they are doing there. Groovy slightly distorted guitar tracks combined with deep bass lines and that unique vocals keep you caught in the music for those four and a half minutes. The track itself is mixed a bit too flat for my taste, but this could be a wanted effect, serving the retro feel of the track. There’s that “fattening” missing where other producers tend to double or triple tracks. Still, I’m not sure if keeping the track slim was intentional or not. Besides this, everything is placed where it should be. The voice isn’t too centered to give room for the guitar and backing vocal tracks. And most importantly: the feeling is real – you can’t mix that in.

Most of what BLu ACiD is giving me, I’m feeling it. Whether it makes you move, sing along or thinking “how the hell did they DO that?”, it works to keep you entertained, interested and listening. I strongly recommend listening to the whole album, musicians might learn a thing or two from den Haring and Mittendorp, and the avid listener will just groove along.

Jen Gloeckner – Vine/Firefly (War Dance)

Bringing a unique mixture of chillout and driving synth electro, here’s a perfect track that will take you to unexpected places, letting you explore settings you never knew existed before. Sounds over the top and hard to believe? Welcome to the world of Jen Gloeckner.

Let me paint you a picture here: what starts like entering a forest on a warm, bright summer day all of a sudden gets mysterious, as if you would step onto some sacred ground within this forest. Gloeckner has the gift of creating deep atmospheres with those sub synths alongside high pitched melodies and sound effects. If you didn’t get lost in this atmosphere by now while just listening to the synth setting, you for sure will be when you hear the vocals of Gloeckner. She has that certain “haunted” element in her voice which leads to a change of the whole scenario. I love the crossing part where the song changes from haunted to driven like flicking a switch. This all goes along so naturally as if there never was another intention but to mix those different styles. By adding those distorted synth lines to the progressing track, I can almost feel the artist smile, like she was saying “didn’t see THAT coming, did you.”
Changing subjects and directions within a single track is an art form not many artists out there can master, but Gloeckner makes it seem so easy. If you don’t believe me, listen to the track with closed headphones and close your eyes for those six and a half minutes. You’ll know exactly what I meant.

“Vine/Firefly” is a crossfade track taken from the upcoming release of Gloeckners album called “VINE” where she offers tracks that emphasize on her unique genre mixture, always keeping her playful mixture of unexpected elements in the spotlight. I got to admit, I don’t really know when to listen to her tracks, since the used mood settings within those tracks are really hard to describe sometimes. I’ll go with the following statement: if you are an adventurer, her music is perfect for you.

Carmen Perez – Just What The Doctor Ordered

One way or another, you’ll agree with me: “Just What The Doctor Ordered”, one of the new tracks of singer/songwriter and actress Carmen Perez, is exactly what the title said it would be. And the best part: it’s prescription free.

Carmen Perez is a Jill of all trades. There’s not very much she hasn’t done already: being a former full time US military member, she’s now into acting, singing, modeling, painting… and I’m pretty sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Seeing her music videos and hearing this beautiful woman sing, it hit me right away: everything about her seems to be labeled with “DETERMINATION” in capital letters. She doesn’t hide anything – if she wants to do it, I guess there’s no stopping her from doing it. Confidence is one big part of the artist’s cake, and she brings a lot of it to the table.
“Just What The Doctor Ordered” is one of the tracks off her new EP “Space Girl” available on all major media sources. Backed by a low synth line, the stage is all hers to fire away those razor sharp bittersweet vocals. Those can change instantly from sassy to innocent. In other words: she can go from “sweet kitten mode” to “wtf mode” like flicking a switch. This versatility of Perez’ singing skills combined with a solid production crew (who did an outstanding job in putting all the tracks together, upgrading the songs of the EP with the right amount of doubled and pitched vocals and some defensive effects and some great synths (best ones by far: the one used in this track, and the slightly distorted ones, like the one in “He Killed Me (But I Didn’t Die)“.) is a guarantee to get many eyebrows raised out there. Giving the other tracks off her EP a listen, I noticed that she is not confined to one single genre. She is comfortable within mainstream pop, latin, reggae, even almost classical tunes… I guess she’s going by the rule “if it feels right, it IS right” – and I love that in an artist. It’s one of the main ingredients to develop your signature sound.

To sum it up: Perez has skills, a huge load of confidence and an awesome amount of creativity which is packed in every song she releases. This in addition with the momentum she’s gaining right now through all of her work is just an irresistible musical combination. She is producing mainstream medicine for the audience. Just what the doctor ordered.

Terra Nine – The Heart of the Matter

Be prepared to be taken on a little trip. Driven to an unknown goal, “The Heart of the Matter” of Mike Westcot, better known as “Terra Nine” invites you to do a bit of floating and exploring.

The producer from Auckland created an electronic chillout track with an outstanding amount of determination and drive here. The core of his track is a groovy beat which is backed by a thoughtful mix of percussion. On top of that there’s this almost psychedelic repeating synth line, and there you have it: the foundation of the whole track.
From there on Westcot starts to play with whatever he wants to. Arranged builds and breaks, vocal one-shots, a narrator voice track, reverbed and doubled analogue and digital instruments… maybe this whole scenario can best be compared with fireworks. There’s something new to find every other second. The melodies played are often scratching the surface of being oriental, but then again using a very unique signature sound. When listening to the other tracks of the EP “Heart of the Matter” released by Iboga Records a couple of days ago, it seems the arsenal of the producer from New Zealand is endless. You can almost feel the amount of creative joy Westcot must have had when experimenting with all those scenes, with all those instruments and effects. They say that once you feel the effect of music, the world is at your fingertips. In my opinion, this is exactly what happened with Westcot. Although there surely is a concept, he makes it seem so easy and playful as if there wasn’t a script behind all of his works.

So this is a perfect mixture of electronica, chillout and experimental, best enjoyed while using closed headphones. If you haven’t grooved today, the tracks of Terra Nine most definitely will get you there.

Łindal – Tonight We Dance

Trevor Innes aka Łindal pulled a big rabbit out of his hat this time: he was able to connect people, to bring them together and to share their love for music. That’s what music is all about, folks.

With an uplifting melody, a slow and steady beat and a somewhat steel drum sounding synth giving the track an almost carribean flair, Vancouver based Łindal made an easy-going, club/bar ready feelgood track that makes you nod your head while listening. The track isn’t overdone with too much effects, one-shots or anything, you’ll find just a great mixture of tension building elements and relaxing elements. The vocals are sung and mixed in soft, but front and center, so to speak.
But here’s what really fascinated me with “Tonight We Dance”: watching the video, I found out that in order to get the song out there, the crew did a project that I consider true art. They put up a set somewhere downtown Vancouver, and invited people to be part of their video by dancing to the tune. And by doing so, they got many random strangers to express their feelings about the music. Or at least have a fun time trying to do so. I’m sure it wasn’t that easy to talk some of these people into it, but the beauty of that project is that it didn’t matter where they came from, who they are, what they do for a living, what race, color, gender, age – they all were connected by a single track made by Innes. Plus his honesty and performance skills to attract and influence with his music and performing. In a time where everbody is constantly concerned about the world and it’s rising tensions, we need people like those guys delivering fun and good times instantly. And involving everybody, all differences aside.
Doing a project like this video is a PR trick as well, because now he instantly has gained a small fan base (anyone in the video of course wants to see the finished clip, right). And to reach a point where people are actually having fun expressing themselves (you can’t teach that, it’s just there. Don’t take my word for it, watch the clip.) is all you need to go big in the industry.

“Tonight We Dance” is a solid dance tune. The idea of the music video is equally as great as the track itself. And with Łindal just releasing another great track called “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head“, I’m not worried at all that the Canadian artist will be a huge impact in the scene throughout 2017.

Sarah Sellers – Gone Through Hell

This one flooded the room with feelings. Carefully mixed backing tracks meeting soulful emotive vocals. “Gone Through Hell” is a song where emotion is mixed in as if it was an additional track.

First time I listened was with studio speakers. Second, third and fourth time with closed headphones. This track made me lose track of time for a couple of minutes while I was listening. Dallas based Sarah Sellers creates a huge emotional stage while using her voice. She’s got that certain “it”-element while singing, you just believe that she’s giving you a little piece of her soul while telling her story. And this isn’t a story full of joy, happiness and “hey, it’s alright” moments. This is how she describes the process she went thorugh until now:
I might have burned everything down around me but I eventually started to rise from the ashes. I’m bruised. I have deep scars. But for the first time in my life – I’m finally me.
And, to be honest, you can read exactly that between the lines when she sings with that careful tones, bittersweet melodies and an almost hurting amount of feelings. You realize that the beautiful singer/songwriter Sellers doesn’t play a role while singing, it’s her essence she brings to the table. For what it’s worth, it never sounded better when someone went through hell and told the story afterwards.
Speaking of the mix, she had an awesome crew working with her. Mixed by Bradley Prakope and mastered by Tom Coyne/Sterling Sound, those guys just knew how to place her vocals into the right setting. Beautiful soft soundscapes, very defensive synth lines, outstanding downtempo beats with no glitches or misplacement in the eq band whatsoever…there’s nothing those guys missed to create this piece of art. Also, the music video (see below) created by Cold Fox Films was done with passion and the sense of understanding that making a music video isn’t just switching between two or three takes but telling the story in a meaningful way.

So, you could say that this is the right way to start the musical journey of 2017. Here’s a great artist who makes you feel something while listening, who shares enough of her soul to make you think about, who doesn’t need high energy dance tracks nor aggressive background tracks to do her thing. I strongly recommend to check out her other available tracks on Soundcloud or Youtube.

Erin Pellnat – Dream In Color

Imagine an audience, sitting silently at small round tables, with a candle on every table being the only light sources in the room, except one spot on stage where a singer sits and just takes her time to deliver a glimpse of her mindset. See it? Welcome to the stage of “Dream In Color”.

Brooklyn based Erin Pellnat created a very deep tune. It’s a slow track with a great mixture of guitar tracks, held back percussion and soft reverbed synths backing the voice of Pellnat. Her vocal range allows her to sing with a dark, deep base yet her voice has that drive, stating “if needed, I’ll get really loud, so be careful what you wish for”. (I know, I’m not a genius in describing, but you know what I mean, right.)
In these hectic, fast times where you have merely seconds to spare, she forces you to slow down, to reflect and to take your time while doing so. While the song uses almost jazzy elements with a certain played bass and the way Pellnat “fools around” with the backing music (not following static patterns when singing), “Dream in Color” stays within indie rock/pop boundaries. Her other tracks are sometimes scratching the surface of being psychedelic (heard in other tracks of her EP you’ll find on bandcamp). I said it numerous times before, I really like when the songs aren’t strictly following one certain genre but mix up several elements, best of every genre, if you will.
Erin Pellnat isn’t a newbie regarding music. She played in several earlier projects, Glitch Mouth and Jean Fight, while nowadays being a part of Caretaker, a rock band from Brooklyn that – in their own words – “formed from the ashes of several other popular Brooklyn bands”. Makes perfect sense to me, since not many things are meant to last in the industry, and as a musician you’ll find yourself in a constant move to get out what is important to you. While Caretaker delivers more uplifting, energetic songs, the solo project of Erin Pellnat seems more settled and reflective to me. Hearing several tracks of the projects Pellnat is part of, I found out she really is capable of adjusting to her environment, blending into all the projects right from the start.

The song was mixed and produced by Chris Pellnat (some of you might remember him from the recent spotlight we did here) who also did the instruments work of “Dream In Color”. There’s nothing bad to say about the mix whatsoever, there’s an exact balance of music and vocals, with the music being defensive enough to give the vocals some room (eq-wise) while also creating that deep room atmosphere I mentioned before.
Overall, this is a remarkable track of young singer Erin Pellnat. With all her projects at hand, I see nothing more than a bright future for her on stage. Although it’s a mighty struggle to be someone out there as a musician, she brings everything to the table to succeed with what she does. Listen for yourself.

Anna Fogel – In The Midst

Melodic, dreamy,  soft, calm, mature, emotional, fragile… there are so many attributes for this track, you have to decide for yourself which of those fit best.

Anna Fogel has the ability to make you evaluate what music is all about. While listening to “In The Midst”, I just froze for a couple of minutes, being charmed by her voice. After only four seconds, she somehow found my emotions trigger, making me feel melancholic yet comforted. And she did all that with a minimalistic piano/voice setting which is backed by very, very defensive backing tracks and reverb effects.
Her matured soft vocals are bringing that special calmness to the table which is in my opinion the secret ingredient to all of her songs. With the year coming to an end, you find yourself reflecting on all what was happening and looking forward to all that will happen. Maybe I did exactly that when I listened to Fogel’s new track…or maybe her tracks triggered me to do so. I know I’m repeating myself here, but the ability to make the listener feel something is the essence of being a musician. With her voice, the singer/songwriter from Sweden manages to caress your soul for a couple of minutes. For me, music that makes you stop whatever you were doing at the time you are listening to it can only be classified as awesome. And Fogel doesn’t need anything but her voice and a piano for this. This track just was developed and mixed in the perfect settled, calm way.

Working with other projects like Meadows with Christoffer Wadensten, and with a tour through Germany coming up in 2017, I guess the beautiful Fogel already made up her mind as a musician. She decided to share her work with us, to go out there and let us know about her. I’m glad I heard what she is able to bring to the table, and I strongly recommend to give her EP “Vretstorp sessions” on Spotify or Soundcloud a listen.

Megan Landry – Screaming Sun

After I heard her last song “Questions (on the Cliff)“, there was no question for me to follow up the works of Canadian singer/songwriter Megan Landry, this time with her last months release “Screaming Sun”. If you wonder if she is delivering like she used to, the question is yes. Oh hell yes.

Once again, she just fires away with her lyrics like an automatic machine gun, and if you actually listen to what she sings, some of her words almost hit you like bullets. She manages to paint pictures in your head, she compares, she is questioning and doubting what is given as facts, and she does all of this with a portion of sarcasm and humor behind it. There are so many facettes of what the track is about that it took me several plays on repeat to get a couple of the points she wants to make. These colorful, almost poetic lyrics alone (without having a closer look on the music) would be enough to keep the listener hanging on her lips.
Speaking of the music, she used a basic setting for this, there are some synths, some reverb effects, and a rushing drum beat that really supports her way of firing away her lyrics. (‘Staccato’ is probably something she eats for breakfast, every other second there’s another curveball she throws at you.) As she did in other titles, she doubled and tripled the vocal tracks for harmonies you won’t hear in your everyday pop song. I love that. Thinking outside the box is one part of her signature sound. I’m not really a fan of what she did with several vocal effect layers though, like chopping and slowing them down for a break. But that’s just me, it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the song nor emphasizes on anything else but the track as a whole. The mix of the track doesn’t need any review, it’s solid as usual.

Megan Landry is still picking up speed with what she does. She has an incredible momentum going there which she earned by herself, creating unique music that makes you think for a change. Heck, even those who don’t want to think are at least entertained by her works. Be it for the deep thoughts behind the music, or be it just for the music itself, Megan Landry is an outstanding artist you should keep in mind. And on your permanent playlist.

FRND – Sticks And Stones

Today I clicked through the submissions hoping to find something different. And boy, did I find something different.

The track starts with a wide open reverbed setting, the minimalistic music being a perfect base for the vocals. Those are sung quite soft with a little effect chain added here and there, making it interesting throughout the whole track. If you think the whole idea of the track is simple…well, then I dare you to try produce a track like this. The Los Angeles based producer developed a golden recipe here, using trap elements alongside pop and breakbeat methods. I love the concept of the whole track being in sort of a flowing state, you never know what to expect, and the progression isn’t linear at all. It takes a certain amount of bravery to just go ahead and play with those different variations. Even when listening to the song on repeat, there are always new little elements to find for your ears, a chiptune one-shot, pitched vocal samples, layered reverbed synths…you name it.

This one is a solid, very balanced track. No glitches or clips with the main mix although there must have been dozens of different tracks used. You’ll find emotion, atmosphere and the right amount of smack in it with those huge chorus beats. (I’d love to see what happens when this track is used as an opener on a dancefloor.)
After “Friend”, another great track available on main media sources everywhere, the producer from LA continues his journey through different music styles and variations with “Sticks And Stones”. Boys and girls, we’re very lucky to be a part of his journey. After all, his curiosity to create new blends and mixtures of music is what creates awesome tracks for us listeners.